Climbed five times today, five times yesterday. It's all documented in these pages, and I don't feel like going through the past few days' worth of entries to do the math, but I believe that is thirty climbs since last Saturday, or a week. That's a good number. Frankly, twenty climbs a week is pretty respectable. Climb, walk, don't drink, you'll be fit. That easy. Not that climbing is very easy. And for all of the climbs, I ran the first 100 steps.
I was walking back yesterday and there were these two guys on Prince Street, construction guys, with the heaviest of Boston accents. And one guy was saying--as they were both standing at the front of this alley--"I have a story for you, I haven't told you this one yet?" And he was all excited. Made me think. Nothing connects us like stories. And so few people--basically no one--in all of publishing can tell a story. Certain nonfiction writers can tell a story that already exists. If they stumble into the right story. But to make up a story, tell the story from within? People in publishing cannot do that. These were simple guys, in a way. I don't think I'm being rude to them, and I'm not basing it on their accents or anything. Just the way they were being, the way they handled language. And this other guy was excited to hear the premiere of this story. Stories are pure performance and pure connection. We delight in a good story, we delight in telling a good story, we delight in being told a good story. These two also made me think I can do an awesome bro/meathead/Boston dude voice, which would make for some great performances of Meatheads Say the Realest Things. To quote Fitty, from a very different kind of work, I can read the fuck out of that book.
Last night I went to see Kubrick's Paths of Glory at the Brattle. I don't like most Kubrick films. I wrote on 2001 for Slate a couple years back. I find The Shining absurdly bad. I don't think his films cohere, they are gappy, they're not edited well. I don't think much of his noir. But this is a good film. He moves the camera primarily in two places--in that big open space where the two higher-up military guys put a lot of bad stuff in motion, and then in the trench. (Also when the men try to take the Ant Hill, but what makes that scene notable is the sound; the explosions actually have a musical meter to them; it's symphonic detonation.) Ralph Meeker is excellent in the picture. There are nice narrative touches--having the coward who sold out the guy he knew in school lead the firing squad; the solider executed while strapped to a cot. The tightest cutting occurs in the last scene, when the German woman is pulled out on stage in the cantina.
I am very focused in the Monument, conscious of every running step, minimal movement with my running form; or should I say, no excess movement. My breathing is orderly, deep, regular. I just keep moving forward. It's like a metaphor. I move forward, I climb, I focus, I center on the task and tasks at hand. I may write parts of a new work or works in my head, I may draft a dozen letters, as I did yesterday, which I will come home to this awful apartment to write and send out to people who hate me, who will not respond, while still sitting in my workout clothes, coated in sweat. Who hate me and will not respond because of everything I am. The virtues. Not because I did anything to them, not because I don't write better than anyone they have ever published, write better than they do. That's not what this is about. That's not what the few dozen Twitter followers I have are about. Part of what it is about is that inversion I spoke of. What is good is bad, what is bad is good. Etc. Write terribly, be one of them, get hooked up.
But I have been watching what happens with the people they hook up, even on social media. I'll see their Twitter accounts, for instance. And they'll have 16,000 followers. I don't have 100 with what I do and the level I do it at. But I find this encouraging, in some ways. Because such a person has every single thing happening for them, given to them. Awards, honors, endless coverage, reviews, village upon village of idiots in this system singing their praises, magazine popping in bad excerpts from their bad books, people like Oprah shilling for these bad writers. Everything handed, gifted, thousands of people working in concert for these terrible writers. And it's not going very far. It's not spreading. They're getting those 16,000 people, but for all of that support, that's nothing. I'd have millions with that support. Because people actually like my work and it has legs. "Fitty" would explode, Meatheads would explode, Dark March would explode, things would blow up with the full-time op-ed position in the right venue, the personality and the persona would blow up, etc.
They just don't know about a lot of it yet, because I'm blackballed by a system that wants to end me. While still publishing more than anyone. The works of these people are legless. It's all fake. It's touted when it's shit, because it's just a popularity contest of broken people, not great work. No one likes any of it. None of it means anything. None of it is even competent. I'm going to put up some examples of what I'm talking about soon. And you can read it, and what you'll say is, "This fucking sucks, this is inept." But there it is, thanks to the corrupt, perpetually on-the-take bullshit system. None of it is real in the sense of it being about the work and its quality. And I don't care who you are in life and what you do, what your job is, your field, you can write as well or better than the "stars" of this system.
I have a lot of work to do this weekend. Let's call it at least forty hours' worth of work. There is no reward right now, just pain, things getting worse, a quality of life that is worse than being homeless, or being dead, while being completely alone, but I need you to keep creating anyway, while that is going on. No friends, no family, who knows who even believes in me at this point. There is not a single person I trust. The past few days have been days of acceptance, that I am going to have to do this entirely on my own, and that means providing all of the strength and guidance, too, because no one is going to contribute to that. No one can. I've learned a lot about relationships. I've learned that most awful, toxic people have no idea that they are awful and toxic, though they can recognize that, sometimes, in others. But they can behave the exact same way, and they think they're Joan of Arc.
Relationships are not meant to withstand tragedy and pain. A little. But for the most part, relationships are surface affairs, and if they were tested, constantly, as my life is a great test that would destroy someone else in a week, they would turn toxic, turn ugly, reveal themselves as pyrite fast. I don't have anybody beyond something like the man who reached out to me the other day and said he'd pray for me, and the occasional word from Rich or Bruce about something I've written, or Dan, who took it upon himself to print out copies of Cheer Pack and mail it to competitions that might get me some money, which should not ever have had to happen, because if you wrote shitty stories that appeared in those venues that the stories in that book appeared in, you are cake walking your way to a book deal with a major publisher, let alone each and every one being a masterpiece as you are publishing on everything constantly and have my historically unique track record. But any "I need to talk to you" type of friendship or familial bond, that does not exist, that will not exist. Ever. And I have fully accepted that. Insofar as the people I have known to this juncture. I reached a point a while ago--maybe it was after the breakdown--when it just became easier, no matter how painful some things might have been, to accept them if they were true. I know, for instance, there is not a single person in the world who actually loves me. I know that. And for a while, I bucked against that, because it was painful. But there comes a time when it is less painful to simply accept the reality and try to move forward. Some of these people would argue (and my word could not be more solemn or less inviolable when I say that I would never argue the point, never expend the energy on this, because I know this, let us say, the second or third most that I know anything), but that's more about them than me or feelings for me. I'm okay with it. There is a lot I have come to know in this world. And all that matters--the only thing that matters--is getting to where I need to get to, both for the world, and for myself.
Just as I know, if I get where I am going, if I get past these people, if I change the world to the good more than anyone ever has--while I live--and I believe I can--that I am going to know people, meet people, who will not like me for the right reasons, and these same people would have been people who would have revealed their true selves had they been with me now, for this. I won't have experiental evidence of that, but like I said, I have come to know so much more about human nature than I already knew, and I think my work made it clear I already knew more than anybody has. And I'll have to get by with that, with those people as my friends, best friends, my family, in a way, a spouse, perhaps. But I'm always going to know. That will have to be something I live with, if I get there. But that's not now. Pure, full-on hell is what is now. And continuing to keep going through this forest of flames.
Do not give in to anybody. You have no one and nothing to trust but yourself, your strength, your ability. Trust in those things. Keep going. First song I am going to play when I am back in my house, incidentally.