In my somewhat hedonistic existence I have discerned one thing, that pleasure whether physical or intellectual is its own reward. So what if I’m educated and erudite. Spiritual, even. Why should the pursuit of the former negate the legitimacy of the latter. This is why so many people are atheists; they’ve had enough of this pharisaic nonsense oozing out of the holy arses of asses. What do I long for? Well, in the words of Def Leppard, “Action! Not Words.” So I am taking action to revolutionise the cosmos, starting from my kettle. It’s in need of descaling and I’m no good to anyone without coffee. Seriously, though, I long for a modernist past where western civilisation isn’t drowning in the postmodern reality of social decay and economic ruin. A time when art meant something and culture wasn’t a tag applied to shopping or how many holidays you’ve been on. Why do people think that travel makes them interesting? It’s what you do and achieve in your daily life that makes you so; the former just makes you privileged.
Last night I dreamt of my future home. Classical Greek revival villa surrounded by a fantasy of ravines, pinnacles, flora and fauna. Three peacocks running amok and frightening the gamekeeper (who is Sean Bean, by the way). Mahler’s symphonies echoing – nay, booming! – from speakers draping languidly over jewel-encrusted oaks. In its midst, a secluded quarry garden with a thatched cottage. Inside I shall write books and bake apfelstrudel. Because I don’t think I’m particularly good at anything save for writing and cooking Austrian food. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a passionate love affair with all things Austrian—particularly Vienna, the once undisputed European capital of cool, where old world elegance coalesced with ground-breaking thought and innovation. You would be hard pressed to deny that a great number of composers, artists and philosophers hailed from this central European star, and while some may argue that Austria has lost its lustre and status in the modern sphere of cultural renown, there is a palatable taste of chic and civility in the air as soon as you exit Vienna International Airport. You can’t help but feel pulled in by the legend of ages and a zeitgeist that transcends the cynicism and detachment of the modern era.
Show me a man who remains unmoved by Mahler or a sliver of flaky strudel and I will show you a man devoid of soul. This is the country that sired giants and champions that continue to touch and inspire generations; composers such as Mozart (my beloved Amadeus!), Strauss, Mahler, Haydn and Schubert, or artists and revolutionary thinkers such as Freud, Steiner, Schille and Klimt. My parents met and fell in love in Vienna. I can’t imagine anything more romantic. Liebe grüße nach Österreich. Back to my dream. From peacocks and patisserie I shapeshifted into a moth with gossamer wings, spindly limbs and questing, probing antennae. Then I woke up.
That’ll teach me not to read Kafka before bedtime.
What happened to enchantment? To the vital dispensation of creative energy that feeds and nourishes you more than any food can, making flesh a vision that sees you through the darkest crevices and struggles? Somewhere along the line I stopped believing in it. I lost my “vision”. I suppose I grew up. What began as a revolution in the name of truth, beauty and nature ended in derision, decadence and decay. My very personal and painful fin de siècle. If it wasn’t so funny I would drown myself in absinthe.
But I’ll always have Paris. Where immortality feels fresh and exciting, still. In spite of the cobwebs. I remember tracing the cobbled-genii of Montmartre with my third eye, back in 2006, during my last visit. Like being drawn into a looking glass and becoming lost. Oh, it is easy to lose a sense of scale in Paris! Like Baudelaire, I was looking for a new language that expressed the realities of modern life. And death. I supped with sphinxes upon gravel roads and caressed sinuous metals and soft, voluptuous curves. Nature, savage nature, red in tooth and hoof and claw. It is there that it began—where I, began. There, in the fleshly arms of Old Earth, as my soul brother David likes to say, is where I must return to reclaim some of the enchantment that I have lost. Swarms of insects, clouds of butterflies, birds and bats, all buzzing and flapping around my mind. This, dear readers, is the art of metamorphosis; where man and beast dissolve in and out of each other in weird and wonderful ways. Sensuous but sinister, drug-fuelled and blood soaked. I shall get my Grecian villa in the end. As soon as chemically possible. And then, you are all invited to the party. Clothes are optional, masks are not.
There are times when I find myself transfixed by a shadow on the wall. Or the splashing of water against a stone. I stare at it and lose years in reverie. But when one’s imagination can’t provide an answer, one must seek out a greater imagination. There are times when even I find myself kneeling in prayer.