About

I’ve been a rather bad blogger since around 2002 when, bored one day in Brussels, as one inevitably is on multiple days, I decided that I needed a forum to air my grievances, of which there were, I thought at the time, plenty. They were not, though. My energies and attention have, unfortunately or not, remained intermittent at best. The one constant throughout the four sites with which I’ve been associated, one of which I shall remain, has been the following short piece I wrote one evening in Scotland while incapacitated, if memory serves, by sharp pains whose source remains unknown but whose object was the pit of my stomach. Scotland has that effect on a good many. Tradition, being what it is, dictated that I include it on this one, too. Perhaps by not including it on the main page, such as it is, I will finally be done with it & it with me.

* * *

Once upon a time there was a young man, he with the mad hair, unobtrusively plain face and anonymously banal wardrobe. University had treated him well, they thought. Trained in the ways of religion and liberally funded by those with the most fervent of faiths, they who considered him a favorite son of the fold, he was, one might say, blessed. And yet, he quixotically begged to any who might listen: –You there, you with the faith that runs as deep as your pockets, you must believe for me. I’m no longer sure I do. Blessed he may be, he with familial friends and a Pharisaical bank account, this studious young man was very unhappy.

His generation was called, by purple-hazed rebels with jobs and sparkle-bright smiles, the apathetic generation, a tag its constituents, they were told, always had time to resist. –You’re all wrong, this unhappy, blessed man concluded. –Mine, and so many of theirs, my peers, friends and strangers, all, is the question of sincerity. To be sincerely hypocritical, this was his unfortunate aim: to religiously embrace with passionate irreligiosity; to pursue, with a mystic’s vision and a saint’s prayer, the path of theological misunderstanding. His misplaced lot, he who wished to live a questionable sincerity, he felt was to pinch from the priestly purse the pauper’s penny, and to think of nothing but the happy injustice of it all.

And so he lived, consciously oblivious to the consequences of his actions. He said what everybody wished to hear so that he might live in such a way that nobody could or would believe. His life, in turn, was as unbelievable as his faith. Lovely words, the sacred fiction of a sincere young man’s most holy of lies.  This will be, he feels, the death of him.

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§ 6 Responses to About

  • davidly says:

    Nice to have stumbled upon you. I was trapped in Brussels in ’02, sought refuge in the film museum – at 2 euros a pop, not to be beat – taking a couple of hits of hash somewhere along the way, usually by way of the Grand Place.

    There was some beauty there, but its overall flavor was too distant, approachably oppressive. I wrote still then with pen to paper, in a leather bound journal, as my only other way out. From there sprung no better than the query, “Who are the Belgians?”

    You clearly have a greater gift as both reader and writer. I hope you to gain from that without stealing.

  • Brad Johnson says:

    À measure of thievery will almost certainly take place, from those I love, hate, and more generally from those I’ve yet to form a very strong opinion. Where citation is absent, I will vaguely plead allusion up until the moment of publication. And perhaps even then.

    Glad you made your way here. I spent a day in Brussels this week, in fact. It remains largely the same as in 2002, though I suspect the film museum may now cost as much as the hash.

  • tom clark says:

    Moving testament to the hard-won lack of faith at the burning core of a dedicated agnosticism.

    To such declarations and admissions I suppose the standard admonitory response, currently, would be: “chill”.

    However my response would be, “burn on”.

    The piece reminds me of Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest.

    Though translating to the millennium dome Bresson’s Pascalian wager of fidelity to a Great Vacuum might involve a leap of context greater even than any leap of faith. There are blanks… and then there are blanks.

    Ah, Bresson, Pascal, hash, Europe… those were the days.

  • Brad Johnson says:

    Would that I could have a normal irreligiosity, I sometimes think. Personal histories, those told & untold, are less like a drunken tattoo one can never quite remove, and more like a bad blood count that, nevertheless, keeps you alive. Until the moment it doesn’t anyway.

  • JF says:

    I just wanted to let you know that part of the reason I’m reading The Tunnel is because of your advocation. It is supurb. Even if it’s totality doesn’t work (so far, it seems to), on the sentence level alone, it deserves high praise. Thanks!

  • Brad Johnson says:

    That’s nice to hear — that you’re reading & that I had some small part in you doing so. That you’re liking it is even better. I’ve been thinking about doing a re-reading this fall. A friend is reading it for the first time, and his emails w/ blockquotes are whetting my appetite once again.

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