Circus Freak Without an Act

Circus Freak Without an Act

or

A Human Attraction with No Attraction

Why oh why do I do this?

It’s infantile and juvenile. I know nothing of structure and formality or creating characters. I just have ideas and like a goddamned self-absorbed monkey I type ’em out cause the goddamned scientist put a typewriter in the room instead of a mate I can fuck or who can constantly confuse and confront me. That cocksucker gave me this keyboard instead of something else I can kill or otherwise rage against or, conversely, worship. That’s his cruel fucking joke – see what the stupid chimp will do with something he ain’t designed for. But maybe the real chimp’s smarter than me. Without even knowing it – instinctively – he’d realize he don’t know what the scientist’s mechanical monstrosity is for so he’d flip it over and try fucking it instead of trying to make art out of it since a monkey “knows” far more about mating than making art. Shit, I’m surely even dumber than that chimp, then.

Why oh why?

It’s embarrassing to be this naive and stupid. It’s like being a carnival freak that nobody comes to see. Even worse, it’s knowing the reason is cause your freak act isn’t any good. No other reason. But I still sit in a cage – naked, surrounded by straw and my own feces like an animal, wondering if it’s something or just some nitwit sitting naked in straw and shit. Or dressing like a fool or whatever this gimmick is…doing the same old bullshit, too stupid or stubborn to accept why nobody buys a ticket. I’m unaware and almost unable to be aware of this lack of talent.  So what is this? Blinding stupidity or blinding vanity? Well, now I remember Joseph Beuys and that spectacle of him and a coyote that got passed off and accepted as art so it probably don’t matter too much what any of this is since having a stupid or contrived or ill-conceived circus act can mean something under the right circumstances.

Why oh why?

It’s like my only act is being a misanthrope but you can’t wear that on your sleeve. It’s not something you can see, like Dog Boy’s pelted face.  It’s boring – at best cringy – to observe. But you sense you’re a freak, that maybe you’re somehow out of step so you put yourself out there on display but nobody cares. You’re so much the stupid freak that you don’t get that misanthropy isn’t something to put on display like two heads or lobster hands or being born conjoined. Thank God against the latter. Thank God for his pity in not subjecting another to the suffering of being conjoined to this insufferable fool. I’m too foolish to understand that the car crash of misanthropy plays itself out over time. People don’t pay to see the potential of ugly at 25. They want the dysmorphia and dissymetry of 80. It’s immediate and dramatic, unlike nagging self-doubt and the consequentially missed opportunities that play out like arithmetic. Or maybe I’m just too stupid to get that a small dick or a big nose, though nothing desirable, aren’t necessarily worth a person’s time or patronage to experience.

Why oh why?

But I can’t even cop to pure misanthropy either. I have people I can and do meet and have a good time with. I go places and do things, though, admittedly, most often alone. Are these friends? Or just people who pity and assuage my tendency toward misanthropy, though it’s imperfect? People who try to sooth it with drinks on a Thursday night, laughing yet serious about the fallibilities of their family? Am I there to listen? Or to feel? Or to analyze and interpret? Or to accept their generosity at trying to make me feel normal? Or am I there for all of it in various measures?

Why oh why?

Whatever this act might be, it’s definitely not Kirk Gibson smashing that World Series homer. It’s not even being Kirk Gibson filled with the certainty of his potential for pulling off that homer. Rather, it’s a guy perpetually wondering if he’s got what it takes to even hang in the game at all. And if he lingers down in Class A for his whole career with a respectable .280 average, well, he still tried. He had some talent, for most folks can’t make it as a pro, neither at the top nor at the bottom. And if he understands that being a pro ball player was better for him than being a teacher or actuary or a mailman, then so much the better for him. And who knows, he mighta learned more about himself in the process of becoming a failed major leaguer than if he’d settled on being the guy who delivers Pepsi or teaches you guitar or arranges all your paperwork for a big loan.

Why or why?

