I lay on my couch feeling rather uneasy because I finished reading Hesse’s Siddhartha. (For the eighth time, now.) This time, I reasoned that Hesse’s depiction of the boy’s journey to meaning is stylistically well crafted. But goddamn, I cannot think Hesse—the German-Swiss, the poet, novelist, writer; the thinker, could take himself that seriously. (Note: the man even painted.) I mean… his boy finds meaning through a paradoxical odyssey. (His life is a miracle, ladies and gentleman, and when have you seen a miracle happen?)
But wait, lo and behold, Hesse—the German-Swiss, the man turned poet-novelist-writer-painter-thinker-extraordinaire forgot to include a preface, a little note warning us, all of us excited burnouts that each and every one of our hopes, and I mean, all of our hopes for a pleasurable existence—a meaningful existence at that—will not be answered by his book.
To my readers: you have reached this book in hopes of an answer to your existence, but sadly enough if you can think a little bit outside the box you will find yourself thinking too much about it, and by thinking too much about it, you will find yourself at the same place you were originally in. Nowhere. (And to those people that read my book, and purportedly found enlightenment, I hope to God Almighty, to Shiva-Zeus-Viracocha-La Santa Muerte-Anatolia … “deep breath”… Jupiter-Quirinus-Aengus-Buddha, that you will get struck down by a thunderbolt, a ball of fire, a gigantic hand, or bothered by seven hundred days of pest, or impaled by a seven-foot long stick. I am sorry for misleading you this much, but do consider my book a masterpiece. (For it is beautifully crafted.) Sincerely, Herman (The Man Himself) Hesse. P.S. And do not bother with my fellow writers. (Why? Read what I just said.)
The book makes me uneasy. It does not make sense to starve while “patiently” engaging in thought, and in so doing, finding the ultimate meaning of life. And on top of all, finding the embodiment of a living God in a hut next to a river. By that logic, my God would be a man working in a convenience store. And that is irrational. And that is extremely irrational. And to the extent that that is irrational, I think we can all—as thinkers that can think beyond the scope of their immediate surroundings—that Hesse’s recipe for meaning fails like all recipes to meaning.
Note: I have spent my life time reading recipes in all shapes and forms. I have tried them all. Or at least I think I have: Nietzsche. Marx. Tolstoy. Sartre. Kant. Hegel. Spinoza. Levinas. Hume. (Keep em’ coming dolly!) Camus. I even read a hippie hailing from Mexico City, who used Plato and Aristotle to write up a bestseller self-help book.
And that… is… a… scary… scary…. thought. Even to me—the maverick philosopher—the philosopher king hailing from Europe, with a PhD in Philosophy. (Yes… I am licensed to think… I tell you what is good and bad, and I am right, always right for my ego is the size of Freud’s, his being the ego capable of surpassing all egos.)
Anyways, the point is that this Mexican has been a bestseller for years now. And even this bestselling author could not get it right. No señor, not even his stab at turning Plato and Aristotle into a powerhouse mutant could teach me the meaning of life.
None of them work, I tell you. None of them!
(Maybe I should be like Augustine and write five-billion books and then I will get what he has to say—what they all, as thinkers in their own right, tried so hard to say.)
(Note: would ultimate realization be thought of as the effects of behaviorism? Would I be repeating myself the same thing as I write my answers over and over, until no evidence to the contrary could prove me wrong? A psychedelic or academic mantra of sorts wiring me to the unknown, that is, until I become one with nature in the form of an all-good, omnipresent, all-powerful God, capable of being apart of space and time, in a coup to control it all.)
Am I too stupid to get it?
For I cannot seem to get anything right, or so I reason, because I have no clue as to what t I am to do with my life now that it is bland. What my dear, dear, dear, dearest am I supposed to do with my skin and bones?
Maybe I ought to join a darts club.
I think of this as I stand up from my couch, my blue comfortable couch. (It is my throne, strong and tall in Elysium, my piece of heaven where I think and bleed for all you sleazy, lazy, thinkers who know I am right, but cannot bear the thought of spelling it out loud—we have no clue what this here is about, or that there is about.) “And this,” I whisper to my fridge, as I grab myself a cold one, “is the crux of the problem.” So I sit on my couch—my throne —and I think that I am doing it again. That I am thinking too much. That again, I might be thinking way outside the box. But maybe it is the other way around. Maybe I am not thinking too much, so now I think that I should think even more because I feel that I am done for, and that I need an explanation for all of my suffering.
