My first encounter with the word was in the dentist's office. My brother had an extra tooth. Its surgical removal was painful and grotesque, as was the small bit of bone extracted from his jaw. It made sense to me in some way, that this disgusting bit of flesh was a part of my brother, whom, for “psychological” reasons, I suppose, I had already associated with deformity.
In what I recognize now as a disgusting habit of my own (particularly or peculiarly of my youth), I had assigned to myself the category of the beautiful, and to him, the ugly. Mine was the mind, and his was the body: I read, he played with the boys. I cooked; he ate. I crotched; he collected baseball cards. In short, I was a sissy, and he was a boy. And when they took away that tooth, what was left was only useful. There was no excess of him.
But even in the depths of my darkest feelings of deprivation — for there was, I was certain, no one to love me the way I loved, or even to console my need — I was only excess. I discovered a strange affinity between myself and that malformed hunk of bone dug out from my brother's jaw. Uselessness is the transubstantiated beast of beauty, and eating only that for years, it is what I have become.
That which I do is done as well by so many others. And even what difference attains between our products is supernumerary. It is only the excess of excess. If there is any use of it, it is in providing some infinitesimal portion of the weight and girth the makes up the sublime of human endeavor. How important it is, that we wonder dumbly at the immeasurable number of unnecessary gestures that the billions strong biomass of intelligence fumbles through at any given moment, at the tons and tons of artifacts that fall off our tables and assembly lines, at the heaps of trash and sewage into which they pile as they assume, finally, the rest of their ultimate state of uselessness.
I am adding to words to the heap now. See me adding the words. I needn't have written this. You needn't have read it. It would have been better if you hadn't — if I hadn't. If ...