Monday, January 20, 2014

An Essay With No Redeeming Qualities, Written In The Spoken Style of Alain Delon





An Essay With No Redeeming Qualities, Written In The Spoken Style of Alain Delon



This essay has no redeeming qualities. SPOILER ALERT! This essay has no redeeming qualities. It won’t give you the warm fuzzies. You won’t come out of here grateful for the gift of life, pledging to give yourself over to the higher power of mindfulness, meditation, yoga and a gluten-free diet, thinking the author has given you a new perspective on human existence. This essay isn’t going to garner rave reviews about its touching style and compassionate ideas. Reading this essay won’t make you feel warm inside. Or outside, for that matter. This essay isn’t going to make you feel better about yourself whatsoever but in the guise of a heavy load of Schadenfreunde, and in this case, be my guest! There is plenty to be had in here. This essay isn’t going to win any literary contest thanks to its irrefutable mastery at disguising narcissistic prose as a universal lesson, powerfully describing the ills of our current society, but offering no cure. This essay won’t morph into a triumphal Ted Talk going viral on the Internet. This essay will tell you a story that is banal as fuck. This essay won’t offer any conclusion. This essay was written in a pool of tears. No blood, no sweat, just human-produced saltwater. This essay was written with a runny nose and blurry, puffy eyes bleeding inane droplets of water splotching up a MacBook Pro keyboard, a computer built with real blood, sweat and tears by slave labor somewhere in China.
This essay was written by someone wearing a cheap H&M t-shirt made by slave labor working in terrible yet indescribable conditions inside a Bangladeshi factory. This essay was written by someone whose oldish Gap sweater has holes tearing up at the armpit. This essay was written by someone staring at a beautiful green garden while profusely crying absurd tears. This essay has neither visible outline nor any delicate, sophisticated construction carefully hidden behind its elegant prose. This essay has no aim or goal or even definite topic. This essay is written by someone who wakes up everyday crying and keeps on crying non-stop for hours. Crying won’t make you spend that many calories. This essay had started to be written about six hours after the writer woke up, but only twenty minutes after the author had showered and dressed. This essay was written by someone who still has about two days worth of food in the fridge and whose rent is paid until the end of the month, about eleven days from now. This essay was written by someone who actually has many friends, about seventy of those took the time to message the author when the writer went public about suffering from clinical depression on a social network. 

This essay is written from a place of social privilege by someone who still has the luxury to sit on their ass on a mid-century modern chair of no known brand or origin but whose distinctive style wouldn’t look out of place in the online world of mildly trendy home d├ęcor sites. This essay was written by someone who is very conscious of being white and occasionally catches themselves at internalized racism. This essay is written by someone who should be laughing at the absurdity of it all but can’t repress the tears. While this essay without redeeming qualities was written its author could have spent their time better by accomplishing normal things such as looking for a job or trying to solve their seemingly inextricable administrative issues. This essay written without apparent or hidden redeeming qualities bears no resemblance whatsoever with anything Robert Musil would have written, no matter how much its author would have liked it, but we’re talking about a fucking little narcissistic text about being a failure here, not a masterpiece of 20th century literature (or was it 19th?) that the author of this current text has read sometimes before this new millennium actually started. Oh well. Musil. Maybe the author of this essay has no redeeming qualities themselves. 

By writing a first-person essay at the third person the author is suddenly conscious of writing in the spoken style of Alain Delon as evidenced in turn-of-this-century interviews published in French gossip magazines. Alain Delon once said he was very proud of his ass because it was round-shaped like a melon. This author’s ass isn’t anything to be proud of yet it is as real as Alain Delon’s. As this essay is being written, now six-hundred- seventy-two words in, its author is very conscious to not have started to even mention what the problem was. The author is very conscious the problem is major depression which is nothing to be laughed at but if the author manages to laugh about it maybe for one second things will seem to be better. Or maybe not. While this essay was being written suddenly the tears stopped. This is the very first try at stream-of-consciousness writing from the author’s. The author never for one second felt like being Alain Delon, but this shit came into the author’s head and refused to leave right there and then. Believe the author who started this essay at the third person, the author would rather have anybody else in their head than Alain Delon. Say, Claudio Abbado whose death was announced this morning. Claudio Abbado was never called an asshole, not in New York. The author cannot stand listening to music while in the pits which sucks because music is the best thing invented by humankind. The author feels ridiculous referring to themselves as “the author” but there is some hope this essay can be kept genderless throughout. Well, scrap that. Make it, “gender-neutral”. Gender-neutral won’t give any further redeeming qualities to this essay but it will make the author feels slightly better which is all the author is asking from life at present. The writer of this essay always feels terrible to be referred to as “a writer” or “an author” because writing is what they do and not what they are - a piece of shit, this is what the author of this essay without redeeming qualities feels they are, on any given day.

