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Changes | Writing by Al Neil | Al Neil
Vancouver Art in the Sixties

Writing by Al Neil: Changes

"Changes" Chapter 8.
Nightwood Editions, 1989. 46-47.

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The penultimate sentiment: this book is a farrago of funk and feeling; butterflies rising from the ashes, thus indicating that further alarming adventures of our hero are about to begin as he plans to measure the circumference of God.

Your breath changes not at all at the thought of heroin, it only seems short and dry; in fact, it is the blood that is deprived of imaginings. Penultimate I say, we have yet to hear the last word.

I am writing with watering eyes, the blood cries. I am scratching my ass.No pain, yet. Nor will there be. A taste will come soon. I will connect soon. I am watching television as I write, an hour story of narcotics agents in Hawaii.

“How do I know where those dope fiends are?”

“Well, you could sound the alarm, they are very dangerous.”

“We’ll get them before they commit violent acts such as homicide, sexual orgies or gruesome sadistic acts.”

And so forth.

Now what will I do, or think. I have just eaten six japanese oranges; I have a pimple on my face; I love Marcia. It is nice to be alone.

A seminal image of jolly blood comes over me. Ha. My works has a new collar of black thread fixed with clear fingernail polish. When the time comes it will be easily available. Yes I have been at it again, I couldn’t leave it alone. A chippy habit.

Since writing the last paragraph I have answered the phone, had a thought of Ecclesiastes, and jerked off. A dubious situation at best. I don’t lie, that wouldn’t get me anywhere. A few elegant intermezzi, if you please. Even when writing for oneself it is hard to tell the truth. I am afflicted, as the world is. I must do something about this. This isn’t even funny. The listeners are on guard, but no matter, I am not manufacturing experiences with which to titillate them. This is only for myself. Rumination. The inexhaustible store of onanistic trifles which beset my dreams. Bereft of dignity, I ramble on. He who rambles is not lost. Draw your ears up to attention, it is evident that you are not listening. It is incomprehensible to me that I can’t be a little more humorous; my true mission escapes me. Always I am under pressure to abandon myself to chance. To hope that the world represented to me is fake. To dream and therefore to lie. A series of traditions represented by mirrors. Laugh a little but remain close to this proposition, your life is at stake.

The absurdity of doing anything at all except loving or creating (the same thing). Writing these words now but just as well chase some other elusive chimera or make some unspeakable supplication or piss into the wind. Overcome with anguish I discretely masturbate, demonstrating my early rigorous training in the art. When night finally falls I will at last laugh, as another day passes into memory.

How reach the very limit of the possible, when the anguish you feel makes you the accomplice of all men. Why not just eat some grapes, and cast the seeds upon the water. Stop breathing for a moment and listen to the heart beat. Is it even there? Is this therefore solitude which you have forced upon yourself? Solitude is not necessarily alluring, but contributions to an invisible destiny, not yet manifest, please let it be known, the destiny, the destiny for which I wait, the opening outward. I am lying again, I wait for nothing, except perhaps a certain dizzy feeling.

The intelligent man will seek out solitude from time to time. It is not dispelled by pleasuring oneself, you must never think that, indeed the solitude is made more intense, therefore a use for a seemingly despicable practice. Recriminations become unnecessary, and repetition of it is no longer a succession of defeats. I laugh without mirth when I think of the despair it once brought me. Now it at least brings me to action; I can rage in peace, or drift toward hell, but am brought to the threshold of ceremony. And finally art, if I could be interested in art. That would really be abandonment, I am not yet ready for that. But the roads run parallel. I am merely speaking of jerking off at this time. Trying not to lie. Watching the sun stream into the room where I write. I am still here, that in itself is enough to amaze me. Going on as usual. I have an intense dislike for those given to disown their own nature for reasons of propriety. I mean those who are not willing to tell themselves anything which will bother them. Only that, nothing more, not exactly gems, are they, the thoughts?

Consider the delicious logic in transforming into an art, a once contemptible and soul-destroying act, a ritual so universal as to mark with a certain furtive quality, the glance and expression of all those menaced by self-contempt. To some it is no more than a gust of arctic air wafting across the genitals. Like any art, its charm and meaning lie in the skill, inventiveness and profundity of the creator, and its rewards are immediate.

I am trying to get a grip on myself, I can’t think of anything else to do but write on; this expresses a certain determination on my part if nothing else. Alone in a room; a friend will come sometime, perhaps Marcia. Here and there I will lie about her I suppose, although I don’t think so. A bit of heroin would do the trick, I might even become rational, and give up this impassioned curiosity concerning myself, the sound and symptoms of my psyche are not that striking, only imperious in their hold over me. What else can I explore to such advantage? What else is real? I may even become gifted with lucidity. Obtuseness may leave me for other shadows. I will fall down among lilies, no longer oblique and enchanting to myself. I might even dance. Or sing the song of Onan. I can do that anyway, no need to wait for life to accentuate it; the act itself can wait. It is a matter of indifference to me. The renewal of man is not awaiting my blessing, I putter along alone, my spirit will be gay soon, if I keep up the good word. I only represent folly for a few minutes at a time, and then on, on, to maintain the contrary and keep myself guessing. It is impossible for me to understand, or even be bothered noticing, the consequences of my acts. I lie, I am very concerned, I continue to squirm at these falsehoods. What else can I do? I am more or less intelligent.

It seems to me I was speaking of something else. Onan. No longer afraid of solitude, one seeks out its meaning. One plumbs the umbilical depths, and spits on reality and the cord of birth. The ambiguous process which once disturbed your dreams, no longer impinges on your mind, and you are free to hum in the darkness.

Saintliness is not yet possible to me, but I am moved to seek it. The end doesn’t justify the means, you will say, but I only think that the search for secrets of the blood and the stars knows no end. Saints wear either rags or chasuble, and all do shit. Attain grace by whatever means then, and set the soul to rest.

The bones and flesh are no longer strangers, I feel the unseen pulse of cunt and flower, and draw near to God.