The scoliosis specter of my reflection’s demise looms behind the curtain hanging over the bed we fuck on. The dangling sword of inevitability, held by a single hair that could be falling off my balding head as we sleep.
There was supposed to be something else. You were supposed to have something…a calm.
I have to say I love you before I die. Because I do. I must die real. For me and for you. I don’t know when I fell exactly, but the ground seems ever clearer.
There’s no real way of coping when your parachute won’t open. You’re falling down. You’re going down. You fell. Then you died. Maybe someone cried. But not your one-time bride.
She is leaving and taking the daughter whose value to me I’ll get to tomorrow. Where is my little girl? I’m sure I’ve done things wrong, but what they are and what they mean I don’t know. Surely they could not have been so bad. I’ve tried to be honest about myself. I’ve seen them be honest about me. She fantasizes about my demise. Not relishing malevolently, but a calming release. Caden, does that feel terrible?
I shake when I see her now, knowing that I let her get away, let her run away from my own sickness instead of letting us try to heal it. Let me just stand here holding this bar. Shaking and trying not to fall. Knowing that not all fall gracefully.
He said he regretted his life. And they said he said a lot of things. Too many to recount. They said it was the longest……and saddest deathbed speech any of them had ever heard. There was so little left of him…they had to fill the coffin with cotton balls to keep him from rattling around.
So I try to be real. We need to investigate. To really discover the essence of each being. Unable to shake the horror that maybe being (what at least feels like) honest is no longer enough to find the real, to be the real, without equivocation. We may attempt to be as honest as possible in this massive warehouse, working to craft, or rather re-craft, the real. Perhaps to be distributed to retailers far and wide for mass consumption. Consumption of the real. Devouring of the real. A horror of its own dimension, one quite likely to remain in the shadows of distance. Alas, When are we gonna get an audience in here? Yes, the excavation continues. For, I won’t settle for anything less than the brutal truth. And so I remain restless.
And so damn lonely.
You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone’s experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone is everyone.
So they say.
But how honest have I been about others? Not just about them but for them.
There are nearly 13 million people in the world. I mean, can you imagine that many people? And none of those people is an extra. They’re all leads in their own stories. They have to be given their due.
My replacement is crying in the background; I have taken his treasure. My life and my replacement’s life are heard in interweave, and still I yell at his jump. Yelling at my own inability to, screaming tears at the inescapable push that threatens us with a return to anonymity.
How do I try to understand them? Do I, and even if I do, how easily do I forget?
I’ve watched you forever, Caden. But you’ve never really looked at anyone other than yourself. So watch me. Watch my heart break. Watch me jump. Watch me learn that after death there’s nothing. No more watching, there’s no more following, no love.
We are all Sammy.
“Unknown, Unkissed and Lost”
And we are the ne’er understood jumper and the write-off director scolding guilt into a small shape with our parental reminders of untold warnings that we should have known. I didn’t jump, Sammy. A man stopped me before I jumped. Get up!
Didn’t even try. Didn’t even try to understand. I didn’t.
You can’t cause someone to kill himself. That’s what I told her. Trying to believe it.
The notes I gave you, the notes that tells you who you are, what happened to you, why you’re sad. They only remain. Crumpled in the dumpsters of these warehouses. Structures of and for the detritus that is all of us, these single labels blowing farther away from these characters. This distance — once an opportunity, creating room to get closer, to get fuller — too, only remains.
And what of those I tried to understand? Maybe I seek this understanding as a tool for my own betterment, my own art, my own me. I can finally put my real self into something. Looking closely for knowledge, not wisdom or empathy. Sharing for exhibition, not connection. Exploitation, not exploration.
I will have someone play me to delve into the murky, cowardly depths of my lonely, fucked-up being. And he’ll get notes too, and those notes will correspond to the notes I truly receive every day from my god! The god I craft and have crafted. God of self-contempt and vanishing deserving, post-ratified by the selfish actions that hurt others and become the desired reflection of my repugnant identity when I choose them to be. A deity to be snickered at with reels of arrogant I-told-you-sos when the aura of interpersonal destruction lashes out and validates disgust’s choice of the self.
We’re getting at something real here.
Roll up our lies, our believed lies. Move them to a different sector, but set them up to unfurl upon subjection to bad vibrations so they may be presented and reflected upon as endemic to the self once again, should the desire arise.
-I thought someone would have cleaned it up. –Who? –I don’t know. Someone.
And so we try to be real and try to be loved, pushing back against the cries inside that say we’re not us if we’re not sad. Because I feel — I feel a lot of longing. At least a part of us, sometimes the whole, always crawling back into the hole to be buried by specks of dust spit on the face one by one. The perceived singular attention only enabling my self-absorption.
Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make. You can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won’t know for 20 years and you may never, ever trace it to its source.
Only those who fondle my desperate need to be identified as the complex, through floaty words that may be true for me or any agglomeration of dark matter drifting through the petri dish at the target of a microscope with not but phantom eyes to intimidate, may earn the right to play me, to be me. Well, Caden Cotard is a man already dead. He, um, lives in a half world between stasis and antistasis and time is concentrated, chronology confused. Yet up until recently he’s strived valiantly to make sense of his situation. But now he, ah — he’s turned to stone. And to give my soul the promise of worth amidst the jumble. A worth that we may hope to never find and thus destroy the promise.
I will not see the reflection in you but because of you. My own disappointment through proxy — a valiant performance from which you should derive not but pride, and please disregard my reactions, they are not you. Body is haze but reflection clear.
I disappointed him, and he hates me.
We are both him. All me. An inward collapsing maelstrom of self-aversion feeding on itself. I’m not happy.
Psychosis, not the crazy kind of course, swims around my innocent curls. The urge to share, to confirm that this is all OK, or common, or even hopeless. Just something. Please. Did you tell him I have green poo? What did he say?
When so many of our actions are dictated, or at least presented to us as among the best possibilities, and we begin to carry them out and consequently help mold our identities, how do we be ourselves? Tom, don’t turn into another person just because I say change your action.
And so we react with only partial consciousness, insecurities and patterns pushing up through the ground and surfacing our actions before they can foster, thrust out into the world of culpability.
That’s not my response.
We can never apologize enough, but it’s always too much for those close to us.
Of course your mother isn’t evil. I know I said that. You might be thinking, “But how can someone who loves me and hugs me so tight be evil?” I should have caught myself right after, if not before. I want to apologize but the distance between us now blanks my shouts. My love, the love, is real. I just fuck it up a lot.
I wish we had this when we were young. Before I had to stand behind this glass case, watching you dance naked before me blowing bubbles, screaming for recognition, screaming to help us. Before the flowers on your skin could poison their roots.
But the drift away had already began. Pangaea fractured at birth, cruelly ratified upon reaching the age of speech. I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life, Mama, and in exactly 20 years, come here with my daughter and have exactly the same picnic. There was so much hope. And I’m not in it. Baby, that’s the loveliest thing I’ve ever heard.
If only your last wilted petal could talk. And if only I could be the one it wanted to talk to.
They say that it’s not how much you love, but how much you are loved. That’s all good and well for them, but what do they do when this dependence on the love of others becomes an addiction? What do they know about needing this love of others and watching it grow stronger for people who are not you, their reserve for you fading from its previous glory? Do they have a plan for restoration, some kind of strategy for making them — by rational argument? force? trickery? begging? — love you like they once did, to need you so bad you could only deny your worth so much without hurting them? I don’t want you to be okay. I mean, I do, but I…It just, uh…It rips my guts out. What do they know.
Can you understand loneliness? The kind of loneliness that needs just the presence of people so much that it alienates others in its crushing desperation.
I’m at a point in my life where I only want to be around joyous, healthy people.
But a brief moment of comfort in real connection may deconstruct time – the horrors of its accepted linearity continuing on their plane as this moment walks into its home on the street of next dimension.
I once watched you live your life, love your family, crying behind the pane and wanting to initiate my own last jump. But that was then, and someone stopped me. Let us sleep together in peace, in communion, for the first time, in our house of fire.
Even as I feel this moment of happiness. It is still an obscure light. An Obscure Moon Lighting an Obscure World.
You will light the candles in our burning house. Just as your light flickers out in the warmth of our body heat.
You will not die by fire but fade from smoke.
Now you are dead and I may live forever. See you soon.
It means a lot of things. You’ll see.
I once tried to make sense of this. Now I am stone. Now I am passing.
The Death of a Salesman. But we’re all selling something. Selling ourselves. Selling our lives for a grasp at joy. At calm. At comfort.
Try to keep in mind that a young person playing Willy Loman thinks he’s only pretending to be at the end of a life full of despair. But the tragedy is that we know that you, the young actor, will end up in this very place of desolation. We may pretend the desolation of others, so as to desperately communicate, though veiled, our own contemporary desolation. One which has a stacking effect. Can we impersonate others’ desolation without absorbing, internalizing, part of its shape, swallowing it into our own; our current desolation evolving into a grander beast, more and more impossible to subdue with each new form?
This is the start of something awful.
The beginning of our role.
How do you think I’m supposed to respond to something like that?
I don’t know what I’m doing.
Just tell me what to do.
I’m such a stupid cow.
I-I screwed everything up, and I-I don’t have any courage.
