If there’s an analogy to be made between the winding down of the US presidential election and a sunset, the analogy breaks down when you consider the fact that most people enjoy sunsets. I debated between a winter sunset, the blood red brief ones — or the long, drawn out dusks of summer. I landed on a made up one by the writer Don DeLillo.
It’s funny, the book I started writing last year has themes about the nature of truth, the fact that it’s malleable and shifts, the same as one’s identity. Yet despite the subjective nature of truth there are absolute truths, things you can depend upon, like the calming effect of being alone in a forest surrounded by trees, the peace that comes in their presence.
When we were in Stratford-upon-Avon this past January, I was walking with Charlotte threw the gap in Shakespeare’s garden into town and she asked about Santa Claus, and I stopped and bent down and said it’s true as long as you believe it dear, hold that in your heart no matter what anyone says.
There was a busker with an electric guitar and a small amp we stopped to listen to, and I gave Charlotte a few pounds to drop in his hat; it was a familiar song from the 1960s by The Monkees I told Charlotte, called “I’m a Believer.”
We were in the country in Ireland for Christmas and the day after, St. Stephen’s Day, I took a long walk while everyone stayed home with their things: I chucked the rest of our uneaten ham into a wooded grove on the property, a kind of offering, and made my way up the broken road through the stream rivulets to a ridge where I could look down the valley, and heard a sound coming up: it was the horse races in town, and a commentator talking through a bullhorn. I couldn’t make out the words but the sound added a sense of drama as I got to the bottom of the hill, forced to take the lone road to wind my way back, and the road had no shoulders, it was often narrow and windy like a tunnel, and I feared I’d get hit by a car and left there to die.
I wrote more of the story in my mind that day, thinking it would be an auspicious place to figure out what really happens, how it unfolds. The fact that writing it was a kind of channeling exercise, that made me feel real by doing what I identified with most and had committed myself to, a kind of promise, its own kind of truth.
People say they want to know the truth, but they really don’t. The truth isn’t as interesting, it often doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t sell. Perhaps it’s a truth we look for in art and the best books, the books that hold a mirror to the beauty and darkness in our own hearts, that predict and reflect who we really are.
Our dinner conversations are clouded by a rehashing of the news, an addiction to stare at the perverse and deformed. The spew of lies and positioning, the Orwellian mindfuck of programmed conditioning, Orwell’s book published in ’49 post-Hitler, predicting something worse than Fascism. At the core of it, it’s about renouncing the relationships we have with others and resigning ourselves to the State. And yet the books with these truths in them are made up the same as the headlines on People magazine by the check-out stands we stop to scan, we can’t help ourselves, we really just want to be entertained.
I thought about one of my favorite scenes from Don DeLillo’s book White Noise, where the characters start driving to viewpoints around town with their blankets and picnic baskets to watch the sunset, the color’s so surreal and fantastic because of a mysterious chemical spill the media calls the Airborne Toxic Event. It’s made up and ominous but like any great sunset, you can’t help but watch.
And the analogy breaks down when you consider the fact that with sunsets it’s rare for people to say they’re really just ready for it to be over.
In case you missed it, check out this super story that reveals the hideous, diabolical truth about Hillary Clinton.