Thursday, June 09, 2016


Suppose you are an idiot, and then let's give you the benefit of the doubt and suppose you aren't a drooling in the corner of the mental ward throwing feces at the attendant type of idiot, or the knuckle dragging, mouth breathing type of idiot. Let's also suppose that you aren't the idiot savant type either, with some insane type of skill that allows you to count all the jellybeans in a jar with just a moments glance. No, you are the average, run of the mill type of idiot. The type of idiot you complain about when one of them cuts you off in traffic, or the type that makes you wonder how they got themselves dressed, out the door, and to work in the morning without the aid of some gentle, loving, caregiver.  You are just an average idiot, with an average idiot's problems. Problems that may entail all or parts of things like rent, work, school, kids, accidentally sexting your boss at 3 a.m., donuts, elephants, your fear of flying, your fear of elephants flying, all sorts of problems that beset the average idiot on a day to day basis. Some of them are real, some are them are part of the idiot's overactive imagination, and quite a few are caused by the idiot themselves.

The word itself doesn't really do any damage, after all it's just a word. Derived from some long, hard to pronounce Greek word (like a lot of words are) meaning person lacking professional skill, private, or one's own. Different meanings all from the same little innocent word. None of those meanings are quite like the meaning we attach to the word today, and none are particularly mean spirited. "Lacking professional skill" could be a bit mean, but it could also just mean that no one has properly trained you (yet) in your job as horse masturbater. The saying "practice makes perfect" could very well move you out of the idiot category into someone who can get a horse off  with a steamy glance, and a naughty word whispered in his ear.  Private or one's own might have to do with somethings that are best not spoken aloud at all those fancy parties your wife makes you go to "because that's what people do, not just sit at home and plot the death of all of their co-workers in a large, but accidental fire." It was Latin, and I assume those tricky bastards, the Romans, that changed the definition to mean "an uneducated or ignorant" person. Again, not necessarily a mean spirited word, I am uneducated as to speaking Swedish, it's not that I am stupid (which is actually probably true) it is just that I've never been exposed to the language enough to fill that gap in my education. I do know the word for awful, and I know how to say I love you in Swedish. Which, in theory, may be the same thing, but that's not the reason we are here today.

It wasn't until the 19th century that the word idiot started to take on the negative meaning that we apply to it today. Shockingly enough we owe that to doctors, one of the many crimes for which all doctors, except maybe Dr. Who, will have to answer for when the end of the world comes, and makes all men even, and not the gods that doctors think they are.  Idiot became to mean someone with a mental age of less than three years old. A rather low bar for people to get over, but I suppose there is a group of people to which the act of just putting on pants remains a bridge too far, and not as an act of civil disobedience against the tyranny of pants. After the doctors decided to put a negative spin on the word, lawyers, not to be outdone in the asshole Olympics, decided to add the word to the penal code. However, being the kinder, gentler type, lawyers cut the idiots of the world a break, and classified them as one of six types of people that were unable to commit crimes. We (lawyers) also decided that a further crime idiots couldn't commit was to vote, and we took away that right as well. Which, given the current choice of candidates for the highest office in the land, is probably quite a favour. Idiots shouldn't be allowed to help elect idiots, that would queer the whole system.

The author to which is blog is dedicated, wrote an entire, lengthy book called "The Idiot" in which his main character's idiocy is not his mental age of less than three, or an IQ of under 30, but based upon his honesty, kindness, and humility. Perhaps that was a gentler use of the word, but if an idiot is defined by those words, then the world needs a whole lot more idiots, and a whole lot fewer doctors, and lawyers.  Nietzsche went so far as to describe Jesus as an idiot because of his aversion to the material world, Wonder how that conversation worked out if the Christian view of the after life is correct, but that is Nietzsche's problem.

Let's step away from the evolution of the word, and get back to our average idiot, and their problem(s). Let's also narrow the field down a bit, and put before this particular idiot, a particular problem that doesn't involved Dumbo throwing exploding donuts at him at 3 in morning. No, our idiot's problem is much more mundane, and much more complicated. How it is possible to be more complicated than exploding donut throwing elephants is an accomplishment, but nevertheless it is. Our idiot's problem is not one of kindness, honesty, or humility. Very rarely are any of those words applied, in seriousness, to our idiot. Like most idiots, our idiot has his own unique way of looking at the world. Or at least he likes to think so, originality is a very hard thing to accomplish, and creativity is sometimes merely a matter of being able to successfully hide your sources.

