Purple Diary

[April 15 2009]

What I Want

Personally speaking, I don’t really want much of anything. I know that sounds pretentious, but I never really wanted much. When I was a kid my father would bring home presents from his business trips, and I usually gave mine to friends who seemed to want them more than I did. For years I collected books. I sold many of them, mostly to pay off hopeless romantic over-indulgences, but I still have a lot of books, because I read a lot and consider books to be the closest thing to any kind of representation of myself. Before I moved to Paris I gave away my old Chrysler, my television, my stereo, many books and records, all my furniture, including bookshelves and Japanese Rattan chairs and tables from the 1940s, all my kitchen paraphernalia, and other things too numerous to remember. I don’t miss any of it. The problem with not wanting anything is that people don’t really let you get away with it. Wanting things is the ultimate human ambition, and it really starts to get serious with sex.

To have sex, even a quickie with someone from a new encounter, brings you into an exchange with that person’s stuff, their psychological baggage as well as their possessions. When sex evolves into a relationship you are drawn into joint projects and acquisitions. Projects can be anything, in any order, on any basis, from sharing a taste in music, to renting apartments, to accommodating habits, to making babies. Acquisitions involve every domestic appurtenance, without exception. Relationships also bring up the issue of ambition and, therefore, the philosophical problem of Being versus Becoming — of who you are in the Know Thyself sense versus the what you or your relationship partner might want you to Become sense, be that mechanic, doctor, house husband, or success story. Partners usually want their mates to increase something, generally materially related, but not something necessarily related to every aspect of their relationship, such as agreeing on the number of sex partners permissible outside the relationship.

I’ve been accused, mostly behind my back, of lacking ambition. But that’s not exactly the case. The problem is, you can’t always do things that work out in exact, or even increasing, exchange ratios with who you are, your personal circumstances, or what you want to become. Sometimes the things you do, like teaching or being a musician, say, aren’t so rewarding financially. Which reminds me of the joke: What do you call a musician who just lost his girlfriend? Homeless. (The problem with that joke is that it becomes a philosophical problem for musicians.) […]

An extract from the new book Purple Years (Onestar Press) by Jeff Rian, art critic and longtime collaborator to Purple. The book is a collection of his most brillant texts, many from Purple, Purple Journal and Purple Fashion between 1998 and 2004.

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