Suggested Audio Candy:
Jason Tai and Marshall Crutcher “Madness Returns”
We all court madness at some point during our existence. Whether intentional or otherwise, we take that walk to the wild side and leave our sanity far behind us. For some of us it is a short brisk stroll and we do so habitually whereas others are a little more wary of loosening the hinges. I’d consider myself sane; meet me in the street and I shall happily engage in small talk about current affairs and inquire as to your family’s well being. Should others spot us conversing then their opening comment will likely be along the lines of “looky here, a couple of utterly sane-minded people engaging in everyday conversation”. Little will they be aware that last night I attended the wake of a garden slug named Cornelius.
Take Crazy Ralph for example; to the locals he was as mad as a hatter, an unstable loon without a concise thought in his noggin but, when all was said and done, he was just Ralph. I’m sure he didn’t introduce himself as Crazy Ralph at social engagements and I’m also assured that, behind closed doors, he did as any other would do. However, society perceived him as a wrong ‘un and he was painted with the mental health brush. When you consider the facts, there was nothing crazy about the poor fellow; he told that group of co-eds not to advance to Camp Crystal Lake, let them know about its death curse and informed them in no uncertain terms that they were all ‘doomed’. Next thing you know, they’ve been hacked up into iddy biddy pieces and Pamela Voorhees has had her dastardly retribution. If you ask me, he was the most balanced resident in town; at least until he ignored his own advice and was garoted against a tree stump.
I’m a few sandwiches short of a baker’s dozen. I know it is easy to form self-assessment and everybody likes to embrace their craziness. They fling the word around with little understanding of its meaning. “I’m crazy me!” are three easy words to assume by one’s self but, if not backed up, they are little more than a plea for attention. I have pondered long and hard about my own marbles and the returned Intel suggests I may well not be in possession of the full jar. Does that make me a threat to society; unfit to rub shoulders with other more grounded individuals? I’ll answer that poser the minute I wriggle free from my straitjacket. The way I see it, madness is a disease but one which you can keep in check for the main part if you court it freely. Ignore it at your peril as the men in white coats are never far away should you begin dribbling and rambling incoherently in public hot spots. You just need to know where to vent.
Any ventilation on my part occurs within the snug confines of my prose. By day, I am a mild-mannered man with an adroit social repertoire. But there was a good reason why Cinderella was ordered home by midnight and an even better one why not to share your midnight snack with a Mogwai. When I perch myself down in front of a blank document I am afforded the inimitable opportunity of being whoever the hell I desire. Constraints are slackened at that point and it is here where I am at my most contented. One only needs look at the diversity of my body to work to deduce that I’m all over the show. I’d rather that than to be predictable; I don’t wish for any of my readership to feel it obligatory to preempt my writes. I want y’all to be saying “Oh shit, here comes Keeper again. Wonder what sort of inane drivel he’s going to come out with next.” I’d rather keep you guessing.
There have been times during my tenure whereby the font has simply run dry. In these cases I return to my appraisals, the bread and butter pieces, and attempt at sparking the fuse from there. It is more difficult to spread your flappers over something so restricted by a duty to inform but I find a way. One appraisal may vary wildly from the next and there are a generous handful which I still felt the stars align with. Take David Cronenberg’s The Fly if you will; how can a mind as scattered as mine not have fun waxing about Seth Brundle and his faulty relocation pod? I leave myself breadcrumbs in these moments. However, my fuse is sparked most potently with like-minded others. Social interaction can and does fuel my fire but, should it be negative, then I retreat into my recess.
It may appear an evasive manoeuvre and, truth be known, it is. Cowardice it most definitely isn’t; self-preservation it invariably is. I’m still learning to harness my sickness and will endeavor to do so every single day a drop of oxygen leaves my lungs. The downside to taking all that is disconcerting and fashioning it into something which you hope will share a smile and raise one of its own is that you’re constantly washing your own laundry. If a basket of whites is then delivered on wash day there simply isn’t enough space left in the drum to squeeze it all in. I may be able to run a short rinse cycle but I’m rubbish at ironing. I scurry away like the squirrel that I am but these so-called vermin always stock up with nuts beforehand. While the whole free world considers them pointless, said squirrel is enjoying nut cutlets.
I vanished without trace about ten days back and remained shrouded for a full seven. This enabled me to step back and explore my own darkness with an unfettered mindset. If I happen to be distraught at the time of writing then this is a disaster waiting to play out but, by doing so with white noise relinquished, I found myself reaching that much deeper. Before I knew it, I was a poet once more, a Wrangler and Honey Dripper to boot. Two weeks ago I would have sat staring into space like Bullock; wondering where the next mental meal would come from but now I am gourmet chef, frying up a banquet and doing so with stride laden with spring. It has always been inside but I just forgot how to access it securely. Every time I opened the mind’s door there were a cluster of cantankerous finger monsters wobbling frantically and scaring my ass off whence it came.
My hiatus was more of a busman’s holiday to be honest. If I wasn’t repeatedly leaping on Goombas and kicking Koopa shells around Mario land then, chances were, I wasn’t with my boy and I was up to my neck in prose instead. It helped me find my equilibrium and I haven’t stopped writing since. I spent a long time drudging around with my guilt and self-loathing and the baggage isn’t easy to shoulder. Now, upon airport arrival, you can swipe that shit through at the entrance way and be in the departure lounge within a handful of minutes. Sure, you’ll be sat opposite a freckly hellspawn picking his nose and flicking his spongy orbs in your general direction with a shit-eating grin while his parents don’t bat an eyelid but at least you’ll be seated.
My point is this. Enjoy the Silence. If that is what works best for you then you should follow its lead. Take a breather from any built-up static and free yourself in whatever way feasible. For me, I had to take a step back to stand any hope of taking two forward. I teetered over the edge of my personal abyss and questioned my ability to bring pleasure through my gift. Now it is ready to keep giving. I may not be the most chatty chap on social networks but 140 characters is a darned sight less than 6000 on a daily basis. I try my best to have a presence but feel at ease in the knowledge that my work speaks on my behalf. Whether you’re new to these Rivers of Grue or weathered veterans you’re all a part of something special. It doesn’t matter who writes exclusively for us or who chooses another path as I oversee all with a loving gaze. In the meantime, I shall continue to court the madness as it is the sanest thing I ever did.