Friday, April 15, 2011

There Is A Light

I'm rushing headlong to the end of my thirties, and as much as I tell myself to love what I love, that I know what I want and not let anything else bother me, I'm not exactly in a place to get everything that I want. On the one hand, my moral social code is more in line with those of my friends who already have kids, established careers, mortgages, monogamy and what not. On the other, my aesthetics are still geared toward ironic tees, jeans, sitting with knees up with hipster tunes blaring through $300 headphones while searching for Japanese watches at 3am in the morning. And sure, it's possible that there's some cute alt-chick with a small nosering, big blue anime eyes who gets just excited about covers of 80s alt tunes who isn't a porn star and isn't two decades younger than me, but let's be honest, the intersection of the Venn diagram of my moral social code and my aesthetics probably is probably populated by a single inhabitant.

But fuck it. I'm not sure I would be happy, at least in this point of my life, with 5am wakeups, heading to bed by 9, with someone I can't at least laugh with, much less have a conversation over 15 minutes, who's leisure reading is solely informed by the New York Times bestseller lists.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


"I'm having a little problem with incentive." Dirk nodded at the stripper with the blond hooker wig finishing her set, handed her a single, and continued. "I mean, inspiration is all fine and good, but it's not enough."
"How so, my friend?"
"Well, I've been trying to figure out what to write . . ."
"Write or don't write, there is no try," Trasker interrupted. He lifted up an empty Heineken bottle and motioned to the waitress for a refill.
". . . Whatever, and so I've been paying attention to images that come through my head, memories, smells, anything that evokes a strong emotional resonance."
"You should be paying attention to Cindi up there, that should be evoking some sort of resonance."
"Eh, she doesn't look like a Cindi. Bit too ethnic for my taste. Anyway, so yeah, I got these images, solitary figures in long halls or wide open spaces, nights on highways lit by orange sodium lamps, which would be great if I were a cinematographer."
"Well, what's the problem. Sounds like you have a decent springboard to write something."
"The problem is that those solitary figures aren't doing anything, except maybe thinking. And thinking alone does not a story make. Oh fuck, I knew at some point they'd play Nine Inch Nail's 'Closer' here, it's like a strip club law or something."
"At least they haven't played any Motley Crew yet. Anyway, what's wrong with people thinking? You're not writing a screenplay so you don't have to worry about 120 minutes of some guy in deep contemplation. Fuck, it's prose, right? I mean the difference is that not only can you get into a person's head, it's one of the main reasons to read fiction. Hell, Proust wrote a ten novel series about some dude's wicked flashback from the taste of lemon cake. And the guy was a pussyhound to boot."
"Fuck if I know."
"I dunno, I just can't bring myself to write whole paragraphs describing the way dust motes drift in sunlight or some shit like that. That's what I mean when I say I have a problem with incentive."
"But at least you'd have something written, mon frere."
"Well, you might be right about having something written. Jeezus, I wonder if she's able to crack walnuts with a pair like those?"
The waitress picked up the empty bottle from the table and handed Trasker his beer. "Thanks doll, keep the change. To Proust the Pussyhound!"
"Here here! Oh fuck, you spoke too soon about Motley Crew."

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Three days after the dramatic denouement, he found himself in the midnight air beside the gunnery placements overlooking Ville du Coeur. Centuries ago, blood red thaumaturgical lines would have encircled the city during times of war, with the lights of the city streets serving as the intricate symbols casting the protective seal. Ville du Coeur would have beat a deep crimson in the cold night. There was no way to stem a feeling of romanticism and nostalgia in viewing the old daguerrotypes of the lost days.

Now, the thaumaturges worked their craft underground with particle accelarators. The old lines of faults, salt and blood were no defense to probability weapons, atomic leviathans and stealth dragons. Ville du Coeur during modern wartime was black and cold, the crenalations of Le Coeur, the cold-steel and glass skyscrapers, only illuminated if one wore night-vision goggles or during the fast and furious times when the anti-ballistic harpies were let loose against incoming MIRV missiles.

