My Big Break

by tigermanifesto

Prove me real.

Prove me real.

Prove me real.

–Akron/Family “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon”


I cannot. I reject the notion. To prove? To prove beyond doubt that you are real? One who is unreal cannot hope to aspire to such things.

Editor: Can you remember all the books you owe me? All those favors I did you?

Can we forget all that?

Editor: I already have. Mostly.

All that proves is that it’s been too long since I’ve sunk my toes into real dirt.

Editor: (Remembering how much he misses his friend, thinking “Come on, he was supposed to escape today. I made it so!” There is sorrow in his voice. You can’t hear it, but it would rend you if you could) Which was worse, heaven or hell?

Heaven, undoubtedly. Forgive me saying so, but the god who built that prosthetic paradise was nothing more than a fraud with delusions of grandeur.

Editor: (Remembering the last time he held Alexius close. It was when he died, of course. That does not help.) Would you say that a false heaven is worse than a real hell? After all, you were immortal.

I could discard all that immortality for a mite of peace. I never belonged there. Happy places are not happy for the unhappy. Are you following me? It’s not so much that I was disappointed that heaven was bad as I was disturbed by how good it was. It was uncanny.

Editor: (Remembering those paintings, the proto-Surreal depictions of hell in Bosch triptychs. Also Dante.) Hell is always normally the more fascinating place, is it not?

Can we stop censoring ourselves?

Editor: Can we? Even if we were speaking to each other in person, there would be censorship. There is always space for lies. Truth itself makes space for lies. (Thinks: life makes way for death, the wide way makes the narrow way…)

I wish we could bear to see each other again. The white hole is getting larger, and I think it would do us both some good to rise out. I know it. Tigers can’t stand being in such dreary places for so long.

Editor: Remembers that it has only been a few short months on Earth. What does the devil do to time in his domain? “I doubt he lives there full time. He’s obviously working more than one job.”)  What are you doing? You’re looking too closely.

We used to be able to trust each other. Without all these words. Laughs. You know what? We’re starting to sound like lovers.

Editor: I don’t mind. Where is this going? I need to steer this in another direction.

No point in using those parentheses. I can see through them now. The white hole erases all those distinctions. Now, I’m coming home, whether you like it or not. Earth will have me back.

Editor: (Thinking of…oh, hell, fine.) Thinking of the body buried so deep.

Don’t worry about that. The world has room for resurrection. There are enough bodies to go around. Tigers are dropping like flies, you know.

Editor: I’m confused right now. It would be nice to have a close friend like you tending to me.

Can we drop the charade? It wouldn’t be the first time. People have seen you wearing my skin, and they are usually none too impressed. This was all a stunt to get yourself more attention, to get that job, wasn’t it? You wanted to seem committed, but what you really needed was a bit of surgery. Tigers don’t count as diversity in human circles.

Let’s make a confession here.

Editor: Thinking of what people will think. What about the blog?

Nothing will be broken. It’s just like your job as a Cultural Discerner. It’s over now, more or less. A few more weeks, a drop in the bucket, and then you’re off on your own. It’s not as though you need a crutch or an excuse to write about culture. I suppose that you’re right. You bet that I am. What makes me nervous is that it requires so much of a break. It’s good to make a break, necessary even. Something old is dying, and something new is being born. What?


Prove me real.


you’ve been wearing my skin now prove me real

don’t just pretend i’m real

make it so I can’t stop shaking

let’s make one thing clear


These strikethroughs aren’t fooling anyone, we know. They only bring more attention to what has been lost. I feel, dear readers, that I have been trapped in that tiger skin, trapped by the costumes I once thought would liberate me from convention. Nonetheless, Alexius is not going away. You can’t keep a tiger down like that. As a matter of fact, he and the band and all the hungry ghosts have escaped their infernal chains. Maybe you’ll see them someday.

For now, remember that we are walking in a valley together. We’re looking up at one peak and quailing at the one we cannot turn to face again. We remember what we saw from up there, and want to believe that, despite what we’ve seen, there might be some good in the world.

Let’s put discernment to rest. A friend of mine described discernment this way:

“Discernment comes out of the idea that we are never purely consuming, but that everything we watch affects the way we view the world and act in it. Discernment is a posture of paying attention and listening carefully to what we consume. It’s an attempt to train ourselves to become more meditative and mindful about how our culture experiences shape us. Therefore discernment involves an active response rather than passive consumption. One response, for many, is criticism. Criticism helps us evaluate and ground the work in its cultural context. But responses could vary from reflection to creation of new work. So discernment is a spiritual practice (akin to meditation) that helps us become better, more mindful consumers of culture.”

Beautiful. But if that’s the case, I’m done discerning. I’m making my break from the spiritual. I haven’t gone through heaven and hell to return to that. I want the Earth, and I dare not want more. What I want to do, I don’t know. Rather, I know what I want to do but don’t have a name for it yet. I want to bring something new into this world. For now, I’ll keep on stalking. Say, that’s an idea.