Note: I lost the first half of this entry, within a seventy-cent notebook, and am publishing the remainder as follows.
Edit: – I found the notebook – and thus the beginning of this entry, which had been lost. Without further ado:
Carl Jung said something about man needing religion. Having returned from the dark, cold abyss of non-belief, I wholeheartedly concur. I need something beyond myself. Something greater than my mammalian self, which I can place my abiding trust into. Now, this is my personal choice and I’m inclined to think many people have made the decision, not personally, but rather, like most decisions people make, collectively, based upon on the popular opinion of the day, or the opinion of their peer group.
That said, be a freethinker; form your own opinions. Because ultimately, theology is a matter of opinion, not fact. It doesn’t matter to me whether you believe in Yahweh, Jesus, Mohammed, the universe, the sun, or your grandmother’s ashes; you’re allowed to believe what you want, but, like Carl Jung, if queried about my belief in something, deeper, greater, and more mysterious than humanity, I will tell you that I don’t have to believe, I know.
The reason I’m thinking about religion and my relationship with the universe, is because I have been feeling a bit of ennui lately. Feeling like the breakup late last year left me marooned in my hometown. Of course, ascribing to Stoicism, I believe in loving my fate; however, unlike the ancient Stoics, I believe I have some influence over it insofar as I can direct my own thoughts, feelings, and actions. If I wanted to jump off a bridge tonight the hand of the universe would not stop me. Similarly, if I want to write great novels, and pursue my dreams of family and fame, too, the universe will not intervene. Frankly, the universe only cares as much as I do.
And really, this is what I have to ask myself: how much do I care?
How much do I care that, like me, my stories are all works in progress. How much do I care that physically, I’m not taking great care of myself. How much do I care that financially I am as despondent as my heroes were. How much do I care?
I care more than this but the universe isn’t seeing it, and that’s been okay for a time, but it’s no longer sitting well with me that I’m not crushing my dreams. It’s not sitting well with me that I’m not particularly excited to wake up tomorrow; although, one could suppose that at twenty-and-nine years, I am at the juncture when most men get that fire in their bellies, which allows them to hit their thirties with a renewed sense of vigor and passion. And in my ego’s own defense, it’s not like the plane never left the runway; I’ve enjoyed considerable success in my twenties, it’s just that I’ve had a few crash landings. The plane has hit the mountain more than one time.
Now, here I am. On a blanket under the stars. Having come through both blood poisoning and a big breakup this past year. Having examined my life and made the decision that G-ddamnit, a writer must write; I’m a writer, not a tech startup guy. I wasn’t a lot of the things I was. But I am what I am now. My purpose is to write books and stories that change the way people see themselves and the world. My mission is to live my highest self. My vision is to live in abundant peace, love, prosperity, and joy. Yes, I’m not in the business world, but the pragmatism, ambition, and savvy remains. I am the CEO of my motherfucking life. Belie ‘DAT.
This is why I journal. There’s merely no other effective manner in which one can cultivate honest self-awareness.
Like all humans, I’m not fully living my ideals but having come close in my past, I can tell you how smokin’ good it feels to master your life and achieve your goals. I desire that feeling again.
It’s just been a tough transition to accept my identity and to begin living as a writer rather than what the world would have me be: another cog, another brick in the wall – but no, I am not a wallflower, I am Spartacus. My life is I, me, mine.
However to would be writers and artists, you must beware that it can be devilishly alluring to not only be a writer, by virtue of writing as a writer does, but to be a writer by virtue of living as a writer does. As a writer, I will attest: all the cliches are true. Writers are not without their vices. However, my father said that I would be a writer when I had my first story published, so by that logic I’m just another guy living the Hank Moody / Donald Draper lifestyle in southern California, which is great, I am enjoying being single, but the goal is to be wildly successful, not just wild.
I cant help but think of the character Charles Strickland in The Moon and Sixpence (a fictional story written in 1913, based on the life of Painter Paul Gauguin), who at age forty walks away from his family and his life as a London stockbroker to move to France, where in squalor and starving he focuses on virtually nothing but painting – like a fucking BOSS.
To my credit, I do have four stories underway – each compelling and vastly different – but my goal as a writer isn’t just to write page turners, but stories that contain philosophical prose designed to educate and enhance the reader, as my favorite authors have me.
To achieve this I need to take each of my stories and outlay the themes, messages, and lessons I wish to bake into them. I’m not necessarily seeking it write purely moral fiction, but I am, to paraphrase Joseph Campbell, seeking to teach people how to live in this world. As Aristotle said, historically, literature is more important than history, for history shows things as they were, and literature shows them how they should be.
I want to enter the collective consciousness with a books that act as Trojan horses, containing knowledge that can help teach the world how we can be more human than our mistakes. But first, I must be.
