Noncontingent Human Being
… there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: /I simply am not there/. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent.
I just finished re-reading American Psycho, by Brett Easton Ellis. Given that it’s sold ridiculous numbers of copies and has been adapted into what they call “a major motion picture event”, I’ll assume you all know that it involves a yuppie serial-killer and is a savage satire of the 80’s. Bateman is a suprisingly sympathetic character for a murderous bastard. He’s the only character in the novel who really understands how empty and vapid the consumerism around him is. The novel’s ambiguous about whether the killings really take place or are a product of Bateman’s imagination (I favour the latter interpretation – but really, it doesn’t matter which answer you give.)
I’ve got to stop reading serious fiction. It just reminds me that I’m not writing and, even if I was, there wouldn’t be any point. I have a lot more respect for writers who admit they’re just making up stories to entertain than I do for writers who expect their work with its social commentary and serious points to make any difference.
Because nothing changes. The people who read your book will spot the serious social commentary. They will read your anger at problem X, group of people Y, political opinion Z. They might even agree. But don’t for one moment think that they’ll care after they turn the last page.
The world is shit. Serious literature is a way for people to pretend they give a damn. It’s another form of escapism. And I could write it if I had the energy. I can put sentences together in pleasing ways. I can construct interesting metaphors. I might even be able to sprinkle the oregano of symbolism on the pizza-dough of narrative, but why bother? I have nothing to say to the world. My own words are just as empty as everyone else’s.
Why not write anyway? Why not make some money, get my name out there, get some respect, live that life? Why bother when it’s no easier than this? In the best possible world I can imagine, my life is still not worth living. It’s more stylish, possibly. Certainly more expensive. And I still want to die. I don’t want to cling to empty and vapid dreams. I have nothing to sell out and this fact fails to disturb me. But having nothing to sell out, I have no currency with which to buy in to a life where the word “success” means more than dragging myself out of the torpor long enough to shower and make an appointment with my G.P.
I don’t want happiness. I don’t want success. I don’t want to fulfil my squandered potential. I just want this to stop.