This will be a critique of a diary I have never written. By the end I will have lost my weight in memory—shining a lantern on the noise in the corner, finding nothing but hearing everything. One can always retreat farther into the surrounding darkness. Even a net has holes. All my secrets warped into pathology and neurosis to which anger is a disaster I’ve caught.
One must be bold to speak a memory repeatedly. If you commit to only speaking it once, a memory dissipates into the bulging folder of prior experience. Most of our memory seems filed in our muscles anyway—physical repetition is perhaps our greatest psychology and language.
The only psychology is the text, and the text bears only the condition of the writing. My friend Greg asked, “Isn’t the text always mad, as something over-written and over-wrought?” I am constantly lost in language, verging on death by exposure, for which writing is vaccine, taking small doses of the thing that kills you.
I write this book for those times I didn’t stick up for something, or someone, or myself, when I felt or knew to do otherwise, but instead kept silent because of some dirty rag gagging me.
By now you have already dismissed this as one big tangent. But may I make a plug for tangents? As the momentary fireworks of repressed feelings and social imprisonment? Confused and raw, yes, but clouds accumulating in the sky for one worthy outburst! You might hear cranky violins. A clumsy magnifying glass catching the sun igniting what kindling lay beneath. You might be momentarily blinded, swearing never to submit to such stimulus your body can’t take nor your mind can make sense of.
Confusion occurs the moment your life is expanding.
We do not live in times of explorers. The pinnacle of “explorers” now is National Geographic—the pin-up model with big imperial boobs. What’s left to be discovered, you say?
By letting the subject—the Midwest—marinate, we can explore the ways in which place, specifically the midbits of the US, the abdomen of our country, the womb of whose legacy is existing, going about business as always, festering like the exposed guts of some catatonic beast moaning for its mother as it dies from self-inflicted wounds. Or as Clarice Lispector says, “Am I a monster or is this what it means to be alive?”
This is more pathetic than you can imagine. Feeding the psychosis. It is even worse than writing poetry! Although I prefer helix. Hence why this is definitely not self-indulgence, which I am currently taking small breaks from, or rather, it takes small breaks from me. When possession runs dry, the spirit swarming the dearth is one’s one. In the meantime, what else to write?
Except for the emergencies, distant sirens instead of getting louder grow fainter—help is not on the way but does respond elsewhere. And even if I heard them roaring in this direction, help may or may not arrive in time. So in the meantime, air comingling with repressed sewage. What else to write? The Mississippi is an important river—
As the direct descendent of East Coast Puritanical Ideals, the Midwest is the stretch mark from the immaculate birth of Jamestown. It still exhibits all the characteristics of a mommy complex with England. The Midwest is no different than the times of witch trials, for which I was born in 1982 during some well-funded witch hunt. Except by then it wasn’t her clit we were interested in, but rather her throbbing mind—
I contemplated suicide as a teenager, once, in the shower. Staring at a wet razorblade, I decided then and there that I would, for however long, go on living. Not because I saw any worth in living—even the good deeds, as they squirm down the line, turn scandalous. To do good is to deceive others into thinking humanity is likewise. (Think feeding animals in the wild.) I will be honest, never listen to anyone who begins a sentence like this. Or with “I will be upfront,” or “Trust me,” or “The truth is.” Even if someone is indeed being “upfront” their analysis may be grossly inaccurate.
Before battle one has to resolve, with oneself, that this will be the last battle one will ever have to fight. It is the only one worth choosing—the battle to end all battles. But this of course does not happen. Once someone resolves to fight against something, they will commit to the life not of an artist or writer but soldier. Soon fighting will become easier than not fighting. The rest of us, meanwhile, will discourage war while continuing to fight with ex-lovers, past friends, neighbors, family…
War is the overall state of a disillusioned mind. In our time, war is largely property of the United States, who redefined it as the mechanical and nuclear obliteration of unwanted advice.
Unlike some conventional advice, which likens reality to a playground, I do not believe in “picking on someone your own size.” What a snooze. What real grievance could you possibly have with someone your own size? And what could possibly be learned from doing so? You must only pick on what is immensely larger than yourself.
Beginning with the hope that I was to be born a boy. I am more failure than human years will allow. Whether parents admit to having expectations or not, our parents, by no fault of their own, had nine months to envision us—
Death by humiliation exists most spectacularly in the middle part of our country. “Not fitting in” is a terminal illness. Symptoms include fear of gatherings that grow larger than two people; a critical consciousness; repulsion of group-think; reading. The only known cure, thus far, is teen suicide.
Suicide is the only death one “commits” to, and it is the only death in which one is expected to leave a letter.
