In the House of Eternal Return

by Michael Sheehan


"Okay, guys, step into the refrigerator.” It is one week before my father died and I’m in the space between the dining room and the kitchen in Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return and a mother says this to her two daughters as she heads toward the unassuming interdimensional portal. We’ve been piecing together the narrative, Luke and Pete and I (our friend Jason has already gone on ahead somewhere), of a family and a cult and a disappearance and of the anomalous creation of a multiverse that ruptures out of the rooms of this suburban California house built into what was a New Mexican bowling alley. “Oh, wait,” the mother stops them; others exit the otherworldly white light within the fridge as she holds the door. “Let them come out of the refrigerator. I just love saying that!”


In Love with the Same Ghost

It’s my first time flying in over a year, since COVID caused the cancellation of a previous flight for this same trip--bikepacking with four friends across northern New Mexico--and the man who takes the center seat immediately starts asking what each of us do. I groan internally: of course I’d get a chatty passenger, a bore, who immediately took his mask off to sip his expensive canned water and offer his wife a sandwich and ask why we’re flying to Denver. He offers up that he’s taken up writing in his retirement and I think fuck me, knowing I won’t be able to end the conversation once I identify as the same. This, though, is a bit different, humbling. He has retired, yes, from Kodak where he worked for many years in marketing, as the face of the company in TV ads in fact. His hair is dyed in that septuagenarian way that could almost be a toupee. He has books published, is working on a comic book series, and seems to be successful in his retirement--more than I am in my actual efforts at a career as a writer. He describes his two books: a woman detective goes “undercover uncovered” at a nudist colony where a serial killer has been stalking aged Floridians; two horror writers, one young and commercially successful the other old and critically acclaimed, are put together in a haunted cabin in the New England woods for a week by their agents in order to write “the greatest horror novel of all time.” They each plan to murder the other, and both fall in love with the same ghost. His plots are plotty, impossible, not at all lifelike, but I admire them: they are so clear. He says he writes without an outline, with no real plan where he’s going. But with premises like these, it feels like the order of the book is almost inherent. That’s not a criticism; the narrative structure seems to me so architectural, so evident, that neither the reader nor the writer nor any person who could live such an impossible idea could ever doubt the existence of some kind of authorial presence.


An Immanent Narrative

Every artifact in Meow Wolf is part of the story. Potentially. The maximalist art installations at its heart are permitted within the narrative but not, I’d say, essential to it. There are, though, trace elements of a narrative puzzle all over: an article about a boy who conquered Galaga is framed on a bedroom wall; his conquest was based on music, on sensing the innate music of the game (this hints at other parts of the narrative in other rooms in the house), and it, his conquest, earned him lifetime free games at that arcade; a version of that arcade1 opens out of a surreal space entered through the closet (or elsewhere) in which Galaga is the only video game you cannot actually play for free. Luke and I play Streetfighter. As you move through the house, stepping into the fridge, the fireplace, the closets, behind bookshelves, it is also the small elements--not even those that your attention is called to, but the overlookable ones--that make the sense of an immanent narrative feel almost overpowering. As a group, we scan QR codes and read and share ideas. We move into a narrative space as much as a physical one. In another part of the installation, a couple comes up behind me watching an animated video about the Charter and the Anomaly.2 “This is it!” they say. “We found the last one!” Only then do I notice that the opening screen indicates a part: 4 of 4. I’ve encountered the last first; they’re mapping the space to experience all of the videos. In another room, as they pass by me and into the closet, a son says to his mother, “Morgan is the only one who never dies in any of them” and I feel like the narrative is opening up, like there is a knowable shape to this experience. But I am also aware, throughout, that it is shapeless, that it is immersive and that I am integral to the narrative (or lack thereof). Sometimes I stop and stand and read the scanned artifacts, but mostly I am enjoying losing myself in this house, wandering into rooms where I literally cannot sense at all where I am in relation to where I’ve been.


The Swerve in the Lane

I’ve never been to Meow Wolf before but when I lived in Santa Fe, over 15 years ago, I bowled in the building where it is now housed.3 Luke (not the same Luke) and Kevin and Mark and I would go there. Luke and Kevin were very good bowlers; I was merely a willing drinker. They would mock me for choosing the absolute lightest bowling ball I could find; when they bowled with my ball they’d underhand lob it like a softball and laugh as it crashed halfway down the lane. They’d roll with heavy English, the ball slipping along the edge of the gutter until the last possible second then veering sharply left and into the headpin. The swerve in the lane as dramatic and exact as that which Lucretius credited with creating everything. As a pool player, I understood English like this but could only do it with the lightest ball and even then it often spun out of control, hooking left well before I intended or simply clattering into the gutter.


