April 6th 2014
Brett Easton Ellis
“Both the author of these Notes and the Notes themselves are, of course, fictional. Nevertheless, such persons as the composer of these Notes not only exist in our society, but indeed must exist, considering the circumstances under which our society has generally been formed. I have wished to bring before the public, somewhat more distinctly than usual, one of the characters of out recent past. He represents a generation that is still living out its days among us.”
-Fyodor Dostoevsky Notes from Underground
“Yes,” I say. “You did. But I took your call so it’s my fault, not yours.”
“While taking a piss in the men’s room, I stare into a thin, web-like crack above the urinal’s handle and think to myself that if I were to disappear into that crack, say somehow miniaturize and slip into it, the odds are good that no one would notice I was gone. No . . . One . . . Would . . . Care. In fact some, if they noticed my absence, might feel an odd, indefinable sense of relief. This is true: the world is better off with some people gone. Our lives are not all interconnected. That theory is a crock. Some people truly do not need to be here.”
“Lunch is alternately a burden, a puzzle that needs to be solved, an obstacle, and then it floats effortlessly into the realm of relief and I’m able to give a skillful performance—my over-riding intelligence tunes in and lets me know that it can sense how much she wants me, but I hold back, uncommitted.”
“Are you seeing anyone, Patrick?” […]
“No, I’m not really,” I say, snapping out of it, them, not of my own accord, “I mean, does anyone really see anyone? Does anyone really see anyone else? Did you ever see me? See? What does that mean? Ha! See? Ha! I just don’t get it. Ha!”
“I think about other things while she describes her recent past: air, water, sky, time, a moment, a point somewhere when I wanted to show her everything beautiful in the world. I have no patience for revelations, for new beginnings, for events that take place beyond the realm of my immediate vision. A young girl, a freshman, I met in a bar in Cambridge my junior year at Harvard told me early one fall that “Life is full of endless possibilities.” I tried valiantly not to choke on the beer nuts I was chewing while she gushed this kidney stone of wisdom, and I calmly washed them down with the rest of a Heineken, smiled and concentrated on the dart game that was going on in the corner. Needless to say, she did not live to see her sophomore year. […] My rages at Harvard were less violent than the ones now and it’s useless to hope that my disgust will vanish—there is just no way.
“Oh, Patrick,” She’s saying. “You’re still the same. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”
“Say it’s good.”
“Why? Is it?” she asks, frowning. “Was it? Then?”
“You only knew one facet of my personality,” I say. “Student.”
“Since it’s impossible in the world we live in to empathize with others, we can always empathize with ourselves.”
“It’s as if her mind is having a hard time communicating with her mouth, as if she is searching for a rational analysis of who I am, which is, of course, an impossibility: There . . . is . . . no . . . key.”
“Life remained a blank canvas, a cliché, a soap opera. I felt lethal, on the verge of frenzy. My nightly bloodlust overflowed into my days and I had to leave the city. My mask of sanity was a victim of impending slippage.”
“Everything failed to subdue me. Soon everything seemed dull: another sunrise, the lives of heroes, falling in love, war, the discoveries people made about each other. The only thing that didn’t bore me, obviously enough, was how much money Tim Price made, and yet in its obviousness it did. There wasn’t a clear, identifiable emotion within me, except for greed and, possibly, total disgust. I had all the characteristics of a human being—flesh, blood, skin, hair—but my depersonalization was so intense, had gone so deep, that the normal ability to feel compassion had been eradicated, the victim of a slow, purposeful erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning. Something horrible was happening and yet I couldn’t figure out why—I couldn’t out my finger on it. The only thing that calmed me was the satisfying sound of ice being dropped into a glass of J&B.”
“This thing before me, small and twisted and bloody, has no real history, no worthwhile past, nothing is really lost. It’s so much worse (and more pleasurable) taking the life of someone who has hit his or her prime, who has the beginnings of a full history, a spouse, a network of friends, a career, whose death will upset far more people whose capacity for grief is limitless than a child’s would, perhaps ruin many more lives than just the meaningless, puny death of this boy.”
“The smell of meat and blood clouds up the condo until I don’t notice it anymore. And later my macabre joy sours and I’m weeping for myself, unable to find solace in any of this, crying out, sobbing “I just wanted to be loved,” cursing the earth and everything I have been taught: principles, distinctions, choices, morals, compromises, knowledge, unity, prayer—all of it was wrong, without any final purpose. All it came down to was: die or adapt.”
“All frontiers, if there had ever been any, seem suddenly detachable and have been removed, a feeling that others are creating my fate will not leave me for the rest of the day.”
“How could she ever understand that there isn’t any way I could be disappointed since I no longer find anything worth looking forward to?”
“. . . there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a non-contingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. I still, though, hold on to one single bleak truth. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this—and I have, countless times, in just about every act I’ve committed—and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing. . .”
“Let me rephrase the question.” I take a sip of her dry beer. “Okay. Why do out like me?” I ask.
She asks back, “Why?”
“Yes,” I say. “Why.”
“Well . . .” A drop of beer has fallen onto my Polo shirt. She hands me her napkin. A practical gesture that touches me.
“You’re . . . Concerned with others,” she says tentatively. “That’s a very rare thing in what”—she stops again—“is a . . . I guess, a hedonistic world. This is . . . Patrick, you’re embarrassing me.”
She shakes her head, closing her eyes.
“Go on,” I urge. “Please. I want to know.”
“You’re sweet.” She rolls her eyes up. “Sweetness is . . . sexy . . . I don’t know. But so is . . . mystery.” Silence. “And I think . . . mystery . . . you’re mysterious.” Silence, followed by a sigh. “And you’re . . . considerate.” She realizes something, no longer scared, stares at me straight on. “And I think shy men are romantic.”
“How many people in this world are like me?” I ask again. “Do I really appear like that?”
“Patrick,” she says. “I wouldn’t lie.”
“No, of course you wouldn’t . . . but I think that . . .” My turn to sigh, contemplatively. “I think . . . you know how they say no two snowflakes are ever alike?”
“Well, I don’t think that’s true. I think a lot of snowflakes are alike . . . and I think a lot of people are alike too.”
She nods again, though I can tell she’s very confused.
“Appearances can be deceiving,” I admit carefully.
“No,” she says, shaking her head, sure of herself for the first time. “I don’t think they are deceiving. They’re not”
“Sometimes, Jean,” I explain, “the lines separating appearance—what you see—and reality—what you don’t—become, well, blurred.”
“That’s not true,” she insists. “That’s simply not true.”
“Really?” I ask, smiling.
“I didn’t use to think so,” she says. “Maybe ten years ago I didn’t. But I do now.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, interested. “You used to?”
. . . a flood of reality. I get an odd feeling that this is a crucial moment in my life and I’m startled by the suddenness of what I guess passes for an epiphany. There is nothing of value I can offer her. For the first time I see Jean as uninhibited; she seems stronger, less controllable, wanting to take me into a new and unfamiliar land—the dreaded uncertainty of a totally different world. I sense she wants to rearrange my life in a significant way—her eyes tell me this and though I see truth in them, I also know that one day, sometime very soon, she too will be locked in the rhythm of my insanity. All I have to do is keep silent about this and not bring it up—yet she weakens me, it’s almost as if she’s making the decision about who I am.”
April 23rd 2014