“Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.
And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.
There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.”—
I was sitting on a bench next to my lover at a highly trafficked light-rail transfer point. We might have been kindly arguing about something, but I can’t be too sure. All I knew was that this bench was special in that the back and right side of it was pressed against the walls, and that a large structural pillar was to the left of it, affording us some level of privacy while leaving us mostly with a view of people’s backsides as they were exiting the station into the adjacent mall. We’d often meet each other here, as it was considered the “middle ground” between our apartments. At some point, we even had a break-up here.
Maybe she was scolding me then because I said, “I just want to wake up next to you and have you tell me that I’m a good boy.” I was being serious.
She looked at me for a moment and replied, “That’s new… I’ve never heard that one before.” I wondered what other men had told her. But before my mind wandered off too far, she took my hand and said that I was sweet.
The strange thing about the city we shared at that time was that dogs were free to roam as they pleased. I had seen a dog get on a train, quietly sit by a door, and disembark a few stops later. I also would see dogs enter a convenience store and find a place to curl up for a quick nap. Many of these dogs didn’t have tags; most of them wandered the streets alone, surviving off trash, or if they were lucky, off the kindness of human strangers. Even stranger was the fact that none of the dogs that I had encountered on the streets gave me any sign of aggression. It was as if they were too tired to do much of anything.
Occasionally, however, I would hear dogs growling, howling, and yelping in the middle of the night, probably engaged in mortal combat.
There’s a scene in the middle of Fight Club where Edward Norton is taken on a car ride. The driver begins speeding, and it becomes obvious that he is playing chicken with the passengers’ lives. Our protagonist agonizes over the meaning of his life in his head as the car plummets out of control.
My wish right now is for me to die. I am nothing in the world compared to Tyler.
I am helpless.
I am stupid, and all I do is want and need things.
My tiny life. My little shit job. My Swedish furniture. I never, no, never told anyone this, but before I met Tyler, I was planning to buy a dog and name it “Entourage.”
This is how bad your life can get.
I find it funny that dogs can simultaneously embody the most noble and base traits of humans. At their best, dogs are loyal, lifelong companions, and they have this heart-wrenching capacity to love and forgive. Whether it is the byproduct of their social evolution (pack behavior), or the fact that they are able to adapt to any social situation, dogs are Man’s best friend for a reason (a dyslexic calls a dog God). At their worst, dogs shit and piss everywhere, fuck anything that moves, and fight over the filthiest scraps of food, generally living their lives with little regard to anything except achieving instant gratification. They are incorrigible and should be put to sleep.
I guess that even for our protagonist, the thought of purchasing loyalty and companionship to chase away his loneliness goes a step below rock bottom. It’s completely unacceptable. Like what Marcellus Wallace says to Butch when he’s asking him to take a dive in a boxing match that he rigged in Pulp Fiction, “The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.” As we all know, Butch sided with pride. To cave in to weakness is another type of death in itself.
I’ll make a quick note here that modern women (celebrities, or not) seem to accept canine companionship more readily than men do. Isolated and troubled men who depend on dogs for some semblance of mental health seem to be an anomaly (like Mickey Rourke).
Anyway, the men in Fight Club involve themselves in what appears to be mutually assured self-destruction, their reasoning being that beating the shit out of each other somehow taps into some primordial instinct that serves to engage their senses in a way that makes them feel insanely alive while providing them a sense of belonging and community. Because of the underlying emptiness that many of these men have felt in their lives prior to bare-knuckle combat, they accept the harsh beatings as a rite-of-passage rather than a twisted form of masochism existing in the form of self-administered punishment as atonement for their feelings of worthlessness and impotence.
Kick me in the ribs like that mangy mutt. Treat me like shit. I’ll keep coming back for more because it’s the only thing that makes me feel alive. This is kind of addicting; I think I love you.
Abusive relationships sound like this.
Another quick note: People like Michael Vick (known for the abuse of dogs and warping them to act out of desperation and fear) should be put into gladiator arenas, where combatants constantly have to wonder if their time or luck has run out.
Sometimes, a man can fall in love. It happens. It’s a wonderful thing, sometimes. But something about love in this day and age fills people with more anxiety than hope. We have to watch out for ourselves, earn enough money, be attractive enough, be socially adjusted, be interesting, and have the courage to date. And fail. And to try again. All this must be done in the face of statistics pointing to the fact that more and more marriages and families are failing than ever before.
“You know, the condom is the glass slipper of our generation. You slip it on when you meet a stranger. You dance all night, then you throw it away. The condom, I mean. Not the stranger.”
So let’s say you do the dance and meet Ms. (or Mr.) Right. You fall in love with her. But beneath that, you realize that old habits die hard. Fears begin to surface. You believe that you’re hardwired to act a certain way, and that it’s expecting too much for someone who doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing to wait around for you to change. You’re going to hurt her and she doesn’t deserve it. You want to do the right thing, but you keep shooting yourself in the foot. You’re a fuck up and you don’t deserve the kindness that she’s showing you. You act ugly.
“You fuck me, then snub me. You love me, you hate me. You show me your sensitive side, then you turn into a total asshole. Is that a pretty accurate description of our relationship, Tyler?”
