Stephen Crane wrote ‘we are the most successful in art when we approach the nearest to nature and truth.’ He described the inconsistent vocation of the soul of man and the incapacity of man to uphold a straight moral line. His novel the Red Badge of Honor gave him considerable success, and is perhaps a great read to reflect on the choices of former POW Bowe Bergdahl. Now forgotten and sinking to the lesser bowels of history, another unconventional thinker and a flickering light of guidance, lost to our collective memory. We are all in an open boat, at risk to capsize as soon as we shift our positions, so we stay put and drift along.
Category Archives: short fiction
The Frenzy, Frank
‘But … where is the frenzy, Frank, the bang, the boom, buddy, the slang, the oof, the awe, man, the puzzling pinnacle, the dithyrambic dazzle, the mind blowing wit! Where is it? I don’t see it.’
‘Because I want to portray the slow digression in the opening, I wanted to introduce the daunting detail of every day, the common element in every one’s life, you know, the benign, the petite, the insignificant, the ordinary.’
‘Well, I can’t publish it like this. You need to drag in the stranger, grab their attention, persuade the casual reader, create their curiosity and awaken their empathy.’
‘That’s exactly why I start so small. Everyone can immediately identify with the plain, the prattle of coffee on the kitchen counter at seven in the morning. It’s a symbolic dripping through the filter of every day life.’
‘But it doesn’t distinguish the antagonist, you must create the extraordinary, the fantastic, what is special, there’s nothing heroic in there now.’
‘Precisely my point, the drama is hidden in every common person, the theater of life is present and enacted in every person’s life, and it starts on an empty stage, the tragedy slowly unfolds, never does the reader recognize when fate takes a turn, by the hour but without notice, the big drama in life is subtle sadness.’
‘No, no, no… I can’t sell such sensitive, gay nonsense, it’s too intellectual, too transgressive, if you want to sell your work, you cannot think like a play wright, think like a Hollywood director, the big picture, bro. Where is the explosive opening, the disastrous event, the fireworks, think Broadway! If no body dies, no body cares.’
The Maslow Mystery
I preferred to say nothing. Silently, I sat at the bar, staring, thinking, ideas bouncing off the dancing horde anonymously, my thoughts, a pinball machine jittering visuals of excited pinheads forgotten in the corner, without lust, without interest, my words slammed against the obstacles of bodies, breaking on their surface. In a fraction of a second, the option of a full conversation was fast forwarded, deterring me from approaching, from participation. I had developed a second nature like a mosquito net to avoid eye contact. I hated the buzz of shallow glimpses of conversation, females tittering, males joking loudly, the drum ruffle of alternating bass and soprano, the syrinxes of silliness clamoring their staccato joys. I opened my book and read, interrupted by jotting down notes of thoughts, the mechanical and mistaken association of random impressions in my head. To actualize my self I ordered a Bloody Mary, stirred it with the celery stick and fished out the olives. Quietly I spent around an hour before I decided to leave. I had exhausted my thoughts, letting my frustration freely flow, and I didn’t want to drink too much tonight. I walked home, the streets were empty, the night was unusually dark. No one noticed me, like I noticed no one. Even the most remarkable men were only noticed by their own belief they mattered. The others at most tolerate man. What a man can be, he must be, Maslow wrote. But there was nothing to be, nothing to must. Who was this Maslow but the five strata of a pyramid? Who was this man that took such notice of him self, and is this how we see our self, as the filtrate of random association on a measure of logic? When we see man, we see nothing but his shadow.
Review: British Art Resistance
‘Oh really?’ I heard him say while frowning one eyebrow.
I looked at his obnoxious stare.
‘Yes, really,’ I childishly answered, not caving in an inch.
‘Let’s step outside!’
I punched Billy Childish in the head, where I thought he was most fragile, and yanked his pointy dandy mustache. He was sniffing from rage like a bull. What a bugger I thought. He hit me back in the gut, but I felt little, a miscalculation, he pushed me over, in an attempt to make me loose my balance, but I still stood firm. He countered quickly with a jab to the liver, that hurt. I kept Billy at a distance with a grip to his neck with my outstretched arm. I punched his nose again, he started to bleed. He yelled ‘you bourgeois pig’, but I had no pride and barely heard him. He tripped over his lanky legs, he was awkwardly build, not an attractive man by the average standard, although there was something common about him. This sped through my thoughts as we tumbled to the dust. I landed on top of Billy, I felt the clamor of a short breath against my cheeks, squeezed out of his lungs by his body hitting the ground flat out. I felt like two puppies rolling clumsily over the ground. Neither of us controlled our own demeanor any more, pushed and pulled by the other and by gravity working on our bodies. In the end there was no purpose of course, some by-standers pulled us apart. I was panting, while Billy kept on screaming, trying to hit me with foul words and a vulgar spirit, to which I kept my calm. I thought ‘what trash’ while recuperating. I never liked Billy very much, although he was gifted.
