by Travis Jeppesen on January 8, 2015
“Thus is announced the anchoritic community of those who love in separation [who love to stand aloof: qui aiment à s’éloigner]. The invitation comes to you from those who can love only at a distance, in separation [qui n’aiment qu’à se séparer au loin]. This is not all they love, but they love; they love lovence, they love to love – in love or in friendship – providing there is this withdrawal. Those who love only in cutting ties are the uncompromising friends of solitary singularity. They invite you to enter into this community of social disaggregation [déliaison], which is not necessarily a secret society, a conjuration, the occult sharing of esoteric or crypto-poetic knowledge. The classical concept of the secret belongs to a thought of the community, solidarity or the sect – initiation or private space which represents the very thing the friend who speaks to you as a friend of solitude has rebelled against.”
– Jacques Derrida, Politics of Friendship
Yes, I remember you sometimes. I look back, I keep the image to remind me. It hurts me knowing that you’re not the person you once were, that you have morphed into this monster, this thing you are today, but I guess the process is inevitable.
You always stood apart from everything. You were never really a symbol, you could never be passive enough to stand for, signify anything. You wanted to get married to the window. You were so busy being an outsider, you couldn’t even notice your own shadow. That’s all I paid attention to. Sort of hovering. I was a ridiculous faggot, a troll with bad breath trolling after you, you spent all your time in the forest drinking beer with your friends, I hid behind a tree and watched you. Shifts of vision occurring all over the place. You were smoking cigarettes, hiding from your parents. There was a city not far away. You didn’t want to be a part of it. Running away, that’s what it all became about.
I’m sick of emotions, having so many at a time and not knowing what to do with them. Wanting to subscribe to the illusory notion of control, and yet wanting to lose myself in every cranny of doubtless ecstasy. I’m tired of being so fucking conflicted, that I can’t properly commune with my fellow humans, so fucking self-conscious, and hence narcissistic, that I’ve become a prisoner of myself, these constant movements. I don’t know what’s right anymore, where I should be going. I want to end this phase somehow, become a new person. Perhaps isolation is the answer.
That’s what I wrote nearly ten months ago. Before I put an end to this. Before I propelled myself forward, out of that steadfast stasis I found myself in.
Now I am all alone, completely isolated from the person I was for the last six years. There will be no hurrah, no celebration. A camera clicks somewhere. I sit here and try and imagine the person I’m about to become. Measuring that self against the one I became with you.
Being vague: the other person. There is no such thing as a “change of weather.” It’s an acrid sanctuary, this new dwelling place, for reflection. Only the atmosphere alters, a painfully gradual process. Hearing something muttered in the background and it’s not your name.
Cleaning, re-painting the empty apartment, we became individuals once again. Can’t help thinking of the times when we didn’t hate each other. You begin to hate the other person once he teaches you to hate yourself. It’s a circular process, a sort of social masturbation. Only so much hate is needed to alter your basic processes. Your way of dealing. What you achieve is desire fortified into fuckery, absence. The levels of abandon trampled until abandon trampled us.
Oh oh the absence can jolt you. I started off writing about the homeless never knowing I’d become one, alone in this apartment. In France, poverty is thought of as a spiritual condition; here, it’s just something that happens when your eyes fall out of your head. Nothing’s a metaphor. Only silence. Oh why did I ever find you. If only I had left the club early that night. I never would have seen you at the bar, offered you that joint. To change my own story – you can do that in writing. Do you still believe me when I say that I am here? There are only disparate voices; there are no melodies to unite them.
I don’t want to tell the goddamn story anymore. You see someone once and then it changes you. Devils sting your eyes. You go from saying hello to sleeping beside each other to living. And it is a total happiness drenched in dread – in the beginning. In the beginning. And the dread – it is real. Because you anticipate the ending, the dissolution, years before it will actually happen. It’s not what you expect. There is never a single event to set it off. Nor a series of calamities, leading up to some ultimate one that makes you turn around one day, say, “That’s it.” Just a gradual corrosion, as the other person exposes all the flaws in you – ever so slowly. All of your shortcomings and failures as a human being become magnified through the other person, until you get to the point where you can’t stand it anymore, this caustic testimony. This unraveling of a junk persona. There is no natural, you decide, only layers of artifice that must be peeled back to expose a plastic core. It is dangerous, the self-knowledge that comes from love. A dangerous extraction that leaves us stinking, de-mystified in front of ourselves…
Tell yourself lies about “growing apart.” That sociological impulse slays you every time. To class people by type, as though they could ever conform – even if they willed themselves to. This is one of the lies of the overeducated American. People are people – and that is precisely where the problem lies.
