Thursday, August 7, 2008

Men have breast tissue, too! Later... #2

Medical Clinic

Procedure is for "US BREAST UNILAT... lump or mass in breast. Clinical data:
lump at 9 o'clock about 8 mm-1 cm size, cystic..." 

"...at 9 o'clock"? Can't help thinking of World War II movies, gunnery specialists, air force pilots and sailors locating the enemy's position. 

So there's the waiting, then these two procedures, imaging of where I'd have breasts if I had breasts. Thinking of re-reading Philip Roth's novel, "Breast." Maybe there'd be something there for me. A fan of his, but that's not a favorite book. I like Patriarchy, the one about his father, nonfiction, actually... 

So awaiting the second procedure, another imaging, I pick up a copy of an old New Yorker, Dec. 25, 2006, and the page I open to is Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk's Nobel Lecture titled "My Father's Suitcase," 2006. Usually I browse magazines before reading, but this time I plunge right in... 

A good long wait so I'm able to read Pamuk's Lecture in its entirety. I'm a 75-year-old writer, Jesus Christ! And what's the point? You wanna read my poetry? Yes or no? Don't even think. Just say what comes to mind. Do I want to read my poetry? No, actually. True, I wanna read it out loud to an audience. That I enjoy. And I wanna write new stuff... but do I want to go back and read it off the page for pleasure? Hell, no. 

Orhan Pamuk's Lecture is about himself and his father... and the suitcase full of writing his father left him. It's a meditation on the life of a writer. So here I am with my breast tissue and a whole bunch of questions, not the least of which has to do with mortality. It's the kind of thing that would stay in people's minds. "Oh, he's the man with the breasts."  That they'd remember, the biographical detail. Okay, I'm no better than anyone else. That's probably what I'd remember too. Better than someone's poems. Most peoples' poems.

But Pamuk gets it right: "Societies, tribes, and peoples grow more intelligent, richer, and more advanced as they pay attention to the troubled words of their authors--and, as we all know, the burning of books and the denigration of writers are both signs that dark and improvident times are upon us.

"But literature is never just a national concern. The writer who shuts himself up in a room and goes on a journey inside himself will, over the years, discover literature's eternal rule: he must have the artistry to tell his own stories as if they were other people's stories, and to tell other people's stories as if they were his own, for that is what literature is."


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