WRITING NUMBER 1
I have nothing to write about so this
narrative is likely to dribble along until no more words will come.
Right now, I can find words, but this is just an introductory paragraph
that has no meaning. Even so, the words are already beginning to
bump into each other, a sign that I will stop writing soon.
I find it unbearable that I cannot find some narrative to tell!
There are so many narratives, so many writers, I refuse to accept
I have to fail while others succeed.
That last sentence places me in a
bad light. I can feel that. That sentence makes me look like I want
to write narratives so I can succeed. Of course I want to succeed!
When I say "feel", I mean only
that I detect something pleasant or unpleasant. For example, about
my lust for success I feel unpleasant. For another example, I cannot
say, "I feel love." I do not know what to feel love means,
nor do I know what it means to hate. I know only pleasant or unpleasant
and such knowledge is very much, but if you disagree, well, you
live differently than I, much differently.
It has taken me fifty years to distinguish
finally the pleasant from the unpleasant and fifty years is a lot
of years. But in fifty years to be able to distinguish only the
pleasant from the unpleasant, what type of accomplishment is that?
A two-year old baby can make that distinction! A one-year old can
and probably a six-month old baby too. So after fifty years I know
as much about my self as a six-month old baby and if that observation
seems ridiculous to you, you are probably correct. In the realm
of human achievement to have attained the wisdom of a six-month
old baby after fifty years, in terms of human achievement, look
what humans have done! But you need not look because you know already.
It is only I, I and a few other, what should I call us? I and a
few other difficult ones, yes, we are the difficult ones,
so unnecessarily difficult, but to us alone comes the praise
of having attained, after decades of living, the working mind of
a six-month old baby.
It is time to begin a new paragraph.
Past time really, because I had felt that paragraph about my stunted
development was going on too long. But when I say I felt that paragraph
was going on too long, I mean only that I felt unpleasant about
it, though it is impossible to feel unpleasant in that way.
What I felt was a pull in my mind, an
unpleasant tugging that would stop if only I would end that paragraph.
Still, I did not end it soon enough. So much for the power of unpleasantness
to influence me in what I am about!
Candidly, I say that I can suffer unpleasantness
when I bring it upon myself but I would prefer not to bring unpleasantness
upon others and I am not saying that just to make you like me. We
can arrive at liking and disliking later if there is a later. I
want to finish now, I want to stop writing about unpleasantness
and pleasantness and I want to just stop. So much for my intention
to write down something worth writing and more, so much more, something
I need to promise myself a reward,
that would keep me going. Rewards, yes, I like a reward, something
that says at the end, "Look, not everything you did was a complete
waste of time! Cheer up now! Reward yourself! Have a drink!"
Would a drink work? A drink works, yes,
two drinks, a masturbation episode, pleasurable events certainly,
no one would say they are not. Some people may, but those people,
what do they understand?
We can disagree as is commonly said, and
oh so falsely, and still find ways to walk together, can we not?
No, we cannot! If I say I respond to rewards and you tsk-tsk me
with "You can make efforts with no hope for reward in this
life, my good man!" then I will tell you, "Dont
call me your good man. You do not see life as I do and I will not
walk down this path with you because we are as different as it is
possible to be."
Now I am finished writing for today
but I surprised myself, I must say, that I was not finished sooner.
Not that I believe I accomplished anything and now I am finished
with my accomplishing, no I do not believe that I have arrived at
that type of finished, the finish of a job well done, but I have
tired myself out. That is all I mean by finished.
End of writing number 1
WRITING NUMBER 2
Now what? Now nothing. I had to go
out today, that was a bad idea. Nothing happened of course, but
going out was a bad idea, for me going out is always a bad idea.
Going out destroys my concentration though I have nothing to concentrate
about, absolutely nothing, except myself. I have been concentrating
on my self for decades with paltry results. Still, I find concentrating
on myself impossible not to do.
Today there was talking, even I talked,
which surprised some people. They wanted to talk too. We even talked
at the same time, not intentionally, we are all adults, but one
of us immediately stopped and apologized. The time passed politely
and pointlessly. All of us were relieved to be free of each other
at the end, not overly relieved, but sufficiently relieved to make
me wonder why we had met up in the first place.
So far this writing is going badly and
I am beginning to conclude something is just not right. Either the
time is just not right or the day is just not right, though I am
well aware there is nothing wrong with either the time or the day.
There is nothing wrong with me either for that matter, other than
the characteristic behaviors that are wrong with me and have paralyzed
me for decades and have finally driven all my friends away.
These problems in my character are relatively
minor, however, and would not stop me writing any more today than
they have in the past. So there is some other problem stopping me,
some problem which I have never been able to describe sufficiently
to make the description helpful. I can still not describe this problem
now as anything other than fear.
I need a break.
