Torture the Artist by Joey Goebel | Poets & Writers
Torture the Artist by Joey Goebel
The following is an excerpt from Torture the Artist by Joey Goebel, published by MacAdam/Cage on October 27, 2004.
I am so sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you will never be happy.
I don’t mean to hurt you by saying that. I say it because I think it is only fair that I be honest with you before we begin. I hope you appreciate this because no one will be fair or honest with you from here on out. So again, I’m tellling you right now: You will never be
happy. I’ve put it in writing for you, and you’re very welcome.
I want you to go outside on the sunniest, sweatiest day of the year and quietly say it aloud. “I will never be happy.” Even in the heat, you should be able to see your own cold, smoky breath acknowledge the statement. The only way to avoid seeing your breath is to say it proudly like a wise man. “I will never be happy!” Try it sometime.
When I think of you, I think of a cartoon cloud hovering over your head, a private torrential downpour. I see you soaking wet, your entire being drooping, and you’re always sick because you can’t stay dry. Depressed by the bad weather, you cry yourself a little river, but the tears evaporate and form into another cloud that rains on you even more. You can’t win.
It will be sad. You will never get the girl. You will not save the world. You will never find true love. You will not find a trustworthy friend. You will never be satisfied. You will never have enough. The grass could always be greener. The grass will always need mowing. Your days will be long and contain no fun. Your nights will be lonely and not much else. You will always be waiting for better days that will never arrive. And you will most definitely never have peace of mind.
There will be days when you will collapse to your knees and screamingly plead your case to whatever might be listening. But The Thing Called God can’t help you, and It won’t. I think of heaven as being a radiant crystalline metropolis, and in the tallest sparkling skyscraper, The Mayor stays busy making deals behind a door with no knob. He’s forever inaccessible, not taking calls at this time. And then I envision all the perfect blond angels, devoid of genitalia and feet, congregating and pointing and laughing at all of us down here, saying “Those poor little things!” in between giggles. They will get a kick out of you.
We are more likely to answer or not answer your prayers than they. We will control your destiny and watch over you. Not gods or angels. Not the dead. Us. Men and women. Adults with tangled webs and hidden agendas. Former children.
We will allow you your needs but deny you your wants. We will see to it that any requirements for long-term happiness are kept just out of reach. If by some mistake you experience a sensation that resembles happiness, then by all means, embrace it for all it is worth. Make the most of it because we will not let it last.
Again, I’m sorry. It’s true what they say. Life’s not fair, especially for you. The only condition I can offer is that the things you will be making amid all the loneliness and suffering will by far outlast your despair and our cruelty. Our torture is temporary, your work is forever. With this in mind, we all win in the long run.
So on behalf of everyone that you will ever meet, I apologize in advance for every heartache we will cause. You’re in for a rough time, kid. Consider yourself warned.
—A letter I wrote to Vincent when he was seven
My next book.