Art

26 02 2006

Provocation

She began to panic. This situation was falling out of her control. She was losing ground and a few hours ago she lost her composure. He was supposed to be drunk; she was supposed to have faked it. The walls closed in on them. She felt as though she could slip away into the melting crowds surrounding them. “It would be weak,” she worried. “He has to know,” she stumbled. His eyes focused more tightly on her. “What is it”, he damn near shouted. “What, what’s what.”

“This is over.” No one was sure exactly who said it or even if someone had ever said it at all. Years later, they reminisced over this scene while sipping coffee. She was too smart for him, maybe. She recalled looking at his plaid shirt. She remembered pointing at it, saying “that, that right there is what’s what”. She knew how torn he was, how confused she played him, and how grateful she was for it. “It was art”, she said out loud. She had toyed with his emotions and he deserved it. No man should be so easy. She laughed. He was easy. He was only a game back then.

He kept quiet. The train passed outside. He tried to distract himself. He was not familiar with this sickening feeling; it had only passed through him one or two times before. Two small children wearing oversized college sweatshirts passed by crying; something was wrong with them. He wanted to go find out. She noticed them too. She almost began to cry. Knowing that her teary-eyed face was only a ruse to manipulate him, he spoke up, “I’m going to go. I guess we’ll just see each other later.” She saw him walk out the door. Her head collapsed hard onto the table. Hours later, she looked up, eyes red, to see him outside the window, looking in at the coffee shop. Mouthing an “I am sorry”, she closed her eyes again, praying she would see him again someday.

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Unconscious

25 02 2006

Lines and Streets

The steam rose above the unlit streets, further shrouding the man. It’s hard to say he was a man; his figure was lean, his smile childlike, his face still lacking the hardened appearance of old age. His place was clearly not with the children, however. He continued to stumble through town, imagining what he might soon become. His intuition threw his body one way while his mind dragged him to other places. It was late, the thick buildings seemed to melt above his head.
“Strange,” he spoke aloud to himself as he often did, “I have not yet found neither the motive nor the means to the success I so desperately crave”. Cutting off his stroll through the city, his cell phone rang. “Yes. Home soon. Yes, I understand. Trouble, yes. Be safe, yes. Thanks, I’m sorry. Yes, I’m sorry.”

Finding an empty curb, the young man carefully laid his blazer on the ground to lay on. Looking for those stars bright enough to pierce the city’s glazed sky, he glanced upwards. “There is so much above my head.” He had schoolwork to do. Things to do. He knew this. Friends to tend to, family to respect, and superiors to manipulate. Life was going on. He just didn’t understand why.

“I figure, I’ll lean on that infinite crutch and tell myself that everyone is just as lost as I am”, he continued. “I’m exhausted. I wonder what it would take for this world, this ditch of a city, my prison to dissolve.” Recognizing what he had just said, he became sick with himself. Almost at a whisper, “When will I be able to simply ‘allow myself no mock defense’. When will I pledge no more intellectual crutches?” Closing his eyes, sipping the soup he forgot he had been carrying, he began to sob. He knew that the books, the lyrics, the screenplays, the quotes, the scripts, and the things he knew were all nothing. Nothing. “Nothing.”

Throwing away the half-eaten cold soup, he stared at his shoes. “How long have I walked with my shoelaces untied?” He knew, he would soon return to his bedroom and life would take only a brief moment to regain its composure from his absence. Everyone believed he was smart; however, unbeknownst to the world, he carried only the facade. Appearance is everything in this world. “It has to be, right?” In his slacks and wrinkle-free polo shirt, he felt as professional as anyone. But his thoughts knew better than his feelings.

He drew a long yawn. The night was waning. There were still many things to do. He still did not know why. It did not matter to him anymore. It’s not meant to be fun. “I’ll break down and refine, be as efficient as anyone. It doesn’t matter anymore. There are still many things to do.” Walking back, he gave no thought to his future. He did not think about his friends finding out his mediocrity. He did not think about the sinking feeling he would get after finishing his work. He thought only about that which made him content, the brightest of the stars he could see that night. And it made him happy.





The Trick is Just Making Yourself

24 02 2006

“Welcome, everyone”, the man spoke to the crowd. “This new day, from which…” was overheard by the audience as they settled into their seats. Children were lighting sparklers near the stage, distracting the people. He continued on, “We are all failures. Note my friend here, a popular young man”, turning to his friend. “He, to me, is no more than a self-conscious, insular, weak, and dull drunk. They standing over there, they have their failures too”. The crowd sat at attention, their eyes fixed forward. “Don’t give me that sullen expression. You are no longer children. I should not have to be apologetic when I criticize you. I will not list out my personal faults and shortcomings so that you can have comfort in that. Today is your day; your day to pause from smoking, drinking, cheating, and getting laid to think about your life. What purpose do you have? Give me a good reason why I shouldn’t just kill us all?” The crowd was aghast. The older ones were angry, culling into small infant-like cliques plotting how best to get revenge. The younger ones were perplexed; where had their kind and gentle introvert gone?

Pausing to let the audience take it in, he spoke: “For one glorious day, I don’t want to coddle my fellow man. Don’t turn my words into pious religious spite, ignorant psychobabble, or mindless rage. This is a well-calculated attack on your individual motives, your character. You are all failed men and women. Divided between rich and poor, you mock each other. Divided between apathy and the willingness to cheat, we cheat ourselves out of any successes. Divided between those who steal and those who fight, we ignore the law. Even better, we’ve got lawyers to clean our slates. And doctors and teams of psychologists to heal the wounds, and more construction to increase our production.” The self-destruction of the man was almost complete. The machine had set their designs. “If you dare to walk away from this day, having not thought about yourselves under the critical lens of your own conscience – assuming you’ve all got one, then I will know that I have failed this occasion. I will also learn the truth; human beings will kill for their right to believe they are innocent.”