 Our idiot knows this, he has an IQ over 30 and a mental age slightly over 3, therefore is not the medical definition of the word, he is also quite capable of committing, and has in fact, planned several crimes for which he would serve a whole heap of jail time, therefore he is not the legal definition of the word either.  He knows that his problems in general, and this problem in particular is not original to him. He is fairly convinced that somewhere in an alternate universe, where the Vikings are four time Super Bowl champions, a nearly exact copy of him is sitting at their keyboard typing a very different, and probably more successful story. At least he hopes it is a nearly exact copy, he hopes for the sake of the other him, that he (the other him) has navigated the minefield of their duplicate existence better than he has. It is probably a forlorn hope, but it is a hope nonetheless.

That bit of hope coupled with just a modicum of self-awareness, is the one thing that may just take our idiot to the upper echelon on the scale of idiots. He's not out of the idiot forest yet, but he can at least see the edge. Not that it does him a whole lot of good. That hope is being slowly dismantled like a warehouse in what has become some newly developed posh district of town. It has outlived its usefulness, and needs to make way for the realities of the more modern world. The self-awareness foundation remains, and therein lies the rub, our idiot is just smart (using the term very loosely) enough to understand he is an idiot, and moreover, not equipped to solve his problem(s). The paradox of this sad tale of woe and misunderstanding is that the idiot knows this, he knows he can't solve the problem, partly because he is a large part of the problem, partly because he's an idiot, and partly because other, outside forces beyond his limited control are the other part of the problem.

However, the tragedy of the idiot is that he is the only person on this rock, in this version of his universe(s) that could, with the help of a miracle or three, solve the problem. It must needs doing, and he realizes this, he pounds himself with that thought daily. But, he is an idiot, and sending an idiot to fix the problem that the idiot was a large part in creating seems to be an exercise in futility that would make Sisyphus proud. However, the band aid that is the idiot has to be applied to the gunshot wound(s) that are his problem(s) in the, probably vain, attempt to staunch the bleeding. Otherwise, the rock (from the myth of Sisyphus) wins, and that is a universe/fate/future that our idiot isn't sure that he can bear. 

Friday, June 03, 2016

Bon matin, Je suis Henrik

Ok, I'm awake that's a good start, I appear to be alive though my head is screaming at me that I am at least close to a near death experience. However, I do not appear to be at home, which is a bit disorienting. I am in a bed, just not my bed, also a bit of a puzzler. As I try to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of the last 12 hours, I notice that not only am I not in my bed, but I seem to have a companion in the bed I am occupying. Until my eyes gain the focus that my mind seems to lack, all they are is a vague, womanly shaped lump on the far size of, what I can only assume, is their bed. Think! idiot. Think! You went to the bar, no surprise there, you got drunk, again no shock, you saw a girl? You talked to a girl? You went home with a girl? These last three items on the list of my evenings "to do list" seem a bit hazy. Surely the memories exist, it is just a matter of finding the right neural pathway, kicking it open, and accessing them. Hopefully, before my companion wakes up, and starts asking what, I can only assume will be, some very embarrassing questions.

"Live a life of sin," he says," life is no fun in a boring office pushing paper and people around from one inbox to the other" he says. Fine, It seems I attempted to follow that advice a little too vigorously last night, and am now about to pay for the wages of my sin. And as the morning light begins to limp into the room of the girl I don't remember, would probably like to forget, but happen to be lying next to, those wages seem a bit on the high side, and I am not sure I am going to be able to pay them, not all at once at least. A small groan escapes my lips as I shift myself slightly further away from my latest playmate, and a returning moan/snore/grunt emanates from her in reply. She probably has a name, she probably told you her name, and she is sure as fuck probably expecting you to have remembered that name, pity that you don't. It is probably going to cause a few awkward moments of conversation before she hurls insults at you, and then you, out of the door. Susan? Ann? Katie? Jane? no, no, no, and no. Maybe Allison? Allison's a common enough name right? Right, it's Allison. Peering over to look at her, I see blond hair, and a not unpleasing shape, that's encouraging, but blond? I'm not much of a fan of blonds even drunk GI knows this, is this a way of adding some flavour to our life of sin? The bastard should be here to sort his mess out for himself, but no I had to wake up sober. Pity that.

