“The people who are trying to make this world worse, are not taking a day off, why should I? Light up the darkness.” Bob Marley, two days after he was shot and walked out on stage.
You think you might achieve something by telling some home truths, honestly, or with a bit of heart! Like the blisteringly brilliant act of religious and poetic melancholy and disillusionment, in Terence Davies’ film on Liverpool, ‘Of Time and the City’. Though I didn’t rate his reading of Ozymandius. Well, perhaps you can’t achieve anything, because, as for the last all revelatory and metaphysical blog, the hits have crashed through the floor. No one wants to hear it. There we are, I’ve tried and give a dog his due.
I’ve realised for some time though that most of the people reading this blog aren’t an amazed, indignant, admiring or fascinated ‘public’, but mostly people I know, or knew. The Phoenix Ark community! Not that most communicate in any decent human way, nowadays. I was with a friend recently I caught admitting he’d read it, when he first pretended he hadn’t. If thats the case, it’s not some grand or once heroic writing act at all, some great act of human courage, or trumpeted awareness, but like some whispered spectator sport, and just an extension of the little tragedy that happened too long ago, among lovers, colleagues, or so called friends, perhaps in modern publishing too. ‘Have you heard, on no, it couldn’t be, he didn’t, they did, they would, but yes, how very awful…’
As one commentator had it on the documentary ‘All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace’, the reality is people are pouring out their hearts and souls on blogs, or twittering, to be ‘consumed’ by and lost on media platforms, ‘interested’ only in the turnover and throughput, and ‘meaning’ nothing much at all. Not truly connecting up, or piercing to the heart or soul. White noise, in the sad and often nasty Cyberverse, and perhaps the mark of our true disconnection, and growing loneliness too. Like Borges’ Ficiones, perhaps it’ll all weave together one day, into some giant mystery of misdirected humanity and produce just one word, STOP, instead of billions.
I’d rather be ‘allowed‘ to write good and well published books again, stories, communicate through them, in fiction or fact, and have my own private life back too. Er, be a paid, thoughtful and private author. It was just unfortunate I have my kind of temperament, found this way ahead, despaired of the politics of publishing, didn’t raise the money to make this a real little publisher, and that a true story got so strange and so big, it felt like having heaven on your head, and hell underneath too. That somehow I was meant to write and communicate, even unpaid, so actually need to scribble or tap, tap, tap away. Awful business, sometimes, writing. Get a job.
When one former friend and writer warned me about it, he said ‘they’ have to think its fun and easy, so they will buy you, or buy into you. Who really is ‘they’ in the world, is it you? It doesn’t speak much real respect for art or writing, or the reader either. He compared my tappings to Jack Kerouak, but didn’t know that I lost a heart in Greenwich Village, to a girl with a terror of many things, before my own misdirected strength so helped her ‘change’, and in an age more attuned to ‘Sex in the City’ coach tours, than bloody poets. Or that the Epigraph in unread Fell is from Kerouac, ‘Burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles!’ Fat chance. You could write an old fashioned Roman A Clee, of course, except the whole amazement of this story, to naive me, anyhow, and partly about fiction, is surely that it is perfectly true. Things like that are just not supposed to happen, even in fiction, or real life either! But the bottom line is I should have sued my American publisher and won in the only really meaningful terms today, money, then slammed the door hard. Then you might say ‘he was right!’, even if I’ve been completely wrong. (Which I have, but don’t you get things wrong too?)
We all complain of ‘the machine’ though, safe behind the scenes, raise shocked eyebrows at the horror or inhumanity of the Press, attacking or destroying the individual, and still consume it in secret, but who really stands up? Who would even really want to? I’d never advise young people to really trust ‘Social Networking’, because it can become like the vicious rumour mill in the playground. Watch your backs, and be careful of the ‘evil eye’! We throw images up of how many friends we have, where we’ve been on hols, how deep our tans are, or why we’re great and you aren’t, then wonder what on earth we’re looking at in the weird human mirror.
I would advise real ‘adults’ to try and tell some kind of truth to one another, good and bad, and at the right time too, when they are actual mirrors to each other, because it’s always what’s hidden that does the real harm. Like the William Blake poem ‘I was angry with my friend, I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe, I told it not my wrath did grow…‘ But real adults are often not half as nice as children, in the songs of innocence or experience, and not half as ‘grown up’ either.
