October 9th, 2012 / 3:45 pm

How Not to Think: A Few Words

A year ago I was in Germany, alone and growing a beard—the only beard I’d ever had or since—for questionable and seemingly unironic reasons. I felt some prejudice, especially at the doors of clubs, of which I saw several facades but never an interior. I experienced some new forms of illness, peed on myself in a cab and bought an €11 plane ticket to Norway. I felt lost and rarely thought of death, and now my life has leveled out a bit. I live with my girlfriend and signed my first official lease on part of the second floor of a two-story house. I cook and drink American beers, plan my weeks around the presidential debates. Compulsive paranoia regarding the suspect preparation of cappuccinos has been replaced with making sure my clothes are off the couch and bills are paid. New fixations, too, have arisen: to map the narratives of my amaranthine nightmares, to parse the patterns of diffuse images of terror and decay that drift throughout my consciousness, to grapple with religion, God, the transmutation of the body and the limits of the human mind, the actual capacity of the thing and the shape of its components. Lately a vague sensation of erosion has begun to worm its way into my cognizant perception—a knowledge of mental illness, colors swaying into a kind of one color, that which contains every color and/or imageable, magmatic structure.

My levels of productivity have depleted at an exponential, nearly consumptive, rate. There’s no shortage of humans, living, with tasks they have consented to, even taken on in earnest wont, with no intention of ever finishing, let alone beginning. I am inches away, it seems, at every moment from collecting the degree I’ve been pursuing, in essence, for sixteen years. Its shape seems pointless; frames are expensive. Mary Ruefle spoke of finding hers in among her dead mother’s things and throwing it away. I have garnered and calculated a GPA, which, while relatively high, remains only a very small number compared to those I am capable of counting. At work I make small talk with the same man about the same things each Tuesday. I take Zinc, Vitamin D, psyllium fiber and two multivitamins daily. The doctor said my swollen lymph nodes will not ever recede completely unless I gain significant weight.

This summer I biked six miles to work and six miles back. I showered in the mornings, read some novels and slept early. I met my friend on a block of cement in Grand Army Plaza. I read stories by Ben Lerner, Lena Dunham and Justin Taylor in The New Yorker. I looked at images of my girlfriend’s brain on a copy of the MRI computer’s disc. I smoked a cigar on the back porch of my parents’ house with my brother-in-law and my dad told my sister he thought I might be anorexic, to which she replied I’d just eaten a steak, to which he replied, some people don’t even know they’re anorexic. I watched Hellraiser. Since then I’ve purchased a monthly subway pass, gained ten pounds and wrote twenty poems—fifteen of them part of a sequence I fear I’ll never finish. The first ten come so easy, and the rest become a labored facsimile of what may have been a promising start. I think “fuck you” to roughly each face I see on the street and wonder what has happened along the synaptic chain of command to allow this. I recently told a friend I had embraced the natural anger and bias with which I was born: a passion for not getting along with people, ingrained complexes of superiority and judgmental boredom with everything I am told to see rather than discover independently. My pee smells worse to me.

One day I agreed to proofread a friend’s novel for a little extra money. I read approximately 75,000 words in a ten-hour sitting—probably the longest I have ever continuously looked at a body of words—with brief breaks to buy Popeye’s chicken, which I threw away without eating, and climb the ladder to my roof on the last memorably warm and beautiful day. I told my mom the book reminded me of mother-son things and then changed the subject. I punched my friend in the stomach and he tackled and choked me on the sidewalk, skinning my arm, which begot an unpleasant scabbing process. Nothing requires divulging because nothing’s left to imitate or remember. The poems I want to write are not written and what is written is a brume of something simian and wafer-like.

I cried looking at pictures of the moon the night I threw the chicken away. I haven’t cried since and don’t want to. In a car I remembered how I cried watching UFO videos on YouTube three years ago and how the previous year I stayed inside watching snow fall my parents’ windows, my head resting ostensibly on my dog.

I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I expect some foul play in all this. I am myself, really, and argued with my girlfriend washing the dishes one or two of several nights. I feel sleepiest at times like this—middle of the day, the darkness not yet creeping along the horizon but setting its aim to. I feel sorrow and want to give it out to people, to share mostly, not so much to get rid of it. I have imagined eternity a bit and the deepness of physical pain. I thought about Catholicism, confessing my sins and forgetting about the differences between sincerity, insincerity, irony, humor and consternation. It all ends up in a house that someone buries. Think about The Roanoke Colony. That’s the closest I can compare this to. Think about the Cenobites. They are likely the cause of all things. Real visions probably do exist. Real misfortunes probably do happen for established reasons. Things probably aren’t random and we probaby will be the cause of our own misery, if not subjectively, by the nature of our own bad attitudes. I still want to touch my lymph nodes and go to bookstores. I listen to RiFF RAFF’s “Time” and realize that I’m going to die, and that there isn’t actually a way to cope with or prepare for that. If you convince yourself that believing is the simplest thing to do, believing in almost anything becomes comforting—even fun. Does the President truly invest in an omnipotent omniscient God/Christ figure? Can I control my sexuality, taste, emotions, heartbeat if I impel myself? If your consciousness does remain, after death and in order with your body, what are the 649 humans buried in space doing? Were they trying to send a message, in their first moments of realization after passing, to tell their bearers they don’t want it, that they’d rather converse with the remaining souls underground, to be buried near W C Williams? These are not questions so much as conjecture.

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  1. Weeatherhead


  2. Erik Stinson

      end act 1

  3. Ken Baumann


  4. Michael Hessel-Mial

      this is good, i feel more scrambled

  5. rawbbie


  6. Guest

      “my dad told my sister he thought I might be anorexic, to which she replied I’d just eaten a steak, to which he replied, some people don’t even know they’re anorexic”


  7. Craig Ronald Marchinkoski