When the End Comes

I tell the man sitting next to me, when he asks, that I’m rereading The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He makes a comment, “that was an interesting movie” that lets me know he remembers only Lena Olin in lingerie and a bowler hat. But that’s not why I’m rereading it. It is, yes, because Meow Wolf’s house’s name made me think of Nietzsche’s Eternal Return and Kundera’s use of it for Tomas, a character introduced by the debate between the lightness and weight of experience:

Einmal ist keinmal, said Tomas to himself. What happens but once, says the German adage, might as well not have happened at all. If we have only one life to live, we might as well not have lived at all.

And later, “‘Es könnte auch anders sein,’ or ‘It could just as well be otherwise.’” And, yes, I am rereading it in a bit of nostalgia4–many years ago when Luke introduced me to the book I then read all of Kundera and fell in love with his approach to metafiction (re which I should confess I was also reading the book for you, because I knew I’d eventually want to write some of these sentences). But I’m really reading it now because of the final section of the novel in which the dog, Karenin, dies. I cannot quite bring myself to read that section, but am reading toward it. As I readied to leave for this trip my dog, Miles, a 16 year old lab mix, threw up and refused to eat. I hand fed him chunks of boiled chicken as he lay on the floor, which reminded me of Tomas and Karenin and the biscuit. I worry maybe this is the decline, the start of Miles’ rapid, natural end. It isn’t, but I spend days worried I will be out someplace remote in New Mexico when he stops breathing. I worry about the burden I’m leaving on my wife and the possibility this will happen and I won’t be there. That’s the crux of it: I am worried I will not be there with him when the end comes.


Puppies for Dummies

I got Miles when I lived in Santa Fe with Luke and Pete, in 2005. A woman named Lani Moore was driving through the desert near Madrid when she heard what she told me sounded like an adult dog crying; she stopped and when she opened her door he immediately jumped in, a skinny, wormy, blond puppy, about 6 weeks old. She looked for his mother, other puppies, but found nothing. I adopted Miles from her a couple weeks later. Once, when he was very little, I closed him into my

bedroom while I took a shower. When I came back, he’d pulled books off the lowest shelf and eaten their spines. This included Goethe’s Theory of Colors. Also Art Forms in Nature, which I’d gotten from the library of the College of Santa Fe, where I taught. Foolishly, I tried returning the chewed-on cover, but the librarian immediately called and asked, “What’s this?” and so I exchanged that copy for a new one. Also, appropriately, he shredded Puppies for Dummies.


Rendered in Delicate Arrangements

Meow Wolf’s Morgan is a fourth grader who can talk to plants, make them grow. In her bedroom, there is a poster reminiscent of the art deco-ish pages of Art Forms in Nature, the evolutionary biological study that produced vivid figures5 beyond imagining rendered in delicate arrangements that inspired a modernist design aesthetic. I used images from the book when I taught Drawing from Nature at the College of Santa Fe, since the idea of the book was the premise, too, of the course: that we would practice both science and art by carefully attending to nature and using drawing skills to capture patterns, forms, aesthetic resonance. 


The Greatest Weight

I moved to Santa Fe in 2003 to study, among other things, Nietzsche. As for the eternal return, I’d actually picked up a copy of The Gay Science--the book in which he first described the idea--during the summer between freshman and sophomore year of undergrad, mainly because the book’s description included Nietzsche’s proclamation that god was dead, which I was drawn to in an act of  Catholic rejection. I picked it up while living in Sleepy Hollow, NY, that summer, in a bookshop with wide tables of books laid flat. In it, Nietsche wrote, 

What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence--even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!’ 

        Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” 

He says, “The question in each and every thing, ‘Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?’ would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight.”6 



In an interview in a fake magazine in the house, Piper Pastore–the mother of a disappeared son, Lex, and the sister of the cult-leader Lucius Selig who created worlds to sell as tourist traps in the multiverse–describes dream visions she’s been painting of the figures that visit her from the fog, the fog where her son will be left.7 Her art, her creations, are visitations, are hauntings, are attempts to exorcize these unrememberings, these faceless figures from unknown places and times. At the same time when and in the same store where I bought The Gay Science, I bought Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, a book I have kept through many moves over twenty years and not yet fully read. After his death, I had strange, intense, often narrative dreams involving my dad. The latest of which was a dream in which my dad called me, impossibly. I answered the phone and it was his voice. This was as shocking in the dream as it would have been awake. But he was casual, natural, even laughing. It was his voice. I told him I loved him and gave the phone to my mom.


The World is Upside Down

Wandering around the outer shape of the house, I pass a glass display case filled with inexplicable objects, both mundane and surreal; beyond, the room becomes a hallucinatory black and white pattern like the negative of a star’s inner heart; then the world is upside down. I notice a bench hanging above me; the sidewalk winds along the grassy ceiling to where a few steps drop down like suburban stalactites.


Character Karaoke

To get your drink at Silva Lanes, you had to go to the karaoke bar where this one guy always seemed to be there, this sad guy who sank into the stool at the front and watched the lyrics scroll and intoned, awfully, pop hits. I imagined a game in graduate school--that I never got anyone to actually play--where we’d have a character karaoke party: you’d get a slip of paper with either a brief description of who you are or of how you feel and then the song you’ve chosen to sing: Your mother’s cancer has returned; “Oops I Did it Again.” This role playing idea was born of sitting in the dingy bar at Silva Lanes and watching this man--who was he? What compelled him to sing?--as we sipped cheap beer. Also, though, a few years later in Santa Fe, at another, much better karaoke bar, a friend/acquaintance, Nick, had once signed up as he and B and I sat drinking and then proceeded to do Green Jelly’s “Three Little Pigs,” which was the greatest, wildest, karaoke I’ve ever seen--fully entering performance art territory. “Well the third little piggy was a grade A student, his daddy was a rockstar named Pig Nugent, earned his Master’s degree from Harvard College, built his house from his architect knowledge.”



It was on Facebook, years ago, that I saw Nick was involved with something in Santa Fe called Omega Mart. I remembered this long after, when Meow Wolf launched and seemed to gain immediate attention. I saw there was some connection, but not until I visited did I bother to track it down--I just took for granted this installation art entity in Santa Fe involved Nick, but I wasn’t sure if or how. When I watched the documentary Origin Story, though, there he is8, building a ship with the collective that became Meow Wolf in Santa Fe’s CCA. He was a writer-to-be in the Great Books program, as was I though I’d finished by the time he started. We dated the same woman--him briefly, me for much longer. I ended up with his vintage Schwinn when I began a more committed period as a bike commuter. It was beautiful, glittering scarlet paint with a gold saddle. He had a saddle bag on it that I also got, that I still have, that had a hair-banded bundle of metal bike tools in it that seemed as vintage as--more than--the bike itself. I identify Nick with those tools, the aesthetic element in them--I had, even back in Santa Fe, much more usable bike tools--the sense that they are not just functional but also material, their object-status as meaningful as their use. During the pandemic, I got the metal tire levers and multi-wrench out on a sort of lark, working on a different bike (the Schwinn long gone) and the hairband simply came apart when I tried, for maybe the first time, to remove it. Nick’s contribution to Meow Wolf, from what I could find, was to the glass case I’d passed, filled with artifacts, aesthetic curios, books and objects both glittered and non-.


