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There Are But Two Options

William Burroughs believed that to be a writer you must learn to exist and to live without religion, without country, and without allies. Most especially you must learn to see what is in front of you without prejudice. That’s what my friend Dr. Ramsey, the professor, told me just a few weeks ago on my last visit to New York. We were in a crowded, noisy diner on Third Avenue, near 56th Street, eating thick burgers and fries. He said as a writer I’m obliged to pay particular attention to my most recent trauma: being dumped by Maria. My soul mate. My one and only.

“Actually, I’d prefer to forget that particular melodrama,” I said.

“Of course you do. But eventually you’ll have to pick one of two options: Crawl into the cave--Plato's cave if you prefer--and contemplate the shadows cast by the fire. Or stay outside in the bright sunlight and grapple with what the civilians call the 'real' world.”

“Depressing,” I said. “Are there alternatives?”


“Well, I suppose I’ll take the cave.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

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i am in the cave at the moment. and you know, it is harrowing yet unavoidable, i've been trying very hard to live my life without prejudice, especially at this point in spiritual/physical/mental/social destitution.

despite that i am not exactly keen on being a writer anymore, i do have other, impossibly urgent, artistic aspirations that still involve writing.

although, how does one find strength as an artist? this is the quandary i have been facing my entire life.

At some point you have to make a formal decision that in your life Art is the only thing of true importance, therefore you will allow nothing to deter you from this commitment. You will see everything else in life as subordinate, including failed romances, or failure itself. And most important you will see everything you encounter--good or bad, sublime or horrid--as material. Grist.

yes you are right and i have been sensing these things all along. i find am less crafty these days (we can all commend burroughs on his unyielding craftiness).

i am unequipped for the solitude i have imposed on myself as of late, although i think it is necessary. or perhaps i am only torturing myself.

collaboration is so much easier, but i often find myself stifled by the compromise, so i have to take the hard way.

I don't see solitude as torture but rather as something to be embraced, because it's the most efficient way of forcing yourself to get comfortable in your own skin.

They say that all neuroses spring from incomplete self-acceptance. Am I now less neurotic? Waaal, let's just say one result of my living alone here on the mountainside is that I have much less an opportunity to display them! Akin to the old saw that a fool who holds his counsel is deemed wise.

Pure professorial platitudinous ponderosity.

Either heaven or hell.

Every time you feel grief from a loss, you are supposed to feel guilty that you are not living out in the sun?
What about accepting both: Yin & Yang, as a third alternative - called 'the reality of a life lived'.

What do I know... nothing.

The way I see this, Dr. Ramsey is talking about the contrast between the civilians and the artists. Two different ways of dealing with grief.

Well, an artist is part civilian. It's a conceit to think that the two are completely separate, don't you think? Otherwise, loss of a soul mate, which is out of one's control, would be welcomed as a fortuitous accident leading to new breakthroughs. Covering it up, forgetting, would produce interesting pentimenti which are useful at enriching the surface and the depth of a work: but consciously indicating the process of pain and leading to narcissism and a corruption of feeling if those feelings are merely tools of an art. I'm thinking you don't see these events in this way right now though, although after some time, breakthroughs and pentimenti will certainly follow and bleed out. Still, loss and grief are the provenance of civilians, unexpected and endured, not welcome tools of artists. Later the artist will pick them up and deal with them, create form out of them, and maybe understanding. Until then, it is good to be a civilian.

Maybe that is what the Dr. was saying and I didn't get it. It seemed he was saying either/or, and I want to think it is one, and then the other.

0130 here. Time for sleep (and maybe dreams) for me.

Well now. Making a clear distinction between an artist and a civilian is--at least in my view--hardly an excessive appreciation of my own worth, as you imply. My condition is a biographical fact. I live alone on a mountainside. I write. I take photographs. And, most important, I regard every single one of my experiences, past and present, as material.

In no sense am I a civilian. I’m an American, living in an alien culture. I’ve been here for going on eight years, and I have not yet acquired even conversational Italian. My excuse is that I have limited contact with the natives. Plus, I have not yet mastered English. And don’t forget Richard Lion Heart, the first King of England, who spoke and read only French.

