Acid Heroes

October 11, 2013

I think therefore I feel really shitty

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:26 pm
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I remember about 5 years ago reading this book about all these famous artists and writers who flamed out later in life.   Keoruac, Fitzgerald, Poe, Jack London, Kafka, on and on.  In spite of producing brilliant artwork, they all died prematurely.  And usually in states of agony and disgrace.  As I was reading the book I remember thinking:  “Uh oh!”  Like when you see the writing on the wall.  I thought:  “If this is what happens to the famous, successful ones, what chance do I have??”

And then, of course, there’s  Vincent Van Gough, the patron saint of artistic burn-outs.  Van Gough, chopping his ear off and sending it to a prostitute to impress her.  I’m reminded of one of my favorite Bukowski poems:  “Van, baby, she’s a whore!  She wants your money not your ear.”  If only Van Gough had listened to this sage advice perhaps he might have happily spent his sunset years enjoying music in stereo.

There’s a tendency to romanticize the mad genius, the tormented genius, the “genius-is-pain” routine.   But it does make me wonder.  One theory that always made sense is that gifted artists by nature are “overly sensitive.”  Considering how harsh this universe is, maybe that’s not necessarily a good thing from an evolutionary perspective.  Personally, I’ve always strived to be as insensitive as possible.  And malt liquor helps to this end.  But I’ve always been envious of those who reach this state naturally.

I noticed this pattern over the years in my social circle.  So many of the “art boys” (as I called them) flamed out early:  suicide, drug overdoses, mental breakdowns. These art boys were among the most brilliant, talented and interesting people I knew, and yet so many of them couldn’t STAND this life.  Whereas so many of the thick and ordinary types that I knew seemed happily adjusted to this world, with nary a care in the world, and not the slightest need to justify their existence or chop off their ears.

My artist friend B.N. Duncan had a theory about ectomorphs and mesomorphs.  Mesomorphs are the heavy-set caveman type popular in NFL locker rooms everywhere.  Ectomorphs are the skinny, boney ones (R. Crumb being the classic of the genre).   Duncan’s theory was that ectomorphs were literally “thin-skinned.”  They didn’t have the padding that protected (and dulled) the mesomorphs.  Ectomorphs were literally like exposed nerves.  They felt things MORE.  For both good and ill.  Which explained their artistic brilliance, as well as their inability to withstand their hyper-sensitivity.  Duncan’s theory was either completely brilliant or completely biased, given that he was one of those damn ectomorphs himself.

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1 Comment »

  1. This universe is most certainly harsh. I forget who said this, but it rings true: ” cosmic love is cruel & indifferent. It teaches its lessons whether you want to learn them or not.”. Personally, I have always been inclined to drop out of this arena, but as you put it in your book, there are no mistakes in this universe, & as bukowski put it, the next world may be even worse than this one.

    Comment by Jon — October 15, 2013 @ 4:22 pm | Reply


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