First, a word on inversion, which is the flavor of the month for me near as I can tell:
. . . then the rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander’s soul.
So seemed it to me, as I stood at her helm, and for long hours silently guided the way of this fire-ship on the sea. Wrapped, for that interval, in darkness myself, I but the better saw the redness, the madness, the ghastliness of others. The continual sight of the fiend shapes before me, capering half in smoke and half in fire, these at last begat kindred visions in my soul, so soon as I began to yield to that unaccountable drowsiness which ever would come over me at a midnight helm.
But that night, in particular, a strange (and ever since inexplicable) thing occurred to me. Starting from a brief standing sleep, I was horribly conscious of something fatally wrong. The jaw-bone tiller smote my side, which leaned against it; in my ears was the low hum of sails, just beginning to shake in the wind; I thought my eyes were open; I was half conscious of putting my fingers to the lids and mechanically stretching them still further apart. But, spite of all this, I could see no compass before me to steer by; though it seemed but a minute since I had been watching the card, by the steady binnacle lamp illuminating it. Nothing seemed before me but a jet gloom, now and then made ghastly by flashes of redness. Uppermost was the impression, that whatever swift, rushing thing I stood on was not so much bound to any haven ahead as rushing from all havens astern. A stark, bewildered feeling, as of death, came over me. Convulsively my hands grasped the tiller, but with the crazy conceit that the tiller was, somehow, in some enchanted way, inverted. My God! what is the matter with me? thought I. Lo! in my brief sleep I had turned myself about, and was fronting the ship’s stern, with my back to her prow and the compass. In an instant I faced back, just in time to prevent the vessel from flying up into the wind, and very probably capsizing her. How glad and how grateful the relief from this unnatural hallucination of the night, and the fatal contingency of being brought by the lee!
Look not too long in the face of the fire, O man! Never dream with thy hand on the helm! Turn not thy back to the compass; accept the first hint of the hitching tiller; believe not the artificial fire, when its redness makes all things look ghastly. To-morrow, in the natural sun, the skies will be bright; those who glared like devils in the forking flames, the morn will show in far other, at least gentler, relief; the glorious, golden, glad sun, the only true lamp—all others but liars!
Nevertheless the sun hides not Virginia’s Dismal Swamp, nor Rome’s accursed Campagna, nor wide Sahara, nor all the millions of miles of deserts and of griefs beneath the moon. The sun hides not the ocean, which is the dark side of this earth, and which is two thirds of this earth. So, therefore, that mortal man who hath more of joy than sorrow in him, that mortal man cannot be true – not true, or undeveloped. With books the same. The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon’s, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe. “All is vanity”. ALL. This wilful world hath not got hold of unchristian Solomon’s wisdom yet. But he who dodges hospitals and jails, and walks fast crossing grave—yards, and would rather talk of operas than hell; calls Cowper, Young, Pascal, Rousseau, poor devils all of sick men; and throughout a care-free lifetime swears by Rabelais as passing wise, and therefore jolly;—not that man is fitted to sit down on tomb-stones, and break the green damp mould with unfathomably wondrous Solomon.
But even Solomon, he says, “the man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain” (i.e. even while living) “in the congregation of the dead”. Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as for the time it did me.
There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
Anyway: It has been rough as hell for me lately. Hand to God, I’m really trying my best. I don’t wanna give up, because to quote a friend of mine, I don’t want to transmute the love I receive from others into pain. I don’t want my pain to hurt anyone of the people who love me, and so it is reason enough for me to crawl out of this godforsaken bog if only to be good for them after all they have given me. Anything else would be selfish I reckon. (Isn’t that such an adult view to hold????)
Though, let’s face it: Maybe it’s too late to undo things I have done which have hurt others. Lord, I sure hope not. Thing is, I have this dark suspicion that it’s time to pay the piper, or whatever. . . . maybe my awful reward is to have the pistol turned on me, so to speak, and I stand there with my eyes closed waiting for the bullet to hit its mark! by which I mean me. Maybe my eternal punishment is to suffer through my own horseshit that I put everyone else through over several decades. You know? Maybe I ghosted too many people, or was vague or indifferent when I could have otherwise been warm. It is I guess a sort of Christian thing to believe in punishment for wrongdoing. I think it was good ol Christ himself who coined the “eye for an eye” bit. I can’t say I don’t altogether deserve whatever is coming to me, real or imagined, though I hope if those certain people are reading this, for god’s sake man, it was never anything personal. It was just a whole bunch of my own self-loathing I put y’all through. I lead you into the labyrinth and, just when you needed my insurmountable iron-clad friendship, I turned inward and confused you. I really am sorry. I cry about it sometimes. Really, what else can fine American like myself do in such times?
I haven’t slept in a long time . . . maybe thirty-five hours or more. I drove eleven hours from Portland down to Oakland last night, and I sure did go straight to work in the morning. I was languishing all day . . . no good in this weakened state! And I was vulnerable to my friends in a way that could maybe be construed as a sort of cry for help, or at least overly sentimental, even for me. . . . though hell, if I felt comfortable enough showing you that, y’all best believe it’s because I felt I could trust you. I mean you could have knocked me over by blowing on my forehead. I’m a bag of leaves, man. I’m a god damn human-shaped wad of feathers! and not the pretty kind either. I’m talking the real son of a bitch kind of feathers. I supposed those are the only kind of feathers I could get mixed up in.
Wow! These metaphors are bad. And to make matters worse I am competing with myself to make them worse and worse. Oh well!!!
Thing is, I know for certain I’m cycling big time. It is exhausting as hell. I’m split into three parts . . . maybe more . . . all competing to live in the same reality for some reason, and hating every second of it. I am torn asunder!!!
See, I got my GP to write me a prescription for my old medication, which was much better than the worthless little M&M-looking sons of bitches I gulp down now. The psychiatrist who prescribed those to me, who I think is kind of a hack, no offense to him, had no idea how to read me. That’s kind of weird, man. Haven’t you been doing that for decades? Psychoanalyzing lowlife punks like myself?
Well: I am writing this because my spirit-sister Laura Rokas told me I need to make these posts less suicidal-sounding. I can see it now, reading over them again. So there you go. Maybe it is concerning that I said I was getting rid of a lot of my possessions. The truth is that I have been forced to cross over into another stage of my life, as you do from time to time, and I look around and I see all this stuff and man I kind of hate a lot of it, or at least I have no use for it anymore. Once, some years ago now, I (insanely) pulled up to Golden Gate Park in a decommissioned police car at 3 a.m. and just walked up to some weird dudes and bought acid from them. I took it to New Orleans the next day for my friend Leila’s birthday. We did it and had a real good time. But I have this memory of her looking around her room, all twisted in the head now, and saying the things she liked were sparkling or golden . . . she sincerely liked those things. She collected the things that didn’t sparkle and made a pile to get rid of them the next day. Yeah? That’s how I feel. If I don’t know what the hell I’m doing with something anymore, it’s gotta freakin go. I don’t trust inanimate objects anyway, especially when they’re made of plastic. Jesus God Almighty that stuff is scary.
At any rate, I’m not jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, for shit’s sake. I am inverted, pretzeled, and fucked out, though hell, I imagine it’s only for a little while longer. But! Don’t worry!!! Well, only if you want to. . . .