THE GRATITIUDE TRAP
SOME TIME AGO I had a breakthrough: I discovered I could hate my food. I was at a bar and ordered a burger I knew was a good one. I’d ordered it before and had every reason to look forward to it. I was in a shitty mood tho, so when it arrived, I made it the object of my disdain and aggression. I h(ated) the fucker GONE, right out of existence.
You always hear people say things like, “I demolished that pizza,” or, “I murdered that salmon mousse,” but how often does the appropriate emotion coincide with the act of eating?
Boldly I say, Fuck Sustenance.
Nutritional, cultural, social, or otherwise.
I began to think about and experiment with Gratitude. Much of the past fews years of my life have been spent in pursuit of a pious, modest asceticism and a general thankfulness toward what little I’m ever blessed with. I’ve got some roots in Christian Mysticism, and I value the perspective of wretchedness before the awesomeness of Divinity, the worm-like tininess we occupy even as we are loved and ultimately embraced in undifferentiated Bliss.
But what about getting things done?
Being God is the only thing worth doing.
Now, most people who have things figured out (as far as they can be figured out), already seem to know that action has to be devotional and free from lust for result if it’s going to be successful. You don’t think about making ends meet or maintaining necessity, lest you tarnish the effort. So alright. There’s that.
My question, even in believing such a thing, is what to do with what’s toxic. Anger, resentment, disdain, pity, indignation, etc. There’s no reason we shouldn’t put those things to work for us, even if they’re undesirable for others and ourselves.
I remember watching an interview with the late Harry Crews, who said that tho anger as a motivational force is largely frowned upon, he found it to be the most inspiring of all emotions. “Anger has gotten me through a lot of things in my life and I have to confess—and I don’t recommend it really to anybody else—but hell, I stay mad. Mad as a motherfucker.”
Similarly, Diamanda Galas said in an interview that, while it’s not a very enlightened perspective, she derived more pleasure from the suffering of her enemies than even those good things that came to her in her own life.
I might not take it as far as Diamanda’s example. But perhaps, in the case of praxis, THERE IS NO WRONG WAY of doing things.
There is no interval but variation.
If the impulse toward destruction is a creative impulse, mightn’t the equation be reversed? And if, in order to create, we must draw ourselves inward in a negation that contracts to the point of supernova explosion, then refusal, refutation, and rejection might serve as the thrust-block to get us swimming that direction.
Much of my own philosophy has involved refusal.
A child learns to say NO! as a toddler, and if it’s smart it never stops.
At the same time, I’ve known a lot of lousy people who, when encountering art other than their own, have to shit all over it in order to buttress their own sense of worth. That’s not what I’m suggesting. But if that works for you then hey.
We take in so much all the time. If we respect or (more often) pretend to respect the majority of what we see, rather than striving to supplant or supersede, then we run the risk of diminishing ourselves or becoming null.
I’m not advocating old-fashioned competitive spirit. One antidote for the anxiety of influence is to kill appreciation and destroy one’s own idols. I raise the possibility of decimating that which feeds and maintains our being, as a means of getting beyond it. On a daily level, in the most fundamental ways.
Who are you to offer me food or friendship..?
Who do you think you are to give me love, empathy, or compassion..?
No thanks. Fuck you. I’m good.
We hermit up, hibernate, draw away from the outer face of things: persons and etiquette, opinions and intimacy. Altruism and concern, for the sake of our art, reduced to zero or sent into negative. We need only that which we contain as our own macro-fragment, and the rest of all life in the world can suck it.
An honest way, then, to say what we need to say:
No one has more right to expression than I do.
I don’t owe you anything, and I don’t care what you like.