L’empire de la Mort

Ryan Langan
3 min readAug 26, 2021


Ahahahaha! Happy New Year! I got paid today — hip-hip-hooray — and I intend to treat myself to a little Jameson, a little White Castle, and a little solitude in which I can marinate my mind in the complex flavor profile of a very grounded yet lofty madman. Things are, in their way, on the rise. Certainly this time of year is something sacred, something tied up with my astrological fate, some smooth movement of the celestial spheres that sounds a transcendent pitch to which my soul responds like cello strings to the finely rosined bow of an archangel. This period of seasonal decline is for me a rebirth, a leaflet burgeoning from scorched earth, the quivers of the inchoate in what will soon be the pullulating influence of death and beauty. It is always near death that I feel most alive.

I am electrified by the closeness of Europe. To speak of life and death! This stage upon which history has acted out its tragicomic arcs now awaits another character, a small and insignificant character, to be sure, but one who has an intuitive feel for his lines and one born into the sweeping majesty of the human movement. And sure, humanity is sweeping downward, but that makes it all the more majestic to me. I am at home in the demise of all things sacred. I am free from all this madness by my own cowardice and lack of loyalty to anything. Free, free! What is left in the face of approaching death than to live, whatever that may mean?

Wandering through the catacombs of Paris… floating along the canals of Bruges… ambling down les boulevards… filling up on Chambertin and Camembert… whispering silent prayers in the twilight, offerings of gratitude and humility… Divin Créateur, merci pour les dons du terrestre, du céleste, du sacré et des mourants… There isn’t a speck of soul untouched by the pure bliss I feel swelling and tossing about in my noggin. All of my imagination is a great and terrible ocean, in which mystery and senselessness mingle and mull about as the tides and trade winds do. I have one eye on the ground and the other spinning in the cosmological ether, one foot rooted in the joie de vivre and the other lost across le seuil de la mort. God, how good it feels to embrace duality, to embrace divinity, to embrace the maniacal flux of life and death…

I was just rereading the long document I began just about a year ago. It began thus: “It was a beautiful stretch of days, right at the end of the summer. Not much happened, not much changed, but in the passage of time things happen and change somehow anyway. I was in an emotional place that I didn’t understand or know what to do with — I was happy. A place of quiet, of calm, of gentle somnambulance.” I was reading Hemingway at the time, so the style of it is a refreshing contrast to my usual demented word-vomit. I smiled the whole time I read it, all fifty pages. A long and wonderful chapter of my life, palimpsest of the chapter I’m living now. The cycles roll forward, ever forward. So much has happened since then, so many days of anger and pain, so many nights of love and laughter.

The approach and arrival of autumn is my favorite time of year. My anniversary, my birthday, my deathday, love, beauty, color, madness, coolness, residual heat, earthy resonance, divine presence, death and the flat circle of time. I’ll write again when the feeling takes me, when the shock of obscenity rouses me and takes me to the stars…