And I said, ‘Oh, okay.’ And the sound of drumming began—the drumming I had been hoping for. And so there was all of this drumming, and it was very exciting. And we went to the central square of the village, where there was a small makeshift wedding bed that I had to get into with the ram. I had been told it would be very, very bad luck if the ram escaped, and that I had to hold on to him, and that the reason we had to be in this wedding bed was that all my depression and all my problems were caused by the fact that I had spirits. In Senegal you have spirits all over you, the way here you have microbes. Some are good for you. Some are bad for you. Some are neutral. My bad spirits were extremely jealous of my real-life sexual partners, and we had to mollify the anger of the spirits.
'For people of my generation and younger,' Binelli, 42, writes, 'growing up in the Detroit area meant growing up with a constant reminder of the best having ended a long time ago. We held no other concept of Detroit but as a shell of its former self. Our parents could mourn what it used to be and tell us stories about the wonderful downtown department stores and the heyday of Motown and muscle cars. But for us, those stories existed as pure fable.'
…The deeper he went into the story, the more convinced he became that the negative old narrative had played itself out. In its place was emerging a new sense of purpose and possibility. ‘It didn’t make rational sense, I knew, but I found myself edging over to the side of the optimists,’ Binelli writes. ‘I couldn’t say why; it happened gradually, on the level of anecdote: I caught myself noticing and relishing slight indicators that in aggregate (or perhaps viewed through lenses with the proper tinting) couldn’t help but make you feel Detroit’s luck, despite such unimaginable obstacles, might still turn.’
There was a silence about depression in the larger culture that I inhabit but even in my own work. I thought [it] would be great to break [that silence] a bit. But again you end up organizing this stuff as an artist. So you do this weird shit where you plot the mental breakdown through the whole book. And you hope that the nerds will figure it out and if not – fuck it – you hope that someday someone else will just enjoy it on another level.
But depression fucking sucks, dude. Depression sucks. And part of you thinks, ‘Well if I have to deal with being fucking depressed, I’ll figure out some way to make some art out of it.’