· Death and all his friends ·
There is a certain clarity in drama. If you allow it, whether it be breaking up or falling in love, whether it be getting shot at or burying the hatchet, whether it be losing your brother or losing your inhibition, where there is conflict there is also meaning. Your eyes widen and every pore and every sense works in unison. You see - feel - beauty in the tree you pass by every day. You smile at the old man on the street. You engage the world, discover truths that you knew but forgot how to find. You smell the insight and you forget yourself as the world’s beauty hits you, transforms you. Nothing is heard more viscerally than a message conveyed while you are stripped bare, naked from the rigours of life which eat at you like a biting wind. There is a focus that comes when knowing you are building or destroying. You place each comment, each action, with precision, with care, with an honesty that is too mundane for the bits in between, even if the middle is indeed important. You make love with an intensity unmatched except only by the barbs of creation or anger you throw before. All is honest; there is no façade.
I found myself contemplating an idea for a photography project last night. I was bathing in the glow of one of those monumental days of romance you occasionally are lucky to have. A day littered with beautiful, and beautifully tragic, moments that can only come when you have decided not to see each other again, after quite some time together, at the end of this moment you’re currently residing in. Both of you, at peace with moving on; or at least you are at the core of your contradictory notions. She wanted a future, I wanted to let the future just come. It was an expectation that gradually permeated the whole of our relationship. I love my spontaneity, and she wanted to consciously build something; both applaudable things, but unable to be aligned together, in the end. It felt like a failure in compromise, even though I knew it wasn’t. And so we let the beauty, wrenching as it may be, filter through our interaction for just one last flicker in time.
We went up a tower to look down at a city, goofily shopped while I took tender digs on my sense of dress. We gate crashed a photography exhibition, we ate at McDonald’s in a mall full of teenagers. We stood under a self supporting dome made by a master, looking at all the people astride praying to their master. We had created a system where we would watch an hour episode of a new TV series each day; she would fall asleep on me at that night, and then catch up the next morning. We talked to people who didn’t speak our languages, and we chose from food we had never seen before in our lives. We spent hours sitting in an empty pool on the side of a highway, one that had been stood up on end, and we saw two owls fly, land near just to stare back and observe us. We cried in despair and laughed in anticipation. We giggled and touched each other in intimacy like it was the beginning, and we conveyed pages in simple flicks of the eye. We knew each other, everything there was to know. We made love, and then we made love.
Words can not describe.
I could feel the corner of a sheet lying on my thigh. I couldn’t quite figure out how much of a show I was putting on; everything felt numb. No, not numb. Full. Ergo I didn’t have the energy to look down my chest and see how uncovered I was, so I sat there conscious but unable to move, wondering what was happening a metre south. She was next to me and similarly predisposed, from what I could hear. Her Israeli curls cascaded down onto the bed like forest vines on ruins. My mouth was agape, still trying to comprehend and recover. My body dripped off me. And so I thought, what would one think if they saw this scene in isolation? What would they assume? What would they be drawn to, and why? What would they feel? It was less a project on the scene of post-coital bliss, but more the insight into psychology of the scene’s audience.
How does one capture this, though? The mere presence of a camera, in most cases, ensures that the intimacy or the coldness or the mundanity or the quirks or the expression of a given encounter will be changed, either diluted or inflated from what it actually is for those two, or more, people at that time of their lives. All their insecurities, their ambition, their history, their knowledge, their potential, all of it, and how it bounced off that exact moment and off each other, all at their own times. It created a cocktail unable to be reproduced at any other point in time or mental thought or bodily feeling. I hope I can come close to recording the full vibrance of the spectrum that this common moment we have entails when it reaches its widest breadth, but I don’t think I can. Acts of love remain as undecipherable to me as they have always been, despite my attempts. As they should. Futility is often glorious. And from a point of view of attempting to experience everything, in particular, that is philosophy one needs to imbue.
