My house

My house is punishment for every bad thing I’ve ever done. It’s a test. When will I have a meltdown in this incubator of insanity. Right now the air conditioner is making a sound that will haunt the dreams I have when I’m dead. It sounds like plastic popcorn is popping at an ear piercing volume. I can’t focus on anything else. Trying to write makes me want to punch myself.

The air conditioner that I had to break out because the vengeful spirit of the indian returned for one last hurrah of humidity. It’s 88 degrees and the house is baking me alive. I thought I could live without an air conditioner but the septic glaze of the dying summer in the white ghetto of indianapolis is too much. My skin is glistening with the film of decrepit air. The atmosphere has its hands on my throat and its foot on my chest. I needed relief so I lugged a 70’s era lithuanian air conditioner out from the storage room and forced it into an ungainly position in an awkwardly sized window where it rattles and hums and leaks into the carpet.

I didn’t want to put the air conditioner in the window because it doesn’t fit. More bugs will get in. They’ll find comfortable lodgings here. Perfect for eating and fucking and spewing thousands of eggs in crevices and corners, in the sink and bathtub, within rotting wood panels and cabinets, under piles of dirty clothes and inside my shoes. They will invite their friends and families in the hundreds of millions and build neighborhoods and hang out all day on their porches in stained wife beaters with their engineless el caminos sitting on cindar blocks in patches of overgrown weeds.

My house is a psychological experiment run by the government, a grim, disavowed mind control program that rogue intelligence agents designed to shatter my personality so they can rebuild my tattered self into the ideal, featureless, anhedonic operative. The toilet fails to flush. I keep the lid off the tank so I can fiddle with the float valve until the toilet wheezes and gurgles and musters the minimum of force to suck down the fetid water. Getting a clean bowl means flushing in four or five stages with several hours between each flush. By the time it’s clean it’s time for me to desecrate it again. Keeping my toilet clean was the unreported 13th herculean labor.

I’ve painted the walls of my kitchen and living room. The fresh paint masks the smell of cigarettes. But I haven’t painted my bedroom yet. Its walls are the color of decay. A delinquent youth broke into the house when it was unoccupied and carved fuck you into the wall next to the window. I stare at the vicious etching of a ward of the state every night before I fall asleep. I begin to agree with him. Fuck me. Even when I repaint that wall the message of a mouthbreathing vandal will remain, engraved in eternity, taunting me as I toss and turn in the unforgiving night.

The kitchen has no drawers. There’s a thin curtain covering the piping underneath the sink. There are soft spots in the floor, spots that give when you step on them. One sleepless night I will take a fatefully heavy step and a hideous, groaning, cracking sound will be the last thing I hear as I fall through the floor into a damp, sightless hell where salamanders and fungus will feast on my body.

My house is on the corner of a street populated by poor whites and mexicans. The sidewalks are cluttered with garbage, broken furniture, car parts and bramble. There’s a drain right outside and there must be raw sewage flowing underneath because everytime I step outside I’m hit with the toxic stench of a thousand unwashed assholes. 400 pound white women with front loaded blubber push their caramel colored children in strollers. Wegros walk around in oversized basketball apparel. The surroundings of my house are dirtier and more depressing than the inside.

I’m not enough of an artist to justify this kind of poverty. This isn’t romantic destitution. This isn’t the price I gladly pay for devoting myself to a higher calling beyond the material realm of wealth and comfort. I crowbar a sliver of time out of my schedule to type to no one for nothing. I might as well be religious.

Weekend review

It will cost me 575 dollars to fix my mac book air. So I’m not fixing it. I have a new laptop now. It’s a Lenovo. Going from a mac book to a Lenovo is like driving a bmw for years and then having to drive a pinto. I know as little about cars as I know about laptop computers, but I do have a grasp of similes so I think this one works.

The only reason I have a computer is to throw more words at the internet. Otherwise I hate computers and the internet. I hate smartphones and social media, digital mobs, outrage feeding frenzies and social justice dogpiles. Twitter feeds and tumblrs and hashtags and memes. It’s all contributing to the warp speed industrial strength retardation of humanity.

