“Corny Stuff”

One of my favourite pieces of writing by Charles Bukowski comes from his correspondence with Sheri Martinelli.

It’s a short account of his haemorrhoidectomy and it’s quintessential Buk.

It goes:


the month of March is over. I went into the hospital on the 2nd., was sliced on the 3rd., and there was a bit of horror and disbelief—locked in with the whining crowd. and their T.V. sets and many of them with imagined ills, only wanting the great Mother because society has cut their balls off and they have lost touch with the undiscovered and important gods. no souls—just mouths, bodies pewking the misery of the sell-out. the bit of pain from the knives was nothing compared to being locked-in with them! at least on the job, you know that in a dozen hours you will be walking down the street alone—4 a.m.—with the last of the moon sinking into your skin and bones, the quiet air giving you no con-game… you slowly fill again, you go home. the mirror is hell, but that’s where you came from. but there’s always that stirring inch LEFT! that something you held all the way through. a seed. a lucky charm. love. guts. spinach. you name it. you know it. but in a hospital—that’s it. they’ve got you—(the docs and the nurses and the patients)—to talk to, fondle, slice, arrg. but I found me a little Mexican mop-up girl—all eyes and sadness, we had some laughs, corny stuff, I’d say, “Hey sweetie, you come to mop my white socks again?” “do they need it?” “oh yeah, once lightly!” and the little wench mopped my socks again! laughing. I always seem to meet these little Mexican girls working at dirty jobs, for nothing. beautifully real and easy. “If I could get out of this bed I’d chase you all around the room!” “why don’t you try it, you might catch me!” silly stuff, I guess. she’s 25 years younger than I am. old horny goat, Buk. but a lift. sure. she brought me a new pair of stockings when I left, threw them on my chest. “here! for your big stinky feet!” I didn’t have the guts to ask for her whereabouts when she wasn’t working.

Note: the Mexican mop-up girl he talks about is around 75 years old today—if she is still around somewhere.

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I wonder…

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Did she get the experimental jab?

Where does she live?

Does she remember Buk?

Does she have kids?

What is her go to ice cream flavor?

When was the last time she smiled and why?

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speaking of favourites…

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I like to prowl ordinary places
and taste the people—
from a distance.
I don’t want them too near
because that’s when attrition
starts.
but in supermarkets
laundromats
cafes
street corners
bus stops
eating places
drug stores
I can look at their bodies
and their faces
and their clothing—
watch the way they walk
or stand
or what they are doing.
I’m like an x-ray machine
I like them like that:
on view.
I imagine the best things
about them.
I imagine them brave and crazy
I imagine them beautiful.

I like to prowl the ordinary places.
I feel sorry for us all or glad for us
all
caught alive together
and awkward in that way.

there’s nothing better than the joke
of us
the seriousness of us
the dullness of us
buying stockings and carrots and gum
and magazines
buying birth control
candy
hair spray
and toilet paper.

we should build a great bonfire
we should congratulate ourselves on our
endurance

we stand in long lines
we walk about
we wait.

I like to prowl ordinary places
the people explain themselves to me
and I to them

a woman at 3:35pm
weighing purple grapes on a scale
looking at that scale very
seriously
she is dressed in a simple green dress
with a pattern of white flowers
she takes the grapes
puts them carefully into a white paper
bag

that’s lightning enough

the generals and the doctors may kill us
but we have
won.

59 Cents a Pound

The Candid Are a Little Wild

“Honesty’s on short supply and we subsist on mendacities in times of grave crises. We cannot afford such luxuries as truth or common sense in drastic times.”

Norman Spineles

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they are worse than zombies. they are holier than thouing their willfully blind way through the china shop of your conscience.

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The meek shall inherit the earth.

the hell,

all that the meek can accomplish is be weak

and thus a vehicle for evil.

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it’s only the little wild

who can

open their heart a little wide.

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Remember

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

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and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

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those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

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beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

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but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

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like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

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their finest art

.

Charles Bukowski

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People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

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If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

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If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

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The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

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Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

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The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

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People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

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What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

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People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

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Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

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Kent M. Keith

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Peter vs Harrison (D’bating for Godot)

[note: this is intended in the spirit of poking fun, and by no means intended as a representation of the actual views held by the gents invoked]


 

Sam says—Facts.

 

’dan says—Facts, my ass.

 

Sam says—It’s facts, my friend, and that is that.

 

’dan says—Listen, man, it goes deeper than facts.

