JONATHAN HARNISCH: AN ALIBIOGRAPHY
“Hiding underneath his meticulously cluttered desk covered in piles of books sits the frozen mysterious mosaic-eyed man in an old tattered brown and yellow plaid suit. His thick salt and pepper hair shaggy and mussed, his face unshaven and his demeanor disheveled, his name is Jonathan Harnisch,” already up all night and day onto the second batch of serialized ‘Alibiographies,’ he just can’t stop. This writer writes fast and as one Verified Reviewer on Amazon wrote, it’s for the masses.”
Most Helpful Customer Review: 5 Stars
‘I Loved This Book–Everything About It’:
"As I an undergrad, I was required–emphasis on required–to read Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers, a very early example of transgressive fiction, and although I could appreciate the literary value of the book, it was almost impossible to read because of Genet’s approach to his characters–he didn’t seem to like any of them, and his prose seemed more to ridicule than explore their foibles. As a result of reading Genet’s work so many years ago, I have never thought I liked transgressive fiction, never thought I’d read it again, and then along came Jonathan Harnisch’s Alibiography.
Wow. What a difference.
Harnisch’s Georgie Gust is such a beautifully written, tragic character, who the reader can’t help but cheer on. You want Georgie to be happy. What an accomplishment. Harnisch wades into a genre in which disconnected, ugly sexual encounters predominate, and yet you just want Georgie to get it together, be happy, and see the world as his friend. Genius. I loved this book."
“Don't Forget To Laugh.” Random Book Sample:
Despite his own doubt, Georgie tries to reassure her. “No, Clio,” he says. “You really do want to know.”
Amos seconds the motion. “Yeah, Clio,” he says. “It’s all good stuff.”
Trying to be friendly, warm, and intimate, he steps closer, but Clio instinctively backs off.
“Hey, Clio,” Amos soothes her. “Sorry I kept him so late. I need to go fuck up some faces.” As Amos walks away, he continues to chant. “Thank you, Georgie. Thank you! For whatever, man. Whatever, wherever, whoever—just, thank you, man.”
Wanting to make up with Clio, Georgie sticks out his hand, but Clio pulls him up short.
Georgie hems and haws, “I’ll tell you when we get home,” he offers.
Clio looks Georgie right smack dead in the eye as she replies. “It better be good, Georgie. It better be good.”
I take what I want and leave the rest . . . or however that saying goes.
Part XII: Coda: Benjamin J Schreiber Writes to Dr C
So you see, Dr C, it’s like I have these schizophrenic blue-movie skits, and sleazy hardcore video clips, flashing through my nightmares and daydreams all the time—night and day, and day and night. It’s not like I’m making them happen. It’s not like I’m writing the script. It’s not like I’m the director or producer, or anything—it’s more like, I’m just another spectator or bystander out there in the invisible studio audience, watching the skits and clips flash past. Or maybe I’m the invisible cameraman behind the invisible video camera, just rolling along and shooting the pictures, and watching and waiting for whatever happens next. I can’t switch the channel, or change the script, or rewrite the scene, or even make the whole stupid thing just stop!
You see, Dr C, it’s like those schizophrenic blue-movie skits and sleazy hardcore video clips just keep playing over and over again, in some kind of continuous tape-loop or endless cinematic flashback. They’re stuck on instant replay, or whatever—and sometimes the same scuzzy characters show up and the same crazy scenes keep playing, like it’s déjà vu all over again, you know? Like there’s Georgie Gust, okay? There’s that Claudia Nesbitt—and there are maybe three or four other characters who keep showing up in different bodies or different egos, even though I know they’re really just the same creepy people. They’re the same creeps and perverts, the same suckers and chumps, the same bitches and yo-ho-hos—I already know—and they’re always stuck in some kind of perpetual jilted lover’s quarrel, or some self-destructive and abusive relationship. It’s like they just can’t get out of the same stupid trap, or get away from wherever they are—or even just make the whole world stop.