The Feelings, The Physical Experience, Returned

The end of the bikepacking trip was a search-and-rescue call (I initiated) and a long wait and a long drive down from ten thousand feet in the back of a New Mexico State cop’s truck, a quartet of expensive mountain bikes, their wheels removed, jammed into the bed. Maybe the less said about the why (high desert drought, dehydration) the better--but the moment I made the call, to leave, I will describe out of context. Because in the shade of a small aspen I fell first to my knees, then through them, fell out of the ride, fell almost unconscious. My hands went numb and then the numbness climbed toward my shoulders. I felt some kind of sick that was at once unlocatable in my body and everywhere. I was dizzy, couldn't catch my breath. I had taken my shirt off but it felt like my temperature was rising, my limbs emptying out. My friends told me to lay down and I was able to calm my breathing, to feel the air on my exposed chest, to sense the shade of the tree on my closed eyelids. We waited there. I had never felt anything like this before, how bad it felt when it came on, how weird and scary it was to lose feeling in my fingers, hands, arms, to feel my breath racing, to feel I needed to throw up or shit or simply drop to the ground--just wanting it to be over. A quick google search after we were down revealed what I felt were indeed signs of dehydration--as well as other things (I stopped sweating as we continued to push our bikes after I did, finally, stand back up). But then, a week to the day after I got back from that trip, when the hospital chaplain led my mother, sister, brother, and me back to see my father, it was eerily the same. The feelings, the physical experience, returned. My hands were tingling, numb; I couldn’t catch my breath, could barely stand. The chaplain brought me water and I drank. A quick google search after we’d lost him revealed what I felt are signs, too, of a panic attack. It doesn’t matter in either case, but I wonder was I suffering dehydration or a panic attack knowing there was no water and none nearby? Was my grief manifesting as physical pain9, capable of knocking me unconscious there beside him, or was this a return of a fear that I had only recently met?


A Space Both Liminal and Central 

Because of course you walk through a narrative experience, one that is at once controlled and free, created and merely suggested for you. And you step out of that place--the bowling alley’s exit where the karaoke bar’s doors once were--you step not out of but into narrative, reflective now, aware maybe, of the fact that you have not exited a manufactured reality into your own but have simply returned to the immersive narrative you’ve been in. You were born in. Or not even that: the throughlines that were with you before the House of Eternal Return may remain or you may see them differently, anew, and the particulars of what comes next are as uncertain leaving as they were going room by room, stepping through the fireplace into a space both liminal and central, listening to kids play surprisingly melodically on the bones of a mastodon, walking through what at first seems like only a neon light installation but you realize is actually the aquarium in the living room. You’re inside it now, sunk into the world in its fractal patterns and its radical expansion outward: repeating and deviating over and over.


A Page Torn Out

In my copy of The Gay Science, I find a page torn out of the blue-bound journal I was writing in when I first moved to Santa Fe. “I don’t think humans can really understand death,” I wrote, maybe in the voice of a character in the post-collegiate novel I was writing. “I’ve experienced death and you never really feel like the person is gone, you know. We can sometimes forget them, somewhat anyway, but when we do think of them, we don't see them as gone. We can’t grasp that, that finality: they no longer exist.” Then I added a line trying to make the case that we all dreamed up God as consolation for this ineffable loss, the uncertainty, the endless end.


The Curvature of this Plane

Because what memory is is a house with many rooms, a space we enter and retreat from, return to, wander; a place that can be haunting, multiversal, the desire, the belief, that we can find where we were once before again and again and live it anew, live it over, live it ever. That in one of these rooms, I can see him again, not a visitation but stepping back fully, whole, entire, into another moment, the curvature of this plane like the path through the neon-lit aquarium back around to the entry of the house.



When the priest rose to give his homily at my father’s funeral, two weeks after my return home from the great return to Santa Fe, he provided an exegesis on the use of the passive voice in translations of the Bible’s Hebrew and he went on to cite the line from John, “in my father’s house there are many rooms.” John’s Jesus is saying there is room for all--or for many--and that he, Jesus, will go before and prepare a place for us, for the elect. Many rooms. A house is a unity of rooms, the order on the chaos of the many rooms within, of the nearly-limitless expansion of individuated places within. What rooms shape our grief? The room in the palliative care wing of the hospital where my family gathered around my father, the wall-less room of the ICU where we finally got to see him, the tent I slept in in my own backyard beside my son when I got the text from my mom that my dad was hospitalized in crisis, the wide windowed room of the church, the repurposed barn where we gathered after to luncheon and mourn?


