Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Mash the Bataytas

I'm tired of saying goodbye to artists that I love. Maybe it's a good thing that lots of the artists I love were dead long before I was born.

Once in a great while, someone turns me on to a great artist that didn't yet kick the proverbial bucket. Hubert Selby, Jr. was among those great ones. I was nauseated for at least a month after reading "Last Exit to Brooklyn" and "Requiem for a Dream" made me shun all types of chemicals for at least two weeks. When someone can kick me in the ass so hard that I won't even touch coffee, he has power that extends far beyond the human realm.

The kind of mind that can transfer that level of human suffering to the page should have been crowned King of the Human Psyche. He doesn't go far into what it feels like to cry but inches slowly through the reasons that people cry. Actually it would be more accurate to say it inches slowly through the reasons that the soul screams in anguish and what happens when those screams are left to bounce around like a ping-pong ball in the darkest caves of life.

I have not found many people who are sensitive enough to read HSJ's books and understand the pain of the characters and still have the fortitude to find out what happens to them. It is pure, emotional torture but if you are capable of feeling empathy, his writing milks it out of you in gallons. Though some may not see HSJ as a Humanistic writer, I cannot help but see his work as a warning. He gives us archetypal poster children who have wasted their potential in their struggle to avoid truth. Sometimes, the most important things to embrace are the things that are the most terrifying and that embrace can free you in ways that unlock long forgotten doors in your soul. If I got one thing out of HSJ's work, it was that life doesn't have to be that way. Don't fucking waste your potential. It's the worst kind of karma you can cultivate.

Teri Gross (My would-be wife) did a great interview with HSJ not long after Requiem for a Dream was made into an incredible film by another would-be member of my harem, Darren Aronofsky. If you haven't seen it yet, please do so immediately.

Memorial two snaps up to HSJ. Thanks for the emotional hell ride.