Sometimes the best friends are the ones you don’t know very well, who acknowledge what you do from afar as if with a wave across a meadow. Such were to me Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, longtime lovers and creative collaborators who committed suicide one after the other this month.
I hardly knew them personally at all, but their praise of my writings, in Theresa’s blog and Jeremy’s oft-encouraging words, has been the purest stream and the whitest gold to me, much as other fans who read me from afar, such as Ashley Bickerton, David Bowie, Eva Lake, Barney Conrad and John Waters have kept me going. Forgive my self-indulgence. I am trying to parse these suicides.
What bonded me to Theresa and Jeremy can be summed up briefly in that old Coasters’ song Searchin’ and, more expansively, in a Leo Kottke song on his tremulous album "Greenhouse":Feel like a ship out of the ocean
’Bout to go aground on desert sand.
Feel like an eagle losin’ motion,
Tired of flying, ain’t nowhere to land.
Everyday is all the same,
Same ol’ ways never change.
Going from the cradle to the grave.
Inertia and entropy drag on the truly creative like Theresa and Jeremy like a lodestone. When I think of Jeremy gazing in horror at Theresa’s body in their East Village apartment, I think of staring at my brother’s lifeless corpse, dead in my father’s bed, surrounded by what appeared to be half the NYPD. When I think of Jeremy stepping into the dangerous undertow in the ghetto side of the Rockaways, I think of a day in 1988 when, after a sunny day bodysurfing along that treacherous stretch, I foolishly fell asleep and awoke with a knife at my throat. Sorry, guys, I guess I waited too long to get personal.
It was thrilling to see Jeremy’s bleeding colors in the movie Punch Drunk Love, also thrilling to watch Theresa pictorially deconstruct Kate Moss on her blog. They got it, they didn’t get it, maybe they got it a little bit too much. As Abelard said to Heloise, "Let me tell you of my troubles."
A few weeks ago I screened Punch Drunk Love for some of my family. They didn’t like it, they didn’t get it. Like the best of Luis Buñuel, the message of Punch Drunk Love is "this is the way life is: LOOK." That’s Theresa and Jeremy waving across the meadow. They seem to be saying, with half-bent smiles, "Don’t try to understand."
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).