I almost wake up and in that netherworld between partial and full consciousness, I imagine myself punching and kicking a heavy bag of perfect mass and perfect vertical suspension. Then I start telling a God I don’t necessarily believe in that I wish things would end. Things for me, that is, not anybody else. Cause I’m pretty sure I’m either too smart or too stupid to attach myself to what might get me through another decade and that’s a pretty dreadful feeling that presents itself almost ever day in those unguarded, early morning hours. And never knowing if it’s cause I’m too smart or too stupid is just the icing on the goddamned cake. Knowing that I’ll never know is the feedback loop that keeps me tossing and turning at God instead of getting the rest I need. And too stupid to know if how we act is the best reflection of what we really think and feel – and that, even though those thoughts and feelings may not reveal any truths outside of us, they might, at least, be revealing truths about us.

Why oh why do I do this?

I finally get up and piss into a disgusting toilet and make coffee and go online and it’s the same old shit. Somebody who hates women has posted a video about a woman who pretends sympathy toward his cause. But, cause she’s a woman, she can’t be trusted. I start to think that if you’re gonna win the war against women – politically or culturally – they’re gonna need allies in their camp. Some hairy, goateed ape ain’t gonna sell his own oppression to women nearly as well as a soft, well spoken lady will. But when you’ve decided they can’t be allies, even when a few appear to be allies, well, that’s a real pickle. I wonder if I should say something about that but I don’t like these misogynist assholes – I just like to observe them not unlike that fucking white smocked fellow with his pens and clipboard that gave me this typewriter – so why try to clarify anything to them? Who am I to think I got the smarts to clarify anything to anybody? I’m not the guy in the smock. I’m the guy in two day old underwear who can smell his own asshole as he types and sips coffee. Now, see this whole fucking writing endeavor as an epic fail in trying to clarify anything even to just myself. Fuck.

Why oh why?

I write linearly or formally. I don’t play games with structure or character or whatnot. It’s straightforward characters with straightforward narratives. People say you can elevate the banal with creative structure. I’m not smart enough for that. Not smart enough to understand it and/or smart enough to use that understanding to create it. Or maybe I’m just not interested. 

Why oh why?

A co-worker came in and shared her autistic son’s Facebook post in which he, at 16 years old, politely denounced his Christianity and at the same time proclaimed his bisexuality. It was glorious – naive and sincere – with rambling references to Ozzy and Rob Halford and darkness and a poke at this kid’s critics as kebabs. To me it was a beautiful pronouncement. I told her it sounded like he was on LSD. She said he’s just crazy. To her, her son’s pronouncements were a one-two punch. To me it was a minor work of art. I don’t which it’s best seen as. She says he won’t be getting anything for Christmas, which she can tell makes him sad. I’m pretty sure I see that for what it is, an attempt at coercion back to Christianity. I’m pretty sure that’s wrong but logically it’s not. If you don’t believe in Christ, then you don’t get to play the Jesus game.

Why oh why?

I land on another video of some guy talking about work and how it’s 50 percent of our waking life and if it’s not something you’re passionate about then you’re really wasting the precious time of your life. So what you gonna do? Save the world or start a pro wrestling federation or cover band or run for elected office or start a publishing house or a cult? Or start your own business cutting down trees? For fuck’s sake. What if you choose one and invest in it so deeply that you refuse to see or understand that it was a mistake because you don’t wanna be wrong? Cause you’ve convinced yourself you’ve found your meaning in public service or owning a strip club or a liquor store and you don’t wanna admit that life’s mostly done and you’ve fucked it up. So instead, you compensation with a fifth of blended whiskey every other night or a sixteen year old girl online who’s really some 35-year-old, chain smoking Russian. And you can tell yourself, that’ll never be me. I’m too moral for that. Okay. So instead you develop a simmering dislike for gays or the Jews or or level some passive-aggressive bullshit at your wife or kids that they could passionately do without.

Why oh why?

I gotta warm up my coffee in the microwave cause I spend too much typing out this nonsense instead of just drinking it. Then I gotta go to this job that I don’t like much but gives me enough money for comforts that keep me alive and traveling a bit and typing out this bullshit.

Why oh why?

