APOCALYPSE

I’M CONSUMED WITH a blinding ambition. It’s not enough to be this or that. I rage, rage for the beyond. I used to wait, thinking it would come to me eventually. Now I work and see that it almost comes.

I rant against life all day in my mind. X keeps me from doing what I want. X oppresses me and defines me. Down with X! Actually, with the burden of X removed, I’m not sure I would know what to do. Or is it masochistic to go on shouldering X and chafing against it? But without the chafing, what strength would I maintain?

Most of all, I tell myself I want time to work. I want to be in the room that is my head, a room with no doors. I want solipsism. I want the universe to be mine. It’s all of you, you other creatures, that flip my flat earth and send it sliding into the sea. I still don’t know how I feel about that. I love you, but I’m afraid of you.

Mostly, I need to be alone. I need pure silence. I went to a rural lake the other day and sat on the shore under pine trees for a while. It was very quiet out there, just the pap-pap-pap of cormorant wings grazing the water and then, as the silence settles, you realize it—other voices which you did not know, circling high with turning tails like plows and black boxy wings. Now that’s silence, these voices beyond sound.

Out there, the rush of email and social media and billable hours fell away. (I work in marketing.) That’s what I want most, actually, the peace and silence. Forget it, I have no ambition at all; I’ll gladly spend eternity sitting under this pine. I don’t want time to work on my art; I want time out of time.

If art is anguish, and it is, then what pedestal can it take in the New Jerusalem? And yet the New Jerusalem will be art. Down here, ground under the boot of sorrow, post-conception and pre-utopia, art and I are suffering. I love it, hate it, love it.

I am pushing for the beyond, and making art is the only time I get anywhere. That’s apocalyptic. If everything is gathering to a point, then art is a byproduct now of the apocalyptic tendency. It is the drive forward and the gathering in. With the New Jerusalem at the apex of this convergence, which is by definition the achievement and result of apocalypse, where does art fit in—being, as it is, fundamentally a catalyst of apocalypse? I’m not ready to throw the tools away. I’ll dig until my hands chafe down to nothing.

So you see, I need this agony. I have set myself to be the voice of my agony. I have claimed, “I am and make art, which is agony.” I have staked my whole being on apocalypse.

So what is this blinding ambition? I drive to bring about apocalypse, the very thing that will render my personality opaque. I define myself further and further as an artist, an emissary of apocalypse, knowing that if and when mine and all other arts succeed in shattering the frame of experience, I will be spent and used up. Then, I suppose, I’ll have to look to grace, more urgently than I yet understand my need of it. I will have nothing, then, when apocalypse has attained. When the beyond is at last uncovered, I will be formless, for I have defined myself only against the covering.

Most of all, I just want to live this moment, and I want moments in which I can live. It’s too much, of course, to demand that from God—an unbroken succession of palatable, livable moments. But I demand it. I am not quite ready to chafe under the load again. Perhaps it is nothing but the color of the moment in which I write, but tonight, I want nothing more at all to enter or leave my life. I want no future. I certainly am living in this moment, and it’s far more than palatable. I am simply alive, a Thursday night, scribbling in my underwear.

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