Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dear Ron

A Letter From Dogger G.

[Just before he committed suicide in June of 1994 at age 50, Dogger took to writing me more often than before. At first I had taken it as a good sign, not a bad one. Some of it was lucid, but some of it wasn't. It was all a matter of Decay with Dogger Gatsby, no question of that—it was what he talked about, one way or another. From the inside to the outside, from the spirit to the flesh, everything was wasting, wanting, wearing out. And yet he was still sometimes amusing, even charming.

I wondered if he was suffering some combination of diabetes, arthritis, bad circulation, and brain damage. Or maybe that's just what he wanted us to believe. Dogger said at one time that he'd spent every day that past year or two feeling profoundly poisoned—"snakebit", he said. His assortment of daily symptoms included, as I recall, aching knees, legs, feet, ankles. He had backache and soreness in his sides, dizzy-headedness, poor concentration and failing memory. He was bound to die of something.]

Dear Ron: Time moves on. I don't. That's not the news you want to hear, and so I commiserate with you that you are now glancing down and thinking to yourself, "What a long damn letter this is." I could understand if you find it shit-stinking difficult to put yourself to the task. I could understand if you find yourself skimming the letter, trying to race past the bad parts or the inevitable negative parts. I could understand, too, if your future retention of the letter's content is not very great since it is very long and seems quite repetitive. If it transpires as usual, it not only repeats itself within the letter, but also repeats what other letters have delineated. I am such a boring shit sometimes, I know.

One of the great things about sex, aside from being good exercise, a relief from tension, or on occasion an actual expression or dose of love, is that it transcends all the usual prosaic verbalizations. Not that it ever stopped me from talking, I suppose, but it surely made talking easier, less frantic. If you've never had sex with me—oh yeah, that's right, you haven't!—you'll have to take my word for it. There's an irony at work somewhere in that, I guess, for, of course, it's the excess of words that are the issue. In my mind, at least. That's where you are right now, if you haven't noticed. In my mind. I have you here, whether fairly on unfairly, whether fair or foul. I acknowledge that by the time you think you are here, something else will have transpired and I'll be gone. You'll be talking to the wall or something. I don't think we ever know who we are talking to in letters, really. There is an additional level of removal in letters, but we are almost always at some remove from one another. Why does the telephone seem personal, for god's sake? Even in person, we say one thing and think another. Our brain goes ahead or falls behind. We speak our words, whether we speak our minds or not. It takes a lot of time and effort to do otherwise.

I didn't mean to say this much. (This much about what?) Not that I've said anything that's clear. None of these are things I can claim to give good advice about, after all. I have a list of those who have excommunicated me that is slightly longer than the list of those I've excommunicated, but neither list is one to be proud of. This hermit's madness has lasted all the time I've been away from Austin, and seems to be becoming steadily worse. If I were a man who could say that lovers aren't friends, it might be easier to contemplate how long I've been without a friend. (No, no, dear heart. You're an "old friend", a friend at a great distance. You don't qualify here, no matter how good you are.) But the reality is about women, I guess, and that I don't remember what a fresh kiss is like. Maybe I should go out and buy one. But that would require something more drastic and brutish than just being able to separate friends from lovers.

There is no explaining how anyone so warped can still trust his own judgments, yet it seems somehow that I do. I don't guess I even think that I should. Things have lasted too long in some regards that I can't quite explain. The word "jaded" comes to mind, but that implies a condition resulting from a surfeit of experience rather than a dearth of sensation.

"Numbed" or "indifferent" could be a more correct articulation. Unfortunately, one is never numbed to one's own pain, only to the glitter of the roadside attractions. I am, I say with horror, pretty much indifferent to those attractions that are meant to draw one back to life's sensations. I feel the fear, of course, but, more to the point, I fear feeling. There is no excitement in me at the prospect of seeing a new attraction that turns out to be just another two-headed snake or chicken.

I think of suicide often. Not because of any brave intent or any increasing likelihood of it happening, but because I think anyone in my position would, should, think about it. We will all die, after all. Oh, Christ, I am always meaning to not write this kind of message any more, and then I do. The more I love anyone, the harder it is to keep my mouth shut. I know which way the scale points when it comes to any evidence of love on my part. I don't know what love is. I don't know how to act about it. Perhaps there was a time when I did, though it didn't seem to suppress my bad behavior. I think these days that the answer to the question about love may be exactly as uncomplicated as that: a matter of behavior. If you behave as if you love, perhaps that is love, or will become so. Now, only fear excites any bad behavior in me, and love—well, that hasn't translocated very well. It has become hard enough just getting a hard-on. The more complex notions and motions required for love are far more difficult. If I knew what love was, I'd behave some other way, though. Even I know that.

I am presently involved in such very deep procrastinations and edge-skatings. I don't know why I do it, since it upsets my stomach. My guts are twisted. I'm afraid. I talk to no one any more. Was there in fact a time when I did? I think so. Therefore I am— This.

Signed, Dogger G.

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Abandon hope, all ye who enter here! (At least put on your socks and pants.)