The following may or may not end up in the locked node Requiem for a Dream. I post it now, or I don't sleep and/or I burst. (I should have known to check to see if the node was locked.) I haven't written anything in ages, anywhere. This is - hopefully - merely cracking open the floodgates to the swollen dam.

WE HAVE A WINNER!

This movie is fucked up. I'm still not sure if this is that good sort of fucked up or bad sort of fucked up. This movie starts with - or so one may assume - the whole and complete - and just takes away, chip after chip, until the very bitter end.

There is no W Diagram here. It's a backslash, starting at the bottom and then tearing the floor out of the basement of reality and showing the thin, keen edge between what is accepted as normal, what is success and failure and the insanity that is merely being conscious and alive that lies beneath it all.

The only difference between any of it is mere semantics and personal perspective.

I write this here not because I think I can actually add to what has already been said, but as cartharsis, as purgative. I literally just finished watching it, and I'm still crying. I don't really cry at movies, or over books, or any of that shit. It's not that I think I'm too cool for that. I yearn for it. I'm plugged up. Clogged. Wanna let it out but can't, won't. I've bathed in the morbid and existential like it was the sweetest perfumed milk bath in a tub of gold. Kafka is light bedtime reading. I'm very rarely truly touched or moved by anything, and feel so little real empathy and connection for anything it disturbs me.

This movie just touched the deepest core of my being with a white-hot poker of purest pain, penetrating with feint within feint, slipping inside my jaded shell with effortless effort, branding my soul.

This is not hyperbole. The clumsiness of language itself does not allow for true meaning here.

I could go on for pages about the technical merits of the film, the excellence of composition, the lighting, the music, the soundwork, the ultra-realism, the insane composite shots, the artistic integrity, the innovative use of body mounted cameras foreshadowed by the camera mounted on the TV cart at the opening of the film.

I could devote - and I mean devotion - even more pages to the incredible acting.

And it all falls to the wayside as a discarded husk, the merest incidental vehicle of the message at hand. The way film and all art should always be, but rarely ever is.

And that message is widely interpretable, of course, but most obviously as yossarian says, it's about addiction.

But I will take that a step farther, and say that the primary message is emptiness, the missing piece we all seek to fill. The constant state of incompleteness that everyone I've ever met carries with them everywhere, no matter what.

The unbearable burden of nihil.

How much does nothing weigh? And how far have you carried it? And how long have you been lonely?

Within all of this darkness, within the jarringly obvious comparisons between all of the things we do that equate to trying - and failing - to become complete, within all the layered messages against racism, agism, sexism, drug-ism, television-ism there is hope. This glimmer is hardly even the merest tone or texture in the movie, but forcibly drawn out of the viewer as the viewer is lead from conclusion to conclusion, action to reaction throughout the gritty landscape of the film, and shown in brutal detail the absolute madness of our self-imposed isolations, restrictions, and needless, heedless desires.

And that would be - to me - the subtext. Be careful what you wish for. The very desire you think you desire the most might just be the worst thing for you.

And the one thing you actually need is already in your arms, around the corner, in the eyes of a friend, or perhaps simply in the air you breathe.

For once, I will not be reading the book. At least not any time soon.

Today is the day before my 29th birthday. Consequently, I am filled with obligatory self-loathing and fear - although there's nothing particularly unusual about that. But today's dose of anxiety is far worse than usual, for a whole number of reasons.

Where to start? OK - a word on birthdays first. I hate them. I hate them generally, and I hate each and every one of my, and my friends' birthdays individually. I hate my birthdays because they signal the end of another year of failure, of an inability to realise what little potential I have. Consequently, I noded my favourite example of delusional paranoia, the CV of Elizabeth Brady Cabot Winslow, in an attempt to cheer myself up. (Things may be bad, but they're not *that* bad...). Sadly, it doesn't seem to have worked.

(Aside...) I hate my friends' birthdays because I can never remember them. Why do we have to give presents to others on their birthdays? Wouldn't it make more sense for the birthday boy or/and girl to give the presents, rather than receive them? I suspect a conspiracy from diary manufacturers.

