AN ESSAY ON BARNABY HAZEN'S, TO MY OBLIVIOUS OR MASOCHISTIC READER
His question, of whether or not the simplicity of his audience is genuine, points to other questions.
First of all, he claims a comfortable distance from his audience and indeed from humanity altogether, when he says, ÒIt is this distance which provides a situation which is finally tolerable and interesting for me.Ó
One could try to argue that his situation is not tolerable, as he admits that he is miserable, and by choice; is misery part of what makes his situation tolerable, or does he mean that he is miserable, but finds his relations with others tolerable as an a side, now that heÕs established distance?
Never mind - better to question the distance itself.
Look at this sentence - ÒI mean, rather, that my life is compelling and repulsive to you; compelling enough for you to take notice of me wherever I go (particular notice, in fact, with strange, contorted expressions on you faces), but also frightful enoug h to hold you outside the distance IÕve established...Ó What he describes here is not distance from these people he feels so spiteful, perhaps vengeful towards, but rather a strange and fickle sort of intimacy with them. He expresses an opinion that str angers take particular notice of him on a daily basis, and that they reject him. He mentions something about the expressions on their faces as well; one must look very closely at a person indeed to really see an expression, especially one that happens on ly in passing.
So in actuality this aloofness that he established or discovered was only made possible by his ability to look closely at other people; if he hadnÕt looked closely, with pained, morose interest, he could never have seen the subtle rejections which fed his anger, and his want of distance. Looking at To My Reader, in fact, one could easily suspect that all of his interactions with people were driven by his own very specific motives; I will even go so far as to say that each of these interactions were actua lly seductions of his, simple and ordinary seductions at that; ordinary, at least in the company of other people who are depressed. It doesnÕt take much more than a steady, deeply sullen gaze to find rejection from the public eye on a daily basis. This is the sort of seduction which allows a depressed person to stay depressed; this is the sort of interaction which allows a self-destructive person to drive himself to suicide.
In a later issue of Majenta, there appeared another bit of his prose, called Columbo. A stronger piece in general, this also shows a considerably different and possibly more mature voice than the one weÕd know given only Reader; this lends credit to his closing in the latter, which seems to say that it was something of a joke, but then it takes a certain amount of truly spiteful intent just to play the kind of joke in question - angry and senseless. Also, not very funny.
His essay on The Cure is sort of interesting. Again, in order to criticize Robert Smith as effectively as he did, there had to be a certain amount of intimacy with SmithÕs art, at least, and checking forward several pages at To My Reader, again, while lo oking over The Cure, I would say it also took more than a little bit of empathy.
His poetry (An Electrum Press, chapbooks 1-3) emulates Romantic poetry. If it can be called romantic, it is not in how closely he follows the traditional style of the period, but in that he shows (inadvertently?) a true longing for the period, the genre, which is passed away and out of reach to him. ItÕs almost as if he believes, perhaps rightfully so, that by using modern images he would taint the work heÕs done to write so traditionally, and make it seem like a sort of ironic reference. Any longings
he expresses in the words of his poems fall short of what these restrictions heÕs put on himself reveal in and of themselves - his longing, be it temporary or eternal, for a time of extremely sophisticated and eloquent longing.