A has been that’s never been. Nobody left in the parade. Fingers no longer my friends. Eyes on the way out. Guts churning day and night. The squish squash sound of a heart over-clocking all through the night. A has been. No longer good for nothing except in my dreams. No longer of use to the users. That never been part still hanging over my head like a dagger. Like a star elusive and out of reach. Dare I reach out and cut myself on the reflection. A flesh and blood automaton to the rest of the world. No one. No more braun with a failing brain. Going to bed too early while everyone else joins the party. Listen to the silence in the room. Counting the dollars that I should have had. Wanting to pay back old debts to people who have long since picked up stakes and gone away and died. Someone of no regard that the rest of the world is no longer in danger of being aware of. Another corpse to step over. A has been. Bouncing up and down weaving right and left. Legs unsteady and light headed possibly ready to take a dive. A has been! That’s what was overheard. The truth in it from having overheard. Learning that this world has given up on me. No it is my turn to follow suit. That long low empty space behind my footsteps where a whole lifetime used to be. Now all gone. The end. Only the wait left to be endured in respectful quiet. When will I wake up? When is it time to not. No longer? A wake up call for the has been. A long night’s rest.
It is no fantasy to believe that humans exist in their own circumstance due to the difficulty that they produce. Fastidiously following paths that eventually disappear beneath them into the desolation of total wilderness. The only thing rock solid beneath them is a determination to carry on towards that self-serving goal ever in the distance. At a certain point in life one’s inner boiler runs out of steam as nothing can last forever especially when it is attempting to continue in a framework where other means of that compete with it evolve to replace it. In human terms that is considered being out of touch. In cinema certain figures are royally celebrated for the innovation that they provided as a direction for others. But equally many of these same figures provide one with sad stories of trying to outlast their usefulness and fall into a sense of self-inspired perdition, the efforts driving that impulse propelling them downward and tarnishing their fundamental reputations. Examples of this might come by the way of the D.W. Griffith’s and John Gilbert’s in what was for some that fatal gap between silent and sound based films. Some persons alternatively have the good sense to know when to make a graceful exit and call it a day. Some that have fought a decades long struggle to erase their fall from grace from the mainstream have not. Enter the case of Orson Welles and that albatross hovering over his reputation that at a certain point he was unable to finish a film.
The post Hollywood era of Welles’ career found him more than usually supporting his own cinematic visions by prostituting himself as an actor and notable personality in very creative ways. In fact even building up his persona in terms of currency far beyond his initial formidable achievements of the Mercury Theater and the RKO produced Citizen Kane and Magnificent Amberson’s benchmarks. The problem being that the last two decades of his life were embroiled in attempting to top these achievements in terms of a similar scale bereft of Hollywood resources. Trying to work on a shoestring budget using any and all available talent in shooting scenes in a scattered and haphazard manner all of which that were essentially dependent upon his imagination of the moment rather than derived from a visually well-managed screenplay. The incessant editing by him over the years in an experimental sense revealing nothing more than that obsessive ramblings of an old has been Showman trying to pull another rabbit out of a too well-worn hat with major holes in it. There being no more available rabbits to be found beyond his existential obsessions that age and decadence had left him with. Consider the end result of casting an aged profligate from the street in the place of Shakespeare’s, The Tempest, Prospero! A gutter bound Duke of Milan, permanently exiled, his hopes to regain his kingdom permanently gone and all he can do is obsess about his daughter’s naked, and his betrayers punished though rude forms of rough trade justice. What ever one says about Welles’ overall reputation it does not match other 1930’s Proletariat potboilers of unwashed ire of working class antiheroes like Little Caesar or Scarface.
Orson Welle’s last exercise in movie making, The Other Side Of The Wind, being a pathetic attempt to reinvent himself leaning on the innovations of other much more youthful luminaries that were at that time decades past Welles’ own now wilted bloom. The final product of the recently released version suffering even further from the staccato understanding that resulted in innumerable tiny fragments of dialogue heavy bits and pieces rudely resembling a trite story line. Something that might be useful to some degree to psychologically assaying the mind of the one that initiated it than anything that is capable of entrancing an audience with any validity of purposeful entertainment. What it does illustrated to the viewer is a prurient focus on sexual obsession with his mistress and his impotence to stave off the attentions much younger competitive rivals. The officially inferred of latent homosexuality of his avatar character and his main acolyte equally spitefully portrayed. The film as completed posthumously some thirty years after his death showing the worst of what might have theoretically being his best attentions before his death. The ugliness of personal ruminations accompanying his incremental demise the context that this production seems to fit best. A poor stalking horse when considered by the standard of other directors at the time that Welles’ had initiated this project. Some names that buoy up in the midst of viewing his patchwork being John Boorman in Point Blank, Michelangelo Antonioni, Zabriskie Point and Roger Corman’s, The Trip.