The deterioration inherent in the growth only felt and acknowledged when its impairments overwhelm.
Is it serious? We don’t know. But, yes.
I am the delusion. I believe I am dead, but act as though still following a path crafted with handfuls of pebbles of my own accord. I am Cotard.
Would you sit with me for a moment? Because I’m very tired and — and lonely.
Our thoughts are incriminating. Even if we do not choose to share them, if we had them, if we can remember them and act them out, we are responsible for supporting them.
And they say there is no fate, but there is, it’s what you create. And even though the world goes on for eons and eons you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain wasting years for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes, or it seems to, but it doesn’t really. So you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along. Something to make you feel connected. Something to make you feel whole. Something to make you feel loved. And the truth is I feel so angry. And the truth is I feel so fucking sad. And the truth is, I’ve felt so fucking hurt for so fucking long. And for just as long, I’ve been pretending I’m okay just to get along, just for — I don’t know why. Maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery because they have their own. Well, fuck everybody. Amen.
She said it about me. Everyone is disappointing. The more you know someone. It’s just… But maybe it’s supposed to be about the I.
We are taught to accept the help of others when we need it, but also told to pick ourselves up with twin arms of moxie and determination. Awkward and unbalanced, the two fumbling to offset the each other as they stumble further from equilibrium and stable support. Sometimes the anodes and cathodes pop out and we put them back in reverse — overconcern for our pain and a delegation of our messes to be cleaned up by others. Until we find ourselves playing the maid, finding a certain numbing peace tidying the living spaces of those actually creating, living. A reflection in time: I want to do something important while I’m still here.
A flash of death haze as I begin to clean. An honest accountability and the responsibility to maintain it in the effort to be a healthier contributor to the larger community. Maybe it’s not so bad.
They like being praised for their mind’s eye. They like seeing their praise infect other people.
I create for a living. I am a creator. This is my uniform. This is how I serve my country.
The writer’s obligation to realizing, understanding and making clear one’s allegiances, projecting these allegiances, attaining power through the display, asserting identity.
Don’t call it new theater. Call it real theater.
Big fat executives, with big fat smiles and big fat tantrums, cranked up on awareness about you, about them, about the industry, about the sales at the end of the rainbow.
Can you tell a sellable story?—with that Barton Fink feeling—by the end of the week—We’re all expecting great things. We should be kissing your feet. Naturally, we assume you know what you’re doing.
We all have stories.
Typewriter as monolith, imposing before, symbiotic during and humbled after. The permanently disappointed writer’s face. The untroubled productivity of secretaries manufacturing response letters.
The din of fans, running, going nowhere. Tilted halls shrinking into oblivion.
A day or a lifetime. Granted? Trapped?
A script written before the incident, yet still believed to be truth. A man who can write his masterpiece before the moment of his life. You think you know pain?
Empathy requires understanding, says she. The intellectual hears this but listens not. A paradox less in the conflict between knowledge and emotions and more in the artist’s insistence on interrupting the common man’s story with his exaltation of the subject’s status as the golden archetype. The gut tells him what’s good and what’s just adequate. Not the people. Stories drowned out by their legend. Common men blurred out by The Common Man.
The artist who bellows his mortality down the necks of perennially draining whiskey bottles and above the neck of a lover being perennially drained by her concern or the artist who bellows his eminence as savior of common men by talking over them and stifling their souls with his conclusions about who they are: both fight the raging river of manure, but who is not the parody?
I’ve always found that writing comes from a great inner pain. Maybe it’s a pain that comes from a realization that one must do something for one’s fellow man to help somehow to ease his suffering. Maybe it’s personal pain. At any rate, I don’t think good work is possible without it.
Watch the common men destroy themselves. What is to be thought of their lofty nobility now?
There are no answers or clear explanations—just the crashing of the waves.
Walk out into the fire, script in hand.
We are not happy. We don’t put Wallace Beery in a fruity movie about suffering. Your beauty defense is hollow. Your universality defense is a joke. The galaxy is not Finkcentric.
Pity. Your folks are good people.
The force of change, the common man, advertised as king but made to keep quiet can be ignored only so long. He’s not as simple as you think. He knows your transgressions. You come into my home and complain I’m making too much noise. Not mad at anyone, he feels sorry for them. Just wants to help. I just wish someone would do as much for me.
A sequence with an assuredly symbolic climax, wherein the artist’s transmogrified reality serves as a vessel for conveying depth of understanding rooted in universal application but filtered through individual genius comprehension and reshaping. That is to say there is reason, to put it in your language. Right?
Or is the question not so much what’s in the box, or what’s the deal with the picture, but why does the seagull fall?