It was sometime in the evening Thursday night, just as the noises of the toads gathering outside my window began to emerge, that I couldn’t help but shatter. On my nightstand next to me books I hadn’t even begun reading: Plato, Lucretius, Shelley, Kant, and so on. A little earlier in the month I created a chart of all the books I was going to read this year, a whole product line of philosophy from Spinoza all the way up until Wittgenstein and Zizek, only stopping along the way for some light reading of Adam Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Malthus, and Keynes, and the whole nine yards of economics to go along with it. In fact, in the moment I was reading a book on the history of economic theory, only about halfway through, when I took the bookmark out closed the book and put it back on the shelf. I don’t plan to return to it.
I shredded the reading schedule I made and trashed the bastard in the cans outside my house, I don’t think I’ll need it. There is a sudden moment people are faced with when they come to terms with their own boredom that they can’t help but laugh. I made the grave mistake of aspiring to be some kind of academic, and therefore thinking that one should only shroud himself with the most sophisticated and mind fucking texts to make himself feel smarter, so that’s exactly what I tried to do. A person can only take some much time reading about history, god, and everything inbetween before going bonkers and running through downtown nude.
So I ditched the economics book and found something else. I had forgotten the love I used to harvest for the late Hunter S. Thompson, hell I even wrote a high-school English paper on him. Even then I wanted something new, so I ended up choosing the more obscure work of his The Curse of Lono, which for what it was turned out to be pretty entertaining. Just the beginning section, when Hunter writes a letter to his illustrator Ralph Steadman discussing the Honolulu Marathon and their subsequent trip to Hawaii:
We are both entered in this event, Ralph, and I feel pretty confident about winning. We will need a bit of training, but not much.
The main thing will be to run as an entry and set a killer pace for the first three miles. These body-nazis have been training all year for the supreme effort in this Super Bowl of marathons. The promoters expect 10,000 entrants, and the course is 26 miles; which means they will all start slow . . . because 26 miles is a hell of a long way to run, for any reason at all, and all the pros in this field will start slow and pace themselves very carefully for the first 20 miles.
But not us, Ralph. We will come out of the blocks like human torpedoes and alter the whole nature of the race by sprinting the first three miles shoulder-to-shoulder in under 10 minutes.
A pace like that will crack their nuts, Ralph. These people are into running, not racing-our strategy will be to race like whorehounds for the first three miles. I figure we can crank ourselves up to a level of frenzy that will clock about 9:55 at the three-mile checkpoint… which will put us so far ahead of the field that they won’t even be able to see us. We will be over the hill and all alone when we hit the stretch along Ala Moana Boulevard still running shoulder-to-shoulder at a pace so fast and crazy that not even the judges will feel sane about it. . . and the rest of the field will be left so far behind that many will be overcome with blind rage and confusion.
I’ve also entered you in the Pipeline Masters, a world class surfing contest on the north shore of Oahu on Dec. 26.
You will need some work on your high-speed balance for this one, Ralph. You’ll be shot through the curl at speeds up to 50 or even 75 miles an hour, and you won’t want to fall.
I won’t be with you in the Pipeline gig, due to serious objections raised by my attorney with regard to the urine test and other legal ramifications.
But I will enter the infamous Listen Memorial Rooster Fight, at $1,000 per unit on the universal scale—e.g., one minute in the cage with one rooster wins $1,000 . .. or five minutes with one rooster is worth $5,000 .. . and two minutes with five roosters is $10,000 … etc.
This is serious business, Ralph. These Hawaiian slashing roosters can tear a man to shreds in a matter of seconds, I am training here at home with the peacocks—six 40-pound birds in a 6′ x 6′ cage, and I think I’m getting the hang of it.
It felt weird to be able to genuinely laugh at a piece of writing, especially when I had become so accustomed to reading next to an open window so I wouldn’t fall asleep from it. I read through the whole book in about two days and I plan to move on to something else that is just as entertaining. But I gained something else from it I wasn’t quite expecting: a sense of enjoyment.
So long had I been bored of art, of expression, of life that I convinced myself there wasn’t anything besides this. This was even reflected in my music choices. My most carefree days of high school were marked by my continual listening to every Rolling Stones album almost religiously, and say what you will about the Stones, but they are much more lively than the downtrodden Radiohead I’ve consumed myself with these last few months. It all came back to me how much I enjoyed their music, despite all the half-ass songwriting and the occasional sloppy guitar work. I believe that, at least in part, it stems from how much mental activity is actually present when listening to each. To further compare the Stones and Radiohead, take the entire Stone’s album Exile on Main Street and contrast it with Radiohead’s Kid A. The Stones laid out the basic how-to manual for blues rock music in summation for all later artists. There’s nothing deep and introspective on the album besides the occasional slower song. Now think back again to Kid A. Songs like Optimistic, How to Disappear, and Motion Picture Soundtrack is not exactly considered easy listening
by most people. It’s the songs you listen to when considering the boredom of life, which doesn’t really help in any way.
If I’m going to go on a tangent about the effects of music on a person, I might was well keep talking about exciting music. Perhaps one of my favorite albums of all time is Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album, mostly because when listening through the entire thing it plays like a dream, the whole album sounds like a single song. In fact I might rate the entirety of the album’s staplepiece song Shine On You Crazy Diamond– parts 1 to 9- as one of the best compositions in the 20th century. Furthermore, it is so dreamlike that I actually use it to fall asleep to. It is that surreal. And while it does have some intense parts (specifically the slide solo in part 6 of Shine On You Crazy Diamond) I realized while driving to work that it’s a pretty awful album to listen to on a drive. I wanted something more exciting. Another example is that for a while I had been a big MCR fan, and so logically I didn’t like the last album they put out before breaking up. It was so bright and cheery and a total rejection of everything else they did. It was carefree and high spirits and so I hated it. But it wasn’t until now that I began to appreciate it for that very reason, and I believe other fans will come to that feeling as well. Their entire discography up until then was focused on death and suffering, and it is only fitting that their last album be an anthem for life and enjoyment.
Related: My Chemical Romance- Vampire Money
So what exactly am I trying to get at? If I have to sum it up, it comes down to this: don’t surround yourself in boredom and misery, things are never as serious as you think they are. Drive a little faster, play your music a little louder, love a little brighter and read a little happier. Now, will I eventually come back to that reading list I created? Yes, in fact I still intend to read every book on that list. But, do I intend to read them all this year? God no. I am still very young, and life is excruciating long. Moreso than I had hoped. I will get to them all. If not this year, then the next or perhaps the year after next. But as of right now I’m busy listening to the rain and wondering when the toads will clear outside my window.