He was senior enough to walk the emplacements without answering to anyone first, much to the consternation of his staff. He didn't bother to take off his commandant livery--if there were any sniper able to get this close to Le Coeur, then she would deserve her target. And if Carcassone's slealth dragons were able to get past the basilisks and anti-aircraft artillery, then there's was nothing much anyone could do to save themselves.

He, as well as the regional commanders of the Northern Avalon Treaty Alliance, and the remaining battalions of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Expeditionary Forces not engaged in protecting the Government-in-Exile, were now simply waiting three days after Le Coeur had been evacuated of the civilian population.

It had been his duty to ensure that those who were not necessary to the war effort had left quickly, whether they wanted to or not. He had led preliminary Expeditionary Forces months before to chart out the safest route, and to eliminate any Carcassone submarines or krakens that might attack the retreating population. He had overseen the production of Class 3 Leviathans that could serve as civilian shelters if Nova Avalon were not readied, or if the convoy fell through a probability shift. And, three days ago, Alice had found him to say her farewell. Yes, he had ensured her and her husband a secure berth among the floating leviathan H.M.S. Abaresque, but he had not wanted to see her. But she had still found him at the airyards at Mt. St. Michel.

She had said, "I don't want you to think that I'm not grateful, or that I don't care about you anymore. I do. Please, I am worried about you. You've done enough. Certainly they can see that."

In return, he said, "If I don't come back, then I can stop loving you." And then he turned away from her.

That would have been a fitting end to a story, he thought. But here he was, in a deserted city, waiting for, what, his doom? An epiphany? Still breathing, feeling boredom at times, sadness mostly. And waiting for something, anything, to come over the horizon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

When you wrote, "I miss you," I'm not sure how you wanted me to respond. After all, the next day, you would go to work, see the guy you're dating, snd all suddenly all thoughts about me would be gone.

Maybe it's in those quiet times, when he's not around and all that's left around you are your thoughts and small dust motes floating in the afternoon sun when you think about all the attention I gave you over the last year. Maybe that's when you think how comfortable we were together, on those long hikes that we would both look forward to, the day ending in scratches, exhaustion, a feeling of contentment ending with a nice, long meal. Or those daily, random e-mails, little snippets of warmth that we would look forward to, easing each other through the day. But really, when you say, "I miss you," it isn't enough.

When you talk about love, you talk about a fling that lasted, when you place the days back to back, a total of a month. You become devastated at relationships that end with the passing of a season. You talk about how you wish you can follow your thoughts instead of your emotions. You talk about the excitement of men who will treat you badly.

And when I talk about love, true love and not that on rush of giddiness and excitement of a school boy crush, but that feeling when time seems to stand still and the warm moments that are a sepia-toned instant captured in amber, I talk about months of getting to know you, of being close to you and being there for you. I talk about the years since we've known each other, and that feeling of contentment and excitement.

You can say that you can't help what you feel. And I can't blame you for that. But I can't help what I feel either. And I feel anger, and I feel betrayed. That your heart would pass me over for someone you knew for a season, while, in your own words, I became the person you shared most of your life with for this last year. I can't help being laid low, devastated, taking it personally. If you want me to accept that you can't help but feel the way you feel, you have to accept that I can never forgive you for how you made me feel.

Because, when you say, "I miss you," I know you only mean you'll miss me during those occasional quiet times when he's not around. And soon enough, when he encompasses your life, you will mean "I miss you" only in fleeting thoughts as months pass by. If it doesn't last, then in your heart of hearts, you'll want him back more that you'll miss me. And soon, I'll only be a sad, occasional thought.

And when I say, "I miss you too," I mean that you're the first thought I have in the morning, and the last thought I have before I sleep. It is this disparity that makes me sad and angry, and it is this I can never forgive you for.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


"With all the shit that's going down in my life, I can't imagine what the fuck I'll be doing when I'm 45."

