Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Forgotten Giants: Saint-Pol Roux

saint-pol roux young
"...he was a seminal thinker, a warm human being, and a wise man who saw in 'the things,' the birds, flowers, and objects around him, indicators of some deeper reality." --Brian Merrikin Hill

The following was written by D.J. Carlile (translator of Rimbaud: The Works) as the introduction to his translation of Roux's Le Sacre de Rimbaud. Both the poem and introduction were originally published as a chapbook in 2003. Reprinted with permission.

* * *

Five years and three months after the birth of Arthur Rimbaud in northern France, Paul-Pierre Roux was born on January 15, 1861 in Marseilles. He was a few months younger than Jules LaForgue, another of his notable contemporaries who, like Rimbaud, burned out early, dying in 1887 at 26. Rimbaud himself passed in 1891 at 37, having abandoned literature some 18 years before. All three of these poets are of the same generation and of the same aesthetic inclinations but the least well-known of them, Saint-Pol Roux, lived to be 80, and his creative life effectively spanned the decades between the Symbolists in the 19th century and the Surrealists in the 20th.

The son of middle-class parents, he abandoned his legal studies in his early 20's after becoming inordinately obsessed with the works of Paul Verlaine. At 25, he entered upon his poetic vocation as if converting to a religion, changing his civilian state for a place in the kingdom of letters with a change of name: Paul-Pierre Roux became Saint-Pol Roux. His work soon appeared in the first issue of Pléiade and a little later in Mercure de France. When asked about the significance of his new triple monogram S.P.R. he would explain that "these were the essential consonants of Shakespeare's name. And when spoken aloud they say 'Hesper' (the evening star) and 'Espère' (hope)." This obtuse comment endeared him to the burgeoning Symbolist movement.

After a period of poverty living in the Ardennes, he returned to Paris and made a small fortune from the success of Charpentier's opera Louise for which he anonymously wrote the libretto. He bought a manor house in Brittany and retired there in 1904.

saint pol roux manor
Roux at his manor house

Remy de Gourmant called him "One of the most fruitful and astonishing inventors of metaphors," and further praised "the harmony of richly colored, ingenious, and grave poems... written almost entirely in images."

By the mid-1920's, Andre Breton, chief of the Surrealists, regarded him as "among the living... the only authentic precursor of the modern movement." In the Surrealist Manifesto Breton says, "Saint-Pol Roux is Surrealist in his use of symbols."

When sleeping, Roux would post a sign on his door that read, "THE POET IS WORKING," a concept echoed by the Surrealists who emphasized the importance of dream states and the subconscious in art.

The last great banquet of what Roger Shattuck called "The Banquet Years" (the era of artists like Rousseau, Satie, Jarry, and Apollinaire) was held in honor of Saint-Pol Roux in Paris, July 1925. The Surrealists were present in force, likewise the elder Symbolists whom the Surrealists considered reactionary and "old hat." When the novelist Madame Rachilde made the comment in her speech that "a French woman must never marry a German," Breton loudly accused her of insulting his friend Max Ernst, the German painter who was also present. A food fight and shouting-match ensued. The Surrealists began chanting, "Vive l'Allemagne!" ("Long live Germany!"). They leapt onto tables and one of them swung from the chandelier, sending dishes and silverware flying. Some of them shouted, "Down with France!" out of the windows. Neighbors, hearing the commotion, gathered outside the restaurant and began to denounce the Surrealists, even threatening to lynch them. Police arrived and a riot was narrowly avoided as the building was cleared. The 65-year-old poet managed to escape without being arrested or injured, though many others were no so fortunate.

* * *

By the decade of the 30's, Stéphane Mallarmé, Verlaine, and even Apollinaire had been accepted into the pantheon of French literature. Rimbaud, however, was still considered something of an outsider, a hooligan, a drug-addled troublemaker of questionable morality who had seduced Verlaine and destroyed his marriage. No doubt, he had written some strange and beautiful poems, the common wisdom ran, but he was nothing more than a passing anomaly, a freak of nature, a juvenile delinquent with literary pretensions, "very young, very crude, very defiant," as Arthur Symons has put it. Along with the disdainful and ironic LaForgue, he was considered a marginal figure.

