Worth itThe other night, I was at a poetry reading. I mumbled a poem because I'm unaccustomed to public speaking, and afterwards, I was talking to a younger man who was set on emulating Bukowski.
He somehow found Bukowski admirable, and was perplexed by Eliot. But, I said to him, both Buk and Eliot were reacting to their own nihilism. Each had concluded that the world has no meaning or purpose, which is a distressing conclusion to reach. Buk reacted by not caring about himself or what happened to him, and by seeking personal oblivion, so that, one supposes, he did not have to think any more about it. Eliot reacted by trying to find small shreds of meaning in an absurd world. The difference, I suppose, is that Buk says we cannot live, Eliot we must try to live.
I tend to agree with Eliot, as it happens.
So this guy is saying, I have been doing the greyhounds, because of course Buk did the horses. And the guy is talking up the dogs, like it's a trial of manhood. No, I say, it has to be poker. Because you have to suffer.
See, that's Eliot for you: man must seek out suffering so that he has a reason to live.
And the guy is saying, you're awesome.
So I'm ready to rationalise that away, that he's just impressed by intellectualism or whatever, and then I realise that it would be easier just to accept that he thinks I'm awesome.
And in that moment, I began to recover. I became myself again. Started to become myself.
I am thankful for the people who have sustained me when I would have found it impossible to believe that I deserved it. On balance I feel much better about what I have had than I do bitter about what I have lacked.
Bukowski was wrong and Eliot thought too small. We have meaning because we create it among ourselves. I've always believed it and still do. We have meaning because we will sustain each other, and it begins and ends with the love we have for one another. I've always believed that that is what there is for us, and I won't stop.