Ghosts, Glimpses

It seemed like a disaster at the time, like maybe the end in fact, when we finally got picked up by the New Mexico state trooper and ferried down over the course of two hours to be dropped at a dingy Motel 6 in Espanola–despite backseat attempts to find any other place where we might sleep for a night. I didn’t feel saved, I didn’t feel relieved, I didn’t feel finished–in fact, what I felt was the incompletion of the planned route. We had ridden our bikes out into the desert and the mountains and had not found the way back, had not ridden to an end but had instead been brought back via a different route, a different means, finally landed for an odd evening overeating and cleaning our dirt-hardened bodies before heading to Santa Fe for an unexpected extra day of sightseeing and breakfast burritos. Once there, Luke tried to navigate by memory. As we struggled to determine where exactly we should go to get to the same burrito place we ate at regularly, we passed the elementary school where we all worked, the old apartment where I’d lived alone and then the townhouse where the three of us had lived afterward. We passed friends’ old houses, restaurants and shopping where we’d taken guests, where we’d walked. Things had changed, things stayed the same. But we couldn’t make our way easily using our memory maps. We had returned only to find this was not our home anymore. What we knew and expected to find there turned out to be just ghosts, glimpses of experiences that seemed slightly off: we almost failed to recognize the elementary school where we all worked, now shuttered, as we slowly passed by it. The street where we expected a restaurant was actually just north of the street where it was. On and on. The experience was at once deeply familiar and disorienting, standing where we’d stood before, our great return, only to find there was no way back, no home to return to, but rather than the same space now shaped by a new narrative.


The Rooms Where I’d Once Been

I borrowed the car while everyone watched basketball and drove to St. John’s, which I hadn’t been back to in over a decade. My mom had sent me a troubling email summarizing my dad’s visit with his oncologist, an event I’d been tracking and asking to get updates on. The email was followed by a text, apologizing for the worry she expressed in the email. The roads to St. John’s were even more surprisingly unfamiliar than the roads around town. I found Camino Cruz Blanca, though, and the parking area and the campus were the same, like revisiting my first drive here in 2003. I called my mom, but she’d just gotten out of the shower and said she’d call me back. I walked across campus, past the fountain in the plaza, through a building where I had one of my first and one of my last classes. Walking this familiar place now unfamiliar and trying to find the ghost of who I’d been there, trying to remap myself to it, to remember my way into the rooms where I’d once been. I walked across the brick down to the library, where I remember sitting and listening to music and eating peanut butter sandwiches between evening classes my first year. So lonely, so far from everyone. I crossed the large square where my parents watched me graduate in 2005, walked back out to the parking lot, and started down the trail to the arroyo–which I’d hiked through and up to Atalaya countless times, my favorite hike–when my mom called. Not far along the trail, the call cut out, so I turned back, went and sat at a bench between the visitor lot and the college, looking out at the bell tower and Sun and Moon Mountains. She told me how my dad had been doing, told me more of what she hadn’t told me before. Afterward, I texted him, but didn’t call; I don’t know why. I never heard his voice again.


Ghostly Notes

I find myself, alone, after the upside down sidewalk, in an open room. In a corner, a piano sits and at it sits a man, a man who is not part of Meow Wolf--or that is, is not part of it other than the way in which all of us guests are. He plays. He plays sad, strange, sparse notes. They ghost across the space where many others flit and pass, seek clues or take selfies. The ghostly notes congeal in the corner where I find Jason--finally--watching a video in which Lex and Nicolae experiment with sound, using frequency to reach deeper into wherever it is they are going.


You Don’t Disappear

After a strong start, I struggled on rocky singletrack--or singletrack that faded into a rocky terrain where my pedal stroke was marred by rock strikes--and then we progressed into a long stretch of deadfall where we hefted fully laden bikes up and over fallen pines over and over again, wrestling the bikes and our bodies across this impassible trail. Finally, we came to a long descent that became technical in parts, too technical for me: I lost my back wheel on an s-curve that dropped away to the right side. I caught myself before falling badly, but it was enough to erase any confidence I had. That night, in camp, I reflected on these struggles and falls and the parts of mountain biking that occurred to me every time I rode routes like this: what was I doing there? But, predictably, after a long slog pushing our bikes up a steady, rocky climb the next morning--and breaking my chain--the route got flowy and there were moments to be aware again of the beauty of riding at 10,000 feet, watching clouds shift and roll across the New Mexican skies. And the following day got better--though it started, perhaps, the hardest of all, with a lost trail leading us to wander, with our bikes over our shoulders, up and down through thick mountain forests where roads were said to once have been--when we spent many miles descending on fast gravel and then, though the heat got to me, many miles racing the Abiquiu Post Office’s business hours on road, and finally being forced to push past our planned camp to climb and ride to National Forest Land, where I caught a last wind and rode out past everyone to the campsite, not losing myself but finding the moment I was there for, the moment of being small against the rise of the mountains, being awake to the world. I lifted my head and breathed; I filled myself with that moment. That’s one of the things I loved about living in the mountain west, the ability to get out into a nature so big you don’t disappear but feel your place. Maybe it’s something like the world reminding you--not to imply interventionist intention or any agency--it will outlast you, that the events that weigh upon you--what seems the greatest weight--is nothing against the sky, the long stretch of desert grass and the gentle roll of the mountain ridge. I thought about my dad as I rode, alone, against that land, that sky, that something bigger than myself. Some things cannot be translated into language. If I said it was a holy moment that would you know what I mean? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” That night was warm; I slept with the rain fly off the tent, laid awake staring up at the Big Dipper, the stars another experience of distance that grounded me in myself, presented a map of where I’d been and who I’d been and the spatial connection between the past and the present.

