|Man of Peace - Leonard Baskin|
The raw stuff would blow too many circuits, or maybe get me committed to some looney ward. There is a good reason many authors use pseudonyms. Only way to be honest.
I was talking to my friend D. up in Berkeley the other day, a poet and professor who has known many poets and wordsmiths in his time. "To become a poet one must become a monster," he said.
I think that he maybe is on to something. Poets and authors, or at least the ones I tend to favor, have to divorce the world to work, hole up in cheap hotels with a handful of number 2 pencils like Gardner and Simenon, remove themselves from compression and cohabitation, find their way to places like Hemingway's Key West, Proulx's Newfoundland, or a sick and worn out Stevenson' in Samoa. Probably helps to drink.
Get the fuck out of Dodge and start peeling away the layers of onion skin within. Not always pretty. Often depressing. Writing requires a need to feel that isn't necessarily so important in the other creative pursuits.
If you look at suicides among the practitioners of the creative arts, why is it always poets and writers who punch their ticket and not bassoon players or contraltos, potters or even tole painters? What is there about the craft of writing that summons up the darker demons? Fucking writers are right up there with dentists.
David Foster Wallace
Seneca the Younger
All of these writers penned their own final chapter. I like Jerzy's suicide note; I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call it Eternity.
I myself spent nine years in an insane asylum and I never had the obsession of suicide, but I know that each conversation with a psychiatrist, every morning at the time of his visit, made me want to hang myself, realizing that I would not be able to cut his throat. Antonin Artaud*
I have had two suicides in my family, that I know about. My father's mother and my mother's father. Nice symmetry. Never met the latter, lost my grandma when I was about seven, supposedly she had enough of my grandfather's reported serial infidelities and swallowed pills.
My mother's mother died of a cerebral aneurysm in 1955, before I was born. They had left Moldava in the twenties, signing a note promising never to return. Moshe, born Mondko and finally Martin, was a horse thief and smuggler of wheat and tobacco and finally a furrier. Ended up first in Providence and then headed west to sell furs with his brother Sam. Short but incredibly powerful, he sidelined as a strong arm man for the Furrier's Union, kept everybody in line.
My mother hated how her house smelled, the ghastly chemicals used to tan the hides and furs. They lived in Los Angeles, near the original El Cholo on Western. Think she was embarrassed of her parents, the poor immigrant jews who didn't know how to assimilate quite as seamlessly as she did.
My Uncle Norm wrote a fine family history. The following is what he wrote about my grandfather, a man who died the year after I was born, who I may or may not have ever met, although I got his hair.
... Dad was always physically healthy, he had mental problems, not mental illness, but problems. Dad either had too much confidence in himself or not enough. One day he thought he could lick the world, that as long there were peasants around ( the blacks and poor whites) Moshe Wainrober would do ok. At other times he felt totally inadequate. Probably the latter was an accurate description in his later days.
Dad lived three years after mother died. He closed his business, but didn't have anything important to do. He was alone. He couldn't seem to find a job because by that time the fur trade was pretty well dying. For a little while he worked as a box boy in a jewish owned supermarket on La Cienaga. He found that his inability to write legibly kept him from even applying for a job, even driving a taxi. Of course it was difficult for anyone over 57 years old to find work, especially when that person is unskilled except for knowledge in an almost dying trade. Finally he purchased a neighborhood fur store on Vermont near Eighth St. I don't think he did too well there, In 1958, when he was 60, he locked the doors of the store and killed himself in it.