Restless Brain

My brain is restless and hungry.

I imagine a way to write that is based more on rhythm than on content, listening to the sound of fingers on keys rather than formulating your thoughts.

I can’t think about the things that are going on around me anymore.  It’s too unclear; my feelings have become indistinct and muddled.  Previously precipitous highs and abysmal lows have combined and I feel like I’m experiencing them simultaneously.

The sun comes out and shines but I wince; I did not miss it as much as I thought I did.

I wish that all the things that are swirling around me like a cyclone of life could be freeze-framed and zoomed in.  Could be instant replayed.  Could be broken down and analyzed on CNN.

But my life is a puddle of mud and I guess what rests at the bottom is me.

How can I extricate my past from my present from my future when all three seem to by pounding at my door simultaneously?  I lie and say that things are finally coming together but the truth is that they are collapsing all around me.

We are talking about art.  We may as well just sew our mouths shut and swallow our own tongues like an epileptic.  Trying to create in a world that conditioned to consume.

So we talk about premonitions, and duty and “how we gonna do this,” but what it all comes down to is the word on the printed page.  ones and zeroes.

“I was born in Chicago to a whore of a mother that sold me on the street for half of the next month’s rent.  I was raised in a gutter in shanghai by monks that practiced extreme auto-laceration.  I was dismembered and gutted.  raped and tortured.  I was everything that threatened to feel me up, to turn me out, to take me in.”

“I’ve been eviscerated by those I hold most dear.  I am a vapid monk, I am a taken skunk, I am a train of thought, an afterthought, an asterisk, a footnote, a blue note, an unanswered invitation.  I am an apology.  I am an ascertainment, and ascetic, and antiseptic.  pour me out and watch me bleed.  Feed me to your pigs and watch them seed. Take me to another world, teach me all your prayers.  Tell me how to worship you and the ground you walk on; I want to plant flowers in your footsteps.  I want to map your future and eliminate your past.  You are a satellite orbiting my misery and misfortune.  I am lost, I have found myself, a piece of lint that can murder the world.  I sleep when I am awake, and I wake myself in my sleep to save time that others squander.  I am the tortoise-shell shoe horn that chases you through your dreams.  I am the rhythm that tears apart your ears.”

3:20 the song fades out and it is time to sleep.  dreaming is a remedy for blackness.  There is no music here.


Discipline Disciple

“It takes a lot of discipline.”

It is hard for me to take him seriously, not because his face is covered with open sores, not because his pants are around his ankles, but honestly, just because he is talking nonsense.

“When one civilization takes over another, it doesn’t bother destroying the roads that the previous civilization has built, rather, it uses those roads to serve its own ends.  Do you see?”

Of course I see.  This man is not talking about new things.  But I can tell by the way that he is looking at me that I am wrong.  I do not see.  That is, I do not see what he sees.

Rather than explain himself, he hobbles over to the curb, pants dragging in the dust.  He takes a seat and sighs.

I don’t know if it is one of those sighs that means I should approach or one of those sighs that means I should ‘stay the fuck away [from him].’

So I take an average of the two and cut off my own finger in hopes that this will not offend as much as genuine concern or indifference.

He turns his head slightly to look at me and the flow of blood that is alternating between a spray and a thin stream from the gap where my ring finger used to be.

“You are going to have a hell of a time explaining that to your grandkids,” he snorts.

My mind eats itself.

Fuck life, fuck love, fuck desire, fuck passion, fuck familiarity, fuck anger, fuck fucking, fuck incompetence…

He has hay fever and it is showing.  Fatigued way that he breathes.

…fuck knowledge, fuck fear, fuck brains and penises and kneecaps and eardrums.

My head is spinning, now, and my eyes are bulging out.  I see that my foot has caught fire again, but I don’t want to bother trying to put it out this time.  Where did it get me the last time?

I used to have a dark sense of humor.  Now the humor is gone, but the darkness remains.

The fire has spread up to my abdomen, and a concerned public of those who I have cared for and all those who have cared about me is starting to gather.

I think to myself of creating a Venn diagram to find the intersection of these two populations, but I realize that they are in fact a unity.  I can tell by the way that their pairs of eyes are focused on me.  My best friends are laughing.  Sadly.  They knew that it would finish like this, they knew that this was what I wanted.  This might even be one of their dreams, right now.

And I, I am snorkeling in a bay where long ago people drowned in a ceremonial way, and their bones are littering the silt below me.  The water is too muddy, silty, and I don’t realize that the thin streams of water that are entering my mouth through my closed lips are fertile with the decayed flesh of these victims, who, willingly or not, were eaten up by the value system of their ages.

