Never Too Late!

Never Too Late!
any resemblance to anyone real or imaginary is mere bad luck
we are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are trying to get up

22.5.05

Where we're at

I'm sitting in a net cafe on Bethnal Green Road, plotting how to steal a sheaf of A4 printer paper from the printer so I can print out a load of stuff at home to send my boss. Things are so tight I can't even buy printer paper without feeling the hit... I don't see anyone, I sit at home (took the room by the front door so I can go in and out without running into anyone), I read and I contemplate beginning to write. I'm a writer but I've never written anything (this doesn't include articles and press releases which had financial incentives connected).

I pore over the endless pages of text I've produced and feel dirty... there's something spine-shiveringly squalid about it all... And I cringe painfully at the thought of teeth biting down on rough paper, sandals scraping paving-stones, washed hands rubbing on cardboard (for me, could as well be fingernails on blackboard; sliding down a banister which turns into a straight-razor).

I'm reading And the Ass Saw the Angel, by Nick Cave... Language of breath-taking beauty, describing a world of utter squalor... Oh, look! Here's a part of something I wrote and actually completed...

The Dice Man

Several inexplicable months after reading The Dice Man, I found myself living in Kathmandu, Nepal. By day I wore a suit and tie to work, teaching English at a prestigious private language institute. By night, I lived the life of a hustling street junkie with the gutter scum of an ancient, gloomy and crumbling city.

I realise that this may do little to advertise the life-changing potential of this novel. This sort of a Jekyll-and-Hyde game is, however, entirely in the spirit of Dr Luke Rhinehart’s programme of deliberate destruction of the ego.

With his every act determined by a throw of the dice, he sets out to overthrow the tyranny of his own personality. He has a vision of a new man – a random man, unfettered by the normal human limitations of habit, routine and predictability. In this lunatic quest, he lurches from one outrage to the next. From respectable beginnings as a successful psychiatrist and happily married father, through uninhibited sexual experimentation and flirtations with madness and murder, he ends up a fugitive, a hunted enemy of the state.

A strange sort of a self-improvement manual, it may seem. 10 Habits of Highly Successful People it’s not. The Dice Man is a frightening, mocking book about destroying yourself to save yourself.

Right about now, if you are at all sensible, you will be wondering if perhaps I took it all just a little too seriously. It may be a very funny, extremely intelligent, sexy and subversive novel, but isn’t that all it is – a novel?

This is undoubtedly the sane approach. But as I read, a revolutionary thought wormed its way into my mind. You don’t have to be who they told you that you are: the teachers, the parents, the educators, the friends, the colleagues and associates whose expectations of you tie you down to your present self as surely as steel cables. Dare to believe that anybody can be anybody.

And so I embarked on my own deranged quest in the spirit of the dice. The book was not solely responsible, but it provided the rationale and the philosophy. My pilgrimage lasted three years. It transversed Europe and Asia, it encompassed drug addiction, smuggling, homelessness, hunger and possibly psychosis. Now sane, I look back with a feeling of unreality and slight disbelief.

It is thus that I arrived, ultimately, in London. I arrived in an unknown city with a shoulderbag and not a penny to my name and started a new life from scratch. Never before had felt the fierce joy of total freedom. And, paradoxically, never before had felt total responsibility for all I did and was.

5 comments:

transience said...

i know you'd rather have me email, but i find this piece too powerful not to comment on it right here, right now. this quest for oneself, it's a task filled with irony. you go out trying to find a label by which you define yourself and you come back finally understanding that after every fuckall you've been through, no such label exists. humanity is such sweet sorrow.

I.:.S.:. said...

But of course you can comment here! Everyone can comment here. Send some of your fans over to comment as well. I only enable comments on some posts: ones that really need comments to be complete.

dave bones said...

"Now sane, I look back with a feeling of unreality and slight disbelief."

so you are sane now?

transience said...

fans. this makes me smile.

Indigobusiness said...

I have no fans...but my enemies follow me everywhere.