The Park (Homo Homini Lupus)
Wolf was a gifted writer. His best work, if you asked Wolf, was a story entitled ‘The Park’. The story explored the sexual impulses of man. Wolf was puzzled by the sexual impulses of men under extreme conditions. The tragic paths of man led into many directions. But the sexual impulse was so essential to the survival of mankind, that it should persist under all conditions.
Otto Frank was trapped in a death camp with other men, separated from his wife, his children, doomed to die. For months, every day, out of nothing that death blow could come, and it was always expected. Completely delivered to the whimsical grace or vice of fellow men, who held the power to save or sentence him. Could under such bare and deprived circumstances possibly grow a homosexual tendency from such an unlikely feeling of intimacy for a rare friend?
On the other end there was a man like Willy Hitler, the ultimate opportunist. Willy was unrestrained in embracing life, not even held back by a fear for Adolf Hitler and his Nazi apparatus. While Otto Frank sat in hiding, while thousands fled Germany, Willy was attracted like a fly to shit by his opportunist instinct and attending tea dances in the Berlin of Kristallnacht.
Both men deranged, one by a cruel fate, one by his selfish nature, but in a way also both survivalists. One corrupted by the destructive effects of the death camps, the other corrupted by his own careless, loathsome lusts. But in the end, there was always still just a man.
They meet in the dark shadows of the night, where there is no good present, no wrong absent, but only a testimony to their self. Could in a perverted way, under bizarre extremes these men recognize in each other a common homosexual desire? It was an unlikely rendez-vous in the park between two radically different men, but Wolf envisioned a common need to be loved.
Like the rest of his stories, however, the story was never published, it was never send, remaining unpublished and virtuoso, while collecting dust on the shelves. Wolf was also not Wolf’s real name. Actually, the man who named himself Wolf had never send any of his stories even to any publishers, agents or magazines. His stories, like ‘The Park’, were a great embarrassment to Wolf. He loved his stories, but because of unbearable shame, he did not even read them, once finished. Wold feared the psychological pit of the soul. Of course, the stories were fiction, so being only their author, Wolf could not be held accountable on their behalf. But he was never able to believe in this innocence of fiction behind the real fantasies of his writing.
His friends nevertheless urged him to publish, more convinced by his talent than the torn Wolf himself.
‘Wolf,’ they pressed him,’everything is thinkable, there is no guilt in the imaginary, angels in heaven worry committing brutal murder, in their cells virgins imagine luscious pleasures, atheists fear a god after life, the perversities of your stories express, if anything, exactly your moral sanity!’
But Wolf was not convinced. He wrote another story and placed it on top of the others, ashamed.
Interview with Dr. Spencer Wells
Q: Doctor, welcome. It’s a pleasure and an honor to meet you. You became famous to the general public with your film The Journey of Man for the PBS about the dispersal of the human genome caused by the migration of early man out of Africa. Then next in your career you spearheaded the Genographic Project at National Geographic documenting the human family tree. How do you look back on that time early in your life?
S: The sins of youth! Yes. Well, these great projects not only defined me in the eyes of the public, they also created and offered enormous opportunities that have shaped me and the path of my career. I have a lot to be grateful for to my early work.
Q: But the tone of your early work stands in contrast to your more recent studies in the last fifteen years.
S: Yes. I think that a lot of my opinions, when I was younger, came forth out of the sensation of discovery. The study of anthropological genetics was a groundbreaking field of science at the time. Now, when I look back at those days from a position of knowledge and hind-sight, I can judge my youthful ideas with much clearer insight and balance.
Q: Could one say you were naive perhaps as a young researcher?
S: Don’t get me wrong, the scientific facts still hold as strong today as they did then. The facts were very real, no doubt about that. But looking back, perhaps one could argue that I was motivated by a certain naivety. One has to be when one is making new discoveries, of course, because naivety is the prerogative of discovery.
