Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Confession of a Fugitive

By James Curcio

I’ve been big on confessions lately. There’s much we can learn from one another by being honest, even if we give ourselves a certain poetic license with the form that honesty takes. So bear with me a moment.

I wrote a piece on modern mythology in May that talked about how I came to identify as an artist. I first started thinking about this because I asked UK-based artist Laurie Lipton a similar question in an interview, “Was there a sudden point when you realized 'I'm an artist,' or has that always been with you?,” and I realized I had never asked myself that question.

Being an artist seems like no big thing, but it takes a real psychological shock to stick with it.
“Being an artist doesn't take much, just everything you got. Which means, of course, that as the process is giving you life, it is also bringing you closer to death. But it's no big deal. They are one and the same and cannot be avoided or denied. So when I totally embrace this process, this life/death, and abandon myself to it, I transcend all this meaningless gibberish and hang out with the gods. It seems to me that that is worth the price of admission.” -Hubert Selby, Jr.
That sentiment rings true for me. At the same time, you don’t get on a path that requires such a commitment without having a psychological reason for following it. We have to be tricked or cajoled by fate. For him, it was ostensibly being laid up in a sanitarium for four years with tuberculosis. For me, an alcoholic Grandfather. Either analysis is actually specious. Our latent traits are like fuel for the fire of our lives. Do we really want to atomize and dissect ourselves into a series of anecdotes born from our personal history?

I certainly don’t. The truth is, "A" (for artist) isn't the only scarlet letter I've sewn to my chest. Though I admit it selectively in public, close friends and lovers know that I also identify with another unfavorable term: philosopher.

Read the article on The Nervous Breakdown.

Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011. (Or sign up to be notified of its release on Amazon.com)


  1. After I quit art school, I was on a Castaneda IV drip for almost a decade. You'd dig him.

    I have no routines or personal history. One day I found out that they were no longer necessary for me and, like drinking, I dropped them. One must have the desire to drop them and then one must proceed harmoniously to chop them off, little by little. If you have no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with your acts. And above all no one pins you down with their thoughts. It is best to erase all personal history because that makes us free from the encumbering thoughts of other people. I have, little by little, created a fog around me and my life. And now nobody knows for sure who I am or what I do. Not even I. How can I know who I am, when I am all this?

    I have to confess I aggressively refuse to identify with anything. But does that activity define my identity already?

    I also confess that I agree with whoever said "the unexamined life is not worth living" and of course "know thyself". I agree with that wholeheartedly.

  2. I read a lot of Castaneda in late high school. I enjoyed it, although something about it struck me as slightly off. I've never been able to fully put my finger on it.

    You can identify with something, and not lose yourself to it. It doesn't need to be a binary condition. What I mean is you can identify loosely with something and not be pinned down by it. I have oftentimes been deeply confusing to others because I don't tend to identify so completely with anything.

  3. Everyone is at least "slightly off" as far as I'm concerned. By all accounts CC was an incredibly mercenary type of guru/fraud. He was probably quite the asshole as well. Yet the writings speak for themselves.

    Even though Bubba Free John aka Adi Da also made some interesting writings at first, they quickly devolved into pure shit imo. He was a fraud too, but his writings didnt bear out anything beyond that.

    You can loosely identify with something, and you can also strongly not identify with anything - which is what I would prefer to do if it is at all possible.

    To each their own, I would say.

  4. Indeed.

    Oh, Adi Da. One of my previous roommates and I laughed our asses off many nights watching him ramble to rooms full of mumbling acolytes.



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