Anonymous said: Darling, darling, darling,Your stories make me want to leave dusty, dry, wintry South Africa and responsibility behind, and lose myself in the sights, sounds, smells and squishy bits of New York. Maybe one day ;) Thank you for glorious stories of the human condition, that never fail to remind me of beautiful, hedonistic, dirty and sating moments. Do you think there's any point in trying to deny ourselves pleasure (to any extent, even if tiny), to avoid messy consequences of a broken heart?
This is a very lovely note. Thank you! I pretty much always want to leave responsibility behind and indulge in all manner of comfort.
As for you question, I think there are plenty of reasons to deny ourselves pleasure, but avoiding a broken heart isn’t one of them. For example we have to balance and sometimes choose between the pleasure of getting sloppy drunk tonight and the pleasure of waking up tomorrow without a hangover.
As for broken hearts, I think many of us, myself included, have conditioned ourselves not to feel a very wide range of emotions. More specifically we’ve pushed away the ones we don’t like, while sticking our fingers in our ears saying I’m not listening. But there is a certain pleasure in letting all of those emotions back in, even the ones we don’t like. Anger, fear, frustration, and resentment are part of the full spectrum of human experience and when we block them out, we tend to also block out the higher ends of joy, happiness, gratitude, and delight.
Which is to say there may even be pleasure in a broken heart. It’s a strange pleasure, but a full one, balanced by our willingness to accept life as it is, with all its ups and down.
The time has come the walrus said to rethink the language of sex. Or maybe I should say the language of love, emotion, heartbreak and ciriosis, because Christ you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak. But the meaning of insert tab A into slot B is an old story, older than even that of Amaterasu, birthing the world from her fiery womb. So what does the moon say and how talks the sunset when blankets aren’t enough? And in the middle of the night, which shifts from decade to decade, how now do slippery limbs find entrance? If our oldest stories stop before the moment, because they might be too sticky to share in the light, then it’s up to us to write myths again that stop far beyond it. It’s only enough to to say ‘they lay with one another,’ if you don’t remember the three thousand-four-hundred-sixteen variations that comprise the universal book of how to fuck.
There’s a long history of language that describes a man doing something to a woman, and for maybe all of history it almost made sense. At least in the most mundane of instances, in the common and the mud, in the barns and the fields where rutting was the norm and slot B was indeed put upon over and over again, it might have made sense. But history is written by those who can write, and those who can write often avoid the squishy bits, because putting a thing down on a page is oh so different than doing it in the flesh.
And the winners are always uptight. Maybe there’s an ancient myth to tell this truth far clearer, but it’s a truth all the same. From the Pilgrims to the righteous commies throwing down the Czar, the winners are always uptight. So the story is written over and over again without the grunting and the thrusting, all which is left to the lower decks and the darkness. All of which is left to those with nothing to lose; those who can switch on nothing without blinking an eye. Between monks, priests, and politicians, the history of sex has been written by those with no experience of it, and the times it has broken through into the masses, it’s been snuck in like a horse at dusk.
But Lucretia didn’t ‘slip down between the sheets’ with her lover, and Marcus never felt the ‘rush of waves as pleasure was won and lost.’ They fucked and sucked, the overwhelming smell of human behavior lingering in their nostrils as they made a mess of everything in exactly the right way. Sampson didn’t ‘delight in the love nest’ of Delilah any more than Cuchulainn ‘spent his bliss upon the womb’ of his lover. There was come and sweat and tears, and for thousands of years we’ve drawn it, painted it, and then hidden the words in the dusty waterfront bars and brothels where no one has enough money to make up metaphors for something they do as easily as they breath.
But now the world has changed once more, and while our great literature still stops short of describing the divine with all it’s warts and blood, the light is brighter. We can write a million sounds and a million words, each one taking us closer to the truth, but we’ve lost the poets and the heartbroken. We’ve medicated our way out of romance and channeled emotion into anxiety that can be cured in so many different ways. We’ve abdicated our poetry to Bang Bros and Mandingo. We’ve let it go, as we’ve done so many times before, asking someone else to shine the light in the places we fear the most. And shine it they have, often too brightly to see a thing. They’ve shined it on piss and shit, on come and milk, and they’ve shined it on rape with a laugh and a nod. The light shows anger, fear, and guilt, and as small men watch while their wives are taken by big black fantasies, we pretend that it was never us at all. It was not what we meant at all.
But there are a million words for a million things and they change every day, allowing us to say new things that have never been said. Allowing us to say new things have that been said a million times again.
If the photographer shows us the reality of a thing in stark contrast, forcing us to see it for what it is without the comfort of a muddy imagination, than the poet talks around it, hoping that her language might be a finger pointing at the moon. This way lies bliss and exhaustion. This way lies exaltation.
This ways lies the things we do in the dark.
Quick update: The print version of the book is out, and you can find it on Create Space. It will be on Amazon soon (right next to the Kindle version) as well.
And lastly, if you have any questions, comments, etc. this is a good place for them. I’m happy to talk about the book, writing a novel in two weeks, or the publishing process.
Whatever you like, you can ask here.
I’ll also be publishing a few extra chapters this week in order to catch up. There are 32 chapters left to go, but only 28 weeks left in the year. And since I want the book to end on New Years, I have to double up a couple of times.
Thanks again for following and reading.
One more quick note about the new book….
I was born the year Patti Smith released her first album, Horses. She had just played a run at CBGB’s and it was quickly becoming the cool spot for rock ‘n’ roll. It was almost a new bar, and the scene gravitated towards it even as she discovered how to make music. As a kid I didn’t know much about it, and even as a teenager it was something of a foreign thing. But as I grew older I found myself dragged along by cooler friends. The bar was so famous by then, that it was nearly impossibly to avoid, and while always feeling like we had missed out on a better past, we went anyway.
I don’t remember the first time I went to CBGB’s, but I do remember the last. My friend Chuck Scott was in a band called Baby fronted by Craig Wedren. They were a great band, and probably the only band a friend of mine was in that I actually went to see. They were playing at CB’s right before it closed, and I went to hear them one last time before they moved out to LA. I don’t remember much of the set other than Free Los Angeles, but I danced, or moved a little, and I didn’t leave the front of the stage until they were done.
After the show I noticed a guy watching the whole thing standing next to me, and I stared through the flashing lights trying to make him out. When Chuck came off the stage I gave him a hug and told him he was great, before pointing out the new guy.
“That dude looks just like Ed Norton,” I said, realizing finally why he looked familiar. Fight Club had come out a few years earlier, but it was still big in the culture sphere.
“Yeah, he comes to all our shows,” Chuck told me.
“No, seriously,” I said, “he really looks like him.”
“No, seriously,” he said back to me. “Ed Norton comes to all our shows. He’s a big fan. He’s totally cool.
I stood next to Ed later at the bar, but I didn’t have the nerve to say anything. He was mostly by himself and he looked a little lonely, but even at CBGB’s he also looked a little nervous. Like we might all just descend on him at once, or even worse ignore him completely. An hour later Famke Janssen came in, and since we had all just seen X-Men she was just as famous as Ed was. They moved to a table on the raised platform on the left and sat quietly together for most of the night while the other bands came on.
I used to tell the story all the time—the story of how I met Ed Norton—but the truth is we just happened to like the same band, and we drank a few beers after the show without saying a word to each other. But I told it anyway, and while part of me didn’t want to care about that sort of thing, I was stuck with it. I wanted to talk to him, hell, I wanted to be his friend. I hated the fact, but there it was.
But more than anything else, I wanted him to know who I was. I wanted him to smile and point and say, hey, I know that guy.
More than anything, I wanted to be famous too.