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.

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