Sunday, 29 June 2008

From Notebooks Kept at the Bad Time

I should have told you what I do before. I am a successful businessman, a professional in a minor artistic field, or I was. The doctors have effectively banned me from my occupation. Suffice to say the means of self-extinction were there from breakfast to teatime. I should be honest. I used to abseil on oh such thin ropes down the sides of the greatest cathedrals in the world, performing miracles of museum conservation on the ancient and medieval statues, painstakingly glueing, pinning, modelling, millimetre by painful millimeter staving of decay and despair, above a void so wide and deep and dark, all I had to do was let go. Too dangerous. No longer. They have even taken my driving license away from me. Fuckwits. Well, I understand their reasoning. But I've never crashed car yet. Fuckers.

Time for a pause. Time for a fag. Time for time to take over again. God! An American voice, a hallucination, just said so clearly in my ear: "You're not allowed to be a genius. You are, ok?" That's frightening. Clear as day. And she said it three times. What a pathetic attempt at self-shoring... Have to get a bloody hallucination to do it for me.

Fucking scary re: halluc and fucking scary regarding the implications of my thoughts

stop the train I want [illegible and partly destroyed by pen]

There are things I write down that I never mean you to see. And that last erasure is one of them. Though it was purely innocent. It was just rage that made me strike it out. It had nothing to do with you, dear reader.

But there are things I write I never mean you to see, nor anyone to see. It is privacy.

There are poems I wrote for myself never sent, and being a blind ox being led to his execution I printed them off and left them somewhere. There were not for you dear reader, I do not know if they were even for me. Perhaps they were for the ME that I can't see. It was ME put on the line the other night and I took all of ME with me. I bet you want to read them now. But I hope they are burned, or used as a tramp's toilet paper. I'm dying through a lack of PRIVACY because sometimes we all have to write thoughts and feelings and sometimes we edit them and repress them. We do so in speech in all manner of ways. These modern times where every thought is spoken to an audience of millions if you are careless DAMN! it is not right but the impulse to speak to yourself to oneself is paramount.


But I have picked up the pen and am writing [illegible - "Christ"?] I don't believe in the fucker but Christ I want to DIE damn it and all of you to HELL

and I find myself still here in the morning, too stupid, too clever, too weak to do it.


Next Day

Hallucinations: should never take them seriously. Bad for the health for one thing. And after all, they are all lies. My lion. My american voice. They just rub the matted bellyhair of my self-esteem and make me purr.

I wrote that last about finding myself still here in the morning last night although it is the morning now. I wrote it as a prophecy - as if I had spilled the guts of a fat cockerel on the dusty ground and was searching like some crazed haruspex through the entrails for portents - or for something just to give me a little hope when I saw it again in the morning. Now though it doesn't give me hope so much as a vague sense of irritation. Why do I have to fight the universe for every minute or second? Oh yes, oh yes, brain chemistry, a condition, oh yes, I've heard it all from the quacks and goons and daleks, but have any of you tut tutting readers tasted the pleasure of their remedies? I would sooner die than be half-killed for the 'rest of my life' - the bastards!

But alcohol is killing me too, isn't it? Slow but sure. Well yes, of course it is. But at least it is a subtle drug, and one can administer it in the dose one requires. One can vary the dose according to need. Oh yes, it aggravates the condition, oh yes, heard it all before thank you very much. But I have to try to manage myself - it is a fact of the utmost importance to me to be damned or succeed on my own terms. Anything else is not worth living for. I could understand them putting me away if I was roaming the streets scaring people with a machete or with my eyes or something, but as it is, I am fairly harmless, and I don't see why I should be loaded onto a cattle truck and shipped to the mental equivalent of Belsen.

I thought I would be calm this morning but I am not calm. Deep breaths. Time for a smoke. Look at the green things. Oh don't they make you feel hopeful? Lilacs from the dead ground? Cruellest month is yet to come. Enough. Smoke. No smoke without fire. There is enough fire in me today to burn down a Cathedral.

The green things. It is raining hard and the western wind is kicking up a gale. The trees in the Cotswolds are such a dreary colour. Don't you find the vegetation takes on the colour of the underlying stone? Cotswold is synonymous to me with the colour of a dried out cat turd.

My psychiatric nurse is a bit of a twelve steps man. Twelve steps forward, twenty-four back. They want me to go through life like a humbled dog, kicked into submission. It is that or Papa Hemmingway and the shotgun. The latter is a more attractive proposition. It is no coincidence that writers ceased writing when medication became the norm.

