Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Absurd

I've never wondered about the so-called "meaning of life". There isn't one. To assume that there is a meaning to life is to exhibit a selfishness that's hard to describe. I have a difficult time understanding such a degree of self-centered pathology.

About ten years ago I began to read the works of Charles Bukowski. His poetry and his fiction and his essays captured me in a way that the words of few others have been able to do. In some ways, it was his style of writing that grabbed me and held my attention. There is something so deceptively simple about it that it throws you off. Because it isn't simple--it only seems that way. His stories and novels display a level of intelligence and insight that I've yet to encounter in just such a way anywhere else.

Bukowski wrote about real people. The rich and the famous rarely enter into his world. This is good, because they rarely enter into my immediate world, either. Bukowski's world is an insular one, but he wrote with a strange kind of compassion for other people, despite the outward impression of what most readers see as Bukowski's antipathy toward his fellow man.

The older I get the more despairing I become of the fate of our species. We seem bound and determined to head straight down the hole of Oblivion into extinction. And, as we all know, that's a one-way trip. The greatest bummer of it all is that we will take so many other fellow creatures down into that sucking hole with us.


Bukowski seems to have come to his same conclusion. He understood Human Nature for what it was, but he also understood that the greater force of Nature was going to have the last say-so. The Big Storm is going to well up over the walls we've built around us and overwhelm everyone and the lightning will strike. We're going down for the count. It's just a matter of when, not if.

Yes, the older I get the more my admiration grows for old Bukowski. He wasn't misanthropic. He just knew the real deal. Bukowski's gone, now. But he went down laughing. I admire that. You have to.

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