Wednesday 1:06 AM – Pigsty

by dschapman

When I was seventeen I stood beneath an arch in the rain in an alley in Prague and blew into a brand new harmonica for an hour. That is about as bad as it gets. I wound up in a fake playground in the middle of the Indian desert. The absolute middle of nowhere – I slept in the backseat all the way there, I felt sick to my stomach. Dumped in a park with a bottle of recycled water. I hit the backseat and I burned in the sun and I heaved with the thick scent of curry. I realized when I was in the factory overlooking the slaves, and the taxi man paid off by the stores to curry the favor of Westerners, that money was not first and foremost a bad thing. I refused to pay for the old man’s lunch, I was tired of him slipping everything by me. I was tired of being taken advantage of; I would not be taken advantage anymore. I bought him some juice and then made him watch me eat. I only took a few bites and then pushed the rest away. I almost didn’t let him eat it.

The first thing thing you must do is to write clearly and economically. The second thing you must do is to have a clear and distinct subject (or substance) to narrate (or assert) and then, of course, you must actually do so. It takes a certain kind of man to do such things. I can’t really do any of it, so I have given up altogether. I don’t know what to narrate. “Daddy, what should I draw? Daddy? Daddy, what should I draw?” I can remember a few hazy memories but they are mostly make-believe by now, or at least they may as well be. I excused myself from the rest of the world long ago and have given no sign of turning back again. No matter what I wrote now, it would all be fiction. But I am not sure there is any place for fiction in the modern world – information seems to have progressed past all that. But my imagination still runs and I remain somehow attached to the world. I would not mind, maybe, going East, or even going North again – West – yes, I’m still part of this world. There are still places I would like to see. I can’t even make up my mind!

Phew. I’m exhausted already. It grows hard to reminisce and reflect. Perhaps I should take up true meditation for once. Too many drugs. I grow too old for drugs. I must practice my abstinence. I must commit to the Epicurean ideal or I will be dead soon. I should swear off all that bad stuff completely. I could always attend a meeting with my fellow Christians. I wonder what they really think about God. In God I do not have to be right, I can breathe easy in him. I could put my hand on his shoulder and speak to him. I could give a speech to him. I could offer my gold to the drunk in the back with a little bit of vomit on his collar. I could sleep with the women in the front row, that big fancy slut with the earrings. I’ll do no such thing. I just simply will not be a part of it. She looks at me and she smiles coquettishly and I want to laugh at the top of my lungs at her.

In my bed late at night I lay wide awake wondering, like everyone does, just what I am supposed to be doing with it all, in the universe, who am I, what is anything, and I try to separate the myriad substances of the world in my head, systematically, like a taxonomy. I notice that things arise out first of all out of distinctions, and that existence itself is a sort of distinction, to speak of the “self” and “other-than,” the “nothing” and the “is,” which predicates every ontological commitment; it’s an old morality, Newtonian physics, but it must still be relevant. But what can you do with dichotomy? Well – you can program. And that is worth something. But I am not even a programmer – I am like an actor, I play make-believe, I pleasure myself for an audience – no audience, the curtains have drawn to a close – they were ghosts before, just shells of ghosts, sand falling out of their clothes, and they drifted through the aisles in their eternal restlessness, interrupting the flickering light from the projector.

Regardless; I have belief, and that’s all that I need. I believe and I know how to do what is right in at least one sense of the word, the worldly sense, by believing, and by God do I do it, and it has excused me from the rest of the world from the very beginning. That is all the most natural course. There is no point in society for people like me. So after my brief stay in the city across the sea I retired to a small home nestled into the hill of a valley, in the shadows of an old magnolia tree planted by the twine manufacturer’s daughter’s manservant in the courtyards that has grown into the sidewalk and ruptured the concrete with its mighty roots. There I found time, year-round for what seemed like a century, to twiddle my thumbs, and sleep for as long as I wanted to, long into the idle afternoon, homeostatic and eating up pills, and drink as much as I stomached, and eat anything I wanted whenever I wanted in endless luxury. Money lost its constancy of value and ceased to exist, and I became flagrant with my spending, free from the burden of honest men, temporarily dismissed from this “making a living” that so many men – not I! – can lay claim to. So I would stare at myself in the mirror and grimace, because I was embarrassed by myself, and amused, too, but knowing I had no intention to change anything, because how can you change from a life of perfect comfort, and what do you transition to? The starving artist is a fraudulent mythology and I want nothing to do with it. Nor is the world of the superstar wunderkind a worthwhile endeavor, although the money would of course be useful – and I would make faces like they make in movies, and perform for myself creative, desperate soliloquies. A monologue in the bathroom or off the back porch. I would imagine with the extent of my mind’s eye the girl of my dreams in the room with me, standing beside me, admiring me, as I lovingly admire her, and I touch her, and I pull her close, and I touch my lips across my neck –

