I come to you today because I don’t know where else to turn; I have turned my back on you so often I now find myself facing you once more, in my own mind. I don’t know for sure if you are there; I couldn’t see you even when I was convinced you were there, but if a million people told me the sun was blue I would believe it, because looking at it for myself would cause me to go blind, and because of the compelling number of adherents. If you are a spirit, I shouldn’t be able to see you anyway, so I’m not going to go blind, but still, I have to believe in the testimony of others, because you refuse to stand in my midst.
It has been a long time that I have been away from you, and have little to show for it but a few scars, neuroses and ruined friendships. Having said that, I don’t know for sure whether I have actually experienced a true friendship, grown from its own seed. I have friendships with good, stable people who pity me, but I cannot say for sure that I have experienced love for someone in my own heart. I have experienced lust, infatuation, brotherhood, collusion, but not love. If someone were to love me it would only mean anything if I were to love them back.
If I am unsure of anything, it is of my love for you. Did I ever love you? I don’t think I did. I didn’t understand what it meant. I was in love with the idea of you, but you seemed so far removed from me that I felt I should concentrate on what was closer. Some people seemed to hold you so close that they almost made up for my lack of faith, whereas others, a far greater number, denied your existence outright. That is one of the countless paradoxes about the world in which you have posted me on loan to learn my trade – why must we believe in what we cannot see when the actions of your hand contradict you so readily?
If I am supposed to believe you created the earth and mankind in your image, why are we so fucked up? Do we mirror you in this farcical state? That would put you in an even worse situation than us; when we have nowhere to turn, we can turn to you, but to whom will you turn? Do you ever feel the way I do – tired, vulnerable, lost in a maze of contradictions? If I am made in your image, surely you must, or else, why do you project what it is impossible for you to feel, onto me? It would seem quite cowardly for you – legendarily omnipotent and omniscient – to create us in your image, aware that we will fail, suffer and die painfully. If you are perfect, then the works of your hands must be equally; otherwise, you have deliberately imbued them with flaws. I can almost hear you laughing as we blindly trip up on our own ignorance, and hope you have a sympathetic audience wherever you are, because your jokes do not compel me to laugh, nor do they anyone else who has suffered, namely, the entire human race.
Perhaps we are just a dummy race, like the dinosaurs, and your real subjects will evolve from our genetic detritus, harder, better, faster, stronger than us, capable of colonising the entire universe. It is true that us humans have failed you, whether we were engineered with that end or not. We each have two eyes, two hands and two feet, except the few unfortunate, yet we cannot get along, because we want different things, and believe in different versions of you, if you are indeed accepted at all. For some reason, you let us stagnate in our own misery, as we grow old and die waiting for a shred of truth. Why should it be any different for me? What will separate my generation from the thousands that preceded mine who toiled their thankless lives away waiting for you to reveal yourself?
And then, I suppose, if I rebuke you and exit my misery by removing the life you gave me from the dying system you have lost interest in, you will punish me even harder, won’t you?
If you are there – and I know I am not supposed to ever be in a position to put you to the test – will you teach me what love is? I know that your days of performing miracles for hopeful individuals have long since passed, but I could live if I was able to love, and be loved. This should be an innate human trait, a mark of culture and distinction, but these things, for all my pretensions, I have yet to cultivate. Indeed, for all the great art and literature the human race has created in anticipation of you, there is no love lost in the world.
I can ask only you to help because it is only you whom I cannot destroy. I have tried many times to put you out of my mind, and the moment I felt myself to have succeeded, you grew back from nothing, like weeds in pavement cracks. I have done the same to mere humans who have tried to help me, with whom there is no way back, for they do not have your power to forgive. Perhaps, before I starve to death, you will forgive me, and if not make me rich, then at least make me happy. Change the world and you will change me, for I cannot change the world – I am paralyzed with hate.
