Mark Langston is suffering from multiple European emotional malaises all at once

Mark Langston is fully aware that it is deeply civilizing to lie down on the floor at one’s place of work. Yet this is not why he splays himself out, oil on canvas, upon the uncaring soil. 

He is further aware that, for the Romantics, idle contemplation was edict. As Mark Langston studies the striations and industrial grace notes of the Kingdome roof, the idleness is only of the body. Defeat, one of the four worst smells in Christendom, is full upon his nostrils. Rex Hudler, which is one of the other three, will soon be there, too.

The French call it ennui. It presents as wheezing from the lungs of street lamps as you walk by them. The Germans call it weltschmerz, or “world pain.” You are the metastasis. The clinicians are uncertain how to proceed. Their diagnosis is that all life is prison life. The Portuguese would term it comer o pão que o diabo amassou, which is to eat the bread the devil prepared. Mark Langston has done that, and he is uncertain whether it is delicious or nauseating, which is itself a distinctly European emotional complaint. 

No mother’s morning jostling or tuneful whispers could rouse him. Yet he is not dead. Within the thousand corners of his mind plays out a battle of blackbirds. The blood, a worrisome saddle-brown in color as of 28 seconds ago, pools in the middle, drawn there by rare earth magnets. It floods his archives. Luis Sojo has taken a magisterial shit upon his certainties. Whatever the disease, this is not an uncommon symptom.

(Photo by Don Tormey, Los Angeles Times)

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