One cannot go so far however to purposely condemn Welles at a palimpsest but rather someone flailing about to survive in a new cinematic landscape where the rules were being written by the young. His earlier achievements in terms of cinema being used in these cases in a manner more evolved beyond his own understanding. Filmmakers are only human being like the rest of us. Those few fortunate to be universally recognized at the height of their abilities to innovate. Yet it is had not to consider the way some other giants that were tasked along the way in their careers to transform finally handles their final curtain calls. Case in point, the German director, Fritz Lang, who after inventing the foundations of Film Noir in his native land with Die Spinnen, Testament of Dr. Mabuse, and M, then transitioning to help perfect it in America is probably best known to this generation through a brief cameo appearance in Jean Luc Godard’s Nouelle Vague masterpiece, Le Mepris. Those who wish to keep Orson Welle’s more brilliant achievements might resist the temptation to view this final poorly sewn together aged Prometheus if they wish to keep the impression of his genius pristine.
Restlessness, thy name is mine, own a willful cypher
restlessness, my name is thine own, a willful cypher
taking me to those long lost deeply held undercover realms
I, like you, am naked in this world
naked like truth’s that one ever wishes to hide
there to suffer changing light bulbs before fantastic vistas
of icicle shaped spires reaching up thousands of feet
Why must we trod about so aimlessly within
why must we forget ourselves and then ache inside
these bodies are no longer fit for such excess
always waiting for our weakest moment to complain
threatening arrhythmic heartbeats gone awry in bacchanals of insane drumming
all to remind us that we are no longer young
Oh to give up this present place to release all the air
to give up one’s breath for the sake of others
as if air was not any longer but a valueless commodity
but merely an essential for preserving some distant social dominance
of those countless unseen many over the few
I think about you . . .
I think about how you’ve always been enraged about that fact
that so many others can call upon your name
and then so easily call your at your game
and you that one who will not commit
you who will not place your right hand
heavy upon the holy bible of the body corporate
to tremble flesh to flesh basking in warmth of the impossible release
the one that you desperately long for
because you, like the rest of us, are none but a fool
chasing rainbows in a land of galloping ibex’s
horned horses, fantastic beasts, all stuck within your mind since childhood
what pleasure does that allow you in this type of world of now
no cake for the wanta-be ‘eat it too’s’
be damned those people who are too clever for the sake of same
the old familiar heart beats in their irregular rhythms
and how one exists betwixt the vacuum lurking in-between
sweeping away all doubt in a false conventionality
“There’s nothing wrong!”
“It’s all OK!”
” . . . naught but just another rich meal”
and the all so familiar elixir of spirits to confound
what has become an ever enlarging hopeful heart
perhaps too much like those red dwarf celestial giants
too little being those without love
physical love, spiritual love, love in a brightening tomorrow
must see their heart expand until just before it bursts
collapsing into dark void of limbo endless
and then they are no more
this inert shell, nothing but a nuisance for others to clean up
surrender your breath to that next successive generation
so they too can respire
you too can expire and only then they are inspired
what a nasty rhythm of life
all I seek is to feel another ‘you‘ against me
to put my arms around this other ‘you‘
and feel as I once did
so forgetfully long ago when I was young
Oh, who was that last person . . .
where my head rested and rolled in your lap
and two eyes reach up into the mystery of the sky
such a pleasant long lost idyll
something to be cherished
and resurrected from dead flesh
to be brought to mind again
as rare as that last corner of wind and wine
“Out of solitude and the accompanying loneliness that he joined in the worship of false Gods and vain hopes meant for others who would be masters to all mankind.” The first line that had long ago come to him on the page now shocked him that they had come from his own lips. This was not the same person who tapped keys silently in the soundless repository of bewitching hour of the slowly passing night. His world was less involved and less strange. A more indifferent creation that relied on the tension of boredom with the ever-present mundane. The false gods in question that were mentioned could only be his ego that equally depressed had to establish vague fantasies that would bolster some sense of being palpably alive.
The report of death of someone distant and related had been impressed upon him by a near acquaintance. A distant cousin of someone on his aunt’s in-law’s side of th family. And in any case someone who was of no real consequence to him. Some vacant convention of social decorum seemed to suggest a lackluster responsibility to followup on the conversation to speak to the supposed reporter of the event. A certain lieutenant colonel who was a product of the times in being a female standing in for a male. Or so one of a traditional senseability would silently judge. His own addled senses had warmed over in the intervening weeks that the need for investigation of this claim had sat dormant. The verification of the tale suggested a certain degree of concern was expected in such a ceremony. He after all had learned from childhood of the duties of being a good performer to strangers in showing what was evidently to himself a false concern for events that he was indifferent to.
