The hunger artist

For some reason I recalled last night a Kafka story called, I think, The Hunger Artist. It’s a very Kafkaesque tale, absurd and ultimately poignant. It’s about a man who works in a circus, famous for fasting. The crowds come to see him, a skinny man in a cage. Overtime his appeal fades – he does nothing after all except sit there without eating. He is shifted away from a place of prominence and largely forgotten. One day he is re-discovered in some corner of the circus, on the verge of death from starvation. His final words are that he ‘could never find anything he liked to eat’. It’s beautifully banal, and that’s the story.

So what made me think of this now? That’s an interesting question – but then how does one thing lead to another? I don’t know the answer to either question. It’s there in your head, dredged up from the depths for reasons unknown, and perhaps for no reason at all, perhaps just randomly. Randomness exists. It’s a real thing of substance. But I think in situations such as this randomness has little part. Randomness, I think, influences the external. The internal has its own rhyme and reason, even when the reason is barely rational. So I think.

In any case, I’m not going to waste my time trying to figure this out. It occurred to me watching an English sit-com called Lovesick. It made me laugh sometimes and brought back memories. At the same time I’m sending messages to and fro with Donna, largely about new year’s eve, but other cryptic stuff too.

I want to be down the beach come new year’s eve, at Wye River where I have an invite from the Cheeses. Donna is at a loose end, though, and I feel some responsibility for her. I’ve also got an invite to a party in the city, and she was interested in coming along. If that’s what she wants to do, I’ll delay my trip to Wye River for a few days – but I really need to get it sorted. As usual, though, Donna is all over the place.

Then I’ve got the turmoil of the week behind me, the uncertainty and confusion and conflicting desires. I think abruptly, I need to get some sex. Sex is the answer to a lot of things, no matter the question. Except it’s only really the illusion of an answer – though, even so, it’s not so bad.

This time, I’m thinking that sex is a circuit-breaker for me. Go hard and obliterate myself in the act. So often, when I’m confused or uncertain, I’m moved to acts of relative violence. I’m not punching people in the head, but sex comes to the front of mind, or I bury myself in work – I’ve had a majorly productive week. It’s because my mind is going at a million miles an hour and I need to burn that energy somehow. And so I think, get fucked, and that will solve everything. For an hour or so it seems an alluring option, do that and let the pieces fall. It’s very much a male option.

Then I think of the story. It insinuates itself into my mind. Am I the hunger artist – am I the man who just can’t find anything he likes?

This is my nature, and it will never change – always wondering, always searching, always wanting more, and eternally restless for it.

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