 

Sam says—Deeper or not, facts shall guide our day to day acts.

 

’dan says—’cept that facts come wrapped, all set, in a pack: an always-already a priori structure, an underlying overarching metanarrative substructure: a cyberordinate cognitive OS that grounds, precedes, embeds, nay, bears, in fact, said facts.

 

Sam says—Well . . . you mean ontotheology? as in: to give the Derrid’ his due? For sure, you know better than that?

 

’day says—Yeah . . . but it’s not as simple as that. It goes much deeper than that. Let me explain what . . .

 

Sam says—But what does all that have to do with that douche up there in the celestial fluff? For Pete’s sake! Cut this dogged apologetics! Be real for a change. Take faith. Pray, do tell me: Why privilege the pest called Christian over the rest?

 

’dan says—Look, it is the foundational Western heritage: the actual bathtub under the proverbial baby’s butt—and granted, there’s some tepid bathwater in there. But hey…

 

Sams says—Why, ’dan, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. The goddamn dogma. If you want to keep that baby clean and not let it spoil and downright drown in the froth of holy blood-bath, you need pure facts that distill the dreck… You dig?

 

’dan says—But could we be here together talking about all this today were it not for the narrative arc of a Covenant? This is no trivial matter at all, Sam. Not the least bit trivial. A bloody miracle, indeed.

 

Dan says—Bloody, no doubt. Sad, actually, but it no longer has to be ’true.’ We know much better than that. We now have a better grasp of the facts. We do have the choice to drop blind faith. But you get it—what I’m getting at—don’t you, ’dan?

 

Here ’dan refs Ralph—The past hast baked your loaf, and in the strengths of its bread you would break up the oven. Give a little slack, sport. It’s time to relent [almost says ’repent’] and loosen a bit your adamant stance. No shame in that. Admit it: faith is at the root of a fact.

 

Sam says—You act like you don’t get it but I know that you do get it. Faith makes sense in an evo phase of dire straits, but be it seed or seat: faith is no longer a must. Hell, we can’t afford to cling to spent dregs if we intend to transcend this bedlamite mess. If not outright jettison, then at the very least demote we must the canonical crap, and recognize it for what it actually is: dross, old-school pulp.

 

But ’dan grapples on—Unless it’s fleshed out and reified in the vivid and gripping tapestry of myth, the truth is too abstract to matter and gain traction: as disembodied facts lack the tang and the swing that renders them palatable and relatable for us—living, breathing spatio-temporal, sensori-motoric beings. There’s just no optics for an ethics without an ethos borne by a mythos. Without it, we would most surely be cast right back into the abysmal womb of the void—adrift, a flickering blip.

 

Sam counters—And yet, most of that mythos is myopic and a malignant source of noise that warps rather than enlightens the soul—naught, but a canon, actually, of what’s abject, vile and totally numb-skull about us all. We’ve been incited to act hypocritical, sanctimonious, abusive and violent; we’ve been crippled by guilt and maimed by shame for too long: We have had enough of the paralyzing buzz in the collective hive of our muddled, befuddled mind. Reason—pure consciousness is the answer: as it is clarity that enables, not enticing (and inciting) mythical fables. Get it? Mythos merely codes for myopic noise.

 

’dan says—Faith is at the root of it . . .

 

Sam says—. . . on the wings of which we launched from the swamp and soared high above the jungle, sling-shot right into the age of reason: Why, thank God for that! Still, an authentic homo ethicus flourishes in the space of pure reason, not brute credos. Now is the time we got out the muck.

 

’dan says—it’s the bathtub, Sam. Forget the bloody bathwater for a sec.

 

Sam says—Good God, man! Faith will never propel us beyond the gravitational pull of crusades and dumb creeds. To jettison is the next necessary step. We can’t make do well without the sole sovereignty of facts. Otherwise, the space of pure reason collapses into an abysmal vacuum of no good reason: where everything goes . . . to seed, in fact.

 

’dan says—Well, Sam: have your facts in order, then, and eat them too.

 

Sam says—Damn, that’s . . . baaad, Jordan. That’s just bad to say that.

 

’day says—My bad, Sam.

 

Sam says—Well, let’s leave it at that, then. Let’s call it a stale, mate.

 

’dan says—Alright, buddy. Let’s call it a stale.

 

Sam says—So long, then. Have a safe trip home, Jordan!

 

’dan says—Godspeed, Samuel!