My reasoning: I am a burnout, depressed, thirty-five year old scholar, my wife left me for some younger, taller, man; and on top of all, my books sold approximately forty to fifty copies, plus my online publications on Derrida and Foucault and Lacan have been read by about two people, graduate students and/or romantic flings, who did not remotely get what I was trying to convey. Philosophy is arcane, so they warned me at undergraduate school. (Maybe I cannot craft books like Hesse, but I can think things right, I am licensed to think!) So yeah, I think I am pretty done for because I cannot think what I should do next. Should I continue to teach, should I become a soul consultant? A mind consultant? Both or maybe none… and/or build a business?
Now I think that I should rather concentrate on the taste of my beer, so as to forget all this stuff that is bothering me. Maybe after I sleep for a solid ten hours, maybe, just maybe, I will forget about the past, and then will I come up with an answer. Or maybe I need to think a little bit more, and find what I need right-now. But, what could I possible want in a world that drives me crazy? (I am thirty-five, I have already been taught the lessons, what more can I learn.)
Hence, I list what I really want. There is always the badly cooked breakfast in the morning, the endless hours without sleep, the music in the radio, movies, books. (Even if both the food and radio and books are now too artificial to be considered food or music or books.)
“Damn!” I screech to the skies. “I think I need some sleep!” I drag myself to the bathroom, and take out my meds from the cabinet. (No shame in my game, sir.) And as I take one, two, three gulps, of oval shaped saviors, I wire myself to a peaceful existence. And I let myself float, as I stare blankly at the t.v. screen, my master, who possesses a greater ability for truth-telling than the gypsy psychic across the block (greater than the power of the overlord Ph.D, Dr. Faustus). And thereon, I start swirling with thoughts again, taking a final stab at a recipe for meaning, à la Marlowe.
Maybe he had it right. Marlowe. I need to sell my soul to the devil. I have to sell it for truth, but I wonder, do I have to dial a certain number in my phone (do I need to type a certain url to connect to him?) Or do I have to follow a LeVeyan ritual, and/or invoke Aleister Crowley while wearing Aztec feathers on my balding head? Am I to do all of this, try it time and again until I die, in hopes that the devil himself, will grant me what God will not or am I assuming too much? Am I that much a skeptic that I ended up in this solipsistic stream of consciousness? Am I Nagel’s bat? Am I the product of your imagination, a platform made up of atomided ideas the moment He died on the cross. The moment a crowd of believers, of thinkers, dangerous men with agendas, with nails to pluck onto a cross, with guns and ammo and nukes to blow it all, came up with a theory; many, many competing theories they called science.
(And the winner is…)
Ah, yes, I remember now, the certainty that we are not mad.
But the moment that that theory got disproved I ended up here, wishing I came from the past. Wishing that I came from a past in which the idea that life itself should be meaningful, the idea that life itself might be a string of logical effects brought about by a greater Thing, that that question is what will lead us up into heaven, was still up for grabs. But I digress, for alas, I embody the theory that got disproved and as one and the same I am the bat, the product, the platform of atomized ideas that repeat in a loop, a never-ending loop that will not end lest I die and I find out that meaning is not to be found anywhere; not even, in my apartment on my couch, tired.
And so, I am the bat. I am the Grandmaster Ph.D. And I will try all of the recipes there are, lest death grabs me by my toes, my little toes, that have walked the old continent, America, the Sahara, the dirt, the gap between my head and what is, the peak of each and every Pyrenean. These very toes that have taken me to space and back, circling the moon, every time I sleep.
But only in my sleep. Only after my meds, my oval recipes for salvation, to which I hang on for dear life, as I shut my eyes, embracing emptiness on my couch. On my blue couch, the only dear thing I have left. The only dear thing that is true, besides my words, my thoughts that blur the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the t.v., the table, the fridge, the stove, the shower, my clothes, my food, my everything. My things. So I must be stringent, I must believe, have convictions, believe that I own these things, that I own them, that they are produced for my self-esteem–the things I need to survive— because why would I possibly want to die when I am so scared to live?
Why would I want to die? I would want to die because I want to find out what come after blackness, “nada,“ my colleagues say. The great emptiness they say. (The atheists—the embodiment of all redundancies—say that nothing, absolutely-nothing.) Death will arrive at some point, and will poke me on the back (and say “señor, follow me if you will, past the golden gate, past the brother with the long intelligent looking beard”), and will do so when my heart stops beating, when cancer takes over my spinal chord, when a train going from Amsterdam, to Madrid, to Singapore, to New York and to Mexico City takes me home.
