Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 118 in June, 2009.
There is only darkness behind the eyes. You want to believe there is light, but there is only darkness. The journey from ear to ear is a journey through darkness. A darkness that is impenetrable. You want to believe that light enters through the eyes, that behind your eyes there is light, and this light produces a kaleidoscope of color. You create concrete colorful objects, you believe, with this light. But this is a trick. It is mendacity. There is no light, and no kaleidoscope of color, and those objects are as intangible as a cloud of smoke. There is only darkness. If you believe there is light behind the eyes you have fallen for the fallacy. Like the fallacy that work is good for the soul. Work is not good for the soul. Work maybe good for the body, but the soul benefits nothing from work. The puritanical ethos of work being good for the soul cannot be validated. Work will not speed up your journey to the light of Heaven. Because I believe this I have avoided work with the slyness of a fox being chased by a pack of hounds. I have hardly done a lick of work and I believe my soul to be fine. I am a do-nothing man. I think about René Descartes when I think of a lazy man. A do-nothing man. Descartes prided himself on his laziness, he never awoke before noon, and he said he never read a book. Only a lazy man could come up with, cogito, ergo sum. This statement could only have been produced in bed. And we know that Descartes never climbed out of bed until after noon. Descartes thrived in the do-nothing. Descartes never sat at a desk. Descartes did his thinking and scribbling, while held up in bed, tucked under warm sheets. In a poem dealing with Descartes you will read,
Sit on it.
Whoroscope is a one hundred line monologue delivered by Descartes while waiting in bed for an egg for breakfast. Descartes the do-nothing man would never dream of cooking his own egg. Samuel Beckett also thrived in the do-nothing. Beckett was as elusive as Jack Sheppard the notorious English robber, burglar and thief of early 18th-century London when it came to finding a job. Beckett created the great paragon of the do-nothing, Belacqua. The name for this Irishman was derived from Durante degli Alighieri’s Commedia. Beckett well versed in the Commedia knew all about Belacqua. Dante’s Belacqua can be found in Purgatorio. Belacqua was a Florentine lute-maker famed for his laziness. He slept his days away and only awoke to eat. He was a man that personified the do-nothing. Belacqua will sit in the shade of a large boulder forever, because in keeping with his fashion he will not attempt the journey to Heaven. For Belacqua the road is too long. For Dante, Hell is a circumambience shrouded in darkness. The only light in Hell is produced by fires. These fires that rage in Hell generate no warmth. Hell is a dark, cold place, similar to the space behind the eyes.