Sunday, March 29, 2009

Unsent Letters to Gary Busey: Letter 2 - Information Overabundance, the Agony of Thought & Ghost Rock

Dear Gary Busey,

I refuse to have any more thoughts. That’s it, I’m done with them. Niggling though they are – and it’s incessant, the thoughts always puncture the most innocent of my pleasures, from a stroll to the shop, to air drumming to Slayer – yet I can’t avoid the necessary and the desirable, for they must be cut adrift from my mind. It’s the only solution I can see. It’s a problem to be destroyed. Thoughts are open sores on the warped flesh of a day’s traversal. Dispel the distractions, melt down the mental pathways through which they move. Block the rising reflux of ideas and opinions, conclusions and propositions. Label them leprous, sully their existence, and charge them with crimes against importance.

I know your view, Gary Busey. You’ve lived an era free from thoughts. You exorcised the tyranny in one swift movement, and it was the cleanest defecation known to man. Scullion told me about it one day. Any mistakes or omissions are his fault.

You, Gary Busey, had spent many years chained to your thoughts. They’d come to you from afar, wave upon wave of speculation. Daylight sentience grew them in abundance. Twilight yawns tore rifts in reality, opening doors to the walk of ruminating madness. Senselessness observed night’s fecund flow – what made no sense had night bestow upon it a meaning in the propagation of thoughts.

Did you have a bad time of it? No doubt. A terrible plague had befallen you, Gary Busey. You were a captive of your own thoughts. You polluted conversations with your declarations and assertions. You even had the effrontery to translate your thoughts into writing. It was a dark time. Sheer reminiscence is almost enough to force tears upon me. But I will be strong, Gary Busey, I know that’s what you’d want. I also know the past is a shadow to you, a spectral quasi-presence that you really couldn’t give a fuck about. But humour me.

Languishing in the armpit of despair, hostage to the baggage of thought, you needed a cure, or some means of escape. Then it happened, an intervention organised by Keanu Reeves on the set of Point Break. In a show of support, the cast assembled on set, urging you to confront your problems and relinquish your addiction to thinking. Being a former addict himself, Reeves was the perfect man to give advice on how to suppress the need to think. His inspirational example of a life lived thoughtless proved overwhelming to you, Gary Busey. You broke down, the tears ran in heavy jets, the screams rendered all inaudible. Then courage hit. Dismantling all the craven ways of yore, you stood up, wiped the snot from your face, and started to shake your head. The shaking got more and more intense as shouts of support came from Reeves. As the shaking intensified, you started smacking the side of your head with your palm. The banging and self-violence continued a minute longer, then you fell to the ground in a spasm of dust and sticky head-goo. Reeves ran forward, lifting you up, consciousness slowly returning to your being. You looked around. Onlookers stared on, curious to know if the cure had worked. Then you said it: nothing. And the place erupted in raptures, your silence bringing tears to many. Reeves shook your hand and strode off into the horizon. You glared at him, you glared at the audience, you glared at the sky – all were one and the same to you. The treatment was a success, you were no longer shackled to the monster of thought.

It’s quite a tale, Gary Busey. I hope I was able to capture the magic of it. I dare say not even biblical prose could reach the levels of hyperbole needed to convey the importance of that moment.

Alas, until Keanu Reeves decides I’m fit to be saved from my thoughts, I will have to continue to live bearing the curse. I may refuse those thoughts, ignore their pleading, shun their heckles, damn the revelations to irrecollection, but plough forward they will. I have no defence. My fractured genes leave predisposed a personality unprotected against the injunction to think. To consider and to write are the promises of the information surplus. The vast infoscapes are multicoloured encouragements to create and contribute. Add to the mass, use what is deemed usable, delve into the relevant and reject the rest.

Evolution put us in a place where we take in all the information we can. Look about you, hear the audible, smell the odorous, touch all you can. Identify the threats, signal the eatable, take the useful. Hold in the mind’s eye a portion of earth freed from mystery. Enough for the senses to work, to exercise their genetic endowment. Information to be compiled on a limited scale, use of a limited lexicon, dissection of limited resources.

Now that portion of earth has changed beyond all recognition. Rather than gawk at a few stones, we see an endless stream of information in perpetual motion. Always being modified, always added to – magnifying in direct correlation to our own sense of insignificance. Gaze upon the history of everything, peruse the geographies of the micro and the macro; do it all, for now is the only present on offer.