What will I leave behind, but an idea of what I was and what I will purportedly be, in the great Beyond in the heads of those who will remember me. Because the here, the now, the thing that is, led me nowhere (yet everywhere in my sleep!) And the sum total of all of this, is an atomized idea, a memory, too short to enjoy, too long to decipher, inked into people’s heads, forever and ever, amen. Because the designer, if I shall grant that there is one, was too stupid, too stupid, to make us greedy. And we are greedy pigs that need more and more and more and more, until that crave for more turns that crave into a crave for nothing, as I feel now, craving absolutely nothing; I wan to be with my pal Oscar Zeta Acosta, who greets me with drinks and cigars, in a tavern too mad to exist, too terribly mad to greet a madman like myself, and my colleagues—all those people I have been ranting about for hours… all those that inscribe the imperative of the question in my head, and in turn collapsed my chances at traveling the road to meaning in a swift gamble between what ought to be and what a lazy, sleazy man experiences in his ‘El Dorado,’ cruising the hungry streets, without a worry in the world.
So I sleep. Nauseated. And so I sleep. Because there is no other thing that could possibly interest me, now that I am a relativist, a construct of ideas without direction.
I am tired.
Sad that my wife left me.
Sad that my books will not sell.
Sad that I cannot seem to reach justified true belief.
And by that note I rest comfortably down on the couch, turn on my stereo and listen to Bowie. The only man that gets me. Maybe I should have married him instead. But to no avail, for I am stuck here, straight and crazy. A relativist alone in the living room of his apartment, theorizing about himself and the etceteras, etceteras.
I wake up on my couch, numb, and annoyed because I spilt some beer on the rug. The shades are closed so I cannot tell whether it is night or day. I do not care. I pick myself up from the comfort of my couch. (Note to self: I feel relieved when I am too numb to think.) I brush my teeth feeling a bit fuzzy, while I listen to my stomach growl. It screams at me, demands food, it wants me to eat lest I collapse on my own weight.
I open the shades, and light fills the room. My watch reads quarter past eleven. I cook eggs in the kitchen. I eat them, clean the dishes, then sit back on the couch. I turn on the t.v., then flip through the channels only to find that nothing is interesting. Reality shows. Cartoons. Music videos. News. More news. Fashion. Food. More food. Redundant. Redundant. Redundant. So I turn the t.v. off. I go back to my couch and sleep a nap that last for approximately two and a half hours which makes it twenty past two. (And I dream of my ex, and that I brawl with Hemingway in the trenches.) And I wake up feeling better, and so I decide that it is a good idea to walk out and buy the groceries for the remainder of the week. I try to go outside but I am scared. Because I think that a stroll to the local food store will elicit the good old boredom and emptiness that creeps up under my feet, but this is how life normally is, no?
So I go anyways. And when I get back home, huffing and puffing, I open myself another beer. I drink while I try to write my next novel, titled More of Nothing, which I anticipate will be described by the critics as “a stab at demonstrating how we should move away from Hegel and embrace Hume.” A tour de force. A must read.
So I type about twenty pages, which adds up to a grand total of seventy-seven pages. I feel proud so I think to myself that I deserve a treat. A real treat. I walk to the kitchen, take out a piece of apple pie which I eat on my couch while indulging on a novel. While I read the novel I feel alone and accompanied, by the delight, the warmth, elicited that is by my delicious Kerouacian apple pie. But this depresses me. And I miss my wife. And I want to puke because I have not gone anywhere beyond the grocery store in the past four days, obsessively self indulging in stupid pleasures and mental rants, the creeping void that I happen to experience on a day to day basis, ever since I stopped caring for my craft.
But then again, who does not think the way I do? So I eat my pie, high-five my pals in my head (my dear authors, philosophers, my thinking friends, “too weird to be among the living, too rare to die”), look around the leaving room toward my many, many, many objects, which include my art, my books, my things. And I form a smirk in my face, without a grudge now. Because I want to be depressed and think and think and think; maybe at some point, I will find my own version of happiness. And now I say to myself that “I should be more of an idealist,” and the t.v. looks back at me without anything interesting to say.
So I sleep.
So I sleep.
But I cannot sleep this time because I want something more. More pie, more of that Kerouacian pie that fills the spirit. That makes me want to live a madman’s life. More beer, too, at the edge of my couch. I want to write my next book. But, I remind myself, my leave of absence will be over in a week from now. Then I have to teach. But do I want to teach people? Am I really making the world a better place?
I sure hope so.
And it hits me right there and then, the anwers to all of my questions, while I sip on my beer. And I yell: ‘Eureka!’ And I realize that it was so simple. So I run over to my computer, knowing that I need to communicate it to all of my colleagues, my students, my friends and family, everyone I can. I open up my server and type in the password to my e-mail address. Logged in, I write up the memo detailing the recipe, the strike of genius, a two hundred page masterpiece of an opuscule to end all philosophical debates, for the masses to reach happiness, now and forever.
I click the “send” button, and the manuscript reads: