If man is once again to come into the vicinity of Being [die Nahe des Seins], he must first learn to exist in namelessness [Namenlosen]. He must recognize equally the seduction of the public and the powerlessness of the private. Before he speaks, he must allow himself again to be spoken to by Being and risk the danger that in being spoken to he will have little or rarely anything to say.
Under every deep, another deep opens.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do not believe that the person who is trying to offer you solace lives his life effortlessly among the simple and quiet words that might occasionally comfort you. His life is filled with much hardship and sadness, and it remains far behind yours. But if it were otherwise, he could never have found these words.
It was only when they gave me the pills that I was able to start dealing with you in the first place, I tell X, don’t forget that. It was only then that the mist cleared up enough for me to start talking about how bad it was, about the state we’re in. I don’t care, he says, I’m still in the same state. What are you going to do about it?
This cavernous space in my head, where the slightest noise echoes and multiplies, alongside the noises X makes; but at least I’m familiar with those. This huge dark non-space I have to negotiate to talk to people coherently, even to order a sandwich! It takes exceptional powers of concentration to live in the world, but I don’t have exceptional powers of concentration. A binding force is what’s needed. I often wonder where others find it, how they have it. I turn to X for help but he’s no help, of course, so I turn to you.
The noonday demon that slides up the stairs, under my door and into bed with me while I’m recovering from a hangover. That’s you, I tell X. I hate you, I tell him. More than you hate me. You can’t imagine how much I hate you. If not for you I’d have stayed a good boy, I’d have made the transition from childhood all right, I’d have come through all right. I’d have been wearing a suit now, had a girlfriend or even a wife, even children, even a car, even a mortgage, I’d have been in the world instead of hiding in here, in my bed with you, with a hangover. I’d have been transparent. I’d have been able to talk to people, be in a community and take the hard knocks that come with being in a community. You think I want to live like this, in this secrecy, in this distrust of myself? You drove me to it, I say, you made me cryptic. I had to protect myself from you, I had to live in spite of you, they made me do it.
Walking beside X, side by side, like Robert Johnson with his devil, pushing each other in different directions. Along Brighton’s seafront, from Portslade to the Marina, listening to African music, listening to Kraftwerk, listening to Robert Johnson: Early this morning, when you knocked upon my door. And I said hello Satan, I believe it’s time to go.
Who are you kidding? X tells me. You say you’re happy and pass yourself off as some kind of self-help guru, you dare to judge me, but look at you! Frowning and drinking and looking at your feet when you could be looking at the sea or the hot girls, isn’t that the kind of thing you’d tell me? Hypocrite! he says.
Brighton seafront on a sunny bank holiday. What could be better? Conscience clean after a week of hard physical work. Pleasantly hungover, taking pictures of the ruined pier, listening to Morgan Geist, listening to Kelley Polar, listening to Michael Jackson. Remember moments like these, I tell X, these moments that approach joy, even ecstasy, they’re the ones you should be remembering, they’re the ones that almost make it worth it. As MJ rightly said, When the world is on your shoulder gotta straighten up your act and boogie down. If you can’t hang with the feeling then there ain’t no room for you in this town. Listen to MJ! I say. Straighten up your act and stop frowning for no reason, people don’t frown here, this is a happy town. This town can save us if we let it, I tell him, that’s why I brought you here, don’t you understand? He looks around gloomily, silent for once. Later he mutters, If we can’t be happy here we can’t be happy anywhere.