(Back on track...) Oddly, I probably shouldn't fear the future at all. I recently decided to abandon London as a bad lot, and from Monday week I shall be starting a new job on the Isle Of Wight. The job is average at best, but the location - a Lemon could do well there. The Island itself is gobsmacking, a concentrated version of all that is great about the English countryside, with some of the best sand and shingle (ohh, how I love shingle) beaches in the country thrown in for good measure. Furthermore, the IOW's population is largely comprised of wrinkly retired exiles, which may well have influenced my decision to move there. In London, I'm practically over the hill. In the Isle Of Wight, I am the epitome of youthful promise.

So why am I so scared? The approach of the big 29 (far bigger in my eyes than the subsequent anniversary - last chance to prove yourself before you become one of them...) is a big factor, as is the fear of the unknown, but that doesn't come close to accounting for my current state of mind. I said at the top of this that I was anxious for a whole number of reasons. The problem is, I have no idea what most of them are.

p.s. - No offence to those who have progressed beyond my tender age. You've all been there, you know how it feels...
p.p.s - Just re-read mat catastrophe's entry above. You can tell it's not *his* birthday tomorrow :¬)

I have come to the conclusion that we must pull out of Vietnam. Our forces there have achieved nothing over the last thirty years, whilst the Vietnamese guerrillas appear to have been equally inactive. Since 1975 there have been no major military setbacks, true, but there have been no successes either, and one does not win a war simply by avoiding defeat, one wins a war by locating, closing with, and destroying the enemy.

During all the time our forces in Vietnam have been idle the media has found other wars to cover, and entire weeks go by during which time the war does not appear on the nightly news or in the newspapers. Often commentators talk about the war's impact on other wars, whilst displaying a curious unwillingness to feature the ongoing war itself.

Militarily our country's conduct in the Vietnam theatre since 1975 has been appalling. There has not been a single major battle, despite the increasing proliferation of firearms, and the general deterioration in the world situation. It is ironic that neighbouring Cambodia, a country which does not have a significant American military presence, has undergone far greater ructions during the last three decades than Vietnam. Indeed, some might use this as an argument for maintaining our military presence in the region.

But the cost is prohibitive, and since 1989 the philosophy against which we fought has melted away. The Soviet Union dissolved, whilst the Chinese are now our friends, and valued trading partners. Furthermore, there is a far greater threat on the Korean peninsula, and yet so many of our forces - a substantial amount, as there appear to have been no significant force reductions since 1975 - are tied up, doing nothing. Something must be done, and quickly.


where's the graveyard for the lost and confused?
haven't we all
by now
paid our dues?
the clues may not be blue
but they make us
feel that way

what day is it today?
was it worth your 24 hours?
or was it cold and sour?

man cannot win the fight he fights
it is our curse and blight
why wage weary wars
for the blood of thirty whores?

The point is nothing
it's not moot,
more like a complete lack of spoon

If it doesn't serve your interest,
then why go off to the reggae fest?


Thank you for reading Davidian's five minutes of poetry. He hopes you took your own meaning from the words above. Much love goes out to Cletus for making me think it might be fun writing poety today as well.

I graduated from high school on the twelfth of June, 2003. This is the speech I gave as the class' elected speaker:

Condemned to be free

I couldn't think of how to start this speech off, so I did some research on the internet. It seems everyone—everyone—has this problem. Every single speech begins in this way: "Ladies and gentlemen, students of the INSERT SCHOOL HERE class of INSERT YEAR HERE, I'd like to thank you for inviting me, INSERT IMPORTANT PERSON'S NAME HERE, to be your commencement speaker. I never would have thought that I, a humble INSERT IMPORTANT PROFESSION HERE, would one day be asked to give this address. I'd like to congratulate you and your parents for INSERT SENTIMENTAL CLICHE HERE." Even Conan O'Brien, who is a genius, opened his speech like that. In any case, ladies and gentlemen, staff, parents and family, and (INSERT HIGH SCHOOL HERE), I'd like to thank those of you who wanted me to give this speech tonight, I'm definitely honored, and I'd like to reassure everyone who knows my style that I will not make this into a political statement.