Well, she looks a bit like an Allison (with two L's), whatever Allison's are supposed to look like, therefore we will go with Allison, unless of course I can somehow extract myself from her bed, and her house (located gods know where), figure out how I got here, and how I'm getting home, without waking her up. Hmm, all that seems a bit unlikely, and would require the luck of the entire fucking Republic of Ireland. Pity that I'm also not Irish. Luck, which may or may not have gotten me into this mess, has probably left the building, and forgot to take me with it in its hasty departure. The good news, if there is to be any good news, is that sleeping in my contacts has at least left me able to see, the bad news is I think my eyeballs may fall out from the experience. If you can see, you can find your pants right? If you can find your pants, you can make a quick and dignified exit right? Let's hope Allison is a deep sleeper, or still drunk. Either one will serve.

She seems to be deeply drooling the drool of what will soon become remorse, into some brightly coloured pillow of will become the pillow of regret, and fortune favours the brave, this seems a good time to collect my wits, and my clothes and get the hell out of here. Quietly, and quickly, for the this isn't the first time I've gotten dressed in the dark, I find the majority of my clothes, enough to pass as decent if not respectable, and start trying to navigate the maze of the house that I need to escape from, and sharply.  Allison, or whatever her name is, groans a couple of times, and shifts a little too much for my comfort, like a woman coming dangerously close to waking all the way up, and expecting me to be by her side in some happy state of mutual bliss, rather than the bounder standing next to her bed with his shoes in his hand, ready to hare it the fuck out of there like some thief that just nicked the good silver, and is headed towards the nearest pawn shop in hopes of a payday that will fund a lovely day at the races.

"Back to sleep, Allison" I coo reassuringly, like some parent trying to coax a baby with the colic to calm down, and let me get some bleeding sleep as well. Thank fuck it seems to have worked, she rolls back over and nestles deeper into the bed, and seems to be asleep for the duration, or at least the duration I need to get out of here. Out of the bedroom down the hall, a longing look at the bathroom because I have to piss like a rushing racehorse, but can't risk all that noise.  Wait, what the hell was that noise? Stop, take a listen, and a deep breath. Figment of your over active imagination old boy, no noise coming from the bedroom. Allison is sleeping the sleep of the dead, or the dead drunk, whichever either one is to my advantage. Wait, godsdamit, that was a noise, it's coming from some other room. Jesus, does Allison have a roommate, or a child, or maybe it's just a dog. That's it a dog, she seemed the type to have a dog.

Laughing at my own overly developed sense of paranoia, I continue my stealthy escape from this sticky situation, and head for what I hope is the back door, a person in my position should leave by the back door, show some respect after all.  Back doors are my type of fellow's friend, and I eventually figure out which direction to head, and hear more noise. Fuck me that was no dog, unless Allison possesses a dog that can sing, in which case awesome, but highly unlikely. This has to be a roommate right? Not a child, please jesus not a child, that will be way too difficult to explain, or not some elderly aunt that came over to cook her a surprise breakfast, also very tricky to explain to her who I am, why I am here, why I am leaving with my shoes in my hand, and why I don't like my eggs over easy.

It dawns upon my, not quite fully functioning, brain that I am now trapped. Trapped between "the devil" that is Allison and her bed, and the "deep, blue sea" that is the unknown person in the kitchen blocking my access to the back door. Back doors love them some kitchens.  Ignoring the "better the devil you know, than the one you don't" theory, I attempt to redirect my escape route to the front door, knowing that my odds of success have been drastically reduced. Still hope springs eternal right? Stranger thinks have happened, I mean they made 7 Fast and Furious films right?

Sadly, the little luck I had retained from last night decided, at this unfortunate moment, to run out, and not take me with it. For that was the moment that the occupier of the kitchen, the singer of morning songs came around the corner coffee mug in one hand and wearing nothing but their mortal sins for cover. "Jesus Christ!  Ladislaw!!! What in the ever loving fuck are you doing here? What the hell happened last night, I thought you had climbed out of a tart's bed and wasn't returning?" Before Ladislaw, looking very bemused could reply, Allison (which as it turns out that not her actual name) came around from the other corner, and said "well, hello lovers, glorious morning isn't it? Oh, excuse my rudeness Ladislaw this is Henrik (pointing at me)." Henrik, this is Ladislaw."