Major depression struck the writer of this quality-less essay when least expected. Nobody knows what causes depression no matter what the other fucktards tell you. The other fucktards are the ones getting rich writing self-help books. This particular bout of major depression was triggered by unforeseen administrative issues, seemingly inextricable issues that render the author as helpless as a discarded dirty rag doll on a trash heap. While this essay without redeeming qualities is being written the clock keeps on ticking regarding these administrative issues that the writer cannot seem able to solve. The administrative issues might get the writer of this essay kicked out of their current country of residence. These administrative issues scare the shit out of this writer to the point it’s impossible to answer the phone, open a mailbox or just do anything remotely normal or constructive once in a while. This inability to function normally vaguely reminds the author of a few lines in a Franzen book this writer never managed to read a few years back. Yes this particular writer feels no animosity of any kind toward Franzen even if he appears like a dick in his interviews, because most everybody does appear like a dick in the medias anyway. 

Sometimes this writer thinks a lot of this world’s ills could be solved by taxing the shit out of maritime freight shipping. And legalizing drugs and taxing the shit out of these as well but this should go without saying. For one full minute this writer thinks about some poor Bangladeshi factory worker who made that discolored t-shirt the writer is currently wearing and which was the only one the writer could afford buying. The writer’s mind has now drifted for that era of their life ten years ago when they owned only one pair of shoes, with holes in the sole. It took the death of several people for this writer to own more than one pair of shoes without holes in their soles. That time we went on this road trip in Utah and we stopped late at night at this Mom and Pop dinner in the middle of nowhere and there were fifteen people in our group including six assorted vegans and vegetarians and the food was inedible. The writer had ordered a glass of buttermilk that was the only thing remotely edible there and the steak that was ordered rare came back so overcooked it felt like eating the sole of a shoe. The black widow spiders inside of Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, and all the saltwater that was over Spiral Jetty so you could only see the beginning of an outline if you climbed the hill overlooking the site. When we came back to Los Angeles we all made a beeline to Koreatown and its 24-hour restaurants so we could finally have a decent meal. We were gone for three days at most and yet we needed to get decent food ASAP. 

Suddenly the third person singular shifted to the first person plural but there isn’t any “we” in this irremediably unredeeming essay. Word informs this writer that unredeeming isn’t a word. Well now it is. The author is aware that most certainly so, we are all in it, but this isn’t an essay about the state of the world today, or else it would be entered into some sort of contest to prove a point about whatever but there isn’t anything else to prove anymore. There are no redeeming qualities to this essay because it only speaks about its writer’s experience, and only just so. This is the story of someone who found themselves suddenly suffering from major depression. This is a story that happens to millions of people every day and nobody gives a fuck so why should you? This story is written with no end in sight and no other intent than keeping the world at bay for just a few minutes. This story is now about fifteen-hundred or so words in the making, fifteen-hundred words or so that took exactly thirty-three minutes to write so far. There is no conscious intent to get this essay or story get out of hand and reach, say, more than three thousands words. We count in words, we the writers. We can’t count in money units because nobody gives writers any money units anymore. 

