What Hardly Matters… and tourists.

I let him write on. I was indifferent. Now that I couldn’t be in the war I almost wanted the war. Yet, at the same time, I was glad to be out of it. The Doctor finished writing. I felt I had fooled them. My objection to war was not that I had to kill somebody or be killed senselessly, that hardly mattered. What I objected to was to be denied the right to sit in a small room and starve and drink cheap wine and go crazy in my own way and at my own leisure.

I didn’t want to be awakened by some man with a bugle. I didn’t want to sleep in barracks with a bunch of healthy sex-mad football-loving overfed wise-cracking masturbating lovable frightened pink farting mother-struck modest basketball-playing American boys that I would have to be friendly with, that I would have to get drunk with on leave, that I would have to lay on my back with and listen to dozens of unfunny, obvious, dirty jokes. I didn’t want their itchy blankets or their itchy uniforms or their itchy humanity. I didn’t want to shit in the same place or piss in the same place or share the same whore. I didn’t want to see their toenails or read their letters from home. I didn’t want to watch their assholes bobbing in front of me in close formation, I didn’t want to make friends, I didn’t want to make enemies, I just didn’t want them or it or the thing. To kill or be killed hardly mattered.

—–From South of No North by Charles Bukowski

The above passage is from a short story where Bukowski’s alter-ego, Henry “Hank” Chinaski, had to go to the doctor to see if he was healthy enough to be drafted for war.

Later in the book, Chinaski is drug on a “vacation” to a tourist and shopping locale by the woman he’s seeing. His thoughts:

With their pink shirts and green shirts and blue shirts, and square white rotting bodies, and striped shorts, eyeless eyes and mouthless mouths, they walked along, very colorful, as if color might wake up death and turn it into life. They were a carnival of American decay on parade and they had no idea of the atrocity that they had inflicted upon themselves.

This book introduced me to Bukowski in May 2006. This past year has added personal weight to the above passages.

Also, my first Bukowski post can be found here.

One Response to “What Hardly Matters… and tourists.”

  1. Nick Says:

    I fucking love that picture. That’s all…That’s it.

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