Allan Graubard







Hatred is a profound emotion…


Hatred is a profound emotion. It can wreak havoc and work wonders; it can simmer and burst out suddenly in the most irrational fashion. It can fuel a work of art, if it comes to that, just as it can inspire all the transitory accolades attached to useless triumph. But there is something about hatred that unnerves me, that is unique to hatred and that has nothing to do with its opposite, love; nothing whatsoever.


When a man hates another man enough so that his presence enrages for no other reason than for being present, and when that other man knows it but can’t do anything about it, or more simply doesn’t want to try, having no reason to do anything at all, slowly but surely the man who hates begins to mimic the object of his hatred. He takes on, unconsciously at first then to his dismay quite consciously, the mannerisms, tics, verbal sonorities, physical gestures that the fellow expresses as if nothing were untoward or suspect. This is a commonplace. Less often, though, and we don’t usually discuss this other than in asides and jokes: mimicry, whether he likes it or not, infuses his being. And the fellow who hates becomes ever more like the object of his hatred, having translated himself into his other; this man he detests.

I know this, having endured it now several times over: the two merge, or they merge sufficiently to seem indistinguishable. Is there a difference? Who then has topped whom? And at what cost this victory, and to what end? That is why murders proliferate, isn’t it? It’s one thing to fantasize, another to prove the fantasy real, with blood its measure and all that gasping and twitching that accompanies it;  playful jesters in silhouette drag crowding in to a darkening end.

Hatred is delicious. It energizes, focuses, uplifts and poisons the mind. All else falls away. Omnipotence is a grand term, and while I hesitate to use it I can’t prevent myself from doing so. When I hate, I hate completely. Even if the other has certain quite appealing virtues, I hate them, and hate them more when they flower during a moment’s interchange, a quick hello quite generously given on the street, warm parting words at an airport, congenial laughter at a bar, and embraces that seep sexual sweat just there on the surface of the skin, tiny beads of sweat glittering in the lamp light, quick vaporous diamonds composed of water, acid and salt.

And when it comes, not the epiphenomena, all those passing momentous definitive pleasantries that provoke my hatred; when I begin to express the same and cannot stop myself from expressing them, however much I seek to squelch asphyxiate strangle burn or crush them utterly; when I become, inexorably but inevitably, the man I hate, then my hatred compounds, multiplies and seeks, for want of a better term, cosmic approval. It doesn’t matter if I get it. I invent it. I luxuriate in it. I pour a glass of the amber delicacy and drink it down, then do it again, and once again. What simplicity: I am the man I’ve come to hate, and I hate that man beyond my hate. I hate him in me, and me in him.

And if I could – hate being equal; that is, equally distributed and returned in kind – I would do something others have refused, much to their distress when knowing it. I would give hatred for hatred, and use this mimicking that usurps me to usurp the me that I hate.

Caged or free or neutral, there it is, unrelenting, without relief. No escape possible. To hell with temporal, spatial, physical, sonic, conceptual or metaphorical evasions! The sign reads: No exit. It is, as they say, ontological.

There isn’t a pill for this or a therapy that resolves it either. It just is, as you are and I am. Hating each other with the inestimable pleasures of a very desperate and addictively eccentric hatred.



A thin red froth…


In the mid-seventeenth century, Turkish pirates stole upon the island for plunder. Word spread quickly, and knowing the risk – certain near starvation — the peasants armed themselves as they could and counterattacked. In their desperation to save what little they had, they drove the pirates back to their mooring on a small outcrop fifty meters from shore, from whence they fled. But in the main village a mother wailed for her twins, nowhere to be found.


The kidnapped boys adapted to their new surroundings. They didn’t forget their abduction but they didn’t dwell on it. What good would it have done them? Even so young, they knew enough. So they learned to be pirates and loved what they learned. And soon, with their hex signs scored on the trunks of too many trees, as much to claim ownership as to dispel the charms launched against them, interlopers that they were, they became proficient with the sextant and compass. Their passion for shipwreck, the tales passed from crew to crew about the dogged, castaway struggle to survive – on an empty atoll with fruit, water and game animals, as they embroidered it — drew about them the inevitability of legend.

By 12 they were ready. They hijacked a trawler and cast out on the tide. Their adoptive father didn’t give chase. He was a man as much as a pirate, and understood what it was that troubled them. Reality would force them back to this place where they wielded power, heir apparent to a band of thieves and killers.

Understanding the ruses of time, they would settle for land. Understanding the needs of the land, they would exile men and women to their colonies. They were gods playing with blood and thunder. They threw stones in raven spleen and ate wild rabbits cooked over a low fire for a long, long time.

They took lovers and had children, whom they gave money and respect to. The harem lived apart in thick, whitewashed houses squatting on a level piece of rock just above the water across the harbor.


After their kidnapper died, they revenged their abandonment twice. They claimed their right then conquered their former home, slaying its priest. No one could mediate between victory and spoils, and no one could demand fealty other than them. Their mother, who trembled when she embraced them, having seen their savagery yet overjoyed at their triumph, gained a simulacra of the wealth stolen from her so many years before; the cold equivalence in gold.

From then on they lived as pirate kings, inspired by their youthful daydreams and the spirit instilled within them by the one they finally called “father.” They were ruthless and warm by turns if only to keep their retinue ready – as he. They drank too much, ate richly, paid their poets well and fucked when they wished – as he. Their joie de vivre rubbed off even on those they held dominion over; slaves and servants all. Addicted to sensual intensity, they sought, took, pillaged and refined their excesses.


Their delirium prospered. The villages they lived in and others they governed grew into towns, the towns into larger towns with ports and warehouses. Rebellions broke out now and then and torture returned now and then. And now and then a couple, two couples, vanished, having thought they could find their way back home.

It could have continued, they wanted it to continue, the others along for the ride affirmed and reaffirmed its continuance, but time is relentless.


When the twins died several months apart – could one live without the other? — it was said that they spoke of their first piratical evening, the wonder that swallowed their fear and how it was that the ship timbers exuded a thin red froth that came from the bottom of the sea…




NYC, December 2012












New Yorker Allan Graubard’s poems, plays, and literary, theatre and art criticism are published in the United States and internationally, often in translation. His poetry books includeRoma Amor and For Alejandra. Notable among his plays isWoman Bomb/Sade. His most recent publication is the anthologyInvisible Heads: Surrealists in North America — An Untold Story.




And Tell Tulip The Summer (Quattro Books, Toronto) —
Invisible Heads: Surrealists in North America — An Untold Story, Volumes I & II (Allan Graubard & Thom Burns, Eds., Anon Edition)
Roma Amor (Spuyten Duyvil Books, NY)
Woman Bomb/Sade

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