I love the smell of the rain in a place like this. The Brazilian atmosphere feels like Australia. Curious how parts of a place can relocate. I wonder whether reality is ever truly accepted. If a decision is right or wrong at a time, does it matter? Does reality create its own acceptance? Does a decision become the right one at some point in the future simply because it has to? Is regret ever really a thing? We had a beautiful moment when I last left this girl. She ran into the stair well with nought but a towel, a kiss and a tear. I felt that moment in all of me. All our partings have felt so final; they deceive me. We are always at our best when the present is close. It’s strange how break ups manage to make you the person you always wished you were, tender and compassionate. Perhaps, in what is perhaps the most idiotic irony of all my idiotic ironies, that is why I seem to pressure my relationships into drama. I want to be better than I am, and in those moments, I taste it, even though I must be reprehensible to arrive at them. To remain selfless throughout, now that is the thing; I want that, selfishly.
I wouldn’t say I’m good with women. I don’t know whether there is a woman I dated who would say I was ‘good’ in my treatment of them. I wouldn’t say they would think the opposite though, either. Indeed, most of any length continue to love me relative to since I last saw them. I wouldn’t even say I womanize I am not particularly successful in most of my nights out, generally because I am a) too sober (rare), b) in a place I didn’t like whatsoever (seldom), c) in a place I couldn’t understand the local language of (pretty often) d) drunk (often), or e) naked before time (too often). But when the stars align, and I am that perfect blend of inebriated and clothed, rarely do I not end up in a long conversation with some broad which invariably turns into a two month intensity in beautiful emotion. And there is sincerity both ways, and it is true, and honest, and real. And then a line is crossed and expectation grows and with it my nonchalance. This provides the kick that unbalances the entire affair. I don’t want to stop seeing them because I am genuinely fond of them, but I stop seeing them as often, as faithfully, at that moment because they want to lock me in. I cast my eye to what the rest of the world can show me, and even if it is involuntary and honest, I hurt them, and then they hate and love me in this beautiful, contradictory duality.
This is to many indecent. I string a woman along, cognisant that I don’t want what they want, knowing they are deeper in than I am. I, unsurprisingly, squirm at this read of things. Am I more responsible purely because I am not as invested in the way they want to be invested, the way someone taught them to be invested in love? I love too, and I hurt at the loss of it. My actions would tell you so if only you could read them. At the beginning of a relationship, I am honest through lack of expectation; nothing is set, opportunities are endless, judgements are slow in the coming. In the middle, I am dishonest because love is already created but expectation has grown, and you want to sustain, not rock the boat, despite your differences of opinion in how a relationship should be wrought, on what is acceptable and what is not. In those moments honesty kills; a lack of understanding can destroy what is fundamentally beautiful. You cannot overcome your individuality. Still you look for the woman with whom you can at least attempt honesty in that core of things. Last, in the end, I am honest once again, as if to clear the ledger because you are able to. It is no wonder my relationships are always at their best at their birth and at their death. Like the birth and death of anything, really, it is the life of something that clouds what is real, that diverts your attention from where it should really be. Life is just one big distraction from our mortality.
Besides, philosophically, I just can’t help myself. You know those moments in films where two people have a partner, or one of them does, and so they both commit to this dance around each other, awkward and uncomfortable yet sustained in the face of excruciating chemistry? Yeah, well, to me, this idea of suppressing your emotion is almost medieval. It brings to mind anti-erection belts from the turn of the twentieth century. Our democracies espouse liberty, yet take freedoms away from us through sets of measures designed to cement security. Fucking security. We regale against these impositions, even as in truth we allow the curtailment through deep seated fear. This revelation is not more starkly represented than in our standard we hold for love, for love to keep us safe, protected, despite what it may destroy. We allow a government entity to diminish our independence because we are so conditioned to destroying it ourselves as a price of love. It is madness to me. We accept subjugation because in our own lives we don’t even let our hearts do what they would were they not constrained by our own chests.
This is why I live in the wilds, on the edge, where birth and death stalk. They cannot get me here. I am myself, warts and all. I am not bound by the gravity of the masses, it does not impose itself on me as it would in the centre of things. And so, it is not that I am running away from the centre, as many assume, simply that I am running towards the rope. The centre represents a fraction, the rope the whole. I run towards everything. The uniqueness of your experience thus is raw, real, true. You achieve a depth with yourself and your environs - your standing amongst them - that is impossible to achieve with the weight of collusion. You need to be surrounded by the inescapable black in order to then be seen by the sun for what you truly are. People tend to be struck by inertia. They stay in situ for too long for a reason they can’t remember, until they lose the perspective on everything they used to know. I need to continue discovering in order to know anything; remembering knowledge is not knowledge anymore, and certainly not insight.