I have gone upstairs. Into my 'cell'. I am doing her head in this morning. I do her head in all the time if I'm honest. She prefers me black and bleak and suicidal because then I am not such an imposition on her attention. I can't blame her. She already has three children to take care of. I'll not be a fourth. Poor Nymph. Chased around day and night by a randy satyr. What is that condition called? Satyriasis? This morning when I woke in my 'cell' I had the horn so bad I wanted to seek her out right there and then despite the agent of the landlord's imminent arrival... fucking therapy... it's the best of all the available therapies. Oh I wish I had a whole harem prescribed... Doctor, a repeat prescription if you please... Fucking... it is the only act that pretends to meaning in this world and it is precisely because it is full of potency and potentiality and also precisely because it is so utterly banal. Actually, there are two other acts: creation, and love. Creation, love, fucking. Oh I suppose they all add up to the same thing. The banality: that is part of the joy of it all. The rituality. The animality. Dionysus.

One has to go with one's manias I think. Obviously there comes a moment when it is all too much for everyone and then yes, put out the light, and then put out the light. Or clout me over the head with a hammer. But while one can hang on and feed it through the pressurising valve of the tip of a pen, best to go with it. I know every word I've written these last hours is complete crap, but it is the only way to divest the poor bedraggled dove of my soul of its heap of droppings. Far better this than the drugs which simply put a cloth over the birdcage, or the worthy simple people who recommend doing the ironing to help me sleep at night - irons must make such satisfying dents in fools' skulls, I've always thought.

I was going to talk of green things. I was going to waste a pen of ink and a book of pages on a disquisition on the nature of the shimmering halos of colour that trees and hedgerows take on, and how the halos are tan, buff, green or grey on limestone, and purple, red, blue on igneous landscapes. I prefer the latter: the trees, while greyer and more miserable, have such vivid halos there that they quite make up for everything. I hate the Cotswolds. Everything has a halo of shit. Then again, if I lived in Wales or Dartmoor, or somewhere igneous I'm sure the beautiful iridescent nimbuses would lose their colour and just as surely turn to shit too.

People like me need perpetual change, but are terrified of it. So they hang on, encase themselves, weigh themselves down to stop themselves flying away on the breeze. I would give my right arm to see Greece, and my left arm to see Italy - hum. I'm running out of limbs. Have to think about the legs.

How strange. I've come to a stop. I wonder why? She has gone out to fetch the middle boy from playgroup. I must make more of an effort to appear normal in front of her. I don't like frightening her. I'm sat in the garden, in the rain, although it's quite a soft rain at the moment. I'm sat on a stone, under a tree. The swing I made for the children: scaffold poles, car tire, is gleaming in the rain. Oh god, I must not crash, not yet. I must devise strategies for coasting down, like a herring-gull, or a kittiwake, or a guillemot coming in to land on a tiny ledge on a sea cliff. Strange to think I started hanging myself from that swing a month ago. I was weakcleverstupid though and tied the knot around my neck with a bight that released if I pulled the free end. I pulled the free end. It was a near thing, mind. It was soon after that that I realised we always have more cards in our hands and up our sleeves than we realise. Writing this is another card of sorts. I really should have started writing this long ago. Why did I ever stop? Because I thought writing - especially such talentless writing as mine was a sign of extreme weakness.

I should shave. I am a complete mess. People will give me funny looks. They already are giving me funny looks. It's not helped that we've all got conjunctivitis - my eyes look like jokeshop horror eyeballs - it's not what you think, ladies and gentlemen - we really have had conjunctivitis.

These modern times we are all so scared of visions and of madness. These days, of course, there really is no excuse for it. None whatsoever. Take a pill. Bury yourself under concrete. Bore yourself to death. But whatever you do, You MUST remember to put your trousers on in the morning especially if you want to go out to the shops. I can't even do the shopping. I cannot drive. They've taken my license away. But the straitjacket is not here yet, though I've seen its ghost half hidden behind the backs of the goons, and waved once in seeming beneath my nose, just so I could scent the smell of the frenzied sweat of the previous occupant. "See what we have in store for you my boy if you don't get a grip, pull yourself together, and accept the hammer on the skull like a good grateful ox." Except they would not say it quite like that. Rather, they would say: "Put the soma-bolt gun through your bovine forehead you idiot."

I hate their eyes, so full of pain and understanding without comprehension. I will have that shave now.