So sometimes, you know, doc—sometimes I think that maybe they’re trying to tell me something. Maybe they’re sending me messages and beaming me signals through my daydreams, my fantasies, my nightmares, and my wet dreams. Maybe, someday, it’ll add up to some kind of message or moral or something—like in those old-time movies and old-fashioned radio plays—or, maybe, like those fairy-stories, folktales and myths. But you know, they just don’t fit together; those schizophrenic blue-movie scripts and hardcore porno clips—they just don’t fit together, no matter how I try to write them down, or how I try to play them out, or how I try to shuffle them and juggle them into some kind of storyline or movie plot. And then the whole stupid thing falls apart like some jump-cut, film splice flick or cut-up video clip that didn’t really work—and it won’t get taped up, or glued down, or somehow stick together again—ever. No matter what I do.
So then, you know Dr C, the only thing I can think is that maybe the whole world is crazy, and maybe I’ve gone crazy too—and the whole world’s getting crazier and crazier, every day, and in every way. Or like that Georgie Gust says to his shrink, somewhere in this whole crazy mess: in all his NYU undergrad, and Harvard graduate education, and all that Wakefield prep-school jazz, and all of that psychology, those humanities, that literature and art—it just makes him think how ridiculous he really is and how absurd everyone else is, too. It makes him think how the whole world is just wacko when you get right down to it. The whole world is stupid, and meaningless and empty. And then I think, well, if the whole world really is absurd, and everybody else is just as ridiculous as me, then why bother to write, or paint, or do anything? Why bother to make movies, or tell stories, or even get out of bed for that matter? Why even bother to go on living?
You know what I mean, doc?
What’s done is done. What’s gone is gone. One of my life’s lessons is to always move on. Getting over my first love, dealing with the heartbreak, dealing with all the death and erosion, and dealing with life itself. It’s fine to look back and think of fond memories, but I think if I keep moving forward, I will, indeed, live a much happier life, plain and fucking simple.
Codex: Doctor C Writes Back to Benjamin J Schreiber
Yes, Ben. I know exactly what you mean. You should know, too, that it’s not just you. Many other people sometimes feel like the whole world is crazy, and that they’re crazy, too. A lot of people think the whole world is ridiculous and pointless, and that their entire life is just as meaningless and absurd. Some people feel like everything is falling apart around them and they don’t want to go on living. And, they don’t have any kind of cosmic glue, or spiritual super goop, that’ll stick it all together and make the whole world work for them so they can just go plugging along. Maybe they just don’t have what it takes to make the whole world stop being ridiculous, and meaningless, and stupid, and absurd and make their whole life seem worth living again, too.
But, you know, Ben, maybe you’re right. Maybe those schizophrenic blue-movie skits and sleazy hardcore porn-flicks (as you call them) are trying to tell you something. Maybe they really are like fairytales or folktales, or old-time movies or old-fashioned myths with some kind of message or moral hidden somewhere inside them—like fortune cookies. Maybe they’re sending messages from your deeper self and beaming signals from your subconscious mind, your libido, or your ID ego (or whatever you want to call it), or even from the whole collective subconscious of the human race.
The message they’re sending you, as far as I can see, Ben, the moral they’re trying to tell you, is really pretty simple. Despite all the self-destructive, abusive things and all the hateful, hurtful things Georgie and Claudia (and everybody else) do to each other, and despite the absurdity, ludicrousness, and ridiculousness of it all, the message or moral they’re sending is really pretty simple and pretty straightforward, you know? The message or moral of the whole story, as I see it, Ben, is this:
They’re trying to show you what it’s like to get stuck in hell, and know that you’re stuck in hell, and still not be able to find the way out, when all along, Ben, the way out is right there in front of you. All you have to do is look for it—all you have to do is want to get out. You can raise yourself out of hell, you can make a new life for yourself, and you can make the whole world over again, Ben, whenever you want to—and all you have to do is want to.
Because, you see, Ben, in this crazy, mixed-up, stupid, and absurd world, everybody needs somebody or something to make everything whole. It’s to save them from the absurdity and meaninglessness, the ridiculousness and stupidity, of their existence. For some people, that somebody or something is a person, a spiritual teacher or holy man, a great lover or secret soul mate who makes their whole life complete and becomes the entire world for them. For other people, that somebody or something is a spiritual teaching or religious doctrine, a secret philosophy or work of art, that makes the whole world speak to them and convinces them they can live forever.
