August 21, 2014
“To you that have grown rich from the sweat of my brow while keeping myself and my family in misery, I ask only that from those profits you find the funds to pay for my funeral. I salute you while I break my pen.” - Emilio Salgari.
After writing that note to his publisher, he committed seppuku, which is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. It’s a fascinating end of a writer who dedicated his life to writing “exotic” adventure stories. All of his books were written in Italian, and were then the basis for such genre as the “Italian Western,” which I guess means it’s all fake. He had commented throughout his life that he traveled widely, but the fact is Salgari rarely steps outside of his native country of Italy. What he should be noted for is using his imagination, and how that broke through various walls and boundaries, either set by borders or the wall that we all adhere to. It wasn’t a mere chance or a fluke in time that Che Guevara read 62 of his books, with such titles as “The Mystery of The Black Jungle” and “The Son of the Red Corsair” among others.
Salgari, for whatever reasons, lived from hand to mouth for most of his life. His father committed suicide. His wife was committed to a mental ward, and he had to support four young children as well as paying for his wife’s medical bills. His imagination didn’t save him, and sadly it didn’t pay well. Sometimes one is born under a black cloud, and there is nothing we can do to break that cloud’s grasp of everything underneath it.
Some years ago I read a really dark novel called “The Bad Seed,” (published in the year of my birth) which is about a little girl, who is truly evil, and it deals with a mother who realizes that her little cute daughter is a murderer. The only way she can address this situation is by giving the daughter a whole bottle of sleeping pills, while mother kills herself with a gun. Of course, the daughter survives, and it is implied that she will eventually kill more people. A bad seed, due that the mother’s real mom was a serial killer. So she had no doubt that somehow there is a “bad seed” and she transformed it to her daughter. I think one can gather that there is no justice in the world, because if you look at the emotional landscape objectively, one notice that shit happens all the time.
The “black cloud” that follows me around, is something that I just accept. I can put up with it, because instead of focusing on that one tree, I look at the forest for encouragement. If there is one school of thought that I belong to with all my heart and mind it is Aestheticism. I’m a firm believer in an art movement that emphasizes aesthetic values more than social-political themes for fine art, music and especially literature. Hell, even ‘real life’ has no source of inspiration or passion for me. I prefer the illusionary powers of art, by such artists as Aubrey Beardsley. He said: "I have one aim—the grotesque. If I am not grotesque, I am nothing." I find that inspirational, because how one reflects their will or vision on the world, is a great deal the role of the artist.
As a writer, I pretty much distance myself from the horrors of the world, or I use my imagination. More likely I take real life and make a détournement (hijack) and therefore I use it for my own needs and desire. Like Salgari who traveled the world within his own boundaries, such as his imagination, I have a tendency to avoid the evil that is born under that black cloud. What I do is squeeze the darkness out of the cloud till it becomes a white puff of liquid droplets. I do this because I can, and I desire to do so.