Wading back in. Plunging, I guess. Can't let this go too much longer.
It has been harder than ever and I have been lower than ever. I don't know how much longer I can endure this. What is there to say at this point? What is there to be done? What else is there to try or undertake? I live under the weight of the fear, or the knowledge, or both, that there is nothing I can do to change anything. I could create anything, could invest 10,000 hours into something, and it wouldn't matter. Then how am I supposed to do that, when it's all I have done, and here I am, and when so much as taking a shower or brushing my teeth is an ordeal? Something I have to rally to do. It really is a miracle that anything gets produced, especially as it won't be seen, and I know it won't be seen. It won't do anything. It won't have the chance to do anything. And this is all there is. Every day. This. While entirely alone. And feared and despised, for the most part.
If something good doesn't happen soon, I don't know what I'm going to do. Something of sizable, impactful, fixing-this-situation good.
There are some remarks to be entered into this record about changes of direction. I will get to that soon. I am going thing by thing. But there will be some changes in terms of what I'll be focusing on.
I wrote an op-ed on Dorothy L. Sayers and a piece on Wes Montgomery, which is different than the op-ed I wrote about him. I doubt the latter will be published right now. The former definitely will be and it may be the cover story. I don't know. I see these things when I see them.
I also wrote a 3000 word introduction for a book. Normally I wouldn't do that. Not 3000 words. That's a long introduction for a book of fiction. But if the introduction can be its own stand-alone work, and is itself a work of art, then it can be done. For a special book. As a special mission statement. An articulated philosophy of living. And of writing, in a way. The kind of introduction that the teacher can put on the syllabus all by itself. I put it up on Facebook. I am sure people were awed. But because it's me, they make that choice to wound by not giving credit or recognizing.
I know exactly what is happening. Just stay away then. Don't rely on me to be the one truly interesting person you know. Know no one interesting then. Don't come here, don't read these words. They're not for you if that's how you are.
On the short fiction front, which includes a lot of completing of work lately as part of the aforementioned transition: These short stories were recently completed: "Acorn Man" (4100 words), "Answers to an Interview Without Any Questions" (3200 words), "Mr. Spangles" (2400 words), "Your Mother's OnlyFans Page" (3500 words).
Tuesday, "Brush Dream" (2700 words) and "Rosa" (2700) were finished. People would pick different things because that's what seems to happen, but for me, "Rosa" is a very special work.
There has been a title change to a book. That title is now Become Your Own Superhero: Intrepid Exceptions to Modern Fiction. That's final. Took me a while to find it. Quite a long time. Longer than it should have taken me. Shouldn't be spending that much time and energy on a title for a book that has no chance of being seen right now, any little of coming out, which is one of many books sitting here about which the same can be said, but I try to get everything right. It's also something I'm going back and doing, but more on that later. I'll be moving in two directions now, for the most part. Well, really three, because one direction is away from something. I'll be moving back, away, and forward. But at the same time. I can't be moving back if I'm not also moving forward. It's not healthy. Not good for the mental state. For mine. I can't function that way. I will stop carrying on and I'll give up and if I give up I'll die. I'll be dead in less than a week.
Here is how this book above works: there is a theme of the topical. The stories pertain to this age, these days of the news cycle, but they also transcend the age. That is, they don't date. They're forever. But they are also works of right now. The extended right now. When the extended right now passes, they will not be diminished. As for intrepid exceptions: all the fiction out there right now is the same. These are some of the intrepid exceptions to what one finds everywhere else.
I read Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and Arnold Hano's A Day in the Bleachers. At the moment I'm reading a Southern private's memoir of the Civil War for a project. A new collection of M.R. James' letters arrived. He had notoriously bad handwriting, which was one reason why it took so long for such a volume to come out. I'll read it in the next few days.
As for exercise: I have not been as consistent as I should be. A number of days have been missed over the last couple weeks, three weeks. I am out there more days than not, though. Most days I have ran 4000 stairs and done 100 push-ups. A number of times it's been 5000 stairs. Once it was 500 push-ups. One day it was 10,000 stairs. At the end of last week I was back in the Monument for some circuits, but most of my stair-running has been on the short stairs near Government Center. They're just where I'm at right now, stair-wise. I go to bed at night listening to different spoken word recordings or radio performances. A given show will have the run of it for a month or two (right now it's the Sherlock Holmes BBC adaptations with Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley). I just get into that space with that thing. So it goes with stairs as well. As it gets warmer I'll miss less days. But more truthfully, as I get myself together more--this has been the hardest stretch of time/endurance yet--I'll miss less days. It's not really the weather's fault for any day I miss.