Ladislaw, that glorious bastard, stuck out their hand and with a wink as broad as the Mississippi River said "Damn glad to meet your Henrik, I'm afraid that I had rather forgotten your name in all the confusion, and err stuff last night." And that is how not Allison, to this day, thinks I first met Ladislaw. It certainly wasn't, but that is a tale for another time. So much for waking up with no one to answer to, and nothing to apologize for.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

St. Christopher is Lost

I was given a specific assignment for my next blog post, and I appreciated that since my last one was mostly about how difficult it is currently for me to come up with ideas. Thankfully this assignment was more of a vague question and less of a demand for an exegesis, so you'll all be spared my less than brilliant literary analysis.

"Now I lost my St Christopher, now that I've kissed her."

The Inquisitor takes a more optimistic view of this line than I do. St Christopher is indeed the patron saint of travelers (as well as of poor mortals suffering from a toothache as well, but that's a subject for another day...). Inquisitor likes to think that the poet doesn't need the St Christopher any more because he has found someone to take its place. But the poet of the song didn't abandon his St Christopher or it lay aside, he lost it. Its not tucked safely in the top drawer of his desk. It is lost.  Which leads me to believe that he too is now lost. If the St Christopher was protection during his travels, then he no longer has it and is adrift on the tide. Being lost, as Inquisitor says, has its own kind of reckless appeal. There is a great deal to be learned and experienced when one is lost.  It is the stuff of fantasy... to get in your car, leave your life behind, and drive as far as you can go. New people to meet, sights to see, food to eat.  The desire for those things is one that most of us don't lose, in fact it seems to get stronger with age.

However, I have spent a great amount of time actually lost. Like, I took a wrong turn on the way to a place I've been seventy-five times and now I'm in Mississippi, lost. My sense of direction is bad enough as to be almost a disability. GPS directions on the iPhone have been an absolute life saver for me, not to mention salvaging my dignity from the scrap-heap of having to call my father repeatedly and try to tell him where I am so he can talk me through getting home. So, unfortunately, I know all too well what getting lost feels like.

The difference is that Inquisitor is lost on a solitary and exciting adventure. He is lost on purpose and with a purpose.  I'm usually lost and therefore late to wherever I'm supposed to be and panicked because someone (my mother or my friend or my child) is going to be upset about that. Lost, for me, brings no adventures and no lessons... It brings stress and anger and too many gray hairs. So I envy Inquisitor his ability to get lost and embrace it.

And maybe that is why I read that line so differently. Our poet has kissed the girl and been spun out into space by it. And it is a Romantic (Capitol R) idea that she may take the place of his St Christopher and now anchor him to earth. But that sort of cataclysm holds no appeal for me. I see only that his former anchor is gone and he is lost... And all of the accompanying stress and anger and gray hair that go with it. More than likely this girl is nothing special and will leave the poet high and dry when someone with a steady paycheck comes along. Then he'll be, without her and without his St Christopher, well and truly screwed.

The line is beautiful and heartbreaking, like most of my favorite poems. But in life, unlike in poetry, I prefer to turn on my GPS and not take the wrong turns. Wrong turns do tend to lead us to tarts' beds on occasion, and as I have climbed out of one in order to write this, I'm going to stay out.

You and I

I suppose I should start with an apology for drowning, it seems odd to have to do, but for reasons that I somewhat understand, you seem to be holding a grudge against me for drowning. Trust me, when I slipped into the W____ River that night 19 years ago, I had no intention of drowning. It was not a suicide, it was a lark, a spur of the moment decision that tragically turned into the last decision I ever made. I drowned that night in Memphis, and it took nearly 5 days for my body to be found. I took my voice, and my talent out of the world, but it was by accident. We live in a culture that kills artists, it wants them to die, people that talk poetically are devalued, and while culture didn't kill me that night, the river did, it was bound to happen sooner rather than later.  Therefore, I apologize for drowning, I hope that you accept this letter as a mea culpa, and as our 'last goodbye.'

I was an artist, and I carried a light that you refused to carry yourself. You admired me and you let it stifle your art. We all do it, I did it, and you will do it again with someone else, but your art, while not music like mine, is still art. You let me carry the light that you were afraid to carry yourself. But, I drowned, and now it is up to you to pick up that light, and maybe carry for yourself. If you are lucky, and I hope to fuck you are, then you might even carry (if only a little way) for other people as well. Be the inspiration you wanted me to continue to be, you are still alive, and can do it much easier than I can. There are people who tell you regularly that you are a writer, you scoff, and pretend you're not, and maybe you believe that deep down in your soul. People tell you that it must be a terrible place inside your mind, and I get that. I understand that it really is a terribly confusing place inside there. There are these half-formed ideas screaming at you like backbench members of British Parliament trying to shout down the Prime Minister's speech that they disagree with. These ideas aren't arguing with you, they aren't fighting with you, they are pleading with you, "write me DOWN, godsdamnit.."

