Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Corporation

I never had much use for the institution of marriage so imagine my surprise when i woke up one day and found myself in one. If there was a lesson to be learned it was that one should beware when drunk in stairwells, you see it was in a stairwell while drunk that i was asked if "you'd ever marry me?" to which i replied sure, yes, i'd marry you tomorrow. I didn't realize it was a fucking serious question. I mean i had once proposed to a young lady, for those following along her name was Audrey and there is a post from many years back (that could use a re-write) about eating acid, shaving the snizz, and getting hitched come morning. One and two were accomplished but three never did materialize and it ended with Audrey chasing me with a hammer which to this day is one of the most romantic things that's ever happened to me... but i digress.

In my last two years of undergrad at Podunk U. i spent a good deal of time devouring books, not that i've stopped but back then life was a bit less complicated. Go to class, study, read, do a radio show, take as many psychedelic drugs as available, smoke copious amounts of ganja, drink malt liquor, sleep with various women who all pretended to like my shit poetry, at times sell said ganja to help fund my recreational activities, repeat. Not a bad gig if you could get it. That said with most of my spendable cash going to drugs and alcohol i had to also feed my reading habit. I spent a lot of time in the university library and checked out many books some of which i just didn't bring back. When no one had checked out a Bukowski or Celine novel for over a decade i felt it my civic duty to liberate those books so they could find a proper home on my makeshift bookshelf. Now and then I'd catch a ride to the Podunk Mall where i'd spend a good deal of time lifting Russian novels from the chain bookstore because in those days (and these) i loved my mad Russians. Dostoyevsky, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Gogol, they kept me company through the shit winters of northwestern Pennsyltucky.

It was then that i first came across The Kreutzer Sonata by Tolstoy, such a scathing indictment of marriage and relationships that i vowed then to never put myself in that situation. Of course who knew how close the beginning my own would come to mimicking this piece of work, barring the murder of course. There is a certain line of psychiatric thinking that posits the theory that "love", the giddy and bubbly kind sold by Madison Avenue and found on most modern jewelry commercials, is nothing more than a temporary form of mental illness known to last roughly four years. In fact i've become such a cynic that when i hear of people getting engaged after knowing each other for a year or two i almost long for a betting parlor where i could place my bet on the chance of them actually getting to the alter or of the marriage lasting past five years. It takes a special type of masochist to make it past that mark and even then they drop by the wayside after 10 or 15 or 20 or more years. As i creep towards the void i understand now what a flawed human being i am and also i understand that most of what i (or we) believe is love is nothing more than lust. As the non-sense of organized western religion becomes more and more exposed for the non-sense it is we see more and more people rejecting the idea that we need this institution of marriage as some kind of moral pillar of a civilized society.

And yet here i am, too many years on to count, still involved in an outdated and useless institution. The first two months of this endeavor were such an unmitigated disaster that i know very few people who would have stuck it out. The first year fared no better and while i sat around and pondered things the question of why i stayed mainly boiled down to one thing...pride. Foolish fucking pride. One of those seven deadly sins i believe. Oh i was brilliant at lying to myself about things, pretending as if i was occupying some high moral ground but in reality i just didn't want to admit, or have to admit, that it had all been a mistake. Of course i should add a bit of the Bill Murray speech from the Razor's Edge about how this life of domestic tranquility was going to be my reward for going on the straight and narrow. Bill was right, there is no reward. Fact is as the King of North Oakland i had let my absolute power corrupt absolutely. I understand now just what a morally bankrupt bastard i was back then. I did what i wanted, fucked who i wanted, shit on who i wanted, all because i was the ranking fucking hood. It's amazing what money and power can do and how it can make one lie to themselves, it's why i innately understand the hypocrisy of the one percent, not that i was on that level, i was micro to their macro, but they really believe they know best much like the ranking hood who ran the neighborhood knew best. I got away with things because i was in a position of power and people knew crossing me would not be a good thing.

So as i've attempted to learn, to think, and to correct things, mainly for the boyos sake, i keep on reading books. It was while reading one of these books by a man named Erich Fromm that my mouth fell open. It basically slays the myth of the loving marriage and instead Fromm states that instead of loving each other the two parties settle for what they own together. It transitions into a form of friendly (or in some cases (see mine) uneasy and tenuous) ownership, a corporation based on money, children, social status, a home, where as Fromm puts it "two egotism's are pooled into one." I'd been saying all along this shit show had turned into nothing more than a business arrangement and now here it was laid out to me in black and white by a man who died in 1980. Seems i wasn't the only one to have been dwelling on the subject. Of course i add the caveat that my time here may be strictly tied to the service (child care) i provide and that when that service is no longer needed i'll be cut loose. Let's face it, i'm not the CEO of this corporation i'm the janitor. In the meantime i'll do my best to enjoy myself and raise the boyos in a fashion that rails against the consumption-production-consumption model that is modern day capitalism. A system built on a false premise of never-ending growth which ultimately can only lead to disaster.

Now to quote Mr. Jones, where are we know? It should be stated that i don't believe all of these such unions are unmitigated disasters as they are not. I'm privy to see some relationships that are built on the exact opposite of what Fromm has postulated, what one would call healthy relationships, but when you are stuck like a struggling fly on a glue strip in one of the former it can make you a bit jaded. So it goes. And so there are days when the question of am i a celibate whore pimping myself out for a nice pad and swell record collection butt head on with my study of being and not having. I've by no means come close to escaping the having in full, in the land of milk and honey that would be practically impossible. It would take a complete upheaval of everything that's been ingrained into us since we could first gaze on the glorious box and all it's moving pictures. The sights and sounds that told us we needed (insert product here) for us to be fully whole and sentient humans. It was all bullshit of course but as a child you don't know that, the big "they" are already indoctrinating you into their "family". But at least now i've gained a fuller gauge and picture of how much of my soul i have sold and what it might cost to get it back. I'm working on it. Scrimping and saving in hopes that i might be able to buy back enough of it to become a decent human one of these days. The clocks ticking.


daisyfae said...

i know how this feels. my marriage - was practical, and pleasant enough. he was (and is) a fine human being. about 4 years after kids were born, i knew i wanted out. when visiting the Trevi Fountain in Rome on a busienss trip, i went to make my wish (this was in 2003), threw three coins over my shoulder and said "Out, out, OUT!" It was not practical to do so before the kids were older - The Boy a senior in high school, The Girl, 2 years into university.

Studley and i have been together in some form for over 10 years. We are committed to each other. i do not wish to grow old without him. But we don't yet live together. People think this strange - but we're starting that conversation, and are discussing the 'likes/dislikes' of what our new crib will look like.

i'm dragging my feet a little. we're talking a year or two in the future. i don't want to fuck up a good thing.

i've been there.

you will get out. you will find a good place to be. the boyos will always adore and respect you, and have learned the most important shit from their old man. it's just really hard for you to see that future yet... hang in there.

kid said...

this is hard beside the point, but I mention it only because it jumped out at me. I miss check-out cards with stamped dates on them. it's about impossible to imagine now that a library could keep a single Bukowski on its shelf for ten years. I found him in the library too. it was a hardback copy of RUN WITH THE HUNTED, red cover, no dust jacket. my friends and I read that book to death. it fell apart by our use and the library didn't ever put it back.

the point is: this was a damn lucid and brutally honest piece. the writing done right by those influences.