It seems like so long since I’ve written you, even though it’s only been a few days. But don’t get me wrong, mate, it isn’t you I miss: in fact, I don’t miss you at all. It’s just that I’ve been finding these letters rather therapeutic in a strange sort of way.
There was a time when I couldn’t go a day without seeing you. Do you remember? At first, the time in between our dates was all excitement and giddy nervousness: I would think about how much fun the last time was and about how much fun the next time would undoubtedly be. Later on, that time in between dalliances would become sheer torture: I needed you that moment, and when I didn’t have you, it was painful. You were the great escape, and I the chronic escapist, for reality was far too grievous, far too real. I needed you every single second of every single day no matter what the consequences because the alternative was much, much too frightening.
And then, even further down the line, towards the end of our association, things changed once again. Those times in between our degenerate dancing became lulls in the storm, so to speak. I was like a sailor adrift at sea coming out of one tempest and trying to pull myself together as much as possible, even though at my core I knew that the next one was inevitably coming and that it would probably be just as bad as (if not worse than) the last one. I’d cling to those brief reprieves and pray to gods I didn’t even believe in (not you because I always believed in you) to spare me my awful fate. But the gods were deaf and fate was cruel and I was a poor, poor sailor, Dionysus.
In short, I believe that our relationship went through three distinct phases:
1. The Courting Phase, in which I wanted you but didn’t need you.
2. The Honeymoon Phase, in which I wanted you and needed you.
3. The Broken Marriage Phase, in which I needed you but didn’t want you.
Now, I should probably be clear on what I mean by “need.” It’s not entirely in regards to a physical dependency, although that was certainly a big part of it. The line between a want and a need is often a blurry one, but what it boils down to is that at some point, being around you wasn’t something that made life better for me, it was life itself: If you weren’t around, then I was entirely unable to participate in anything. It was all so very functional in its dysfunction, wasn’t it?
At the beginning, when I would say “I need a drink,” what I meant was I really wanted a drink; later on, when I would say “I need a drink,” I fucking needed a drink, Dionysus.
As I already mentioned, I was a chronic escapist. First I tried desperately to escape reality by running around with you, and then I tried desperately to escape you when the realities got too heavy. Only it wasn’t that simple, really: Where do you run to when you finally figure out that the very thing you’re running from is the very thing you’re trying to hide? Regrettably, hide-and-go-seek isn’t a solitary game, Dionysus: Bottoms of bottles and girls’ gazes and heroin hazes only work for so long, and once they’re gone all you’re left with is yourself. Which is, of course, the very thing I was trying to get away from the entire time.
But why? Why was I so petrified of having to figure out myself and my place in the world? I really don’t know, Dionysus. Perhaps it was always the misguided belief that there was no place for me, and the equally erroneous notion that the most comfort I ever felt was with you. Even if that comfort was sick and deceitful and illusory, it was a comfort nonetheless. It was my firmest conviction that you understood me like nobody or nothing else could or would, and I clung to that as hard as I could.
Looking back now, I realize this is all complete and utter bollocks. I made the mistake of figuring I was the only one in the history of time who couldn’t figure it all out. Each and every last one of my peers was privy to knowledge that I somehow wasn’t. They got along just fine, but I somehow never would. I felt so terribly and utterly removed from each and every person I had ever known, Dionysus, and I blamed them and society and the world and whatever else I could get my blaming fingers on for it.
I’ve been reading Alfred Jarry lately, Dionysus. He was a friend of yours too, I believe. He fits the artistic archetype that I used to try to typecast myself into to the letter: A solitary, misunderstood genius who simply couldn’t stand or relate to the time and place in which he was thrust into who drank to excess and shunned all social conventions in order to exercise his sweeping disdain for humanity. What a tragically perfect thing to be, indeed!
The young man in me still wants to raise such a figure to heroic levels and celebrate him for his valiant efforts, but I know better, mate. While I don’t admire the type anymore, I can still understand it, because I am Alfred Jarry, Dionysus–just as scores of other dissatisfied young men before and after him were too. And you knew them all, didn’t you? Some made it past you alive, but others (like poor Alfred) weren’t so fortunate.
But why, Dionysus? What makes a young man with so much artistic talent, so much sheer brilliance, so much to offer the world hole up in a Parisian garret or an Oakland apartment and endeavor to drink himself to death?
This is what Chaveau had to say about Jarry: “At first Jarry drank in order to scandalise, continued for the sake of continuing, then out of necessity, despair, pride, and genius.”
Looks like Alfred went the three rounds with you too, mate. But surely it goes deeper than that. Scandalising is fantastic. Truly, it was one of my favorite pastimes, and a racquet I was rather adroit at (as my reputation still bears witness to), but one doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to get real tight for a real long time and make a lot of really bad decisions, dig?
So where does it come from?
This was also said of Jarry, and basically nails it for me, too: “Every man is capable of showing his contempt for the cruelty and stupidity of the universe by making his own life a poem of incoherence and absurdity.”
Yes, Dionysus! Incoherence and absurdity were two of my finest attributes. And indeed, I found the universe a farcical and fantastically cold place. I couldn’t comprehend any of it, Dionysus– not a lick of it. Why did things happen the way they did? Why did people act the way they did? Why wasn’t everything exactly the way I wanted it to be?
My solipsistic sphere was far too disappointing, so I endeavored to become a disappointment myself. Everything I did was absurd and incoherent, Dionysus, especially towards the end. It was an artistic endeavor of sorts, I suppose: sometimes it was fine satire, but mostly it was just a pitiful pastiche: I was no Sid Vicious* or Artie Rimbaud (thank god), but I did my best anyways. I thought that I was punishing a society I didn’t agree with by ensuring that I would never be a part of it.
You have not asked me what I would do and what I would not do, but I will tell you anyways. I will not serve anything because I don’t believe in anything, unless it comes in a bottle, a skirt, or a dimebag: and I will try to express myself (even though I don’t have any conception of what that is) as disagreeably as I can, and as halfheartedly as I can, using for my offense the only arms I allow myself to misuse…incoherence, absurdity, and rambunctiousness.
I was a bizarro Stephen Dedalus, Dionysus: I was Stevie Deadlust and my lust for destruction would, indeed, nearly kill me, as this portrait of the con artist as a young man will bear witness to.
But I’ve been far too serious lately, haven’t I, love? Perhaps tomorrow I’ll write about something more lighthearted, like bar fights or one night stands or something.
</3 Sir Rateval Hurtlinge
P.S. Apologies to James Joyce.