Laforgue, dead at 26, "had been a dying man all his life..." Symons writes in The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1919). "Coming as he does after Rimbaud, turning the divination of the other into theories, into achieved results, he is the eternally grown up, mature to the point of self-negation, as the other is the eternal enfant terrible."

Roux, whose primary devotion was to Victor Hugo, Verlaine, and Mallarmé, had never concerned himself much with Rimbaud, whose name seldom appears in his work. The manuscript of "Le Sacre de Rimbaud" ("Rimbaud's Consecration") is therefore unique in several ways. It was never published in his lifetime: only one copy exists, and its survival was a fluke. Prompted perhaps by the publication of Benjamin Fondane's book Rimbaud the Hoodlum in 1933, Roux penned this poem — or this outline for a poem — to change prevailing opinions about Rimbaud: "It is time we saw you as a god of Destiny, as a giant of the Absolute, and NOT such a hoodlum of Immortality." That this poem is a late work makes sense if we read Roux as one of the "old men" who bring Rimbaud the scepter at his consecration. It had become clear to him that Rimbaud was part of a trinity born out of beauty: Verlaine as passion, Mallarmé as intellect, and Rimbaud as the spirit of youth. He set down this formula — this incantation — for the "street-kid" to become a god of life and poetry along with his peers. And then he tucked it away in a drawer, in a folder, in a desk.

* * *

In the summer of 1940 the German army swept through Brittany in the final stages of its conquest of France during World War II. On the evening of Lune 23rd a German soldier broke into the manor house where Roux lived with his daughter Divine. When confronted by the inhabitants, the soldier opened fire. The poet was shot twice and his housekeeper was killed when she threw herself in front of Divine to protect her. The daughter was wounded and the soldier then attempted to rape her, but was driven away by one of the family dogs, a large Alsatian. The 80-year-old poet, bleeding from his wounds, managed to revive himself and go for help. He and his daughter survived that terrible night, but when the poet returned home three months later, he found that his house had been ransacked by the Nazis and his library of books and manuscripts burned. This was too much for him and he died a few days later in a hospital in Brest of uremia and grief.

But someone had gathered up an armful of papers from the library before it all went up in flames, and taken them away for safekeeping. Among these papers was the unfinished manuscript for "Le Sacre de Rimbaud." In 1944 the Germans bombed the manor house, leaving it in ruins.

saint-pol roux manor house ruins

During the war, the newly-discovered "Album Zutique" poems of Rimbaud were also in hiding; the manuscript was passed around via the Underground to keep it out of German hands. As George Valbon once wrote of Roux's poetry — and the sentiment might just as well apply to Rimbaud's — "Le poème, du fait même de sa presence, récuse la nuit et l'oppression" ("The poem, merely by its presence, challenges Night and Oppression").

Saint-Pol Roux, like Rimbaud, and like LaForgue, was the creator of a poetry of "singular perfection," as Symons has called it, writing of LaForgue and Rimbaud: "The old cadences, the old eloquence, the ingenuous seriousness of poetry are all banished... Disarticulated, abstract, mathematically lyrical, it gives expression, in its icy ecstasy, to a very subtle criticism of the universe, with a surprising irony of cosmical vision."

Thus, out of his rough paean to the trinity of Mallarmé-Verlaine-Rimbaud, born of beauty, Roux himself becomes a part of another trinity — Rimbaud, LaForgue, Roux — a Symbolist triad of emotion, artifice, and spirituality. Roux, the odd-man-out, the unknown quantity, at the end of his long career consecrates the other outsider and achieves a sort of fusion with him. In "Le Sacre de Rimbaud" we find a synthesis of poetry's imagistic possibilities: the natural, the mythic, and the ultimately divine are contained in the figure of Rimbaud. The street-kid, is presented as having transcended his lowly station (cabin-boy, seedling, hoodlum, sinner) to show humanity a way to the shores of a higher consciousness.

Symbolism, as Symons had defined it, is "one pathway leading through beautiful things to the eternal beauty." Saint-Pol Roux's poem, here translated into English for the first time 70 years after its composition, is a signpost on that path."