We’re not better off with our new toys and endless jawing but that’s not how addiction works. It’s not about happiness, fulfillment or pleasure. Once you’re hooked you forget about flourishing. You lose sight of who you were before you found that thing you can’t stop doing. Your body falls apart and your mind revolves faster and faster around the drug, person, habit or idea. You hear nothing, you see nothing, you feel nothing apart from your desire to score another high, to make more money, have more sex and get more likes.

The scope of your vision shrinks down into a keyhole through which you unblinkingly stare. Your eyeballs dry out and you look like a raving fiend but it doesn’t matter. You don’t exist without your fix.

We’re always teetering on the brink of soul numbing fixations and destructive behavior patterns. They knew this back in the days of the bible. Back when everyone was covered in dust and grime and menstrual blood and ate bread hard as stone and performed rituals to ward off evil spirits. And executed anyone caught buttfucking and called for the death and enslavement of rival tribes.

Deficiently socialized atheists insult bronze age beliefs in between bags of fritos and marathon hentai sessions. We’re so much smarter now, they say, having contributed less than nothing to knowledge, sunning themselves in the light of other people’s intelligence. But those bronze age bigots were onto something; they had insight into moral and social problems we’re still grappling with today.

New technology in a new era is a variation on an old theme: the ever present possibility of corruption and perversion. You can keep going back in time to find another technological invention or political revolution that changed everything for the worse. Globalism, television, Fordism, industrialization, nationalism, democracy, the advent of Christianity and the fall of rome, domestication, agriculture and standing up on two legs.

At every decisive point in the past there were people who saw the latest change as the end of humanity. And there have always been apologists for progress. Slick, glib optimists with their smarmy enthusiasm and sophistical arguments. Riding on the flume of time, cheering with their hands up as they plunge into the false promises of the future. We will never stop losing our way. Our history is one long downfall with a few moments of uplift.

I’m a product of this era of overstimulated idiocy and when I don’t have instant internet access I get nervous and think about death. The trappings of Christianity are absurd but its core message is essential: We need salvation. And we need help getting there.

We can improve our condition but every improvement brings new setbacks. As long as we’re in time we’ll need transcendent assistance. No earthly effort will make white people want to live around blacks. Totalitarian thought and speech control can’t turn trannies into healthy individuals who don’t fester with hostility.

Muslims won’t become agents of progress and  we won’t defeat mortality by sticking our dicks into usb ports and merging our bodies with technology. We’re still going to get sick and die, we’re still going to fear and distrust outsiders, identify with people who look and sound like us and we’ll still want more than we deserve.

You can treat someone with respect but they’ll still degrade themselves. You can throw thousands of your own people in front of rolling gatling guns to free an enslaved group but one hundred and fifty years later their descendants will still browbeat you and bellyache and rise to fame writing borderline illiterate, overlong essays with purple prose, strained metaphors and tedious, incantatory rhetoric that resonates with artless, alienated, masochistic liberals.

But the great beyond still offers a glimmer of hope for us all. And within this world of sadness there are sunrises and sunsets, the majesty of birds taking flight, expertly extracted shots of espresso, fine phrases and the enduring bonds of love between mothers and daughters and fathers and sons.

From dreams to nightmares

Borrowed computer. My girlfriend’s mom’s dell. I’m driving a borrowed car. Renting a hovel. In debt. I own nothing.

Tried to get the internet at my house today. It’s a fiber optics package. Supposed to be faster than cable. The guy from at&t came by and told me he can’t install whatever magic box or radiating ether pole I need to absorb internet rays because my human rights violation of a home is right next to my neighbor’s house, and my neighbor’s house is blocking the space where the tech guy needs to work.