I need to walk around, to allow another
perspective to form and then return to this desk and set to work
refreshed. But I am not going to rest until I have driven myself
as hard as I can, even if I end up exhausted and defeated! This
last sentence is not a sentence I can stand behind. I have no idea
where it came from.
Possibly I harbor some pathetic wish to
be a leader. Or possibly I heard some ego maniac once voice a similar
commitment, the veins in his neck swollen with that commitment,
his eyes blazing with it, his tone strengthened by it and the rest
of us listening unconvinced and uncomfortable, wondering what terrible
price we would have to pay if this ego-driven maniac achieved what
he was committed to achieving.
Well, if events turn out as they usually
do, none of us worriers would have to pay any price. But others
would have to pay, the unfortunate ones would have to pay as the
unfortunate ones always do.
Now I have really come to a dead end.
But there is some inner voice still encouraging me not to stop.
It is an untrustworthy inner voice and I listen to this voice though
convinced I cannot trust it.
Perhaps it is the voice of my dead mother,
she was good in track and field, I still have one of her medals.
Track and field medal winners are known for their endurance and
for being blindly determined to finish races long-since been won
by someone else. I, for example, could never partake in track and
field events though I ran a little as a boy. The team was short-handed
and then children run without asking questions. But when track and
field became serious later on, I was nowhere near either of them,
not even in the stands watching.
That is it.
End of writing number 2
WRITING NUMBER 3
Here I am, determined again and wracked
with doubt brought on by a night of dreams about constipation and
suffocation. If ever there were signs that signaled me to stop this
writing, I have now dreamed such signs and I will ignore them.
In one horrendous situation, a chimney
flu was clogged and smoke filled the room. Fortunately some competent
stranger nimbly pulled out a wad of charred newspaper as if nothing
was easier than solving problems of clogged flues while a roaring
fire burned beneath. Nothing easier and yet I had stood there, paralyzed.
I did not feel humiliated. I was able to discern dimly that the
entire scene was a symbol of some deeper malaise.
I have no idea what I would have done
if the competent stranger had not appeared. I may have just stood
there helpless and choking or I may have opened a window. There
are other ways to solve problems than with a superior attitude.
There are fretting ways.
The constipation dream was worse because
I was in a restaurants bathroom without a door. There was
just a curtain, which was incongruous because I was not in a small
village in Turkey, I was in an up-scale restaurant in New York City.
Also, there were people in the hallway waiting impatiently for me
to finish and beneath the curtain I could see their legs pacing
back and forth. Lovely times some of us spend eating exotic food
with friends and socializing in low lit rooms, very memorable moments.
I was unable to complete my bowel movement
because the toilet was unsteady yet I adjusted it without making
a mess and set it back in its place. Eventually I did move a little
turd, emaciated like a thick worm and more green then brown, but
the movement was most unsatisfactory. Somehow I understood that
satisfaction had nothing to do with what I was going through, except
that if I wanted to be involved in better-quality dreams, I had
better change what I was doing during my days.
I have no intention of changing what
I do during the day. Nor am I going to say I will redouble my efforts
because I have already redoubled my efforts many times. If my dreams
want to attack me with threats of suffocation and public constipation,
then let them attack me. They may defeat me, who can say? But my
dreams will have to defeat me and not just leave me in the morning
perplexed and exhausted. They will have to leave me screaming out
against the unbearable burden of my waking and my sleeping mental
A different sort of question bothers
me more, a serious one. What I am writing seems to me to have been
written before by someone else. I have the worrisome sense that
I am copying. I note this concern apprehensively because I do not
yet know what to do about it. It may be true that I am copying,
I must leave that terrible question open because before I bash my
brain in with my fist, I would like to see how these pages progress
and if they progress.
My writing constantly wants to stop and
give up and most times it does just stop. So there may be no need
for me to investigate further the terrible possibility I am a plagiarist.
But if I am plagiarizing, the horrible names some people called
me through the years would then be true and I would owe all of them
a sincere apology.
But even if I am nothing more than a constipated
plagiarist, there is small chance that anyone who called me those
horrible names will receive an apology. In fact, there is no chance.
Defiance is no substitute for truth and
I do not want to appear that I think it sufficient to treat disrespect
by shouting simply, "Fuck you!"
There was a time a few years ago I went
driving with friends and one of them needed help, as I remember
she needed to find a post office. Her question to another motorist
went completely ignored and, when she repeated it and was again
ignored, she shouted, "Fuck you then!" She may not have
added "then", she may have shouted just, "Fuck you!"
or "Well fuck you!"
The other motorist paid no attention.
It was possible she was deaf, or she was listening to the radio
at high volume, or she had something on her mind and was oblivious
to her surroundings. It was also possible she never responded to
questions shouted at her from another car and just as possible she
preferred not to be bothered by anyone outside her intimate circle.