I am out of money. There are unwanted men knocking on the door, to take from me what I do not have. I can’t keep putting them off forever; one day they will break the door down. They can have my carcass, for what it is worth, and sell my organs to the state; there is little else for them to claim back their money from. Why is it so difficult to look after myself? People perceived to be less intelligent than me seem to get by well enough, so why do I suffer this way? Why have I not been able to learn even from the harshest lessons? Am I stupid? Why have you created a world with so many clauses and complications? Surely it wasn’t always like this. Why did you create humanity with its own free choice? Why are we not perfect? Why do you not take control of us? Why do you not take control of me, and use me to the best of my ability, for surely, at my best, I can serve you better than ever I could at my worst?
If I am supposed to be your servant, direct me; at least make something of me, give me something to do. I cannot act upon my own self-will; my will to live is almost spent. It would take more than anything on earth to raise me from this stupor, and only you, and my faith that you are there, can restore my health.
I want to cry, but I cannot waste water. I am being suppressed, somewhere, somehow. Is that the work of your hand? This is your will – how can you have neglected me like this? How can you sit and watch as I am trampled beneath the great wagons of reform? Why did you put me here just to show promise and die without a whimper? I keep asking the same questions, and shall continue in so doing until you show me the reason I am here, the reason why I should sit out my suffering, the reason why I shouldn’t take a blade to my throat, or a trip from the top of a very tall building. Your sense of humour is such that you would cause me to survive that wound, or fall, only to live the rest of my life being spoon-fed liquids and talking gibberish, just to teach me a lesson. How many more lessons are there? Of all the people who have lived, why didn’t you get someone to write them all down in a book, so that each generation didn’t have to learn them from scratch? Of course, you did – and we have the Bible. But then you also inspired the Qur’an and Torah. Why have you deliberately divided your people, again, just as you did at the Tower of Babel? Is it you too who are incapable of learning from your lessons? You are not perfect! You are nothing, certainly no better than me! At least I don’t do anything to hurt anyone; you will sit there and laugh as we suffer and die in our millions, and refuse to intervene!
Who removed the burden of Earth from the shoulders of Atlas? If an angel rebuked you and became Satan, the Lord over all this Earth, why did you not just destroy him at the beginning? Why did you not condemn him to death, you who are all-powerful? Why did you not execute him immediately before he could rise up and supplant you as the dominant force of the universe? In allowing him to challenge you, to accede to your throne, you have precipitated your own creation into imminent destruction. You might as well have plucked up our little spec of a planet in between your fingernails and positioned us directly at the lip of a black hole. There remain some who retain the faith that you will intervene and save us, but that you allowed such degeneration in any case has decided the majority, who have made their feelings clear by defecting from your adoration in crowds. If you wished to put us to the test, to find how few of us deserve to be saved from ruin, congratulations, you have been incisive.
I cannot find solace in knowledge because of my guilt. I sit and read, and feel nausea. I feel I should be doing something more menial, like physical work, for a wage, to serve the world in some small, insignificant way. Perhaps that is what I should do. My body needs work as much as my mind, yet I possess only the energy for one or the other. My hands have grown weak. My mind is filled with trivia. I want the essence, called knowledge, that which produces wisdom; I have no time for facts. In which aspect of life is general knowledge anything but a block?
As I have grown older I have come to realise that the things I thought would make me happy, as a child, are meaningless. My priorities have changed; I don’t need much that is physical. I need to be able to pay Caesar’s things to Caesar and God’s things to God – that is all. I need to pay my way, without the stress of financial worries, and to think, to contemplate, to gather information and reflect upon it. I want to acquire knowledge and wisdom; I want to be loved; I want to become a virtuous man, to evolve from the sinner. I want to dispense with jealousy, and material and sexual desires, and the need for gratification that has overshadowed my sensibilities. I don’t need money beyond what is absolutely necessary, so that I can eat healthily, purchase the gift of a decent wine for a friend, and generate free time to study. I need clothes over my back, and to live comfortably in a simple home. I have no interest in swimming pools or Jacuzzis, private jets or homes abroad. I will never want to purchase a football club or a million-pound Bugatti. I just want to be comfortable and balanced, and satisfied. Is that too much to ask?