In high school I knew three kids who committed suicide. One red-haired boy who was in all the plays cited girl problems in his suicide note. The popular people did not kill themselves. As Artaud says of Van Gogh, “the man suicided by society.” At the funerals, no one had any idea they were so depressed. This is because these kids were not suffering from depression. The kids who blew their heads off looked around and said, “What’s the point?” Suicide, as a Midwesterner, is being able to see your peers objectively. The kids who blew their heads off were, first and foremost, critics of their generation. Being the social creatures we are, what better way to connect with people you are not connecting with than teaching them a lesson about the fragility of their existence? It is the greatest critique of a way of life. To commit suicide is to be literal, to say, “I would rather be dead.” Suicide offered a way to be understood.
Instead of perceiving these kids as having struggled rationally and irrationally with actual concerns, we dismissed Camus—that suicide was any sort of choice—and blathered on about depression affecting so many lives nowadays and (this is really despicable) that suicide is selfish. For someone who commits suicide, the funeral is for proving, indeed, the hypothesis of the freshly deceased—people are jerks.
Are they my heroes? No, I don’t think they were totally aware of the life art I contend they were the authors of. They might have known the extent of the public’s response, or their parents’, and friends’, but they overlooked the response from the other critics of their generation, the non-suicidal suicides. The Midwest relies on a strong death drive, but for the intents and purposes of labor. Parents, politicians, and army recruiters encourage enlisting for war—if one was to respond to the death drive too soon, such as the red-haired boy, their death drive was not properly utilized, making an able body out of them, gone before they can join the workforce. What were all those years of childhood but expensive training for bad investments? Or, if you are a smoker and smoking yourself to death, at least you are—buying products—a consumer.
Every kid should be given the choice of suicide, and then we should show them something better. But since we have nothing better to show them, we just outlaw it. Why, all of a sudden, when it comes to killing oneself are our bodies considered temples? Especially when we subsist off chemical fruit and processed food? The typical Midwestern family goes through a case of Diet Coke on average every 3 days. I would wake to the sound of someone popping open a can. It was the first thing we drank in the morning and with every meal, sometimes as meals, and always between meals. The last time I was at my mother’s house, my brother was up to two Big Gulps a day of Mountain Dew. We were told a story growing up about a highway cleaning crew who reported to the scene of a horrific car accident, bodies strewn across three lanes, their blood pooling together and running off into the ditch, red strings attached to balloons—their bloating bodies. After the bodies had been removed, the cleaning crew used Coca Cola to acid steam the blood and guts from the road. It wasn’t until I moved to the Southwest at the age of 18 that I had ever had a glass of water. Why would anyone drink plain water? Someone would think you were ill, had a disease. I’m so Midwestern I was 24 years old before I realized croutons weren’t the main ingredient of a salad. There is no sense in worrying about rotting teeth or ulcers or diabetes, because in the Midwest there is only one death, and that is the cultural one.
If only we could bring an investigator to the scene of the crime, they would figure out the motives immediately. Suicide is one of the few things that hasn’t been updated by technology much. The oven was a slight update, pharmaceuticals, and car exhaust, but for the most part, what remains popular is ropes, guns, knives, and drowning. They don’t allow traveling salesmen. If we could, we would have had suicide mega-stores by now, because death does sell. It is our biggest industry right now—war. It’s just that you can’t do the killing on yourself; a one-man job doesn’t drive the economy.
I think the kids who offed themselves knew we were near. Before we could hold the torch to their ass, convince them to “try just a little harder to fit in” making them feel something surpassing self-hatred, the few—as school principals and army recruiters began talking about “viable options”—stuck up for themselves.
When I was sent to child psychologists, they always wanted to know first Did I want to die? How could I tell them no? That it was actually worse; I would have to endure the hell AS IS. By hell I am speaking of adults—the desire to embody conventions, not wanting to be human but a rule. That rare human development of feigned synthesis, the coup d’etat of one’s wherewithal.
Not all children can be beat into submission. Unlike other animals that wonder into the wild to die alone, sparing the pack, our theatrics allow for a show, staging our resistance almost to perfection. True humor is born out of despair. So one opts out of the beauty pageant, their body dragged off the stage, only to be dressed and powdered again a decent centerpiece.
Suicide isn’t my style of commentary, although I rather like the aesthetics—dark, old-fashioned, cinematic. All the information supposedly is right there. In most cases you don’t have to go looking for a body, and the weapon is there, too. They do it in their parent’s homes, and in the case of the girl I knew—Billy’s older sister—her parent’s bedroom. You don’t think this says something except “selfish” and “depression”? You don’t think she could have found a nice park somewhere, a forest, church basement? Her anger wasn’t even directed at God—it was directed at the people who raised her in the place where she grew up in the bed she was conceived in.