I can understand these reasons and I can even find a way to accept
these responses in some one else. But when I am asked a question
by a stranger in public, usually I will try to answer it.
The difference between someone who
responds to a question by a stranger in need and someone who ignores
it, is the difference between someone who believes there is such
a thing as human nature and someone who believes there is not. But
human nature does exist, that is what I have come to understand,
and for any of us to betray our common human nature is dangerous.
End of writing number 3
WRITING NUMBER 4
I must really watch my tendency to
teach. I call making grand categorical statements like, "Human
nature exists!", teaching because I am reluctant to use a harsher
In the past, I have used much harsher
words against myself in the furious attempt to kill my teaching
impulse, but those words, harsh as they were, did not stop me. Whenever
I saw the chance, I taught someone a lesson, horrible as that sounds.
Words I used to describe my pedantic behavior
in hopes to end it, words like "insufferable", that word
did not stop it. When others used "insufferable" to describe
my behavior, that also did not stop it because I shrugged off "insufferable"
as mean-spirited coming from them.
Still, how many words are there that could
not be used at one time or another to describe me or anyone? Perhaps
no person could be described as "day". Although if a little
girl said that sitting with her grandpa for one hour seemed to her
like she had been sitting with him all day, that could be interpreted
as a description of a grandpa whose life had gone on too long for
those who should love him and grandpa should try to die soon.
Or the grandpa on his side could say that
sitting with his granddaughter was something or other equally unbearable,
a word like, but it matters little what grandpa could say. Many
words can be used to describe other people as long as one does not
mind losing as many friends as I have. If one wishes to keep ones
friends, one must watch what one says, though it is also helpful
from the other side to train oneself to stop listening.
I am teaching again! Immediately after
I promised I would stop! No wonder I am disliked!
I have come to accept that my former friends
avoid me because they know if they pause to talk to me however briefly
they risk receiving a worthless life-lesson. They may also believe
that since I do not keep my word about not teaching them, I will
not keep my word about other matters. Although, to say I do not
keep my word is inaccurate.
What my former friends disliked about
me was that I would not behave consistently. Some days I would be
happy to see my friends, some days very much not. This inconsistent
behavior of mine they termed "disloyal". I have now learned
that I should not appear disloyal. But there is also the unfortunate
side to human relations that it is not sufficient to learn how not
to behave, I must also learn how to behave.
I would like to be loyal. I like loyalty
in pets and I like loyalty when I read about it in history. Some
ancient Greeks were loyal to death. But when I had to face the difficult
choice between being loyal to a friend or being truthful to myself,
I tormented myself and constantly made mistakes. Sometimes I made
the terribly wrong decision and came down righteously on the side
of self-truth! That righteous behavior may sound praiseworthy but
it is not since there is no conflict between loyalty and truth.
But, unfortunately, it is too late, much
too late to tell the friends I abused I am functioning now with
a clear mind, and we can pick up our shattered friendships where
we left off before I destroyed them with my erratic behavior. Most
of my former friends are doing well for themselves, much better
than I. One could even say that since our friendships ended, their
lives improved in every way. I do not follow their lives as closely
as that observation makes me sound. But I hear tales and their success
irritates me, much as I would like to claim otherwise.
I believe I am finally getting somewhere
with this narrative. What a nice belief to have. If only it were
true. Also, if I need a way to kill the writing I am doing, a self-compliment
is the sure killer to use.
I know I would do well to keep my opinions
to myself, to keep my comments also, to keep most of what goes on
with me buried deep inside, and often I do manage to follow this
sensible and hard-learned advice. But every now and again I still
err and say things I should not, or write things I definitely should
not. There may come a time when I will not need to correct myself
as often as I still need to do. That time may come and I would like
to be around to experience it.
End of writing number 4
WRITING NUMBER 5
Something needs to happen in this
Another character needs to be introduced,
that would help, but what kind of character would fit into a world
like this one? Another misfit? Well, yes, certainly a misfit! Who
else but a so-called misfit would be willing to walk in and out
of pointless situations in which there is no chance to make money?
There could be a woman out there somewhere
who might strike a nice balance in this narrative. Some woman independent,
sensible, difficult, some woman...yes, a strong independent sensible
attractive and difficult woman and also a misfit! But if she has
all those qualities, which is frankly already hard to believe, what
would she want to be around me for?
I could hope she was going through a bad
patch in her life that would make her open to a new experience,
if I could be called a new experience. All right, she had fallen
into bad habits, people do, it happens. She had fallen slowly into
a little too much drinking and over-doing the nights in general
and then all of a sudden, one evening, sitting in a crowded café
with some ape she had been fucking for a while, she saw through
the superficial life she was living and shivered.