The reactionary response is to criticise. It recommends ignorance and stupidity, obliviousness to the benefits of technological progress. The comprehension is nonexistent, the chance for technology to empower and free is disregarded. The right circumstances, the right uses, are both foreign concepts. Nothing’s neutral, but potential shines through the murk of cowardice and disinformation.

Sure our brains buckle at the thought of the internet’s gift to us – or rather, our gift to us, the gift we give each other, the gift we construct on a daily basis. The brain’s shortcomings are laid out naked in the heat of the internet’s infinite deluge. I know you, Gary Busey, you harbour few woes along these lines. But for the head set to maximum consumption it’s a difficult condition in which to live. Compulsion comes already preprogrammed into late capitalism’s push to buy and be the best consumer possible. The problem sees us lodged in the web of market logic, hearing only the bang bang of buy buy.

They’re dull considerations to you, Gary Busey, I know that. You’ve got no answers to offer me. I don’t write you in the hope of attaining answers. On the foregoing issues, I can discern all you’ve got to offer me from your performance in Ghost Rock.

Truly no better example can be found of just getting on with it. Your turn as Jack Pickett solidifies the absence of caring, it stands for action and not thought. Where’s reflection in the act of doing if not dead and buried in the past. There are no wasteful minutes spent asking the same tired questions, praying for something better, clawing for guidance from a spot in the sun that’ll blind you if you look too hard. Conventional hesitation has no place in Jack Pickett, he’s the product of an instant Yes.

Men built of stone weather in the wind; Gary Busey is the wind.

The internet is all writers, no readers. Or so it seems. We’ll go with it, Gary Busey, because a little exaggeration goes a long way. All writers, no readers. Whereas Ghost Rock’s all film, no viewers. It has all the facets of a film production: actors, a narrative, horses, Jeff Fahey. But no one to consume it. Ghost Rock is the internet written in film language. It’s a theatrical representation of the blog surplus, a dusty emblem of a guilt that scratches the soul every day.

How can one feel anything but guilt in adding to the information flood, Gary Busey? To exasperate the situation and give truth to the idea of ‘too much’ is surely a shameful pursuit that deserves outright prohibition. Adding to the already said and the already written, isn’t that the definition of a futile act?

Some fools insist that there’s nothing left to say, that it’s all already done, in turn ignoring millennia of creative struggle fought by writers and artists. The fools assume an ease that was never there. As if Dickens scribbled a list of titles at the beginning of his career and just wrote them out slowly over time.

Then again, Gary Busey, did Milton have to check his email whilst writing Paradise Lost? Was Ibsen nipping onto Facebook to update his status every time he wrote a scene? Would Bertrand Russell have written 3,000 words a day if he had Youtube as a distraction?

There are no excuses, Gary Busey. The world offers as much as it takes away. For every impediment comes a new avenue. Vaults of creative inspiration, whose paths are unobstructed, or becoming so, flash into view on a continual basis. The ongoing project of the world is the birth and death of ideas. Well, that’s the case for us poor tragedians anyway, Gary Busey, those of us tied irrevocably to our thoughts. I know Ghost Rock points in the direction of ‘shut the fuck up and just do it’. I know the example you set, Gary Busey, is aghast at my seeming acquiescence. But we can’t all be Ghost Rock, however enthusiastically we pray for it. Thinking will persist. As will the guilt at adding more and more sand to the desert. All we can hope for is that that sand is worth frolicking about in; after all, no one likes shite sand.

Sorry about the words, Gary Busey. I hope Betsy and Ethel are well. I hear that preproduction on your Broadway show is going well. The cast sounds highly talented, you’re lucky to be working with such fine actors. I have no doubt that Diabetes the Musical will be a great success.

Oodles of love and affection,



Blogger Aaron McMullan said...

Too much, too too much, of the wonderful herein for to hope to acknowledge by name but the tiniest portion - to name the articles clingin' tightest to the rust of the cleave of the brains is all i can do - the internet as all writers no readers and the subsequent parallel with ghost rock - all film no viewers - is fuckin beautiful. the melancholy contemplation of the sand - this also. Busey's conversion...

The swellings of an Epic, I feel, amidst the white and black herein...

3:25 a.m.  

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