And herein lies the problem, the contradiction in everything I here write. Everyone has their own way of making sense of the world. I get it. It can be by sacrificing goats or not burning diapers or by not wearing blue. It can be by shaving your hair, by standing up indefinitely, by casting stones. And it can certainly be by trying to see everyone else’s. I don’t know the intricacies of every culture, not even close, but I feel like I know what all their ways represent. I have a sense of people now, the world’s people. There is a cost to this. I am much too jaded these days. Even little wins, where I taste a Brazilian passion fruit the like of which I’ve never had before, just mean that I’m closer to being completely scrubbed smooth. I’ll never have a passion fruit like that again, with such surprise at its marvelousness. And so I am too weary to continue ingratiating myself in further situations, conversations of minimal efficiency in understanding, which at their foundation return to the same denominator. A denominator that has none of the language or custom that is the hallmark of the efficiency in question. And so now, to do something different, I must move towards everyone else. It feels like I must ‘settle’. The thought cues an abrupt involuntary shudder.
And so here I am 29 and I’m sitting at my 24 year old Brazilian friends house writing prolifically. Unsurprising. It is the death of something, and the death is interspersed by creation, of which the writing is part. My friend is playing some computer game six hours a day and I am feeling old. I sit and reminisce on the years I’ve tracked on the road and a sense of weariness comes over me. I’ve spent my twenties travelling, so I could do different things, learn different things, all the time. Now, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different, no matter where I travel to. I am spoilt with magnificence yet I know happiness in life is relative. Fuck. And so I need to change my habit, to do something different. But God I’m tired of doing things differently. I want to do things differently, and so not do things differently. Humans and their contradictions. The paradox makes me smile with the mouth but moan with the eyes. There is beauty in its irony, I guess. Death for birth. Create and then destroy.
How does one resolve this predicament? Skim the surface and have a thousand little deaths and the resultant creation, exploding in every unknown direction, or set your stumps and dig, surrounded by different levels of what you already know, waiting for a death which has no further creation but aware that the most entrenched deaths are the most glorious of all. How does one choose one philosophy for one side of their life, yet its antithesis for the another? How can I realise the need for the change or at least renewal of all things through destruction, while simultaneously understanding that the time has come where I cannot keep destroying myself? Am I simply a star running low on its hydrogen, or is the change more profound? It is an impasse I cannot seem to cross.
I give solace to myself, though. Contradiction is often viewed negatively, as if it were the scourge of ordered logic, but I tend to see it as paramount as well. It defines the struggle against the chaos we were borne into and live in. Confusion and ignorance is always there, and the idea should be to tackle it, which necessarily means holding contradicting thoughts, one half above the water, one half below, as you walk out into the vastness. A man who lives without contradiction is one I don’t trust, even though that stance makes you the most contradictory of all. How can one trust someone whose world is too smooth to have teeth, one who sees the world as black and white and proceeds as such. Contradiction is colour and vibrancy. If it brings death, perhaps that is an apt account of death. Colour. Vibrancy. Contradiction.
I go to turn off the light, and I glance at her as I begin. My arm is entwined in hers, and around her back, and as I retract it she remains still. I disentangle myself and my hand brushes against hers, and as it does a surge of energy crosses over her and her hand shoots out to grab mine. So I stay a moment longer, halfway off the bed. The night crawls at the windows. I study her for a moment, observe her in the knowledge that it is perhaps the last time I truly get the chance to. She’s in the middle of the bed, curled up small. She feels like a ball of fire in the expanse of an ocean. She’s in the most foreign place she can think of and she doesn’t know where to go. She clutches at me with the hand that sleeps but dreams. We just can’t see the birth, and so we don’t seek the death. We know it has to happen. I finally separate my last finger from hers, she moans and bunches up tighter. She hates it but strengthens herself to the world anyway, because she knows she should. It is possibly the most romantic, and most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I turn off the light