"I can -- crystal meth."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I'm Gonna Tell You My Secrets

So this is what you do.

At some point, you crunch the figures in that office of yours. Perhaps the office is in the back corner, away from all the machines, where the lighting above the door flickers erratically, a small closet of a space with yellowed walls and a cheap gun metal desk. Or perhaps its a bright corner office with two floor to ceiling windows for walls overlooking the ocean, a spartan, cold, rich affair. Whatever it is, at some point, you crunch the figures, on your old calculator, on the spreadsheet over two LCD monitors, and at some point, the accounts payable outweigh the accounts receivables. It began as a trickle, a little bead of drop from a cut, but now, you've let it continue for too long, hoping maybe it would heal, scab over.

And so you feel that weight, and really, you've been around, and you know that at this point, despite the scenarios that run in your head, that voice that tells you what you really need is more modern equipement, a better qualified staff, an influx of capital, you know it's simply time to shut the business down.

And so, you begin the process. You wind up the affairs, let the staff go and face their recriminations, deal with creditors and repossessions and auctions. You bury yourself in the minutiae of winding down. And as the days and weeks past, it's that last day.

And so, as you pass through the empty space of the warehouse in some industrial zone, on the quiet office in the commercial district of prefabricated white buildings, watching the shafts of yellow light create their own illusory floor plan, you remember the first day of the venture just as it was yesterday. You let yourself feel the bitterness and the sadness that wells up, but you've felt if before. And right now, you're just too tired to do anything but walk out the door, turn off the lights.

And so, the world continues, cars pass you by, people move on, not knowing you, nor caring. There is nothing to contemplate at this point. There is no decision to be made, no lessons to be learned just yet. It is too soon.

And so, you just walk away.

A Return

It is far better to be alone than to be lonely.
It is far better to be lonely than to be vulnerable.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

May Day

"I ebb and you flow
It's uh, a bit screwed
But you can't catch my love" -- "May Day", UNKLE feat. Duke Spirit

Because naming gives you power over the enemy, even if that enemy is a piece of self-indulgent shite voice in your head no different in content from that wannabe goth chick submitting bad poetry about void and pain and eternity and whatnot, that voice that has made you act on every self-destructive impulse which has cost you friends and hours and takes you away from what makes you you, I hereby allow you to vent so bring you out into the light and fucking choke you until you sleep until the next time--

Because yeah, people do suck, and they will forget all the times you stuck up for them, despite the promises to yourself that you will not get involved because you can never solve their problems, only just become one of them;

Because yeah, the good will oft interred with their bones, while the evil will be met with "Well, since I know you want to hear this upfront, I don't appreciate you entering into conversations you were never in to begin with, and why are you trying to make people like you in the first place?";

Because yeah, maybe that voice you hear in your head that, "You know, there's a reason why you're thirty-four and your still not married, I hope to God I'm not you when I'm your age," has a reasonable basis;

Because yeah, the reason why she called you is because she knew you would pick up, and not because she missed you;

Because the only logical conclusion is that you aren't the good guy you think you are, you dumb prick, and maybe forced sterilization is too good for you;

So bring it all on, I admit I'm not perfect, but bring it all on. I haven't walked over the ledge before, and I'm not scared of it. So go ahead, show yourself. Whatever you fucking say, we're all stardust in the end.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Vertical Desert

So if we're going to view the creative process as a scrapbook, gathering that patchwork of images and emotions until a coherent narrative presents itself, the last few months have unfortunately not yielded a depth of content. Instead, there are repeated images, repeated themes that fill page after page.

The first seems to be an extension of prior narratives about the loner and the desert. It begins with a ground-level tracking shot, the wheels of some old 70s car stopping. The door opens, and the black shoes that appear stamp the dust, caking the shine of the shoes and the crisp black pants with yellow. It is somewhere in Imperial County, near all the empty houses of the property boom that never appeared. I can feel the starch in the collar, the too cold of the car's AC, the spent freon on one side, and that bone-dry heat on the other. It's gone past not wanting to be here, and more into apathy. It is what it is.