The party in question was on base busily inspecting a small column of vehicles in her battalion. Tall and lean to the point of being walking stick-like she climbed up and down the camouflage painted side of the hulking armored beasts engrossed in the minutia that only a martinet could understand. The conversation was tainted by his inability to recall her name while being unsure of her rank. The first few words an inquiry about the general details of the whom and what that was supposed to engender his purpose for why. The officer encumbered by her own repetitive daily tasks unwilling to break her stride in performing them to suffer such a fool. Several brief sentences were allowed before the lieutenant colonel fidgeted back into motion to continue her own daily checklist of expected tasks. Whoever had died had by this point been lost in the confusion of the brevity of the moment.
How symptomatic it seemed that a human life could be passed along in conversation in such a cavalier manner that might have appalled the deceased had he been aware of how little even the most significant details of identity were so casually misplaced. Concern in general having been long dispensed with in favor of the daily performance of duties that one convinced themselves were necessary and vital to human existence. A society with little or nothing really to do anymore beyond performing bucket brigade of passing notes and boxes. The daily operation of society plagued by too many otherwise idle and indifferent hands. Emotions lost betwixt the business of simply keeping busy to gain a paycheck to process and pass along to exists in a similar manner for another day.
No reward to give acclaim to the soul at trail’s end beyond the fact of simple persistent existence. Dreams a hollow venue of equally forgettable impulses salvaged from nagging encounters with forgettable phantoms that only left a residue of angst. The real fear being a suspicion that they were not alive. That all this was a clockwork mechanism of some long passed watchmaker that had yet to run itself out in winding down to an inevitable final decay. The empty toothless grin of chaos the only discernible constant in an otherwise ceaselessly indifferent universe. He could see the face of the departed bright and rosy with youth within his mind’s eye. Oblivious of his own impending doom. The hardness of his features caught up in the practice of that expected vitality of youth depressing considering the postmortem knowledge of its ultimate and all too imminent futility.
These days there is a default level of hopeless despair in finding one’s self to be naught but a human being. Your own exterior form being molded in such a way that the shortcomings that it accumulates pose insoluble questions throughout later life. That moment when you realize that you are simply the rider of that infamous horse that Aristotle so often mentioned. Knowing all too well its shortcomings being tied to this unavoidable beast from which you cannot ever dismount. The world becoming a very unforgiving place for the likes of you these days. And others knowing all the unimaginable trials waiting in the near future approaching just ahead will be fraught with that inflexible repetition of your own particular routine until at some unspecified point in time this continuum will come to an end. You will fall off the horse and out of this world as you know it. From that point on all will be naught but a random memory. An impression released into thin air and empty space no longer being needed. Then the biggest mystery of life will be answered, or not.
No sadness anymore for times past. Now just faced with an annoying weariness for the monotony of enduring the wait until then and having to interact with so many others who will not admit that it even exists. One might then hate the fact of a lack of immediate earthly transcendence while now still breathing. To something, anything, better. Or perhaps maybe less so? One’s own stubbornness versus the institutional resistance of all the others. The epitome of temporal existence expressed in an unrelieved tension on top of this perpetually angst ridden times with little empathy. Recreation that dissuades one from such thoughts providing more public respect than any personal inspiration that might reconcile them.
That slow incremental slide into an intractable jeopardy of recycling purpose through the trap of everyday habit. One can no longer claim to know the source of their own despair by being lost and abandoned to socially narrowed institutionally directed possibilities. One’s hopes waiting just ahead without wonder or worthiness. This finality, of itself, offering a cumulative lack of imagination as a valid excuse for forgetting all about the same.
I was on the other side of Iowa to come to this school to be tested and fulfill some other type of work. They put me up in a room in the end of the main hall that was barely hospitable for overnight stays. I wasn’t sure that I was really authorized to sleep there or if I was trespassing. I didn’t want to be found by building security. My glasses were broken and I almost lost the ear piece screw. I lay there thinking when would be the best time to depart. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I had to leave that morning because my allotted hours there were over. To boot I was not strictly sure that I had properly logged my hours. I had gone to an office that was open its door unlocked. The inside was jammed with milling students in a fashion reminiscent of the lobby of the Art Institute of Chicago. I lay their upon a cot and then received a call. I answered the phone and to my surprise it was my dead ex-friend Michele Fitzsimmons voice. “Who is this!”, I said. The phone clicked and was hung up. At that point I was fiddling with a wooden knickknack when its fragile top fell into pieces in to my hands. I became aware that at point that I had to immediately leave. Nothing was being served by my being there. I knew that it would be a matter of six to seven hours of highway driving to get back. If I waited till morning then I would be traveling against the brightness of the rising sun. I was alone.
