The philosopher Eugene Thacker states in Tentacles Long as Night: The Horror of Philosophy Vol.3 that horror essentially exists in the tension between trying to reconcile the two statements “It’s all in my head,” and “It really happened.” Though he is writing about the nature of horror the same can be said of memory which often visits upon our minds the same paradox. The sensation is much like that described by Anna Kavan in her novel Ice as, “A world seen through nylon.” The principle is that an echo is not a repetition, but an imperfect recreation like a memory. What we hold close to is impartial, romanticized, or fabrication. But, as humans and artists, these partial illusions are often vital to our ability to create. What matters more than what clings to our hearts.
“Every being longs to find its complement, it’s missing half.”
-Plato, The Symposium
For the last few months, I’ve been writing and doing my best. But I’ve tricked, defeated, failed, and gone back again. This is life. This is the work.
The once-famous have grave markers the size of doormats or have had their cremated bodies stuffed in copper vaults like mail slots. I keep hearing “because their words had forked no lighting.” I keep hearing “most men live lives of quiet desperation.” I hear that the days pass faster every year.
I have never given a book away, and had it read. Remember that what you give away, be it a paperback or your heart, will be judged worthless if offered freely.
Percy Bysshe Shelley died in a shipwreck off the coast of Italy. When his decomposed body washed up on the beach it was cremated, yet his heart would not burn. It was sent to his wife who preserved it in a jar of wine.
For ages, there was the tradition of burying one’s heart apart from one’s body. More than a token or totem, it was an offering of where the genuine seat of your being and passion is found regardless of kinship or appreciation. Chopin died in Paris but had his heart buried separately in his native Poland. Where would you bury your heart?
Throughout his career, Ray Bradbury had a sign above his desk that read “Don’t Think.” He felt that when writing one should be feeling, rather than intellectualizing. Thinking led to making excuses, second-guessing, and lying to oneself whereas feeling allowed one to be present with the work rather than over it.
The automatic writing of the surrealists accepting that reason, forethought, and revision only served to mute the voice that came from the other realm beyond living until the car needs gas again or your student loan is overdue once again.
I am working on a new novel. I am writing poetry. I am trying to believe.
Wittgenstein’s philosophy is framed by language- “The limits of language are the limits of my world.”
I end each night feeling like a condemned man with an appeal in-process that he doubts will be noticed until it is too late to save him. And know that artists make terrible partners. We exist in the same timeline but in a different reality.
“All moments, past and future, always have existed and always will exist.”- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five (A view consistent with current quantum physics understanding as explained in the book Existential Physics by Sabine Hossenfelder)
The work is to move beyond trying to write artful sentences, to the surreal, obscene, and opaque to reflect the world as it is. Mad. Loving. Confused. Permanent, and fading.
Fail, kiss death, and rise to try again. It doesn’t matter, but it matters. And nonsense is the last remaining logic.
“The Death of Literature” Mary Gaitskill
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