It Happened in Iowa: Part VI

Opening Commentary

I believe the following piece was started, like many from this period, on a yellow legal pad while a professor lectured in front of me. Later I returned to my campus housing and typed up the page long essay instead of typing up a page long essay. I give you, Degenerate.


I wonder if my self-destructive tendencies are truly a following of my heart’s desires, or rather a path I have stumbled onto with hope that my self destruction, and pain, will yield the work of a literary genius. It is no secret that to be a master of language and emotion is the utmost desire of my heart. I must ask myself which of these is truly driving me for either way it is absolutely a following of my ultimate desire. Yet, is my heart’s desire justification for self-destructive behavior? Is self-destruction truly self-destruction if it is in pursuit of a deeper desire? I do not know. This may be mere romanticization of sin, or, worse still,  apologetics of degenerate behavior. I realize that many of my actions are unhealthy and do not advance my journalistic and academic goals. The behaviors in question only promote my literary goal by impressing upon me great mental freedom, and a surplus of anecdotal stories revolving around self-inflicted misfortune. On one hand, I realize I do not fit into the traditional definition of degenerate even though I seem to worship the counterculture. Why is this? It seems to me that I have created my own glorified version of the modern degenerate. In my mind’s eye the modern degenerate is an anti-hero who pursues lustful desires despite societies unyielding disdain for him. It is his determination to do as he pleases that I find admirable. The true reason society detests him is because he has not willingly bound himself in the way the common man has. I picture him in a rough leather jacket that was long ago pristine, but has been worn down due to repeat use and a life of adventure. His hair is a mess, not because he is following a trend, but because his lifestyle has shifted it from its once combed posture. I picture him with a cigarette hanging from cracked lips. A display of rebellion? Yes. However, he only smokes for his own enjoyment. He does not intend for the blue-gray smoke, exhaled through flared nostrils, to say anything to anyone. Any who dare talk to him will be astonished by his hero’s journey. He will be the most honest man you ever met. He will not hide anything from you. His story will tell you of the good he’s done and of the bad he has done. Perhaps, the bad may outweigh the good, but how does this differ from the common man? I say the only difference is that he will tell it to you unabashedly and free of excuse. His philosophy is peaceful. He advocates all as long as it harms none. When harm is done he advocates swift and just retaliation. When he wishes to leave he will do so. This is the man I admire and wish to be. Not necessarily a good man, but an honest one. A free one. Now do you comprehend my desire to join the ranks of those who society despises? I am far from being that man for as previously stated: it is quite likely that I am entering into self destructive behavior simply for the sake of having something good to write about. To expand upon this notion, I should explain that at some deep level I believe not in my idealized degenerate, but in societies established definition of the degenerate. Thus I am seeking out self-destruction not because I am freely doing as I please, but because I’m hoping that at one point I’ll turn around and society will be glaring at me. Society will have condemned and rejected me because degenerates are not to be tolerated. At that point I will know that I am a degenerate and assume myself to have reached my idealized variant of the term without making any real effort to develop myself into that idealized character. The very fact that I have arrived at said point, due to allowing myself to fall in line with societies definition means that I am not free, and that I am not honest with myself. This brings me back to the initial question: is my self-destruction truly a following of my heart’s desire?

Truth.

Be it elusive?


Closing Commentary

Oh, the adventures I have had. How numerous and unanticipated they have been. I regret none of them for even the misadventures have resulted in the man I am. The man I am today still seeks to change self, but no longer from a position of self-loathing. Rather, it comes from love. I wish for myself to have a fulfilled, rather than succulent, life, ergo I encourage self to develop for the better. It may seem like this has little relation to the above. Yet, it has everything to do with the above.

I suppose desire is less shrouded than it once was.