Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For use in “seemingly
intolerable situations”

David Rakoff, from an essay on working as an assistant in publishing:

Sheila taught me a survival technique for getting through seemingly intolerable situations — boring lunches, stern lectures on attitude or time management, those necessary breakup conversations, and the like: maintaining eye contact, keep your face inscrutable and masklike, with the faintest hint at a Gioconda smile. Keep this up as long as you possibly can, and just as you feel you are about to crack and take a letter opener and plunge it into someone’s neck, fold your hands in your lap, one nestled inside the other, like those of a supplicant in a priory. Now, with the index finger of your inner hand, write on the palm of the other, very discreetly and undetectably, “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you . . .” over and over again as you pretend to listen. You will find that this brings a spontaneous look of interest and pleased engagement to your countenance. Continue and repeat as necessary.

“Lush Life,” in Fraud (New York: Doubleday, 2001).
I believe that hatred is a waste of emotional energy, but I think that this technique is more about endurance than hatred. And I’m sure it will prove useful to someone.

David Rakoff was a funny guy.

Related listening and viewing
David Rakoff on This American Life

comments: 0