From a fable by Jean de Condé, paraphrased from Barbara Tuchman's, A Distant Mirror
Sir, have you fathered any children?
No my lady, I have not.
Indeed, you do not have the look of a man who could please his mistress when he held her in his arms, for your beard is little more than the kind of fuzz that ladies have in certain places. I do not doubt your word, for it is easy to judge from the state of the hay whether the pitchfork is any good.
Lady, answer me without deceit, is there any hair between your legs?
None at all.
Indeed I do believe you, for grass does not grow on a well-beaten path.
Lips tremble with jealousy and frustration. And here I am once again. In this cesspool of subtle emotional crisis. I’m lost and I don’t know why. Am I expecting too much from life? Is my constant, impeccable, personal standardization of human characteristics and idiosyncrasies pulling me further into the deepest puddle of loneliness ever imagined? It astounds me sometimes when I’m out on the lash with some friends, and I meet new people. New people who remind me of the people I’ve known before them. And so on. All my life I feel as if I’ve only ever known ten, twelve, maybe even fifteen individuals. Naturally there would be some exceptions, and quite often that’s been a good thing but I have yet to meet my most ideal type. The women, oh the women. I’ve met some astounding ones. They were so perfect to me. I’d often tell myself that the only thing that could make them better than they already were is if they wanted me. They didn’t. They wanted the shit that society pushed towards them. They were given porterhouse steaks before ever having had the opportunity to see the slaughter that led to the delicious meals presented before them. And I don’t blame them. But at the same time I sort of do. You’d expect these ‘exceptions’ to think differently, to see differently, to love differently. But they were nothing. Nothing special. Shallow, rotten, institution-pandering creatures of the day they were. And then I hated them. And loved them all the same. I was in the shower the other day discussing my flaws to myself, and what immediately came to mind was my knack for keeping those I couldn’t have close to me. It was very unsettling to find that I was quite willing to sacrifice shards of myself if it meant talking to some of these female exceptions. To stay connected in one way or another. My problem is that even for these exceptions, I’ve always tended to scare them away. I was too strange. Too small. Too immature. Too energetic. Too talkative. Too clingy. Too helpless in the presence of my non-existent romantic relations with them. There was always an excess of something. Hardly anything was ever found wanting. It was always too much. No glass was half empty or half full. It was always overflowing with fluid you didn’t want anywhere beyond the inner structure of the glass itself. I’m an excessively large entity trapped in a small package. I’ve descended from apes. A future me might be living in Mars right now, in a six-story apartment building right across Acron Avenue corner Delta Street in the middle of Godknowswhere City. I don’t know much, but I’m positive that I know more about myself than most do about themselves. It’s not a matter of looking in the mirror and judging what you see. It takes a lonely cup of coffee or tea, sometimes with a cigarette to know. To give you the chance to speak to yourself. You can’t keep listening to what people think you are or should be. You will get sick of it. Or even worse, you won’t. That’s why beautiful people often end up being pea-minded, shallow cunts. A select few know better. This is the problem with people. This is the problem with you. This is the problem with me. We’re on this world and we die, yet the only time we’ll treat life like it’s something worth living is when we realise that it’s finite. And often times when we do, it’s too late. And there’s nothing worse than too late.
“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”—Charles Bukowski
“Human beings are funny. They long to be with the person they love but refuse to admit openly. Some are afraid to show even the slightest sign of affection because of fear. Fear that their feelings may not be recognized, or even worse, returned. But one thing about human beings puzzles me the most is their conscious effort to be connected with the object of their affection even if it kills them slowly within.”—Sigmund Freud
Possibly that of petrol. Cucumber melon. Burnt cinnamon sticks. I used to burn cockroaches with lighter fluid. It was something my dad taught me to do, just for the fun of seeing a trail of fire reach an intruder with intense speed. It’s fire chasing escaped convicts. Escaping from those that find them repulsive. It’s cruel justice, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t know which smell I preferred though. There was the smell of alcoholic vapour in the air. There was also that of burnt cockroach. I’m going to go with alcoholic vapour on this one.
I love fire. I love how it can give identity to something or someone as easily as it can take it away. Plain paper isn’t supposed to smell of anything until it’s been burnt. Olfactory identity. How artificially ambiguous. The problem with paper and identity is that all paper smells the same when burnt. There’s no way to compare paper to people on equal terms without missing a few essential facts here and there. Humans have harnessed the ability to smell like anything. Olfactory identity, meaningless for human beings. Human beings that can afford the luxury of choice, at least. Apply fire to human beings. Apply it with enough strength and precision, and you’ll see that scent carries very little weight in the way we see each other. The way we define each other. Burn a beautiful woman’s face off and suddenly life gets a lot more difficult for her. Burn the full length of a strong man’s arm and you’ll notice almost immediately the change in his stature and his confident form of self-expression.
Some say that war places all affected on a level playing field. That its existence is vital in the restoration of human equilibrium. Economic, political, social - it’s all the same in the end. You hardly ever feel war against your skin unless you’re on the battlefield. Our war at home, is with fire. Burn everyone’s face off and perhaps those who win in the end might, for once, get what they truly deserve. Take away preconceptions of beauty and elegance from humans with flames, and the pursuit love shall begin on equal footing. Everyone’s on step one. No short-cuts, no easy breaks. The saddest thing is that even if this all happens, we’ll find a way to define people. For the worse. To gauge how attractive they are. She doesn’t have a face, but her voice is beautiful. She doesn’t have a face, but she fucks like a Goddess. She doesn’t have a face, but she gives great head. You think it wouldn’t, but it only gets better the moment a section of her mouth melts into the edges your groin. It’s like fucking warm pancake mix. It’s disgusting. It’s hot. You don’t even know it, or why, but you love it. There’s no escaping it. The human race is intrinsically sexual. Deafeningly, blindingly sexual. Sure, there are exceptions. At least I hope there are.
So what’s the point? The point is that it’s pointless to assume that unconditional love exists. We base every decision we make, from the food we eat to the books we read, to the spectacles we wear to the shirts we sport, on conditions. Who is to say that we’d treat love any more different? We abuse alcohol to break down these conditional barriers because we’re not brave enough to demolish them ourselves whilst we aren’t under the influence. That’s weak. We’re weak. Not only that, we’re all cowards. The earlier you can accept that fact, the happier you will be with yourself and your indecisions. Admit to me that you’re a shallow fuck, and you’d be more of a person than most of the people I’ve met and known. Being shallow and not knowing it makes you an asshole. Being shallow and knowing it makes you profound. If you believed those last two sentences then you’re a fucking cunt. You don’t just become profound. It’s intrinsic. Some people just are, and some simply aren’t. The best part is, it’s very much the same way as it is with levels of physical attraction. I guess, in that respect, we’re all on a level playing field.
Tell me the one about the sick girl — not terminally ill, just years in bed with this mysterious fever — who hires a man to murder her — you know, so the family is spared the blight of a suicide — and the man comes in the night, a strong man, and nothing is spoken —he…