Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Vast Reeking Sewer

I am most remarkable: I refuse to be fenced in becoming a kind of Wandering Jew, a gypsy scholar. I travel more than a migratory bird in my fantasies, more than a hundred migratory birds. I am one of fate's fugitives, living more in a castle in the air than on land, unrelentingly journeying across, around, backward and forward to every part of my imaginary globe, known and unknown, a man with an unparalleled wanderlust.

All and each adds to my knowledge of myself, a strange man, or stranger of a man. I call myself "stranger" after years of continuous reflection because at the end of the day when my tale has been told, I remain just that. I am a man not easily caught in the act of greatness, and I know myself better, much better it seems, than I know the domain of my own room. I still think (and this carries its own sadness) that I am as someone once stated, an electric hare whom the greyhound critics in my environment (and alas, greyhound slanderers too) are not meant to catch.

I am not thinking of my many ambiguities, the false and conflicting stories which I myself contribute to the constant battery of those who report on me. Rather, I'm thinking that in spite of my having spent a great deal of my time pondering my life, time has been too short for one to entirely encompass and comprehend, to give total and full expression to me, for it is a work that can never be entirely finished; to complete such is God's domain.

My life has been hounded by two contending elements in my nature: the strong conflict between my manic and my depressive sides. There are many occasions when I have had exuberant vitality, when to breathe was to enjoy. At such times, I am great good company, leaping from topic to topic seemingly with abandon. But my depressions are severe, and if I sometimes hate the world, then I hate myself more. Life becomes a dark tide; I feel the weight of every possible sin as I sink into the depths. On such occasions, one notices how wooden and desperate and full of self-blame I seem. At these times I doubt there is a God in the universe.

During these moments the plague spot of depression fosters my formidable desire for self-destruction. Sometimes I set the date for my death, saving up sleeping pills because I want a termination point for my unhappiness. For a long time, I can visualize not heaven -- only hell, with any sort of intimacy, and it is the hell of James Joyce that I envision: "There by reason of the great number of the damned, the prisoners are heaped together in their awful prison . . . the damned . . . are not even able to remove from the eye a worm that gnaws it . . . All the filth of the world, all the offal and scum . . . shall run there as to a vast reeking sewer."

Because my wide-ranging imagination spans a large sector of the twentieth century, I find I am writing not only my story, but our history as well. My life has touched, and my writings transfix, as an insect in amber, many major events of our time: the Vietnam War; Watergate; the student protests of the 60s; the rise of Ronald Reagan; the presidency of Bill Clinton and his impeachment; the 9/11 disaster; the millennium transition; the war in Iraq; and the Presidency of George Bush. I have covered all these topics in my writings.

My travels through my imagination bespeak an adventurous soul, my constant explorative journeys a throwback to Livingstone and Stanley, Burton and Speke -- a Victorian schoolboy's dream fulfilled in fantasy. Yet I have been motivated by the daring of despair; I have sought dare-devilish disaster in lost, forgotten places with the persistence of a determined suicide. If death had come, my writings reveal, I would have welcomed it.

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