Marla Singer fails to realize that the protagonist has developed a severe case of multiple personality disorder. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, we can’t really use that as an excuse. The question that invariably arises seems to be, “Does she love me enough to see how much of a fuck-up I am and not leave me?” I feel that many couples never test the limits of their love. That, or this fear prevents many couples from actually getting to know each other.
Tyler Durden’s followers had this mantra instilled in them: “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.”
The thing is, you can’t really leave a dog once you’ve decided to take on the responsibility of raising one. There’s something socially despicable about dropping a dog off at the pound, or removing their collar and identification tags and leaving them in a place far enough away from home that they can’t find their way home. But you can leave your lover. You can leave them in tears, in spite, or in a state of total indifference. You can leave them at the airport, with nothing but a few bags carrying whatever meager possessions they have and a gaping hole in their heart. You can abandon them when they need you most or because you’re too ashamed of yourself or because you’ve outgrown them. But the assumption is that they will live on.
How will they do it? It no longer concerns you.
Men are dogs, running around town, shitting in the street, eating garbage off the floor, giving into their impulses and fucking anything and everything. We drink whiskey, smoke Marlboro reds, get into meaningless fights, piss in public, fuck women we don’t really care about, and drive really fast at 3 am.
But we just want an owner, we want a home, somewhere we can go to that’s warm and familiar and right. We want to wake up next to you and for you to say that we’re good. Cook us a warm meal in the middle of the night and we’ll stay by your side no matter what.
This is delicious. Your body feels so warm next to mine. I’ll keep coming back for more because you make me happy and I hope that I can do the same for you; I think I love you.
“He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others—the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.”—Jonathan Safran Foer Everything Is Illuminated (via lunacy)
“Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons.”—Irvin Welsh, Trainspotting (via lunacy)
“Do you know when they say soul-mates? Everybody uses it in personal ads. “Soul-mate wanted”. It doesn’t mean too much now. But soul mates- think about it. When your soul-whatever that is anyway-something so alive when you make music or love and so mysteriously hidden most of the rest of the time, so colorful and big but without color or shape-when your soul finds another soul it can recognize even before the rest of you knows about it. The rest of you just feels sweaty and jumpy at first. And your souls get married without even meaning to-even if you can’t be together for some reason in real life, your souls just go ahead and make the wedding plans. A soul’s wedding must be too beautiful to even look at. It must be blinding. In must be like all the weddings in the world-gondolas with canopies of doves, champagne glasses shattering, wings of veils, drums beating, flutes and trumpets,showers of roses. And after that happens-that’s it, this is it. But sometimes you have to let that person go. When you are little, people , movie and fairy tales all tell you that one day you’re going to meet this person. So you keep waiting and it’s a lot harder than they make it sound. Then you meet and you think, okay, now we can just get on with it but you find out that sometimes your soul brother partner lover has other ideas about that.”—Francesca Lia Block (via lunacy)
By becoming a sannyasin you are taking a risk, the risk of moving from reason to feeling and trying to bring a balance. When feeling and reason are balanced one is free. In that very balance is freedom, in that very balance is equilibrium, tranquility, silence - otherwise one is lopsided.
When the head is too much, and it is too much, it is very murderous. It does not allow anything which is not profitable, it doesn’t allow it to exist. And all joy is profitless, all joy is just playfulness, it has no purpose. Love is play, it has no purpose; so is dance, so is beauty. All that is significant for the heart is meaningless for the reason.
So sannyas means a radical change, and in the beginning one has to put much investment into the heart so the balance is achieved. One has almost to lean too much towards the heart. One has to go to the other extreme to make the balance. By and by one comes into the middle, but in the beginning one has to go completely to the other pole because reason has dominated too much. Just by going into the middle, the domination will not stop.
That’s why I say that sannyas is something only for those people who are really courageous - for madmen only - because the price of admittance is nothing but your mind: the reason-dominated mind, the logic-dominated mind, the mathematically-dominated mind.
When that is dropped prose is no more at the centre but poetry, purpose no more at the centre but play; money no more at the centre but meditation, power no more at the centre but simplicity, non-possessiveness, a sheer joy of life, almost a madness….
To become a sannyasin is to almost become mad as far as the world is concerned. So you are entering into madness. But that madness is the only sanity there is!
He looks like he feels hopeless. His eyes are empty; I bet he sees the world in black and white. He walks slowly, nowhere to go, no one to go to. What has gotten him to this point in his life? Has he made the wrong choices or did it just happen to him? Maybe there is nothing wrong with his life. He might be married to the person he loves, maybe he has amazing friends and a great job. There doesn’t have to be something wrong in a person life for that person to be depressed. Maybe you need some help, stranger.
Is that more difficult than to strike new paths, fighting the habitual, experiencing the insecurity of independence and the frequent waverings of one’s feelings and even one’s conscience, proceeding often without any consolation, but ever with the eternal goal of the true, the beautiful, and the good? Is it decisive after all that we arrive at the view of God, world and reconciliation which makes us most comfortable? Rather, is not the result of his inquiries something wholly indifferent to the true inquirer? Do we after all seek rest, peace, and pleasure in our inquiries? No, only truth — even if it be the most abhorrent and ugly…. Here the ways of man part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.’
If one night you go out drinking and end up back at her place, pass out together on the bed with your shoes on, and wake up a few hours later only to discover that you’ve peed the bed, which she takes in stride, changes the sheets, and then the next morning has a laugh…