Georgie Gust and Claudia Nesbitt, as you see them, Ben, are people who want to find the whole world in a significant other, and build a whole world around that other person, to save themselves from the stupidity and absurdity of their empty, meaningless lives. Of course, Georgie and Claudia’s struggle to discover the whole world in each other, and build a world around themselves, are tragically doomed to disappointment and failure because neither one of them can really fulfill the other’s fantasies and dreams. Neither can carry the whole weight of the world they’re building together.
Because neither Georgie nor Claudia can really accept the stupidity and ridiculousness of their significant other, or the absurdity and emptiness of their great fantasy, they get caught and trapped in their self-destructive and abusive relationship. They’re stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle of hateful and hurtful acts, and they just keep repeating the same self-destructive actions, and playing the same stupid scenes, and somehow they just can’t break the cycle or get out of the loop, or take a deep breath and tell themselves to just stop!
Georgie Gust and “Famous Amos” Daedalus on the other hand, are people who build a whole world around a creative delusion or a life-changing illusion and try to transform the stupidity, absurdity, emptiness, and meaninglessness of worldly human existence into an immortal sculpture or an eternal work of art. The problem is that the world they want to create, to save everything from absurdity and meaninglessness, and save themselves from stupidity and ridiculousness and emptiness—the “Hall of the Unknowns” in Georgie Gust’s One & Only Original, Classical, Wax Museum!!!—can’t really support their spiritual aspirations and artistic illusions. So, their statuesque, classical sculptures and waxen talking heads of self-important small-town celebrities, and unknown street people finally become just as stupid, absurd, meaningless, and ridiculous as the world they’re trying to escape.
So as much as everybody, just like you, Ben, needs somebody, or something, to make the world whole for them and save them from the their solitary, empty lives, it’s also important to remember that no single person in the whole world can support your whole, solitary, empty existence. They can’t make the world whole for you if you can’t do it yourself. The world is what we make it, and so the whole world is only as we allow it to be, as we make it to be, as we name it to be. If it’s what we make it, then we can make the whole world over, and make ourselves over, too—but only if we want to. Otherwise, the whole world really is just as absurd and stupid, just as empty, and meaningless and ridiculous as we think it is.
Also, Ben, it’s important not to take those eternal works of art, or immortal waxen sculptures, those great passionate love affairs, or our secret soul mates too seriously—or to take yourself too seriously, either—which is maybe the only real message or moral that Georgie Gust and Claudia Nesbitt, Sir Tony Halldale, and “Famous Amos”, Stevie and Mary, and all the others are trying to teach you, Ben. Their only real purpose, meaning, or reason for existence as far as anybody can say for sure, is to teach you how to laugh.
Does that make sense to you, Ben? Or am I getting too moral? You know, you can make me stop, too—or you can make me do whatever you want me to do. Can’t you? If you really want to or have the will to do it because you, after all, are the author—which is as close to “the gods” (or God) as we get in this stupid, absurd, meaningless, empty universe. And whatever you do, Ben, it’s all up to you.
So, Ben, no matter how bad things get, no matter how stupid and ridiculous and absurd the whole world seems, even if the whole world goes crazy—remember, Ben, don’t forget to laugh.
Appendix: Final Q & A Session between Benjamin J Schreiber and Dr C
Well, okay then, Dr C. If you’re so smart, and you think you know everything, let me ask you a question: What does Georgie Gust really want?
That’s a simple question, Ben. I can give you a simple answer. You see, Georgie Gust, like countless other American men of his psychological profile, weight, age, and character type, simply wants to find a perfect and flawless, beautiful and untouched, pure woman whom he can worship and adore while writhing and groveling at her feet. Someone he can love with his entire soul while she treats him like dirt.
You mean like Claudia Nesbitt, doc?
Or maybe it’s like Georgie Gust’s idea of Claudia Nesbitt. You see, Ben, because no actual sweating, breathing, menstruating woman could ever possibly hope to live up to Georgie Gust’s supreme stereotype and highly repressed sexual fantasy of his ideal woman, Georgie Gust is subconsciously obsessed, and compulsively driven, by the unspeakable need to desecrate, defile, and compel the perfectly beautiful woman—to submit to his self-punishing, psychological abuse, and sometimes to actual physical torture, so that he can feel superior to her and make her what he wants her to be. You see, Ben, just like you, Georgie Gust . . .
Whoa, whoa, now! Wait a minute there, doc; let’s not get personal. I’ve got another question for you.
