Hi, I'm Tad
I live in Paris, France
Here are two things I've been working on:
an excerpt from a recent novel MS
SOMETHING is wrong, I think, something has gone wrong, not with me but with the world this year; people will talk about this year until there are no more people to speak of it, until our species joins the parade of extinction which is marching faster now
and the delivery drivers roar through the tunnel below our window twenty times an hour for small change, spewing fumes and honking at shadows; I must wake five times each night since the virus came and went and left its mark, and I get up from the bed and go to the toilet and turn around and look in the mirror and I’m pleased because I recognize myself
four years and five months since I made that decision and I’ve never regretted it, even though it wasn’t easy, no, I walked into a world I’d fled many years before and didn’t fit into, a square peg in a round hole, I think, and perhaps I was not made for any world, or no world was made for me
and I live inside my head, most of the time, or with my head in books, or bobbing along an aimless walk, solitary
and when I return to the bed and lay down next to my wife, who could sleep through a tornado and wake up laughing, I think that even though something is wrong, there will always be something wrong, so it’s better to think that
EVERYTHING is right, all is well,
and I cross over into sleep and fitful dreams, and though I’ve always dreamed—from what I can tell in talking with other people—toward the end of the spectrum one could mark as especially strange, this year the dreams have been even stranger than usual, and more memorable, which is to say that when I get up early and I’m all alone in the dark room where I spend my mornings before sunrise I recall them with a certain fascination, not that they mean anything in particular, but now there’s a woman in front of me, regal and a little puckish
and she speaks to me and says
I AM the unanswered question, the queer breath of providence, the infinite realm of possible worlds, the foe of predestination’s sad cohort, the other side of melancholy’s night
but I am not satisfied and press her, bring it down to earth I say, and she says
I AM the painter’s vigil soaked in tint, the note heretofore unheard, the castrato’s one consolation, the berceuse at death’s door, the writer’s liqueur-laden mouth organ, shall I go on?
I AM the ink eater’s paper reverie, the unintelligible perfect verse, the dancer’s forgetful flight, the boffin’s midnight surprise, the sophist’s joyous desolation
but not everyone can understand this, I say, do you only reveal yourself to the striver?
and she laughs:
I AM football in the street after Thanksgiving dinner, a pickup game in the park on a summer’s eve, the first downhill run on a new deck, four hard wheels rumbling on old pavement
I AM the first glide on waxed skis, the promise of hot chocolate near a winter fire, the first flight of knobby wheels above a red dirt mound, the smell of a newly-oiled mitt, the small hand it first envelopes, the first thunk of the ball on that protected palm, the day the training wheels come off
I AM the first look into the equine eye, the cold smooth leather of the saddle horn, the first gallop across a sagebrush prairie, the first time on the sharp end of a rope, the next handhold on a perilous climb, the view from a peaked aerie at daybreak, the slide of scree under booted foot
and what she does not say before she recedes while my eyes are closed, images borne of her words filling my reverie, but what I dream-think is that she, Wonder, is the momentary absence of separation
the union which was before time, the solidarity before the great fall, the presence unbound, the untamed omniscience
and we, for our part, the we which is every rational being which ever received the breath of life, have been seeking her in our myriad way, hysterically, graspingly
collectively, and in our striving we became creators of temple and rite, givers of sacrifice, builders of canon, academicians of dogma wary of ecstasy’s unharvested wilderness
but each of us skims the canal of our entrance into the world, that great Origin, ignorant of such division, pale red we pass into the gloved hands which cut the cord, and wailing we nudge into a tired mother’s cheek, sinking into the softness of cotton we coo and taste the milk of first sustenance
until with open eyes we scan the wake of soul’s new home and reach
and when our limbs find their music in gentle gravity’s proud domain we dance, and palp the mercurial skin of nature’s breasts in awesome reverence
until we fall and bleed and scoop the deep red from the wound of youth and taste that ferrous mess and pained, ask, for the first time, why?
and they tell of us science, which is well and good but what we want is magic; we want to blink in nights of fireflies, to plunge in swirling water’s night, to count the seconds till we gasp, lungs burning with our own fire, to pierce the veil of previous possible, to fly
we want words with scent of earth to hasten our return, wet sand to bear our weight, the footprint proof of our singularity, afternoon’s shadow to verify
until we meet the border of I and other, relate and swoon and suffer, wounded by the lacerations of inexperience, now initiates of love and loss, reality’s halfhearted disciples
now laughter’s tragic friends soaked in tears of solitude, familiars to mourning, hoping in the promise of eternity, still running in tunnels dark, falling
only to rise anew, with more to give, willing to chance solidarity’s bold risk, full of words imbued with life, inspired and inspiring
ready to reach inner landscapes by dint of soul-walking, to dig the soil of heaven’s gardens while the alchemical trials smoke, to know and un-know, to weep in nights of hot despair
always seeking the one who knows us by heart, ready to live, to love
to leave the world we know
find the ending to the end
and live again
and when I wake it’s to the sound of children outside the crèche under our window, in that ancient chateau now absorbed by the city; I stand up, put on my robe and look down on the courtyard, and in the voices and laughter of the children I recognize the voice of Wonder, pure and sonorous emerging from my dream, but that’s impossible, I think, because it’s all goo-goo and ga-ga and babbling in new French half-learned, primal
and I don’t normally find myself in this place at this time, it’s just that I overslept, and I go into the kitchen to boil water and as I rub the sleep out of my eyes the words come, the words pile up and become sentences, the tension builds and I fear losing track of the sentences which are accumulating now, mixing with the voices of children, but I’m safe here, there will be no knock at the door to disturb my disquiet, no superior to whom I must answer; and as the bells of Saint Ferdinand’s church ring and the water roils, boiling, I am seized again by that which is consuming my life
the desire to write one true story.
We know you need more beauty in your life...
so we created a new YouTube channel combining the uplifting piano music by Renara Akhoundova with 4k cinematic images.
Let me share a few of my favorite things with you:
Writing is Like Praying
a short documentary on Norwegian playwright and author Jon Fosse
IN THIS REMARKABLE Spanish documentary from 2014, Jon Fosse talks about the source of his words, the exhaustion he experiences from writing plays, why he has turned to prose, and the similarities between mysticism and the kind of writing he has engaged in throughout his career.
Jim Harrison in France
drinking red wine all the way through a television interview
...actually not a great interview, but I love seeing footage from past decades of French cultural TV when colorful personalities could smoke and drink their way through their invites
John Prine on NPR
The world lost a great human being in 2020. We had the chance to see one of his last concerts, a rare Paris appearance.
George Saunders and Jason Isbell
an Epic Conversation between one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite songwriters
the author of BARON WENCKHEIM'S HOMECOMING speaks of the milieu from which his unique style was born
The American Library in Paris
If you're an English speaker in Paris who loves books, you have to spend some time at the American Library.
I published a book which I hope will help people like me:
Letters to a Perfectionist
On Shame, Fear, Love, and the Surprising Spiritual Nature of Perfectionism
As a seasoned therapist, I am on the lookout for books that may help my clients. Imagine my surprise when I realized this book was written for me. And how can I help others when I am stuck in my suffering. Other reviewers have laid out beautifully how Frizzell can help the suffering "perfectionist." So as a newly recovering perfectionist, I will just add a touch of irony to my review. I hesitated to write a review because I wanted it to be perfect! I am now rereading the book for the second time. Thank you so Tad for such a powerful gem of a book on perfectionism.
-an Amazon review by Anne Koenig
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©2021 Tad Frizzell