Negative Capability

Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

Negative Capability

Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

The Pinnacle of Cynical


I have a really good excuse this time, you see, I’ve been breeding instead of zining, but don’t let that worry you. It does not mean that I’ve gone soft. Well, maybe it does. I feel as hard as I’ve ever been, but the source of my hostility is the great mass of humanity, so as long as you’re still out there, I’ll still be pissed off. From the very first issue, I have always planned a special installment of Negative Capability where the ratio of bile to blowjobs was the inverse of previous issues, but how could I possibly write that much nice stuff ? So, two sons and many years later I am facing the unenviable task of trying to think of something nice to say. You can call it painting yourself into a corner, you can call it hubris, you can call it a barn and paint it red, I don’t care.

So why do I bother making an old-school paper zine when killing trees to communicate with a thousand anti-social luddites is so last century? Because I like zines and just because everyone else stops doesn’t mean that I will also stop. I don’t read many blogs because if 90% of everything sucks, then 99.9% of blogs suck even harder. If you do a blog, bully for you. I am never going to read it, but bully for you. I do a zine because I can. And because no one can stop me. And because I promised a few subscribers more issues. And I still have something that I have to say.
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
Oscar Wilde

He is a self-made man and worships his creator.
John Bright
Everyone defines the world so that the skills they are born with and interests they have are the most valued and everything else is worthless. This explains why I respect good spelling and grammar, but don’t give a shit about athletic ability. I am impressed with people who know pop culture trivia, and revile morons who memorize sports statistics, even though it is essentially the same skill differently applied.

It took me six long, painful years, but I finally lost my job. I wasn’t trying very hard for most of it, so it did not come as a shock when the hammer fell. My job has always been the single greatest obstacle to a consistent publishing schedule. After the whole experience of waking up early, commuting, working all day and then getting back home, it’s really hard to have energy or motivation for anything, much less an unpaid gig working for a slavedriver like me.
Life is hard and so am I. You better give me something so I don't die.

I finally realized why it is that I tend to get fired from jobs: I refuse to quit, no matter how annoying it gets. All jobs have to end sometime, and if I won’t quit the only way out is to get fired—or for the company to be seized by the IRS and put out of business, but since I have already gone through those two exits, what’s left? Maybe nothing. Maybe I’m just retired. Maybe I will never work for anyone else for the rest of my natural life. Wouldn’t that be swell? Well, that’s not something I can count on, but I can dream, can’t I? Maybe that’s where the kindness will come from, that place in me that is always so tense and exhausted from having to work. All of those bad feelings and anxieties, they are completely gone now. I still have plenty of responsibilities, but sucking another man’s ass for cash—which is what all jobs are when you get right down to it—is off my agenda for a while.

In each issue, I try to do something different with the design and this time I am trying to keep it as simple as I can. All of my previous issues were micromanaged to the point of kerning to decimals of a pica, if you know what I mean. Instead of cramming every page with lots of multi-layered elements and complicated shit, I am going to presume that you read zines to read zines, not just because of the layout. After making that decision, I found myself feeling more relaxed about the design, knowing that everything didn’t have to be worked on forever. I can just let it go.

There are many times when I hate myself. Times when I literally can’t look at myself in the mirror because I make myself sick. Maybe I yelled something at my wife that I didn’t mean but really felt, and now that sharp thing that I spit at her is sticking out of her little body, reminding me how cruel I am. I talk shit about people just to pass the time and if I ever had to watch a tape of myself, with the person I was talking about, then you might begin to understand how I feel. I often hate on complete strangers, children sometimes, for no discernable reason. The dialogue in my head is full of things like, “Fuck you, Mr. Hummer,” and “Jesus, what crawled up your ass and died, Jimmy?” I watch the news, see tragedy and never think, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Instead I smirk and think, “Better them than me.” I mock the uneducated, I goof on people’s sincere religious beliefs, and I often joke about fucking other people’s mothers when I know that my wife is the only woman for me, regardless of how hot your mom is. I did mention that this is the “nice” issue of Negative Capability, didn’t I?

In this way, I am an absolute horror of a human being. The Jøsh that is writing this piece is clear-headed, rational, sober, logical and quite serious. That’s who I like to be most of the time. But when I am provoked, stressed or sleep-deprived, I regress to being a seventeen-year-old, snot-nosed prick who likes his hair pointy, his music loud, and his parents to shut the fuck up and stay out of his room. That little bastard thinks that the nice Jøsh is a sellout, poseur asshole masquerading as a human being. My wife once asked what the sullen, angry misanthrope Jøsh has ever done for me, and all I can say is that I think that he wrote four really good, funny, angry zines. Well, five, now. Now let’s try one as I am most of the time. There are other nuanced facets to this dichotomy, but the main battle inside my head, the epic struggle, is between the pragmatic adult and the delusionally self-righteous kid. Or as the kid would say, the spread-eagled whore versus the only man left in the world who gives a damn! They’re both wrong, but the drama certainly does keep office meetings interesting.

I’ll never be either one or the other completely; it’s a feud between the kid who refuses to stop cursing and the man who just wants some peace so he can get a good night’s sleep. Most of the zine is written by the teen, and it’s the sellout who pays for it. When you look at it this way, the nice Jøsh is always overindulging his spoiled, bratty inner child, right? In this way, I am not so different from you.

This is not what I was supposed to be. I am not supposed to be so fucked-up and damaged inside and out. I was whole once, before I knew what it meant, and when I was finally shattered, it was like I had always known it was coming for me. I started to write that story, which I am ironically calling “Pity Party,” but it was too painful to get through, so it’s not in this issue, sorry. Now that I am retired, I can make that the most compassionate story in the next issue, to balance the flood of bile that we all know is coming. Lap it up, kids, this show won’t last forever. Everything ends, eventually.

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