Kaleidoscope

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Saturday, March 30, 2013               1:54 AM

Oh My God! When I read back some of the crap I’ve written, I could easily puke. There’s something about writing—in trying my hardest to make myself crystal clear, I muddle about worse than if I’d told it plain. But then I re-read my so-called ‘plain speaking’ and I find it full of vacuous nothingness—in avoiding detail and subtlety, I’ve written the equivalent of ‘Life is like an onion’ or some other such fortune-cookie rubbish.

And what indication has the universe given me that what I write is worth the digital disk-space to store—much less a hope that someone else will come round just dying to read it? None whatsoever—trying to kid myself is out of the question—I may not be much of a writer, but I sure as hell know good reading when I read it. In my normal course of reading a book I make allowances for times when I’m not in the mood for that particular story—or not in the mood for reading, as a past-time, generally.

Granted, that was nearly never in my original life. But even then, I’d be sometimes obliged to start a new book, with a different tone or texture than the one I’d not yet finished. Nothing is so well-written that it is always a pleasure to read—even for a dyed-in-the-wool bookworm like ‘me-point-one’ used to be. And now that I’m just slightly living in comparison to those wonderful days, I still enjoy a book—just not without suffering from the sort of neck-cricks and backaches and blurry vision that less-enthusiastic ‘readers’ like to make a point of complaining about.

And this is the problem with writing—even if it’s good (a big if) it still can make my flesh crawl when mine comes at me suddenly. The pomposity, the mawkish pettifogging, the condescension—I sound like a prize jack-ass. And this would be the same bit of writing I had re-read days ago, immediately after writing it, and thinking it superb!

But I am used to this. Does anyone know the worst thing about LSD? It’s the crash. The heady delirium and fascination with all things is replaced with a hollow, worthless reality that is nothing more than what it has always been—the same thing, day after day, year after year. We don’t normally experience the dread stolidity of life—but the LSD, in simulating the altered perceptions and convoluted thought-patterns of a schizophrenic, gives us a glimpse of a world that seems to be hiding behind the ‘same-ol same-old’ of life. It makes us feel exalted and fascinated by all the colors and sounds of the psychedelicized world—we wander like wondering children in a magnificent amusement park.

Then it wears off—and back comes the flat-seeming world we left from. But now it’s shabby, drab, irritating sameness is put into high contrast—it’s almost painful just to exist without the LSD’s magic. That is the worst thing about LSD—it makes reality seem dreary. The funny thing is, that disappointment lasts and lasts—it isn’t a hangover, it isn’t anything—it’s just the world, the way it’s always been—revealed as the grey, unmusical reality that people get hurt in, get sick in, die in, go broke in, and nothing can be done to stop any of it.

No sense of delight I’ve ever gotten from LSD, or any drug, has ever been worth the cost of that crash—the drug wears off, but the crash lingers forever. It is an awareness that behind all our thoughts and feelings and opinions is a world that doesn’t give a damn how we feel or what we believe—it will still gladly mush us like bugs if that’s what’s going on this moment. Good people get punished. Bad people get ahead. Innocent people get hurt and criminals get away with murder. All philosophy evaporates in the presence of hunger or cold or fear. All happiness comes in an instant and is gone before we have the wits to fully realize we are happy.

So I tell myself that I’m too critical of my own writing—that I’m denying myself the same leeway I grant other authors (and, believe me, many an author has taken full advantage of it—the curse of being compulsive about finishing whatever book I’ve started). I tell myself that perception is a shifty bugger, and if I wait until tomorrow I’m just as likely to see some good in the same writing.

So, like all would-be artists, I spend a lot of time listening to my own music, reading my own poems, looking at my own drawings—always asking, “Is it any good? –and if it is, would I be able to tell?” Many of my proudest creations have given me mal de mer from the eternal rising and falling of my opinion of its quality—it’s a good job that I had a habit of giving away all my drawings most of my life—I’d still be checking them every day to see if they looked okay or not.  And I’m far too busy listening to my piano recordings to waste time on that. As far as the writing goes, I figure it’s good therapy, like a journal or something, so I should keep it up even if I’m positive that it’s all garbage. And some days, I’m treated to a good opinion of myself for a few hours—I actually enjoy some of my writing on those days.

That still leaves a percentage that I’ll always feel embarrassed to have been the author of—but with those I just tell myself ‘nobody reads my stuff anyway, so no biggie…’ One of the many perks of being an amateur. I don’t know how professionals do it—creativity is such a tightrope—if I had to merge it with making my living, I’d be lost. Plus they have to have patience with the jerks that pay for art—you’d think such people would be gracious patrons of ‘art’, but I gather that’s not quite how it works.

But it’s all conditional—one’s faith, one’s happiness, one’s self-confidence, one’s solvency—they come and go as the wheel of fortune spins. The auction price for a Van Gogh will dip and climb depending on the art market. What started as Matt and Trey making silly, irreverent cartoons has become the toast of Broadway and London—a devastating lampoon of a major faith during which, apparently, no one in the audience can stop laughing. People starve. People text while driving. People grow old. People laugh.

Is it not fitting that our mood should also rise and sink from moment to moment, transforming the jumbled pile of reality as would a kaleidoscope, into seemingly perfect geometries of meaning and fulfillment? Can I ever hope to write down words that would improve the life of any who read them? Or can I only hope to interest myself in that conceit as a means of avoiding my true uselessness? And could I tell the one from the other? Do I want to?

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