We live in a world that borders on idealism, false realism, and denial. There is a growing market for bullshit polishers and I am sick of the plethora of political correctness pushers that are predominant in our current culture. Hence the metaphors of Bukowski and Sparks.* One speaks what we are truly thinking, what we wish we had the guts to say, the other speaks what we wish we were thinking because that does not conflict with the status quo. The differences between the two are in-your-face: one can be compared to tenderly dressing a wound and applying antiseptic, along with the properly sized bandage, taking care the entire time to be considerate of the patient’s level of comfort and the alleviation of any fears that may be present; the other method, the Bukowski method, is like washing out a wound with peroxide, using Mercurochrome as the antiseptic, and to hell with the dressing!—both methods seem to achieve their intended purpose but the latter is faster, more direct and more cost effective, and in addition, it is impossible to hide any infection. When comparing both of these approaches to some of Life’s tougher situations, would you rather be told that if you try harder, do more, make yourself prettier, richer, etc., the world will eventually offer its rewards for you to claim? Or, would you rather have the awareness that the person lying next to you might someday leave you for someone younger, richer, and/or more better looking? Or, even if you work your butt off, success may never arrive…? Some willingly choose to bury their heads in the proverbial sands of oblivion, all the while convincing themselves that they will be the exception to the rule and besides, we have been spoon-fed the images of these types of fantasies all of our lives.
The land of Sparks is sagging flesh sustained by plastic surgery and slow death on life support. On this terrain, belief in all kinds of nonsense is possible: happily ever after, the Golden Age of retirement, formulas for staying fit, young, and healthy, turn-key investments, blah, blah, blah. The truth of the matter is that these situations do exist, however, they are the exception rather than the rule and when they don’t live up to the hype, all hell breaks loose because Life is unpredictable and we cannot foresee anything with a reasonable certainty. There is nothing more miserable than to be going on about the business of life believing in bullshit, only to discover that it is far from ok and if only you had paid attention, trusted your gut, not been so trusting, etc., you wouldn’t have been blind-sighted by this betrayal and its inherent misery.
I say give me Bukowski, with his raw edginess and “rip-the-band-aid” realism, or give me a razor blade! The land of Buk is like walking into blinding daylight after time spent in pitch darkness: it hurts, you can’t focus at first but eventually clarity is bestowed, and although the landscape is not perfectly groomed, the variety is refreshing and you at least know you are not in for any nasty surprises. On this terrain, a four-wheeler might be needed but at least you are aware that one will be required. And in the off-chance you might believe that Life is capable of throwing out more ugliness than you can handle, comfort will eventually arrive in the form of knowing that you have been equipped with the necessary supplies and the desire to survive. Becoming willing to view Life in its riskiness and sometimes harsh reality is not for sissies, but to the extent that you are capable of comprehending the truths of the power of substance over form, you will succeed. Perhaps your victory will not be what the culture considers achievement, but you will consider it so, and that is what makes Bukowskism so appealing.
So, what’s it going to be: the red pill…? or the blue pill…? You decide.
* This is not intended to be a slam against the commercially successful Sparks, it is merely an instrument of comparison.