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The Strange and Lovely Philosophy of Graham

May 8, 2013
Barcelona, Sitges, Paris, London 021

Statue of a boy from Barcelona. I like to think that he is ulating in ebullience, completely in the moment.

He started to take the piss out of me the moment we met.  I was standing in line at the Double Shot coffee shop on Tavistock Road, rummaging in my wallet.  I wasn’t sure how I seemed to only have Euro cents in my wallet, as there I was, trying to pay the nice man making me a cappuccino.  I jokingly complained out loud how living in London was so tough, a euro-less life in a European world.  And there he was, sitting at a table close enough to hear, blue eyes sparking with interest as he interjected that London was a terrible place to live, the worst, he should know.  He then proceeded to list five or six worst cities to live in, simply based on the difficulties of using their currency.

We ended up having a chat together, him drinking his pink fruity water unabashedly, me with my caffeine habit and little spoon to go with it.

Walt Whitman would have liked Graham.  Not only was he handsome in a squashed nose, red-heady sort of way, but he contains multitudes.  He is an entrepreneur, a business man, but he hates labels.  He frowns at notions of identity, saying identity affiliation is a crutch, a way for people to stay psychologically safe.  His mum is Scottish, his dad English, but he doesn’t consider himself either.   I told him he didn’t feel English to me, but perhaps he had an Italian soul?  He said that he was better at picking up women than the Italians.  His soul was just a human soul, that is all.  Like anyone’s.

All people's are Graham's people.  Including Shrek.

All people’s are Graham’s people. Including Shrek.

He speaks a little bit of many languages: in our conversation alone, he spoke to me in Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and English, though he said he was also fluent in Polish.  He learns these bon mots from lovers- his version of pillow talk.  As he joked, he too studies ‘international relations.’  He loves loving women; Graham admits he is a bit of a tosser, but he’s that way because he was made that way and not because he saw it in some movie and got socialized into it.  Besides if women love him back, isn’t that just good for everyone involved?  I said he should visit India, considering he said he like meditation and Indian food and the kama sutra.  He said he’d think about it.

He doesn’t drink, or smoke, or use any substances.  Life is sensory enough as it is, for Graham.

All people are Graham’s people.  He is a citizen of the world.  Seven billion people are like Graham, and Graham likes seven billion people.  I asked Graham how he can like people like the Boston bombers, like those men who throw acid on young women’s faces.  He says they aren’t real to him, he doesn’t read the news, he doesn’t engage with those people.  He’s never going to meet them- the only way they exist for him is if he lets them by learning about them.  They are merely concepts in his head, figments of his imagination for all the form and substance and effect they have in his life, so why should he be fussed?  News has a narrative that is constructed; facts aren’t facts but like a bread crumb trail- placed deliberately, leading to some overwhelming conclusion.  Only what he experiences, his personal sensory information, is real and genuine.

Graham doesn’t think much of life of the mind.  He is a feeler, a doer, someone who tries to be present and live in the moment.  He prizes spontaneity and impulsiveness; he exuded the same genuineness of self that he purported to value.  He thinks that the realm of ideas takes one out of life.  It isn’t part of living at all.  It is merely a distraction, it isn’t real, and it is all constructed.  He sees no value in it.  I told him about a time when I read Simone de Beauvoir and her words helped me come to terms with my own issues around women’s place in society.  He then allowed that sometimes ideas help mold a self into a better version, that ideas can help growth.  But he maintained that on people’s death beds they think about playing with their brother’s child, or of the complete contentment and languor in their limbs after sex.  They don’t think about other people’s words, nor should they.

London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Budapest and bit of Barcelona 1136

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Imagine a man-made forest of a cathedral. Enough to inspire present moment appreciation even in the most devout of overthinkers.

Graham doesn’t think that one should read books.  If you need books, he told me earnestly (quoting Alain de Button) it means that you have had a trauma in your childhood, some sort of alienation and disassociation that lead you to escapist activities like reading.

Then he quotes Heidegger.

He thinks people only write when they are sad.  He says depressed people only talk about themselves, live in their minds alone and can’t see the world around them for what it truly is.  He told me I must over-think things if I write as much as I claim.  I confided in him that I have been depressed in the past; moodiness is part of my emotional makeup.  Graham’s known some hardship.  He’s been sad before, he’s been depressed.  But not anymore- now he is completely happy.   I asked him what his secret was.

He told me to go downstairs with him and take my clothes off and I’d understand.  I responded that I suppose that’s what I get for trying to solve one of life’s greatest mysteries simply by asking a stranger.

He was late for a meeting, he said, as he rose hastily.  He kissed me hard on both cheeks, wet affectionate kisses like your dog gives you on a summer’s day after playing catch.  His beard scratched my skin, and I felt the lingering presence of his lips pressed against my cheeks for minutes after he was gone.

He didn’t ask my number, nor would I have given it to him.  All I had left from my encounter with the man named Graham was a tenuous manifesto, a guide to living life in flow:

Exist in the moment, be completely a creature of the ‘I’ over the ‘me.’ Allow yourself to be id without worrying about the pesky ego.  Take nothing others write or say for granted.  And… be human.  Without necessarily knowing what that means.  You’ll eventually figure it out.

I don’t agree with everything Graham said.  But I can’t deny that it is a seductive theory.  In a time where irony is in and simple appreciation is so last decade, wouldn’t it be nice just to be without self-consciousness of that existence?

London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Budapest and bit of Barcelona 816

Hands reaching in a graveyard. In honestly don’t even remember which country it is from. I just know that it is beautiful and that is enough.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 8, 2013 6:38 PM

    Luca, you clearly enjoy communicating with others, and the others could be anyone and anywhere, and you like to do it in some depth. I enjoy your writing, but I am surprised that in the instance of your interaction with Graham, you were only modestly disturbed by his rejection of the value of using his intellect, though he has used his mind to be able to communicate to some extent in a number of different languages. That’s all I will say today except for the question: Did you receive the discussion I sent re the Supreme Court?


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