The Unknown: The Orange Line.
  August 31, 1997


I’ve been meaning to write a play called Mean People in Love.

A simple play about low-down mean scoundrels who injure and hurt and steal and plunder and basically destroy the lives of everyone around them. You know the type. Mean people. Yet mean people in love.

I’m thinking of something short. Nothing firm here. It’s still in the idea stage. Nothing on paper.

It occurred to me that those people, those mean people who do all these horrific things, cold, brutal people with real sociopath tendencies—those people fall in love too. I mean you see it, don’t you? They fall, man. And that is what is beautiful about it and in some way frightening.

I mean Hitler was in love, wasn’t he?

Richard Nixon walked through dooms of love.

Look at Nancy Reagan and that poor drooling cowboy. Look at her wiping the spittle from his chin. That’s love.

Henry Kissinger. Here’s a guy who’s probably ordered dozens of executions. Who has reasoned and justified wholesale costs of human life. Anyway, did you hear that guy on the phone when they asked him about Princess Diana. That was real sincere grief, William. The man was choking back tears. He called her a close personal friend. He said he felt a deep personal loss.

Mean people in love.

I mean, mean people. Mean people in love. Ordinary nasty people. People who are walking weapons. People with large chips. People with resentments. Savage people. Cruel people. They fall in love.

There’s something unfair about it.

Yet there’s something deeply touching about it too.

I’ve also been thinking about writing a play called

Americinferno. One word.

About terrorists, again. I know, I know, “Again terrorists?”
I don’t know, William, something about terrorists. I’m drawn to terrorism. In some way it seems central to the way we experience the world now.

When I say we, I don’t just mean us, you know? Everyone I know is haunted by real and imagined acts of terror. Images, sounds, crumpled up bodies and all the blood. It’s not fear. It’s dread. It’s hanging out there now, it’s all around us.

Don’t get me wrong. I get no thrill from U-Hauls filled with fertilizer. I get no kick from mailbombs. But this type of thing I rubberneck I guess. I guess we all do. Pass by warily wondering when the same thing will happen to us, and if it will even get covered.

I think that we need to think about these things. About the OK bomber and the Unabomber and hell the suicide cult and the Branch Davidians and all that. How it ties together. How it all ties together. Especially how we’re fed it. How the media cycle has transformed the life cycle. Maybe I’m obsessed with cycles. Off on some vaguely Hegelian tangent that is sloppy and unsure.

A lot of this makes me uncomfortable. Especially when I wonder if I’ve been completely programmed, not by any specific malevolent entity, but some kind of group mind that controls the limits of my language, my thought even. Some invisible, undirected force that writes the way I see the world.

So anyway, I was sitting on my couch and I was thinking about these things, about how incredibly pathetic the media is, how blood-hungry everyone seems and you know like the Gianni Versace thing which got me just totally sickened, the editor of Vogue crying well-near monogrammed tears talking to Ted Koppel. Yuck. The sense that I got that when they found the guy, Cunannan, dead, the media were left completely in lurch. They weren’t disappointed with the fact that there was another corpse, but they were hurt and confused, by the fact the whole story was sewed up within a week. They didn’t get enough use out of the graphics. So all that was going on. Then I saw this rerun Jenny Jones show about Kozinski and Jenny’s star expert guest panel was filled with like the milkman who saw him on the road once, and a woman who’d been in a biology lab class with him in college, along with the usual guy who wrote a book on serial killers. I think that they have him on-call at all times. He’s on like every two weeks. Anyway, Jenny’s directing the conversation and all she can ask about his hygiene. Was he dirty? Did he clean his room? Was he unkempt? Did he floss? I mean after a minute or so it becomes clear that Jenny has got her own personal theory on the whole causality issue. For her terrorism is explicity linked to poor personal hygiene. Which got me thinking this lady is way too caught in her Freudian stages, and so clinging to the virtues of normalization. So I had to turn the channel.

I just had to and then, I was watching Jeopardy, and you know that show. There’s this whole element of triviality. The pointlessness of all that useless fact can suck me in for the whole half hour nine times out of ten and if you watch it enough, you get kind of a sense of what’s going on in Alex’s world. Like when he gets in a cruel mood. Like this show— Some guy offered up some predictably off question to the answer Ulan Bator, and Alex just skewered him as he replied I think you’re thinking of Bhoutros Bhoutros Ghali who is of course not a country but in fact a human being and further more not at all from anywhere near that part of the world, in fact from an entirely different continent. Pretty much humiliating the guy, this geometry teacher from Spokane. And you could tell he was enjoying it, Alex was, rubbing this guy’s face in the dirt. So I thought what if Alex Trebec and Jenny Jones and Ted Kozinski and Timothy McViegh and hell let’s throw in Lee Harvey Oswald, what if they were all involved in some kind of metatheatrical space that took the material form of a quiz show, but retained some sense of Sartrean hell, well that could work, don’t you think? They fit together. I’m not sure how.

I think I’ll work on it soon.

I’ve been reading too much Beckett lately, William. I think it’s been destructive. I can’t go on. I really can’t go on. I can’t stop. I’ll go on. Something incredibly pathetic about it. But you can’t help but identify with the pathos. It sucks you in. Sort of made me want to lie down in a gutter and suck on stones.

I’ve been meaning to write some poetry, William.

I haven’t touched the stuff in years.

I’m thinking of writing a series of poems about my cat, Maestro.

Christ that sounds pathetic.

But . . . he’s an entertaining cat.

At least I’ve got some honest wonder to work with there.

And I get the sense that he’s somehow the objective correlative for all the thinking I’ve ever done about relativity.

Which granted, is not much. I’ve only skimmed. I’ve got no real conception of theoretical physics.

But the idea appeals to me.

That’s what’s not been going on, William.

Lately I haven’t written a thing.
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