Thursday, December 01, 2005

a break from our normal programming

so, a girl who i'm really, really supposed to be over by now tells me that she's made plans this evening. and for some reason i was really bothered about it.

anyway, that's not really the point. the point is that for some reason i've got it into my head that i need to get some kind of recognition from this girl to feel worthwhile. except i never seem satisfied by what acknowledgement i get. i'm very aware it's because nothing will ever be enough - in past relationships i've had exactly the same feeling, no matter how close we were or how good the relationship was. and i'm also aware that i am wont to pick people who are unlikely to want to play the role, just to make absolutely sure. when i read about lonely obsessives given restraining orders for chasing celebrities, my revulsion is multiplied by an unnerving feeling of self-recognition.

this isn't about women, though, really. it's about that need to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. i don't know if it's an immaturity borne of a sheltered life or borne of our wider societal impatience and arrogance, but there's this niggling feeling that i should have at least half worked it out by now.

there was something i read once in a book by paul virilio - he quoted this french psychiatrist who worked with young people with addictive disorders. he said what characterised all of them - whether drug takers, alcoholics, compulsive speedsters - was the 'phantasm of total accomplishment'. it's that feeling you get through extreme behaviours, when it feels like, for a moment, it all clicks into place and you're lost in the moment and somehow, viscerally, you *understand*. i'm reminded of charles bukowski sat in his bed with a bottle of cheap wine listening to classical music and feeling like he's grasped the meaning of the music; of the girl i once knew who took coke because it made her feel 'interesting'; of hemingway and his need to cure the angst of writing through drink; of the romantic ideal of the starving poet in his garret; of the girl i still know who recited poetry to me on a bridge in paris under the mistaken impression that she was making sense.

and somewhere underneath all of that i dimly remember that the point is not to go for the quick fix of alcohol or idealised relationships or whatever else, but to somehow learn to fix that moment so that it becomes more and more frequent, more and more a normal occurence. not that an individual's emotional life isn't cyclical - but that the ups and downs should be closer together and less overwhelming. there's always the problem of the downside, though: those quiet moments when you can't remember why you're trying so damned hard and when the temptation to seize upon the easy options is all too great. i learned once in a dark room on my own in barcelona that a moment of simple intimacy between people - just reaching out to touch someone in the simplest way, with a sincere word or gesture - could make all that weight fall away like an old skin. but for all the beauty of that moment of recognition, i turned that understanding into another quick fix behaviour. ah well.

    "question and answer"
    Charles Bukowski
    he sat naked and drunk in a room of summer
    night, running the blade of the knife
    under his fingernails, smiling, thinking
    of all the letters he had received
    telling him that
    the way he lived and wrote about
    that--
    it had kept them going when
    all seemed
    truly
    hopeless.

    putting the blade on the table, he
    flicked it with a finger
    and it whirled
    in a flashing circle
    under the light.

    who the hell is going to save                                 
    me? he
    thought.

    as the knife stopped spinning
    the answer came:
    you're going to have to
    save yourself.

    still smiling,
    a: he lit a
    cigarette
    b: he poured
    another
    drink
    c: gave the blade
    another
    spin.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading some miasmas of intellectual thought in some of the celebrated media outlouts, it is this break in programming that I'm most fond of today.
"Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?"
With love and humility. With love and humility...
B

8/12/05 22:34  

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