Whatever you do, do not write about sex. Do not emulate the old poets, the ones who never grew out of it. It is almost the case you should not emulate anyone who writes poetry at all, because those who know anything about poetry know better than to write poetry. The old masters grew quickly out of poetry . Alchemy of the soul – a curse, a misunderstanding. Aberrations of an imperfect language. And anyway – men don’t read books at all. There is no faith left to believe in books, there is no time left for slow, drawn-out fantasy tales. The only way to believe in books is to first believe in God, and then to believe in art, and one or both of those is fiction, and men have no need for more fiction. We must be very careful these days – fiction is the stuff of modernity, and it takes a very brave man to do away with the elegant system of modern fictionalism in favor of something more genuine – pure belief. But that is just how feel about it, and I am nobody. Do not take my word for it. You have no reason to believe me.

I have heard it said that one thing books can do is teach you empathy, and that is certainly true. If it weren’t for books I would probably lose my empathetic link with the world altogether. Thus there is function in books as cultivations of empathy, and if you cannot garner empathy with the world through your actions than perhaps you can manufacture empathy through your words. The people will frenzy for your words, they love it. They eat cheap art for breakfast, cheap content streams their way for every waking hour. They hunger for something, anything, to gap the time between thoughts, apathetic depression. If you give them something fresh, they’ll devour you, and they’ll drink the come from your cocks while you recoil in shame. If you wish to cultivate your image, and render empathy out of an unempathetic world, then books are perhaps a profitable prospect for you. But to me it all seems rather whorish, and even worse – apologetic. The cultivation of empathy on my behalf is laughable.

Big science exam coming up, I must study. What happened to the prodigal son? I was supposed to be some sort of genius. I can’t even keep up good grades in these easy, remedial classes. I can’t even graduate on time. My scores are mediocre and my output is unimpressive, barely-there. What now? What are men supposed to do? No one will tell me so its up to myself, and you have seen what kind of nonsense I can dream up in my head. But earlier I said that I knew just what to do – and in my way, I am doing it. Living contradiction – I guess that is my right as a human, to form a contradiction. But now I am sounding like a weak man, and I must not appear weak. Now I must not let on that I am nervous, because anxiety is self-fulfilling. But I am anxious.

“Doctor,” I could say any time of day, and mean it in ten different ways, “I’m unwell,” or “I’m unwell in the head.” The doctor would give me some medicine and I would eat it, and it would cheer me right up for a moment or two. But there are costs attached to these things. It’s an ugly system to be part of. It makes it hard to focus, sometimes. It can make it hard to feel the earth beneath your feet, and without earth we become the transcended spirit, and transcendence is only a fiction of the heart. There is no time for fictions!

It becomes clear to me that I have nothing to offer the world, nor anything to say that is interesting. If I were a better man, I’d turn into moss, and I would envelop the North side of a boulder. If I were decent, I would be a loaf a bread, and I would grow moldy and get thrown away. I’ve been in these troughs before and apprehended the pigs and yes, it was sickening. But such is the way of the world, and I’m stuck with it. There’s nothing we can do now. Christ, I’m confused. And worse than that – I’m lonely. I roll in the mud with the pigs. We talk and laugh and wallow, growing fat. Soon we’ll be dead but at least, in the end, I will have wallowed with the best of them.