And here’s the final touch, for Mary’s sake:
By mixing love with cruelty I’ll make
A penitent inquisitor whose words
Turn Seven Deadly Sins to seven Swords!
Then, heartlessly, for pure perverse delight
I’ll plunge them, one and all, with all my might
Deep in your merciful, still-beating Heart,
Your throbbing, sobbing, sweetly bleeding Heart!
There is too much dust to keep our eyes open any longer. There is too much heartbreak to run any further. This is it. The desert swells into one huge praetorian barrenness. A starving hyena squats near a dried up creek, his gaunt balding legs quivering in the moonlight . . . he makes an unpleasant face, pushes once more, and a little dehydrated turd falls from between his legs. In the vampish human encampments, words such as love and rain and beauty are forbidden, and exchanged with butt, stuff, fart, and steatopygous.
On the other side of the world is New York. All that’s left is a gross phallic ruin that was once our Statue of Liberty, the garland matriarch that was once our symbol of hope against the storm, something akin to Gatsby’s green lantern, except this time it’s for the Atlantic migrants dreaming of something better than peasantry and old beer. But Mrs. Liberty has since crumbled into something more resembling of Stonehenge. Now, the streets of Times Square are empty, filled only with a vile flashback of a great party. And the smell is horrifying. City-wide sirens that were meant to alarm the people in the event of something catastrophic, instead play the discordant echoes of Justin Bieber, singing “Baby, baby,” again and again until it slows down into the moanings of lost innocence.
But it wasn’t the bankers, or the drones, or Israel. It wasn’t even Kanye who ruined the earth. It was our own abject nihilism, quitting on life before we were old enough to start it. Take the assorted facts you learn on any given day. For example, these are the things I learned today: Olive Garden served 700 million bread sticks this year, two gay twins just made a porno called Twincest, One Direction has 21.5 million followers on Twitter, planet Earth is amidst its sixth greatest extinction of all time, and I’m still drunk after trying to recover after three months of heartbreak. Once you have made your list, climb to the top of the highest structure around, rip your shirt off, and scream as loud as you can, “Does anybody really feel anything!!”
Because it’s easier to complain about the servile Persesian misandry within our current political structure than it is to run for Congress yourself. It’s easier to sign another online petition that calls on Obama to end any one of his Peace Prize-winning wars than it is to blockade and stand alone in front of the deploying tanks. It’s easier to feel smug about deleting your Facebook account in search of real-life human interaction, only to realize we’re all wallowing in the same cursory dream, searching somewhere for splendor and beauty, swiping frantically through our phones, stalking cafes and pool halls and libraries and parks and pristine wet pastures, trying to hang on to a better memory of Beauty, to the august suffering of romance, to all that tragic light that once made us human. It’s like trying to hang onto the memory of the first person you loved, all the while choking in its madness. I don’t know the answer; it could be hidden in Baudelaire’s poetry: “And, drunk with my own madness, I shouted at him furiously, ‘Make life beautiful! Make life beautiful!’” It’s the reason any of us pretend to do more than sleep and eat and fuck. It’s the reason you can find a guy on the internet play the clarinet with a carrot he hollowed out himself, or why you can get an organic spray tan down the street for only thirty-five dollars. We’re standing on the edge of life, screaming “Make life beautiful!”
Southern Iraq was once a land covered so thick with cedar forests that light couldn’t touch the ground. The Sumerians cut down all the trees. But their excuse is the tragic tale of Gilgamesh disobeying the gods by cutting down the forest, and the gods plaguing the land with drought and fire. The once verdant terraqueous globe now defiled and betrayed, by 2100 B.C. the soil had eroded and depositories of salt had ruined all future agriculture. We are not the infant species we wish ourselves to be: the Mayans collapsed due to overpopulation and over-farming; the Minoans cut down all the trees; so did the Nazca of Peru; so did the Rapa Nui of Easter Island; many of the cultures from the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras did the same; the Anasazi overpopulated and died of thirst; the girning nomads of the last ice-age killed off all the megafauna of North America; the first migrants of Australia 50,000 years ago did the same.
In our tragic pursuit of Beauty, we kill the heavens. “A kiss is the beginning of cannibalism,” is what George Bataille said, and he’s never wrong. We turn the verdant aching thrones of life itself into a bleeding nihilistic cough. All love turns to heartbreak, that’s a fact. And if not heartbreak, it turns to lame routines and the stinking decay of ennui, which is worse than all the blinding enthusiasm of heartbreak. But we can deal with heartbreak—we write books or songs, we create art, we sleep with a bunch more women, we drink heavy amounts of alcohol. And it passes somehow . . . I guess. But it is in Bataille’s concept of base materialism where we find the rather banal origin of our hatred for the beautiful—why we kill the oceans and the forests and the animals and each other en masse—for in base materialism is the origin of the beautiful and the bad and everything else. Not unlike Spinoza’s neutral monism, base materialism describes the fabric of all existence as neither physical nor mental, but rather a vital base matter that underlies everything. It lies entirely in experience, immune to all rational conquest, making base materialism not material at all. It’s stupid in its obvious generality: everything is what it is, deal with it. I was in an alleyway the other day, minding my own business, and an old man with horrible teeth came up to me and went on an incoherent polemic about graffiti and insanity. “Shit is shit! Deal with it,” he said up close to my face. I tried to argue with him but he had a gun in his backpack, so I didn’t.
In Bataille’s L’Anus Solaire (The Solar Anus), he references the sun as the provider of all life that can also cause unimaginable death and suffering through its unbounded energies. And the anus itself is the symbol of the inevitable waste and tragedy that dominates much of the landscape. By mass there is seven times more plastic in the ocean than plankton. There is the Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch. One of the largest human-made structures on earth is the Fresh Kills Landfill of New York, covering over 2,200 acres. The Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill. The Three Mile Island nuclear explosion. The Kuwait oil fires of 1991, burning off six million barrels of crude oil into the atmosphere and surrounding environments. The eccocide in Vietnam through the large-scale spraying of Agent Orange and other chemicals. The Sidoarjo mud flow, caused by gas blowout wells. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone, the hypoxic zone from the nitrogen and phosphorus agriculture runoffs from the Mississippi River. The dioxin contamination of the Love Canal of the 1940’s. Minamata disease of Japan, from Chisso Corporation’s severe mercury poisoning of its wastewater. The electronic graveyard in Guiyu, China. The Baia Mare cyanide spill. The shrinking of the Aral Sea. The Chernobyl Nuclear Explosion. The Bhopal Disaster. The Great Smog of 1952. The massive asbestos contamination from vermiculite mines in Libby, Montana. The list is endless. But as the old man with bad teeth said, “Shit is shit! Deal with it.”
It’s all so sad, when the pure yearning child asks his parents why bad things happen, why evil rages wild in the night. Why does Boko Haram (not to be confused with the 1960’s rock group Procol Harum) abduct 300 school girls in the night? Why has the self-proclaimed Islamic State kidnapped up to 7,000 women and girls? This last December they released a formal guide that outlines the capture, punishment, and rape of female non-believers. These days, if one mentions ‘catholic priest,’ we think immediately of pedophiles. William Kellogg, founder of Kellogg’s cereal, created Corn Flakes with the hope that such a boring food would kill all sexual appetite. I’m not kidding. He advocated for the circumcision of boys and girls alike. These instances are to good sex and true love what environmental pollution is to human industry. It’s the Solar Anus we need to destroy, and the heavens to restore.
I don’t even like Bataille, his prose and life were shit. I want the Sun and not the Anus. I just want to make life beautiful again. I really don’t know, I’m going surfing.