Whereas the first image is bleached of color, harsh, white, the second image is night, dark, cold, damp. It begins in a spartan office at night, moonlight streaming in through the window. The city lights have gone stacatto, flickering. The figure in the office takes his cell phone out of his pocket. The phone flickers with the same pattern of the city lights. A slow smile on his face. The world goes slo mo.

So I stride out into the city. Slowly, the asphalt begins to crack underneath my feet. And the pieces start rising, floating next to me. Small explosions from buildings, and the shrapnel of windows, brick fly out and then slow around me. The white light from the street lamps keep flickering, and just deepen the shadows around me.

A group of men turn around the corner, with bats, with bricks, grin when they see me. The start running, swinging, and I grin back, dodging, twisting. I feel the impact of the back against my ribs, a sharp rabbit punch to the kidneys, but I also feel the satisfying crunch of nose cartilage against my knuckles, the wrenching of someone else's arm from its socket. And eventually, I have the bat in my hands, my tie askew, blood on my lips, but my body isn't the on the ground.

And so I continue this walkabout. And as the streetlamps go off behind me, there's someone walking towards me, grinning too through grime, bruises, dirt, her business suit and pearls askew. Her cell phone is going off in the same stacatto. And as the lights finally go out, we both lean into each other.

And then there are the repeated themes in my dreams. Crossing many bridges. Getting lost. More bridges.

I do get that urge to reconnect, and sometimes my unwillingness to just suffer through a night of clubbing and empty conversation makes me sad. So I try to reconnect with myself instead, put away any thoughts of the law, listen to some Chris Whitley, remind myself of who I am.

I try to tell myself that the river moves forward, and so should I. I think back to one night in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, and actually seeing the Milky Way, or arriving at Yosemite near midnight with the silhouette of El Capitan standing ominous and eternal over the valley. And I pull back, seeing the Earth, further out, past the Kuiper belt, past the Western Spiral Arm, further and further, past the this local supercluster, beyond. This would make most people feel insignificant, but for some reason, it calms me.

It still doesn't calm me enough to stop that feeling though. I can tell myself it's just neurochemicals, or the product of that million year old reptilian part of my brain that the 10,000 year old neo-cortex is losing to. And I still see smiles, faces, memories. And it's tough to simply let it be.

So, tomorrow I'll continue my routine of reading the paper, getting some breakfast, watching a movie. And then I'll start the day after drinking my six cups of coffee, and pound through the week, trying not to let that reptilian part of my brain get away. And sometimes I'll slip, and I'll hear her laugh at quiet times, feel sad.

It is what it is.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

Usually, this is where the story would end. Martin Stark had left the Westside Riders without a demo made, less than a handful of gigs, and even less than a handful of songs fully written despite claiming to be a committed artist. Instead, he shuffled back to a life as a consultant in Deloitte & Touche LLP, assisting companies in their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance efforts. And like many former so-called committed artists in Los Angeles, Martin Stark was on his path to the mundane, work-a-day life, looking forward to business casual Fridays, solid financial planning, and engaging in the occasional minor sexual harassment. His settled friends viewed this change with some sense of relief, the man-child finally putting away his childhood things. And as for his artistic friends, although the official version is that Martin Stark walked away from the Westside Riders because he wanted more stability in his life, they would have viewed his decision with resignation if it weren't for the rumored mental implosion that precipated the breakup.

Of course, this article wouldn't have been written if that's where the story ended. Unbeknownst to his former artist friends and his suited co-workers, Martin Stark with all his new disposable income started buying high end mixing software and hardware, stocking up on old punk and motown vinyls. The margins of his legal pads from work were filled with quickfire lyrics in addition to the intricacies of securitites compliance. And so, there was a disconnect when "Riders on the Storm -- The Ian Curtis Remix" started filtering from diverse clubs as The Standard, Rage and The Falcon and onto local alternative radio station 103.1. One of the DJs said he received the mp3 from his promoter, who in turn said he received it from a friend at a record label, who in turn received it from someone he knew in legal.