There’s the simple fool who’s convinced by any utterance. There’s the less simple fool who needs a bunch of if’s, and’s and but’s to be convinced of something foolish. There are the intellectuals who are truly intelligent who speak in useful jargon. There’s intelligent people like Jed Clampett who see through it all. Unfortunately, we’re unable to know which of these or, even more confounding, what combination of these we are. There’s the truth and the bullshit that exist within religion and politics and abstract and minimalist art and fractal narratives. Knowing which diamonds in a truckload are real or fake is the stuff of an expert, which might take him most of his life to sort out. It’s a useful and worthwhile endeavor but, unfortunately, his expertise is only diamonds.

Why oh why?

These holidays roll around again and there’s family obligations to meet and time that must be wasted both publicly and privately. Time that must be wasted soberly retarding your navigation skills and suppressing your loathing of the couple that can’t hold a benign conversation and walk at a normal pace at the same time – making you a captive to their sub-Neanderthal combination of gross motor and overall cognitive skills. And time to be wasted privately talking about my job with a distant relative that doesn’t care about me or my job. Time to be wasted awkwardly ignoring the third daughter of a cousin I never see or the wife of another cousin’s son. We don’t even know one another’s names. So I feign interest in A Christmas Story again or some wretchedly boring story again that gets trotted out every year as if we’re all being trolled by the storyteller. We are strangers but there’s that strange obligation to pretend otherwise and I hate it more than the mall’s parking lot, so overstuffed it requires a handful of sheriff’s deputies to formally guide our idiocy in and out. I hate it like a bad Christmas casserole or those dogs barking Jingle Bells. I cringe at it like I cringe at the pretense of the husband and wife who are long rumored to barely speak but play nice for the sake of holiday appearance – sorta like the twinkling lights and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and wrapped gifts that only a few really wanted to buy – the cumulative effect evokes some sorta Pavlovian response of decorum, at least for a few hours. I suppose there’s social utility to these events – sorta like a pep rally to remind us that we’re special to each other – at least, theoretically – according to the customs. But I get little out of it that I’m consciously aware of. Listening to the same old bullshit stories year after year is like a drain when I don’t need to be drained – I need to be energized. Some say the holidays bring out the best in us. I think I disagree.

Why oh why?

They say satisfaction can take effort. Like a job that sucks, that’s what you feel day to day is the suck. You don’t necessarily feel or appreciate all the benefits after the fact. Appreciating the job by means of appreciating the vacations and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes instead of the store brand (yes, in my experience, there’s always been a difference) and a washing machine instead of the laundromat with the screaming kids or some stupid shit on a TV that you can’t turn off while you were too dumb or lazy to bring a book……it takes effort to appreciate the job through those things. But some things take a whole lotta effort to extract a minor amount of appreciation or satisfaction. And then you gotta ask yourself, is it worth it? Should I accept what I feel and the reality that’s given me the feeling, or try to overcome it (the feeling, not the reality, obviously (though, obviously, we do a lot of trying to overcome reality too))? There is no real life Jed Clampett or Andy Griffith, just those selling something and I’m not always smart enough to figure out what they’re selling – whether it’s Joel Olsteen’s version of reality through his version of God or the version of life and humankind that the individual artist peddles through his novels or poetry. Or the reality a particular school of psychology interprets me and my problems through. Or the particular reality my psychiatrist prescribes through his list of psychoactive drugs.

Why oh why?

I don’t have a keen enough sense for who really needs help and who’s only pretending but I wish I did. And maybe it’s arrogance or stupidity or naivety to not realize it’s not just some of them who need the help.

Why oh why?

And just when I’m ready to give in to cynicism and nihilism and pessimism, there’s a beautiful girl with a good personality or a good joke or moving music that makes me reconsider things for a while. Or, over a good drink in a good bar, a good memory obfuscates reality for a while. And after that memory passes, it leaves me with some hope that tomorrow or next week or next month – by some stroke of luck – something’s gonna fall into my lap that I’m gonna remember with fondness for a long, long time.

Why oh why……….

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