I’m telling you there’s a strong wind coming so you’d better wear a wool hat. Don’t wear a broad brimmed hat. A broad brimmed hat will blow off. You’ll have to keep your hand on your head all the time to keep it from blowing away, somersaulting flippedy-floppedy into traffic and getting crushed by a truck. Wear a wool hat like my wool hat. Not like that hat I took to Paris. That was a broad brimmed hat. I had to tuck it under the seat on the plane both going there and coming back and worry about it the whole time. And when we were in Paris the tips of my ears froze. You wouldn’t expect a beautiful city like Paris to be so cold but it was fucking cold. It was like fucking Moscow. It was like the Russian winter that decimated Napoleon. I waited in line to see the inside of Sainte-Chapelle, wishing the whole time I’d worn a wool hat instead of a broad brimmed hat. I didn’t need a brim I needed wool over my ears.
Would you like to hear more? I’m nearly 70 years old so I’m full of advice.
Always keep a can opener handy. Or at least a jackknife.
If you can handle alcohol just stay drunk all the time. Don’t do what I did and get sober. Just stay drunk. If you use heroin that’s even better.
See as many movies as you can.
If you see things darkly you’re seeing them as they are. If somebody complains about your pessimism or your cynicism tell them to go get fucked.
I recommend the following books: Ulysses, by James Joyce; Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain; Middlemarch, by George Eliot; The Book Of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa; Visions Of Cody by Jack Kerouac; À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust; The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia; The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson; Voyage au bout de la nuit by Louis Ferdinand Celine; everything by Shakespeare; everything by Montaigne; everything (including letters) by Arthur Rimbaud; everything by Gertrude Stein; everything by William Blake; Thing Of Beauty: New and Selected Works by Jackson Mac Low, edited by Anne Tardos.
Also, Clayton Eshleman, Michael McClure, and Jack Spicer.
Tarantula, Chronicles, and Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan.
To be, in its purest sense, is to have access to all the representations of power. To understand their workings, their permutations, their mythologies.
Wherever you go always have a book and a bookmark handy.
Aquariums are fun but a little creepy. Zoos are horrible.
You can learn a lot about writing by playing with a cat. You’ve got to make the prey look truly enticing, unpredictable and alive. This keeps the cat interested and you can tire her out eventually and she’ll stop bugging you while you’re trying to read and listen to Vivaldi.
Be wary of ideals. Submit to nothing. You don’t have to resist loudly. You can resist quietly. But resist. Resist your own ideas of things.
Don’t rub your eyes if you ride a city bus. You’re liable to get styes and pink eye.
Try not to take yourself too seriously. Identity is an illusion. It’s like having a ghost climb into your body and plant ideas of ambition and power there. Who needs that? Life is hard enough as it is.
Avoid doing work that doesn’t suit you. Jobs are largely stupid. You will be subjected to the whims of petty tyrants, backstabbing coworkers and the thousand humiliations that attend the drudgery and weights of submission.
Life should have purpose so be on the look-out for anything that might look like a purpose. If you find it, consider yourself lucky. Purpose is a rare commodity. Life is mostly brutish survival. Having a sense of purpose about it is a real luxury.
Always have a few lightbulbs handy. A flashlight is especially useful. As the empire decays, power outages will become more common. That fact that I’m writing this on a computer and not by candlelight on a wobbly table is rather astonishing.
If you are required to work, try to do it somewhere warm and pleasant, like Portugal, or Uruguay. Chew your food well. Keep an eye on the railroad. If you like music, I recommend Bach and Robert Plant. Lucinda Williams. Linda Perry. Joan Armatrading. Brittany Howard. Alison Krauss.
Be puzzled. It’s ok. Don’t break your brain on worthless shit. Focus on the sublime. We’re surrounded on all sides by mysteries. Necessity necessitates necessity. But the growls and murmurs are free. “Everything belongs to me because I am poor,” said Mr. Jack Kerouac.
Stay fit. Keep the pounds off. Keep your narratives simple, and close to the heart.