Manifesto or, What’s Your Point?
Let’s begin at the beginning. My problem is that I care too much about some things and care too little about others. I am convinced that there is no such thing as God. I prefer getting blown to having sex, and not just because I am lazy (which I am). I am too smart for my own good, and I am not shy about it in the least. I think drugs are good, unless you’re weak and have no self-control, in which case you should stick to gum or chewing your nails and leave the drugs for me. I can’t sleep much and I don’t sleep well, so if you want to know what my problem is, just lay the blame there. I am neurotic, misanthropic, petty, vain, impatient and hostile. I am also sweet, thoughtful, caring, overly sensitive and very generous. I can’t reconcile it either, so don’t sweat it. You’ll see, in the future, in these pages, that I am a contradictory person. I accept that, not as hypocrisy, but as a given. I think everyone is full of contradictions, but I can admit it, up front, right here and now, without hesitation or bullshit.
I write. That’s what I do. I need you to do one thing for me, and you don’t even have to do it well. Read this. Then give it to a friend. Then tell them to pass it on. I can’t afford to make a million of these things, and if you care about what I am saying, buy a copy to save, this will be worth nothing someday. I don’t need your money. I just need you to read this. Actually, I could use your money, but I will take what I can get.
Everything will not be spelled out for you, so please pay attention as best you can. I won’t be a whiner and I won’t be too much of a pain in the ass. I am glad you’re reading this, because it means there is at least one person who thought this thing looked interesting enough to take a chance on. That means we have one thing in common so far. Even if you hate what I am doing, at least you took a chance, when you could just have easily gotten something totally useless like Spin, or worse, People.
I will try to make this experience useful and rewarding, because to me, the things I like best are those things that I think no one else knows about. I am sure that other people do this, but usually I like a band until they start getting radio airplay. It is not even that I am concerned that the band is a “sellout” because everyone is a fucking sellout. Let’s not kid ourselves, okay? I just feel that the personal connection that I have with the band, or the movie, or the restaurant or the zine has been broken because of all the douchebags sucking it up like it was some kind of disposable trend. I don’t want to be disposable. I have a lot to say, and most of it is pretty interesting. If it isn’t, let me know, and I will be more than happy to piss you off some more.
There is always a danger when writing shit like this that the author will feel the “importance” of the moment and waste time and energy trying to be profound or preachy. Fuck that. I am not even going to pretend that this is the best I can do, because I know it isn’t. I don’t care about it being the best. My best work has not happened yet. I have to fuck this up for quite a while before I get to being the best, and when it does happen, not only will you know, but it will be over as soon as you realize it. That’s what good is, to me, something that disappears as soon as you see how good it is. I was going to use the word ephemeral but I felt like a douche just typing it.
Many of these pieces are longer than you may be used to seeing in a zine, but to be honest, I have cut them down as much as I could. At the same time, part of the impetus for starting Negative Capability was that anyone else who wanted to use my work wanted to butcher it beyond recognition. I didn’t want that to happen, so I am going to publish everything in its entirety. There have been a few times in my life that I thought I was going to launch a real magazine, and of course, just as things started to come together, they fell apart. The problem has always been that the more people are involved, the less likely you are to pull it off. This is not to say that I wasn’t working with cool people, it’s just that nothing really good or original comes from a consensus. The more meetings you have, the less you want to be around each other. And of course, as soon as you have to agree on anything with just one other person, both of you are compromised.
Don’t get the wrong idea about me. Sure, I am writing every goddamn word in this thing, taking most of the pictures, doing the design, and spending my own hard-earned dollars to get this thing printed in a professional manner (and I have been unemployed since the IRS seized the company I worked for at the end of July, 1997) so you can have something cool and new to read. I came to the sad realization that no one wants to invest in me, or trust me, or give me a chance to do something meaningful and interesting. Time is not on my side, in fact the things I can count as “being on my side” number fewer than you can imagine. I believe in myself, and now, I am putting my money where my mouth is. The point is, this is what I have to say, but this is not the whole story. That’s for you to decide, if you want. I will show you the world as I see it, tell you some funny, scary, interesting or bizarre stories, and then be on my way. I want to know what you think, and if you care. I realize that this thing is dense with words, but the words mean something, and I have also thrown in a bunch of pictures for you to rest your weary eyes.
The world is collapsing upon itself; everyone is fractured, bitter and hostile. Resources are dwindling, everything is getting corrupted, polluted and infected with incurable diseases. So why the hell not spend an evening smoking pot and playing Tekken 2? I fixate on the negative because that’s what I am. If I thought it was hopeless, I would have killed myself a long time ago. I keep thinking that some huge catastrophe will wipe out everything that I hate and leave the remaining few things that I can tolerate in peace and harmony. See how sick that is? I would classify myself, if forced, as a “hopeful cynic.” I see the world as it is, and I wish it would die. And because I wish it would die, that means I have hope, even if the only thing I hope for is everyone else’s death. Anyway, one of the things I do know is when to shut up. So that’s all. But don’t worry. I will think of something else to say tomorrow.
Web Bonus Info:
This was one of the pieces that required very little revision but as I continued to work on other pieces for the debut issue, I kept adding a sentence here or a sentence there. I tried very hard not to be self-conscious while I was writing and I think that this piece set the tone for the entire zine and still holds up many years later. I may end up repeating myself inadvertently in future issues, but this was the first time I said exactly what I wanted to say in a concise and interesting way.