I have seen a plane wreck, and felt the violent passing of those ministers of death, preaching their sermons of destruction until their own end caught them, unawares, or perhaps, as aware as this seemingly random collection of people are at my apparent demise.

I dreamed last night, or was it last year, of a levitating glass room in a sky with some clouds.  The glass refracted the light that was reflecting off of the clouds so that they created and illusory suggestion of these clouds’ actual position on my retinas.  The retinas then dutifully passed this misinformation to my brain that was then able to declare all these impulses as bullshit and to figure out for itself where these clouds were.

But I had no second-level brain to declare that the very clouds themselves are bullshit.

Levitating glass rooms are bullshit, electromagnetic theory is bullshit, dreams are bullshit, philosophies are bullshit…

But all of this is becoming clear to me now, even without the intervention of a second brain because the fire that started out at my foot has spread to my whole body, and I am carbonizing.

…passion is shit, and wine is shit, and music is shit.

The water, of which I am 70 percent, is boiling rapidly.  I feel like I am a kerosene man.

As I leave my shell of ash, I remember images and phrases.

A gathering, outside, of friends.  An artist, too shy or brilliant to be one-hundred-percent open to me, and fighting in vain to keep a peace in the air for a fortnight.

I am talking about political asylum in Britain with a Lithuanian.

I am getting drunk in that sour way that wine provides.

Boxing lessons on balconies.

We talk about the world (the world is shit).

Don’t fuck my brain, learning how to squat, who is the most mature and intelligent…

We will not go running tomorrow, and this writing has no conclusion.


Lietuva Tatemae

One of my Lithuanian expo friends, The Political Scientist, got upset with me at a party last night because I was acting differently at the party than I do with her alone.

I know that I act differently at parties than with closer friends.  I will be up-front and honest about the reasons (flattering to me or not):

  1. When I am with a lot of people who I don’t know, I want to talk to everyone and all at once.
  2. When I am talking to people I like to find out a lot about them, and to do this, I often change the way I interact with each person.  I find that people are most comfortable with new people who reflect a similar energy to themselves, so I try to match the energies of new people, particularly those whom I don’t know very well.
  3. I admit that I like it when people like me and are happy to be with me.  Some say this is narcissistic and borderline unhealthy, but I haven’t decided if this is actually a bad thing or not.
  4. The Political Scientist and I clicked quickly compared to most of the other people I know here so I am much more comfortable opening up, looking stupid and silly, and showing off when we are alone.  I am much more guarded and ‘other person’ focused when I am in large groups.
  5. Another result of this is that I might spend more time with new people than people I am closer to – this can be seen as taking the closer friend for granted instead of as evidence of how close the two people are.  on the flip side, it becomes necessary to find a common “clin d’oeil” so that both people know that the connection between them is still shared.

And Tomorrow It Will Be Forgotten…

There is nothing more to say.

Imagine the scene:

There is a clown on stage. not one of those modern clowns that make you laugh but at the same time make you think about the frailty of the human condition; just a normal clown.  Loud colors, loud noises.  Just a clown!

The kind that if you see him when you are older than say 15, you feel a little sorry for them, but you are happy that the kids seem to enjoy him.

Maybe even your kids.  You are maybe even a little too embarrassed to laugh, but you keep a grin plastered on your face.

But in the middle of this act, he stops abruptly.

Nothing cliche, here.  No taking off the red nose and regarding the public seriously for a moment of truth, this is a real thing that is going on.

Maybe it is a clown in the classical entree sense.  Maybe it didn’t even make sense in this play that is about the communist revolution in Bulgaria that seems so heavy, serious, reflexive.  But this is the last entree, and all this shit is about to come together, and when it does, it will be like a whirlwind.

I love these writing whirlwinds.

It is the sound of an audience full of people realizing something all together at the same time.

It is the sound of a sigh over here, a sob over here, an exclamation of disbelief here, someone verifying with their neighbor if they understood this little twist correctly or not.  It is the sound of understanding something clearly that you didn’t even recognize as a problem.  These characters are this way because the author needed them to be that way, not because they can be changed.

Lucy will always pull the ball away from charlie brown.

This is the way that characters are made, the way that we come to understand them.

Two characters that are tied together for the duration of a show beg the questions “When are the going to get tangled up?  When are they going to cut the rope?”  But less evident is why they ever started out on the journey in the first place.

But there is a discrete way of changing characters, one that is not really discussed in any literary schools that I know of.  Not discrete for the character themselves, but discrete for the audience, because the character is perhaps not at all surprised with the change they took, etc.

But for the audience, it changes the whole story.  It is a plot twist, but there is a necessary emotional component, here.  It is where the audience understands that this is more than a funny show with acrobatics in it because for fuck’s sake now I’m crying!

