I began thinking about pain and parentheses when I was reading (I’m tempted to say rereading, but it always feels like the first time) Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, and came across the following question: “What does this act of meaning (the pain, or the piano-tuning) consist in?” The passage refers back to an earlier one: “Imagine that you were in pain and were simultaneously hearing a nearby piano being tuned. You say ‘It’ll soon stop.’ It certainly makes quite a difference whether you mean the pain or the piano-tuning!”
What tugged at my attention wasn’t the argument itself, to the extent that I could follow it, but rather the arresting parenthesis “(the pain, or the piano-tuning),” which immediately reminded me of another example of bracketed pain—“the most famous parenthesis in postwar literature,” according to Geoff Dyer—namely, Humbert Humbert’s laconic précis, in Lolita, of the death of his mother:
My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three, and, save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory.
I found myself wondering how many other parentheses like this there were: windows in a wall of verse or prose that suddenly opened on an expanse of personal pain. Masquerading as mere asides, they might hold more punch than parentheses are usually expected to hold, more even than the surrounding sentences, and have all the more impact for their disguise as throwaways."
Non ho sentimenti,
perché ci nascondiamo?
Il vento qui non arriva
a sfiorarci la pelle
sporca di noia.
E mi piacerebbe.
magari in un sogno
infinito che è la vita,
ma so che non è
non ho sentimenti.
E il vento qui non arriva
omg really stupid joke so like
2eddamit in arabic means “i applied” (for a job) but in some accents you say “geddamit” which sounds like “god damn it” etc etc
and “waddafak” which sounds like wtf means “did he hire you?”
so ppl in my family went around saying. “geddamit. waddafak?”
over n over