death. week 8.

date. 2022

city. new york city​

Image by Karen Alsop

March 27

 

The last thing I want to be doing right now is writing.

 

But I’ve started and stopped 6 shows, four whatsapp conversations, and two glasses of wine.

 

My head hurts, I’m lonely and I can’t stand being around other people.

 

It’s been this way for a week now. My mind feels like it’s shrouded in a viscous mush. I feel jumpy, on edge. I’ve been sleeping around 10 hours a night.

 

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been this depressed.

 

Where do I go from here?

 

I’m trying to make progress on death, but I’m stuck.

 

Stuck in my apartment. I need to grow still closer to death. But how?

 

And is it really a wise idea? Can I handle it? I mean, just look at me. I’m falling to pieces. Buy only consolation, at this point, is my pen.

 

It feels as though there is something inside of me, clawing to get out.

 

For the first time in years, I’ve been sentenced to solitary confinement, to be served from my bed.

 

All of life’s hard questions pound against me. Unanswerable questions. True questions. Fuck it, the only questions.

 

What the fuck am I doing with my life? Why am I alone? Am I blinded by my own fears or sheer stupidity?

 

Will anything ever become of me? Or will my life, and death, be a cautionary tale? No, not even a cautionary tale; just a waste of time and space. Best forgotten. Another worthless corpse, returned to the dirt that has just recently birthed me. Back where I belong.

 

I try to use death to bring my life into focus. But trash, even under a spotlight, is still trash.

 

 

April 6

 

Throughout history and around the world, there have been two main methods of disposing of dead bodies: burial and cremation.

 

One day, I’d like to consider the philosophical significance of each and how the our management of dead corpses reflects on our treatment of human life in general.

 

Judaism forbids cremation. Hinduism believes it is the surest path to Moksha.

 

Cremation returns the great to the atmosphere, burial delivers our meat to the worms.

 

I’ve noticed that the opposite of death is often not life, but health. Hell-th. And of course, the concept of health, when you really consider it, is as mysterious a metaphysical concept as that of god. In fact, health has replaced god as the highest value and holiest ideal in western civilization. In doing so, it follows a long line of now-toppled idols: the family, community, truth, love, and finally life itself.

 

Health is our god. We worship at her temples (the gym), consume her blood and flesh (nutrition), pray for deliverance (therapy/meditation), and shower her priests (doctors) with money and honor.

 

It’s surely no coincidence that this is the very same society that has turned death itself into a taboo.

 

The pornographication of death.

 

A desperate clinging, obsession, and service of health which is driven by a pure child-like fear of death. Fear of the unknown. The dark.

 

Health is that flickering night-light that dispels the darkness just enough to disprove its omnipotence.

 

The very same fear that fueled two world wars, a cold war, and now war against nature and life itself. The fear is constant; only the method evolves.

 

Something is brewing inside of us. We inch ever closer to the edge. We remain transfixed by the prospect of a total self-inflicted annihilation.

 

Dissatisfied with the 20th century’s suicidal ideations, we broaden the scope, welcoming the entirety of the planet to join our demise. Like Samson in the coliseum, we welcome our death, desiring only to bring the entire house down with us.

 

Freud speaks of two kinds of drives. There is the pleasure drive, the common everyday desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. And then there’s the death drive, which dismisses pleasure, and strives for destruction.

 

The death drive seeks a return our of life and back to the unconscious, the unhuman, unliving ‘stuff’ we emerged from.

 

Lacan further expands this category to include all desires, as any desire is essentially a willful injection of suffering directly into the center of our psyche.

 

All desire includes suffering and hence a violation of the pleasure principle. Moreover, all desires desire just one thing: their own extinction.

 

A question: is there any room for desire, death, and life in the Temple of Health and Pleasure?

 

I’ve spent much of the last month sinking into a depression. Much like when entering a chilly pool, barely inching, holding my breath, feeling every bit of misery, involuntarily pausing just as the crisp water makes contact with my balls, forcing them to shrink back up into themselves, retreating toward that false safety of an earlier truth.

 

I feel it grow heavier each day, and yet I do nothing. Already it’s far worse than it’s been in years. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to think or fuck or talk. I want to take each new day, glistening with freshness and promise, and flush it straight down the toilet. All I do is jerk off, drink, and smoke myself into a numb insanity.

 

I’ve begun having flashbacks to my teenage years, back when I spent a decade cowering in that dark emptiness. No, not emptiness. It was filled with suffering. But a kind of negative suffering. The kind of suffering you experience coming home to an empty house, devoid of life.

 

I cried most days. The pain demanded my attention. The pain was my friend; it understood me. It was always there for me, wherever I was.

 

Lately, I’ve been reading the usual suspects: Poe, Sade, Rilke. I read them at night, with the lights dimmed, candles lit, piano reverberating. They keep me company and teach me how to feel.

 

On my first trip to India, I made the unfortunate decision to take a train from Bangalore to Varanasi. It took 48 hours, during which time I could barely sleep in my sweltering roach-infested berth, had only a single KIND bar to eat, and has only a hole in the floor to use as a bathroom.

 

I felt disgusting. And there was nothing I could do about it.

 

But as the sun rose on that first morning, and I, caked in sweat and exhaustion, perched my limbs in the open doorway watching the red fields tumble past, the farmers waking up to their morning chores, feeling the soft wind work its way through my hair and the harsh stench of burning garbage bite my nostrils, I suddenly and fully arrived in India.

 

As long as I’d been holding onto what vestiges of NY I could maintain — my morning shower, large meals, comfortable bed, fresh clothing — I hadn’t allowed myself to be fully present, here, in India. I allowed my desires to fool me into missing the very thing I had flown halfway across the world to experience.

 

It wasn’t until I let go, and allowed myself to be swallowed up in what was all around me, that I was able to finally see and feel and taste the tremendous beauty of a morning in India.

 

I can still remember the joy that ran through me in that moment and the silly smile and the wet eyes that took hold of my face. And my heart.

 

(I can also distinctly recall the overwhelming physical and mental shitiness too! Never again! Only flights from here on out.)

 

I’m hoping that my current episode of emotional filth and darkness might similarly expose me to new and unique forms of beauty and art. Perhaps I can now approach Poe & Co. with a renewed sense of intimacy.