February 8, 2013

Excerpt from I Want To Start Again


Dissatisfaction, alienation from my own body (and the bodies of others), boredom, an overwhelming sense of disowning, of not wanting, everything I have (perhaps as a way of owning it more naturally or subversively), anger and sadness, in great quantities, that seem to have no object or purpose, nowhere to go. These are the traits, the reasons, that convince me there is little point in writing about myself honestly. Who needs to read such things? Toward what end? But I have written all my other books and now it seems I have no choice. I am the only topic left. At least I can use my anger for slander.

The artistic life has convinced me that people mainly want to read inspiring stories. I don’t. In this fact I might well be in the minority, but I’m certainly not alone. There is most likely a way, or many ways, I could describe my life so that most would find it inspiring. There are so many ways to tell a story. In writing this, I feel such a strong desire to control how my story is told (perhaps after I’m dead, a moment which so often feels to me will come remarkably soon.) I don’t want others to decide what my life has been. I want to decide. Apparently what I most want is to portray it as slanderous.

The neurotic has the feeling that he wants something, can’t say what it is, and nevertheless is frustrated not to get it.

Critical optimism. Naïve on purpose.

I read about Quantum physics and think: this is scientific evidence that has found an incorrect solution. Something is missing, I don’t know what, but some of the basic premises through which the experiments are conducted and interpreted must be wildly incorrect. They do experiments, record results, yet because of some fault in their basic understanding they do not see what is actually there. Or they do see what is there but miss something else even more important. This is my feeling when I read about Quantum physics and I have absolutely no idea whether or not this feeling is correct. However, when read about Quantum physics I also don’t feel that I’m reading about myself. Am I the scientist who looks at the evidence (of my own life and experience) and comes to the wrong conclusions?

A friend in Berlin tells me about retrocausality. He attempts to explain it – I believe he was quite drunk at the time, perhaps I was as well – with an example: two particles are placed in a particle accelerator, traveling at speeds so fast, and yet variable, so that one particle is, in a sense, temporally ahead of the other one. One particle is in the future and the other in the past. When you alter the future particle, for example by hitting it with some sort of beam, it affects the past one. This experiment has been used to hypothesize that events in the future can concretely alter things in the past, that it is possible for a affect to occur before its cause. At least that’s what I thought when X first explained it to me. However, further research made it clear that retrocausality remains little more than a science fiction hypothesis, and has never been proven, experimentally or otherwise. At that moment I felt more gullible than usual. I always feel gullible. Yet things in the future do alter things in the past. Writing this book will change how I view my own past, and also how others perceive it.

There is one past we have lived, and another past we tell now. I have always searched for ways to reinvent myself. Some of the stories, facts and reflections I will be recounting are stories I have told over and over again, over the years finding better and more effective ways to tell them. One improves a story by selecting the sharpest details, choosing what to leave out and what to keep in, various gradations of nuance and timing. All of this happens instinctively, without noticing, most often based on the subtle reactions of the listener. And yet none of the stories would work if they hadn’t once actually occurred; if they hadn’t, more or less, happened to me. Many of these events were dramatic at the time, while others only became so gradually over years of recounting. Others find their first life here, as I remember things that previously had fallen away. This is something I thought I would never do, write about these events all in one place. In so many ways I’m against it. I hate thinking about the past and I hate nostalgia. And yet, like so many others, with every passing year I become unerringly more nostalgic, almost against my will.

A number of times I have watched some of the most brilliant artists I know shift, over a relatively short period of time, into some of the least interesting artists I know. I feel this process always has something to do with purity, with wanting to be pure, the purest.

[You can read one possible opening for I Want To Start Again here.]


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