Today, buoyed by the fact that Christa Wojo decided to invest in the nonsense I encourage to spew from my fingertips (a purchase for which I am eternally thankful) I went to a bar. I haven’t been home too long and, therefore, I have been unable to work on either my ‘blog’ or my lengthened piece of prose today, with the exception of this little thing. Anyway, as it seemed to be such a resounding success yesterday, I have decided to allow my second ‘Honesty’ into the internet.
So, here it is. God Metaphor’s Honesty. It may not have the immediacy which it possessed when I wrote the dam thing, but it stil holds the attitudes I had towards the end of that, particular, narrative.
Once again I sit at the end of a narrative, or a series of minor decisions which culminate in something approaching a narrative, though I am laughing at some meagre pun of my own. The aspidistra, which once spread out before me in some desperate working class rush to meet the sun, is gone now; I tired of its literary relevance quickly. Instead, in the circle of clean whiteness surrounded by encroaching dust, lies a rosary. Of course, it is not an expensive one, little more than elastic and cheap wooden beads with a cross at the throat, from which the black colouring is already vanishing, rubbing onto the windowsill as though it were mere dust. What else is it, after all?
I didn’t expect much better, a drunken idea twisting into an early morning purchase. A few hours ago I was in a bar, in Wigan, named the John Bull Chophouse. It is there that the image attached to this text was taken, after several failed attempts. I sat there, the rosary secreted in my pocket, reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden whilst making my steady progress through a Guinness. Thoreau spoke of nonsense of course, of finding joy in the base things of nature and I thought how privileged he must have been, how simplistic his desires were that the sight of grass can improve his mood to such an extent. The book was to pass the time, the Guinness to offer me courage. The Kinks’ Death of a Clown was leaping joyously from the jukebox as I ordered a second drink, this one for a greater purpose.
I arranged the book, the rosary entwined with my headphones, the glass and a coaster on the table and, using my phone, took a few pictures of that collective. I had the perfect image in mind, ne which reality seemed determined to deny me. The culmination of those objects, of the holy symbol of drink mixed with the logo of Christ, was to be the way I saw religion. But I couldn’t make the idea work, so I abandoned it. In a manner of which Thoreau may well have been proud, I felt the call of nature and climbed the steps to the toilet.
I entwined the rosary in my hand and leant against the white bathroom door. The rest of the room was brown wood panelling, unsuitable for my purposes, so I made the door my canvas. I let the cross hang against my arm and it was that which my target became; that which is the image you have seen at the forefront of this narrative. Perhaps that is the theme here, ignoring the blatancy of religion in its composition. That nothing has remained the same as I originally intended it to be.
This text is, at least to me, a little more controversial and a little more difficult than Adjective Narcissism. I think it is obvious that I hold religion, of any sort, in contempt. That any belief is a folly, merely an exercise in the prevention of fear for those unwilling, for whatever reason, to believe that we are no greater than the dogs I can hear rutting in an alleyway several years ago, no different than the worms steadily advancing from the soil of my rear garden in some silent invasion, no more worthy of love and affection than mosquitos’ draining blood from dying children in Africa. But it fascinates me, as any sane man must be fascinated by the diseases of the mind.
For what else can such a thing as belief be considered, save as a disease? A malnutrition of, perhaps not intelligence, but of the application of any intelligence one might possess. It is the very epitome of fear, of personal weakness, an excuse to behave as one will whilst denying others that same exhilarating freedom. I have tried, believe me, I have tried, to understand such fanaticism as religion can bring and, for the most part, it passes me by. Perhaps I can catch a glimpse of such understanding when I talk about music, and someone flippantly declares that ‘they’re shit’. In those moments, those sudden white-hot breaths of rage, I can see God dipping a hand from the clouds, holding us down, and I would kill for Him. Of course, the moment passes, I call the form before me a Luddite, a heathen and an arsehole, and we move on.
I have endeavoured to see it as anything besides a weakness, an imperfection in our brains that enables such madness. For those indoctrinated at such a young age, I offer my pity, but those who have turned to it voluntarily, that they may find solace of some kind in worshipping such a creature, they have, they deserve, nothing but my contempt. What weakness it is, to proclaim that a corpse must be happy! Contentment, that I could understand, some combination of relaxation and immutable apathy attached to an empty shell, but joy? A fool’s exclamation, though one repeated throughout the world!
The arguments against religion lean towards the factual, whilst whatever meagre defence can be provided on behalf of spirituality and the like are wholly opinion-based, or emotional. I can look at the sky, I can dig deep into the earth, and show you that no Heaven and no Hell is to be found. But you could say that you know it is there, and so you will not accept evidence, or you could proclaim that neither of the two are geographical locations and are, instead, to be found in the mind.
