I walk into a cafe. It does not matter where I do this, for the city rarely dictates what a cafe looks like. I am greeted by angular lines and a slaty interior, usually. The vases are brutalist stacks of engineered wood if they are geometric. Or they are glossy, ivory white marble or ceramic if they are curvaceous. But regardless of their shape or material, they house some species of parlour palm. A counter is adjacent to some wall—it does not matter which one; behind it, people scramble in the tiny space they have to fulfil orders. On the walls, some doodle is painted in an intentionally crude fashion, or there is some contemporary art on canvas panels, usually triplets. The menu is as uninspired as the ambience: echoing the same dishes and drinks.
I read a poem that reads the same as another poem I hated—with abrupt spacing and intentional profanity, which serves no purpose but to ensure that the poem appears honest. They call it the free verse; they insult what free means. How free is something that uses the same rules as something else? But again, what do I know of poetry? All I can write is prose nobody reads. I watch a film, and rarely does it spark something within me. The rest get forgotten as soon as I walk out of the theatre if there is a theatre. I go to a bar in another country; it looks precisely like the one in my neighbourhood, and more so, it serves the same cocktails.
There is no invention unless you are some snob in high society, reinventing something already existent and rebranding it to fit your image. Even the advice we get sounds the same; all philosophy may as well regurgitate what came before. Inspiration is dead. These words, here, are but a eulogy.
Who killed it? We did. But not instantly, no.
We choked it slowly, deliberately, and now, the lifeless corpses of cafes and bars and pubs and apartments and art and music and poetry and literature and philosophy stare at us wherever we go. All urban life is a ghoulish reminder of all urban life. We now live in a graveyard, sipping our poisons, humming to a song we do not know the name of.
After all, who could tell the difference?
This piece is part of the Soaring Twenties Social Club Symposium for May 2023. The theme is Death.