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‘The Bar’ by Maurice de Vlaminck

Painting was an abscess which drained off all the evil in me.
Without a gift for painting I would have gone to the bad.
What I could have achieved in a social context only by
throwing a bomb, which would have led me to the guillotine,
I have tried to express in art, in painting, by using colors
straight from the tube. Thus I have been able to use my
destructive instincts in order to recreate a sensitive, living
and free world. Maurice de Vlaminck

Great thinkers often complain about the status quo. After all,
what else is there for great thinkers to do? There would be
no cause for that symbolic action called thinking if the

human world were perfect. The Almighty Deity, the First
Cause, the Absolute One certainly has no cause for

Would not Perfect Bliss on this planet constitute death? Must
not Pain slightly outrun Pleasure just to keep us going? I
think the self-conscious human mind provided for the
intelligent organization of our lives is a sort of Trojan horse
or Pandora's chest, don't you? All sorts of ills are released for
our evolutionary good, and we are, regrettably, held
responsible for them. Not only are we conscious of pain and
pleasure, we are conscious of the individual self and its
inevitable extinction on this plane of existence. The self-
conscious mind is, in a sense, the reflection of a disease at
the radical root of our civilized discontent - we have Reason,
to be ashamed of our natural selves. Therefore Psyche,
goddess of the arts, presides over mental illness.

Man has long wondered at the enthusiasm or god-possession
of talented thinkers and artists. We rightfully fear their
intuitions and effusions, for art is fundamentally
revolutionary. One might say that art is an effort to tame the
wildness evoking it, to master the overflowing power - to
dance - to sing - to ponder - to fly. And sometimes art flies
too far beyond its basis in the community. Not only do
overtly active men and women overdo themselves, but men
and women of symbolic action often think too much for their
own damn good - they might ascend to exhilarating but
painfully alienated heights, then pine away in mental
hospitals, or join criminals and saints on scaffolds or in
dungeons, or perhaps starve in garrets and gutters.

Moreover, from the lucid perspective at the metaphysical
summit above the dirty details, some great authors,
authorities in their own right, blinded by the highest
authority, have lept to doom instead of faith. I think we
understandably hide our faces from the Sun lest we realize
too soon the scorching brunt of the absolute truth about

Pardon me for my elitist approach to the empyrean heights -
as if only great artists and brilliant authors truly suffer the
awful truth of the human predicament! Of course they are
not the only sufferers. They simply sum it up and throw it
back at everyone who cares to listen. At the crux of human
existence, no one is any better or any worse than another,
for each one of us is exalted and debased at the same time.

We are naturally uneasy although unaware of the source of
our discontent in the bipolar crisis along the time-space
continuum. We might be, individually or en masse, on the
verge of a violent outburst or nervous breakdown. 'Malease'
or "bad ease" was once the English term for the vague,
uneasy feeling one has before the obvious symptoms of
physical disease appear. Surely there must be malease
before mental disease has its destructive, obvious
indications such as suicide, serial murder and war. Do we not
have a vague feeling of impending doom, a sense of being
set beside ourselves, on the one side as worms and on the
other side as gods?

Another term, the French version of malease, comes to
mind: 'malaise', a word once associated with romantic artists
dissatisfied with their leisure, and with writers suffering
writers' block. Now that love of money is the rule, 'malaise' is
a term often applied to stagnant economies just before
economic depression or mania. Yes, 'malaise' could be used
to vaguely indicate the underlying, unconscious mental
disease plaguing modern society. Well, sort of; as a
frustrated nosologist, I want a more precise term for the
modern sickness as I define it - mind you, as a layman I am
entitled to some latitude. If we have the right name for our
malaise, maybe we can find the right therapy before people
start running amuk en masse again.

Let's just call the ailment paranoia. Since professionals have
abandoned the term as too vague and ambiguous for clinical

practice, we owe them our thanks for the broad license to
practice with it. But what do I mean by paranoia?

Our paranoia is a delusion, on the one hand, of persecution,
not only by malicious conspirators competing to put us
down, but by things in general. After all, modern science
teaches us that we are effects of Causes which are out to get
us. We would be our own causes but something always goes
wrong no matter how much went rightly. The most glaring
example: death. Moreover, while living we moderns want to
be self-made: each man would be the captain of his ship, the
king of his castle, the anarchic monarch of his royal realm,
the dictator of his democracy of one. But we are imposters
and we know it: alas, the world is out to get us: the world
always wins in the end - well, we find some little comfort in
saying the world passes when we are the ones passing while
it sticks around. After all is said in done, we are merely
"subjects" in the sense that we are "thrown under" the feet
of royalty or reality to eventually be trampled into the dust.
Unfortunately, theology does not avoid or cancel our
paranoia: it merely calls the king God instead of, for
instance, nature with a small "n." Yes, indeed, we are being
persecuted by God and nature. No, we are not at the center
of anything except our persecution. The universe is out to
get us.

