Sunday, October 16, 2005

tales of ordinary madness

more haunted house/bad ghost dreams. my father had become a brilliant, sadistic painter, mostly smears of colour, (i remember shades of dark red and smears of yellow), but pretty good. Still, his obvious kinship with the ghosts made him threatening. Grinning while he blurrily smeared red on the canvas didn't help any.

I'm somewhat disconcerted about all this. I don't know how this relates to my life of the moment. The whole thing suggests repressed memories. I hate that.

Furthermore, the whole thing smacks of mysticism and some sort of transformative experience. Which is fine, only I'd rather be camping and not stuck meeting Satan in my apartments of a dirty city. I watched Bukowski read poems on tv a couple of days ago, beautiful stuff, his beatup face, fuck just reading there, tired, past glory; shining knight of anonymity and terminal insanity.

Charles Bukowski's contribution to literature is that he was the first writer to beautify ugliness. In other words, his is the most honest literary work in history.

Bukowski's stories made seamless mention of what its like to shit, to jerk off, to be humiliated, to contradict oneself for no apparent motive, to fuck for the sake of fucking. He didn't just break the mold of all prose that came before him; he beat the crap out of it and forced it to look real life in the eyes. There are prose writers that have generated far more profound and noble visions than Bukowski, but that objective is common. Until Bukowski no one except dull perverts could express that being human meant shitting, submitting to authority, generally being a futile dumbass was the rule, rather than the exception, of human life. He exposed his inconsistencies, his weaknesses without bragging or confessing. And what Bukowski brought to prose, what makes him Great, is that he beautified it.

All of the writing I have ever read about the anonymous world, the downtrodden, the insane fully committed to being insane, drunks, hookers, - all of it, cannot resist the temptation to glamorize it somehow. Somehow a distance is placed between Us and Them. Either they are too horrible to be real, or somehow they are redeemed. Furthermore, somehow it is all coherent, the injustice or the inevitability of such lives is presented as if it made sense. Bukowski tells stories that have no explanation, the climaxes oftentimes ending in futility, or only the next day dawning. And that is what real life is, for most of us.

Which is somewhat similar to existentialist writing, only that with Bukowski life is not mechanical. Life is futile not because people are meaningless, but because life is open-ended. You'll struggle and suffer all your life and then you'll die and everything will forget about you, he says, but somehow sunflowers are still sunflowers, and they tell us something we'll never understand, but reassures us.