Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Did Bukowski Have it Right?

One of my favorite writers is the late Charles Bukowski. He was hardly my hero (I don't have any heroes). But he was an extremely talented and insightful writer whose work is unique in modern fiction and poetry.

He was definitely not a nice man. One has to often separate the art from the artist. Charles Bukowski is a classic example of this fact. He was a drunken, self-centered, sometimes violent asshole. But, Holy Humping Jove, he could write beautiful words.

One thing that I noticed very early on in Bukowski's work is that he didn't seem to really give much of a damn about anything but observation and getting the word down on the page. And that used to bother me about him. Sometimes, it still does. I mean...how could he not care? At least care enough to talk about things in specifics. If he was poor and lived in grinding poverty and was mashed down like a soft mammal under the foot of Society, why didn't he take up a position to decry these things?

And, of course, he did explain why.

Because to do so is pointless.

Bukowski was content (it seems) to sit in his darkened rooms and tap out the magical word. This is the way it is, boys and girls. Deal with it. Dig it. That is all.

Maybe it's a problem to watch and care. Bukowski observed and commented, but took no position, was the weirdly passionate observer who was also the dispassionate observer. If he does sometimes complain and point an accusatory finger, you have to squint myopically to catch just the barest shadow of give-a-shit.

Perhaps Bukowski was right.

The folk in charge are in charge. They cannot be dislodged. Better to just sit in that comfortable room with a refrigerator full of beer and a typewriter and watch it all go down and chuckle at the joke of it all.

Shit. Maybe so.



Stephen Kozeniewski said...

I always thought I was your hero. :(

James Robert Smith said...