Existentialist philosophy is a terrible subject to bring up at a graduation speech, an occasion so full of celebration and possibility. Basically, existentialism tells us that life is absurd, that human beings can never truly relate to each other, that, to put it really simply, life sucks, and then you die. Depressing stuff, none too appropriate for this ceremony, and none too easy to create a meaningful life around. There is one concept from the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, however, that I believe perfectly articulates how we all feel today. Sartre wrote that human beings are creatures "condemned to be free." Think for a moment about that paradox, its positives and negatives all wrapped up together: "condemned to be free."

When men are released from prison, they sometimes feel lost. They feel an inability to control their own lives, having grown accustomed to the terrible routine of jail. It's interesting that some writers have noted many similarities between schools and prisons—though I think that's a completely unrelated point, isn't it?

But think about it, think about what this day means. Today is largely symbolic, true, but it is a huge step toward adulthood, independencefreedom. And that's exhilarating. And at the same time, I think that you all feel the same fear that I do. Bank accounts, marriages, careers, salaries, mortgages, audits, taxes: freedom, this exhilarating freedom we have all begun to experience, it carries a vast responsibility. We are utterly free to make what we can of our lives, and at the same time, utterly responsible, in the end, to make them meaningful.

That's a lot of responsibility. And that's why I feel like the diplomas we are about to get are a little like an emancipation proclamation, and a little like a sentence. They're throwing the gates open for us, open to the future, to all that possibility, simultaneously making our doubts and fears as pressing and immediate as our hopes. Condemned to be free.

How then can we give meaning to our freedom? That's a question humankind has been asking throughout history, so I have no answer. I can only guess: bring some beauty into this world. It sometimes feels, doesn't it, like the world lacks beauty. We've seen so much of its ugliness during our years in this school. Columbine, September 11, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—this massive, massive, shocking and awful ugliness. We are condemned to be free in this world, and one of our responsibilities is this: to counter the ugliness and make it, in some small way, beautiful.

Fall in love. Raise children you love. Plant a tree. Paint. Play the guitar, learn the violin, plink idly at a piano. Say hello to a stranger, tell them they look nice. Tip well. Travel the world, see Italy, England, China and Japan, Africa, South America. Meet the natives, have dinner with them. Write a poem or a short story and leave it for your children to find when you're gone. Send a letter to an old friend. Stand up for what you believe in. Protest, or support. Be socially active. Search for the truth. Stargaze. Hike. Go kayaking. Watch whales. Surf, skateboard, ride a bike. Take photos. Blow out seventy, eighty, ninety birthday candles in one breath. Give blood and donate your organs. Mentor a child. Adopt. Tell your parents you love them and appreciate them. Tell your kids you love them and appreciate them. Read a book. Read ten books. Write a book. Write ten books. Tell a joke. Laugh. Don't take it too seriously. Dream. Sleep in late with the window open, listening to the birds. Spend the night in a tent in your backyard. For a week. Make a campfire. Sing. Swim. See a play. Act in a play. Go to a concert. Dance. Make snowmen and throw snowballs. Write lists of randomly beautiful experiences and memories. Let these little actions stand defiantly in the face of the world's ugliness.

Someone once told me that Zen is not a philosophy, but a practice. I think life is the same way. That's why this speech began with empty philosophy, and closed with action. If life is practice—start practicing.

You're free. (Thank you for listening.)

I feel that my speech succeeded at least in capturing a small part of my own trepidation as I face my life. I want to be a writer, to make a "career" writing. The next step in this journey is to go to college at the University of Washington, an experience I am eagerly awaiting. The rest of it, however, scares me with its uncertainty. I realize that my vision of my own life is quite idealized, romantic, foolish, even. I don't want to get into a long, angst-ridden and introspective monologue, but suffice to say that every hope is paired with a doubt. I know I'm not alone in this, of course, but each of us has to face it alone. One step at a time.

Hope is a hammer. Start building.

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