the autobiography of a man who has been nowhere, done nothing, and met nobody
Autobiography – There are ghostwriters for those in the world who are famous, but illiterate. At times, I imagine unhappy, sad, greying men and women in front of computers struggling to get by from cheque to cheque, forcing themselves to imagine what it would be like to be shiny and glamorous so that an audience of struggling men and women can purchase the book about their shiny and glamorous ‘life’.
Blog. Personal Diary Entry, March 3rd – I have agreed to write a book based off entries on my blog. I have signed a contract. The publisher wants a book written in alphabetic chapters. Twenty six chapters, beginning with A, ending with Z, and with ten entries in each chapter. Two hundred and sixty entries, all up. I was just playing around before. Performing in public. Now, with a publisher, I can push the idea further, turn it into a self contained thing. I emailed the publisher and asked about my boundaries. She told me I had none. I told her I what I planned, and she said, “Don’t be afraid. Go further.”
Ben Peek – I was born Benjamin Michael Peek, but it is a name I never use. On one rental card for a video store in Seven Hills—where I never rent anything—I am Dr. Benjamin Peek; but for everything else, I am just Ben, and Ben Peek when I’m required to sign something. I was once told that I look like the kind of guy whose name is two syllables long.
Depression – I suffer from clinical depression. At least, this is what I am told, and if you can’t believe the psychiatrist you’ve seen for the last six years, who can you believe? My Bombay born psychiatrist works in the public health care system, which means that he bulk bills, and that people without a decent income can see him. It is how I see him. However, this means that he is chronically overworked, that there are always new patients arriving, and that there are not enough leaving. If I am lucky, I will see him for more than fifteen minutes, before he gives me the yellow and white script for my pills.
Death, the Belief – I was cured, at a very young age, of a curiosity towards death. To me, the act of dying—death, as I see it—is about pain. Be it quick or slow, dying is about the connection between our mortal body and less mortal soul being sawn through by a jagged, rusty knife. My opinion can be shrunk down to two words: Dying Sucks. And though I am confident about the idea that a part of me will exist afterwards, I’m not that confident that it will be a conscious part of me. The afterlife attempts, by its nature, to render death as an event that is part of a larger journey, and it tries to assure you that life will go on, and that you needn’t be afraid. On the surface, that sounds all good, but the truth is, it depends on what kind of belief you have. Maybe you’re just sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back. Maybe you’re reincarnated as a God or a worm. Maybe you get a paradise. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you are just on the stopover between destinations, but then again, maybe not. What fascinates me, however, is not what the answer to that is, but rather how different cultures respond the death of individuals, and the deaths of species.
Death, the Experience After – After a person has died, it’s all about the living. I had never really thought about this until I was reading the undertaker poet turned undertaker essayist, Thomas Lynch, and his collection of essays, The Undertaking. The dead don’t care, he writes, only the living care. Only the living care about how the dead are buried. About how the body looks in the casket. About a casket, in fact. Only the living worry if the body has a nice suit or dress on. Only the living worry if the body is lifelike. Though Lynch never follows it, the logic of this continues into the rituals that, as a society, we have for (and concerning) the afterlife. They too are for the living. It is the living who talk about the dead being happy, being out of pain, about being near them. Living TV evangelists and spiritualists can even see the dead standing next to the living, trapped in some hateful, half life where their only desire is to tell the living it is fine, go on without me. And if they are not waiting there, they are in Heaven (or Hell), waiting for the living. On the Day of the Dead, the spirits of children return on November 1st, and adults on the 2nd. The dead are haunting us in a variety of forms, but not because they want it, but because we do. We demand that they exist in a way that we can understand. We demand that they haunt us through our rituals and the memories we keep.
Dancing – L convinces me to go dancing. Her boyfriend refuses, but I have no objection. Maybe it will even be fun. Besides which, dancing has always looked sexy on TV; I am curious to see if I will be able to move like that. The classes are at six thirty, Monday nights. Two hours. I learn to Cha-Cha-Cha, Salsa, and Swing. The instructor is a tiny, fat, hugely pot bellied man, but he can move like that. I, however, am obviously a cripple.
Delight – In Western culture, the confessional narrative allows for us to admit to our pain, our suffering, and hopefully, our redemption. We are encouraged to do this, even. TV shows have become confessional temples where “real” people own up to cheating, lying and then finding God. They are quite popular. We, the audience, sit in the elevated, voyeuristic position of judgement over the individual no matter our own personal experiences. But the confessional narrative resists pleasure, unless it is at the end of pain, and is functioning as a reward, or if it is a non-selfish, socially supported function. I love my children, for example, is something that we in the audience can understand and accept. If, however, we hear, ‘I love the feel of the juice from an orange running down my chin,’ or ‘I love anal sex’, then we respond differently. We consider leaving, and if we stay, we do so, uncomfortable. Later, amongst friends, we might ridicule it.
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The cover is by Andrew Macrae (andrewmacrae) and it is just really fucking cool. If you can't figure it out, get up from your computer and walk back a bit. It's the early version, but it's awesome.