Sunday marked 2422 days, or 346 weeks, without a drink.
Watched We're No Angles, an offbeat Christmas comedy, which doesn't really work, despite the fine cast. Also, all three series and the feature-length version of Detecterists, which is gentle and kind. Increasingly, that's what I'm interested in. I've made all kinds of work myself, and there are other kinds I'll make, but it's gentleness and kindness that most reaches me right now, including with what I create.
Watched all of The Prisoner and started in on Danger Man. Also watching all of the 1980s adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, which may be my favorite TV program ever. Listened to a couple Black Rebel Motorcycle Club albums (Howl, Baby 81) and Sviatoslav Richter's The Sofia Recital 1958, which has a compelling performance of Pictures at an Exhibition.
People live their lives, and they have moods. They have ups and downs, changes in topography. They have things they enjoy. They look forward to. I don't have that. Anything like those things. There aren't ups and downs. I have this one thing. This constant. It is in everything, it is everything. There is never a time when I think, "I'm looking forward to watching that game." This situation I am in, this hell, it's total. There is no getting away from it. There is not a break from it. I have not had a single second of real laughter or a legitimate smile in more than ten years. There hasn't been a person I've enjoyed speaking to. There hasn't been a single second that didn't feel like I'm being tortured. I come on here, and I write about something like the Bruins. I could see someone reading that and thinking, "He enjoyed watching that game last night." I don't. I hate every single thing in my life, because there is no relief from this hell. This is who I am, this creator who can do these things, who has these abilities. And I can't get to the world because of the discrimination and incompetence of an industry. Which is not offset and overcome by there being a world outside of that industry that cares about anything great. Because it doesn't. Garbage, immorality, stupidity, lack of substance, connections, relatives in the right places--these are the things that rise to the top or cause a person to rise. Evil rises. Vapidity rises.
I don't possess these things. They're not what I'm about, and they're not in what I do. I come on here and I write about a lot. But for me, there's no separation. It's never "here's a record I enjoyed," or "what a great win by the Bruins." Everything I do or see, is like going into a room and watching myself be dissected on a table by barbarians. There has not literally been a single second where this totality has not been total. Where I have not been one hundred percent mired in it, aware of it, feeling it. There is no break. You can't be in this situation--and no one ever has been--and have it be anything but total. I see no hope, I see no way out.
But I do it. I write something about this year's Bruins in a historical context, and I put it up on here. Why do I do it? I can't just say how I feel or what this is constantly. So I try and present a roundness to these informal journal writings, to not hold back on my knowledge. To enter all of it into this record.
But that's what's happening. The Red Sox could go 162-0 and sweep the playoffs, and it wouldn't mean a damn thing to me. it wouldn't please me even a little. This is just something worse than hell. It is actually worse than hell. It's worse than torture. I don't see it stopping or getting better. At the same time, there's the additional hell that everyone treats me differently than they would treat anyone else, because of what I am and what I can do. Especially now, in this world. That's a wonderful feeling. And I know that's how it will go, every time. I know before it's proven yet again. I'm murdered before I even get to the scene of the crime. So how do you show up at that scene, then? Knowing you're already dead, just so, what? You can put another blade in your own corpse? Take a picture of it?
These are a couple of recent radio interviews totaling about an hour, on various films from Meshes of the Afternoon to Killdozer to Busy Bodies to Stan Brakhage to French surrealism to serials to Pinter. It's hard to do these. I have to do them. I know that no one is going to be interested right now. They're not even going to be aware. And because I'm not hyped, it's like not existing. People aren't going to take something for what it is and celebrate it, study it, share it, talk about it. It has to be hyped and talked about, or no one will give a toss. They're not going to be heard, these fascinating interviews.
Other people go on shows like this and they're awful on the radio or the podcast or the TV program. They can barely talk, let alone be interesting. But they make a lot of money talking on air for their career. There isn't anyone who thinks they come close to measuring up with me. It's impossible to think. But they have those other things I enumerated above. Which means they get a certain kind of life. They all talk about their one thing. That's all they can do, and not well. I beat them at their thing. I beat everyone at whatever their thing is. It's obvious. This is me beating anyone at talking about film. This isn't an angry statement. It's a statement of truth. It has nothing to do with or against the people with whom I speak who speak with me. It's how it is and what's happening. It's not a dislike of anyone. Because this is the truth, and because it's obvious, I pay the price of my life. Because people want to punish someone like that, not that there is anyone else like that, or if they don't want to punish them, they don't know how to act around them, with them, how they could work with them--it's all so beyond them. So they stay away.