Someday

21 02 2006

I think my life’s goal is set:
I would like, if nothing else, to be taken seriously.

And I understand that that is a lot to ask for.





On Success

18 02 2006

It is one thing to believe in yourself, and another to understand your capabilities, and still another to push those boundaries. The first is raw faith in man’s ability to overcome. Untempered, this belief leads to the eventual and inevitable realization of man’s limitations through some self-destructive drive. Understanding your capabilities on the other hand guarantees safe, secure passage through life. Not necessarily equal to achieving a minimum level of success, a strict obedience to acting in accordance with reason generally leads to apathy as you achieve less and less relative to those who take risks and are talented or lucky enough to succeed. To push those boundaries is perhaps the most reasonable course of action, wagering a small chance of failure against the chance of succeeding.

Success, unfortunately, is not easily found in my vocabulary. Only a very few events call to mind successes in my life. For me I find it easier to account for every action as a failure to the ideal potential of that action or event. Thus, every time I hand in a paper late or disappoint my parents or fail to clean my car I can account for it as a failure the same as when I score an A- on an exam, play music that only appeals partially to my parents, or guess to put in nine gallons instead of ten gallons of gas into my car. Every act, thus, is a failure to some extent relative to the potential. It perhaps makes my days easier to think each event to be a failure so that I can minimize the scope of the action, berate my negative mind-set, and consciously punish myself in order not to face the magnitude large or small of the actual event. When I do “come to my senses” as you might call it, I begin to take pride in my “accomplishments” and grow arrogant for imperfect things; in short, by enjoying what most consider to be “accomplishments” I lower my standards and cheapen the true successes, and worse, I begin thinking that I am nearer to perfection for it. Thus, I have to keep my mind in the dark. Many of my grades are failures, many of my friendships are failures, many of my days are failed, pathetic, and unlived. For to think that my life is at all good would be to compare my life to a perfect life. And heaven knows we can’t have that.

What then is success, if failure is so well defined? Success is the perfected event where consciousness, destiny, time, precision and action mesh; not only is the errand satisfied, there is nothing that could nor will ever surpass it. Generally speaking, the unsurpassable nature of the particular event derives from the precise time that the action was carried out; any other time earlier or later would have marred the perfection. Furthermore, successes need to be momentous. If the event in question isn’t difficult, time-intensive, and well-understood by the general population to be an achievement, then there is no potential for that event to be a success. Thus, regarding my fuel station example above, there is no potential for the event to be perfected. Events such as that one remind us that we are continually imperfect beings bound to a world that does not necessarily give us chances to succeed.

It is my delusion that success exists and that I have tasted it that drives me. If I cannot delude myself, if I realize that man is but a “quintessence of dust”, then I would have to objectively concede that man has no purpose existing. Before you tell me success is impossible under my terms, consider the alternative.

On Success, In Love

At some point, you realize that no level of balance, no matter how many stocks you own, bike rides you take, poems you write, or friends you make will ever lead to a successful life. In response to “On Success”, I contend that poor, laughable, ridiculed reason for existence – love – to be greater than attempting to accomplish near-impossible feats. In love we excuse our shortcomings and praise our successes no matter how minimal. Though love bleeds warmth into action, it does not conceal the shortcomings themselves, such things are obvious, self-explanatory, and (another credo of the love manifesto) reparable. Love allows us to redefine success subjectively as opposed to objectively. Men would contend that this is bitchery, a cheap slide into the feminine nature, however, it is not. A life in love is spent fulfilled not out of that insufferable indefatigable “success” but in sharing thoughts and emotions with others. You could call it changing the rules, and cheating the system, but if you’re living as nothing but a “quintessence of dust”, you might as well not feel like a “rogue and peasant slave” and define your world on your own terms – ones that you can live successfully with.





I spoke once

18 02 2006

Song

I spoke of a song once,
The chorus roused the heavens,
With verses smooth as valleys,
And the notes were played delicately,
As if it would die were it played off-key,

The song indeed was at times drawn out,
Deep bellows that made the children cry,
The echoes resonating in the hearts of man,
And women waiting for their peace,

At other times the song would quiver and faint,
The children would tug and ask if it were over,
While the men glanced around,
The women sobbed at the sound,

Still the song lifted once more,
The children began to understand the score,
A few good men began to break down,
And the women quietly asked for more.

I tell you this song never quite comes to a close,
It stays, it stays, no matter how ragged and torn,
It remains buried alive, abused by scorn;
I pray you listen for it, shall it play for you,
Take the chance,
It shall but once in the deepest of depths ring true.





On Hamlet

18 02 2006

Hamlet

A quiet spring in the living soul,
Can erode the timeless foundations.
The spectre of doubt, shades
The happy ground I would now stand on,

Like the imminent plague
That buries us all,
My life stands upon a precipice,
Between a lack of action and
A lifetime of acting.

If we do indeed
In these mortal moments design
An immortal end,
Then that which time does not affect,
Will itself render me dead.

For I do choose to set apart
From the weary-worn and narrow path to th’ above,
And from the untrodden roads that go below,
I will navigate a middle way,
Letting reason battle faith,
And upon the resolution,
I will, from the pleasing skin, escape.