attempts at living

to make a system out of delusions

Tag: survival


Doing research for an essay on counselling I come across a text online called Anthropathology. Immediately the name of this book appeals to me and I start reading the googlebooks preview. Immediately I can taste the word and let it colour me. It’s refreshing to read a counsellor writing about counselling who is aware that their is something fundamentally wrong with humanity. For a while I have wondered if my thinking was still caught in an antihumanism or if I had managed to successfully navigate my way towards a more benign posthumanism. On reading this word I know where I stand. The metaphor I inhabit is diagnostic; neither for or against a pathology, aware that a thought that can only detect deficit is one that remains stunted in the shallows, afraid of drowning in the rapids of nuance and the depths of humanity’s amazing capacity, in most instances, to resist the temptation of the overripe fruit of suicide.

I haven’t yet read the book, only a few skimmed pages. Yet I have a presentiment of what it might contain. Man will be painted as hideous, deformed, small. Man will also be painted as beautiful, the owner of a profound capacity to keep going, to manage, to cope, even to convince himself that life is worth living (objectively, it is not). Not only is he the exceptionalist animal that sees himself as the animator of all being through his powers of imagination and reason (correlationism). But he is also the animal that knows it is no better than any other thing in existence, lacking all special status, and celebrates the figures who have told it such.

If narrative gives a form to life, and if we are narrating constantly, we are the strange animal that knows the horror of itself, its world, the social and interpersonal miseries it finds itself born into, engendering and maintaining (with only degrees of intention) and does not enact a tidal wave of suicides en masse, an true genocide of the species, being unable to even look at it’s own illusory reflection.

There is something wonderful about humanity. I can’t decide if I am in love with it or if I despise it to the core. Probably it doesn’t much matter. Pessimism is no trait for a counsellor to dwell with. A blank neutrality, an addict’s compulsive attachment to living, the defusion of self from act, act from thought, no revulsion but perhaps a perverse admiration for humanity’s essential monstrosity. There is something exceptional about this species; it can’t go on, it goes on.

I am in love with our lies, our confirmation biases, our delusions and illusions that propel us out of bed in the morning, never mind to the quest to discover God particles with giant atom beams in sprawling underground bases (a school boy’s scifi fantasies come true). I am in love with how it is we persist, even those of us most damaged- even those of us the most banal. The man who works behind his desk for 20 years- data in, data out- and contemplates hanging himself but instead goes on holiday once a year, every year…or simply stays indoors for a week, not bothering to escape at all. I won’t say I regard him as an idiot or as a hero, he is probably neither… it’s enough that he is, despite every reason not to be, to ensure that he isn’t, and that for most of his adult life he will be only seconds away from the means to end it all, to go dark and let the inputs and outputs finally rest in perfect equilibrium, but that he will not do it, will not notice it, will not even let it cross his mind. He doesn’t imagine he will be happy…but there he is, getting dressed, drinking coffee, hoping to God that his wage slip includes a rise in line with VAT, making plans to fall in love one day…ignoring the inevitability of nonexistence.

I am in love with at least some part of our sickness.

Having done a quick amazon search I see the book is priced well out of my means for a single text, coming in around £70 at the lower end of the price scale. I will likely never read it. It’s a shame and yet, probably best not have any more fire for my own confirmation biases. A little frustrated I’m logging off and going to watch a film.


New Year

A new year is approaching and what, we have to ask, is left of the new? The innovations, the technologies, the subsumption into humanity’s grasp of ever more of its world (3D printing, for instance, ought to enact a genuine revolution, one such as the upheaval of the move from agriculture to industry), ever more elements escape it. The miraculous harnessing of natural forces brings with it ever more accident, disaster, side-effects and unpredictable interactions. Man’s world is a pharmacology of the dying.

The New, as it once was, becomes drab and innocuous, attaches itself to details of dress or a new Hollywood face, a new singer in the underground (the one everyone partakes in), the latest anxiety or threat or war. The New is that illusion which we cling to without much passion, among the more necessary but insolubly boring of our fetishes. So we dedicate one day to it. We make resolutions we don’t intend to keep. Its a game. An excuse to get fucked up. Light bursts apart in the sky at midnight. There is the demand, usually disappointed, of having someone to kiss.