It was only after the third single,"Last Goodbye from Motown," from this suit who knew someone in legal who knew the talent exec who knew Stanley's hairdresser ad nausuem started getting national airplay that Martin Stark reluctantly acknowledged that he was the man who crafted "Riders on the Storm -- The Ian Curtis Remix," "Debonair Gentlemen," and "Last Goodbye from Motown."

So, two years after the breakup of that barely remembered local band Westside Riders, it turns out that Martin Stark wasn't content to toil away in Willy Loman-like purgatory. In fact, in his original compositions, he had honed his lyricism--cutting out his overwrought maudlin excesses--which in turn accentuated the emotions behind the songs. With his mashups, something that was not in his repetiore with the Westside Riders, he crafted compositions that went beyond pure kitsch and that was better than ninety percent of original singles.

Neither Martin Stark nor the other former members of the Westside Riders granted interviews for this article. (Though Martin was incredibly polite despite my admitted exhuberant insistence.) Thus, this article begins at a disadvantage--though one thing can be said--maybe his decision to return to the office wasn't such a bad idea at all.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Do It Again

I've officially rejoined the ranks of the full-timers, the lawyers, the six-figurers, of never ending pissing contests they call litigation, of being able to afford everything I want but not enough time to pursue everything I need. And the first day will be like the last day, four cups of coffee before noon, three diet cokes before I go home, a couple of drinks to bring me down. But again, that paycheck makes everything warm and fine just for a bit.

And as I go back, I go back to the heart that has stopped wandering, but stopped at a station that is closed, the trains too late or too early, with a wee bit of hope that if I stay long enough, I'll reach that destination. But for now, I'll take some solace in hearing whistles over the horizon.
And I wonder, is this a change or a return?

"Standing in the middle of nowhere,
Wondering how to begin.
Lost between tomorrow and yesterday,
Between now and then.

And now were back where we started,
Here we go round again.
Day after day I get up and I say
I better do it again.

Where are all the people going?
Round and round till we reach the end.
One day leading to another,
Get up, go out, do it again.

Then its back where you started,
Here we go round again.
Back where you started,
Come on do it again.

And you think today is going to be better,
Change the world and do it again.
Give it all up and start all over,
You say you will but you dont know when.
Then its back where you started,
Here we go round again.
Day after day I get up and I say
Come on do it again.

The days go by and you wish you were a different guy,
Different friends and a new set of clothes.
You make alterations and affect a new pose,
A new house, a new car, a new job, a new nose.
But its superficial and its only skin deep,
Because the voices in your head keep shouting in your sleep.
Get back, get back.

Back where you started,
here we go round again,
Back where you started,
come on do it again.

Back where you started,
here we go round again,
Day after day I get up and I say,
do it again.
Do it again.
Day after day I get up and I say,
come on do it again." --The Kinks, "Do It Again"

Friday, March 02, 2007

Why my writing group will hate me . . .

Yet another quote from one of my favorite writers, M. John Harrison:

"Ambiguities excite me mysteriously. I like any book or film or group of images that stacks them up then walks away. I'm overly stimulated by that, & indeed disappointed when an argument comes too far into focus. I don't want to be guided to conclusions, they're so often indifferent & boring. I want meaning lodged somewhere I can see it but not quite get at it, the way it is in a dream."

Dirtbag (Psycraft Remix)

"You've seem to mistaken me for someone who cares,I'm just a dirtbag under the weather . . ." Brad Sucks, "Dirtbag"

I'd been avoiding the fever clubs for the last couple of months, ever since the self-proclaimed contagion fashionistas dubbed H5N1 variants de rigeur. "Don't you know, darling, it's the Chinese Century, Chinois, c'est tres du monde, c'est tres chic." Fucking dilettantes, treating viruses as accessories. There's nothing sexy about the Asian Bird Flu or any of its variants, no fire, no heat, no beautiful dreams and visions. But hey, if mucus fetishism is your kink, liberte, man, liberte.

