The Sentimental One

by dschapman

1. Although it pleases me to pretend to be tough I am actually soft, but kind of tough, too. I have toughed it out through some of the most existential hells imaginable, all the while remaining pale and soft, timid and sensitive. My body grows numb with disease and age and I hasten the numbness with painkillers, and that is a toughness, an ability to burn without pain, but the slightest  word against me can set me off, I can fly into a mindless depression over nothing, over a girl, over my own inadequacies, and that is a softness.

I wish I’d never discovered, of all the things in my life, this wretched notion of inadequacy. It sounded so absurd at first that I actually liked it, the very idea of it, I thought, how could one ever feel inadequate? What does that mean? It is almost romantic. But now it consumes me. Nothing is adequate, least of all my self. I am actually among some of the very least adequate in the world, and I know now that I will never change that. When you consider the scope of my fortune, the scale of my potential and the weight of my gifts, I am the most woefully underperforming of them all.

Inadequate, soft, and tough, but the wrong kind of tough. I might as well not even mention the toughness. Might as well not even pretend anymore. I am so lost now. Softness is a sentimentality, and it is the scourge of all things, of every man. Sensitivity is a disgrace. I’ve been suffering under a malaise of sensitivity for my entire life. It held me back as a boy and it practically suffocates me as a man.

I can’t take a drink, because I am too sensitive to the taste and the effect, it burns me alive. I can’t even go for a walk anymore, because I am too sensitive to the sounds and the sunlight and the temperature, whether its chilly or warm, the weight of my feet on the steps, to the sidewalk, the burden of day in a swirl. These extreme sensitivities contradict my numbing base of toughness and I feel like I am blessed with the worst of both worlds, which is to say, cursed. But I try not to curse.

2. Because I am sentimental I will die alone, because I am soft I will be subject to death, because I am tough I will welcome it. But death is not a topic for civilized men, and if nothing else, then at least I am civilized. If you do not want to sound pretentious, to sound stupid, to be outright embarrassed, then you will do what I do, and you will not talk about death. You will not talk about most things, especially the big things, like death. Sentimentality is a death and we must not talk about our sentimentality, either. In fact I am in grave violation here as I discuss it, I am putting my life at risk to be honest like this about my sensitivities, to lay my cards down, all my contradictions, my spurious vanities. Because this is, of course, all just a product of vanity, and vanity is just another word for self. I am so full of self that it sickens me. They recommend, I’ve heard, living selfless, without any self, whatever that could possibly mean. I can’t even fathom it.

The sentimental man, too, is in love with the world, but we must not ever talk about love. I myself have been guilty of this, it is a product of my emotional weaknesses. You should see the tears that come to my eyes some nights! I am ridiculous. Laugh at me. I will say this: loose lips sink ships, and children drown without a sound in pools around the country. If I hear one more word about love I will kill you. I will shut you up with your teeth to the curb and a 9mm round to the chest. I want real talk, not this nonsense love and death shit. I want animal magnetism, not manmade abstractions. Do not mention love to me twice.

3. I promise not to waste much more time on this. This sort of exposition is rather unappealing, after all, the grammar is poor and the diction is typical, the narrative is weak, it is written in a compromised manner and its substance is less than relatable. It is a useless diffusion of content. I should never have gotten involved with this, I should never have got you involved. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say this: that I am sorry I have wasted time, my time, your time, and that I have been in a rather bad place for a while now, and that I am trying to get back on my feet. Things are different now. I’m clean now, you will see. I’m finished with that junk. I am done with the notion of poetry and literature altogether, it is nothing but honesty now. True honesty, not the half-hearted farce of sincerity I once championed in my naivete. True honesty is good. It is time to be good now. I am done being other than good.

4. So give me some time, treat me fairly, and you will see for yourself what I am planning. This long-running joke will be drawn to a close and whatever pieces can be salvaged I will save, and in the future the world will be different. I will share it with you, and we will drink the nectar from the pieces, pour the remnants into the sea, the aurora borealis in the sky. Paradise is a choice of words, nothing more. I am there already, come and meet me. This is the case of divine intervention, God has given me these clothes. My name is not my own today. We are together at last.

I will pick myself up and turn the world around. You will see. That is the vision of the sentimental one, it is a hope beyond seeing, a measure beyond commitment, an ability to wipe it all off and move on from it. I remain a part of the natural world and I must learn to be natural.

These are my resolutions. I will stop with all this useless exposition. I will stop with forced rhetoric and fanciful prose, this forced and shallow pedantry. I will stop making dramatic assertions and self-effacing promises. I will stop acting as if I am privy to anything other than what everyone else is, which is to say nothing at all. I will stop it all at once, all this awful value jargon, all these pity-games and soliloquies.

These sort of once-off resolutions are almost as embarrassing to mention than sentimentality itself but it has to be done, just this once, just for the record. Let the record show my resolutions.

5. I know nothing about words and it is time I admitted it. I know nothing about myself, or my life, or philosophy. Instead of waxing philosophical, it is time I took stock in something more tangible. Airplanes, for example. Or wheat. It is time I made wheat into words and stopped playing Rimbaud in the streets with the junkies and fags. Anything is better than this. Pandering to the masses is better than this. Entertaining a child is better than this. Theology is better than this. Jesus is better than this. There is a whole world out there and I could have it, if I dared. I could put together something real, I could produce for the sake of production, become Man for the sake of mankind.

The time will come when none of this matters, when the concept of art, or that which I have called poetry, is long dead and not fondly remembered, when delusion is exiled and perfect simulations rule over the universe. I am not sure what that means to me, nor am I sure it means anything. Sentimentality is always meaningless. But I know that in my heart I will not miss the pretensions of art, the faceless idolatry of insignificant colors, words, this senseless poetry, and I will never regret moving on from it. There are things that matter in this world, there are things that need to be said. There are people that really need help, really need someone to lean on, shoulders to stand on, stories to lull them to sleep. I must quit fucking around. I must finally catch up with myself, at the end of the world, and say to myself, “Come back now, into the fold.”