So now I need to talk to my neighbor and ask him if a strange man from at&t can put a mysterious device in his backyard. I’ve talked to my neighbor once and I didn’t understand a word he said. He’s mexican and when he spoke to me I couldn’t tell if he was speaking english or spanish or something else. I nodded and said okay every few words.

The cellar beneath my house is right out of a Stephan King novel. Yesterday I peered into it. I lifted the rotting wooden lid and felt the souls of the damned rush up and whirl around me. It’s darker and damper than those unexplored caves miles underneath the ocean floor. There are slithering, translucent creatures down there, eyeless from a thousand years of evolution in a dank pit. Asbestos and the bones of murdered indian shopkeepers litter the molded ground.

I bought a humidifier because every morning I’ve been hacking up a pound of phlegm. Fluid fills my lungs and I sneeze out a greenish grey mucous. It violently launches out and stings my arm or hand. Almost burns through whatever it touches like the blood of the xenomorph.

Every two hours or so the humidifier fills up. Probably two liters of water sucked out of the air in my living room. I’m turning into an amphibian. In a year I’ll have gills. But I’m still happy. I’m happy because I’m working and doing my best even though my best isn’t good. I remind myself, many, many times a day that it could be worse.

I don’t have time to edit. I’m writing on a borrowed computer in my cafe and it’s closing soon. So this what I can offer for now. The consolation of working in less than ideal conditions is that I have an excuse for why I’m not as good as I could be.

Trump ended daca and I’m behind. It happened five plus days ago which is equivalent to prehistory. There are already billions of bits of data floating around smothering the subject. Within seconds of the news breaking the tweets and blog posts and status updates and youtube clips splattered all over the walls of the internet. Responses to responses to comments on comments. Stochastic babble.

We don’t have time to think about anything anymore. Thought doesn’t take place in time. We react to the stimulus of our enemy’s every move in the blinding flash of an atomic instant. No one says hey let’s wait and see or hmm I’m not sure what to think about that. We always know exactly how we feel and know exactly why other people are wrong. Here are ten search engine optimized reasons why.

Everything Trump does is always the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of mankind. Progressives believe the past is full of oppression and enslavement and racism but also that an offhand Trump tweet is unprecedentedly repulsive. These are people who dwell on the atrocities and crimes and barbarities of our blood drenched racist history but when a country bloodlessly protects its borders they pass out and shit their pants from shock and rage.

How could we deport 800,000 DREAMERS? That’s what we call them and everything’s in a name. That’s why the left calls people who break the law and cross our border without undergoing the legalization process undocumented immigrants. In reality they’re criminals. You don’t get to decide whether or not the law applies to you or anyone else. You can change a law but the left prefers warping the fabric of reality through renaming and hysterics to soften people up first.

How could anyone deport a dreamer? They’ll hold up a picture of a tearful toltec and talk about his three minimum wage jobs. Say he’s studying to become an aerospace engineer and that he increases our country’s gdp so what’s your problem, bigot? Don’t you want to a more powerful economy?

The economic argument is a trap, a distraction. People get bogged down in arguing over whether or not increased immigration benefits or harms the economy when it’s a secondary issue, a debate for nerds. You’re allowed to restrict immigration because you don’t want your country to turn into a different country with an alien people and clashing culture, however rich or poor it may be. Your loyalty should lie with your people and not hinge on which policies and how many migrant workers will net you the biggest pile of baubles and trinkets. Cultural cohesion is much more important than a marginal increase in economic output.

Do you want your neighborhoods to be organically American or do you want to numb yourself to the third world invasion of your homeland with gadgets marketed to you by people who hate you and want you dead? Do you prefer gorging on tacos and streaming entertainment to preventing your families and communities from disintegrating?

There’s nothing shameful about wanting aesthetic continuity in your society and in your offspring. It’s not noble and enlightened to deny the tension and discord of ethnic and religious diversity. And having children who look like you and will carry on your ways is a fundamental, ineradicable drive. Disowning yourself and your legacy isn’t moral, it’s cowardly and feeble.

