Charles Bukowski’s Introduction to the John Fante Novel Ask the Dust

I was a young man, starving and drinking and trying to be a writer. I did most of my reading at the downtown L.A. Public Library, and nothing that I read related to me or to the streets or to the people about me. It seemed as if everybody was playing word-tricks, that those who said almost nothing at all were considered excellent writers. Their writing was an admixture of subtlety, craft and form, and it was read and it was taught and it was ingested and it was passed on. It was comfortable contrivance, a very slick and careful Word-Culture. One had to go back to the pre-Revolution writers of Russia to find any gamble, any passion. There were exceptions but those exceptions were so few that reading them was quickly done, and you were left staring at rows and rows of exceedingly dull books. With centuries to look back on, with all their advantages, the moderns just weren’t very good.

I pulled book after book from the shelves. Why didn’t anybody say something? Why didn’t anybody scream out?

I tried other rooms in the library. The section on Religion was just a vast bog – to me. I got into Philosophy. I found a couple of bitter Germans who cheered me for a while, then that was over. I tried Mathematics but upper Math was just like Religion: it ran right off me. What I needed seemed to be absent everywhere.

I tried Geology and found it curious but, finally, non-sustaining.

I found some books on Surgery and I liked the books on Surgery: the words were new and the illustrations were wonderful. I particularly liked and memorized the operation of the mesocolon.

Then I dropped out of Surgery and I was back in the big room with the novelists and short story writers. (When I had enough cheap wine to drink I never went to the library. A library was a good place to be when you had nothing to drink or to eat, and the landlady was looking for you and for the back rent money. In the library at least you had the use of the toilet facilities.) I saw quite a number of other bums in there, most of them asleep on top of their books.

I kept on walking around the big room, pulling the books off the shelves, reading a few lines, a few pages, then putting them back.

Then one day I pulled a book down and opened it, and there it was. I stood for a moment, reading. Then like a man who had found gold in the city dump, I carried the book to a table. The lines rolled easily across the page, there was a flow. Each line had its own energy and was followed by another like it. The very substance of each line gave the page a form, a feeling of something carved into it. And here, at last, was a man who was not afraid of emotion. The humor and the pain were intermixed with a superb simplicity. The beginning of that book was a wild and enormous miracle to me.



I’m much better at perceiving and receiving than thinking and generating. I’m better with open-ended tasks where I have creative control of the process than goal-oriented and time limited top-down tasks.

It’s nearly impossible for me to read through a book unless I’ve been inspired to. It’s impossible for me to enroll at a course and make it through the first class. It’s impossible for me to be managed or supervised.

I need to have my vision trusted and I need space to do what I do best. Unless I can have that I won’t show you what I can do.

That’s what black light means to me. I can perceive the darkness because I let it seep into me and instead of being resisted with fear it’s met with an openness that gives it space and imbues it with connection. That connection is a black light – a hidden light that is felt but not seen.

I have this connection to everything and everyone within whom this latent presence hasn’t been perverted or distorted. Nature, the earth, nations, the events in the land. I can sense what the ground has experienced in some places. I receive vivid images and memories that aren’t mine from a very distant time and places that I don’t think exist on this earth.

I always had a keen sense of the cosmos but also a deep fear. I’ve written about this before, about an out of body experience I had when I was 4 that was triggered by my asking myself over and over again, who am I where did I come from what am I doing to here. I saw in the eye of my mind me floating into space and I panicked because I didn’t have a tether to pull myself back in and I feared getting lost in space if I went farther.

Last night I realized that the tether I’ve been seeking was Allaah. I’ve been seeking Him since I was 5. I understand I did this because I needed an anchor, a place to return to in order to not get lost in all that I observe and absorb. He’s my existential protection

I’m not interested in your words that undress me

Hijaab is about protecting one’s beauty, not enhancing it. To enhance implies a lack and a striving to accentuate to others what feels lackluster within. You don’t enhance something you embody, only something you idealize. The very feeling of not being good enough as is, is what’s harmful and not necessarily the methods of enhancement. So hijaab is not an externalization of the spiritual aspect in that one is protecting or dimming one’s beauty in the eyes of others so as not to draw attention. That mindset is still operating under the same assumption of the displacement of the self at the hands of others. It still places the locus of control on the outside.

