Jun 18, 2016

Don't Try

     Last week I think or maybe it was a week before that, I saw a tweet that linked to a post entitled '7 Small Ways to Be a Better Writer'. It reeked of those 'How to Be Yourself: A Simple Step by Step Tutorial' posts, you know the ones that say, "First, you close your eyes. Second, you find yourself. And third, you allow yourself to be yourself. Here's our other content you might also like ..." But before you even fully reach that section there's already a window popping up offering you this awesome free book on how to find your inner sanctuary or clean your chakras or become a better listener or whatever — if, duh, you sign up to their newsletter. Which always gets me thinking, "Oh, bless you, glorified Internet, infinitely wise and useful." And since I've thought that a bazillion times already after landing on bazillion pages just like that, I half-expected ... OK. That's a lie, I more than half-expected the post to go something along those pointless lines and thought, "This ought to be good."
      And good it was.
     The post said that in order to become a better writer one should of course read and write more but who has the time to do that? Nobody, right? Nobody wants to put in the time and effort needed for their skill to evolve, no. So what you should do instead is follow their seven small tips for becoming a better writer amongst which were — and here's where things got really good — watch TV, eat healthy and meditate.
     Oh, bless you, glorified Internet, infinitely wise and useful.
     But that's not the only thought that came to my mind, no. That piece of bullshit also got me thinking about something else or someone else I should say — about Charles Bukowski.
     Ah, Charles Bukowski ... There's a lot to be said about Charles Bukowski. One could start by saying that he didn't have many friends in school since he was stigmatized due to the fact he was a German immigrant. One could then further talk about how his father beat him regularly several times a week for years and years. One could also add that he was married twice, had one daughter, lived in LA most his life, had numerous affairs with poets and sculptors and prostitutes and probably everything else in between, but had the most long-lasting and the most committed love affair with sleep since he himself said, "I believe that I love sleep much more than anybody I've ever met." There are other facts one could mention, of course, as for example that he worked at a post office before belatedly getting some writing acclaim at the age of 49, that he suffered and died from leukemia at 73 and not to mention that his real name even wasn't Charles Bukowski but Heinrich Karl Bukowski. But I actually won't go into those and go into something morbid instead. Or into something even more morbid I should say, at least seemingly so — his tombstone. Seems morbid? Wait till you read what it reads because Charles Bukowski's tombstone says Don't try. Told you — morbid.
     But the truth is, if the epitaph does in fact sound despondent, it does so only because it lacks context because those two words, don't try, are simply brutally honest and thus everything but gloomy, so here's some context straight from the man himself, "Somebody asked me: 'What do you do? How do you write, create?' You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it."
     I was half-tempted — again, a lie — of tweeting that quote to the author of the aforementioned 7-Small-Ways-To-Be-a-Better-Writer tweet but I simply couldn't make myself do it so I settled for 'I still kind of think there are no shortcuts.' instead and put — how un-Bukowski of me — a smiley face at the end to soften things up. Make them look less morbid so to speak.
     But 'adorning' genius, brutal honesty with smiley faces is something I definitely won't do with the following set of quotes by Charles Bukowski, a writer who definitely didn't eat healthy nor meditate to become a better writer — he just was. Does that mean that he couldn't, wouldn't or didn't offer any advice to aspiring wordsmiths? Not exactly. Once, he did encourage young writers to "drink, fuck and smoke plenty of cigarettes". Now that's what I call a useful piece of advice. Fucking 7 small ways to be a better writer ... But enough from me. Here are some of my favorite Charles Bukowski quotes.

The less I needed, the better I felt.

When you drank the world was still out there,
but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.

    Human relationships didn't work anyhow. Only the first two weeks had any zing, then the participants lost their interest. Masks dropped away and real people began to appear: cranks, imbeciles, the demented, the vengeful, sadists, killers.

Some people never go crazy.
What truly horrible lives they must lead.

“Do you hate people?”
“I don't hate them... I just feel better when they're not around.”

     I've never been lonely. I've been in a room, I've felt suicidal. I've been depressed. I've felt awful, awful beyond all. But I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me... Or that any number of people could enter that room. In other words, loneliness is something I've never been bothered with because I've always had this terrible itch for solitude. It's being at a party or at a stadium full of people cheering for something, then I might feel loneliness. I'll quote Ibsen, "The strongest men are the most alone." I've never thought, "Well, some beautiful blonde will come in here and give me a fuck-job, rub my balls, and I'll feel good." No, that won't help. You know the typical crowd, "Wow, it's Friday night, what are you going to do? Just sit there?" Well, yeah. Because there's nothing out there. It's stupidity. Stupid people mingling with stupid people. Let them stupidify themselves. I've never been bothered with the need to rush out into the night. I hid in bars, because I didn't want to hide in factories. That's all. Sorry for all the millions, but I've never been lonely. I like myself. I'm the best form of entertainment I have. Let's drink more wine!

Bad taste creates many more millionaires than good taste.

If you're losing your soul and you know it,
then you've still got a soul left to lose.

The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts,
while the stupid ones are full of confidence.

I never met another man I'd rather be.
And even if that's a delusion, it's a lucky one.

I don’t hate people. They disgust me and I want to get away from them.
I do not have hatred. I have an escape mechanism.

    That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.

The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind.
You give your life away to a function that doesn't interest you.
This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females,
simply as an alternative.

People are strange. They are constantly angered by trivial things,
but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives,
they hardly seem to notice.

I guess the only time most people think about injustice
is when it happens to them.

Some people like what you do,
some people hate what you do,
but most people simply don't give a damn.

If you get married, they think you're finished,
if you are without a woman they think you're incomplete.

I’ve had so many knives stuck into me, when they hand me a flower,
I can’t quite make out what it is. It takes time.

We are like roses that have never bothered to bloom when we should have bloomed
and it is as if the sun has become disgusted with waiting.

When you find someone who doesn’t annoy the shit out of you;
hold them tight and close — never let them escape.

     There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die.


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