Dostoevsky on too much reading, somebody on not reading enough.

 

     What the hell have I been doing all these years, spending my inheritance sitting in cafes and coffee shops scribbling in notebooks that fill a cabinet drawer, filling pages with aphorisms and jokes, reflections on the writers I've read, taking notes on philosophers, laying in bed reading radical manuscripts, eating donuts, sipping coffee, sucking on bonbons, waiting for night to come when my friends return from work and are all available to fill time to entertain and to be entertained, I wake up at noon, feeling heavy and dream-laden, drag myself to the refrigerator to chug down orange juice and then get back in bed to read for a while, finally shower and get to the coffee shop by 2:00, write for a couple hours and then meet friends for dinner at 6:00.  My father would turn in his grave.  Those are bad day thoughts.  Don't get me wrong, I have good day thoughts, too.  They go something like this: all this reading and writing is for something, it may not seem like it right now, and I don't have anything done, but I've been at this writing game for a long time.  Yes, it was born out of boredom but what else is there?  How else does one really get started in writing, why is it that it was always the Count, the Marquis, the Baron that wrote books in the old days?  Plato had nothing to do but think and write.  Gramsci would never have been so good if not in prison.  Marquis de Sade never so perverse nor so prodigious.  "If you really want to be a writer, get yourself into jail".  Dostoevsky in Siberia.  You name it.  Writing is another palliative to boredom.  Escape from dull, droll life into a more exciting world.  It's easy... pull out the paper and pen, start scribbling.  In the end, they're all prison writings.  The prison of boredom, the cage of hum-drum, work a day life, which we escape with moments of inspiration and illumination.  Damn addicts.  Once you feel that first taste of inner excitement, writing's got its hooks into you, and you're done for.  That's it, you found your way out.  But remember, it's only for a couple moments in the middle of confusion, indecision, anxiety, life questioning and so on, ultimately into existential dread.  I haven't felt that yet but I take that as a shortcoming, but each day I wait for it and I figure once I feel that I'm a certified writer.

 

     People need books, they need to hear stories you know, in order to get away themselves from life, and so the writer and reader are in cahoots in this escape from life that looms over us daily like some gray, mundane sky pissing rain, closing in and growing more and more intolerable all the time.  On the subway I see them trudging heroically through big books in between sleep and work filling and exiting their bowels.  If it's not their books it's the television or the movies or the stories their pals tell them at happy hour or around the copier at work.  Without them, they would shut down, slow to a crawl with depression and suicides, murders and riots.  Boredom is enemy #1 in the world and if it's not "work" that squashes it, then (because, as my employer would have it, we cannot work all the time) we need other (excursions) of a more invigorating nature.  I listen to books on tape all day on my Walkman until I get home to watch a movie on TV, and then read until I fall asleep in bed.  When I leave the apartment in the morning I have the headphones on, and all day, save lunch and bathroom, I have them on.  All day I punch keys, no one talks to me but my reader.  Fine by me.  Antisocial? Quite possibly necessary?  Absolutely.  Without it I would simply leave. Get up and go.

 

"Where's Dak?"

 "I have no idea I haven't seen him since lunch."

 "Well it's 4:00 p.m."

 "Guess he didn't come back."

 "Maybe his Walkman died and he went nuts."

 "Maybe."

 

     Not everyone is that much of an addict but go three months without your favorite escape addiction and I'll see you in the sanatorium, be it travel, TV, pottery, running, drinking, fucking, heroin.  They're all addictive and they all bite back when we ignore them.

 

     It's this idea of "slackers" that came and went as all these silly societal criticisms that really tell us something.  What is slacking?  It's nothing but not "working".  And what is working?  Making money.  The dollar.  Believe it or not, there are people in the world who don't think that the world is made of money.  Mainly those who have been bitten by another bug.  In the end all I say is, let's not judge our addictions on the same scale, let's not assume that there is anything other than the dollar.  No other way around it here in America, though, guess you've got to escape here to find any respect or at least some acceptance.  Living here without accepting the dollar means either being crushed by popular denunciation or becoming bitter and silent.

 

     In the end, it seems that the noble idea that life was once more important, more significant, more rewarding than the material world has left us in the lurch.  It was once the spirit that people sought, which people brought out at any cost and that endeavor was respected, understood, considered important and necessary.  But one addict is so preoccupied by his own addiction that all others seem to pale in comparison, seem to lose any importance whatsoever.  Fair enough.  No big surprise here.

 

 

("Arbeit macht frei")

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