…the seriousness and dignity of their feelings. January 9, 2016Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
I see my son in the small tumult of the moment…shaking the man’s hand, nodding madly. He is not experienced at hearty rapport, of course, but his effort is meticulous and touching. He knows the man’s pleasure is important… . We must be more precise in the details of our responses. This is how we let people know we understand the seriousness and dignity of their feelings. Life is different here. We must be equal the largeness of things.
— Don Delillo, The Names
Not the largeness in the American sense of the monumental but in the warm, Mediterranean sense of this place, it’s large-hearted people. It is the particularities of the moment that are large in their ordinariness, the neighbor, someone across the street or around the block, the store owner, the man who catches the bus as the same time every day and the man who emerges from the store at precisely the same time the bus arrives with his first beer of the day. Each requires your attention in their own way, born of the familiarity and the pleasure of each connection, the roughly measured to overflowing by moment of the encounter.
The newcomers here do not understand this. They come from cities of strangers with a strict and distancing etiquette of sidewalks. Their connections are exclusively professional, whether accountants or poets. They are the people of the nodding acquaintance, subway elbows at the ready to measure their separation. They isolate themselves in the place they have come to immerse themselves in, run in packs of their own kind with the self-interested isolation of wolves, but without with an inbred knowledge of the landscape. They are forever expatriates in a land where they do not speak the language, lost without a map, forever miscalculating the human currency in which we trade.