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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fatal Abstractions

Every day, for as long as I can recall, I’ve considered the notion of my mortality at my own hand. Every day, I consider killing myself. I am not suffering physical agony, haven’t committed atrocity which leads me to seeing offing myself as something deserved, I do not live in horrific conditions. To the contrary, I live about as rich as a man-beast can live.

I have a home reflecting my own sensibility, eat delightfully, enjoy creature comforts and mod-cons and a lot of really hot and gratifying sex. I have talent and capacity and interest and people I love deeply and dearly. I have, perhaps a better life than I feel I have earned.

Don’t get me wrong, I work hard and dedicate my effort to what I set before me – I sometimes achieve a high level of proficiency. While not lazy in a creative sense, always engaged in something to keep brain and body active, alive, I don’t have a good record when it comes to some of our other invented contrivances: I suck at money, god and politics.

I can be political, polite, when the situation calls for it, but I invariably say something offensive, often deeply, if you talk with me long enough. If you listen to me. My suckage at politics is my honesty – I say what I feel at any given moment, not just what I feel the person I’m speaking to would like to hear. This is impolite, impolitic.

As to our god money, I work in creative abstracts and god money is the least creative while most manipulative of abstracts. Designed to control, contain and condition the vast herd of humanity, driven from one uninspiring pen to the next prior to our slaughter, god money is the abstract which makes all others pale by comparison. I don’t work well within its constraints.

The fact of this, is the fact of my inability, unwillingness to dispatch myself. I, in my grand and opulent life, wake often to such despair that I must stay my hand from the pistol on the headboard. I have held it more than I likely should admit, faced its finality with the understanding of the freedom it offers too often for a life lived large, but largely empty. Each day I face a moment or several where I feel so awful that I could wither into nothing if such things weren’t prohibitively difficult.

I suspect the reason for this is that I am a failure. Another abstract notion, yet one so firmly imbued that it daunts me every day of my life. Don’t care about god, don’t think that money is the answer, don’t really give a shit about which asshole is the leader du jour (cause frankly none of them inspire me to follow). And while stating this, I must acknowledge the role money plays in the abstract success – the respect and adoration of ones contemporaries while a consummation devoutly to be wished, still doesn’t keep the power on and food on the plate. You need the big paycheck for that. Reality trumped by abstract.

This is my perplexity. I work in the abstract: writing, music, art are all abstracts which, while moving, cannot physically move things. A song can’t reposition your sofa, a painting can’t fix your plumbing, the finest written expression cannot water your lawn. I know this. As an artistic type, I know this because I have spent my life trying to get my art to do anything and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t just sit there, all smug and self-assured.

Which means I’ve got to water and plumb and reposition and all that other stuff that art would be so much better at than me. Abstracts don’t do anything.

Yet our mess, my mess, is all pretty much related to them. Our different gods polarize us, leading us unto racism through the notion that god favors us, which leads us to disfavoring others. Our leaders further stratify us along racial, regional and economic lines. And money, instead of the means to achieve our objectives has become the objective – all we want is enough.

There is never enough. So we scramble over each other to get as much as we can and its inventors sit back and watch us rip ourselves and each other to shreds to possess its purity of essence, secure in the knowledge that while we fight each other over the table scraps, we won’t be lambasting them over their promulgation of division through economic slavery, so they can enjoy the prime cuts unmolested.

I remember when I was a boy, 20ish, I felt this way. I felt empty and alone and foolish in the face of the world around me, thoroughly incapable of rising to what was expected of me, what I expected of myself. I was a farmer then, facing the day from sun-up: digging, plowing, pruning, planting, irrigating, harvesting. I was a young artistic type then too, teaching myself to write, compose, play music. But art wasn’t economically viable. For me.

So I labored. I have my whole life, on and off. Crafted art for free and cleaned out pipes or built houses or sold crap or made movies (other people’s movies) for money. And not much at that. Hard work pays off for some, good fortune for most who enjoy it, but the vast majority will work hard and enjoy no good fortune – ever. Hard work is no guarantee of success. Ask a field laborer if you doubt this.

This then leads me to suspect the reason for this sense of despair is the notion that I am better than what I do and my inability to overcome my failings is the constant reminder that I am not. I am no better than what I do. None of us are. All of our noble thoughts pale by comparison to our ignoble deeds. When I farm, I’m no better than a farmer (likely the most noble, and least rewarding, profession), when I plumb, I’m no better than a plumber, when I paint, I’m just a fucking painter.

That’s all.

I want to be better than this. I want to be the best at something yet understand with no equivocation that such a thing is beyond impossible but for one instance: I can only be the best at being me. I can only be the best at what I do, not by comparison with what someone else does. I have the experience of no other and no other has the experience of me. I can only be better than I am, not anyone else, just as anyone else can only be better than they are.

Yet that is our social measure – not self-improvement so much as the diminution of others. Best the opponent, crush the opposition, revel in the spoils of conquest. Fight, fight, fight – win, win, win. Those who look different, dress different, think different are to be marginalized and disregarded – superior types succeed, inferior types fail. This is but the caprice of birth, predetermination, God’s will.

Steal the crown, earn it, it doesn’t matter – because it is a crown, man positioning himself alongside god and nothing more than the clamoring of monkeys to be the top banana. For a while. Anyone can be king – anyone born into royalty or wretched enough to destroy any number of lives to wrest such a position from another. Superiority comes from exiting the right vagina alive or killing the right people dead.

Instead of working to be worthy of our fellows, it seems we struggle to be superior to them. This would appear to be the cause of our racism, the notion that for whatever reason, regardless of what we do, we are still better than others around us. Maybe because of our location, perhaps owing to our pigment, likely owing to our beliefs, but for some reason, we are certain we are better than someone else. Usually a lot of someone elses.

My despair is that I can’t live up to what I imagine of myself – I’m not as good as I think I am. If I made oodles of money and had adoring fans heaping me with praise, I wouldn’t be as good as they thought I was. But as it stands, I see impressive work which appeals to me ignored while observing work that appeals to children rewarded magnificently. Gaga. We worship baby talk.

As a joke of an artist, one laughed at – not with, I have sucked this up for my entire adult life. It has led me unto moroseness and self-loathing. When I create, I can contain it, direct it, take power over it. When I am compelled into non-creative endeavor, my spirit withers, my lust for life becomes disinterest and my drive to create languishes. I become positively unbearable. To me. I lose my desire to abide, to proceed.

It is through my relation with my abstracts, my art, that I crawl from my slough of despair and press forth. Disgusting that surfeit leads the glutted to thoughts of termination while starvation leaves the hungry with little drive beyond sustenance. One supposes that there is more than one emptiness and more than one response to it.

Battling abstracts with reality is an untenable struggle – like trying to slay Santa Claus or mate with the Virgin Mary. While food abounds, people without fictional money must starve; with shelter in abundance, people without pieces of paper with numbers and pictures on it must sleep in the elements; while medication exists in astronomical proportion, humans without the right imaginary permissions must suffer its lack. How does one overcome such perniciousness?

Despair, while existing only within the mind, can lead to the permanent alteration of a body.

Abstracts, driven by human action, can kill.

But you still have to move the sofa on your own.

© 2012 simmbiosis 3/13/12