It is true that I must learn to help myself, and to live within my modest means. I must be humble, yet attentive. I should pray to you and praise you in everything I do. You are the reason I am here, and I can do nothing to change that; you could turn back time if you wanted to, but if you didn’t do that to prevent all the wars, famines and pandemics of the past in which billions have lost their lives, then I can’t expect you to do so for me, just so that I wouldn’t have left a name in the registry book. You put Baudelaire on Earth to suffer and bleed pretty words that remained thankless until belated extensions were whispered into his ear upon his death bed, by which time he should have finally – if not verbally, for you rendered him, cruelly, without speech in his final days – cursed your vindictive name.
In fact, even the majority of the great men and women you put on this Earth before me would have suffered and died in pain, only for their inanimate gravestones to receive the flowers and praise long after the bodies they mark the site of have withered to dust. You gave them lives they could not lead yet minds to inspire and create. Impecunious almost by default, they fought disease, addiction, persecution, censorship, loneliness, a world unsympathetic to their insight, accusations of madness and of blasphemy; all these, when not most pertinently at war with themselves, asking themselves every day why they were not like everybody else, why their lives seemed so difficult to lead, and how many more lessons they would have to learn before the brilliant career they were promised was ahead of them finally materialised.
Is it just me, or is everyone else miserable too? You sold us all into slavery. You are little better than a crafty estate agent, selling on a failing interest at a profit to a careless buyer. I refer not only to those who have left a name in Culture, but to those who work for little or much on plantations and for juggernauts, and who continue to graft and calculate without time for a thought as to who they are, and what they believe. I feel sorry for these people as much as they pity me, should they even give me a thought at all. At least I am aware that this isn’t all there is. Perhaps that is why I am miserable and yet they all seem to be happy. The most successful have so little time to trouble their minds with what is beyond the quotidian, beyond the smooth running of Earth’s complex internal operations, and making money, and the anticipation of that money balancing their account, so that they can relax and have a drink, maybe on a yacht in the Caribbean, floating on the interest of the interest, that they cannot possibly ever praise you. As the sun beats down on their orange faces, they are thinking of new ways to make even more money, not silently thanking you for their lot in life. I am sure they work hard for what they possess and enjoy, but I do praise you, and yet I have nothing, for my interests are not in finance, but in knowledge and wisdom, that which is not transitory, but everlasting; that which feeds the soul, but not the belly. And yet your charitable arm does not quite stretch to me. Why give more to those who have plenty? Why take the energy of those who need it for their own improvement, to give to those who are driven only by greed? I don’t understand you. This is the twenty-first century. We should have a society run by chaste philosopher kings by now, not dick-swinging oligarchs who dominate democracies with nipple-clamps, ball-stretchers and butt-plugs.
I know you know me better than I know myself, and because I know you so well you punish me harder than those who do not acknowledge you, who have never turned away from you because they had never found themselves before you. I live every day as if you are watching me, judging me. My existence is unpretentious, uncontrived; otherwise you would see through it, that I was living a lie. I live to praise you, even though my work is thankless. It is up to me only to make of myself the best example of your creation that I can possibly be, so I look only to increase my knowledge, and maintain my beauty, so that the strength and quality of my soul might one day hang in your gallery. Perhaps there is only one soul like mine currently living. Perhaps that is why I have never experienced love. Actually, maybe I have experienced love, but only when the chance is gone.
My life could have gone one of two ways, down the broad and spacious road to everlasting life or the narrow and treacherous road to destruction. I presume, hope, that I am on the latter, and that I am not suffering to no end.
Give me strength to face what I have put in front of myself, and the power to surge through it. Let me leave it all behind. I don’t want to remain in the same place forever, liquidising slowly into the black hole, my energy slowly sapping away with the juices of my putrefaction. Help me out of this dark space. Remove the pressures on my head that are pushing me further down. I have thrown away everything that you gave me because I was dissatisfied. I wanted something that meant more. I wanted to purify my blood, only to contaminate it with my own raw reasoning. You let me do that. You told me I was free to choose which way to go, so I went the way I thought was best, and you have punished me, as you continue to, day after day, harder and harder, until I have little left to discipline.