It’s a little tragedy to talk here of someone you really loved, joined to the destruction of a writing career, and a publisher’s career in New York too. Of the shere and unecessary cruelty of that two year situation, a bit like the priest in Golding’s Rites of Passage, who turns his face to the wall and dies of shame. I went beyond even shame, the mark of real failure, but for some reason am not quite dead yet. Maybe I am still proud of being a writer and still expect a hearing. But blah, it’s all right to fail, if you come back, or find another ‘country’ to grow in, and nowadays we see so much harm chanelled down the tubes, so much violence or ‘injustice’, only our own fears and lives matter, and we tut, tut, tut away, with false pity, or amused contempt, praying it won’t touch us. Although it’s a let-it-all-hang-out world, that’s not exactly the better image I have of friends, of Robby Ross tipping his hat to Oscar Wilde at his trial and disgrace, and not very grand or big souled. But nowadays we don’t especially believe in disgrace either, and now it’s ‘either this Desktop wallpaper will have to go, or I will!’
The real awfulness though is a little bit of emotional courage and responsibility from you know who, as partner, ally or claimed ‘friend’, really turning to the person in the frame that mattered, when it mattered, and not allowing herself to always go behind backs, and no one would have been so harmed, because several were, or ‘Hew, Screwed and Glued’ professionally either. I know for a fact that author ruined his own life, and lost the woman he loved too, by being so eternally spineless and opportunistic. ‘HELP ME’ he raged at me once, and in serious moments I always tried, but I’ve been saying it ever since, wrongly too, because others like to leave what they can’t cope with on different doorsteps, and forget their own vulnerablity or mistakes. It really gets inside, sometimes. I’d rather real and openly expressed hate, perhaps, a true and decent fight, not pretending everything is all right, because the world’s awful, unfair or just ‘like that’, but nowadays I feel rather sorry for lots of people.
So dear friends, dear brave readers, noble men and women, kinder and more talented children, who will get it righter, seeing others errors, rue the day the big bad ever happens to you, the perfect storm, or someone finds you out, if they think they have, or you do! In Loot Joe Orton says ‘never get caught’. Not a very inspiring message for mankind, really, but probably true and the spirit is electric, it must move and change, so sing the electric blood. I did love being published by Abrams, performing, touring, speaking to kids or adults, but I also found it quite hard, any public voice beyond stories, and, like all younger people, always found real invasion awful. As awful as an ex, which was another real cause of all this, in the inequalities of what an editor and an author really are. An editor is perfectly allowed to do that in a relationship, big deal, but not quite so allowed to do it to the writer, surely? But we allow ourselves any easy rationalisations we like. So I became Prufrock, wriggling on a pin, the madman ‘shaking a dead Geranium’, or more like the model in Becket’s play, Catastrophe. A sculptured agony.
It was the cause of the most phenomenal invasion, still echoing here, and total disillusionment too. It was impossible to actually shut up about it, in those circumstances, or just a bit too hard this time, because life and the word were too close. But ‘truth‘, with its six degrees of seperation and even stranger connections, its pebble in the pond ripples, is harder than all this, and nobody can handle it very well. The spirit is also like some kind of jar too, that empties and fills up again. Like tears whelling up from the deep, watching a distant, burning sunset, spilling out and leaving you hopefully clearer, but cleaner too. Come along, have a laugh and get on.
As for this sign-of-the-times form of ‘communication’, which art or ‘culture’ have to try and incorprate too, in the potentially awful solipsisms of modern internet culture, do you really like blogs and blogging at all? I don’t, and never read others, but don’t sweat it too much. The net is not like splashing something across a front page at all, certainly here, it’s a very small circle usually, even like that old saw of the writer’s art – just talking to a friend honestly – and blogs have very particular readerships. Perhaps you should all come to lunch, instead, or arrange a Blogger’s holiday together! Wouldn’t that be wacky? But I’m not a writer with a wide audience any more, so, let’s hear it for the common man and woman, just trying to be, live and even be happy, who would not dream of getting within 3000 miles of a bloody blog, and add one for the Poet’s Sweatshop too, on the glories of privacy and anonimity, my editor-ex’s anonimity, as opposed to that supposed ‘last infirmity of noble minds’, fame. On blogging as well, or sort of…
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring blog!
(For blog read bog! Those were the days, my friend.)