Originally posted on 15 May, but totally relevant even now, a whole five days later:
I was out on Saturday night – a rarity – with some friends from high school, whom I hadn’t seen since, well, high school. Evidently, this is even more of a rarity than a weekend spent on the other side of a bar, but that’s not the point. The point is that it was Drew’s birthday, and he commented on my insistence to change my personality and lifestyle – and whatever else may come to mind – every twelve minutes or so. For the first time, he (or, indeed, anyone) actually spoke of this uncanny ability in positive terms; referring to the pivotal feature of acknowledging music from the entire aural spectrum, regardless of whether I’m wearing a band t-shirt or maroon nylon suit; big hair or slicked back, faux-Bowie bouffant. As glamourous or pretentious as this may sound, the comment was provoked by me bouncing up and down Union Street singing The Passenger over and over again – the revised, poppy Siouxsie and the Banshees version which gracefully soars over the original, naturally; and anyone who is familiar with Union Street knows that glamour and pretention are completely out of place in this setting.
Following the narrative structure I have identified in every single episode of The Simpsons since 1991, where the writers start on one thread then drastically – tragically – cut into another, less interesting thread by way of tenuous link after five minutes, but are safe in the knowledge that these first minutes of footage have secured 80% of the audience in their seats for the next 25-mins-incl-adverts; this blog will now vear sharply to the left and continue down a completely different path. WARNING: PATH INCLUDES POETRY.
Not only does an extensive use of personality changes mean that I know about lots of different types of music, I retain other features and carry them along with me; useless baggage. For example: when I stop pretending I want to be a journalist or writer, I’ll still use shorthand to confuse people. When I moved from Marilyn Manson to Def Leppard (why?), I kept the hair – in fact, the hair just kept going. And I just can’t seem to get my mental health records changed whatsoever.
The point here is that because I used to be a Goth, I write crappy poetry. I wrote a really shitty poem the other night about the vultures that were circling in my head at the time: the fact that I can’t draw for shit unless I’m really motivated; the fact that any decent paintings I do don’t attract any attention; the fact that some people are better than me – which I totally cannot handle; the fact that I don’t have a flashy job with a personal email address and free phone calls, yet Sandy does; Paolo Nutini style drop-smoking-habits-into-first-and-fourth-stanzas; the fact that one person walked out of my gig on Sunday and it’s put me in that pissy, egotistical mood; the fact that I know big words and want to put them in a poem; and a half-quote from a half-forgotten article in what was probably The Spectator. Here is said poem in full:
Giving Up Cigarettes
Maybe if I wasn’t so caught up
And selfish disinterest
In everything but a stained stub cross section
And the “What jeans and shoes today?”,
I could work out just what I’m putting
Cigarette smoke into.
I would work out just what my psyche really needs;
What chemicals are missing from my brain;
What words are still to be written;
And who to address them to.
Maybe if I wasn’t so caught up
In what I need
I could concentrate on the needs of others
But even that would be selfish.
Even a saint must have an ego
But even this ego couldn’t work his way
To sainthood, for what deeds could I do
Even for peace, for I am not at peace.
That’s the thing:
I don’t want sainthood
I am restless, but it seems preferable to peace.
So I want restlessness?
Yet restlessness I have
And the answers are still elusive.
Maybe if I wasn’t in the same jeans and shoes,
The same mindset,
The same cigarettes,
The same brands,
So can I truly be restless,
To know what I want, it seems
I need to know what I want.
But my mind cannot rest
And cannot settle on wanting one thing,
Having one ideal, being one person, essentially:
One life is not enough,
And is tedious – it takes so long to get to the good scenes.
I want to wake up in another person’s body.
But this is a practical impossibility –
For believe me, I have tried.
I read somewhere that my generation does not “do”.
We think about “doing”;
About where “doing” will get us;
How to get the most attention,
The most kudos and ovation,
a little piece of fame,
but “do” we do not.
