Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Life as a Fake: A Monologue

When you are cut off from the rest of the world, things are bound to develop in interesting ways. I've always been a loner. My life is almost a waste. I am a struggling writer, trying to find my voice, hoping to be published. I did not have the benefit of a cultured family life. My parents' home was as bare as a cupboard, no books, dried-out plates of leftovers in the fridge. Imagine if I had grown up in a family with a bloody wall of books, Turkish rugs, modern paintings, De Chirico, Leger. Unfair that anyone should have such a start in life.

I attended The Central High School of Philadelphia, school for clever boys. Who would guess it now that I have become such an intellectual mongrel? I never won any awards at school or had a piece published in the literary magazine. Though even then I dreamed of being published. I was a loner in high school. I made no friends in adolescence.

How I longed for a special friend -- someone to share Rilke and Mallarme. Someone to lend me The Little Review. To have a friend, members only, but that was foreign to me. I longed for a friend who would complement my shyness, someone with no natural reticence or modesty. Always thrusting himself forward, must have a different table than the one he is shown by the waiter. Soup has to be made hotter when I would eat it as it came. Someone whose qualities, nay, virtues, I could envy, I could covet. Jealousy. A friendship based on jealousy. Why not? I was such a fake, so half past six. No head, no tail.

I will tell you the feeling -- exactly like listening to my father -- a high school dropout -- talking about his favorite pastime in his twenties: going to court to hear cases argued and fantasizing about a career in the law. Always the smell of something false about him. All rise, the court of the Honorable whoever is now in session. You may be seated. Making an exhibition of his failures and illusions. All the same -- fake is fake no matter where you find it. There was something so shallow in his character.

Like my father, I invented a whole life for myself. The life of an artist, of an aspiring writer. My life embodies true sorrow and pathos. I am a living person, alone, outside literary cliques, outside print, dying, outside humanity but of it. . . . Perhaps I have no literary talents. Yet I do have something of the soft staring brilliance of Franz Kafka; something of Rilke's anguished solitude; something of Wilfred Owen's angry fatalism.

I walk, I live, I suffer -- and I strain to make my inner life accessible to the world at large. I close my eyes and conjure up such a literary mongrel -- a combination of Kafka, Rilke, and who knows? -- composite and cosmopolitan. A person without the protection of the world that comes from living in it. A man outside.


Evydense said...

A fake is also real, and even at half past six, the tail still shows out to one side. You can't hide from life, you can only choose how, when and where to live it. The who and the why are not individual choice, but choice nonetheless. The what is simply a debate left to philosophers, preachers, teachers and fools, all worth listening to.

Many people choose not to choose. That, too, is their choice. Cryptic, perhaps. Shallow, maybe. The question is "Is is it it worthy?"

SERENDIP said...

Gary if you're serious about getting published contact my friend who is an Iranian-Danish poet. She lives in Washington D.C. and she just got published. She will help you get published if you want to.

Her websites:

...An outstanding and honest voice from the Middle East, Sheema Kalbasi (born November 20, 1972, in Tehran, Iran) is a human right activist, an award winning poet, and literary translator. She is the director of Dialogue of Nations through Poetry in Translation, director of Poetry of Iranian Women Project, the poetry editor of Muse Apprentice Guild and the co-director of the Other Voices International project. She has authored two collections of poems, Echoes in Exile in English, and Sangsar (stoning) in Persian. Kalbasi's work has appeared in numerous magazines, literary reviews, anthologies, and has been translated into several languages. She is one of the few literary figures to promote poets of Iranian heritage as well as international poets into an English speaking audience. Furthermore she has created the horizontal and vertical, a new style in poetry. A frequent and outspoken person, Kalbasi's work is distinguished by her passionate defense of the ethnic and religious minorities' rights.

She has worked for the United Nations and the Center for non Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, and in Denmark. Today she lives with her husband and daughter in the United States.

Echoes in Exile (Paperback)
by Sheema Kalbasi