The gist of my sentiments here today is this: on the 27th of this month, I will be fifty years old. I don’t understand it any better than you do. I feel no older than 38. I don’t look at my face, hands, or body and see those of a fifty-year-old man. I can walk a mile in ninety-degree weather without issues. I don’t talk about it much because my age is a recurring reminder that my ability to empathize with other humans will only continue to dissipate.
I have spent the last twelve years of my life trying to rebuild my cartoon studio. I have no illusions that by the time I am finally able to do so, the world will have more or less ended. I have to lie to myself to keep going at all. Every dime I earn goes to rent, food, or bills. Unless I somehow get lucky, I’ll never own a house, or even a car again. This is my punishment for being uncompromising, and true to myself. The best I can hope for is someone discovering my comics 50 years after I’m dead, and telling their friends “How is it that I never heard of this guy?!”
None of my chosen idols are happy. Most of them are dead. Recently, a man who went out of his way to help me with my mental issues passed away. This was Justin Green, one of the finest cartoonists who ever lived, and creator of the first autobiographical underground comic book in 1972.
The year of my birth. The world’s line of demarcation between “happy” and “unhappy”.
War has raged continuously for almost my entire lifespan. I have no earthly idea of what life is like without war, and I never will. I’m sure it was amazing. I’d probably miss it if I knew anything about it.
I miss sitting around getting high with friends and playing Xbox. It was probably the most fun I ever had around other people, even, on occasion, people I didn’t like. I miss playing Halo over a LAN, or Grand Theft Auto V by myself. I miss the gratifying sense of satisfaction that came from beating a real video game. I miss the feeling of gaining achievements, and the sound they made when I did. There were times that it was the only encouragement I received, and I cherished it.
I miss going out and partying with friends and strangers, when it was infrequent and special. I miss making people laugh in person just by being myself. I miss the challenge of making smart women laugh, and chipping away at their often cold exterior.
I miss the exciting way that a girl would lock eyes with me, before mashing her lips upon mine. I know it’s happened, but the only place I see it now is in old movies. And by old, I mean just from the 1970’s or 1980’s. Because that means “old” now, the same way that my life does. I still think of old movies as black and white.
I miss embracing a woman just tightly enough not to crush her. I miss spooning behind a woman in a real bed, in a real home. I miss simple, basic love and affection. I see pictures of these things sometimes, but deep down I’ve come to accept that they no longer exist in reality as anything other than fond, fading memories. Rorschach said it best in Watchmen: “American love is like Coke in green glass bottles. They don’t make it anymore.”
That was before both Rorschach and Watchmen were both ruined, for good. The way of all things in the 2020’s.
I miss working towards anything other than paying rent for another month in a place I hate. I miss my father’s support and belief in my inevitable success. I miss the light at the end of the tunnel. Now there is only more tunnel, and it leads nowhere. Not even darkness.
I miss going to Toys R Us with my late friend Phil, to look at new Transformers. Never a thought that we should be doing anything other than enjoying ourselves. I miss proudly displaying our expansive collections and fiddling with dozens of toy robots. Both Phil and Toys R Us are gone now. My beloved old toys are almost all auctioned off. I’m never around anyone who gives a shit about toys of any sort. I never make any toys myself, like I used to. Unless there’s a paying customer, there’s no point. It’s just time wasted.
And here I am looking down the barrel of 50 years.
My wishes for solitude over the course of my lifetime have been granted by the proverbial monkey’s paw. Now there is nothing but. No interaction, no gratification, no encouragement or support. Less than ten years ago I was surrounded by thriving artists and imaginative people. Now I’m surrounded by people who don’t speak English and eye my presence with suspicion and annoyance. I go months or even years without any kind of creative interaction with any living thing. And unless I manage to win the lottery, I’ll never live anyplace better. I can’t even afford to go mobile with a studio in an RV. I can’t afford anything.
Oh wait- I can apply for an artistic grant, right? Of course not. I’m white, male, and straight. Get fucking real.
I miss the days before 2010, when audiences didn’t use a creator’s work to invent accusations and disparage them for their own superficial benefit. 2010 was when the mainstream media went full force calling anyone and everything “racist”. Suddenly everything creative had to be reevaluated under impossible standards, and everyone making money in a creative industry had to be forcibly muzzled, or fired for not conforming. I miss the days before “Karens” turned everything into shit. I miss the days when women had personalities other than “censorious killjoy”.
I miss the days when I could be completely truthful in my work, and not capitulate to my own mental image of current-day readers. I miss the days when I would have just used “cunt” instead of “killjoy” in the previous paragraph.