Rather, hijaab is an external boundary to keep the profane and the mundane out, and to preserve the sacred feminine within. It’s to subvert the ways in which dominance establishes itself as an authority, by making a statement that waits for no answer. It’s self-defining and self-sustaining as it refuses to meddle in the pernicious nature of the lustful assessment of one’s being by others. Hijaab is a stopgap that prevents the internalization of conditionality and being consumed (by the gaze of others) in compartmentalized parts. It ties together the holism inherent to the divine feminine like a circle with no beginning or end. It’s a reminder that there is a hidden aspect to everything, and that sensory perception isn’t omniscient. It puts the mind in its lane and reminds it of its capacity because it was never meant to gauge and decipher the higher meanings of life. And the woman is a higher meaning of life.

A still from the romantic thriller Rebecca (1940). Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Alienated from my light

Sometimes I like to hum loudly to drown out the howl of the biting wind whipping me in the face like this. I pray for an emotional calm as I trudge in this blizzard, seeking a faint light in the distant, a reassurance that I haven’t been swallowed whole by this storm. I stopped trying to warm my hands, curled up with cold, and I can feel my body slow down as a fog of despair starts moving through my mind ; what if I never find a way out of this? Am I just trying to postpone the inevitable?

Life, for me, is the most critical in these moments because if I stop I don’t think I’ll be able to recover the momentum to start back up again. Frantically searching for even a wisp of hope, a sign of life, flicking through the archive of my mind to see if I can recall if anyone has mentioned pushing past this threshold before. In my ears, my heartbeat is pulsating with the poisonous doubt that has entered my blood stream. I slow down as I’m flooded with the memories of all the times I persevered in vain and my efforts were for naught. I feel like a knot in my stomach shot up to my throat, like an inverse punch. Warmth spreads through me as I create a light out of the certain futility of trying. My tears well up and my nose is tickling with a cold sensation. I don’t see the blizzard anymore or hear the ferocious winds whipping past me. I feel like I’ve arrived, and I know I don’t have to suffer the expansive loneliness of this unending blizzard anymore.

I was not swallowed whole by the blizzard, but I helplessly succumbed to it. I calmly walked towards what had snuffed out my light.

Image : Cottage on an island near Nora, Sweden. By Jonas Loiske.

Stay little valentine

Life’s more bearable when you’re whole. The world will leave you alone if you leave it alone. Coexist peacefully but don’t move into it. There is no room for souls..

Less than Greek

I hold so much brutality in my mind towards my heart. I have to hide underground until the war is over. But I wonder what would be left of me then? Is any structure better than none? How can I contest it when I need verbal structure to contest it? And if I don’t, the backlash and lashes to my back will continue like a run-on sentence. Or at least that’s what the voice in my head tells me each time I’m about to sit one out. Don’t you dare do it, this can be over quickly by you just doing what you’re told or this can be a full blown war that’ll never end.. Your choice.

Of course, it’s never a choice. Fear is never a choice, it’s forced. And I fall for it every time because a life sentence is worse to me than a death sentence.

Thank God words are free

I counted the posts I’ve written on my (WordPress) blog and it’s 1003! By contrast, last year I wrote 187 (including December).

This year I’ve written more than I have in the 3 years prior, combined. The sum total of posts is 1990. Been writing since March 2014.

This year has been extremely intense and full of personal revelation. Writing was my way of keeping grounded in the prevailing darkness as well as saving the nuggets of wisdom and epiphanies that’d come to me through intuitive downloads. It’s extremely fleeting so I rush to pen it down. It gives my otherwise very otherworldly and vague journey some sort of dimension. It’s so easy to think you’re stuck in these initiation processes that are deeply archetypal and transformative, and yet feel so stagnant. Writing kept me afloat and kept obsessive thoughts at bay as I had to focus my all on inner listening and receiving these mighty truths and revelations.

Not to mention that before the precipitation of the wave of revelations, I’d gestate dark rain clouds in me, heavy and angry and with menacing thunder looming around me. But I had to hold it together and resist the overwhelming urge to just bolt, to just break up the continuity and run for cover. I couldn’t because I’ve learnt that there’s nowhere to run but to Allaah. It’s been a game of elimination that led me to this year. I had to live through the dissolution of my mental constructs of the world and life, and go deeper and deeper into my soul for every time.

Everything I know is a deep inner knowing, not an intellectual property. Thoughts are feeble. They really are. Anyway, writing has enabled me to interject the truth in these hollow words that people have forgotten once meant something, once were vessels for an inner experience. Most people’s psyche are ancient ruins, or worse. Dilapidated constructs with no life. I’ve always hated that about society so much so that I rarely ask people questions anymore because I know they either will cover the truth or they’re covered from the truth. Words mean nothing and conveys nothing.

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