The new year isn’t a celebration of survival or of anticipation. It’s the attempt to preserve in those moments our faith that something could really happen. Therefore it is an indulgence in faith’s internal opposite; a holiday of doubt. No wonder it is convivial and Dionysian. Shrug off knowledge, memory, time itself- get undressed and dance with me, while chemically altered I try not to pass out. There is no new year; only another, the same as the one before.

dance with me

I was dancing among the young, all of us young and intoxicated and body without thought, desire without guilt. And then the end of the night comes and with it the walk home in the cold and bitter night alone. Hands deep in pockets. A taste of vomit on the lips. Swerving while walking, stumbling sometimes. Toward the mess with a bed among it. Toward the wardrobe full of a remnants. Aching. Tears come as I climb the stairs. I fear sleeping and I fear waking up. I’m sweating a profound loneliness. Flakes of dandruff settle on my shoulders. An almost mystical sense of separation. The certainty that nothing means fuck all. I stare at the bicycle I never ride gathering rust and I know that beneath this mottled skin I too am rusting. I try not to think about burning my skin. I try not to think about monstrosities. I murmur to myself a fragment about love and cruelty, some nonsense I take to be profound. I know the centre of everything is empty and that this life, this earth, this universe is one continuous error that will sometime meet it’s correction. But still, I had danced. I had danced and laughed and felt wonderful things.


Why go on living? The answer must encompass the irrationality of this insistent attachment, this inability to depart the earth even while it swallows one whole. It’s a compulsion also, a compulsion to endure the lows in the name of the highs. And having said that it becomes obvious. There is only one word for this kind of behaviour. Addiction.

I am an addict and I don’t know what I’m doing and I hurt.

more of this, i beg

Torment, for some men, is a need, an appetite, and an accomplishment.
– Emile M. Cioran

speculating on other minds
i twist circumventing my own reasons,
that domain so well known
once the fire is stopped burning
and the murderer has fled the scene.
struggling with my own contorting
affectivity, magesterially presiding over
these aboriginal aliens with a police
order assembled out of half-illumined
monstrosities, i keep holding on
and asking the same questions
like an autistic child dumbly staring
into the gathered happy faces;
unable or unwilling to let go
even when there seems to be nothing there
to hold but holograms and memories,
corroding representations, ectopic
foetuses in full birthday regalia.
join the party with us. we’re smiling
and we’re laughing and our flesh is
melting in the heart of this interminable
fire, this existence. so much in love
with our little sufferings, we pour the
gasoline while dancing, strike the match
while singing sweetly to the charred
remains of our futures.

everything is temporary

some temporary things:

cars, trees, sand dunes, ideas, galaxies, migraines, you,
me, this separation, all unity and all your pain.

something woke up

something changes
imperceptible as neutrinos
as certain as a rockslide
crushing the entire motorway
no-one left alive


make up your mind and tell me
cos it’s got so i’m not going
to pretend any more
i’ve unhooked the life support machines
and i’m breathing on my own

cos it used to be
that this was a trembling construction
a fragile thing
sick with Descartes’s hyperbole
finding a cut throat
in every nic while shaving


something woke up
and you might get a shock
so make up your mind
either get the hell out the way
or kiss me
either tell me the truth of things
or paint me a pretty picture
so i can burn it up
cos there’s something burning
in here and i think its me
just beneath the skin
a fucking non-stop supernova

saturday night kicks (a proximity to death)

the basement bar across from the art college
all the young and hopeful hipsters gathered to mull over the next great movement
or to forget themselves in booze. balloons floated on every table weighted down
by jelly beans. it was someone’s birthday.
we stood in the shadowed alcoves unable to find a seat
and in the most confidential tones we could find competed against the jackson five
come blaring from all sides. and he said to me she lay dying
while we speak, refusing all fluids and refusing to eat. do you know any tricks
that might save her life? i took a drink and shuffled on my feet,
shook my head and told him no. the night went on. we found refuge in theories
and in discussing the little happinesses we’d found; the distance of the
boys we were from the men we had become. but eventually still impotent, still tiny,
still afraid of monsters-

just their names that have changed.

turning darker…


“Ordinary people like us” all experience something extraordinary at one
time or another. Some, in fact, do not survive. Did I say some?

– Brian Massumi, ‘Everywhere you want to be’

to remain alive and living 

these thoughts are drunks behind the wheel
and there were never any break lines

before this car is overturned
and we all burn to the ground
i’ve been listening to the moon every night
whispering like soap opera wisdom
as she flickers a black and white tv

and we are trying

i can’t promise anything because being human
i know that i’m an inveterate and self-deluding liar

ideas live somewhere else and come and go
as they please
never waiting for invitations they
just kick in doors and windowpanes
like an invasion in the olden days
vikings burning my old wood and straw
to the ground
to the spit and blood smeared ground

and we keep on trying

and the marks on my skin of that agony
i never want a single one
to fade
no i’d wear them proudly as a sign
that we’ve survived
that we might