“…that there was no bottom to life
you could always fall lower
into a bestial groveling
and when you reached that point
nobody cared or would ever
and then, with no feelings left, that was the strangest
feeling of them
How do you know when you’ve hit the bottom? Oh, you know. There is no mistaking the physicality alone. The sense of not knowing when it’s going to stop. The only thing you can really do is hope, and that involves action of some kind, like keeping going, putting one foot in front of the other and just going, for no particular reason at all.
And, like Bukowski says, there is absolutely no guarantee that it won’t happen again, just because you reached it once. So you just have to try to hold onto the little blips of progress and make them stick, hoping you won’t end up like Van Gogh whose paintings sell for more money than he ever saw in his lifetime.
“Vincent left Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in 1890 and began contacting his brother Theo. van Gogh continued working and created a number of pieces; nearly one painting day. Vincent viewed his life as horribly wasted, personally failed and impossible. On July 27, 1890 Van Gogh attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest. He survived, but died two days later from the wound.”
How does one live an authentic life, create work with integrity and an original vision that conveys what you want to say or show about the times you live in, for some future reference, like a Philip K. Dick novel or Baudelaire’s decent into the streets of Paris, Charles Dickens and Dostoyevsky capturing their environments, exactly and so vividly you can see, feel and taste the story.
That is the fear of “the bottom,’ yet that is the same place that informs the truth conveyed, by Henry Miller “…who made / failure / glorious / and finally / lucrative…” – More Bukowski, from “the end of an era”
Yet success requires more than pure effort or even talent, skill and perfection of craft. There is the unfortunate turn of events called luck and sucking up, the being ‘discovered,’ taking the hand out, or as the band Tool so perfectly puts it in response to a ‘fan’ wearing the latest trendsetting uniform:
“All you know about me is what I’ve sold you,
I sold out long before you ever heard my name.
I sold my soul to make a record,
And you bought one.”
That may sound harsh, but ‘selling out’ is no slight accusation to anyone consumed by the action of making the intangible take form, creating something we as humans don’t necessarily need but want to remind us of our humanity, our common link to each other, for without that, we become robots, makers of infrastructure, builders of buildings, manufacturers of commodities, assemblers of products the consumer just takes apart, and eventually discards.
When you attempt to make that thing called ‘art’ in whatever genre suits the right side of your brain, you try for that indelible mark, that expression that won’t be forgotten, or, at the very least, that piece of work that reaches someone for a mere moment in their preciously short lives.
I guess “the bottoms” are there to keep you from forgetting yourself, where you came from, who you belong to (the human race), to remind you of things forgotten when recognition and success come too easily for too little effort. It is also some kind of adhesive to that ever-elusive ‘truth’ we hope to convey, that one of you, out there in the stratosphere, may feel the same way, gain some relief from that shared perspective or even see in a new way those things you never understood before. A guide to living life, in a way. An ode to beauty, the glory of our experience, here, together, as we rise up, once again, from the bottoms.