Q: So how do you explain your transformation then?
S: Well, in my opinion, there is nothing strange about it, it’s not a transformation but a development. My view on genetics now are only the superlative step of my research. My current ideas are not some random opinion without base or factual foundation, they are only the logical deduction of the facts of genetic reality.
Q: Your opponents however accuse you of supremest ideas! Your lecture last week was even interrupted by massive protests of students calling you fascist.
S: Yes, yes. Well, we’re back to the sins of youth again, aren’t we? But let me say this in response, now that I am at least allowed the opportunity to defend myself … I hope.
Q: Ha, ha. Of course, go ahead.
S: How is it, that these same protesters where my biggest advocates when I called to preserve the habitat and cohesion of non-Western indigenous populations while my current supporters said that I was naive, as you call it, and now when I call for the preservation of, among other, western and especially white indigenous populations, the spectrum of opposition changes radically against me again and I become a fascist!? I have always been fascinated by people, by mankind, by each single individual as a unique being possessing a valuable genetic treasure. I reject any claim to a hierarchy of races, I oppose any moral judgment of race, as I reject a moral instead of a scientific judgment of my scientific work.
Q: But you plead for segregation, does that not imply or at least lead toward a hierarchy of races? Economic scarcity, after all, forces populations to impose such a hierarchy in order to justify a claim to those scarce resources and formulate thus an ethics advocating their own prerogative.
S: I am a scientist, not a politician or a theologian. My interest is the preservation of genetic diversity, to keep the gene pool as rich as possible, to guarantee the preservation of the human race. This is not simply an interest born out of personal whim. The health and the survival of mankind depend on this diversity, and this diversity can only be guaranteed by a segregated reproduction.
Q: So you plead for a segregation of reproduction, not a segregation of social life? But is not the only way to enforce this type of reproduction to institute also segregated societies?
S: Again, those are political questions or just speculations perhaps. I realize that my theory may lead sometimes to difficult social or political dilemmas to which we not always have immediate, practical answers. This has always been the tension between science and society, from the days of early science in Greece, to the days of Galileo and the Church. But these challenges cannot be solved by ignoring the scientific facts, and the scientific facts are the only obligation of the scientist.
Q: Finally, I want to thank you for this interview. I greatly appreciated your time today. Can we expect to hear more from you soon?
S: Well, it was my pleasure. This year, I start research for a new book about the psychology of genetics. As my research became more embedded in popular culture, helping to spread an awareness of our genetic identities, I often pondered about the psychological impact of my research, what effect it had on our self-perception. Now, I will finally have the opportunity to explore this in collaboration with some of the most renowned psychologists, and I am looking greatly forward to this.
Q: Well, thanks again doctor, and we look forward to your new research as well.
All his life Arthuro had been an accountant. He had a few friends with whom he drank a port or two after work, every night, on office days, they met at the cafe on the corner in the Barrio Alto. At the cafe there was room for four small tables, each with two chairs, while outside stood a table for four under a lemon tree. But this did not matter, for Arthuro had no more than three friends. The friends joked that there was not another friend because he would not have fitted the table, while they laughed at their common jest. In the weekend however, Arthuro stayed home, he told his friends that he was writing. On Monday evening his friends asked what it was he had been writing on over the weekend, but Arthuro never said more than his usual reply: ‘oh, nothing. What do you drink?’ to which his friends would reply: ‘Port Arthuro, as always,’ and no one remember they had asked.
One day Arthuro stopped visiting his friends at the cafe. The next day his friends heard he had died in his sleep two nights ago. When they attended the wake, Arthuro’s son showed them a thick packet of papers, a manuscript of more than five hundred pages.
‘Look, this is what my father has worked on all his life. I remember, he was writing on it when I was still a child. Did he ever talk about it to you?’
‘Well yes, of course. We knew he was writing every weekend, as he was not at the cafe. But he never said what it was about.’
‘Did you read it?’ the three friends asked, naturally curious of course.
‘Yes, yes, it’s a travel adventure about four men, each living in a different capital of a different continent of the world.’
‘One friend, Tomas, lives in New York City.’
‘Another, Vasco, lives in Paris.’
‘And a third, Antonio, lives in Hong Kong.’
Antonio said nothing.
‘The four are brothers know nothing about each other, but they all are looking for their unknown father, a sailor named Arthuro.’