The more you waste my body, the more impenetrable is my soul. Why did you not endow me with the ability to love, to teach and impart, and share love? Why did you fail to give me the words to talk about my emotions? Why did you only give me the things I didn’t need? I tried to climb the mountain with a pen.
My shoulders slump, my stomach groans; my knees creak and only my corns and beard grow. I eat trash and smoke dust. At least excoriate my flesh, break my spine, cut out my dick and tongue and remove all my promise and delusions. Then I will be able to get on with dying, pitied in company, rather than alone.
Seal my arsehole so that I implode, for I am not brave enough to take a knife to my own throat. My face looks forward but my soul looks back. Twist my neck or spin me around so that I can do one or the other.
My teeth are rotting inside my youthful head; my brain is underdeveloped, yet old before its time, like that of a feral child. Could I have lived at any other time? Am I a normal person, displaced in history? Why can I not get by in this world? I have all the right attributes, but in all the wrong places. I have a big dick but would have been better off born a girl. I am clever yet completely without common sense. In the game of give and take, I give it all, and lose everything, like the petty thief who is sent to jail. Kill me. Let a jet engine fall out of the sky and through my window. Let a nigger shoot me in the back of the head on the top deck of a night bus. Let me have the courage to starve myself, and waste away to nothing. Let the greatest lover strangle me as I come with his cock inside me. Let me go. Let me die in my sleep in a hotel room in Paris. If not in life, let me at least die a romantic.
Everyone is born with some life to live, something to prove, some string to add to the tapestry of universal knowledge. Perhaps I was born simply to prove nothing, to eat and drink and sleep and get by and possess unusable talents, and to always have my soul tortured by lack of application. Perhaps I don’t even have a soul. Perhaps I possess millions. You won’t tell me, you haven’t told anyone. We don’t know if this ‘divine plan’ you are supposed to have set out actually exists; people generation after generation have dedicated their lives to its recovery and have died with no more a clue as to its whereabouts than the day they started out in such good faith. You have given us nothing; you just take, take, take, and demand to be worshipped and praised for your own lack of application, just as I do. I demand to be acknowledged for what intangible virtues I possess, despite never being able to call on them; they appear when they desire to, when I least expect it, for only fleeting moments. What we both are is an unfunny joke, and there is nothing worse than that. You won’t even let me write; you won’t let me say what I mean. You didn’t allow me to be born into a nation where the language of my heart is spoken. I’m sure I will praise you eternally, continually, when I discover what it all means, but for now, I will try to contain myself.
How much greater pain must I go through before I can get to the crux of the matter? When will you allow me to find the time and space? I should be able to do it for myself, but you won’t give me the strength, that’s the one thing I can’t generate on my own. My eyes are tired and my mind is weary. Yet I am restless. I continue to persist in contradicting myself. When I am in the right place with the right tools to think my thoughts they run away into their little burrows in the back of my head, and I possess neither the energy nor guile to dig them out. I must stand still to catch and kill the persistent fly buzzing about my head but always run out of patience as the adrenaline boils over and I roar in frustration.
People think I should be okay. No one seems to be interested in my wellbeing. They all expect I should pick myself up, and wonder why I feel so low. Everything should be fine, I should have nothing to complain about, and if I do, it’s easily enough fixed. I should get a job, or apologise to my ex-love, or make a budget, or sit and write a thousand words a day, just as Ernest Hemingway did, without fail. I should read a commercial novel from start to finish, at least one a week. I should get up earlier in the morning. I should do acting, or apply to audition on the X Factor. I have a good voice for radio, so I’ve been told, but not by anyone in a position to give me a job. I look good in underwear, so I’ve been told, but not by anyone in a position to cast me in AussieBum. Jehovah God will bring about the destruction of this system of things and herald in a new order, into which only his faithful servants will survive, so I’ve been told, but not by you.