“I need to talk about this more sometime.  Because for the longest time I have been feeling something empty inside of me and maybe it is this wanting to change the world thing that you were talking about.  Whenever you achieve mastery of something, you are always going to have admirers, but it is like that marathon thing you were talking about.  So you’ve arrived, now what?

So I just want to say ‘go for it.  To the end.  Why not you?’  ‘Why not you?’  I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who works hard to make other people’s life better; who suffers to change the world, but I just hope that through it all, you are able to realize that life is in the present.  And that you don’t go too fast to your goals to remember that.  Because I worry that you are going to find yourself more and more alone because it is a specific thing that you want and not many people feel this way.  Mais rêve, vas-y, jusqu’au bout. A tous ceux qui te disent de ne pas rêver, je dis ‘fuck off, man’  pourquoi pas toi?”

It is my time to be silent.  It is me the ignorant one.  It was not them who did not understand me, it was me who was to shy or too stuck up or presumptuous to communicate to them.  Sure they said I was always to serious, that I can’t let go and have fun, that I don’t laugh.  But it was me who was holding off like I was too good to enjoy these people who care for little else than the next party or the next one-night-stand.

And I expect to be an artist when I grow up?

I wasn’t communicating.

And there is no excuse for that.

A frustrated artist is not a good artist.

A frustrated artist is not skilled enough in his metier to ease this frustration through artistic expression.

So it comes full circle again, I guess.  This is where the training comes in.  And of course you need to take into account the audience and your message and the bottom line, but if you are frustrated, you are no good, and you have a right to be frustrated, so go out there and work harder so that you can communicate yourself better instead of sitting on the veranda of a ryokan mulling over for the millionth time all the facons to end your life in an shocking or amusing way.  On schedule.

So the vacation was different this time, maybe more real.  The moments re-recorded on the wax cylinder of my brain in just that way.  Surreal in their clarity and seeming irrelevance.  To each other and to my life.  But they fit together, like what I have just described and the way a Kitano film spills up against itself.  Abutting.

Buying fireworks.  Her head thrown back, surrounded by futon.  Good god, this hotel is a three-dimensional maze with no end.  An empress’ poem.  A diving gramma.  Two rocks tied together for a human eternity in foul water.

Fear of heights and fear of fear of highs.  Paralyzed even as a fish is practically leaping out of its own tank.  Suicide.  This is a strange city.

These boat rides and this scenery, this is like a walking corpse with no soul.  Nature purgatory.  It is only beautiful when I see it a hundred years ago, but even for that, perhaps it is worth it.

A birthday party for a woman who offers me raw fish and wine before I work.

I barely know her, but this is enough to know that I like her.  And we sing like creatures who have never heard music except in legend.  Theoretically.

And we drink enough that it sounds good.  A friend I have just met and may never see again leaves, and I do not say goodbye because I always have this assumption that it is not too late, that I will see him again.  But this time I am wrong.  This time is not the first, and maybe it doesn’t matter, but sometime it might.

Saying goodbye in the right way is very important.

This guy has to know that knowing him was important to me, that he made me laugh and brought me spaghetti and taught me how to say ‘happy birthday’ in Lithuanian because I was scared I was about to have to make a speech…  he wanted to celebrate my half-birthday because the Expo would be over before my real birthday.

And I didn’t say goodbye in the right way.

I didn’t think about these things at the right time.

This shit is important, because it is what defines our pasts.  The people that we have known and what they have taught us.  Not what we have taught them.  And because I was not able to seal this relationship, short though it was, it is like a wine-glass, tipped over.  And I will always feel that it was incomplete.

People are leaving the party in order of interest in the birthday girl or karaoke, or the times that they need to work the next day.

In the end, we are five, those who are the hardest core into karaoke.

Is there any way to describe how I feel at this moment?

The floor is sticky and wet, and when we dance on the couches, they move under our feet.  One of us is done, Andrius.  Les genoux qui fleche, we say in French, and we wake him with YMCA.  There is a woman here who talks to me with her eyes only.  There is another one who talks to me when she is not even there.  And Victoras is there who does not speak to me because we both know that it is not the time yet.  We are going to put this shit off until the right time.  And then the genoux will really fleche, and everything will be clear.

The taxi ride is nonstop chaos, and I can’t stop laughing.  It is nice to laugh without being haunted by the desire to have been the one to have said these things.

We are weaving down the street, the five of us, in the aleatoire choreography of drunken cameraderie.  Groups of two merging and transforming with one person who is suddenly interested in the song of the birds flying overhead and who lags behind, gazing skywards; having a moment that, whether he knows it or not, will never reoccur in his life – and tomorrow, it will be forgotten.