It is strange. With madness one feels a compulsion to be fastidious about one's appearance - ha - who am I fooling? But even so, it is true. Like the morning shave on the morning of one's execution. Must look one's best.

I am boring myself, dear reader, so no doubt I am boring you too.

There are so many forms of escape to escape the big escape. The Big One. It never has to be taken. But hell, it is the comfort beyond comfort.

I think I am escaping into madness now. I am pretending I'm escaping into writing, but it is probably madness. Oh why must I smoke in the rain! Oh that I were in my true love's arms and in my bed again... O Western Wind, when thou wilt blow, the small rain down can rain. I have avoided talking of escaping into love. There will be a time for that too. That reversed fragment is anon. fifteenth. I'm getting soaked: anon. twenty-first.

The fire has gone out. Must relight it. And we're nearly out of coal. My poor darling, how hard it must be for you. How hard I must be for you to take. My heart breaks. In sickness and in health. Well, I'll not hold you to it. And til death us do part won't be my opt-out clause. I love you: heart, soul, spirit, and balls. I absolve you of all and any sense of responsibility and guilt. Snuff, like a candleflame.

Snuff, like a candleflame.

Snuff, like a candleflame, and see, my darling, the curling loops of grey and waxen smoke climb ceilingwards and dissipate, and you are free, and your life is yours again. You'll never know how much I've loved you. What was I doing? Oh yes. Lighting the fire. I was distracted there for a moment.

Writing is hard. The pressure of images is coming too fast, and one has to select, because until they invent the brain dictaphone that records everything simultaneously there is no time to get but a tenth part down on paper.

I was cynical last night. Or striking a pose: an abject pose of mock defiance - it doesn't really matter. This morning I am either flying or in freefall: hard to tell the difference. My hand is cramping, but it is important to use a pen. I don't know why.

My clothes are all coming apart at the seams. My jumpers are full of holes. Why does no-one castigate me for looking like a tramp? I suppose it must suit their purposes to keep me looking like a tramp, to let me dress as I do. It is like a signal, a warning sign, a silly placard hanged around my neck: BEWARE!

There will come a time in the future - well there could hardly come a time in the past could there? - so future it must be - there will come a time again when I'm sick of myself again. But at the moment I am in freefall and it is lonely and delicious.

This conjuntivitis couldn't have come at a worse time. I look completely bonkers when I dare to look at myself in the mirror. The landlord's agent ran away from me this morning when I blundered face to face with him, strange noises that seemed foreign to me were coming out of my mouth: "Take a look at the garden. Be my guest. Etc." Oh well. It's not important. I don't care what a soft plump worm like him thinks of me. He looked like he had been slightly burned, all pink and shiny and soft. Like a peeled prawn. Perspective is a fine thing, especially when it is the perspective of thirty-thousand feet in the air. Everything gets so small and ultimately irrelevant. It is pleasant. It makes a pleasant change from every grain of dirt on the floor assuming monstrous proportions.

Later. I feel a bit calmer. I went to my 'cell' and read quietly which calmed me down. I am shaking a bit. My wife is talking on the telephone to someone about me. I am trying not to listen, but it's hard not to. Medication. Medication. Medication. I would sooner die I think. I think of all the writers, artists and composers I've admired throughout my life and how if they had been on meds they would not have given us anything. I'm not comparing myself with them. I'm a talentless worm with a large vocabulary but my thoughts and ideas are somewhat stunted. Artaud said the psychiatrist as the mouthpiece of the herd sought to murder genius. I think he's right. I know he's right. But so long as I can keep control and not pose a threat to myself or others - but that is impossible in this health and safety obsessed age - I am not Mr Square living in his square house with his square family: they will not deem me safe and well until I become like them, square and dull. It scares me deeply. Like Joseph K I have been accused of a nameless crime, of not being like them. To thine own self be true. Well I am nuts, and I must be true to that to the best of my abilities, marshall my weapons, dance my dance, keep myself in check with my method - because they will have to break me completely if they want me to submit - they will have to section me, they will have to lock me up. Perhaps the wheels are already in motion? Perhaps they are even now putting the manacles in the boot of their too, too-clean car?

Good. I am calming down. Sometimes I think it must be possible to think oneself calm. The aching demon has gone off for a nap.

1 comment:

Terra Incognita said...

I will sit with you. I love the rain. We don't get enough of it here in Texas. I love green things. I could lie in a field and be totally happy with bugs crawling all over me.

I'm glad you're sharing yourself, even when you say you're not. A lot comes out in the middle of the words.