The ape sitting across from her with an
impatient look on his face noticed no change in her. Her ape sat
there and continued to sip his beer even though his companion twisted
around to pull on her cashmere sweater abruptly.
Or maybe her ape had noticed something
finally and with a reluctant ape effort had put down his glass and
said, "Jesus Christ! Whats bothering you now? Are you
To which she had been unable to do anything
more than smile and shake her head "Its nothing, dont
worry" and smile because she could not tell him, "Plenty
is wrong with me, my dear apeling darling, plenty and everything
is suddenly wrong with me, and has been wrong, and you and our monkey
love and my fake friendships at work and the dirty windows outside
my bedroom have all just shattered to pieces on the filthy sidewalk
inside my head."
That entire artificial ape-filled world
this poor woman had thoughtlessly inhabited for months now lay worthless
and shattered to pieces between them but there was nothing she could
say about it to her ape, or do about it, really nothing, not then.
All she could do was make a terribly hard effort to control herself
from trembling and restrain herself from crying out to her ape,
"I cant stand you! How can you be so horribly selfish!"
But she could not say that, she could
not say anything, she could only sit there and bite her lip and
go on sitting there, smiling as best she could and concealing her
thoughts, until she could make some excuse and be off finally by
herself to be alone.
A lovely trembling and troubled and
difficult woman like that could work in this narrative if I could
find her and she had bottomed out enough.
I could have seen her leaving that busy
café in a hurry, the poor thing, though of course I could
not have spoken to her and she, of course, troubled as she was,
could not have seen me, and would not have wanted to talk to me
at that moment even if she had.
Her name is, yes her name is, it is impossible
that I cannot think of her name!
I see her so clearly hugging herself tight
in her gray cashmere sweater, staring at the ground with tears flooding
her eyes and running down the sidewalk away from the café
and disappearing into the night.
Yes a sensitive and difficult woman
who had just seen the superficial life she had thoughtlessly fallen
into suddenly appear in all its hopeless vulgarity and trembled,
a woman like that could do wonderful things in the grim internal
world forming in these pages that is so badly in need of physical
But she has disappeared into the night,
sobbing, without a name, with just a soft nice-looking sweater and
a mess of disturbing images tumbling through her head. How is this
sensible and difficult woman to do anything significant in this
narrative now? How is she to function in this narrative as anything
more than a mystery?
I could speak to her ape.
Her ape was still sitting at their table
finishing his beer with a disgusted look on his face, but what do
I know about speaking to apes?
The first thing to do is to stop calling
him an ape. He is just not like me nor I like him and that should
go without saying though apparently I need to emphasize it.
But in what ways do we differ so immeasurably?
One difference is that he is self-possessed and I am in a perpetual
state of inward crumbling. I shore up the crumbling, I do, no need
to worry about me! But the crumbling goes on whereas he, yes well
with him there is no inner crumbling of any sort.
Physically too, he is dressed expensively
and has a good haircut and is a few pounds on the flabby side in
his face and neck and hands, but these details mean nothing to me.
My concern is only with the troubled woman who has just left him
and who never wants to see him again.
"Im sorry to bother you,"
I said and pointed to the street.
He stared at me, his eyes filled with
contempt for my clothes, and shrugged. "Whats up?"
"That woman you were sitting with,
the one who just left?"
"Right, what about her?"
Oh boy, yes, well here we are.
"Look, how about letting me buy
you a drink?"
He tapped his half-empty glass of
warm beer in an unfriendly way.
"Im good for now," he
said. "What do you want to know about her? Whats up with
"No nothing, just forget it,"
I said. "She seemed troubled, thats all. I happened to
catch her expression as she walked out. I thought youd care
to know she was sobbing but forget it. Maybe I was wrong about what
I saw and anyway it doesnt matter, I shouldnt have said
anything. People in this city, thats all Im saying,
if theyre desperate, they can hurt themselves."
He laughed a little and shook his
head that I had missed the point.
"Troubled? Andrea? Desperate huh?
Hold on a second! Come here, let me tell you something, friend,"
he said waving me to come closer.
"Andrea should wish she had the depth
to be troubled! Andreas a fucking jerk, thats about
all the troubled Andrea is. Shes a fucking jerk
who ought to get her shit together before her whole life blows up
in her face!
"You want to sit down? Come on, sit
down," he tapped the chair in front of me. "Sit down and
let me tell you something truthful."
He signaled the waitress, raised his glass
and called, "One more! And how about you, buddy? What do you
He nodded approvingly and held up
two fingers. "Make it two double Jamesons straight-up with
So her name is Andrea and she is a
fucking jerk according to this Tom she just broke up with. And Andrea
should get her shit together as should we all instead of putting
our shit off. Yes, good advice though useless, but at least for
once I was not the one giving it.
End of writing number 5
Ducts will present the next installment of Brandon's novel in our Winter, 2006 issue.