Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What's Jack Drinking?

There’s ice if you’ve been bad, and I mean really bad, so bad that you go down to the big rink, the VIP circle, past the Bunko trenches; so bad, they’re actually genuinely nice to you when you first get there, because they appreciate a sense of style, and an instant of niceness measured against an eternity of suffering is really more suffering; this is what they do; they do it well; do not forget to tip.

There are people that they wait for, people that they keep clippings of, people that the inmates jerk off to (of course they never come, but idle maggot filled hands are the devil’s playthings and he likes that sort of thing). But what they want from you isn’t exactly pleasant and it’s not your autograph -not exactly.

I’ve been down there a few times and it’s too rich for my blood. There are people that you have all heard of down there, partying it up, but the worst of them aren’t who you would expect: which goes to show just how differently run this place is than people would imagine who haven’t been there yet. Yes, he’s here, of course, but down here he’s a nobody: he’s a frustrated little artist because nobody buys his paintings. He’s a pretty sad case. There are other things, too, but the thing I like to notice is that everyone keeps mistaking him for Charlie Chaplin and get real disappointed when they realize their mistake. The hair in his brushes keeps falling out.

No, the worst cases down here would surprise you and would give one nightmares, if it were possible to have nightmares down here (actually in a sense it is: some people have a nice dream now and again: this is another rotten thing that happens down here; the most common dream down here is not being able to remember what it was and the most common feeling upon waking is not feeling well rested). They’ve all done things, lived their crapulent lives in such a way that it put them in the winner’s circle. Sometimes, it’s pretty obvious, but just as often it’s horribly subtle: you see kindly looking old Grandmas and even children and sometimes its what they’ve done, or why, or how, or when, or to whom, or some combination thereof, but once you’ve heard it, you have no doubt they’ve come to the right place. Sometimes you really can’t say why it’s so awful, it’s just so awful that you never imagined. But they did. I don’t go there much. Even down here, you can still fear for your soul, otherwise the place wouldn’t serve any purpose at all.

The beautiful prince keeps them way down there, close to him, because they’ve earned it. Because friends and enemies are the same to him, so they are close and so awful it must be almost like family. It makes all the awful things that happen down there terribly intimate. He keeps them down there because they are his trophies, a thousand tormented mirrors for his vanity. So you meet a lot of posers clubbing around there and people dance and do things like you’re supposed to watch and applaud.

People think it’s like a prison: it’s not. Prison is a hellish experience. You logically cannot say that this place is hellish. Nor can you really say of something that goes on forever that it is an experience.

In consideration of which, we should note: all of the Logical Positivists are here. In fact, they call that circle, “the Vienna Circle.” Actually, it’s not at all bad for them, as none of them believe it and so they are more or less immune. It's the same for the saints. As he has always had apostasy as his personal creed, the positivist turn has more or less become the official philosophy of this place, alongside it’s motto: “We try harder. ”

And so tonight I am here: you don’t want to meet anyone’s eyes, because those that have eyes are terrible and nothing good will come of it either way. Keep to the shallow end of the bar, away from where a crowd as gathered and there is the sound of fabric ripping and someone is screaming. Don’t look, and don’t put your fingers in the peanuts if you want to keep them. There is hemlock, there is achewood and wormwood: they serve a lot of real poisons here, because here agony is a joke and dying an even bigger one. The bottles are old, fine Venetians from the Borgias, casks from the great monasteries, Roman glass, some of the first pots ever fired: you can have what Noah had when he got trashed, naked and passed out. You can drink schnapps made from extinct Arctic plants. You can taste every temptation that has ever loosed an evil smile, a careless word, a clumsy swerve, a drunken pass, an open fist. Every regretful vintage is here, and the first taste is never sour or bitter. You can even taste the apple here: that’s always fresh.

But what will you have? There’s a Victorian gentleman at the end of the bar in a shabby but rich black coat of London cut. He’s got long fingers and the intelligent face of a doctor. Make no mistake: he’s not kind. He’s idling like he has all the time in the world: this bar is just a short jaunt from his place. He is as comfortable and easy as a folded knife. His smirk is laughing at the jar on the counter where severed human fingers swim, pickled with rings. In front of him is something with a stick of celery in it.

Like a shiver, the bartender is suddenly at your service, like something you shouldn’t be thinking about, the sort of thing normal people never consider. And so you ask him:

TURN #97: WEEK 83; WORDS: 94,400