Next night, cont’d:
Note: The text below is the entry I had originally published, minus the previously lost portion above.
I read Goethe’s The Sufferings of Young Werther this morning, and while the story’s ending was a forgone conclusion, I understood it psychoanalytically given my own (and Goethe’s) experiences in love.
Thankfully for Goethe, unlike his many readers who took their own lives with a copy of Werther on their person, his story gave him the catharsis – the le petit mort – he needed to carry on living.
The more literature I read and the more I learn about the lives of writers throughout history (for all writers weave their hopes and dreams and fears into their stories), the more certain I become that I am cut from the same woolen, blood dyed cloth as my kin, who, like me, were born fated to take up the pen and put their souls into prose and verse, so that they, like me, could be a less lonely, more understood, more complete, and more purposeful than they otherwise would have been had they not written; for every writer must write: if they did not, they, like Werther, might borrow their beloved’s lover’s pistols and put a bullet through their own heads, which makes me wonder whether Thompson, Wallace, Hemingway and others merely needed to write their own sufferings into something that could have rendered them less lonely, more complete, purposeful, understood, and ultimately: alive.
It’s difficult to know writers as intimately as only a writer can and not believe in some sort of reincarnation or intertwixtness of the writer’s soul – as if heaven sent some of its fallen angels down here from the place where writers go when they die. Writing is no more a profession than shaman, for a writer’s true duty is to heal himself and others, which, the latter, it may be argued, Goethe’s Young Werther did not [accomplish]; I want to bring my readers to the alter, not the grave.
Given that I believe in serendipity, kismet, synchronicity – G-d, what have you – I cannot help but feel this morning’s read was a solemn reminder of what I wish to give the world; of what I have to give – of what I must.
For here I am, once again, on my blanket, under the cover of the night’s clouds, softly tapping the touchscreen keys on my phone to write this, but I can’t help but feel pregnant with my stories, the little legs I’ve given them kicking about my insides, begging to be let out; my soul praying they are beautiful, healthy gifts to the world.
To quote Tupac: “Somebody has to break out and risk losing everything, and risk being poor, or else we stay like this,” because the real heroes of the arts are those who know their obligation and thus, their power. There have, historically, been books that changed things for people, books like Ivan S. Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, which ignited a revolution, freeing the lowerclass serfs in eighteenth century Russia. But one must remember, there have also been books like Mein Kampf, which ultimately plunged a civilization into an abyss, costing twenty million lives. Sadly, the legacy of the latter is greater and today the most popular arts are songs about fucking bitches and television shows about murder and meth. If that’s your favorite TV show, you, my friend, are a philistine.
To paraphrase John Gardner, there isn’t a lack of great fiction because of the ills of society, but, rather, the ills of society are due in part because there is a lack of great, serious fiction.
Now, as a writer, a fallen angel, it’s my duty to take my words and paint every television and theater screen in America and across the world with the patina of the human soul as it should be – as it can be – for who will we give our children as heroes?
We can paint death in bathtubs, corroding with all the acid of our hate, or we can paint life coming into the world through those same tubs, porcelain and white and pure.
There’s an irony to it all, a grand fucked up irony, but we can fix it. There is no egg, which scrambled, we cannot throw away. We either eat them or we pay our attention and intention elsewhere.
A wise man once said, we are either kings or pawns in life.
What is a king to you? Someone who is adorned for all the trappings of the modern persona, or someone who redefines it – someone who shows us there is a better way?
There is no noble act in vain, for an emerald shines even if its worth is not spoken of.
I sit here, watching seven juvenile water fowl floating abreast on the cold, black water. They do not kill one another, do not delight in the death of their fellows – real or imagined. Yet, if they possessed our intellect, they would surely think our place in the world mad. We have not changed from the selfish beasts we evolved from, laying waste to the world and the life around us – real and imagined.
I’m not sure what the answers are, but I’ll ask the questions in order to write them, and I’ll take every purchase, every royalty, every single click and view, as a vote of solidarity – and if my worth is not spoken of, I will still shine.
As an afterthought, I am vastly fortunate to possess the kin and kith I do; however, it’s all too easy to discount the rest of the world in light of that; it’s all too easy to follow my human instincts and not care for those in neighboring caves; it’s all too easy to call someone an ex, a stranger; it’s all to easy to hear the siren of an ambulance crying in the distance, as I now do, and not care about them: thinking, I’m glad its not me. Whether you are as staunchly atheist as Steven Hawking or as strict a believer as The Pope, you cannot, nor will they, deny that we are all kin – whether via science or religion – those opposing theologies agree that we all share a common ancestry. We are all interrelated, connected; it’s but our perceived differences that separate us – keeping us from being beholden to one another.
The opposite of love is not apathy, as the learned would claim, but fear. I say fear not. I say throw the eggs out with the bathwater – not the baby.