This story shifted again to the first person plural. The writer of this story has no more control over it than a cancer sufferer over the proliferation of diseased cells inside their bodies. It’s difficult at this stage to know whether this is an essay or a story but the writer is still very firm in the belief that it has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, at least for its reader. It might be different for its writer in the sense that it did succeed for a few minutes to keep the world at bay. Oh, who are we kidding? The world is still howling and wailing and waiting at the door to swallow us whole. Scrap that, the world is ready to bite and chew and tear apart and hurt like hell before it swallows whatever pieces are left of us.
The world is outside and this writer can see it out of the window. It makes noises. Police sirens that remind the writer they deport people from this country if they can’t extricate themselves from seemingly impossible administrative demands, even if they are EU citizens. To this writer’s knowledge this is the only EU country that actually deports EU citizens. The writer has thought about Kafka a lot this year. When the writer manages to step outside of their own brain for a few minutes – don’t try this at home, it’s a painful feat of absurdity – the writer can see how ridiculously funny the situation is. The writer feels certain these administrative hurdles are created by civil servants themselves so they have a seemingly legitimate reason to keep their jobs. One civil servant at the foreigners office told the writer that it wasn’t their job to explain how to get out of this quagmire. 
There is a letter from the foreigners office in the mailbox that has been laying in there for a few days already and it irradiates increasing waves of fear upward, toward the second story apartment where this essay or story that has no redeeming qualities is currently being written. The writer could and should take steps to immediately address this terrible situation but the writer is paralyzed by terrible anxiety and panic attacks. This state has some biological consequences, most notably the need to evacuate the author’s intestines up to eight times a day, which no doubt is one of the reason the water bill for the whole household tripled over the last twelve months or so. The writer often wishes anxiety would lead to a suppressed appetite but alas the reverse happened, compulsive mindless eating which results in a much heavier weight and the firmly-held belief that the writer’s physical appearance is a deterrent for prospective employers and benevolent civil servants alike. Both species are imaginary, much like imaginary boyfriends for young teenage girls longing at posters of One Direction plastered on the walls of their small cluttered bedroom, instead of doing the homework that would get them good grades at school and lead their path toward the radiant future of whatever kind society will deem worthwhile for them. 
Unlike this text. 
In an ideal world this essay would be hysterically funny, as they say, maybe like a David Sedaris text that would be published in the New Yorker and guaranty its writer the certainty of being able to pay next month’s rent in full, and so if devoid of any redeeming qualities it would at least make the putative reader feel like they didn’t totally waste the time it took to arrive at the two-thousand-one-hundred- fifty-six word but hey it was said at the very beginning. This essay has still no redeeming qualities. The word count you’re reading will be totally off after edits are done but the writer doesn’t care. The writer doesn’t care much about anything anymore. The writer would like to keep the anxiety at bay. The writer would like to write something worthwhile but doesn’t know how to do it even if the writer keeps at it. Over the last seven years the writer estimates having written several hundred thousands words and likely more, the ongoing count might be in the millions now. The writer would like to take a minute to tell you to check the writings of Lydia Davis. The writer writes the way they write but if they could be “a writer” the writer would like to be Lydia Davis.

Meanwhile the world is outside opening its monstrous toothy fearsome mouth, ready to devour this helpless writer now in the throes of the most absurd depression ever. The world outside makes noises that send this writers in fits of tears and panic. Each car that idles in the street is a reminder they can come and get you. Each car that idles in the street is a reminder they will come and get you. Every noise outside reminds you you’re not a productive member of society. Each human voice wafting upwards is a menace reminding you that they will come and get you. Now the narrative voice has shifted again. The tears that had dried up are coming back. The cat is worried. The cat has been meowing little plaintive sounds for fifteen minutes straight urging the writer to come on the bed with the cat and huddle under a blanket with the cat. The cat is clearly anxious about the writer.

