To Guy (a recurring letter)

Dear Guy,
I’m trying this again.  Again. Gertrude Stein once claimed repetition doesn’t exist – that there’s only insistence.  I think I agree with her — and I agree with you about quotations being useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs.  So here we go again.  Someone told me a story once and I thought of you.  I’m still thinking about this too of course.  It’s one of the many reasons I keep rewriting this letter.  In the story a mother breaks down and approaches her son. It’s unusual for the family.  They don’t communicate openly about anything they feel. Typically they congregate for dinner in front of the television, taking leave of each other as they turn it off for the night, talking little and sharing less. The mother embraces her son for the first time that he can remember. She’s convulsing mildly and the backlighting from the television causes her hair to seem more unruly than usual. Her eyeliner runs down her face. “Son.” she sobs, collapsing in his lap, “There’s nothing on TV.” The son, despite being shocked, immediately understands what she means by this. There’s never been anything on the TV – nothing – in all the years of their lives together. Her crying hurts him terribly.
I’m still telling myself stories about you and I.  They’re changing and I keep changing my mind. I’m re-reading your quotation of Novalis’ Fragments (again): “We are merely at the beginning of the art of writing… Each life has a theme, a title, a publisher, a preface, an introduction, a text, notes, etc. – or could have them.” The shaft of another pen has shattered from the pressure I’ve applied. Slivers tear into my hand and blood messes up another bunch of pages. I still don’t have any composure. The computer keeps crashing (I’ve replaced a few at this point). I still don’t have any means of discerning what is disinformation or what matters most.  I should know better, shouldn’t I?  I still want my stories to be true.
I continue to have a hard time concentrating.  I’m still thinking things might get worse before they get worse (but I haven’t entirely resigned myself to this just yet). I tunnel through the successive ruins of my plans.  It’s a struggle I’ve been keeping up all of my life. Is that good enough?  Is that good enough for you?  I’m still asking you here because I haven’t figured it out yet, at least not in a manner I’m convinced by.  I hate to admit this, but I still catch myself worrying about money and what other people think of me — not unlike a lot of the people you’ve written about and spoken of, that you’ve judged, that you’ve insulted and dismissed. What is good and what is right? Why do I still care what you think?
Always here soon enough I say, out and then in again, returning back to my living room. I’m here as before, this same small, specific place, somewhere within a possibly infinite universe, to rewrite this letter again, as if I’d chosen it for myself, had thought it through from some sort of beginning (as a simulated series of epiphanies, a fake incidental cathedral, a room without dreaming).
While thinking through these lines once more, I sip more beer and pace. I check my email. I look out the window again and try to conceive of all my time alive at once. I imagine your time. I go outside to have a cigarette. I smoke it while worrying about smoking it, disappointed. I tell myself a story I’ve told myself before about you smoking wherever and whenever you damn well please. You’re still laying down, dead, a bloody hole where your heart was. It remains more visible than your face, what you’re wearing, or the rifle by your hand. You never rented private removes, the walled Champot retreat, whatever you called home for a while. You’ve always owned your decisions too.  You once quoted yourself as saying: “I have no thought of complaining about anything, and certainly not about the way I have managed to live.” I still don’t have any means to discern the truth of this — and  I still want to believe you. I also suspect this persistent desire is not really my own, that I’ve embalmed myself within the mimicry of an alien generation’s nostalgia (a nostalgia for that first engagement with a representation of the nostalgia of others).
There’s still a story about a rationalist regardless, a claim on reason, a dissenter in an occult world, a lexicon of unverifiabilty, experts and meaningless credentials, of slander and status anxiety. In this persistent story you are always so thirsty, but you’re also always free, subservient to no one. This is the story’s continuing draw, its appeal.  You’re subject to nothing and this has always been your choice. This is the ongoing force of it.  It’s an example beyond reproach. It remains the story of your greatest accomplishment.
I continue to long for a good place, an ideal situation, my own relationship to time. I haven’t entirely given up trying to understand it.  You were always so precise (or seemingly so).  But the words, these names and descriptors I’m deploying, they remain inadequate, misleading. I don’t want to end up finding some garden, a work of art, an ideology. I don’t want to transcend anything. We could still try arguing that this kind of searching is strictly spatial and material (which it isn’t) if only to seek things out from the air, to follow battles, locate enemies and shifting borders, new conditions and movements. You can’t map what remains always beyond the close of the horizon (I’ve tried and keep trying).  What I’m looking for is most likely only possible before I name it, a means as an end before it’s identified as such, freedom if freedom wasn’t such a failing, a noun, another mask to wear inside this death cult labyrinth, the perpetual maintenance of relations as they are.
This is all to say futures still reside in your memory, that to live is becoming and I’m very much alive.  I’ll rewrite this again eventually of course.  In fact, I insist!