Maybe we think too much.
I think too much.
How can one really live,
If appearance and personality is all just an act?
But how can one appear to have a personality,
When one does not act?
I feel like a mime
When I talk to people.
And see anything that I do as futile –
To do anything great, one must put all of one’s energy into it.
But I am too caught up in other things.
Everything comes down to a single draft,
And who really cares?
So maybe if I wasn’t so caught up
In self-interest, futility and immortality,
I would get things done.
But what are “things”?
And why “do” them?
No questions answered,
And nothing changes.
1. I complain about how I do not “do” any”thing”. “Thing” of course being artwork, or writing a song or a short story or A POEM. Essentially, by complaining about never writing poems inside a poem, I create some sort of hypocritical mind-bender of a problem.
2. I said that every”thing” is a first draft. This poem – which also counts as a “thing” – was actually printed as a second draft, after I unwittingly tidied up the poem. At least now it is legible.
3. “[I] see anything that I do as futile” – because it doesn’t get published anywhere, or seen by anyone, or have any purpose or use or anything. Essentially by publishing this poem, the futility aspect is removed. Plus it proved stimulus for the first blog in, what, eight months or so? Plus the blog counts as a “thing”, which just starts the cycle all over again.
So anyway, the reason I published this poem was because the day after I wrote it, I went for lunch with regular readers Chris and Max (well, regular reader Chris anyway, since Bebo blogs are not compatible with 1,600 word rambles about nothing and Chris seems to be the only person left using this website; one of the scant cockroaches left after Rupert Murdoch dropped the targetted-advertising-H-bomb on MySpace.). Chris lent me his copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake (which I managed to cover almost completely in toothpaste the other day after I left the book in a plastic bag with some toothpaste and a Siouxie Sioux live album, which was sadly recorded way before she covered The Passenger. The only covering in this anecdote concerns Chris’ copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake. And two Beatles tracks. I managed to clean the toothpaste off the book, and it is back to its original condition. Chris will never know, and may even think my house smells minty fresh once I give it back.) last week, and although I am enjoying the novel, I prefer his short stories and find his novel-writing style a little freeekeee.
However, as with any worthwhile, non-futile book, there are lessons to be learned. I read chapter 20 of the aforementioned novel after our luncheon, which strangely correlates with some of the themes in my poem, if it can be called as such. I won’t quote the entire relevant passage, even though the writing is as tight as Vonnegut’s short stories, because:
1. I can’t be arsed.
2. That would be a severe breach in copyright. I think.
Anyway, during this passage, Vonnegut talks about the conception of one of his favourite phrases: “How the hell did I do that?”. Looking back on his work, a builder friend of Vonnegut’s marvelled over what he had managed to build – a new extension to the writer’s house for him to work in. I think that’s the point I was trying to get at in the poem, the conclusion I was trying to reach. It’s difficult to think “How the hell did I do that?” without seeing any sort of finished product; yet one has to somehow motivate oneself into “doing”. I can’t motivate myself, and maybe I need to work on that, I don’t know. And I don’t know how. Maybe I should write more crap, pointless poetry, and try to make sense out of it.
To conclude, I’d just like to add the two other favourite phrases listed by Vonnegut on pages 68 and 69 of the toothpaste edition of Timequake. One is from his seemingly very motivated son Mark – “pediatrician [sic] and watercolourist and sax player” – “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is”. The other comes from Jesus Christ: “Who is it they say I am?”. Needless to say, I am enjoying this novel far more now, after we have established a spiritual connection. Finally, in reading over my first paragraph in search for a Simpsons-structure ending, I realise that perhaps the answer to my problems – motivational, inspirational, poetic – can be found in the kick-off point of this blog. I went out on Saturday night, and by Wednesday, I had “done” two things – three if you count pissing that old bastard off by not being able to play piano very well. I need to go out more. And so do you. Here’s to class-As!