Basking in the breeze, awaiting my chimichurri, I paused to contemplate my complicated relationship to pleasure. A recurring motif of this blog is certainly the tug between my artyfarty tendencies (the "real Jeremy"?) and my evil twin who wishes for nothing more than to be a skateboarder or a surfer, or some such bumlike person, living idly in fair climes off a trust fund while meticulously scheduling my irrelevancies according to whim. More than several such persons, I am guessing, wander the streets here in South Beach. I love the sun and the sand, and even just the idea of a frozen drink, frozen perhaps just in the moment of my reaching for it, on a hot day, from my wicker chair... in the moment before it can be tasted, and limited by reality.
The young, sickly Proust is told by a family friend that though he cannot travel he at least has "the life of the mind," which is the best life, and the young sickly Proust is quite nonplussed. My heart aches with his at that moment. The limitless, boggling brain suddenly seems a very small room encased in a skull. Proust eventually does travel, and then the most miraculous, beautiful things happen (even though they are nothing more than "the usual" travel incidents); his processes of metaphor and association move and flow then like the train or boat he is aboard. It is still, to be sure, the life of the mind, but the mind's doors are open and the breeze is blowing in.
It is interesting to contrast the sensualism of making music onstage every evening for crowds massed in the dark, and the sensualism of a sunny afternoon walking alone around South Beach. Onstage, I am supposed to communicate, give off, radiate out; even the lighting conspires in this metaphor; but walking down the street here, I feel it all the other direction, coming into, at me; I can be no significant source of sensualism in this pleasure-dome; it, the sun, the place, the mode of living, coats me in its excess. I am the dark audience for this lit spectacle. I love these solitary walks through Xanadu, but there is also a hint of antagonism in the relationship, a sense that my presence there is tolerated only provisionally. I am an impostor on the beach, but also perhaps at the concert hall; how can someone so attracted to the pleasures of the flesh be at home in the stuffy Classical Music world?
Perfectly and painfully encapsulating in reality this conundrum, today I am punished for yesterday's pleasure with a significant amount of sunburn, which could have been avoided so easily. I have tried to atone by spending spectacular amounts of money on aloe lotions. It is clear to one and all from my vivid face that I am a beach novice who fell into the stupidest of traps, and so this morning I put on my Johann Sebastian Bach T-shirt as a way of explaining. "You see, everybody, I'm really a classical musician and I think about Bach a lot and that's why I forgot to put on sunscreen." Perhaps though people won't read so deeply into the shirt as I imagine, and they will just see a sunburned fool.
This fool cannot go out on the beach today, but can only watch the surfers from his room, with the plasma TV on mute, where a preacher explains more or less that loving God will make you rich (he never got around to that "eye of the needle" bit), and Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier spread out on the desk. Luckily JS reminds me that the contradiction of flesh and mind I have been feeling is moot. Reaching for the aloe cream, I look at those black scratchings on the page, and I feel like there is no wall, no division, no audience or performer; just revelation; the music seems animated to me, like blood rushing through my veins... so touching, so immediate, even if it is centuries distant ... this beautiful intervention convinces me that if Miami seems to exacerbate a certain torment of my inner sensualist, perhaps it is just the torment I need in order to be me.