As I was flipping through channels last night, eyes glued to the glowing box, I caught the last twenty minutes of Factotum again – Matt Dillon as Henry Chinaski/Charles Bukowski. Good stuff. The movie ends with a voice-over of this quote from the book (it grabbed my attention, so I looked it up this morning):
If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs. And maybe your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance. Of how much you really want to do it. And you’ll do it, despite rejection in the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods. And the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.
Then I kept reading, and copying and pasting quotes that struck me. So here it is, a little more Hank to add some raw whiskey madness to the collage of thoughts and scribbles that runs through these posts.
“When I begin to doubt my ability to work the word, I simply read another writer and know I have nothing to worry about. My contest is only with myself, to do it right, with power, and force, and delight, and gamble.”
“This is very important — to take leisure time. Pace is the essence. Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you’re gonna lose everything…just to do nothing at all, very, very important. And how many people do this in modern society? Very few. That’s why they’re all totally mad, frustrated, angry and hateful.”
“My ambition is handicapped by laziness.”
“It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”
“I couldn’t get myself to read the want ads. The thought of sitting in front of a man behind a desk and telling him that I wanted a job, that I was qualified for a job, was too much for me. Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.”
“What’s genius? I don’t know but I do know that the difference between a madman and a professional is that a pro does as well as he can within what he has set out to do and a madman does exceptionally well at what he can’t help doing.”
“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”
“my beerdrunk soul is sadder than all the dead christmas trees of the world.”
“The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn’t understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.”
“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing. “
“Nothing was ever in tune. People just blindly grabbed at whatever there was: communism, health foods, zen, surfing, ballet, hypnotism, group encounters, orgies, biking, herbs, Catholicism, weight-lifting, travel, withdrawal, vegetarianism, India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, conducting, backpacking, yoga, copulating, gambling, drinking, hanging around, frozen yogurt, Beethoven, Bach, Buddha, Christ, TM, H, carrot juice, suicide, handmade suits, jet travel, New York City, and then it all evaporated and fell apart. People had to find things to do while waiting to die. I guess it was nice to have a choice.”
“If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose”
“you have to die a few times before you can really live.”
“Some lose all mind and become soul,insane.
some lose all soul and become mind, intellectual.
some lose both and become accepted”
“those who escape hell
never talk about
and nothing much
“there is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock”
“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”
“Of course it’s possible to love a human being if you don’t know them too well.”
“A love like that was a serious illness, an illness from which you never entirely recover.”
“When a hot woman meets a hermit one of them is going to change.”
“I have been treated better than I should have been—not by life in general nor by the machinery of things but by women.”
“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”
“I like to change liquor stores frequently because the clerks got to know your habits if you went in night and day and bought huge quantities. I could feel them wondering why I wasn’t dead yet and it made me uncomfortable. They probably weren’t thinking any such thing, but then a man gets paranoid when he has 300 hangovers a year.”
“sometimes you just have to piss in the sink”