—D.J. Carlile, 2003

* * *

Below: an excerpt from Le Sacre de Rimbaud / Rimbaud's Consecration [trans. DJC]

"Others have erected columns of books that support no entablature, no roof, nor any god. That stand upright in the wind like dead tree trunks giving no shade, even less bearing fruit. They have written much but all is erased. If they were still alive, they would find that they still haven't written enough and their future would be another once-upon-a-time, because for each of them the future ceaselessly unrolls backward.
       You didn't put together many pages but your ink was made of light and your pen, like a ray, emanated from the sun. Maybe you said nothing more than was necessary, but you said it so well that everyone in the world applies themselves to repeating it.
       In our sometime ignorance, it is sufficient to hear only a word for our soul to be cured of all knowledge... of our sickness. These words of yours aren't hackneyed, your words were not dead insects in ancient glass cases, you wrote with flowers, fruit, gestures; out of perfumes you made bouquets of images. You stripped the words naked. Words naked, the Word, just like in the beginning, you swam in the Dawn.
       You came, three magi kings, your arms full of images. Mallarmé brought Intellect. Verlaine Instinct. Rimbaud Enthusiasm. The 3 Kings of Beauty, they walked through the crowd like three fools and the scepter in their fist resembled a bauble.
       You were not the kings of dead cities from which you parted the piled-up sands.
       No, the new city is descended from your sensuous cravings and from your brain where the gods dwell.
       We come to consecrate you. We have consecrated Verlaine and Mallarmé. They have already changed just as they are themselves changed by eternity. We always see you dishonored, defiled. But we wish you to be as pure as your native joy and virginal nature. This avalanche of old timers who were children when you blinded them with all your dazzlements.
       You passed by like a ruffian, we say, not like a sower of parables.
       Imagination is not only the trajectory of genius: at the point of drop-off there is a masterpiece.
       It is time we saw you as a god of Destiny, as a giant of the Absolute, and NOT such a hoodlum of Immortality.

       No, it's not about piling up books, it's about producing the seed, it's about washing the millennial dirt from the word and offering it up all anew.

       Retrieving the natural world in the world's mess and history's muck.

       You came from the slime, from the dung to rise again in the ear of corn, in the flower.
       You set out from madness in order to arrive at wisdom.

       You rose again all the way to Instinct...

       You rise again through the stalks of centuries and find yourself before God as you were originally (in the beginning), facing the first dawn.

       And there you take for playthings the words that are born.
       You pinned down vertigoes.
       The prophet is a fool who clings to the azure and speaks to the sun.
       Hoodlum of God, priest of men, pope of mankind.
       Then you plunge into Hell which illuminates you completely.

       You have produced a climate that is more than a shiver, more than a red vest, and more than a bludgeon, you have brought all the sunbeams, all the fragrances...
       And you come crowned in fifty diamonds (rubies)."

* * *

"RIMBAUD JUGGLES WITH THE STARS" -- A reference, perhaps, to the images in "Phrases" from Illuminations: "I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple... chains of gold from star to star, and I dance." [trans DJC]. On a tightrope over the cosmos, the poet plays gracefully with our perceptions of the Universe.

"a climate that is more than a shiver... a red vest... a bludgeon" -- The "Season in Hell" produced by Rimbaud transcends the conventional hellish torments of ice, fire, and torture (see Dante and Milton): he brings sunlight and fragrances into the sulfurous darkness. Also, "more than a red vest" is a reference to the "scarlet waistcoat" that Gautier had worn to opening night of Hugo's Hernani "to proclaim his allegiance to romantic principles," thus ushering in the era of Dandyism.

Monday, August 23, 2010

QuoteS VII

"People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant." —Helen Keller

"People who comprehend a thing to its very depths rarely stay faithful to it forever. For they have brought its depths into the light of day: and in the depths there is always much that is unpleasant to see." —Nietzsche

"People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster." —James Baldwin

"There's nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear." —Daniel Dennett

* * *

"The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness." —Malraux

"A man who is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea." —Joseph Conrad

"Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent." —R.D. Laing

"There’s an African saying: 'If we go forward, we die; if we go backward, we die. So let’s go forward and die.'" —Malidoma Somé

* * *

"Particle physics has a long history of zany theories that turned out to be true. Niels Bohr, the doyen of modern physicists, often told a story about a horseshoe he kept over his country home in Tisvilde, Denmark. When asked whether he really thought it would bring good luck, he replied, 'Of course not, but I'm told it works even if you don't believe in it.'" —article: Did a Time-Traveling Bird Sabotage the Collider?

