Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Taking tubs

Today is the birthday of a childhood friend, from whom I learned the expression “taking a tub.” This is not a common way of speaking about bathing, I don’t think; most of us would prefer to say “taking a bath.” But I like the strangeness—it helps me hear a connection to locutions like “taking tea” or “taking drugs,” a connection that is not merely verbal. For the physical trauma of a hot bath succeeds in exciting the wildest trains of philosophical thought in such a reliable fashion that one can use it, as one might a toxin, to alter consciousness that one might discover truths. Late yesterday afternoon I sunk underwater listening to “Tomorrow Never Knows” and believed that I understood being. Today’s tub reading revealed that Harry Haller, a paragon of the contemplative lifestyle, was himself a tub-taker; on the first page of his narration he recounts a day on which he “had lain in the bath and soaked in the heat”; my book is mercifully unwarped by the vapors, my flyleaf notes on the nature of analogy unsmudged.


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