Internal Memo: Christian Lorentzen
What is the point at which existential nihilism collapses on itself? When does the abyss stare back? I’m sitting in my boxers at the desk in my bedroom this morning refreshing Twitter to see if @tao_lin said anything since I last checked. He did. “While staring at different areas of [30’ x 80’ section of a ‘food court’] became fixated on ‘refining’ the idea of an orca ‘taking a bath.” Sent 25 minutes ago, from web. I try to think of a witty response, worry about whether Tao will like it, delete it, write a new response, hesitate, decide to retweet instead. I wonder what the sensation of Megan Boyle snorting cocaine off my penis would be like? I experience a slight pang of jealousy followed immediately by disgust regarding said jealousy. Emotions are so tedious. I decide to get dressed.
Before leaving I return to my desk to watch MDMA Films’ latest objet d’art
a sixth time. The literati it-couple ingest shrooms and giggle childishly. I pause to consider that I used to be an altar boy. I become aware that my young and foolish years may be behind me. I ponder calling in to work but ‘existential angst’ isn’t a widely accepted excuse. Non-literary plebians don’t understand ‘meta.’ This is the point at which the intellectual bourgeoisie sigh.
I walk towards the train station. The city streets inspire me, I think “I should write something affirmational for a change.” I dismiss this notion by putting Nirvana on my iPod; it’s irresponsible to allow oneself to dissolve into hysterics when there’s work to be done. Around the corner walks the very personification of my angst, a horrifying creature in skinny jeans and a purple hooded sweatshirt. He reads Nylon
as he walks, lest any passersby question his ‘authenticity.’ Could Plato have imagined this scenario? Inhabitants of his cave that, upon realizing they are viewing merely shadows, call the shadows ‘cool’ rather than quest for that which makes the shadows? I grimace, allowing myself this visceral reaction. My body tenses until it’s gone. I feel lucky that this one didn’t throw something at me.
I wanted my life to represent the actualization of that ideal bohemian life. Exciting. Intellectual. Meaningful. On the subway I conceptualize an Internal Memo in which a modern day Dante Alighieri considers tweeting about a YouTube depiction of a flashmob chanting “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” over the beat of Passion Pit’s Sleepyhead
outside of Urban Outfitters’ flagship. I make notes in my Moleskine. Challenge yourself, Christian. Through the Inferno and Purgatorio, through Urban Outfitters and American Apparel and iTunes, through authenticity, ironic inauthenticity, and post-authenticity, modern Dante tours cultural cannibalism as he guides the hipster to the Paradisio: knowledge of the ineffectualness of Jonathan Safran Foer and a longing for this generation’s incarnates of Kerouac’s ‘mad people.’ Yes. “Better get a cryptozoologist on that one,” modern Dante quips.
At the office my mind wanders back to the Kerouac quote. “The only people for me are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” Now most often cited on the Facebook profile of the mundane yuppie, the kind of people who worry about casseroles and lawn care. ‘Mad.’ They probably even relate to—or worse, embrace—Judd Apatow characters. Jesus. I remember reading that passage as a teenager. Sweaty and grimy from laying in bed for days without showering, reading beat poetry and writing some of my own in the margins. I felt hope, conviction even. Naïveté
. This will be my life. Mad people, cigarettes, writing, intellectuals, loose women (feminists), empty pockets, art, travel, parties, the occasional ‘ultra-liberated’ orgy. But I grew up, and today every banker and lawyer thinks he is Neal Cassady. Fuck.
I minimize the submission I’m editing and open Twitter.
I retweet 7-8 non-relatives whose Twitter handles include ‘Lorentzen,’ each announcing varying prosaic human experiences. I note unfollows in my Moleskine.
When do you accept that life is not what you imagined? Am I an editor, an aggregator, or a creator? Craving affirmation that this is the exciting, meaningful existence I’ve sought, I decide to curate a gathering that could serve as prima facieevidence to the younger Christian that there is still some joie de vivre alive in me, that Vladmir Nabokov, were he still alive, might find me interesting enough to follow on Twitter. I email likely candidates to assemble tonight at Scratcher Café. “There will be drinks. If not drinks in honor of the bohemian life, than in remembrance that it once existed and in hopes that we may pursue it again,” I write. I worry that my tone is too sentimental to secure the likes of good old Keith and Carla. I compensate by adding a paragraph about “Julian Assange and the decline of public enemies as true purveyors of the dark at the end of a tunnel of petty crimes. Who should the kids grow up fearing they will become?” As the dutiful historian of the unnoticed cultural apocalypse of which we are all collateral damage, I sign, “As ever, Xn.”