Writing is a spew of the subconscious, or at least a myriad of that, mostly the id. That’s where the core is of what I refuse to realize I am, that fear and pain and stupidity that make me so unique and nothing at all.
It doesn’t mean much of anything. I am alone in this. Except when I write it down here.
I realize that I am the same chunky fellow when I was a kid. The same. That’s what I am thinking about or more about not going anywhere, of staying, doing something else, just not what I’m doing, not this, because that is what’s expected of me.
There is someone at my shoulder. I don’t know here. I ask, “Who are you?” She says something about understanding. It goes on until I finally lose it, “I don’t want to know who you are or wake up next to you, right? I just want to say goodbye. That work?”
A little wisdom from David Bowie: My parents had the same work ethic, you know, work as salvation. Work really hard and somehow, you’ll either save yourself or you’ll be immortal. Of course, that’s a total joke, a sham, and our progress is nothing.
There may be progress in technology but there’s no ethical progress whatsoever. We’re exactly the same immoral bastards that we were twenty thousand years ago. (From Dylan Jones’ An Oral History, 429)
It might have been a raven, but I don’t know the difference. One is bigger. I don’t know which. But I killed it. We were hiking in the Italian Alps, and my sister-in-law called to me, “Oh, McPhedran!”
I didn’t know why she called me – except that I post dead animals on social media – but there it was, not a dead crow but a struggling, gurgling crow. It squawked and flapped terribly, on the verge of the abyss.
“No problem,” I replied. “I will take care of it.”
Everyone in the family continued on up as I looked for a rock to bash its head in. I found a good one, the size of my fist, and realized I didn’t have to bash its head in but only had to place it over its neck and step down hard on that. Much easier and much less gory. It struggled against me. I had to replace the rock a number of times, but then I had it in place and stomped hard. And it was dead. Easy. I looked up to see two small girls – maybe ten years old – aghast. I smiled back, trying not to appear a serial killer, and flicked the dead crow down into the bushes.
“Morte,” I explained.
“Morte?” One of the them, tiny eyes wide, clarified.
“Morte,” I repeated. I continued up the hill, after my wife’s family. Done. I didn’t think about it much at the time – oh, maybe a little – but then, later, I did consider the ramifications of my actions. It was a mercy killing. That was how I saw it. But I had killed a crow. Or a raven. Whatever. The portent of bad things and all of that. No, I didn’t really think that. I conjectured vaguely or something about that. And I knew it was ridiculous. Life is life, and death is death, and there is nothing other. You live and then you die.
And then my life began to unravel. It started with my stepson, who doesn’t like me at all, snapping some nasty retort in my direction, and then me overreacting to that and retreating, feeling hunkered and stupid, hiding in my room, writing, and then arguments with my family ensued, followed by me getting overly angry. And so I would not partake in anything with them the next day. I needed to be on my own. That was the thought in my head.
And, amazingly, it was a wondrous day. I went up alone, straight up, no pausing for food or water, and found myself in an alpine meadow. I sat there, remarkably content.
And I am rarely – never – content. I sat and looked out over everything, the air and sun and sky perfect as it was – alone but for some sort of Italian Marmot squeaking for its mate, and thought I could die here. It was a weird thought that I half embraced but didn’t do that and returned to the town. I vaguely thought that I might have cleared the air in myself, and everyone else would see me as so. But it did not go as that. England were playing Italy in the European Championships, and I got too intense about that. I am used to backing a team that never wins and did that too much with the Saxons and everyone got mad at me again. I sent wildly inflammatory messages to a close English friend about the Italian squad, and those were seen by the family, and nothing went well after that.
My bag was thrown from the car, and I was told to find my own way back – which I did – and found a hotel and thought about how I should never have killed that crow – or raven – even if it was going to suffer a bit.
You think you know something and then you don’t. All stories are only that. He wakes up to some party or hands held out and then he has to do something alone not because he believes in life or strength but because he was lost.
It is as simple as sitting on the fire escape or the corner that he knows and remembering that no one was there for him but paid for her mistakes. She tried. Or she didn’t. But he just has to carry on and become something new from that.
I am back to killing my babies. Today I had to delete a pet scene from Anori which recalled my father’s secret passion for Charlie’s Angels:
“My father’s other guilty pleasure, Tommy, along with the crackers and vodka, was Charlie’s Angels.” She turned around and smiled brightly at the others. “He would never admit it, but he loved the titillation, a knife against their throats, lovely breasts on the verge of exposure.”
“Can’t say I was ever against those girls,” Fitz admitted.
“He would fall asleep before the show was over and then wake up and snap, ‘Who put on this poppycock? What is this nonsense?’ He’d switch the channel before the crime was solved.” Lai looked back and forth between them, her eyes small and dark. “I never found out who did what.”
“Or more importantly who this Charlie fella really was,” Fitz added.
“Christ, it was that guy from Dallas, the oil guy. Everyone knows that.”
“John Forsythe,” Dee sighed.
“But that ain’t the point, is it now?” Fitz added.
“What’s the point then? The girls running about in their underwear, Farrah Fawcett and her big hair?”
“Dare to dream,” Lai replied. “Molestation will be your return.”
The key to writing is finding the way into it. It isn’t a question of discipline – although it is – nor Hemingway’s leaving something for the next day – although it is. The route needs to be found. The thing has to open up.
Otherwise, it is just copy and you’re selling jeans with freedom catchphrases – not that I’m knocking it if they’re giving out the pay check. The access point can be as easy as remembering what an ass I was for doing something awful. Not to be obtuse.
The thing about drone ambient music is not the sound itself, not the humming but what’s inside that, the permutations of the sound, the rhythms from the echoes, the ebbs and flows of that, and remembering, listening to it again.
Whether it’s Ekca Liena, Misleading Structures, Fripp & Eno or William Basinski, the message is always the same: it’s the sound within the sound, the fuel not for writing contrivances but for the more elemental thing.