* * *

"For me a convenient place to work is a remote place among strangers where there is good swimming. But life should require a certain minimal effort. You should not have too many people waiting on you, you should have to do most things for yourself. Hotel service is embarrassing. Maids, waiters, bellhops, porters and so forth are the most embarrassing people in the world for they continually remind you of inequities which we accept as the proper thing. The sight of an ancient woman, gasping and wheezing as she drags a heavy pail of water down a hotel corridor to mop up the mess of some drunken overprivileged guest, is one that sickens and weighs upon the heart and withers it with shame for this world in which it is not only tolerated but regarded as proof positive that the wheels of Democracy are functioning as they should without interference from above or below. Nobody should have to clean up anybody else’s mess in this world. It is terribly bad for both parties, but probably worse for the one receiving the service.

I have been corrupted as much as anyone else by the vast number of menial services which our society has grown to expect and depend on. We should do for ourselves or let the machines do for us, the glorious technology that is supposed to be the new light of the world. We are like a man who has bought up a great amount of equipment for a camping trip, who has the canoe and the tent and the fishing lines and the axe and the guns, the mackinaw and the blankets, but who now, when all the preparations and the provisions are piled expertly together, is suddenly too timid to set out on the journey but remains where he was yesterday and the day before and the day before that, looking suspiciously through white lace curtains at the clear sky he distrusts. Our great technology is a God-given chance for adventure and for progress which we are afraid to attempt. Our ideas and our ideals remain exactly what they were and where they were three centuries ago. No. I beg your pardon. It is no longer safe for man to even declare them!" —Tennessee Williams, The Catastrophe of Success

"To all the women of the baby boom generation: Good Housekeeping was wrong. Vogue was wrong. Elle was wrong. Donna Reed was wrong. Cleanliness is not next to godliness, it is next to frivolity. The obsession with cleaning is a reflection of how shallow and empty life appears through your eyes. It is not a mark of social status to have an immaculate home; it is a sign you need a hobby. If things are too cluttered, if things are causing health hazards, I am one hundred percent behind cleaning them. But cleaning just in case someone drops by? Cleaning to make a certain impression? These are not justifiable reasons. You are worth more than mop-sweat and dishwasher hands. Develop your character so people can judge you on that!" —Sarah B.

"A great man is coming to eat at my house. I do not wish to please him; I wish that he should wish to please me." —Emerson

* * *

"Power structure theories have offered three faces of power. The first face of power is described by the theory of pluralism, which says that society is an open system composed of various interest groups of more or less equal power who compete to get what they want. The second face of power is described by the elitist theory, which says that in reality, some individuals and groups have more power than others, and that the powerful control society's agenda. Some issues get addressed, while other issues do not. The powerful have their needs met, while the powerless do not. The powerless are excluded, and their silence or inaction is not necessarily the result of their consensus and conscious choice, as the pluralists imply. The third face of power shows how over time unequal power structures become invisible as people internalize the agenda set by the powerful. Eventually people don't even notice that some things aren't on the agenda. People believe the poor are poor and the powerless are powerless because there's something wrong with them, or because that's the way God (or karma, or fate) arranges the universe. The powerless themselves internalize their subservient role in order to escape the subjective sense of powerlessness, of being responsible for their own subservience. George Bernard Shaw wrote that monarchs are not born; they are made by artificial hallucinations. It's no longer a conspiracy when everyone thinks the same, when everyone has the same hallucination." —George Draffan, interview

"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights." —Albert Einstein, 1949

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron." —Dwight D. Eisenhower, from a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

"I believe that to pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone involved with it. By definition it must, because it nurtures everything except those things that are important: integrity, ethics, truth, our very heart and soul. [...] What we call success is about getting, getting, getting. Getting money, prestige, feeding the ego. When you follow that path in life, you're really breaking down the gates of hell. We're taught in this country to worship getting things. No one tells you that the purpose in life is giving. We have the whole thing upside down." —Hubert Selby, Jr

