[Late comment in place of some edits. Run-on sentences here, and a few things I will fix next pm. Please endure until then]
Usually the paper, some work if I'm unlucky, a check of blogs. I've added to my sidebar People Reading, where the author photographs and interviews, each day, at least one person she has come across in public who is reading a book. It helps, of course, that the blog comes out of San Francisco, where one may walk, take public transportation, and thus actually encounter people who are not running in and out of their cars amid miasmic strip malls. I've also begun to follow a blog I call by its fictional author's name, Joe Sorry, but whose title is really Home for Tea. It's a novel, really, to come into being through the daily entries of one thirteen year old British boy, the aptly designated Joe Sorry, whose social invisibility at school is only minor compared to a Mom who sometimes stays away nights and who often drinks too much, the vanished Dad, all, it is implied, brought about by the death of his sister the year before. The blog is touching and funny all at once: forbidden pets because of his mother's alleged allergies, Joe has recently made his own "ant box" to keep in his bedroom. So far, so good: no escapees.
Both of these are daily blogs, something I never intended mine to be (though I wish I could post more often than I do), and this had led me to think of how much I do appreciate what many of us now call our "daily reads," those blogs we check in with each day and in which we expect to find new writing. Perhaps daily reads, or blogs in general are a new (?) form of serialization; certainly, reading Joe Sorry has brought to mind Dickens, not because of style, content, or geographic origin, but because Dickens' "novels" were first published in installments. Reflecting on this (and on the deeper and more academically astute a piece I would be writing were I not trying to get my thoughts written before complete exhaustion erases them completely) brought me to another pastime I've indulged in of late, and that is a series on HBO called "In Treatment," where every night a new installment of a therapist's session with a patient occurs (all fictional), and over the course of the sessions between the therapist , Paul, and his patients, and Paul with the therapist he is seeing, a complex narrative emerges from this kaleidoscopic montage that tells the story of Paul's shaky marriage in the throes of his erotic counter-transference with a seductive and vulnerable patient and the stories of the lives of several other patients, whose issues ---naturally--- arouse the vulnerabilities in Paul's psyche. And one can see plainly, thanks to the beautiful acting of Gabriel Byrne , his struggle to harness them for therapeutic work rather than fall prey to them.
By way of writing this I am revisiting my surprise that I am enjoying this show at all. A friend had praised it, saying how difficult it was to "watch people in so much pain because they cannot communicate." How, I thought, could that description possibly recommend it ? Why would I subject myself to other people's pain night after night ? Yet I confess that I have sat through many an episode of Law and Order without that question coming to mind. And for that matter, King Lear, Greek tragedy, etc. The whole idea (therapy sessions) seemed quite dull. However, I looked it up and decided to watch an episode for the sheer pleasure of watching Diane Wiest, who plays Paul's therapist. Soon, since HBO repeats everything incessantly, I found myself catching up on the stories of all of the characters, enjoying how cleverly the whole storyline(s) had been put together. And so, again, my theme: beyond the mere "series" as one says of television shows, the "serial." And I'm thinking about this, and my pleasure in Joe Sorry and the sessions that come as regularly as appointments: how both, in a way, reflect that dynamic of pleasure that is found, as those who think about the workings of therapy have written, in the discontinuous narrative whose premise is that there will be place and space to continue it, the anticipation of where it will pick up. In one of Paul's sessions with Gina (Diane Wiest), she assures him that no matter what he tells her, she will not abandon him. There is something in that statement that the diegesis of the series reflects. In the episode it is a stark and powerful moment (the acting is superb). I do not mean to imply that there is a compact between the reader/viewer and the serial that is unique here, and I'm quite aware of the theories that would make narrative one animal and describe the pleasures of all narratives as, in part, what I describe here. Shall we say I am simply intrigued at the moment, by the configuration this pleasure can be found in, as a literary anthropological question, what possibilities these "daily reads" offer us, and why they might be emerging in the way that they are now. Some of this very muddy. Feel free to comment. I will write back as time permits. I didn't have the nerve to title this post "Mid Evening Cup of Tea and Serial." But there, I've done it in the end.