11/14/2010 to 11/15/2010
A few months back, I purchased a Sony Vaio on whim, the way I purchase most things. I watched an Asian man test the keyboard. He liked it. I’d looked at some stats and trusted the reputation of the machine, and the extra age that is rolled into anything Asian, and bought the damn thing, thinking I might actually get back to writing, to a life of failed writing attempts. (I’m not so much a writer as a person who has spent thirty-three years attempting to write. After a while one should just say fuck it and learn to enjoy writing shit.)
Researching Hunter S. Thompson has put me back onto typing as a physical experience and the importance of the machine one uses to write with. My first real appreciation of this was Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch. I grew up with an Underwood, the first instrument I ever typed on. I would later type on other machines until the computer came, and I was forced to rethink the typing experience.
It’s a fucking requirement of life, typing. I am pleased with the Sony Vaio keyboard, but I still have to wonder what typing on a manual typewriter would be like these days—especially one of the old Underwood variety, none of that damn font-ball bullshit. The good old letterpress type, that sets the character into the physical page with force, is what is called for. In the meantime, I pretend that what I am doing has a physical element to it—conjuring the spirit, luring the muse through the force of ritual and meat and bone activity.
The performance of a work of art can entail sculpting a lifetime, hunting down all the ghosts, sweeping the floor, making a pot of chai tea, and decoding the swastikas in the foreheads of old Klan members. Some days I’m up for it, others I just want to turn off and tune into America Gone Stupid. No, I don’t! I’d sooner kill myself, so I write! I need the Good Doctor in my life at this point to inspire me to get off my ass and get busy stirring up trouble, waking the dead, if I’m not going to do anything else.
Tonight I read about Hunter S. Thompson, and I read Hunter S. Thompson. I view photographs of him and by the impressive photojournalist Thompson, and I write while a law student argues with cases in my dining room floor. Tonight interesting sagas of energies haunt the mind until we start moving chemicals along the axons and synapses to form a difference, a resonance across the waves. Another glass of whiskey and nicotine injected by way of a terribly evil uptake mechanism, the American cigarette, good at delivering disease and addiction but not tobacco.
I’m researching Hunter S. Thompson to prepare for a course I will be teaching next semester at the University of Alabama, “Gonzo: The Life and Writing of Hunter S. Thompson.” I’m planning on teaching it at one of the sports bars in town where we will be holding séances to invoke Hunter’s spirit in sessions called “Reading to Hunter.” What sort of experiences might we have when we submerge ourselves deeply into Hunter’s world and mind? What will we discover about ourselves and our culture?
Hunter S. Thompson is of my father’s generation. My father is a Church of Christ minister (go until you find a Southern Baptist and take a hard right). Hunter and Dad were both born in the South. I think that the man in the cover photo on Kingdom of Fear is a man my father would recognize immediately and who he would be afraid of because he knows that that man is his own wicked brother, raw spirit unleashed upon the world with a well-armed “fuck you,” the abused and abandoned children of the depression and the second world war.