Don’t twist yourself into a knot justifying your natural, healthy aversion to getting swamped by grubby, stubby foreigners. Is it better or worse for the economy to open the immigration floodgates? Who cares. Some libertarian bugman on a sinecure will always be able to cook the books and make unfettered immigration look like an economic boon. So what. The battle should be fought on other grounds. If you argue that immigration is bad for the economy they’ll call you a racist anyway.

Of course I want more people around who I can’t understand, who look on me with indifference, suspicion or hostility. I love discontinuity and ugliness and pretending we can make up for the lack of a shared past with platitudes and facebook posts. Overpopulation and overcrowding don’t bother me. We can always build more mud huts.

But immigrants do hurt our economy, so contrary to the longings of my heart we’ll have to limit them. I have no sense of belonging to a particular place or people but I do want more money and toys. If you can definitively show me that immigrants will give me more shiny things then I’ll have no problem with them.

People act as though America never accomplished anything without indian tech coolie labor or squat mestizos washing dishes in diners when it was Americans who built and fought for the country that became the envy of the world. I don’t recall migrant mexicans freezing their feet off at valley forge, writing and signing the declaration of independence, drafting the constitution, winning the war of 1812, ending slavery or defeating the nazis and imperial japan in world war 2. As far as I know hondurans haven’t been at the forefront of the technological, political and medical innovations of the modern era.

But now that hundreds of years of toil and sacrifice are behind us, America is a land of opportunity for everyone but actual Americans. Every alien tongued, unscrupulous opportunist is given a gushing invitation to come and skim some wealth off the top of centuries of achievement while our native stock is ridiculed, threatened and displaced.

Always pushing the human interest angle, (because they have nothing else) the left loves to point to a besmirched brown face or a refugee’s body bloating on the shore rather than come up with a decent argument. When you oppose them they chide you for your heartlessness and cruelty, which is always, each time, unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Those children, those dreamers didn’t do anything, it’s not their fault. They have no home. 

Yes, the dreamers were children when their parents broke the law. They didn’t choose their lot. But here I’m reminded of a concept as old as it is pertinent to this situation: the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children.

Our actions don’t just affect ourselves; they redound on our loved ones, they structure the course of our descendants. And that should be a serious disincentive. The parents who broke the law foolishly jeopardized their children’s future on a gamble that the country they invaded would repay their transgressions by pampering their progeny. And for a brief, glimmering moment, that risk seemed to pay off.

Not anymore. When justice comes to its senses, it strikes the senseless as cruelty.

Journal of the blessedly deprived

Writing from the public library. My macbook air, the most electronically opulent purchase of my life, is dead. I sank my savings into that gleaming piece of garbage because I’d heard it would last a long time. I’ve had it for two years, which is long enough for the warranty to expire. So it cost me 70 dollars for the apple people to diagnose it. They haven’t told me what’s wrong with it or how long it will take to fix.

But I’m determined to write and post, to weather the storms of privation with good cheer or ironic detachment. I’m willing to sit in the library among the vagabonds and public masturbators until I’ve sufficiently practiced my craft and contributed to our esteemed global discourse.

My bed finally arrived yesterday. Last night I slept like a king. It was so soft, so comforting and supportive. Then my computer died and I parked in front of a hydrant and got a ticket. So that’s another 75 dollars. The lord giveth and he taketh away.

The less time I spend on the internet the happier I am. Maybe I won’t get my laptop back. Maybe I’ll write by hand and post from the library every couple of days. The only thing I miss about the internet is writing; the rest is spiritual crack, a series of cheap, dirty highs and an increasing sense of despair and anxiety.

There’s always something else to do. Something with greater primacy, something more tangible, visceral and engaging. Walking, working out, playing an instrument, writing, building and repairing physical objects and being with people. Your parents, wife or girlfriend, your extended family, kids, friends, pets and plants. Go be with them. Do nothing, sit in silence rather than poke at screens and absorb the neuroses of hundreds of dislocated strangers.

We’re not designed to process so many conflicting opinions. We can’t consume and digest a bottomless feed of information. I haven’t had consistent access to wifi for a week and I’m already noticing a difference in my attention span. Books are becoming a pleasant diversion again rather than a tedious task.

And I’m thinking about the hyper-refined conditions of my writing. For years now I’ve been writing on a word processor while listening to music through headphones, typing with abandon, my thoughts keeping pace with my fingers flying over the keyboard as I backspace and delete with careless rapidity.

Thoughts come easier and cheaper when you can generate text so quickly and effortlessly. And the moment I feel boredom bubbling up I have open tabs awaiting me. I can dull the discomfort of a blocked thought or poorly expressed idea with a trip to youtube or cnn.com.

I don’t need to know what I’m writing about until I open a mainstream news site. Then I can pick from six inane op-eds and base my next piece on what some airheaded journalist said. Or browse comments sections and fuel my efforts with bile and exasperation.

And if I need to research a topic I can use wikipedia. If I need to check spelling or find another word there are online dictionaries and thesauruses. It takes seconds to track down the information I need. In contrast, I wonder how fluidly and consistently I could write if I had to do it with a pen and paper, if I needed books, encyclopedias and dictionaries sprawled out around me.

The shape and pace of my thoughts would change. The medium isn’t the message but it does influence and structure what we say. Writing on a personal laptop isn’t the same as writing on a public computer in a library. And typing isn’t the same as writing with a pen and writing with a pen isn’t the same as writing with a quill.

My session is running out. This was written quickly in an unfamiliar place without mood setting music. The disheveled ambiance of the library is hard to ignore but I have to write. I’m also out of the loop on the latest political developments. I know Houston is underwater and Trump is crushing the dreams of the children of criminals by rescinding daca. More on that later.

Etudes

First weekend in a new city. Autumn is in the air. There’s a hint of decay; the breeze is an ongoing sigh.

The internet offers me nothing. My brain is blank. Writing is unlike any other art; it demands a subject. You can practice other arts without having anything to say. Not feeling musically creative but want to stay sharp? Play scales. Practice other musician’s songs. Need to brush(ha) up on your painting but you’re uninspired? You can paint a portrait, a basket of fruit or a sunset. Everyday objects are plentiful. Pick anything, draw or paint it mechanically and you can still improve or at least pass the time.

You can take a picture or sculpt or refine any other artistic technique without original content. But you can’t cover other writer’s stories or poems. You can’t write senseless sentences or perform exercises. Practice coincides with performance. You either have something to say or you don’t. You’re either fertile or sterile.

The only way to practice writing without saying anything is to write about having nothing to say, which is tedious and precious. Writing is self indulgent enough when it explores a subject other than itself. So practicing scales on the guitar might be boring but writing strained sentences without a subject is morally and pragmatically questionable.

And there’s no appropriate ending to an exploration of nothing.

I’ve become a creature of the cafe, a saturday morning idler, a tendentious typer living on my laptop. And I’ve adapted to a lack of amenities. Right now I have to shit in public. Rather than bemoan the inconvenience I’m just glad there are clean working toilets I can use. There are worse places to be, like the turd clogged streets of india.

When you start with squalor, every little improvement or luxury brings genuine joy. I was happy to have new carpet in my house. Getting a fridge was like winning the lottery. At first I couldn’t sleep on the floor but after a few restless nights I’m now sleeping soundly. When I get a bed I’ll be in heaven. Much of our suffering stems from what we expect and desire. Freedom isn’t a given, it’s a product of control, of inner strength and discipline. We have an astonishing ability to adjust and achieve equilibrium in a wide range of conditions.

Stoicism combined with gratitude is the key to balance in a vertiginous world. Everything can be taken from you but your resolve.

Caffeine machine

Typing from the cafe where I work. My second home. More comfortable than my home. Better air and coffee, fewer bugs and stains of indeterminate origin. I wish I could sleep here since I have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and start working at 5. So far I’ve been unable to sleep in my new house because I don’t have a bed or an air conditioner. The refinements of civilization have made me weak.