‘How does it end?’ the friends simultaneously asked.
‘It doesn’t!’ the son replied.
‘The last hundred pages are not there. There should be another hundred pages because the story abruptly ends and skips to a final and empty page, numbered a hundred pages higher. I was hoping you would know about it.’ The son looked hopeful at the three men.
The friends sighed and shook their heads with regret.
After the wake the three men went to the cafe on the corner in the Barrio Alto, sat down at their regular spots, and ordered a port.
The Moralistic Psychiatrist
Pinto was the only child of a middle-class Jewish family in Vienna. His father was baptized as an adult and became a town official who rose through the ranks of civil servants at the end of the nineteenth century. Pinto was sent to a prominent Realgymnasium in Vienna, where he proved to be a promising young boy. He studied medicine at the the University of Vienna and worked at a psychiatric hospital. He was an adept of the school of psycho-analysis, which had so recently taken the academic circles by storm. He followed in the footsteps of his old professor Joseph Breuer and the still young Sigmund Freud. When the sentiment in Vienna became too hostile for Jews, Pinto moved to Paris and set up his practice in Montparnasse.
In Montparnasse, Pinto gradually built up a name as an unconventional analyst, which attracted evidently a colorful clientÃ¨le. Some of his patients were rich noblesse or nouveau riche, while others were poor artists, who could not spend a centime. He was most fascinated by the Bohemiens, whom he saw en gratuit. Perhaps he grew up as a Jew in a gentile society, he shared a certain compassion for these outcasts. All his patients offered the greatest variation of psychological deviations and suffered from it with such intensity that it took little effort to reveal their pathologies.
â€œMy father was a dominant man in our household. He behaved like the patriarch of the family, a king in his own house. He always ordered me to get his cup of tea in the morning and demanded our home to be in meticulous order. As a child I was simply afraid of him.â€
â€œWell, every child looks up at its father, and it is not abnormal that the child fears its parents . It’s not special at all, all children idolize the father and aggrandize him in their memories . You simply project your own guilt onto your father, blaming him for falling short of your own aggrandizements, but they are your own shortcomings that you detest, your own imperfections that you loath.â€
â€œMy mother on the other hand was a sweet, timid woman who sacrificed herself for my dad.â€
â€œA weak mother figure is devastating for a child. You must reject your mother’s weakness.â€
Nin was referred to Pinto by a friend of the family, who had been deeply worried about the suspected intimacy that the psychiatrist Rank had developed with her. Pinto felt a strong nausea rise in his intestines and knew he objected to Rank’s irresponsible opportunism. After the first session with Nin however, she had not returned to Pinto and returned to Rank for further treatment. He blamed his failure on treating Nin on the specific pathological characteristics of her illness. Nin, in his opinion, had not been seeking a cure at all in reality, she had not been ill to begin with. Instead, she had willingly invented an illness that would liberate her from the moral restrictions that proved she had been socially and psychologically healthy. The mental illness she claimed to suffer from, as far as Pinto believed, proved Nin to be a perfectly healthy woman.
Pinto developed his own school of psycho-analysis called the Strict School of Psycho-Analysis. But despite tits initial success among his patients, Pinto did not receive the same recognition from his colleagues as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung or Otto Rank experienced. The case of Anais Nin was typical of the prejudice against his method among his fellow psychiatrists. Anais Nin, an infamous example, was often quoted by Pinto in defense of his method, while his opponents liked to refer to the case as a success. Pinto blamed the need for recognition, the coquette attitude of his colleagues who seemed more star hungry than scientific professionals in his eyes. Pinto considered Freud nothing short of a charlatan, a typical Jew who was obsessed with becoming a part of the very high society that rejected him. Freud had created his own myth, his own dream world, in which he was a gentile of noble birth moving amidst the noblest of the gentiles as if he was one of them. The delusions that Freud suffered from were as much caused by his addiction to morphine and cocaine as by his wish to be a member of the gentile society. Pinto had seen this desire often among the Jews in Vienna. Especially, after the emancipation acts many Jews became fanatically obsessed with the new opportunities and outperformed one another in adopting gentile fashions. His own father had rushed to the church to be baptized and pretended to be as Christian as the inquisitors that had persecuted his forefathers. Pinto felt a deep repulsion about this forgivingness of the Jews toward a society that had despised and excluded them for hundreds of years, hunting them down like animals, in endless pogroms.
