I have achieved my American Dream. I am at the top of a ladder that I built myself. This ladder has three rungs. The ladder only has three rungs because I only ever wanted to be at ground level. I built the ladder in a basement.
Let me clarify. My ladder was built with a short-term purpose. The purpose of my ladder was to allow me to climb from a life of wishing for death to a life of liking to be alive. I built this ladder slowly and methodically. I did not begin work on the second rung until I had meticulously tested the first. I leaned my weight on it every day for years to test that it would not break. After I was beyond certain of the stability of the first rung, I began on the second, and repeated the process.
A few months ago, I set the ladder up against the wall, stepped up, and climbed it confidently to the ledge that sat about two feet up along the wall of my basement. I could have climbed this height without a ladder, sure, but it would have been slightly uncomfortable. The ladder made it easy. Many people would have simply stepped up, and been on their merry way. I decided to build a ladder.
Now, I am at the top of my ladder, and it is much brighter. My basement had no windows, you see. My basement was a sad and lonely place. Through the hole in my wall, I could see light poking through in the room above. If I climbed the first rung and stood there, I could almost feel the sun on my face. On the second rung, I could have sworn I was practically outside. Where I am at this point, I’m sunbathing on a Californian beach. And that’s barely even a metaphor.
serf wax america
the balckwell manifesto, part one
Look, there are many people out there online who claim to be writers, and even go as far as to describe a 500-word article about a man who found the highest possible jump in Super Mario 64 as an “opinion piece”, but I bet that none of them are currently listening to the drowned-out tones of a freshly-clean imp attempting to perform all the various harmonies of “Awimbaway (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)” solo. By which I mean, they’re lacking a certain element of life that some might describe as “character.”
Some people decry it as a sadness that we are reaching a point where an AI can write a user manual, or even a semi-legible article about a current news event. They might say that it is the death of writing as a profession. The greatest sadness, of course, is the fact that anyone was ever paid to write such swoddle in the first place. In fact, the greatest sadness of all is the fact that anyone is ever paid to do anything, because most of our jobs are worthless, and we are all terrible at doing them.
I stepped out of my house on Thursday, and ended up at a Chinese produce store working as a cashier for the next eight hours. I seem to have a knack for these types of situations. But I would not consider facilitating vegetable-based transactions to be my profession; if anyone were to ask me my profession, I might instead say, “Scholar.” That might seem like a cop-out. I mean, nobody pays me to be a scholar. But let’s just say that being a scholar pays, if you know what I mean.
We here at the Soup Web Zone are scholars, whether you like it or not. We are not academics. This is an important distinction.
As I stare out the window of my study onto the empty parking lot outside, and notice the torn-apart bags of garbage that permanently occupy Lot #10, I am reminded of a conversation I shared with a semi-fashionable imp during the first few weeks of our co-habitation. Our original parking lot was #7, although a fellow in the floor above wished to trade with us, because he was sick of those extra six steps it took to reach the back door of the building. The building manager implied that he had been asking about this for years now. Of course, we didn’t see any problem switching from #7 to #9. It was a non-issue for us.
However, as the imp and myself went for a stroll the next day, she expressed discomfort at the idea that our car would be placed directly next to the spot allocated for crow-feed, citing the constant stink. At which point I reminded her that we do not have a car.
You see, there are a lot of problems that you don’t have to deal with when you are self-unemployed. I don’t want a car, to start, but it certainly helps cement my anti-car position when I know that I could not possibly afford to maintain one. Having money just makes you spend money, and spending money always leads to more spending of money. This is where being a scholar “pays”, as I said earlier.
If I had a surfboard, and I placed it in the hallway between my bedroom and my study, I could quite literally “take my board to work,” while you take your car. Some people would argue that my “work” is not really “work”, but I would counter by mentioning that at least 45% of millenials in the United States have a job title containing the words “social media.”
I’m a scholar, and I pay my electricity bill by translating ancient texts, and pay my grocery bill by transcribing the conversations of horrid ghouls, and pay my rent by being the only cashier in the county who begins each transaction with a genuine smile, because that’s how my mama raised me. Of course, this all pales in comparison to my real work, which is a secret to all but those who have ever heard me speak of it.
The work of literature that I am currently taking a break from writing for the sake of providing this website with my inaugural “real” post is not a Great work of literature, but it is a serious attempt at providing the world with a character and series of events that just might make them think about something, even if just for a second. I figure, if I really give it my all, at some point in the next 76 years of my life I might be able to create a novel worth being published serially in “Dishwashers Monthly,” ready to entertain morose college students during the many hours they spend actively not reading Moby Dick, for whatever reason.
My project is a lonely and easy one. I am inspired by such thoroughly dead fellows as Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, and John Keats. What do they all have in common? They all died before anyone realized that they were doing something cool. Everyone thought they were trash, and maybe they were, but then they were dead, and it didn’t matter too much. Later on, somehow or another, their works were excavated from their tombs, and their legend continued on.
I wish for no riches in this world or any other. As long as the dark eyed juncos continue to hop along my balcony, I swim through life like a fish. I fly through life like a bird!
What good is success, when someone else tells you what it is, and how to achieve it? I have been cursed from a young age to refuse anyone who tries to tell me where to be, or what to do. I can’t work as a banker, a janitor, or a salesperson, as much as I recognize the value of at least one of those three professions. I was born to deny such titles, and instead seek my own cave – my own deep, dark cave in which to develop my Works.
I tried! I went to college, and I went to school. I met the people who you’ve read about in books. I worked a full-time job for about four months during the winter of my discontent. And all this combined was almost the end of dear old me. I’m not proud! For years, I thought I was but a leech sucking at the blood of society, ready to be cast off as soon as someone noticed I was there. I thought that God had placed me on this earth to show me a lesson.
But I defy God! I can be happy here! I can’t purchase happiness in the same way as anyone else. I can’t work to buy to live. I can only breathe and die. I can only sweat out of one armpit while I sit in my remarkably warm study, furiously clacking away on a dusty, follicle-filled keyboard missing the left Ctrl key. Well, what good is the left Ctrl key anyway!? I know a grander scholar than I who lived years without a “g” key. He kept a notepad document open at all times with a lowercase g, and a capital G, copy-and-pasting whenever he needed to continue his dissertation on the genuine gaiety of Gambian gorillas.
I spit at you, God! I spit at you and all your little angels! I spit at you and your myriad devils! I will be no squalid serf; I will be no corrupt cartographer; I will be no opulent oligarch! When I take to sea, it will be on a boat I built with my hands, not my feet! When I land on Jupiter, it will be as a computer ghost! When I die, it will be from the force of a cannonball, fired across the way from a house owned by my esteemed colleague, Matthew of Blallee! And the shock of the cannon will knock a giant domino off his roof, landing on his head, and he too shall die!
TO BE CONTINUED IN
the little red love bus,
the balckwell manifesto, part two