Me, I was riding some Rift Valley Fever. I had been burning and hard and righteous. I had the jones for some infection vectoring, that feel of fevered breath on fevered breath, the commingling of soft bodies on soft bodies feeding each other at 105 degrees. But no joy, no joy as all the infection kitties and pretties I knew were partying on the Bird Flu. But that's OK. James Watson unlocked the key of life by seeing the double helix in a dream, DNA as two intertwined serpents, and he had a baseline immune system with no infection. Rift Valley Fever provides such wonderful dreams with its burning.

I was content with my solitude and delirium, hearing the voices of the Seraphim while attending to the centrifuges, the electron microscopes, the bloodlines and gas chromatography. I was creating new strains by candlelight, the harsh whites of the computer screens and the dim orange flickers illuminating the lab. In the fever, even the antiseptic smell of disinfectants held a heightened meaning of promise and progress. I was going to see the face of God through the single-celled and spread his Gospel through RNA replication.

And when you do seek enlightment, the universe eventually provides.

I was examining a petri dish of agar and the white blooms of virus when Rose Choi called, all petulant and breathy. "Jack, I just had a marrow upgrade and feel all bruised and needy. C'mon Jack, come see about me."

Out came the feral grin, and I drove to L'Hopital Verte on Sunset and Vine. I was at the height of infection as I walked from the parking lot to the fever club, truly burning and righteous, an alternate Delacroix's angel with a fiery sword come back to let Adam and Lilim return to Eden.
Rose "la petite belle" Choi was standing under the green neon cross of the club's sign. She had kept her pink candy floss colored hair, those bangs in a jagged angle over green cat eyes. She was wearing a dark, schoolgirl jacket with a Union Jack at the lapel over a white t-shirt that read "Real Sluts Don't Brag" in red, a plaid mini-skirt and black knee high boots. Rose was Betty Page as remixed by a Hentai artist.

"Hey Fever Fucker," Rose said.

"Infection Slut."

"Sickie Molester."

"Contagion Whore."

Rose took her hand and held it an inch from my forehead. "My God, I can feel you from here." Then she purred, grabbed the back of head and leaned in for the kiss. I exhaled and she took it all.

When she broke off the kiss, she looked at me, saying "C'mon Jack, let's spread the disease."


If you ever read single author short story anthologies, there's always a section, either the preface or at the end, containing little blurbs about anecdotes about each story--how the story came about, revisions, alternate versions, etc. Most of the time it's the author's navel gazing, but once in a while, it's kinda cool to see the thought processes behind a story. Given that I haven't been published yet, it's a bit presumptuous for me to start entertaining ideas of writing one of those little blurbs, especially for something that may not make it into a story at all. But fuck it. So the following are the bits and pieces, the sketches, the flotsam that's been percolating in my head that have formed the bit of writing you've read above (given that this blog is set in backwards chron order).

A little over two years ago, I was waking up in the middle of the night hyperventilating from task dreams (you know the dreams, where your mind decides to focus on one thought or task--if I press the green button I will sleep, if I finish this memo I will sleep--so you press the green button in your dream or you try to type of this memo and your mind goes round and round and round). I was vomiting blood. I was out of breath after walking up half a flight of steps. I literally could not relax. It turned out that I had what is medically known as malignant hypertension. For you and me, that's incredibly fucking high blood pressure--a healthy blood pressure should be 120/80, and mine turned out to be 250/180. There was a good chance that I would be dead by now if I didn't go to ICU.

But also at that time, I had a steady, well-paying (if thoroughly mundane) contract gig. I had a woman who could (and who even still now, if I think about her too much) drive me to tears, but who, as we fell asleep listening to each other's breathing slow, would tell me "Come here baby. You have no idea how much I love you."

