Some more wayward thoughts I’ve collected since the Twitter ban and the start of my clean break.
Llwyd in the Salo shoutbox has been finding the Iran escalation funny. This is a normal reaction for Salotreans who are fed on a steady diet of Anglo-American hate, but it’s a kind that Americans who have been churned in our nation’s cultural cringe know all too well. There’s a subtler tension though that can he harder to see.
Why do some Americans who distrust their government turn on a dime to support it when it throws its next gauntlet into the oily sand fields of the ancient world?
People desperately want to feel part of the winning team. Same reason people under Ottoman rule eventually started bribing Ottoman officials to put their kids into the bureaucracy. People make the compromises they feel they need to make with power, with patriotism, with nation, and with kin. What was just yesterday a shameful cruelty becomes tomorrow’s ugly stepping stone to prestige or a necessary key to keep a person’s identity coherent. As an American I can tell you there’s nothing unusual for some of us to go from trashing our own nation in one breath to flexing our capacity to nuke you in the next.
“… we’ll put a boot up your ass…”
The problem is the Ottoman subjects actually got something out of it. They may have been affirming foreign rule over them by selling their children off to the bureaucracy, but that was selling them off to a better life and in a world where slavery was the norm and the infant mortality raised the stakes of survival, you would kill for a cushy role. There was no sense of Europe. No one was coming to free them. The empire wasn’t going away. Make peace with it and a better life for our children, many of them said.
What do Americans get out of making peace with their empire ruled by foreign elites? A sense of power? Surrogate togetherness? A simulation of fighting for the fatherland? Maybe.
There are many who will call you brother and then backstab you the next day for a crumb of power or status. I am worried about Americans being able to act like dissidents. Iron Curtain countries already had a large snitch problem as it was, I don’t think we Americans are good viewing one another as brothers as once we see an opportunity we take it because we’re too individualistic outside of those of us who act very clannish in an ethnic or family way. The America as an idea works extremely well because that is how Americans act and are. We are very loyal to abstract notions and the feeling of winning. We have extremely low in-group loyalty because of our Manifest Destiny. Insane Quakers leading colored savages on doomed and tragic quests against the whiteness of a world that wounded us.
Moby Dick tells you everything you need to know about us. We are a tragic people with no sense of tragedy. And a tragic people without a sense of tragedy is a very queer thing. We contain multitudes of contradictions.
I don’t like publishing. I never have. You put your crybaby feelings on the page and then put them out there and for what reason? To amuse? To teach? To provoke a feeling? To be recognized for just how clever and smart you are?
Most writing is self-indulgent. Literacy was a mistake, but then so was conscious thought. Better to go back to when we believed the thoughts in our heads were the gods speaking to us and spared the world fanfiction. I believe if you were to print out every Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic, including the lewd ones, you would drown the cosmos.
My writing is self-indulgent. My influences and the styles I ape are easy to spot by any trained eye. Probably why I don’t like to publish. I don’t like critique because I do enough of it myself and unless the point is to improve the work or enlighten by pulling on the loose threads, then what’s the point? I have better things to do than seek out the same seethe I gave myself whenever I read back anything I wrote.
I can hold myself to my own impossible standards and be disgusted with my own preening egotism and pretentiousness, thank you.
I do worry about the self-indulgence though. It’s a two-fold problem. The first is do I even have the talent? The answer to that is keep failing and flopping until you do. The second is transcendent writing should have a sense of immediacy to the person. The kind that stirs, slices the soul, and heals wounds. That is the enigma in a culture that values nothing and believes nothing but consumes everything and negates everything.
I can’t fix that, but I can fix my own words. My extended vocabulary leaves me constantly on the indigo edge of entering the danger zone of purple prose. It’s a common critique and a fair one. It’s also a consequence of how I talk. I string words together because I like how they sound at that moment in that sentence in my head at the time. It’s why I come off as a bit of an asshole. It’s not that I’m trying, I just simply am.
That’s no excuse though and I’m trying to pare sentences down, keep paragraphs together, and adding more Anglish. That is, putting back in English root words over Latin root words wherever possible. I think it looks silly sometimes, personally. When I wrote the Feasts of Shame I actually agonized over this. I didn’t like the frequency of humiliation and I didn’t feel like shame communicated it properly as there is some nuance and difference. Differentness as D.H. Lawrence probably would have called it. The Anglish word for humiliation by the way is ashamedness, which is way too jarring to be swapped in but I have to admit has the earthiness of a humbled English peasant to it in its sounds.
This is a hesitant jump I’ll be making.
Night Running in America
It’s been a good clean break.
Went for a winter jog in the night cold to burn off all of the holiday feasting. I might have pushed myself too hard, as I came in feeling like I was going to puke. I want it that way. I want to hold onto this nauseating feeling, this unsteadiness, my racing heart, and my cold-rattled body. I want to feel like this for the rest of my life. I want to remember that feeling when I need to quench my thirst.
I wish I could say I saw stars. I didn’t. I only ever see those when I go into the wilderness up north in Michigan. I think everyone ends up turning inward in their thoughts and feelings because they’re running around on concrete and looking up a sky they can’t see through. There’s nowhere else to go but into the inner life. These thoughts and feelings would matter so little when the tension in your body is from the dangers of life instead of man and machine. The cold air felt good and the silence of the city makes up for it. In the cold you become much more aware of your body. You feel more real.
I spent three years in a haze. Start, stop. Hiding from pain. Trying every snake oil that came my way. I no longer felt like I was dying, but like I was waiting for it and I was okay with it. Like riding on the passenger side and imagining yourself running along side the sidewalk. You’re not out there but you don’t even really feel in there. That’s what it’s like when you feel like life has become a bad hangover you’re just sleeping off now.
Who knows how long this will last. Balanced is not a word that I’ve heard thrown my way.
But this is a pain I don’t ever want to let go of.