But it's very difficult knowing that everything you do is for something later. If that thing ever comes. And it looks like it won't. I can barely tell someone how hard it is to get motivated to do anything then, let alone show the ability, with the energy, perform at the highest level. I want to do it, and I have to do it, but the reason why I want to and why I have to aren't the normal reasons anyone would have to want or do anything. It's hard to do or create anything in these circumstances.
An editor I once had was showing up on Twitter the other day. Social media is such bottomline proof of how far we've devolved as a species and culture that I try not to look at it more than once a day. It's not good for me. This editor had no ability. They weren't a bad person, you just didn't take them seriously as a thinker, as a doer of anything. As someone with anything to offer of substance. What they did in their own writing--and what they do--is they go on Twitter and Facebook, they take posts from "celebrities," and they write pieces--which aren't pieces--about the celebrity's Twitter or Facebook post. It's so empty and meaningless. They also teach at an Ivy League school. This is what they do. Is this a skill? What is this? The skill, as people pointed out on Twitter, was in making this your career.
Goddamn. This is what so much of "legacy media" is. This is what you do? How do you live with yourself? Isn't there shame? Embarrassment?
Another editor at the place where this person works once said to me, "You're the real artist, the only one who's really doing it, the rest of us are just media."
I think about that a lot. Largely because I know what this person thinks about me. But when it's time for coverage, for a review, despite our long association, too, they're going to allot that space to a cookie cutter type of the system rather than to anything I've done. Someone whose work they don't know. Or, if they know it, they recognize it for the nothingness that it is. Someone whose work they think far less of. But that's not a factor. Whether they think it's vastly inferior to my work has nothing to do with who get pushed forward.
They know what I am. But I am not that cookie cutter system person, with the connections, who is on their assembly line. And that's all it is. People make a choice to be that way, live that way, live with themselves that way, work that way. This man would tell you a million times over there's no comparison between me and my work and the people and their work that his venue is going to give coverage to. That space will always go to the system person on their assembly line. Until they have no choice, if that day ever comes, because hands are forced. But then it's like a takeover. Which is what would essentially have to happen for me to get where I'm trying to get. It wouldn't be process. It wouldn't be by accretion. It'd be by taking the joint over.
I think about this person a lot, actually. If you understand what they're doing, why they're doing it, with this one example, you understand a lot of the publishing industry and how it works. The reason you wouldn't understand more is because this isn't a bad person. Most of the people in the industry are the worst kind of person. This person isn't motivated by bigotry or envy. But they are a willing slave to a system of vapidity and almost near-total uselessness. There's no pushing to improve or do the best job possible. That's almost like a sin. A horrible transgression. It's not done in general, and this person isn't going to break the ranks.
But as for the taking-a-social-media-post and surrounding it with a few cliches and quoting the celebrities words and that being your life and career and reason why you have your house: that's the publishing norm. Not only is that a whole career, someone is paid six figures to do that. Why? Why should anyone get a nickel to do that? It just seems like such an obvious grift and scam. Like it should be a crime. But it's out there in plain view, and no one cares, no one questions it, and the money and the platform is forked over.
Why? Who couldn't do this? And what is the value in having done it? What is the service? What is the entertainment? What is the practical application? What goods are being manufactured? Why does anyone out there in the world need this?
It is amazing that you can live a comfortable life doing this, but if you were the greatest artist ever, you could be totally screwed at the same time in that same world. It would never have entered my mind to do something so stupid and valueless. Never. It would have never entered my mind that I could make any money doing something entirely stupid and valueless that anyone could do. Writing articles that rephrase someone's Tweet? An app can now do that. If the app can do it, why are people like this being paid to do it? They're just floated. They're carried by the system. The system provides when this is all you can do, if you're one of these people.
I live with this. It's all I see and deal with. But it still blows my mind as much as ever. That hasn't worn off even a little. If anything, it blows my mind more and more.
What the hell is happening here? Is this world that we live in--or that is seems we live in--even real?