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

wishing i had a better pen and a steady hand

literary comic

Monday, August 09, 2010

media cheerleading

A few days ago I watched the documentary War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (2008). The film adequately explores some of the ways in which the media in the United States colludes with the government to market wars. Some examples it cites are: the media's use of government and military officials as pundits; the media's use of government data as a source of reliable information instead of investigating facts independently (AKA journalism); and the firing of dissenting voices on television news programs. Overall it's an average, standard fare talking heads documentary in which Norman Solomon distills ideas and examples from his book while we watch footage of various politicians and media personalities dish out distortions. War Made Easy mostly sets out to be a piece of investigative journalism rather than a great piece of filmmaking (the final video on this page might be the film's most visually arresting sequence), and on that level it's probably a success. There's little to blow your hair back, but it gets the job done. Outside of a couple of undeniable examples of the media not doing its job (to put it apologetically), the film's greatest strength might be that it convincingly refutes the idea that the media in the United States is overly liberal (or liberal in any meaningful way), at least when it comes to war reporting (which should be enough to unbalance the entire premise).

Below is an excerpt I uploaded from the film. In just over 8 minutes it sufficiently damns the mainstream press in America as well as anyone who's able to remain part of it. Aside from being my favorite segment and the main reason I made this post, it's basically the film in a nutshell for people who already know and understand these issues.

(Two parts, the second of which will play automatically after the first. Sorry for the choppy bits (it gets better after 1:30); I'm using primitive machinery.)

Another part of the film that stood out to me was an incredible statistic. (First, a quick disclaimer: I tried verifying the numbers myself and realized that there are many ways one could count up the deaths (Vietnam in particular), so without seeing Norman Solomon's sources I can't vouch for the validity of the statistic.) Anyway, here it is: In World War I, 10% of all casualties were civilian. During World War II, civilian casualties rose to 50%. In Vietnam, 70% of the casualties were civilian. And in Iraq, civilians account for 90% of the casualties. If that's true and verifiable, it seems like something powerful enough to end the war(s). But perhaps I'm being incredibly optimistic and naive to think such a thing. Not that it matters; the majority of Americans will never hear anything about it.

[here is an older post related to media bias and distortion]

Friday, August 06, 2010

desire: coveting

The following is a repost from my friend Sean's deceased blog Bombing Number Ten. It was once featured on my sidebar under "recent links & discoveries", so some of you may have already read it. If it has a flaw it's that perhaps too much blame is placed on our culture and too little on the responsibility of the individual. Or maybe the responsibility is implied and the monumental struggle required in order to break free is what leads to the feeling of helplessness. Regardless, it's a wonderful piece of writing.

But first, a quote:

"Consider freedom. It can’t simply be given to someone. We are not born free. We have to achieve it. We have to struggle for it – against a thousand alien entanglements. We are up to our eyeballs in clichés, conventions, received ideas, provincialisms, bumper-sticker substitutes for thought. It’s hard to break free of all that. And it takes more than effort and will-power. It takes intelligence, knowledge, sensitivity, awareness. You can’t just will yourself free. That’s what most Americans don’t seem to understand and the political and corporate marketers have no intention of telling them. Americans want the easy, know-nothing path to emotional and intellectual freedom. “Tell me who to be. Tell me what to think. Tell me how to feel. Tell me what to buy.” That’s the context within which the Hollywood [and corporate] selling of meanings and emotions and the public’s willingness to buy them has to be understood." (source)

* * *

Driving to the grocery store with my roommates last night we passed by one of the (many) new housing developments boasting luxury single family homes. It was dark and many of the homes had soft accent lights installed on their decks which highlighted them in a way which was not yet grandstanding. I was struck by an overwhelming longing to own such a place - a desire to own a home of my own with a beautiful deck perfect for entertaining or for writing or reading on late summer nights. A place where I could be married to a beautiful woman who would eventually bear our beautiful, if sardonic, children into a world where we could raise them to be the happiest, most giving people we could. I thought of my friends, many of whom have taken that path, and I was overcome by a desire to abandon the walls of thought that have kept me from taking it myself.

