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Letter from America November 15, 2001
 
The Fatigue of Failure
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
 

To be a loser is to be tired. A heavy, numbing tiredness. The fatigue hits you around late morning and lasts until the late night talk shows start. If you're still awake after that, God help you.

There's nothing epic or profound about a loser's fatigue. It's not all hyper-interior monologue blasting-you know what I'm talking about, the angry/despairing/I-think-I'm-going-crazy voice-over common to black-and-white indy film festival movies. The kinds of movies made for gainfully employed middlebrows. All lies; those manic philosopher-losers are as false as Dancing With Wolves' peace-loving Indians. Anyone with the energy to make a movie about losers is an infidel and impostor-he has no right to the subject. Real losers are too tired to make movies. Hell, they're too tired to read a book, too tired to keep a diary, too tired to think up anything interesting or original at all.

What little energy the loser has is spent on the frustration from knowing that he is tired and failing and incapable of improving his fate.

But even then, it's not an anguished worry. Rather, a vague despair fades in and out, a weak signal pumped in by a society that promised something better.

The scary thing-if scary is the right word to describe the loser's weary fear-is the belief that you've arrived at the end-point in your life, an irreversible state. Your destiny. And you even find yourself getting comfortable with this diminished fate, living with it, the way refugees get used to their tents and rice rations. You can accept it without deep, exhausting reflection. It's only after 11 p.m., those nights you can't fall asleep, that the fear sharpens. But even then, it's the fear of a few words written large and bright, rather than profound meditations and labyrinths of the imagination, that keep you awake.

The loser's interior monologues aren't obsessive or profoundly cynical; rather, they're dull and repetitive, like half-completed shopping lists. At its worst, the interior monologue plays a rerun of "This is Your Life", in which you plot all the wrong turns you made on your path to this dead-end you've found yourself in. As you sulk down memory lane, you'll remember, without great detail, a year wasted here, a summer wasted there, an opportunity with a woman that you foolishly passed because either you were too slow to recognize that she was making herself available to you, or else you rebuffed her because she seemed too easy, and therefore diseased. "Fool, fool," you wearily moan. You'll replay those lost opportunities over and over, embellish their significance, tear them down, then build them up again. But why? Who cares if you finally "figure out" where it all went bad? What do you expect to gain?
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Ames
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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