“Summer with a Thousand Julys” by Luc Sante

Summer with a Thousand Julys

I have it on the highest authority that summer will never end. It might get cooler, intermittently, but it will never stop being summer. Which is of course wonderful, because summer is a bubble during which life’s ordinary rules are suspended. Summer is when we don’t have to get up in the morning, or even the afternoon. Summer is when we insist on ice-cold beer to chill our body cavity, especially the spleen. Summer is when we go see particularly stupid movies because it would be unseasonal to have to think. Summer is when we get into fights with the neighbors over noise or property lines or because we should live next door as well as at our house. Summer is when nobody ever has to make eye contact. Summer is when nothing ever happened before this moment right now. Summer is when we trash the joint because whatever. Summer is when we fire guns into the air and the bullet never comes down.

All the very best countries celebrate their national holidays in the summer. Summer is the season best adapted to modern commerce. When you think Hollywood, you think summer. Arson perpetuates summer; it makes it an action and not just a moment. In summer, we think of rain as a calamity, and so does the weatherman, who pulls a long face at the announcement of a sunless day. Summer craves fresh bodies. Florida is the summer of the fifty states. Four Loko is the summer of alcoholic beverages. Libertarianism is the summer of political persuasions. Summer has no consequences. Summer has children in every orphanage. Summer just walks into your house and goes straight to the refrigerator without saying hello. Summer has not spoken to the other seasons in decades. Summer cannot get served because it abjures shirts and shoes. There are open warrants out on summer.

But summer, however phlegmatic, dominates. There is no arguing or reasoning with summer. If you try to, summer just belches and everybody laughs. Summer doesn’t need money because it has yours. Summer lies over the land like syrup on an ant hill. Summer wears your body like a shroud. Summer suddenly lashes out when everything is quiet. It pretends to retreat and then lashes out again. Summer knows your weaknesses, your blind spots, your unacknowledged biases, your unspoken shame. Summer drips down on you in irregular gobs from some spot you can’t make out. Summer claims to love you but then burns you and runs. Your mind goes tilt whenever you try to think about summer for more than a minute. You try to tell people the truth about summer but no one believes you and even you start to think you’re to blame.

Summer wasn’t always like this. It had a decent upbringing and a reasonable education. It lived in harmony with the other seasons, sometimes trading off bits of one another’s weather. Just where it went wrong is uncertain, except that it happened in our lifetime. It was all those cars, all those drugs, all that red meat, all that money it sucked up and vaporized. Summer only remembers luxury and rage. Summer wants to be universal emperor and lord master of the skies and everything under them. It has no real idea of what any of this entails but that doesn’t matter. It will not stop until it gets every inch of its way, and since that is impossible it will never stop. Summer will destroy all our coastlines and our fields and our cities, and when called to account for itself, summer will just belch. Summer is mindless. Summer is nothing but fun. Everybody loves summer.

Previously published in the Paris Review.

Luc Sante

Luc Sante‘s books include Low Life, Evidence, The Factory of Facts, Kill All Your Darlings, and The Other Paris. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Grammy (for album notes), an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, and Guggenheim and Cullman Fellowships. He teaches writing and the history of photography at Bard.

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