Anxiety 2.0 The Series: Trying to Occur


I started a book of stories last night before going to sleep, nestled cozily under the covers.  It is titled, “The Street of Crocodiles” by Bruno Schulz.

“If Schulz had been allowed to live out his life, [he was shot down by a Gestapo officer on the street], he might have given us untold treasures, but what he did in his short life was enough to make him one of the most remarkable writers who ever lived.” –Isaac Bashevis Singer–

I heard about him on my favorite favorite podcast called “Writer’s and Company”– Eleanor Wachtel from the Canadian Broadcasting Company.  An author she was interviewing mentioned him.  At least, I think that’s how I heard of him.

I got two pages into the Foreword by Jonathan Safran Foer and stunned, put the book down.  He was trying to help answer why we should read Schulz’s stories– indeed, why one reads stories at all.

“Life is already taking so much courage,” I mumbled to myself as I put the light out.  Do I have any left over to read this book?

“Can I afford not read it?”  This is what I thought when I woke up this morning.

Here is what I read last night when I folded like a cheap tent and where I shall set up the poles once again tonight and attempt to secure the canvas.  Wish me luck, Ok?

“We live on the surface of the planet.  Human life happens on a shell as thin, relative to the size of the earth, as an egg’s, or as thin as the paint on the wall.  We have lifestyles on the surfaces of our lives: habits and culture,  clothes, modes of transit, calendars, papers in wallets, ways of killing time, answers to the question “What do you do?”  We come home from long days of doing what we do and tuck ourselves under the thin sheets.  We read stories on even thinner paper.

There are things, Schulz wrote, “that cannot ever occur with any precision.  They are too big and too magnificent to be contained in mere facts.  They are merely trying to occur, they are checking whether the ground of reality can carry them.  And they quickly withdraw, fearing to lose their integrity in the frailty of realization.”

Our lives, the big and magnificent lives we can just barely make out beneath the mere facts of our lifestyles, are always trying to occur. But, save for a very few occasions—falling in love, the birth of a child, the death of a parent, a revelatory moment in nature—they don’t occur; the big magnificence is withdrawn.  Stories rub at the facts of our lives.  They give us access—if only for a few hours, if only in bed at the end of the day–to what’s beneath.”

Jonathan Safran Foer’s foreward to “The Street of Crocodiles”

8 comments on “Anxiety 2.0 The Series: Trying to Occur”

  1. I’ve always thought stories, whether they be sad or happy, showed us how messy and incomplete our lives really are. In other words, they provide the structure we all are missing.


  2. Isn’t part of the value of all types of art to “rub at the facts of our lives…[and] give us access…to what’s beneath”? Have courage that you are writing your own stories and offering your pictures for us, too. And have a good read!

  3. as an artist i am always aware of occurances, it is part of the Seeing aspect. But as a human being I am divided between the nuts and bolts and the potential for fulfillment, the heavier weight material seems to be the real fabric, the dreams are like the frayed edges. the there are times when all seems to be in some miraculous balance, but it tips again with the circumstances and difficulties. yes it is like skating (on thin ice) when i see and understand such as the stuff of your last paragraph quotation, i also see that as thin and fragile as we are, as little of what we’d need to know is known to us, and as drmatically full of emotions and ups and downs as life is, still, i think we hang on, we even feel great love for it, as fleeting, insecure and troubling as it is, it is the dearest and only thing i know.

  4. no comment

  5. Chris, Your avatar makes you appear to be a young man, and yet, so wise! The missing is structure. So interesting.

    Don, Yes, and sometimes the art rubs a few facts that I ‘d like to avoid or deny or just not deal with..but, with Chris’s “structure’ in mind, I think one of the reasons the creative process is so absorbing is precisely that. You feel you are within something even tho no visible boundaries. Yikes. Did I just say that?

    Tipota, I can always count on you to take a subject like this in your unique and valuable way. I like thinking that I might love that which scares me.

    NKgee, hilarious, you. You don’t wanna comment on “Street of Crocodiles”? Too busy livin’ it, I suspect.

  6. Trying to occur. Our lives are trying to occur. I like that. There’s a belief that everything we go through isn’t real, that it’s a bit of a Truman Show-like facade. When things get really bad, that’s what I tell myself. Now, having made 4 more wonderful people redundant today, I am just going to tell myself that my life is TRYING to occur, that it’s all the Truman Show and one day soon I’ll walk through the backdrop into a real, beautiful, parallel existence. See? They can’t take away our power of thought and imagination. Excuse me if I leave the real world for a while and live in my head. Care to join me, Pat?

  7. Wow you are getting so philosophical….

    I was at Panera bread the other day, and I busted out laughing thinking of you as I eyed the beautiful bread there.

    Another lovely photo.. Im having a hard time these days choosing which style I like the best… They are all so wonderful Pat!!!

  8. I’m with you, Epic! Oh, I wish I could do it!!! I’m really bad at it these days. REally really bad.

    Amber, I am going to submit that one about the bread and the compact and one other to a contest. what the hell, right?

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