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Preview — How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
I should be satisfied with being famous to three or four of my friends. And yet it’s an illusion. They like me for who I am, and I would rather be liked for who I appear to be, and for who I appear to be, to be who I am.
Trust had to be won from zero at every encounter. That’s the reason you always see women being so effusive with each other—crying out shrilly upon recognizing each other in the street. Women always have to confirm with each other, even after so many years: We are still all right. But in the exaggeration of their effusiveness, you know that things are not all right between them, and that they never will be.
For so long I had been looking hard into every person I met, hoping I might discover in them all the thoughts and feelings I hoped life would give me, but hadn’t.
But life isn’t only where things are exciting; it’s where things feel hard and stagnant, too. And arguing for a pure act that doesn’t have a product in the end—well, there’s two things there: one is there’s not a concern for making a living; and second is there’s not a concern with working to the end and winding up with something solid.
Such people will suddenly tell you they have another plan, and they always do it the moment things start getting difficult. But it’s their everlasting switching that’s the dangerous thing, not what they choose. Sheila’s heart beats up in her chest … SHEILA Why is their everlasting switching dangerous? ANN Because people who live their lives this way can look forward to a single destiny, shared with others of this type—though such people do not believe they represent a type, but feel themselves distinguished from the common run of man, who they see as held down by the banal anchors of the ...more
One thinks sometimes how much more alive such people would be if they suffered! If they can’t be happy, let them at least be unhappy—really, really unhappy for once, and then they might become truly human.
Then love, which can’t be helped, slips into the death drive. The death drive seeks comfort and knowledge of the future. It wants the final answer and is afraid of life. It is weary of life. It is weary of self-containment, the continuation of its purpose, the channeling of the energies of the self. It wants to step into the oblivion of someone else, and its heart races at annihilation. It renounces and gives up renouncing equally.
Blessed is he who leaves in the morning without any promise of love. And blessed is the woman who can answer for herself, What about living? What is it about living that you want?
If you want my cunt to take your cum, or to turn me into an animal who can take it, I’ll learn astrology. I’ll be the stupidest whore you ever met; forget everything to kiss the head of the little nothing you give me, if you want
boundaries, Sheila. Barriers. We need them. They let you love someone. Otherwise you might kill them.”
And that was how Anthony saw himself—as an artist—whereas Uri had the simple goal of the craftsman: excellence.
One is a reproduction of the human type—one sleeps like other humans, eats like other humans, loves like other humans, and is born and dies like all other humans. We are gestures, but we less resemble an original painting than one unit of a hundred thousand copies of a book being sold.
There are people whose learning is so great, they seem to inhabit a different realm of species-hood entirely. Somehow, they appear untroubled by the nullness. They are filled up with history and legends and beautiful poetry and all the gestures of all the great people down through time. When they talk, they are carried on a sea of their own belonging. It is like they were born to be fathers to us all. I should like one day to impale them all on a long stick.
“Love is a battle between the sexes in which the man always wins because that’s more erotic for everyone!”
Margaret Mead said: “The major task of every civilization is to get the fathers involved in the child-rearing process.”
I saw it all so clearly: I had come to New York as a student, like it was my teacher. And hadn’t I always gone into the world making everyone and everything a lesson in how I should be? Somehow I had turned myself into the worst thing in the world: I was just another man who wanted to teach me something!
I was starting to feel like I had made a mistake; it was incredibly stupid to leave the salon. I loved it there! And how would I make money now? It was so clear to me: the happiness I felt at the salon had been real, and I was giving it up out of some ill-considered vanity; the need to protect my image in Uri’s eyes. As the moments passed, my decision became more irrevocable, and my life at the salon slipped farther away; I would soon have no place there at all. My panic increased as I tried to think of ways I could take my resignation back, meanwhile trying to remind myself that the point of ...more
3. There are few answers, I think, to many of our problems. 4. We just have to live through things.
for all of our fears and all of our certainty, the bonds that unite us will remain a secret from us, always.
into my head came the idea of fences; how when you have something you value, the next thing you have to do is build a fence around it. As it has been said, Tithes are a fence for wealth. Vows are a fence for abstinence. Silence is a fence for wisdom. These fences do not protect what we value from other people, like those fences that prevent things from being stolen away. These are fences against our own selves; against what in our selves can chase what we value away.