"Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?"
—Emil Cioran, On the Heights of Despair
“Philosophy at times is the only thing viable, in a world hellbent on chaos and disintegration.”
“Art is long, and life so short.”
It’s no secret, my unabashed, some might say pathological disdain and contempt for the so-called “writer” by the ridiculously silly name of Nicholas Sparks. And yes, he can take any abuse I dish out. After all, he has like 40 million in the bank, thanks to a steady, vomitous outpouring of dubious bestsellers-made-into-movies, which seems to be incontrovertible proof that a human being can indeed sell their soul to Satan. Which makes me question Satan himself.
I always thought that Satan, as far as embodiments of Evil go, was pretty cool. After all, as Lucifer, he was the ultimate rebel, the anti ass-kisser. He defied the most powerful being in the known Universe and lived to tell the
tale. And while he was banished from Heaven, he did end up with his own place, rent free. And I always pictured it, Hell, that is, not as the epicenter of torment, but rather like the demimonde of Paris in the 1920s—this big, smoke-filled nightclub where all the misfits, radicals, freaks, and weirdos ended up. Not to mention all the artists, musicians, poets, and philosophers who did that most transgressive thing of all, thinking for themselves! So the thought of hanging out in Hell was not exactly unappealing. Great music, conversation, cocktails. In contrast, Heaven seemed to be a place where nothing ever happens, like the Talking Heads song says. Everything, all white and featureless, with angels flapping above an endless
all-you-can-eat Denny’s buffet with Lawrence Welk’s Champagne Orchestra headlining for eternity (with a 9pm curfew). No thanks. So I was less than disheartened when I tried to sell my own soul to Satan not once, not twice, but three separate times! Hey, this life ain’t easy (and alcohol, sex, and drugs go only so far). So being a good Catholic boy, I sent Satan some emails. “Let’s meet for coffee,” I said. And on three long nights of the soul I mentally typed my messages and pressed send. But he never wrote back. The bastard. What did Faust have that I don’t? All I wanted was a little Earthly recognition, a few bucks, a movie deal. As wishes go, this seemed doable, even the movie deal part. But, nothing. Nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name... Conclusion: It’s just us, my friends, alone in this heartless wasteland, grasping at straws and that shred of meaning in the darkness. Bleak, yes. But I’m a writer! Bleak is our middle name! Dickens wrote an 800-page novel called Bleak House!
On the bright side, when you give up that notion of a savior, a deus ex machina, that check from Ed McMahon, then there's a nobility to your suffering. And in it’s own way, this existential void of doom and despair amidst the vast expanse of space and eternity is empowering. “Yeah, I can do it!” you say to yourself and the indifferent Universe. “Fuck it!”
The only problem is Nicholas Sparks. There is no discernible reason why someone of so little… I can’t use the word “talent” here because talent and Nicholas Sparks should never cohabit the same sentence. (Shit! I just put him and it in the same sentence!) He makes the trite and the inane look appealing. He makes the insipid and uninspired seem full of promise. His “work”, if one can call it that, is at such a low level that one must regard it not in terms of Literature, but in that of Geology. Think the geological stratifications of Earth. Layer upon layer, lower and lower, to the dim, penumbral, sulphuric depths. And there he is, this miasmic stratum that exists near rock bottom, the result of the detritus of a mediocre mind, settling here as cultural sewage.
Now this is all well and good, except that this literary bottom-dweller conversely lives in the clouds, exalted by agents, publishers, and Hollywood alike. And I will go even further, that regardless of his abysmal lack of ability—not to mention that his physical appearance resembles that of a country bumpkin out of Mayberry or Hooterville (see above pic)—having the aforementioned 40 mill in the bank ensures that he gets laid on a regular basis by hot babes. Although they are, of course, shameless gold-diggers. Who, after all, could suffer his overweening banality without the promise of a big payday? And yes, this is beyond reprehensible,
but nevertheless, they’re hot babes! I don’t recall even mentioning the words “hot babes” in my overtures to Satan as my pleas went unheard. Why, Satan? Why? So what it comes down to, is that I hate that Nicholas Sparks’s soul was accepted while mine was not. And as I live out the remainder of this meaningless masquerade, I will not miss a chance to point out to anyone within earshot what a consummate sham, mountebank, charlatan he is—his every word like so much splattered diarrhea in a toilet. If ever we shall meet, I will give him a good drubbing in the name of Literature! But until then, I offer this fictional beat-down, as Ernest Hemingway kicks his insipid little ass while I prepare Old Ernie and me this new drink…
HEMINGWAY BEATS UP NICHOLAS SPARKS
WITH ONE HAND TIED BEHIND HIS BACK
1½ parts Absolut Pears Vodka
¾ part Plymouth Gin*
½ part St. Germain
¼ part Key West Lime Juice (Nellie & Joe’s Famous)
Shake over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with three
fresh blackberries on a pick.
*For Ernest, I use Gordon’s, of course.
Fighting the demons within.
A relaxing fishing trip with his grandson, a glass of gin, and a Tommy gun.
And check out this related BLOG post:
The Tree Falls: An Intrinsically Good Cocktail & a Damn Good Art Essay