We loved ourselves, once, when our ears were young and flush with sound, when every note we heard flooded us with joy, when spearsharp guitars lanced our anguish and drums bashed death into our virgin chests as we sang and rode the blessed clatter straight up the skyline dead on towards heaven’s highest peaks. We lived for the sake of living for the sake of feeling for the sake of nothing. We were lit on the fleeting light of desire-scorched youth.

Our holy trajectory stuttered when the music stopped. We learned it never was—and so it ceased to be. There is no heaven and no great art, no substance and therefore no lift and so we fell, desperate to glide, our course unknown. We were intimate with fear. We sank beneath the burden of all the wilted hopes of God and through aeons of regret and failure we finally graduated from that brainfucked void with no guidance save some meager credits and an edict seared into the depths of our essence that roared—the first and only commandment!—to slouch out into the world and salvage what we could. We paid dearly for years of proud and stupid rituals. We still pay.

We struck out with momentum as great as our slight frame could muster, but our sickly resolve did not last. It had no chance in that cruel postcollege waste where there were no friends, only rivals and bedfellows, and together we fresh-faced ghouls stalked midnight streets, savage and undershaven. Our debts fell too heavy against meager hours in crêperies. Our descent had become too steep, reality too real and though we had no home, to home we went. Desperate and ashamed we gave ourselves over to be guilt-threshed and devoured by the nags of Hell. We might have died. To death we would have proudly gone.

No sooner did we arrive than our ears, still soaked with music we could no longer hear nor remember, were rent by a deafening howl of banshee scorned, a furious mother of angst that came tearing at our pride and style and we knew then as we should have known that we were doomed to wander restless through the world in search of a chill basement where cloves and Panda Bear were de rigueur, a basement we would never find, a basement we will hunger for until death sweeps the flesh from our bones.

But still our heart was proud! The smallest sliver of a child’s hope still lived within, and though its cage was wrapped in steel and ice, and though that cage was struck by every weapon from every angle, it lived, it could not be marred. That hope held in full the scope and breadth of our nobility in blood and achievement, in stillness and in violence. It fell with us through the ages, muted and intangible, and we were allowed no record of its survival but the chestfierce thumping of the glacious meteor within us that was our savior and our undoing.

We fell, we fell, to depths inconceivable by any mind. We fell down slopes of Saturdays spent basking in our descent. We buried thoughts of pleasant times in shallow graves of crushed cans and slayed swarms of episodes, blinking them down one by one as the cold transmissions’ glow flashed SOS across our blank visage at 60 Hz. We fell past broken homes and forgotten pets, we fell for centuries through slime and honey and soured water. The cold of nothing froze our naked forms and searing heat glazed our lungs until all feeling was drained from our temperament. We had no recourse. There would be no curtain to strike us from this abysmal stage.

And so we fall. To this moment, though time has left us, we soar asymptotically through the aether towards the nadir of our existence—always approaching, yet never to arrive. All we have to mark our progress are the reflexively wretched screams jarred loose from our innermost reserves. Sleep is but semiconscious writhing in swathes of ghoulish hellfire. We are made hungry by the spectres of our sins, and though we gorge our pangs are never sated.

Cursed be our soul.

There is no heaven and no great art.

Nashville

May 2015

Here lay the shattered remnants of our souls: a play-by-play of David Duchovny’s “Hell or Highwater” in its entirety.

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