Bukowski

by Jon Sullivan - 2024-05-08 - Jonism

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There was a quote about loneliness vs freedom I meant to write about. But as usual with Bukowski, things veered.

I don't specifically remember reading much Bukowski when I was young. Camus, yes. Pirsig, yes. Campbell, yes. Watts, yes. Bukowski, no. But..... I must have..... Because his writing seems to parallel the way I lived and acted. The drunkenness, the womanizing, the rejection of convention, the freedom in solitude, the casual relationship with Death. Life as a drunken, self-deprecating humble brag. I must have. But I suppose he might be more quotable than readable. So maybe I just nibbled at his feast of manuscription.

"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

Death never took me. Ever. No matter how hard I teased her. No matter how stupid and reckless and hopeless I was, it almost seemed like death didn't exist. I should have died so many times. I used to say I had a guardian angel that kept pulling me back from the edge. Even in retrospect It sort of seems that way. I wasn't suicidal as much as I just wanted to live life so well that I'd die young, with a full head of hair. With the smug superiority that comes from youth and naivety. And not only death, but so many things led me to the edge over and over. For me it was always "enlightened" yet irresponsible choices, all the way down. I knew eventually I would pay the price, yet somehow I never did. Sure, getting divorced on the regular kept me poor. Being drunk all the time rotted my brain. Death never came, which made me sad, and eventually I stopped inviting it.

"We are
Born like this
Into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it's cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it's cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes" - Charles Bukowski

In America we live in an economic and political experiment trying to champeon and validate Ayn Rand's philosophy that the rich and powerful are, by the physical laws of the universe, superior to the poor and powerless. That for the poor, the only value to their lives is how well they serve rich men. That misogyny is proper. That your rights supersede our rights until only the victors remain. That profit supersedes virtue. This is the America we live in. Trump isn't some aberration. He's the proof that Ayn Rand was right about us. We are, as a nation, slaves who worship our masters. As a nation, we are eager to overthrow democracy so that one rich asshole who hates us never has to face the truth. The rich profit off of crime, so more people must be made criminals. The rich can pay more for housing and healthcare, so the rest of us are priced out. Bukowski may have been dark and ugly, but we live in his dark place. We just choose to put a happy face on it, where he saw through such sentimentality.

"I was a man who thrived on solitude; without it I was like another man without food or water. Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride in my solitude; but I was dependent on it. The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me." - Charles Bukowski

This. I am this. I love spending time with my new Oregon friends. Every second of it. But time with tribe creates an ever growing vacuum for me. I am forever pulled back to my hobbit hole, back inside my moat, back to the bubble that only has me in it. I am unapologetically selfish about my solitude. Even now, I sit in my wonderfully large and comfortable apartment, thinking about how to make it smaller with less stuff. Even if it is less, a tidy bubble is a happy bubble.

"I wish to weep but sorrow is stupid.
I wish to believe but belief is a graveyard." - Charles Bukowski

I left unhappiness behind in San Diego. I live now such that happiness is a constant. All my choices and decisions lead me to it. It's not so much that sorrow is stupid, but more that it never leads to anything vital, better, important, final. Sorrow is a bottomless well of all things other than happiness. Once I learned how happiness could be a choice, sorrow no longer made sense. And here is where Bukowski and I always part ways. I choose to believe.

Today's photo : Speaking of solitude, the greatest counter to my assertion about the primacy of solitude is my photography. Without getting outside and chasing beauty I feel like I'm failing. There is only so much happiness you can use to backfill a failed life. So if my happiness is something I believe, photos are hard tangible proof I'm not just wasting away in self delusion. So..... Sometimes I do leave the house. For this photo, along with three chicken wings and a burger, I drove 12 hours. 12 hours for one photo = I'm not a waste. I'll take it.

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