This is neither here nor there

He was listening to death metal. Early 2000’s era hardcore influenced death metal. He had earbuds in his ears and was visiting his favorite websites.

Not in an exact order, but rather arbitrarily. He didn’t know where a click might take him, though he had his typical trajectories, his groove of well worn links to familiar places. This was how his hours dribbled into the pit of the past. Time carried him along in a straight line, but his habits were spinning him in circles.

He thought he needed his own identity. Time to himself so he could listen to death metal and skim through fragments of other peoples thoughts on a set of fringe websites.

Where he could be something no one else could see. No one could see him be this person except other people who he himself couldn’t see. He wanted to be watched without seeing the look of whoever was watching.

It never occurred to him that there was anything odd about a group of people watching each other without being able to see each other.

The internet came into his life early enough, before he had put down roots. Before he had a fixed identity. So he came to see himself as someone seen on the internet. His body was the avatar; it was his bits that had real being. He found himself in the digital, in the data. Poured himself into words.

Most of what he said amounted to obscenity. Foul, astringent language directed against imagined enemies. There was a thrill in calling someone a fuckface. Every so often he’d feel a pang of regret over hurting people’s feelings. It was never enough to make him stop.

Okay, I’m less high now. How do I get back to being as high as I used to be? One hour ago I was higher than I am now, and ten years ago I was higher than I was an hour ago. I don’t like this pattern. 

A more prudent man might find the flaw in the drug and not in the course of time. But I’m not a prudent man, so I smoke more and more and curse the course of time instead. Why should I get over getting high?

It was cooler today. I sat outside for hours watching the birds. Read the first three chapters of Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief. I like it but I’m not reading it with focus. I care more about individual lines than the narrative. My mind is fractured and fogged and I can only hold onto a few things at once. I’m reading to study rhythm and phrasing. The story is incidental. The characters don’t matter. I read for the writing.

Sold most of my furniture and finally got a haircut. This room doesn’t feel as claustrophobic when there’s almost nothing in it. Maybe if I had forgone furniture from the beginning I would have felt lighter. Also, not looking like a soiled hobo has improved my mood.

I’m approaching that moment when I start questioning my decisions. Is this the right thing to do. Should I make more of an effort to survive out here on my own. What if I’m destined for tedium and frustration, a dead end job and stagnant relationships. What if I’m giving up too soon.

This is the right thing to do. I love my parents and my family and I want to be there for them. I love where I’m from and want to relearn how to live at a slower pace with more meaningful relationships.

Though I’m enjoying my last few days in DC without a job. I hope that when I go home I don’t have to work in a restaurant, cafe, or grocery store anymore. Who knows what occupational adventures await. They say you can do anything, that opportunity is everywhere. So what will I do.

I went to college and I’ve worn an apron for 8 straight working years. I have a degree in literature and I work with people who can’t speak or understand english. My education was useless. To do what I’ve been doing my entire adult life I’d need the knowledge of a fifth grader.

I could make coffee without knowing what country I’m in or where other countries are on the map. I could be ignorant of history, geography, politics, art and science and still press buttons on a machine for 8 hours a day. So much memorizing and forgetting, so much time and money, so many taxes and tests and standards and grades, admission letters and classes and essays over the stretched out years.

An expensive education system was drafted and administered by experts and idealists so that I could be qualified to perform the same four or five repetitive motions and say the same four or five things over and over again for the rest of my life until I’m dead.

Why not start working when you’re twelve if you’re going to sweep stables, mop up vomit, fry chicken or brew coffee. Why sit in a classroom at 16, 18, 20 and 22 reading philosophy or doing calculus. I should have been mopping and frying and standing around waiting for people to make me make them sandwiches at 14, and then reading Plato when the better part of the day is over and most of my energy and attention have been spent scouring dirt and scrubbing grime from tiles and countertops.

A liberal arts education gives you the skills to analyze your inability to add value to a blistering, inhuman economy. You will learn how to write articulate, persuasive essays on how you need to be paid to do nothing because there’s nothing you can do that other people need, except for petitioning power to let you and the others live on a basic guaranteed income rather than tossing your mangled bodies into a mass grave. You will beg for your subsistence in a refined prose style thanks to your elongated academic training.

It’s vitally important to educate your puffed up population, to turn your excess eaters into critical thinkers and historically informed individuals. We need twenty years of formal, rigorous instruction in literature, law, government and economics so we can elbow each other over dwindling jobs and disappearing social roles while trying on makeshift identities and drifting without rudder or compass across purposeless time until, broken and disconnected, we’re shoved into facilities where we’ll wait to expire.

I’m going to go home and build shelves and tables. Even though the robots and mexicans are doing all the handiwork now.

Author: The Empty Subject

Born curmudgeon

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