Let's Rave On: Chapter 7 – The Sum Total of Me is Only What You See

I’m reading William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch right now, and so far I’ve realized one thing; there is absolutely no way this story I’m writing right now could in any way be described as ‘jumpy’. Not compared to this guy, anyway. It’s not that there isn’t a narrative and characters and plot and all that stuff, it’s that all of it is stuck in a blender and then splayed out across a dirty alleyway with several large potholes. With rain coming that night, hard.

But to say that one doesn’t get the regular ideas of Naked Lunch is like saying you don’t understand what’s going on with God right now. It’s simply not the point, from what I can tell. There are larger ideas happening that I haven’t grasped yet, only having passed the 60th page.

Every now and then, I ask myself about the point of life. It’s weird how more and more it comes up. I guess I’m in a stage of my life where searching for the answer is important. And since we all use what we have to figure out answers to these things, it’s easy to make lists. What do I know well enough to draw knowledge?

-Pop music
-English literature
-Professional wrestling
-Sporadic Simpons episodes
-Video Games
-Certainly not love

The largest message pop music can give us is that we all want something deeply and passionately, and that we’re willing to go to crazy lengths to get it. Pop music is never about satisfaction or anything spiritually deep (unless it’s in the wanting to be more spiritual, I suppose), but in that moment when you cease to become happy with who you are and need just a little bit more. Essentially, pop music is about selfish unhappiness, and this tells me that we’re all selfish creatures at heart and only really care what’s best for our individual selves.

The largest message English literature has given me (thus far) is that the things most profound and essential to our being are the things we make profound and essential. Everything in our lives is chosen, not given. People end up happier than they were before, but often only marginally so and with deeper scars. Pain is funny. Transcendence is an illusion. If you reference Elliot you’re just trying to pick up chicks. Life is ultimately worth living because the drugs are good and the poetry is pounding.

The largest message professional wrestling has given me is that being ridiculous for the sake of being ridiculous is perfectly reasonable. I find solving tough philosophical questions with character sketches of Cactus Jack. I explain the meaning of “heartbreak” in terms of Miss Elizabeth. Characters like Kurt Angle tell me so much about heroism. The fact that wrestling is about giving everyone a singular human idea and having these ideas fight one another tells me that it’s pretty much okay to let your own ideas fight one another. None of them win all the time, and the stakes are never as high as the hype will lead you to believe.

The Simpsons have taught me that it’s more than okay to be a copy of a copy of a copy. It’s not only okay, it can sometimes be genius. If you want to stretch that into real life, you could say that being original isn’t nearly as important as being clever about being the same as everyone else.

Lastly, video games have taught me that the closer something gets to real life, the less fun it becomes.

The reasons in which I have never rolled a 20-sided die are unclear. I absolutely should have by now.

These things comfort me. I like knowing that the meaning of life is extractable from just about anything. I like that just about any item I’ve used in my life holds meaning. It does because I choose it to, and magically this holds currency in my mind. A philosophy is building from this. I can tell already.

William S. Burroughs writes “America is not a young land. It is old. And dirty. Before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there, waiting.” This is so goddamn profound to me, because it throws the entire idea of the American Gothic on it’s head. On so many hands I agree with Burroughs, that surrounding us is this aura of mischief that propels us in the direction of evil and prosperity. But on the few hands I really put faith into tells me that no, these are not ghosts, they are fears, and they are there because I am insecure and afraid. They do not exist outside the collective imagination.

It’s easy to go outside and run at your fastest speed when you believe that nothing matters, but it’s easier if you think the opposite. In that sense you and everything you do is important. That includes the low brow pop culture you surround yourself with, that I surround myself with. The fact that I can quote Homer Simpson so much better than Keats means that our society is degrading, sure, but it also means we’re getting smarter. Honestly, the people who spent time memorizing Keats are the same kind of people who memorized Elliot.

And for a while, whenever I hear a great, catchy tune, I wonder just how much weight it will put on my life, and on the lives of everyone else listening to the radio at the time. I wonder if it will be played in the middle of a great car chase, or a bank robbery, or around the pool of some rich girl, or played at someone’s funeral or wedding. And then I wonder when it will show up on television and do all these things to fake people reading scripts written by monkeys.

And sometimes I drink, and I do it until the colors on the tv begin to blur into primary shades, and all the voices become sweet and all the promotional deals seem like swats at genius. I sometimes flip through my phone book and find people I want to call, but don’t. I write lists of things I want to do with my life, knowing full well I won’t. Most of these lists include sharing a flat in England with the drummer from The Damned. Eventually that doesn’t even do it for me.

I don’t sleep much anymore.

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