Again, I wither in my bed and think about the end. I think about the finite amount of time before me and oscillate between hope and fear. I think (and this is the scariest thought) of myself having everything I could have ever wanted but still wanting to end it all. I think a lot, as I’ve written before, about how beautiful of a person I could be if I weren’t so preoccupied with the thoughts. The dying thoughts, I mean. It’s narcissistic, vapid.
I stare at myself out of disgust. I observe so many things out of sheer disgust. I take pleasure in consuming things I hate, detaching myself from what I know I will enjoy, make me feel pleasant. Hating myself is myself, and the hatred at the root of all my perceptions is my only way of understanding the world. I forgive (and maybe it is not truly forgiveness if so) because I think of myself as a lesser thing; I think of the cruel, horrible things done to me and forgive because I deserve the cruel thing — but not to the point where I don’t cry out, perhaps in the form of the fight I wish I had for myself, for others. Lately I’ve been reverting back to the level of observation, witnessing, presence I had in the Philippines in the 2019 elections: people tell me I am cruel in the way I love, in the way I can’t type about feelings or express sadness and go straight into the acting. My detachment is love for the action, love for expression, love has always been about gesturing, feeling.
Here’s another thing that disgusts me: maybe the only time I am loved is when it is convenient. When there is a return, an offering. No, maybe not. But I’ve been dwelling on the question of debt and expectation: I think we owe everything to each other. Not to the transactional point of keeping precise money tools, not to the questioning of “am I doing enough for you?” in a relationship. I want so much of time, the hardest convenience to provide. I love it when people leave me. I love it when I remember that I never deserved any time. I have spent so much time with myself. That’s why I want to kill it.
The day before my birthday I tried to do the killing again. There is ritual to it now. Unpredictability is part of it — nothing being left of me is another.
The only sense of agency I feel left in this world is that, loose and stupid and foolish. I called myself a teenager, accidentally, because I’m obsessed with the revelation I had about all my fears a decade ago still largely remaining true — and how they likely will remain true for the rest of my life. I have tried almost every solution and been in every state of mind and the more I try, the more dreary I become. I’m certain that this is one of the many unsolvable things that may very well remain unsolved because there is not enough interest in it.
Other things I’m interested in: how much of the great world is at my fingertips that I’ve yet to consume, the value of repetition especially when I consistently forego exploration, the unexplored interplay between the digital and physical (that I talked about a bit when explaining the motives behind Bad Internet — which I didn’t do much with, because most people at Yale just want to review Mitski or whatever), what it means to hold things in my hands and preserve it then but also kind of feel nothing. I watched the Worst Person in the World and the most interesting character, cartoonist and ex of the boring European girl the film follows who dies of cancer, laments on artifacts and the material.
Aksel : Sometimes I listen to music I haven’t heard before. But… It’s old as well. Music I didn’t know about, but from when I grew up. It felt as though I’d already given up. I grew up in an age without Internet and mobile phones. I sound like an old fart. But I think about it a lot. The world that I knew… has disappeared. For me it was all about going to stores. Record stores. I’d take the tram to Voices in Grünerløkka. Leaf through used comics at Pretty Price. I can close my eyes and see the aisles at Video Nova in Majorstua. I grew up in a time when culture was passed along through objects. They were interesting because… we could live among them. We could pick them up. Hold them in our hands. Compare them.
Julie : A bit like books?
Aksel : Yeah, a bit like books. That’s all I have. I spent my life doing that. Collecting all that stuff, comics, books… And I just continued, even when it stopped giving me the powerful emotions I felt in my early 20s. I continued anyway. And now it’s all I have left. Knowledge and memories of stupid, futile things nobody cares about.
Julie : Don’t say that. You’ve got the comics you created. I wish I’d had what you had. To be able to draw without doubting that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. I really wish I had that.
Aksel : Yeah, but I’ve got cancer. I’m dying. Of course I’m being retrospective.
Julie : You said you’ve done that for ages.
Aksel : Not for that long. In recent years. I reached a point in life when suddenly… It just happened. When… when… I began to worship what had been. And now I have nothing else. I have no future. I can only look back. And… It’s not even nostalgia. It’s… Fear of death. It’s because I’m scared. It has nothing to do with art. I’m just trying to process.
I’m preoccupied with the dying, yes, but also I feel my interest in the physical is in trying to give some form of shape to this meaningless, shit life I’ve lived. While Aksel is also a producer and shaper of culture, I feel settled enough in my relationship to creation and consumption — which I think the script discounts. It’s one thing to collect, curate, to shape a past and a material library — but creation lets you hold the future in your hands and lets one reign over time and transport things. To create is to occupy space, and to displace the material object in the past (as some record, documentation) or future (to make a living object, artifact), to interrogate your relationship with the present (what you take or capture, how embedded you feel your process is to time).
The only thing remotely interesting about myself is that I’m present in this digital form; there is a fascination, I think, more in the assemblage of myself than in anything I make or produce individually. I am the product, the artwork, the object of fascination. I think this is where I fail in the interest of living or mattering, but also where I succeed in the interest of agency. But – certainly, there’s value in how one has thought, even if their only output is this sense of desperation to preserve themselves because no one else will take on the role. This is why I love myself enough to kill it. This is why I live at the borders of what I suppose is isolation but signaling, a desperate form of it.
I’ve never felt connected to anything, or feel the witnessing at play. So much of life is about interconnectedness. I think you can be an object if you feel connected. I can sense the sacredness of everything but I can’t pray any longer.
The other important part about the movie I guess is how production should come secondary to actually living. “I don’t want to live on through my art; I want to live on in my flat. I want to live in my flat… with you,” Aksel goes on. The inner desire is domestic and mundane.
When I was thining about the end I thought about what I liked about the present, how easy I could change it (just as easy as I could end this) – or, that’s reductive – how easy I could attempt to change it and then cry further in process of nothing solving this whether it goes as intended or not. I thought about all the times I was discarded. Sometime in the past year I had to write post-it notes to remind myself that I was loved, even for just a brief moment. I turned towards love as attention, then forgetting. I remembered that mostly, I am loved out of convenience and novelty, as most things are loved. I remembered this great big earth and all the things that I have yet to find out that I love and how I was okay with not finding that out, and how small I felt and how stupid and empty my problems were but simultaneously — how it doesn’t take that much to keep me going. Then I felt stupid and useless because of how little it takes for me to want to go on, and how repeatedly, for the past 22 years, it has been so hard to reach that default state. I remembered that there is no interest in seeing me last; or, how real could the interest in that be if it takes so much convincing to witness me?
Hopefully the desperation and the dwelling is of interest. All this effort to preserve myself and then throw it away, just as I do with everything else I create. A contradictory practice of erasure and saving. Everyone I love told me that they would never go and try to find me, in actions or in words. How could tihs be – when I’ve spent all my life finding, seeking, holding onto everything that has ever mattered? Why is it always me doing the holding? And if I just…
Listen, listen. This is my present theory. Getting this far has been hard enough (so, so, so fuckingggg hard), and I got rid of the God but I still believe in the principle of sacrifice. I love the world and it is hard to love it. (For the people back home – in the context of the elections, this is the same thing. Maybe I express less because I finally understand why it’s hard to love and accept it for what it is, then love anyway?) But all I’ve been made to do with this life is make myself easier to love, or be told that I am not worth finding. Holy fuck. I love everything and it is hard to love everything. The same grace might never be extended to me.
And then the day before I counted 22 years of how difficult and worthless I was, I understood that I to my knowledge, was not…
I graduate this weekend. I was not supposed to make it this far. Yet, many things outlive their purpose. Many walking things have long been dead.