I miss the better quality of the women who raised me, and whom I grew up around. I miss their spirit and easy felicity. I miss women who believed that they were half of a whole, which I could possibly complete; I miss the completeness of being part of a functioning couple. I miss being a great man with an even greater woman standing behind me.
As far as I can tell all that I miss has been bred out of women by now. Women have bought the lie that they don’t need anyone, so they’re left to wonder in old age why they feel like they’re missing something.
They feel like that because they are missing something. Maybe in another hundred years they’ll figure it out, if there’s a world at that point. I don’t think there will be in twenty. Ten, if things continue the way they are now.
Think for just a moment about all the things you enjoyed just two decades ago that are disparaged and/or “offensive” now. Now imagine a time where that encompasses every single aspect of your being. Your personality. Your life experiences.
That’s where I’m at now.
Every pure creative impulse is second-guessed and tainted. Every new idea is slaughtered. Every legacy is sullied. The liabilities brought on by free expression are now infinite. Choice is an endangered species. Walk from one end of the earth to the other, and you’ll never meet a single human being whom you can actually trust. Every person on this planet has a price tag bearing the amount required to betray, destroy or forget you. This is life where the majority couldn’t care less about a higher power, or an afterlife. This is the world without God.
If you don’t fear recrimination from anything more powerful than yourself, or karmic retribution, or eternity in Hell, then you have no reason to do anything but abuse others. This is what atheists can never understand. They think they’ll look stupid going to church or believing in a God, when in reality, they’re advertising their complete lack of spirituality. Spirituality is personal and has nothing to do with what any human wrote in any book. It’s outside of humanity. Oh, you think the Bible’s lame? Whoop-tee-doo. I think Atlas Shrugged is lame, you don’t see me devoting every outward breath to the disparagement of Ayn Rand, or her ardent and misled followers. Dianetics is lame, and so are Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard. Doesn’t change the fact that millions of people still look to them for guidance.
I don’t believe it’s possible that the life we lead and enjoy isn’t the product of a consciousness beyond our understanding. I believe it is the height of arrogance to presume that we’ve learned everything in the past hundred years. A species on one planet, in one solar system out of billions, in one galaxy out of trillions. You can’t truly, honestly believe that we’re it. It’s fucking stupid to think that. You’d be like a newborn baby who thinks they know the origin of the universe. No matter what you believe, you don’t.
None of us does. None of us ever will. And we’re all of us lucky if we make it even to the age of 80, like the great Neal Adams did. A brilliant comic book artist, who also happened to believe the Earth is hollow. Which, as weird beliefs about Earth go, is actually pretty benign.
Why? Because neither you nor I will ever know what’s actually inside our own planet. There will only be theories.
What’s inside our sun? No one will ever know. Because we die without the sun, I believe that the sun and God are one in the same. No one will ever be able to conclusively prove to me that the sun isn’t the physical form of God. If anyone thinks I’m stupid for believing that, it doesn’t matter because they cannot possibly disprove it. I’m not even talking about worshiping the sun; I mean that sunlight is the physical presence of God. Where do you look if and when you talk to God? Up. When people pray, they lower their heads in respect to God. Who is always above them, and everywhere.
There are visible nebulae that look like Thor’s helmet, or a human figure. Prove to me that these aren’t the forms of galactic consciousnesses, or the shadows of Gods. I’m sure you disagree with me, so prove it.
Come on, smartass-who-believes-in-nothing. Prove it. You know everything. Prove it.
Maybe the starstuff that makes us is millions of years old, but our brains are not. Just like I’ve never known a world without war, you know only of the time in which you have physically existed and nothing before. Everything else you’ve only seen in pictures or been told about. I know as much about life in 1969 as I do about life from twelve billion years ago. Practically zilch. I lived neither.
So think, and think hard, about all the people in the world today who are in the position to make decisions for those who lived before them. Shame on you for claiming that elderly politicians are irrelevant; they god-damned lived before we did. They’ve already forgotten more than we’ll ever know. They know more than either of us. That’s why you’re supposed to listen to and respect your elders, especially if their ideals and politics differ from your own. Wait until you’re old, and watch how literally no one comes to your defense unless they are forced, or can gain clout by doing so.
I’m old enough to tell you that everything is fucked. To my eternal folly, I ignored the warnings of my elders about the way things would go. Now they’re dead and we live in the exact dystopia they said would happen. We brought it on ourselves. We knew everything.
I’m less than a month away from fifty and by the grace of God I am talking to you now. I am healthy, creatively functional, and alive. If you honestly believe that no sort of God had a hand in that, you probably also believe that the 2020 presidential election wasn’t fraudulent, and that men can become women and/or pregnant.
Maybe respect your elders a little better in the future. They know more than you, simply because they existed before you were born. And there will come a time, maybe sooner than a day, when they won’t be around to teach you anything.