Okay, Ben. Go ahead. Shoot.
What I want to know is this, doc—if you’re such a psycho-guru and know-it-all shrink, and have such keen insight into the male character, why don’t you tell me: What does “Famous Amos” Daedalus really want?
That’s another simple question, Ben. I can give you a simple answer—in a nutshell. You see, Ben, like countless other sexually repressed, emotionally frustrated, and secretly homosexual American men, “Famous Amos” simply wants to create his own supremely idealized stereotype, and subconscious sexual fantasy, of the perfect woman who will embody his sublimated and spiritual ideal, and still submit to his disgusting, pornographic fantasies.
(Parenthetical Pet Peeve) Men who wouldn’t date anything else but a gorgeous woman even if they look like Jabba the Hutt.
Wait a minute! Okay. Yeah, I get it, doc. So you’d say, doc, that because Amos can’t ever really find some perfectly beautiful woman, or flawlessly pure babe to live up to his sublimated sexual fantasies or spiritual ideal, or whatever—then he tries to make a perfectly beautiful, flawlessly pure and ideal woman by carving her out of wax and making her into a department store window display, or wax museum mannequin, or something?
You got it, Ben. However, not even a perfectly beautiful display window mannequin or flawlessly pure wax museum sculpture can ever hope to live up to Amos’ perfectly sublimated stereotype and highly repressed sexual fantasy. Amos, like Georgie Gust, is subconsciously obsessed and compulsively driven by the unspeakable need to desecrate and defile, to debase and mortify—even his own supremely beautiful stereotypes and flawlessly pure images of the department store mannequin or the wax museum sculpture.
To shite on her, you might say, eh, Dr C?
Right, Ben. So, like Georgie Gust, and maybe like you, Ben, he can prove to himself how superior he is to those mere sweating, breathing, and menstruating mortal women. He can then reign supreme as the sublime creator-god, and highly spiritualized wax sculpture artist, within his own private universe and fantasy world of the wax museum.
Well, you know, doc—I have to admit you have a point, there. It seems like you know Georgie Gust and “Famous Amos” pretty well, now, don’t you?
You know them, too, Ben—even if you don’t want to admit it.
Hey now, knock it off, doc! It’s nothing personal, you see?
Sorry, Ben. I’ll be good now.
Good enough. Because you see, doc, I have one more question for you. What I want to know, doc, is this: What does Claudia Nesbitt really want?
Well now, Ben, that’s a little more difficult, isn’t it? But you know, Ben, despite the fact that Claudia Nesbitt is a pretty complicated character (and maybe she isn’t just one woman, but an amalgamation of a bunch of women—all lumped together into one), I really think I can give you a fairly simple answer to that question.
Okay, doc—go ahead, shoot. But watch where you’re pointing that thing, will you?
You see, Ben, Claudia Nesbitt, like Georgie Gust, like “Famous Amos,” and maybe even like you, Ben . . .
Aw, c’mon! Get off it, doc!
. . . like everybody else in the whole human world, Ben, Claudia Nesbitt really just wants to be loved. Loved wholly and completely, for who she is as a real, live, sweating, breathing, and menstruating woman. Complete with her flaws and imperfections, complaints and complexes, with all her cruelty and perversity, her craziness and insecurity—and despite the fact that she really is something of . . .
A bitch! Isn’t she, doc? I mean, she’s . . .
. . . a difficult woman to live with. Just like we all are.
Even me, doc?
Women and men—even you, Ben.
But nobody can ever really give us the complete and unconditional love we want, huh, doc? Except maybe our mothers . . . .
So, we get stuck in these self-destructive, abusive relationships and failed marriages. We do hateful, hurtful things to each other and just repeat the same stupid psychodramas over and over again.
Like Georgie Gust and Claudia Nesbitt?
So do you really think, doc . . .?
Think what, Ben?
We could just snicker and chortle and snort.
And chuckle and snigger . . . .
And laugh our way out of it?
And smile through our tears . . .
And the whole thing would just disappear?
And the whole world would be a paradise—a heaven on earth.
And we’d all be perfectly beautiful and perfectly sane human beings?
It’d be worth a try, wouldn’t it?
Okay, doc. Here it goes . . .
One, two, three. . .
Ha, ha, ha. . .
And he, he. . .