And then I thought about the many, myriad things which I long for in my heart.

In my mind my home, my eventual, proto-mythic home (for which I am selling the very best years of my life), is beautiful. Elegant. Posh. With stone and tile flooring in some rooms, like the kitchen and bath, and rare, hard woods in others like the dining and living rooms. The kitchen, as I've said in other venues, would be stocked with Wusthof knives and Le Creuset cookware - brands I own and adore - and feature at least two cooking surfaces and an absurdly large island. I love cooking. My kitchen would reflect this. It would also reflect the heavy, old world European styles with which I self-identify. Intricate woodwork, silver. Aged things from the Schwarzwald and Nürnberg. I would drive an Audi RS6 Avant - a car representing the culmination of August Horch's lifelong search for perfection. In truth, I've often thought that I would enjoy owning a Horch - one of the absolutely stunning 853's, probably - as a garaged and trailered show car. I love cars. My garage would reflect this.

Prior to going to the grocery store I'd spent some time looking through random blogs. One of them contained amazing pictures of a young couple, very much in love. The pictures managed to capture that fact perfectly with no posturing, and I was at once glad for them but also envious of what they had. The girl was beautiful and her prose, while lacking, showed energy and a lust for life that I frankly lack. Like most of us I have preset ideas about what I would expect the love of my life to look and be like and what our relationship would be like. I want to have a relationship with someone who is my intellectual equal or better - someone to pluck my wreath if you will. In my mind she's a tall girl, with blonde hair, and not very thin: something out of the Cure's Pictures of You. "Bigger, and brighter, and whiter than snow." She'd be happy, and a little razor-witted, and in love with food and at least open to car shows. I love being loved. My relationship would reflect this.

But there's the rub: looking and wanting, forming expectations, and desire. The happiest moments of my life, and probably of anyone's, have come to me as complete surprises and certainly not, as we all know, as the result of things. (How can one love a thing or an action? I would hate to think that my God feels the same emotion for me as I feel toward cooking.)

I own a Mk5 VW GTI and a 1989 VW Fox. I bought the Mk5 because I viewed it - like the RS6 - as the culmination of a long and worthy struggle. Volkswagen's return to its roots with a simple, fast GTI that didn't take aim at BMW or even the Mustang (as its progenitor had), but simply aimed to be an amazing car. Despite its weight it is. I've driven much faster cars, and lighter cars, but few have had the connection with the road that the GTI has. The Mk5 was my dream car from the moment it came out, at least in terms of cars I could ever afford. But now while driving it I often find myself gazing longingly at Audi S3s, BMW 3-series, and even Honda Fits. Similarly, the Fox started out as a simple desire to have a car to work on and understand. A little project. But it soon ballooned into an all-out, tear down project which had to have the best of everything and for which no expense was spared. I think I can claim, with the exception of some Audi Foxes, that I have spent more than anyone in North America on my Fox, and it still isn't done. And I still regret not doing more - spending more - to enhance it further. Solid lifter head, higher duration cam, custom, high compression pistons. I'm not completely sure I could tell you why. At all. I know that none of it has made me particularly happy, not even in the way that preparing a well-cooked meal for others has.

I've spent more of my high-school and onward years in serious relationships than not, and every woman I've ever dated seriously has been a beautiful person entirely deserving of someone better than myself. None of them were tall, none of them were blonde, and none of them had any interest whatsoever in car shows. They have, however, made me happy.

You'd think I'd learn from these things. You would think that, eventually, I would realize that the happiness in my life has never been a result of the images I've created of my future or the things that fill those images. Those images, those things in them and the longing therein, are all, instead, false hopes for a future that is quickly dying - for familiar reasons - for all of us. Hopes created to keep me working toward them, and therefore working. Desires created artificially, by myself but at the behest of my culture, to fill a void in my life. A void where happiness is meant to live. A void where true human community is meant to live.

I'll put it simply: This culture is a disease. It has corrupted everything good and pure about living in this world - thrown it all away in exchange for a toxic mockery of real humanity. All the Wusthof knives and glimmering, Nordic girls in the world will never change that. If that seems like a controversial statement, consider that I live like a king compared to the majority of the world, and I still want ever more.

And as long as I accept this system, I always will.