1 From Meow Wolf:  “Even though entropy is claiming arcades they are still a vital part of pop culture. Wiggy's Plasma Plex, the free arcade inside the House of Eternal Return, speaks to this contradiction with more than one dozen free classic arcade games. Meow Wolfer Benji Geary built the space and peopled it with characters whose culture was informed by iterative nostalgia for things that no longer exist. 
“Why does an art exhibition need an arcade? The building Meow Wolf now occupies used to be the Silva Lanes Bowling Alley, which closed its doors more than seven years ago. The bowling alley had the last arcade in Santa Fe. The other notable arcade, Jets at the Santa Fe Place Mall, closed and was replaced by Tuesday Morning, a discount home furnishing store.”
 2 The anomaly is a creative force, the charter an organization seeking to impose order on it. After our visit, we (mainly Luke) invent a card game, a variation on euchre, in which one of us doesn’t play but the hand is instead a randomized shuffle, is “the anomaly” as an entity. It’s a little hard to explain, but basically, someone turns the cards for an absent player who follows no rule but chance. We tried to outthink it, to strategize. When finally, once, we beat the absent player randomly playing cards we felt a joy out of proportion to the knowing nonsense that had created the game and its invisible, anomalous player. But when they won, it felt more and more like there was an intention, an agency, a presence there with us. They tended to win in dramatic turns at the end of a hand, reversing what progress we’d made with a sudden devastating play. It did not feel random or without authorial intention, though of course we knew–we knew–it was.
3 Throughout the visit, I thought of B.S. Johnson’s opening to The Unfortunates, his mostly shuffable book-in-a-box in which only the first (“First”) and last (titled “Last”) chapters are not met randomly: “But I know this city!”
4 In his novel Ignorance, Kundera’s two characters, Irena and Sylvie, sit at a table. One asks why the other hasn’t gone “home” to her country of origin; the other responds, "You mean this isn't my home anymore?" Her friend, after some back and forth, declares, “‘It will be your great return.’ And again: ‘Your great return.’” This permits him to explore the etymology of nostalgia: 
The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return. [In certain languages, other terms] mean only the sadness caused by the impossibility of returning to one's country: a longing for country, for home. [In languages drawing on a Latin root,] nostalgia seems something like the pain of ignorance, of not knowing. You are far away, and I don't know what has become of you. My country is far away, and I don't know what is happening there.
5 You can watch the pages here. Ernst Haeckel, the author, also worked to proove the theory that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” and was widely accused of creating fraudulent images showing the similarity between species.
6 Nietzsche’s form in The Gay Science, as elsewhere, is gnomic: he writes in short, poetic, numbered, sometimes titled sections. They are fragmentary, slipstreaming through ideas and images, emotions and experiences, the argument arising in the aggregate.
7 She says, “The first painting came to me in what I thought was a dream. I was standing by the kitchen window watching my husband in the garden. He’s there, recording plant sounds, stooped over, headphones on, turned away from me….In this dream or whatever, I’m washing dishes. Steam is fogging up the window and this image of my husband, Nicholae, is disappearing behind the glass. I was losing him. And then suddenly I came to and I realize that I’m standing in my studio. There’s a brush in my hand and [the painting] is there on the canvas. I thought then that I had painted it in my sleep.”
8 Weeks after walking through the House of the Eternal Return, I look at the credits--looking for Nick--and find a former student, too, a former student with a striking enough name (in his real life) that I named a fictional character after him. He was in the class at the College of Santa Fe where I taught The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
9 I think now of B.S. Johnson’s ending to The Unfortunates, “Can any death be meaningful? / Or meaningless? Are those terms one can us about death? / I don’t know, I just feel the pain, the pain.”

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