I understand you try, you do what you think is your best, when we both know you could do far, far better. You let the critic's stones and arrows wound you too deeply, and retreat into sullen silence, and refuse to write. By doing that you let them win, they silence you, and the light you need to be carrying is extinguished. Here's a little quote that explains it much better than I could, not that you didn't already know this, but sometimes we all need reminding of the obvious.

 "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

 It is like abusive parent, that adore the oldest child, but give them the worst of their behavior, be prepared to get it, accept it, and move on. It is one price you are going to have to pay, if you want to express yourself poetically, and try to create art.  It is not the only one, there will be others, and you will have to pay them as well. Maybe, all your art is just a dream your soul is having in order to reach out to other people in order to communicate with them from a safe distance. You are going to have to close that distance, and get close to a few of those people, and it's going to hurt. They are going to love you, adore you, and then condemn you, but never truly understand you, and that's fine. That is called living, and you have to do it, because I can't, I drowned.

Don't stay with me under these waves tonight, the river that took my life is mere miles from where you live right now. The city that was the last stop on the tour of my life, is where you are living yours. I just happened to get there about 6 years earlier than you did, you walk the same streets I did.  You have, I am certain, taken the time to find the places that you know I hung out, to visit, and ponder, in your anger, why I am not around to carry that light for you anymore. Don't give yourself up to the desperate trend of hero worship. I was no hero, and neither are you. But you can try to be, and maybe you will be to someone like I seem to be for you. More than likely, you won't ever be as "famous" as I was, and that's ok, you don't really want to be. You don't create mass art, you create personal art, don't want to be famous without content, that is as awful as awful can be. You don't use your physical voice, but you still have one. People have told you that when they read you, that they can hear your voice like you are talking to them, that my friend, is a quality to be admired, and exploited. If you are in their head, then you are halfway into their hearts.

Don't let those slings and arrows wound you too deeply, that you reach for that gun. There will be someone who finally loves you for real, when you are out of fuel and understanding, unfreeze your heart, and go get her. She won't just dawdle there in the middle distance waiting for you to get your shit together. She will be worth having, but you have to not be afraid. You might die a little in your art, and that's fine, art is, in many ways, dying in a very public, very poetic way. You will climb into an empty bed far, far too many nights, but those lonely nights will be worth it, they will teach you the value of the nights that she climbs into bed with you, if you are lucky. You will create many an artistic moment with her. Spend nights making love, stripping your ego down, expressing yourself wordlessly, collaborating on a moment that is inspirational in a way you can never imagine.

Pay the cost for the life of sin that your art (in many ways) forces you to lead. Good stories, like good songs, rarely come from working some office job for the majority of your adult life whilst shuffling paper, and people from one inbox to another. Don't let the fact that the rent is due deter you from living the live you art is going to demand of you. It is a demand, and it is a price you are going to have to pay, whether you like it or not. The rent, in the grand scheme of things, isn't.  You are certainly going to have to keep body and soul together, but don't sacrifice one for the benefit of the other. Of course, this is easy for me to say/write, for two reasons. One, I'm dead, I've felt the soil falling over my head and the cares of this mortal coil are no longer of any concern to me, Secondly, I had talent, and the guts to try to live by it. I am not so sure you do, and that, dream brother, is your tragedy to live, I am sorry for you and for it, but there is fuck all I can do about it. Even were I alive, and I know you really wish I was, we would have never crossed paths. Therefore, any help I could have provided you would have been minimal at best. This is, at the end of the day, your burden you are going to have to bear it.

As you stand there in the half light looking out upon the river that took my life, I hope you understand that you will never happen unless you choose to happen. Let the sea (river) take me again, say your last goodbye to me, let go of the resentment you have at me dying, go kiss her out of desire, not consolation, and carry the light I dropped in front of you. It must needs doing, and I can only hope you choose to do it. The risk is worth the reward, and when you die, and trust me you will, and it will be much too soon, someone like you might just look back upon your (wasted) life as well spent, look down at the light that you have dropped, pick it up, and carry it forward for you, for me, for all of us looking for a state of grace in our art.  

your dream brother,