January 23, 2012

Charles Bukowski, on the Dark Side of Humankind.

As a lifelong Buddhist, I see human beings as fundamentally aok. We can be horrible when we seek happiness at the expense of others, we can be wonderful when we seek happiness through the happiness of others.

Bukowski, of course, was among the best at seeing the worst. There’s a wisdom and brilliance and depression and self-hatred to that.

But, in any case, his words are provocative. Love thyself, before we seek to make the world love. Be okay with being alone, before we seek crowds.


“Beware those quick to censor, they are afraid of what they do not know.”

Here’s Bukowski himself reading the poem:


The woodcut is from “Madman’s Drum” by Lynd Ward, about 1930

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own

not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world

not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect
like a shining diamond

like a knife

like a mountain

like a tiger

like hemlock

their finest art


All that’s great, but not a happy man. Not happy with himself or his life:

Text from video: “Charles Bukowski kicking and cursing out his soon to be fiancé. The moment where he mocks her is pure comic gold! Also, listen for when the director says ‘uh-oh.'”

Who’d want to be such an a888888le? NSFW language:

Bonus: he did not think much of humankind.

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