Thursday, 30 January 2014

A Modest Request from a Potentially Homeless Writer

Will You Pay my Rent?

by J. Albert Barr

Will you pay my rent? Seriously, it's nearing the end of the month (shit, it's actually tomorrow!) and I really need someone to cover it for me because I'm plumb broke. I really am. I can't remember being so utterly, so abjectly bereft of renewable funds. I'm totally broke, and practically penniless. And as Canadians well know, pennies are now absolutely useless; they've been discontinued and formally retired by the federal government. Stores reject them and piggy banks are less credible with them collected in its ceramic belly. Actually, I've got an old Classic Coke can filled with pennies. It still makes for a good paper weight, even though I rarely use paper now; especially single sheets strewn everywhere like during my "Henry Miller phase".

Yes, you guessed it: I'm unemployed at the moment, and not entirely without a degree of deliberateness on my part I fully confess. But you see, here's the thing: I can't be wasting my precious, and quite frankly, crucial time making money, traditionally, for a living, because I'm preoccupied at the moment with representing you in the courtroom of life. What is the "courtroom of life" you might ask? with perhaps an inkling itching you in a hard-to-reach-area, or a visceral or cerebral discomfort all taut and knotted, but not so paralyzing as to prevent you from performing your daily tasks resulting in a likely bi-weekly stipend and a Pavlovian endorphin-rush from realizing that Friday has come around once again? No, I, and those considerably few like me (but most importantly me at this particular juncture) are the writers, the artists, the "lazy sumbitches who gotta git off their asses and earn a goddamn paycheck!", who are on the figurative front-lines, in the wrestling ring, hovering over an operating table and , yes, the proverbial courtroom trying to defend your collective freedom, your connection with verifiable life and existence, your connection with yourself. Because that connection is getting slowly shut-down, day by day, and even minute by minute, isn't it? Don't lie. I can feel the veritable disconnect from here in front of my laptop at 3:00 a.m. Mountain Time with The Knife's "Shaking the Habitual" semi-blasting from my Sony boombox (I believe it's track-four, "Without You My Life Would Be Boring", that's playing right now). And even more disturbing and unsettling, our very children are being born directly into it! It's the very air they first draw into their unsuspecting, their utterly unwitting, lungs and brains. They're inured to this disconnect before they've even said their first words. And we wonder "what's wrong with kids today?" And not the way we wondered what was wrong with kids from the pre-internet/cellphone era either. This is something completely different, isn't it?

Life, society and culture have become increasingly more complex and dumbfounding hasn't it? Culture itself seems to be drained of nearly all substance and meaning and value. You see and feel this too, oh, yes, I know you do, consciously or just below the surface of sentience. You don't believe me? You think I'm full of shit and artsy-fartsy pretension, or worse, I'm just plain crazy? Ask yourselves this pertinent question: What do you believe in? Do you truly feel fulfilled in, and by, that belief, and that belief alone within the abstract purity of its conviction and integrity? Or is it supplemented with anti-depressants? Or some other pharmaceutical prescription for reasons that are completely lost on you, despite the "happiness" you've incurred from your belief(s)? Alcohol? Recreational drugs? Sex addiction? Gaming addiction? On-line social media addiction? Can you stand being alone with yourself and your thoughts without the ambient aid of music or television or some other aural distraction keeping the internal "unpleasantness" at bay?  Is your respective identity fortified with an unwavering sense of personal truth without it being totally governed by ego, narcissism and self-interestedness; which is to say, not completely deluded out of sheer and necessary rationalization and self-denial? Is empathy a foreign concept to you? Do you feel desensitized by life, your life? My life? Their life? Have you ever wondered what a day is like in the life of a Ugandan child? Or perhaps a single Detroit mother? How about an American Midwestern farmer? A struggling actress waiting tables off of Sunset Boulevard? An abused girlfriend from a broken family? A New York stock-broker? A globally curious youth in Beijing dealing with internet regulations? What does any of this have to do with your own life? It's "tough all over" I once read a retired "adventurer" say in an influential graphic novel.

I get it. I really do. It's really fucking hard to just muster up the requisite energy and sheer will to get out of bed and motivate yourself to accomplish yet another day of likely professional drudgery and adult responsibility, especially if you have a family to support. Where's the time to give a good goddamn to anything outside the immediacy of your own life drama? Therein lies the true tragedy of our contemporary world; one that is now wholly imprisoned by inhuman corporatism, worker-bee exploitation, technology-obsession/distraction and vapid, consumer-addled culture and media. And it's here that I come in, dear readers and fellow human beings, however damaged and deprived we all are and feel; and rightly so, because this is not the world we should be maintaining with the sweat of our brows and the very essence of our souls, our sense of meaning and value towards ourselves, our children, family, friends and others, humanity's very existence and nondescript, potentially post-human, future.

For reasons too drawn-out and protracted to get into here, suffice it to say that, after many years of observing and absorbing humanity's past, and now perpetuating present, I've taken on the Atlas-like task of attempting to explain this mess we undoubtedly find ourselves in, here at the early stages of the 21st century, and at the very least provide some kind of alleviation, if not outright solution, whatever the seeming ridiculousness of such a statement; my efforts are well-meaning and genuine, I promise you. And in order to exact said colossal task, I cannot be bogged down with worry and anxiety pertaining to the whereabouts - from daily physical and mental exertion - of the required funds expected to sustain, on a monthly basis, the residency I now, at present still, occupy here in the western regions of Canada. So, once again, and from the humbling heart I assure you, can some kindly patron, with enough spirited sympathy and appreciation for the arts, foot the rigid bill of my "adult responsibility" and generously pay my frickin' rent, so I can get some real work done here in our collective name?...although I'll be taking all authorial credit of course, but for a damn good cause, you understand. Numerical figures can be discussed with the required discretion expected from such a sad and abject request asserted from this writer, a writer so utterly devoid of ego or sense of pride, apparently, that he'd resort to cyber-panhandling for legally tendered alms.

Oh, I almost forgot: you think you can throw in a few bucks for some groceries? I live on a strict, and very cheap, diet of: Kraft Dinner, Mr. Noodles, Chef Boyardee can goods, cheap wine, water, day-old bread and no-name cheddar cheese. It'd be greatly appreciated for sure. Eating is important of course, and I'd like to keep it up for the sake of the writing. Come on, help a "talented", socially-conscious mo-fo out, huh?  ;-)

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