It’s also the lack of weed. When I don’t smoke I stay awake. Watch the insides of my eyelids for hours. Acid trip reruns, fractal patterns playing on the folds of my brain. And then the horror show begins. I imagine bad things happening to me during the day when it’s beautiful, when the birds are singing and the sun is shining. Imagine how bad it gets at night when I can’t sleep in a stuffy shitbox apartment with a flimsy glass door in a poor part of town.

They call them home invasions. Sounds euphemistic, less brutal than the reality. Three masked men break into your house and before you can wake up and defend yourself they’re beating you with a pipe. They tie you to a chair and argue with each other over what they’re going to do with you. It’s only the beginning of the worst night of your life, the last night of your life. All those peaceful years, all that time you wasted worrying about things that would never happen culminating in one night of agony and then darkness forever.

But that doesn’t happen either. It’s just another nightmare, a defensive distraction from the deeper existential horror of aging day after day and never knowing if you’ve made the right choices. Have you wasted your time and is there anything other than wasting time. If there is then how do you know.

When you can’t sleep at 1 in the morning in a bug ridden shanty without an internet connection you realize there’s no such thing as being alone anymore. There’s pervasive loneliness but no solitude. No one goes out into the wilderness without diversions and devices and listens to the plaintive cries of nature and the murmurs of their own soul. We can’t hear the call of conscience over the low roar of netflix.

People often say they like being alone or that they don’t want to be around people. But what they mean is that they don’t want the pressure and discomfort of physical engagement. They’re still going to ensconce themselves in media. They’ll spend a night “alone” listening to podcasts and music, watching tv or movies. A multitude of voices and faces, compressed and digitized, giving them the pleasures of society without the pains.

When people are alone on a friday night they’re consuming human relationships without producing or maintaining them, without a corresponding effort. It’s easier to watch without being watched. It’s easier to judge than be judged. The unfathomable depth of another person generates anxiety while the glimmering surface of a moving image provides relief.

I have no media at home and can only post on my favorite forums and write blog entries when I find time to use the wifi at the cafe where I work. When I’m falling asleep in my chair because I’ve slept 3 hours I try to make a lucid contribution to debates on free speech and reflect on the erosion of personality, self reliance and creativity caused by unrelenting consumption.

Your mind occupies itself when there’s nothing to occupy it. You rouse a dormant ability to imagine, to think and reason for better and worse. Open yourself to concentrated self-torment and disquieting visions but also creative plots and characters, new hopes and possibilities, fresh insights and funny lines.

You have to wrestle with the demons dwelling in your spiritual nether regions rather than stupefying yourself with hours of streaming content crafted by media conglomerates. It can be grueling but there are rewards for percolating in the void.

I broke my toilet. It started running and the sound was driving me crazy so I tried to fix it. A huge mistake. I destroyed the float arm. I didn’t know the name of the part until I broke it. And that’s a lesson in how knowledge and consciousness work. We live as automatons until we encounter a problem and something collapses or threatens us. Then we’re forced to think, learn and make choices.

My dysfunctional toilet reminded me of how little I know about practical matters. I walk around all day contemplating the verities and toying with theories, criticizing, analyzing and speculating in the ether as I take the smooth functioning of our industrial infrastructure for granted. There’s always a simple interface concealing complex innards. We can all push buttons and pull levers, steer wheels and flush toilets but the real stewards of society are those who can take off the screens, lift the hoods and dig into the guts of our machines and keep them running so we can keep our fantasies of competence and brilliance alive.

I’m able to read ancient texts, evaluate arguments and browse message boards because my toilet typically flushes and I don’t have to worry about waste. Cars, buses, trains and planes free me from the burdens of tedious transport, stoves and fridges make cooking and food storage effortless and with all that extra time and brain power I can pretend to be a writer and use electronic devices I could never make or repair to entertain myself and distant readers.

Right now I’d be better off if I were a plumber.