â€œI dreamed that I was never circumcised, doctor.â€
â€œAbsurd. You are a Jew.â€
â€œI know, I know, doctor, but I dreamed that I was eight years old again. It was Sunday and my family and I were on our way to church.â€
â€œAs I walked down the aisle, the pews were filled with the important gentiles of our town.â€
â€œAn idiotic rejection of who you really are.â€
â€œThey were cheering, clapping, and I was as happy as I could be.â€
â€œThis eternal self loathing of the Jew! When will you grow some pride?â€
â€œAnd then I stood in a pool. The priest locked his arm around my neck and pushed me under water. I was wrestling to get up, but I couldn’t breath and another priest grabbed my legs and held them under water.â€
â€œThis helplessness! This impotency of the Jew!â€
Rankâ€™s treatment of Nin had created a psychological monster out of a perfectly healthy rather charming woman. Under the manipulative influence of Rank, she had transferred the limitations of Rankâ€™s own repressed state of mind, onto her own healthy psyche and out of it had created an illness of her own. Nin had convinced herself that she was suffering from repression by adopting the mental deviations of her psychiatrist, who was her spiritual guide. Rank had not been able to restrain himself and had fully given in to the devastating chemistry between patient and doctor, betraying the sacred oath of Hippocrates. In return for this transference, Nin had found a reward in the attention by her psychiatrist and in the following by famous intellectuals and critics that admired her case. Her newly found illness had generated a cause cÃ©lÃ¨bre and for the first time in her life Nin had found the celebrity that she aspired to. But her liberation was in fact the real restriction of her happiness, and the cure that she sought was the real sickness. The real cancer in her illness was Otto Rank, the man who was supposed to help her. She had not found the fame in a recognition of her own self, but instead through the proxy of Rank.
Colleagues however dismissed Pinto’s theories as conservative and uninteresting. The wave of new theories and psychiatrists who made sensational discoveries had captivated the minds of his time and generated a tide by which the fashion of his profession was moved. The apparent was rejected as false, suspicion became the foundation of every new theory. No one was interested anymore in Pinto’s theories that affirmed the existing by providing a solid scientific basis for the observations. Instead, everyone dug deeper into the unknown, into the hole of what Freud had labeled the unconsciousness.
Otto Rank of course, was the first to retaliate bitterly against the accusations that had been untactfully publicized by Pinto. Rankâ€™s influence in the world of psycho-analysis reached beyond the modest network of Pinto and almost destroyed him. He was able to sustain only by financial support of his father, a humiliating experience for Pinto.
Pintoâ€™s Strict Method consisted in the systematic correction of deviations from which the patient suffered, by using what Breuer had labeled the babbling method. His patient lay comfortably on a sofa while he asked them questions. He then encouraged his patient to freely associate, to not stop talking, to not let a single pause slow down their thoughts, while Pinto interrupted them methodologically and regularly by correcting the fantasies of his patient.
â€œSo in your dream, you say, you saw a woman at a desk, correcting your exam.â€
â€œYes, doctor, I had to score an A in order to pass on to the next year. So, I was terribly nervous, as you will understand.â€
â€œVery good. Very good.â€ Pinto commented, while taking note of this desire for approval.
â€œThe woman was wearing glasses, her hair was black and tied to the back in a French twist. But the strange thing was that apart from her glasses and a pair of black pumps, she was absolutely naked, and her legs spread apart under the table.â€
â€œAbsurd, you must learn to control your impulses.â€ Pinto mumbled.
The basic principle of Pinto’s method was the notion that man belonged to a social group, and was thereby submitted to the rules governing group membership. The ethics of society were the basic principles for the individual’s moral actions. The moral nature of man distinguished him from the world of the animals. Freud however had unleashed the lower nature of man. He had not simply revealed the lower origin of man like Darwin had done, but he had elevated the ape to sit on the throne of man. Freud had revealed the hidden perversions of psycho-analysis instead of solving them. Freud had opened Pandora’s box.
Slowly, Pinto lost the little influence he had established. The theory of Freud was a self-fulfilling prophecy, popular and fashionable, and the number of patients who found salvation in it quickly dominated also the scientific debate. One by one, Pinto lost his patients. He became effectively outmaneuvered to the margins of the psycho-analytic debate, until he found himself unable to publish his research in any of the medical annals. Finally, deeply disappointed, he left for America in the early thirties, not only to escape the rising antisemitism and sentiments of war, but also his own obscurity.