Nevertheless, we have our delusions of grandeur. Even in
our insignificance we are grand, for why would people or the
universe be out to get us unless we are important? I for one
am astonished by the grandeur of my own insignificance,
aren't you? How is this possible, if I am not grand, that I
could be so eloquently humiliated? I shall then compete to
be the most humble man, to win the grand prize for humility
and be proud of it. Besides that, and given the unleashed
power of human imagination, we are are actually gods and
kings and free subjects of at least our diminished domains.
Yes, I know: the world, even our wives, husbands, best
friends, belie our royalty; but to heck with that, for inside
somewhere there is a free space where our rule is absolute,

where Nothing rules All by virtuous negation; therefore, fear
not Nothing: if the real self is Nothing, then let us praise

All right, let us call our predicament between persecution
and grandeur "paranoia." Now then, what is a paranoid
person to do, besides getting professional help when he
realizes his grandeur is confronted by persecution? Well, he
might become a full-fledged paranoid schizophrenic, grab an
assault rifle and have at it. Since he is really killing parts of
his grand persecuted Self, he might as well make sure he is
the last one to be murdered, and finish himself off in the
end. Is he really insane? Of course he is. Sometimes I think
anyone who is sane would immediately kill himself - why
bother to waste time avenging himself on others, for he
really is the others themselves; that is, he is the world unto
himself. And why not have mass suicide to prevent mass
murders - world wars?

Mass suicide seems inappropriate. Is there not some viable
alternative to such outbreaks and breakdowns? I mean
besides the occupations that have lead people to their
derangement? Besides watercoloring and handicrafts, how
about a course in creative writing to bring the mind to order?
Has anyone noticed that quite a few so-called paranoid
schizophrenics who go on killing sprees have much in
common with frustrated writers? They want publicity; they
want fame; they want to make a statement, or have written
a manifesto and want it published. Unfortunately, they often
want to kill others to save them from the horrible truth they
have finally discovered. Murdering others is a form of
suicide, and these deranged people take their suicide
seriously. They have submitted to the so-called death
instinct. They love death because they want to start all over
again. It occurs to me that religion has the same ascetic
theme in mind, but the suicide is virtual instead of real,
thank God - if you have one. At the very core of predominant
religions, we find the practice of virtual suicide, the giving up
of the world and its things that are persecuting us with

temptations and big disappointments. Not to be out done,
most philosophy is a death or virtual suicide cult. Ironically,
we live longer as a consequence of the civilizing restraints.

With that in mind, I believe it might behoove society to
convert the potentially insane, especially those who are not
ready to commit suicide or murder yet, into famous writers,
assuring them of at least bare subsistence - the discipline of
poverty alone might be therapeutic providing subsistence is
guaranteed. If they were only recognized and confirmed as
Somebody, perhaps they would be at peace with themselves
and would be of no further danger to themselves or society -
they would become more productive members of society -
and many gifted writers might arise from their ranks. What
they need is publicity and recognition, and given our
advances in technology, why cannot they have it? Open
publishing on the Internet might be the ticket to a more sane
society. After all, almost everyone has had some aspiration
to be a famous author. Surely there is enough room for all on
the Internet.

"You are published on the World Wide Web!" But alas, that
wears off, for given the abundance of supply, literally hordes
of uneasy people who need to be Somebody, very few
writers become recognized or famous. Despite the advent of
open publishing sites on the Internet, we are left with the
modern disease, paranoia. The serious cases need
immediate attention or all hell will soon break loose.

Eureka! Opportunity knocks! What is called for is the right
niche for maximum exposure of paranoia, a special
magazine for serious cases of frustrated fame in dire need of
immediate therapeutic publication and recognition.
Heretofore the Media, owned and operated by They, has
prohibited the publication of anything not in accord with its
maddening agenda, but now those who are most frustrated
with the persecution of their grand selves can have an
appropriate outlet where they might be relieved of their
death wishes and become famous at the same time!

As I envision it, the new Ezine and its free street edition
would fill the awful void that causes so many people to kill
other people and themselves, by giving them a single
question to focus on and answer, "To be or not to be."
Camus said it rightly: in this absurd, apparently meaningless
modern world, that must be the first question to be
considered and answered one way or another; it must take
precedence over all the other categories. In fact, our modern
disease is aggravated by the proliferation of categories
everywhere: for instance, the divisions of labor and the
production of a bewildering chaos of garbage, trash and
junk. A simplified life is called for pursuant to the
reintegration of the disintegrated Humpty-Dumpty
personality around the ultimate question.

I have a title for the magazine in mind: Suicide Someday - for
those who are not ready yet. I am very excited by the
prospects. I am confident Suicide Someday will not only
provide the few moments of fame demanded by paranoid
people, but will be an enormous commercial success as well.
Therefore I must leave off here and proceed to draft a
business plan.