clyde bruckman’s final prose

i’ve been watching a lot of the x-files recently.  i bought the first four seasons on dvd and, sadly enough, i managed to finish off all 97 episodes in a matter of weeks.  i achieved this pathetic feat watching six or seven episodes a day, not counting the half-episode i’d watch as i fell asleep every night.  i told my friends that my goal was to see if i could freak myself out, to see if it was possible to be driven insane by all the weirdos and conspiracies and mutants.  i guess it wasn’t possible, though, because i was not freaked out or driven to madness or turned into a mutant or alien.  and i was already sort of a weirdo.

but even though i’ve now watched every single x-files i have in my possession, for some reason i can’t stop.  i’m still rewatching my favorite episodes, putting a random disk on in the background while i’m doing chores, looking around at stuff on the internet.  granted, i haven’t been having x-files dreams, i’m not making myself late for work or cancelling plans in order to watch it, and i’ve started sleeping in my bed again rather than in the living room where the dvd player is.  it’s not enough, though.  intrepid FBI agents and secret colonization and alien-human hybrids and extraterrestrial smallpox viruses have (im)planted themselves firmly in the back of my brain.  so however strange it may sound, i think i need to cleanse myself of the x-files.

so far, i’ve done two things in an attempt to rid myself of this show that sucks away at my spare time like so many giant flukemen.  first of all, i’ve done a lot of thinking about what it is i like so much about the x-files.  i mean, it’s plenty entertaining, sure, but so are the many books on my shelf that i could be reading instead.  and yes, it’s scary and weird, but so is the old fish in the back of my freezer.  i think i’ve come up with a few deeper, more telling reasons why i’m so drawn to a television show.

(note: “television show” in this case is defined in terms of seasons one through seven, as seasons eight and nine are total crapfests and should never have existed.)

1.  both main characters have enjoyed a level of academic and career success which i will likely never achieve.  how awesome would it be to get a degree from oxford?  to go into medicine like i wanted to when i was a kid?  of course, i only wanted to go into medicine when i was a kid so that i could look inside people’s eyeballs and find out what was in there, and then later i wanted to be a poet, but still.

2.  i know that i’m buying into one of the common things that draw people to shows with an investigative element (like all those law and orders and CSIs), and i know they set these shows up like this on purpose, but watching the x-files makes me feel like i could TOTALLY be an FBI agent.

3.  i do not now, nor have i ever had, any belief whatsoever in extraterrestrials or paranormal phenomenon.  mulder’s obsession with these things to the exclusion of all else fascinates me not because of the things themselves, but because of the intensity of his obsession.  i’ve said before that i wish i had so obvious a direction in life.  one of my favorite quotes from adaptation is when susan orlean’s character says, “i suppose i do have one unembarrassed passion.  i want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately.”

4.  though i only know what i’ve seen on television, it seems to me that the relationship between partners in law enforcement is an intriguing one.  i’ve never known someone whom i had no choice but to trust with my life.  without getting into a whole debate over the romance issue (about which i have my own opinions), i will say that one of the things i enjoy most about the show is mulder and scully’s total reliance on and complete trust in one another.  it’s a relationship i envy

5.  four of my favorite episodes are “humbug,” “clyde bruckman’s final repose,” “war of the coprophages,” and “jose chung’s ‘from outer space.'”  they’re all written by darin morgan, in my opinion the best x-files writer to grace the opening credits. these episodes comprise some of the most well-written television i’ve ever seen.  darin morgan uses the absurd and monstrous to illustrate the uniquely human, and does so with apparent ease.  morgan’s writing manages to be simultaneously bizarre and poignant; he weaves his message in with the plot so seamlessly that it never seems contrived.  i wish i could write like that.  hell, i wish i could write about writing without sounding like an english paper.  “the absurd and monstrous to illustrate the uniquely human??”  who talks like that?

anyway, i think mostly i watch so much x-files because i’m lonely and bored.  obviously, the reason we indulge in escapist activities like bad movies and entertainment magazines and television shows is that there’s something we want to escape, and boy do i have things i want to escape.  and if i can escape into a world where the two main characters are successful, focused, and not-alone (in other words, the opposite of me right now), more’s the better.  (more’s the better?  who talks like that?)

the second thing i’ve done in an attempt to rid myself of the x-files has to do with my first website ever.  my first website ever was in 1997.  it was huge and miscellaneous, meticulously updated with poems and photographs and tributes to my favorite authors and artists and musicians and movies and subways.  in 1997 i put anything and everything on my website–quotes, song lyrics, images, it didn’t matter.  if i liked something, i made a page about it, and if you don’t know where this is going there’s something wrong with you.

anyway, i made a small x-files page.  it’s mostly a tribute to darin morgan’s writing on the show, though i’ve included a few other good episodes as well.  oddly enough i find my x-files page rather embarrassing, as though because i created it i’ve now become everything that is stupid, repetitive, and useless about the internet.  i am those sites with PHOTOS of ACTOR.  i am SCRIPTS and SCREEN CAPTURES.  i am DATABASE of how many times CHARACTER says WORD in EPISODE of SHOW.  no matter.  it’s there.

i’m surprised to find that making an x-files page has left me completely unsatisfied.  i made it because i thought it would be a nice way to keep everything i like about the x-files in one place, a place where other people could see it, a place where i could leave it behind for a little while.  and it is all those things.  but i’m not proud of it the way i’m proud of my writing and photographs.  there’s no real sense of accomplishment, no satisfaction that i’ve given something of myself to it, because i haven’t.  really, my x-files page is a copy of something that other people can be proud of.  it’s an homage to something i didn’t create, and there’s not much joy in that.  i guess that’s why bluishorange has lasted so much longer than did my website in 1997.

none of these attempts worked, anyway.  tonight i’m going to fall asleep to the eerie, overwrought strains of mark snow.  goodnight.  don’t let the feejee mermaids bite.