Now I get to re-know the imaginary me – what I was before you stained me with the glorious burden of your presence. It will take a long time. It’s okay, I’m used to waiting. Like the boy who had to write down everything he did each day, constantly expecting to discover some unseen truth. The usual time, the usual disorder. To get drunk on sadness, constant. To see oneself as less than the others somehow. Comb through the doubts, go to bed. Dire announcement has been made – no one wants to fear. Knowing not what we breathe. In a bar, one never feels alone. Say hi to freedom, she wears a nice dress. A new boy calls to say he’s awake, that he’s on his way. Will I ask tonight about his sadness. Will he understand what that means. A full-on lullaby. I’m not looking for a replacement you. From faraway in a bar, someone writing frantically always looks mentally ill. Logic of his stare. How people only stare when they don’t want something – when they don’t know what it is they really want. We talked about this once, didn’t we. Or is it merely a memory of me talking to myself. Can you predict the pace of this entropy, this situationality of presence without will? Getting drunk inside the shadow you cast all those years ago, waiting for my life to begin again. I watch phone cam vids of expired love. Now we’ve invented the technology to store all our unwanted memories. (Though someone probably said the same thing about writing a long time ago.) But you’re lying, you’re not really in a bar writing, are you. Even though you are, your mind is somewhere else. A place where the floors are painted white to provide a soothing monotony to the walls and ceiling: midnight in a bare lightbulb room.
We feel things brighter than some of the other boys out there, sinking. Feelings’re charms, aren’t they, yes, I don’t know. When I look at your picture, I remember that it’s raining outside. It must hurt your face to feel this presence. I’ve grown immune to hatred. We packed up, found ourselves out, the window glares serpentine. Everywhere the boy went that autumn, there were angels following him useless. The thought of you dreaming out there made my skin speak. Lots of fog and, I don’t know, wedges? Are wedges something you can get lost in?
What’s sad is I see you clearest when you are far away. Up close, I see nothing. Loving is a thankless task; so is thinking. Blood runs down your forehead. Shadow blindness.
I’m so sorry it had to end this way. I think I gave you as much as I possibly could, given the strangeness of the circumstances. You were never really there, I think your goal has been to be a specter, something to be pondered from afar rather than inhabited. I am done with pondering. I had needs too, we all do, I’m human, I tried to scream them out in the subtlest manner to accommodate your penchant for understatement, but that made them even easier to ignore. It’s all games with you, I realize this now. Even if you don’t realize it yourself. High on feedback, now you concentrate your energies on severing all ties with reality whenever you get a chance…and why shouldn’t I be a part of that?
Time was never able to contain us, you never wanted to form a single unit, be so radical in our singularity. There were other places to go, other faces calling out for a chance to be seen. I keep seeing you crawl down into that hole, see how filthy it feels, living like a criminal vulture.
We were magic words sung loud, a pair of crazed ducks laughing at the night. But don’t you worry, I will never allow the memories of all the good times to be overshadowed by the hostile indifference you now show towards me. I know that there are others buried deep in that skin. Some of them might even still recognize me.
I am not much, I must admit, when it comes to mourning. I would much rather go out into the desert, deal with it on my own. Instead I do the opposite nearly all the time. There were times I wrecked my brain so weary, sinking myself so deeply into the night I nearly became totally submerged, unable to return to the order of reality. Other nights I called out to you and was answered by silence.
Now I sit and wait for the next ship to come in. I see myself waiting for a very long time. It’s okay. You get better, eventually, at reading the signs. Sustaining whatever momentum that helps you get through. Glass doors slide open, oh there’s a knife. People terrified to be us, to be around us, and some nights I clearly felt the danger, knew that you would make good on your promise one day to hurt me – I just didn’t know how bad.
As I put my goals to rest, I think of my best friend in prison all those miles away. And yet how he will always be the freest person I know. You strive for that freedom, also, your juvenile cravings for autonomy, you created this legacy so live in it. I can’t promise you anything, you said something of the sort at various moments, somehow I always took it as a protective measure rather than the warning it turned out to be.
How much I gave, perhaps no one in the world, not even you, will fully know, and yet I never got the very little I wished for in return. I know I will travel onwards, and yet I will go nowhere, my heart an empty grave. You cannot understand love, you are too autistic, you said it yourself the night we saw the living fox in London, we found him dead the following morning.
That’s right, read the signs the animals give us, as though their lives were meant to be metaphors commenting on the occurrences in ours. People run away deep and suspicious of freedom. And I am sad knowing that you will never be free – the reason being that you merely want it so bad. Trapped deep within the core of yourself, imprisoned in a body that you never particularly liked or identified with, and still don’t, despite all the work you’ve done on it.
I’ll still be sad that you never really gave me the chance I deserved. I mean, how can one not feel frustrated? But I know that you’re going to do this to everyone who gets close to you and feels the same way I do. In the end, what you are doing is purifying yourself. You cannot accept another person loving you when you hate yourself so strongly. I’m sure you are pleased that I have now been ignoring you for the last two weeks – our longest silence since we first came together. Finally, you are able to justify all your fucked-up behavior towards me as reasonable defense mechanisms, your friends will have no trouble agreeing with you that I am the scum of the earth, not to be trusted. But I have been shut out since the very beginning. I am the permanent outsider in every situation I enter into, a person without a country. You’re even too narcissistic to briefly consider my status as a possible model of the freedom you so hungrily crave. And it could be construed as such, though having lived it, I can say that it is not.
Our story could have had a beautiful ending. Maybe. But you erect walls, it is your primary task in this life, you can’t get around it. Even if you wanted to stop, you couldn’t. But I won’t allow myself to be walled in. Put me in whatever category you want, I will tell you that it doesn’t exist outside your mind. To you, doesn’t matter. You will continue to dole out justice according to your own secret code of laws. It is the protestant within that allows you to believe in the lie of your system.
I’m writing with the door wide open; rabbit just came inside.
We, who know how to love at a distance.
Oh my friends, there is no friend.