4. Think Coffee
I loved to get up before the break of dawn. There was little as fullfilling as to walk along the emptied streets in the morning, and to admire the twilight that beholds the city in a mysterious covering which is neither cold nor warmth. I lived on the south side of Williamsburg and took the brown line into the city. Seated in the shaking aluminum subway car across the Williamsburg bridge, passing over the East river, filled with a few half sleeping, half awake ghosts, I looked at the rising sun that stood low at the horizon, casting an orange red glow over the silhouette of New York. The illusion of the sun caused by the atmospheric refraction in the morning showed a more romantic perspective of the real world with its dull practical commonalities, even if it only formed an imperfect impression compared to the full light spectrum of the day. Through the H-beams of the bridge’s construction I discerned the futurist, fragmented view of the island in full motion. I recalled the soul of a soulless city by Nevinson.
I tried to imagine a view of the island as it must have appeared four hundred years ago, when Hudson sailed into the bay. A thick treeline of rich forest with a few rocky hilltops and some open fields. The lowest tip of the island was only half the width it was now and at what is now Pearl street, a glimmering waste belt of oyster shells lay piled on the East river’s shoreline, like the glass skyscrapers of the financial district now piled along the shore. The real richness then was the beaver pelt trade with the natives. The symbols of this origin are still visible on the city’s seal and the same motley crew of rough characters and odd nationalities made up the early settlement as the current city.
I got off at Bowery station and walked up to Houston and Bleecker, passing a group of homeless men sitting and chatting in front of the Bowery Mission. At Think Coffee I ordered a large latte and sat in the corner with my back to the wall, facing the Morrison Hotel Gallery and the Project Renewal across the street. I took my book out, and placed it next to my notebook, my pencil and pen. I often came here in the morning before going in to work, to breath the brisk air, sip hot coffee, and fill my heart with the inspiration of early thoughts before my mind would be shattered. For one to two hours I was free to imagine and I felt myself before it would all be taken from me for the day. I read for about thirty minutes in Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller, his most authentic book I believed. Ideas sprang forth from reading, and occasionally I jotted my notes down.
I looked up when destracted by the movements of the door opening when someone entered or left, if tables or chairs were shuffled around, and at times I was smitten by the tick of a face, a leg or a gesture. Across the street another group of homeless gathered before the entrance of the Project Renewal. While I was burdened by the petty responsibility of my job, these wanderers without any obligation had total freedom. The poem The New Colossus engraved on the pedestal of the statue of liberty by Emma Lazarus came to mind: give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. They only had one real problem, and that was food. All other ills were imaginary, but food was no problem to me, all other ills were. Mother of exiles, where had I lost my self?
3. Diptych on Falsity, Part I: On Beauty
Behind the industry of advertising there is a factory that creates the grand delusion of beauty. Out of its chimneys pours the steamy vapor of poisonous white forms into a make-belief sky. Above our heads, we bend our necks up, to see an ideal world in the clouds that slowly drift by. Behind the factory walls ambitious youths work relentlessly, each one believing they are the critical vanguard, the outstanding heroes of progress, the representatives of a new future. And each generation has its own haughty youth. There was a generation of the steam engine and the railroads, a generation of the automobile, a generation of television. There was the generation of the computer, an internet generation. Each generation runs their mills with its own chimneys of deceiving smoke, its social change as a result of technological advance, and each generation has the accompanying smog of pollution and imploding parvenu egos that float atop and measure their volatile image of beauty by their fleeting sexy potency.
Near the end of the work day, around half past four, I started to feel more and more anxious, and I was incapable of doing any more work for the remainder of the day. All day, I battled to work on the practical assignments that added another little feature or implemented some improved business logic to the larger system. But as I fought to concentrate and complete these chores, I completely lost my spirit. The modern capitalist system was magnificently balanced to exploit you without exhausting you, allowing you just enough days in the week off to restore your composition without gaining your strength, allowed you just enough time for lunch in the middle of the day to gather yourself again for the afternoon, but never to find yourself again. It was humane enough not to collapse, for you must be able to keep going, always this endless turning of the wheels. Unrest built in my heart with the prospect of leaving soon, to be able to regain a little of my strength, getting away from my screen and desk that sucked me empty, evading my coworkers’ dull faces that stared back at me with equally half human looks, reflecting my own dullness, and I kept weighing when it would be reasonable to get up and leave or what excuse I could utilize, keeping a balance between provoking the worst and keeping the best. I angered myself thinking of being stuck, having let myself be trapped, raging inside, so strongly that I was ready to explode with hatred. I had always carried a seed of primal, rudimentary angst, like any healthy teen but it had never sided, which under the right circumstances could burn up to smoldering flames of anger enlightening engulfing fires. As a teenager I was an angry young man, be it not channeled, but in the course of the years I had funneled my energy in a passionate obsession for literature, easing my worst anger. But now a fire raged in my chest, so high it scorned all my reasonable thoughts.
