Saturday, March 26, 2011

(part 245) The Van Gogh Syndrome

"Vincent" by William Jameson

I felt dead alright, dead, like a walking zombie, set in motion as some cosmic joke. Given a gift, and never allowed to experience anything but misery as a result of it.

I even had a name for it. The van Gogh syndrome, because Vincent had painted with his heart, his emotions. He'd thrown himself completely and utterly into his work, but had been rejected in spite of his commitment, shooting himself at thirty-seven. His last words were, "There shall never be an end to human misery."

I too felt rejected by the world, and felt my work had been rejected as well. So now I was rejecting myself, the creator of the work.

I had tried killing myself numerous times in the past, only to have failed, so I was not willing to test that path again. But inside I was as good as dead.

The excited kid with the big smile was nowhere to be found. The tough "live through it all to fight another day" individual had all but disappeared. What was left was a shell. A desperate remnant of what might have been.

The sadness, and sense of complete and total loss, was extravagantly heaped upon my psyche in those moments. All that I had ever known, or wanted, was abandoned on the hardwood floors of Carol's apartment as I headed out the door.

I was too exhausted to be angry, too broken to mount a counter attack against the tides of change. They swept over me a if I were not there.

That dismal day in 1985 seared its way into my soul, branding itself, and its destructiveness, on me forever. Like a life-threatening wound, turned to a scar, it remains with me to this day.

I don't remember whether I talked to Carol on the day I left, or not, but I know I didn't speak to anyone else, except my brother Bill.

Maybe it was because I was afraid that more misery would be inflicted on me if I asked for help and got none. That fear of further rejection caused me to close off the world and retreat into a self-protective cocoon.

The only other human beings I would deal with, at that point, would be my brother Bill and mother, and even that was something I found incalculable, as the next possible threat.

I drove through the streets of Hollywood, and onto the Sunset Strip, on my way out of town. I passed by each place where I had attempted suicide, each place where my body and mind had been maimed in the past.

It was around ten o-clock in the morning as I drove past each memory-soaked location. The bright sunlight beat into my sleepless eyes, causing added distress to my exhausted mind and body.

With each landmark I passed, came the flood of emotion-filled highlights of the event. The day, the reason, the weather, the street, the building, the drug, the tower, the year, all of it. It just kept playing in my head.

The history of Bobby Jameson was written on the streets and buildings of the town I was leaving. I had given myself to it in a way that is indescribable in words. I had been a part of it and it a part of me, for what seemed like forever.

I had gone to grade school in Laurel Canyon, and then left as a child, but vowed to return, which I did. Wherever I was, I was in L.A. in my head. I could always see it, feel it, want it. If I left I was coming back, if I was there I was home.

Bobby Jameson and Hollywood were not two things. Not a person and a place, not a mere town with a resident, they were one thing, a single unit.

They existed as a reflection of each other, like a mirror reflecting the image of the observer...the observer seeing himself not only in, but as the thing reflecting.

1 comment:

  1. Since I first discovered your writing here several years ago, I am certain that this is the longest that I have ever been away from your site without checking in—it has probably been three weeks. To tell you the truth, I often check in at least once a day, but I have let it slide in the in the flurry of everyday doings.

    It was a pleasure akin to the first encounter to be able to sit for an hour and read the postings for the entire month of March. Rather than comment on the individual pieces, I decided to put it all here.

    First, you appear to really be on a roll, and it is as fascinating as any part of the story: the final eruption with Carol, the Rhys check, the Cohen brush off, the decision to "leave home/go home" after more than 20 years.

    Your insights continue to be powerful and interesting. Although it is likely true for everyone in a minor way, those who have kept up with your story realize how apt is this characterization for you:

    "I was a multiple personality with multiple pasts, trying to pawn myself off as an individual, when in reality, I was a group of individuals splintered out of the life of someone called Bobby Jameson."

    Then the sort of Rip Van Winkle waking up from a twenty-year dream (a fantasy that had more real encounters in the musical world than anyone could fathom), a loss that is so understandable, yet so tragic—that gnawing need to create, yet finally realizing that it appears to have meant nothing to anyone but you. (Of course that was not really true—it actually meant a great deal to a lot of the people you had encountered, but in the end, their dashed hopes were like nothing compared to yours. You have aptly identified the Van Gogh syndrome.

    Awesome writing. It's good to be back and to see you writing up a storm.

    Thanks for the aesthetic pleasure that you continue to offer,