I drive through to the west from my Wicker Park place with two other people. One of them is Arnold Schwartznegger and another one is a Japanese guy who made me stop at a gas station on the corner of Grand and Milwaukee. Arnie picks up a black girl not worried about giving up whoever he is with at this time to get connected with her sexually. He says, “Cmon babee!” Telling her to make a decision. There is another guy there that is after somebody. It seems that they always want to pick up women. And I am just out there watching them go to town.
So few things feel like home. Old visions left over from another lifetime. The late nineteenth century, maybe? Or early twentieth! Tableau’s of stately neighborhoods lined by two story brownstones along curved parkways. There a young woman and her tiger confined upon the edge of the park. Perhaps Washington Park when it was elegant? Perhaps Douglas Park? The kitty pacing back and forth upon the table. And I wary enough to let the woman stand in between. What I was doing there at this point is unrevealed.
It has been a long time since I had a woman. Or a woman has had me. Sexually. That point where a woman lays back and you hover over her with your arms extended in a pushup style of grace. She spreads her legs and you put yourself inside. And then you push in and out, up and down, until you feel her tremble. If you’ve done the right thing then you release and hopefully she has released and you lay back down into a mini bout of exhaustion. The conventional meeting that is so overrated and under thought. What would I have done with a woman as of late? Make her a slave? Take the highest born and put her in chains to fill the hands of the worst people on earth? Tie her up and hang her from the ceiling by her wrists and then beat her unmercifully? But what gain for me or anyone in the indulgence of such errant behavior? I lay upon this bed with an artifact, or heirloom, and I wonder? I wonder not so much how much time, or how little. But what path next? What trellis will I swing open or climb above? One of revealed shadows that give way to some small hope of light. One where once again I will start again like a seed in someone’s belly like a gourd to mature into some form of another existence until they let me out.
She came to me today, again, in the visage of someone else. A big white hat. Something from sometime before the time of the two of us. And a mask upon her face. Long, beautiful,inviting, like worm in its most golden sense. Awkward, with stockings in the classic sense hanging out from under her short shorts in a brief sense. Flat abdomen, small breasts, lanky and long. The girl of my dreams. The girl I should have married. The girl that loved me. The girl that I loved. The girl that I left. The girl that finally left me. This was the same girl. The girl I saw today. It wasn’t her. And yet, the reminder was her. To let me know. Perhaps in the near tomorrow of another next door, another coming time, perhaps, perhaps not.
If you want to know why. There is a chase in a game. It is because the previous mistakes one has made in a past life with that person does affect them as it does affect you. Now I feel that life. I feel that life before that life. I sense a life ahead. And that is my goal.
The funny thing about life is that we are confronted with all manner of obstacles and danger. And soon learn by degrees to accept the lesser danger over that of the latest one that’s greater. I suppose in this way we learn. The many barriers and pitfalls that await us. That is if we are brave enough to continue on in life. There is always standing still and doing nothing and growing lazy like a rotten coconut. But then life never lets one stay still. If you try you will be driven forth. Or just pushed away. The lesser danger seeming almost merciful by comparison. The lesser danger of being lonely against the greater danger of being known.
Anger! Why senseless at that? How senseless is all of it. To hold a grudge and then let it fester. And then to feel justified in wreaking revenge? What sick bastards! What small people! Toads! Snails! Not even that. I can’t understand it? It make no sense that I can fathom. I am a tired old man worn out by his own life. It was an experience like a movie. But I didn’t realize that it was a movie at the beginning. But now at the end of it, I come to realize that it’s just another film.
Alone by myself
I’ve run out of lives
this is the end
and not that same old tomorrow that I’ve long ago dreamed of
all that untried art ahead
old family artifacts left surrounding me to remind
but empty of any voice no longer speaking to me
just mute company as any other inventory of times past
how bitter that all things come down to sadness
of all these too many things now long flown past
that old world of meaning now escapes them
flying off those photos of familiar faces left in silver cast
feelings held too close missing from so long ago
it’s just me now by myself in this solitary emptied room
squeezed out of place by too many memories tasked
wondering about those all good years long promised
and falling short in how much longer I’ve got to last