By the end of day, I run out to escape this deteriorating predicament, which really becomes unsustainable at this point. I have to prevent myself from evolving into an uncontrollable eruption of gory violence, I must leave, no matter it’s early still. I feel losing my mind, approaching the edge of an abyss that I fear, afraid to lose my inner calm. The absolute self control that I possessed normally did little to sooth my fear of self, for there is nothing so sacred as self. To work however was impossible. So, I pushed my chair under my desk, grabbed my book and coat and hurled out. I exited the elevator in a hurry, stepped out and standing in the street, immediately, I felt utterly relieved. All my disquiet absolved in an instant, as if it was the inner walls of the building that were bewitched. I walked up Broadway and turned on Bleecker street, regaining the pace of being myself. The ability to appreciate life, that outside was everywhere, in the smiles on people’s faces, in the sexy fashion, in the bright light, the shadows, and a feeling of consideration for others, for myself reemerged, and with it a sense of identity. I still felt empty, mentally exhausted, but also vigorous for having lived another day, for still owning tomorrow.
I walked to the Village Tavern on seventh avenue and Leroy street and ordered a Yuengling beer. I sat at the window stool, staring out onto the street at the gorgeous women of New York passing by. The beauty of each one mesmerized me for a single second and washed away my disquiet in the instance of their impression. I felt so happily aroused, observing the sunset above the skyline, the dullness of the day slowly flowed away and stirred in me the happy inspiration of the orange night. I could be in love with each single one of them, even if I forgot the previous girl I had fallen in love with, as soon as I fell in love with the next. I sipped my beer and my eyes followed these goddesses on the street. The muscled, tanned calves, the exposed full breasts, the athletic asses and broad shoulders or the lean arms, the bright eyes, the fierce lips, the iron clad goddesses that battled on the front of each working day, these mighty birds and snakes of beauty that I would serve if I had the opportunity, if they were not so goddamn busy all the fucking time.
I could think again, eureka. I took my little notebook out and put it in front of me. I placed my pen to the paper and thoughts streamed out. It was as simple as that. The falsity of advertising lay not within itself, I realized, but within the falsity of men. It was worse than I had suspected before, but at the same time it gave me a motive to resign, to let my anger falter. Although I despised this caste of advertising, they served no other gods than any of the others did. They were all subject to the same submission to a dream, the same weakness of man that he could only overcome by the hope of something better. Man needs the delusion of a flight upward to accept the real limitations of life. The beautification of reality to create a lure beyond our resistance, to create an appearance of possibilities, was what made men get up in the morning, go to work, and be happy with their fates. To lure us by the best of illusions with the worst of products, simply in order to sell them, so that we want them, and so to boost the profits of the men who make or possess them, regardless of their utility and fact, regarding only their appearance, this was treacherous, this was advertising, but necessary within man itself.
It was innate to the mind of man to want to be better than he is, because we want to become better men, we believe we can do better, and as we aspire this ideal, no matter how false, to present ourselves to ourselves and to others in a better light than we could possibly deserve, and in the end simply to win over a more admirable beauty that we can never own. All this was treacherous, but innocent, necessary. Advertising is but the arena of this imperfect man, we cannot be perfect and stop advertising a better self to ourselves, this would be to admit to nothingness, and people choose to consume what they desire in order to become what they desire to be. All was simple, necessary treason. These are the gods we save by advertising. In the philosophical sense, advertising was an endless cycle of suffering, never sufficiently or permanently satisfying our desires to end them, but a suffering that brings at least a crumb of satisfaction and happiness to man. If man had a desire for honesty, if man had no desire for suffering there would be no advertising, but there is advertising, there is man, and there is suffering.