Narcissist? Yes, obviously. My subject often is myself. But self-examination does not lead to corruption, rather the opposite. In recognizing my past evil behavior I am now familiar with what I must at all costs avoid. Especially given the relentless nature of akasa, or Karma. The evil we do is returned to us three fold. This is the truest thing I know. And I know it from direct, personal experience.

Loss and grief ARE for me welcome tools, because they without conscious effort inform my art. The photo accompanying this entry is an example. I pass that blue-tinted door three, four times a week on my descent to the village to get supplies. And I’ve been repeatedly drawn to the sliver of golden light at the bottom that appears only early in the morning when the sun appears at the top of the mountain. This image is a perfect representation of what I have been feeling since Maria dumped me. I am permanently shut off from the brightness on the other side. I am tormented by just a hint of what I have lost.

Plato's cave implies that sometime in the future you're going to reborn with a new knowledge.
So, I can't see why you can't stay into your cave, instead of the bright sun.

And who say that the RL isn't in the cave and that the sun just blind you more, giving you only a small reflexion of how life can really be?

in defence of Forioscribe, not that he needs any...

You seem to speak from a perspective of someone whose life was mostly easy, whose life wasn't marked by ridicule, whose life didn't experience acts of kindness being re-paid with betray and mockery. Over and over again.

Anyway, I wonder if you'd say the same thing of consolation to someone who had recently discovered that the life is just one big lie, that every single friend, every single family member had been lying to you since the day you were born. And that includes your soul mate who had been enjoying the very first row view having fun. How would you console someone whose thoughts are public known to everyone, whose life was sold. Someone who, against their will became a pond in a sick, global game that goes beyond space, universe, race and time.

Sorry, I wonder...
What can you say?


Re: in defence of Forioscribe, not that he needs any...

Unfortunately, I wasn't attacking forioscribe, instead I was getting along with his choice.
I'm sorry if you misunderstood me, because it wasn't by intention at all.

It saddens me that you immediately implied I have an easy life, because it isn't at all. But, I'm not saying I've a hard life, because it would be untrue too: there are people with tougher life than mine's, but I've always thought that it's more how you face your life that makes it hard or easy.
Probably, that's because I'm still young and so I'm a bit more on the optimistic side, I don't know. But, surely, I'm not the one judging someone else only by a few impersonal words that expressed my opinion about a concept and not about a person.

And, may I ask you what are your parameters to define a "easy life"? Every person has his own problems and everyone see them as the biggest ones in the world.

You ask me what I would say to someone that lost everything. And my answer will be that I'll be always by his side if he is someone that I know quite well, so he isn't really alone. And, as soon as he can stand on his own feet, then he's going to find out something worth of living.
Instead, if we are talking of someone I don't know at all, it's not like I can give any opinion; I can only suggest to not give up and to look around: there's always a reason worth for living for.

Maybe I don't know Plato very well, but the myth of the cave is related to knowledge. There are people constricted in the cave that see things outside. And, as soon as they are able to go out and reach the sun, they see that only the sun bears the knowledge of the sensitive world, since it is the one that gives light and shades.

So, I think that being in the cave, as soon as you stay there because you are trying to go past the sensitive world, chosing the hardest path into the untouchable one (by it I mean emotions, thoughts and speculation about life, in order to get a objective vision of the world), isn't like I was making fun of him. I have the feeling like I'm in that cave too and I'm struggling hard to find the real meaning of things, not stopping on what it's just under the sun.

I hope now my words didn't offend you or forioscribe, because it is really far from my mind.

Re: in defence of Forioscribe, not that he needs any...

Thank you, these were very kind words. In truth, the problem is that most people try to communicate nowadays via short messages, unfinished thoughts and METAPHORS. Don't get me wrong, I know that from time to time I'm guilty of the same sin. Yet, as a species, we've lost the power to communicate with each other on a genuine level. We became entangled in some nonsense that totally luck human dignity, compassion, honesty and truthfulness.

As I've said, I'm guilty of the same sin. Every day I play this sick little game invented by the "enlighten humanity" we like to call ourselves. I do it for one and only one reason - to survive...

Have a nice day.

(((hugs of comfort))

"in order to open the door, you must close the door"

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