Now, well, after all the medication, my blood pressure is artificially low, too low often. I was at 90/50 a couple of hours ago. I'm light-headed, and if I stand up too quickly, I feel weightless. Instead of being unable to relax, my body has been jarring my mind awake--it's akin to that shock-like shudder when you're trying not to doze off while driving at 3am in the morning and your head, hell, your whole body snaps to keep you conscious until you can get to that rest stop. Those shudders have been happening to me all day, every few minutes. I still can't fall asleep, but when I do, I get wonderful, terrifying hyperreal dreams in crisp details, deep colors and such lovely, horrible, emotions.

And at this time, the contract gigs are dry. I have no one in my life who can either turn me tears or brighten my life with a single word, and yet my emotional health has never been better.

My new found mental stability comes through a conscious, deliberate effort to cut drama out of my life, to at most be a spectator instead of a participant in emotional toil. Being the type of person who is incredibly receptive to his emotions, a characteristic that, if left unchecked, can lead to irrational and self-destructive behavior, this attempt to lessen drama has meant taking a hiatus from looking for relationships. I need to make sure that I can maintain this newfound stability and control before I dive back into emotional entanglements.

But of course, the mind and the body is a dynamic system that also seeks equilibrium. Cut down on one impulse, and the body is going to shove back. And so the baser needs are getting stronger and stronger. So I'm feeding kink and the deviant by listening to the darker and sexier--Massive Attack, Recoil, Twilight Singers; by rereading the weird and the sensual--novels by Richard Calder and Steve Erickson; and of course, there's always porn.
So yeah, now you have the flotsam and jetsam that is feeding into a new character, a new scenario that I have in my head. I'm not sure if it's going to lead anywhere, but it's all about the journey, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nietzche on the Beach

"Given that external reality is a fiction, the writer's role is almost superfluous. He does not need to invent the fiction because it is already there."
J. G. Ballard

Recently, life was becoming metafictional again. It was bound to happen given the pile of read and reread novels steadily growing on my bedroom floor.

During the afternoons, I had taken to drinking steadily increasing amounts of coffee. I would be light-headed and slightly delirious by three o'clock in a state that I would imagine schizophrenics would suffer in the first day off of their medication. It was in this state that I would either reread novels that I had read ten years ago, or read new ones written by authors whose work I had read in twenty years ago in high school. This literary nostalgia was an attempt to break the ennui to which I had succumbed, which hampered any attempt at creativity recently.

I had begun reading one of the only novels by J. G. Ballard I found in Borders. The first time I had read his work was in high school. At that time, I had only read either cannons of literature assigned by an English teacher who blanched as my mention that "nunnery" in Hamlet was also a slang for whorehouse or straightforward genre fiction leaning toward space operas. I had not experienced life or literature enough to be able to explain why Ballard's works hit me so. Only later in life would I be able to explain the confluence of his simple, sharp language that served an unnerving view of modern society.

Two-thirds into the current novel, the protagonist had just been beaten by a group of men he recognized from the business park in which resided. "Entombed all day in their glass palaces, they relished the chance to break the heads of a few pimps and transvestites and impose the rule of the new corporate puritanism." Shortly thereafter, he witnessed the same men commit a violent breaking and entering in another neighborhood.

There is a fissure between the protagonist, who by no means is a saint, and the behavior he witnesses as he attempts to investigate the mass murder that had been committed by the previous resident of his home. A debauchery underneath the glittering modern houses of Cannes.

This is not to say that I have been ensconsed in any neighborhood intrigues, thrill assaults, or therapeutic sociopathy. Instead, I have begun to realize that there is a fissure between who I am and the daily wants of others. As I step back and examine my own motivations, I realized that much of tension in my own life springs from forcing myself to observe the debauchery of others, or perhaps more accurately, the underlying nihilism behind it. And yet, without these actions, life simply becomes the act empty act of killing second after second.