Breaking It (Down) One More Time  

Adapted from a speech given on a streetcorner, Seattle, Washington, 1998

I don't want to be a burden to you, loading you up with my loathsome ideaology, but at this point I'm more convinced of its importance than ever, so here we go. Why not hold your breath as we dive into the morass again. I've been having visions again - rays of Victorian light piercing my skull, filling the resonating chamber with ideas, thoughts, pictures of the dead and the yet to live; I am living at a powerful time in history. I can feel things in the air, seething around me. History is accellerating, the cycles are changing faster and faster, like some infernal train. How can one live - how can a man live at this time, when everything seems on the brink once again, when the possibility of death hangs fetid in the air, when the end is finally, gloriously near at last? I've been having visions again - when my great-grandfather died, I felt myself visited by my ancestors, and saw the past as an inverted pyramid, with centuries of destiny, lessons learned by the long dead, at that point embodied in myself. I may well be the last of my line, both paternal and maternal. In a way, we all are the last of our lines.

I was reading "The Immoralist" by André Gide, and there is a paragraph wherein one of the characters is denouncing the state of poetry and philosophy, saying that, in the days of the Greeks, an artist's life was already a work of poetry, and a philosopher's life was a demonstration of his philosophy. Now both are just words, and the concept of a life led by any other means outside the norm is scorned. We have entered an age that divorces art from life. And yet, a return to the ways of the past is most certainly not the answer. There can be no treading of old footsteps; the past is to be looked to, and learned from, but the endless loop of repetition that seems to be the only confort for us as we enter the twenty-first century must be broken, must be torn asunder and discarded. Nostalgia is a simple, cheap pleasure, requiring no real emotional investment; we see how others acted, and we act as they do. We see how others felt, and pretend to feel the same. It is hollow, the spirit of whatever lived inside it lost. Soon, as we reach the smallest loop in the spiral, it will tighten around our necks.

So do I stand here and decry responsibility, pray for a lawless anarchy full of animals. acting on instinct and emotion alone, scorching the earth behind them in a frenzy of destruction and fornication? In a way. I have seen too much to believe that the hearts of men are pure. We are all thick with the poison, we've had it pumped into us. Capitalism requires a deep cultural foundation, and like our nation's capital, we built ours on a swamp. Our urges as a culture are based on lizard instincts, on survival instincts. Fear, lust and envy are what pumps the motor in our skulls. Appealing to negative emotions has proven so effective. And, as such, it is those emotions that are nurtured and strengthened. There are responsibilites neglected, responsibilities that we are all aware of, I think. Ones that humans are born knowing, instinctually, the genetic memory of our ancestors struggling to be heard amongst the fucking and killing.

I have been made stupid by reason, my whole life. All my life, all my life, I have hemmed in passion for reason, drank the cold water rather than the warm milk, and I am just now realizing that a mistake has been made. Another mistake has been made. The lives of humans today are rationalized to the point of uselessness. We are all so eager to sink our own ships. We are all so eager to exchange the wild craziness of youth for the mediated "comfort" and "happiness" of age, for not having to worry about being heartbroken, being hurt, being destroyed utterly. I say that that kind of pain, that pure, heartfelt pain, is better than any pleasure the adult world can offer! Pardon my exclamations, my flying sputum, my wild eyes and unwashed clothes - there must be a way! There must be a way to combine the power and maturity of age with the purity and wholeheartedness of youth! There must be a way to retain belief in yourself and your actions! As of this day forward, I devote myself to finding it.

So what is this but talk? What but an open mouth, flapping and grunting? Nothing. I don't intend to be a role model, an example. I intend to wake, finally, after twenty-two years of sleeping. It's time to let the flame burning inside me spread, and even if I wind up a charred, fucked up barbecue zombie at least I'd have tried. I'm going to keep shouting, from wherever I am, to keep making and living art that reflects what I actually feel, not what I'm being forced to believe I should feel. I'm going to try to realize my true responsibilities, to others and to myself, and cut off the false ones to affluence, to propriety and to wrongness. I'm going to make music, and sing in my cracking, warbly, glorious voice, to the heavens. I'm going to draw comic books about whatever the hell I please, and throw my whole life into them, until the paper runs black with my blood. I'm going to do this website until I've crossed the last zero. I'm going to build a lighthouse, and shine to all the ships at sea.