Sometimes the writer tries to soothe the anxiety by remembering that somewhere in this world Noel Scott Engel, otherwise known as “Scott Walker”, is maybe sitting down at his own desk writing the lyrics for his next album. This writer has no mental image of Scott Walker writing at his desk and so thinks about his lyrics and wonders how he does it. Then this writer tries to chase away this idea because there’s always the fear that lyrics will seep down inside the text being written and then it will be plagiarism and one cannot plagiarize the greatest artist alive. It is ridiculous. Then the writer thinks about one of the Kafka stories written over the summer and wonders if some part of The Amorous Humphrey Plugg might have seeped in one of the stories, the one where Gregor is a virgin maybe. Scott Walker seems to be a very nice guy in the few interviews that are available online. Yet nobody ever asks him the only question the writer is interested in, but then it’s a difficult question to formulate in a logical manner. It is said Scott Walker is color-blind yet it is known the man also paints as a hobby. So how does he do it? Sometimes the writer wants to believe Scott Walker’s paintings might be as terrible as, say, like Bob Dylan’s – have you ever seen how shitty Dylan’s paintings are? Yet he shows at Gagosian - because it would be a terrible injustice if that man was also a good painter. Scott Walker, the writer meant, because we already know Bob Dylan is a shit painter. Well no it wouldn’t be a terrible injustice but during the three minutes it took to write these lines, the anxiety receded a little bit. 

No tears were shed for a good hour now. This feels like a victory yet this essay still has no redeeming qualities. Rather than writing an essay with redeeming or unredeeming qualities this writer would like to have a good cry on someone’s shoulder. Or simply be able to get up and do something. It’s been three whole days since the writer went outside. There is food in the fridge and so there might have been a possibility to stay in tomorrow as well but tomorrow will be the day when the writer sees their shrink who doesn’t seem to be that much helpful to begin with. This morning the writer asked a friend to please help them find a lawyer to try and solve this administrative quagmire. Just thinking about this and yet another knot is now being firmly secured over the writer’s stomach. Being a writer or simply being someone who writes should mean being able to convey things accurately, elegantly and meaningfully yet this writer feels incredibly powerless and stupid and unable to explain why why why it is impossible to pick up the phone to call people, answer emails or go downstairs open the mailbox wherein lays that letter bearing the heading of the foreigners office that creates this radiations of abject fears wafting upstairs nonstop toward the writers’ apartment, piercing the windows and holding the writer under a powerful, invisible cloak of terror and paranoia.

Writers edit because frankly no writing is ever good without editing yet looking up five lines upwards to check mistakes and this writer felt again like sobbing powerlessly for a few seconds. Sometimes one word would trigger hiccups and tears and sobs. The heating is on and the radiators are blasting full heat yet the writer is shivering in a cold sweat, wanting to retreat beneath a blanket. Yet it is almost one pm now. Nothing has been accomplished today but just writing these absurd words. The author feels like a stupid fuck. The author had warned you beforehand this essay had no redeeming qualities. Yet you kept on reading.
 The writer often thinks about Walter Benjamin in addition to Scott Walker and John Cale and Lydia Davis who are all personal heroes as well as Vanessa Place and then feels like shit because all these people produce things that have redeeming qualities and help other people keep alive. Yet maybe Vanessa Place would laugh at the idea. The writer has been working for months and even years on a story about Walter Benjamin, a very sad claustrophobic story where the writer recently introduced Bugs Bunny to “add in an element of violence”, because the original narrator is boring as fuck. This is ridiculous. 
Walter Benjamin had one of the saddest life story this writer can think of and it occupies the writer’s brain daily. The writer’s brain was subjected to violent trauma in two consecutive car accidents that fucked up the writer’s life irremediably yet they triggered all that onslaught of logorrhea the reader is now witnessing a part of. Most days the writer feels like there is one part of their brain that is working and everything else is messed up. Before being subjected to the current episode of clinical depression the writer thought the way their brain was malfunctioning was funny as fuck as well as totally tragic – to this day this writer cannot handle handwriting anymore and let’s not talk about opening plastic bags or eating with chopstick or read anything written by Slavoj Zizek – but now the writer of this story without redeeming qualities suspects that the bundle of jelly-like tissues being jerked around violently inside their cranium during the car accidents has more than a little to do with their current state of being in the pits. At some point it was thought writing a short text about the long and tedious process of recovery might be helpful to other sufferers but the desire to help others died with the current onset of depression. Instead the writer could only offer this essay with no redeeming quality written in the spoken style of Alain Delon.


©Frenchybutchic, 2014. Not to be reproduced without permission, OK? The writer needs $ and things like that.

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