In the center of a very small room is a small handmade table, atop which sits a bell of the kind one holds between thumb and forefinger and gives a little jangle to set the angels alight. There is also a placard. "Only ring this bell," it says, "if you want to die." Beside this table is a chair. I sit in this chair. Someone will enter, smile, and ring the bell. Inside this brief paragraph lies the definition of why some of us should never fall in love.
Time for brutal honesty, and brutal honesty requires a lexicon out of the norm, so here it is: I've bollocksed-up every relationship I've ever been in. How? By being me. Me the arrogant prick of a high schooler bollocksing up his first shot at romance (with a flooping beautiful genius I might add; nice, asshole); me the clueless collegiate who somehow inexplicably and totally unknowingly bollocksed up a fling with said genius' best friend (bestie didn't go to our high school, totally random entanglement. Go figure); me bollocksing up with adult women who somehow managed to tolerate me for more than the length of the average Hollywood blockbuster. Hell, one of them even married me. Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks. Me, me, me. Not that I'm bad. Not that I'm evil. I can be charming. I genuinely care. I may not be Ryan Gosling 'Hey Girl' quality but I could probably manage one of Taye Diggs' romantic roles. For a few minutes.
I am analytical. I am not hyper emotional. Even though I'm the most honest person in the world I lie. A lot. Not like a politician or that one kid who you can't stand coming around to see your kids. My lies are to protect the continuity of the time line. See, like that. I'm critical, curious, and a bit of a pain in the precious ass. And I can't stand the notion of "people." Yes. You guessed it. A writer. Not that other people aren't pains in the ass. Certainly not that all writers--or to extend, creative minded people--bollocks things as a matter of course. Myself, though, being a practicing Noble Moron (to pilfer Harlan Ellison's excellent wordage), am steadfastly an infallible engine of romantic self-immolation. I will find that one worrying quality (or 3 or 35--I may bollocks but I'm not the sole dancer in those Burning Man festivals) about someone and douse us both in gasoline whilst striking up a rhythmic cadence using flint rocks. Burning Man is not all it's cracked up to be.
It could be that, as with lactose intolerance, some of us should simply avoid behaviors that might lead to others falling in love with us. We should perhaps come with those friendly, even-toned announcers who tell us all the mortal side effects of our giant pharmaceutical companies' cocaine-fueled sadist fantasies, i.e. whatever latest product they've lobbied through.
Warning. Do not love this person if seeking long term feelings of security and bliss. Should undue emotional attachment occur seek help immediately. In case of heartbreak know that this person was sincere but happens to be an idiot. Yes. A writer.
You get the idea.
But know what? I'm actually kind of cool with the idea of being (and this sounds harsh but it isn't) unlovable. I have run, crawled, and walked some odd roads to lead to a pounding epiphany--one nearly sacrilegious in our couples-crazed world--that I, me, this idiot who, despite not having scores of supple book groupies and Joyce Carol Oates' number on speed dial, really has nothing to complain about that he didn't create his own bloody self, I need peace more than I need love. Everybody's definition of peace is different. As far as creativity is concerned, mine requires a nearly hermit-like state of being. Detachment and silence as mental aphrodisiac.
Soft, shaven, delicate bollocks.
In other words, useless.
Yes. A writer. This one, at any rate. One whom, having seen his own ass so many times, you'd think would enjoy hindsight as fore, but no. No, he falls in love. Always does. The trick though is don't you fall in love with him.
A love bizarre.
I hate formulaic stuff with a passion. I hate knowing where you're going before the engine has even warmed up, why you're going there, and how you plan to get there. It's disrespectful to me and puts you, the creator, in a bad light, you having done the math and decided your product belonged to the lowest common denominator. I'm not saying there's no skill involved in generating formulaic stuff. There are people the world over who've made excellent careers in the fabulous field of regurgitainment, folks for whom saying "They're very good at what they do, but what they do is not very good" applies. Throw 10 Hollywood blockbusters in the air and you'll know what I'm talking about. But where's the respect? Where's the stuff you'll remember 10 years from now? 20? Big Trouble in Little China. Buckaroo Banzai. The Host. Attack the Block. Citizen Kane. Yes, I'm showing my geek streak. These movies had sparks of creativity way beyond paint-by-numbers. We won't go into the politics of what killed that spark (time traveling Reagan) but around the latter eighties a golden ratio of bullshit, spectacle, idolatry, and laziness was found, and every creative genre driven by the word has been following it since. I think writers have forgotten just how powerful they are. The word. In the beginning is always the word. How to break the spell of somnambulism? Well for one thing, time Merlin stopped staring at Morgana's tits. Formulaic wares are fascinated with adolescence. We now have a culture engineered to be non-taxing to a 14 year-old male brain. Even when directed at 35-50 year olds. And fascination with women as objects rather than creative drivers is a prime integer in the formulaic plan. Right now in 2016 we are still debating the merits of women authors, directors, composers, thespians, and onward. Even what should be a non-issue as the issue of equal pay is still an issue because it throws off the efficacy of the formula. Oh, and just to be utter bastards let's add in ethnicity, sexual orientation, country of origin, and whether one views the excellent combination of chicken & waffles as obscene or not...and see what the formula does with that!
It fucking implodes. That is, it does when the mathematician is 14 years old.
Real mathematicians--and they're out there in huge numbers, believe you me--know how to carry the one. ~~~
next, we talk about love. maybe.
At times things will happen that cause a body to go, "See! This is precisely why..." and sputter sputter, fume fume, reasons reasons, dammit or praise in an effort to convey that one either loves this place (Earth) or is done with it. Never sure which.
Maybe we can figure it out.
Purple Rain Is Nothing Without Hands Swaying In The Air (or: How I learned to stop exercising my mind so much and appreciate your body)
For expediency let's divide the general populace into 2 camps. Those who love Show & Tell and those who hate it. Those who love it, let's call "artists." Artists are necessary because those who hate Show & Tell nonetheless need markers and signs and guides just as much as anyone. They just can't be bothered with quibbly, uncomfortable, excavating action. So we can safely say there is no one more hard core than a poet, for poets pull flesh straight from the bone. Fiction writers such as myself fiddle with an inflamed tooth or will peel back a scab (unless you're Toni Morrison--bow down, mofos of unworthiness--in which case you're flaying straight to the atomic level with a calligraphic whip), but it takes a poet to taste what it is to be human and tongue that taste into real mouth; to reveal the truth that pain is often beautiful, which is the truth from which we most often run.
I'm not a poet though. At the height of my abilities, when I'm cooking with charcoal and the smoke is rising sweet and slow, I hope for my own particular hybrid of the two: fiction informed by the poet's bravery. See, if they're Showing & Telling you pain it's not 'cause they made it up. They're not as big liars as we fiction writers. It's because they've lived it. Came through it. Autopsied the hell out of it. Sewed it back up. Showed it the sun. Presented it to you. Died a little more for the day.
Damn if that isn’t something to strive for. As writers we try to hit the sweet spot with our words in the same fashion as a relay runner depositing the baton. It’s got to hit the right spot for the next runner to flow and take off; for the reader to take hold of our ephemera and run. You see the cheat here don’t you? We’re not the artists. We do the pass off. If we do it right we’re not showing or telling you anything. It’s all sleight of hand suggestions. You’re the artist. We’re holding our knees and breathing deeply, energized at sight of you taking that book/concerto/album/movie and tearing ass to complete the run. Damn, you guys can move. You might hate Show & Tell yourselves, but creativity would suck if not for the expertise you guys show at PE. Salud.
Life, the universe, and everything creative
Towel Photo credit: EvelynGiggles via Foter.com / CC BY