Of course, I know there is no altering of the mind. I know that one cannot truly change the beliefs of another, when those beliefs are wholly believed to be true, when there is no doubt to be found within their breasts. So this text has been written for people like me, who subscribe to the truth, insofar as we are aware of it, as opposed to the nonsense of spirituality that still infects our species.
I wrote this because I was bored. Tired of deadlines and essays on subjects to which I could not even pretend to care. And, since I finished university, because I have had little else to do. I, like many people my age, am caught on the Graduate job pile, a collection of desperate, slightly hung-over, ‘intellectuals’ whom are beginning to panic as their money runs out. It is artistic to fell the threat of poverty, isn’t it? To feel your stomach churn as you weigh up a meal or a glass of whiskey and eternally find the former lacking in its pleasure? I wish I could say there was some higher purpose to my writing now. I wish I could rage at the state of ‘self-published’ literature, to malign it all as genre-specific nonsense. I wish I could focus all my contempt on the idea of a God, on the idea that man was a creature beneath any other, but I cannot. As one focuses more and more on the desperation of ones circumstances, one realises that few things matter. One learns that there is nothing as important as sustenance and, at the moment, I would take a job as a prophet of the Second Coming if it meant I was earning a living wage. For all that I despise money, for all that I follow the parable of Comstock in that regard, that I have declared war on the God of Money, this desperation is something to which I have barely been accustomed to in my life as a student.
It occurs to me that money can only be despised when one has enough of it to abuse, to waste on worthless things, on activities one does not enjoy. I can focus on the problems of Art, on the pretension inherent within the role of the artist, on the stupidity of belief and the hypocrisy of religion, but not when my ears are focused on the discontent of my stomach, on the sluggish sensation of weak blood in thinning veins. I am, perhaps, less capable as a man than you, dear reader. What choice do I have, then, but to set myself up as a God? What simplicity there is there! Immutable authority over my own creations, to whom I offer the pretence of freewill, whilst controlling them as easily as a gypsy controls her cards, as a priest controls his congregation and a politician controls his whores.
There! There is the reasoning I imagine you desire, some weak answer to the unanswerable question of ‘why?’. I wrote this because I am less of a human than you are, less of an adult and more a child, wishing the world were as I willed it. I am a dead man to you, one given every chance to live but ignored, or fought against, at every turn. I am, essentially, you, with none of the ambition and so what path is left to me, but that upon which my feet now tread?
But still, as we know, the earth spins on and we somehow manage not to grow nauseous with its passage. I feel the need to explain myself, as though if I could find the words to release my consciousness into the ether, if I could upload my madness to the internet and watch it leap from computer to computer like a viral marketing campaign, then I might be able to call myself an author. I know, now, that before you can translate my nonsense back to me, I must find a way to translate it for you.
The sun is rising now and my eyes are growing leaden. I’ve been unable to sleep this long night, tossing and turning through the vague discomfort that accompanies encroaching poverty, with the unease of knowing that I am firmly bound to one path; that I must slide into mediocrity and ignominy in order to merely survive. I have no desire to be a face in the crowd, but those faces, slack-jawed and dead-eyed they may be, survive, day after day, and they have a chance at happiness amongst the grey existence.
These are the obvious truths, the ones which I despise, for reasons I cannot explain, even to myself. I do not want to be a part of this society, I want to walk the cinematographic pathways of avant-garde artists. I want to lean against railings by rivers and drop cigarette butts into the water. I want to wear black and grimace at the snow lining the roadside. I want to pull my coat closer about my shoulders in the wind, to drink at ungodly times and find my sustenance in alcohol and the most meagre of foods. I want to be Orwell, starving in Paris, all the while wishing I was anywhere else, anyone else.
I want to work in a bookstore, some local, independent business that is alive in of itself. I want to spend my days reading and writing and sneering at the pretentious students who swagger in, proud to be supporting such a place. I want to laugh at myself, for hiding the realisation that I am one of them. I want to drink wine at the start of my shift and whiskey at the end. I want to fall into such an eternal stupor that I am numb to it all, that my worries warp into concerns over whether or not I will vomit before I crawl into bed, that my contempt can turn into the apathy I pretend and my world would shrink until there was nothing besides a bottle, a book and myself. In those moments, I would be Christ, as the book would be my God and the bottle… well, you get the idea.
It was a joke about spirits. Ha fucking ha.