The Fragmentation Podcast

26
Nov

Lover in the Nobody | British Edition | by Jonathan Harnisch (Audiobook)

A young man battling extreme mental illness brings his sadomasochistic fantasies to life in Harnisch's (Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia, 2014, etc.) latest novel.
As this riveting story opens, Georgie Gust, a suicidal Tourette's syndrome patient, tells his doctor he wants to leave the mental institution where he's been committed. When the doctor puts him off, Gust finds himself buffeted by violent fantasies of escape, and he even prepares to hang himself. The novel plunges readers into the mind of a man at war with his own urges, memories, and sexual obsessions. After a scene shift, Gust's chauffeur, Ben, delivers him to his empty home, where Margaret, his only friend, visits to check on him. However, she annoys him because "she seems to care." Later, Gust, a foot fetishist, gives a pedicure to his sexy neighbor, Claudia, in a scene lit with unexpected poetry and poignancy. As the narrative viewpoint flickers among Gust, Ben, and a quasi-omniscient third-person perspective, Gust's voracious appetite for pain prompts him to hire Claudia to torment him. (He has wealthy parents, so he spends cash liberally.) When Claudia's house goes up in flames, she moves in with him, and their sadomasochistic bond descends into extraordinary, hallucinatory violence. In Claudia's hands, Gust discovers new depths of masochism, and she finds joy in tormenting him. Despite the garishness, brutality, and squalor of many passages (which are not for the squeamish), more sophisticated readers will appreciate the extraordinary feat Harnisch has accomplished. He lucidly, poignantly conveys a mind rivenwith what are, after all, human vulnerabilities: mental pathologies, shameful fantasies, anguished doubts about the natures of reality, love, and memory. In the hands of a lesser writer, these themes would splinter the narrative. Fortunately, the author masters his material; readers will believe the voices that vivify it and compassionately wish them to find the healing that eludes them.
An extraordinary, harrowing odyssey into an embattled self, full of humor, compassion, and a rare understanding of mental illness.
--Kirkuk Reviews
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26
Nov

Battle of the Book Reviews Featuring Lover in the Nobody by Jonathan Harnisch (Author) Kirkus Literary Magazine Book Review vs. Writers Digest

Battle of the Book Reviews Featuring Lover in the Nobody by Jonathan Harnisch (Author) Kirkus Literary Magazine Book Review vs. Writers Digest
An extraordinary, harrowing odyssey into an embattled self, full of humor, compassion, and a rare understanding of mental illness.
-- Kirkus Reviews 
The characters' conversation seems stiff and "literary." 
-- Judge, 23rd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards
A young man battling extreme mental illness brings his sadomasochistic fantasies to life in Harnisch's (Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia, 2014, etc.) latest novel.
As this riveting story opens, Georgie Gust, a suicidal Tourette's syndrome patient, tells his doctor he wants to leave the mental institution where he's been committed. When the doctor puts him off, Gust finds himself buffeted by violent fantasies of escape, and he even prepares to hang himself. The novel plunges readers into the mind of a man at war with his own urges, memories, and sexual obsessions. After a scene shift, Gust's chauffeur, Ben, delivers him to his empty home, where Margaret, his only friend, visits to check on him. However, she annoys him because "she seems to care." Later, Gust, a foot fetishist, gives a pedicure to his sexy neighbor, Claudia, in a scene lit with unexpected poetry and poignancy. As the narrative viewpoint flickers among Gust, Ben, and a quasi-omniscient third-person perspective, Gust's voracious appetite for pain prompts him to hire Claudia to torment him. (He has wealthy parents, so he spends cash liberally.) When Claudia's house goes up in flames, she moves in with him, and their sadomasochistic bond descends into extraordinary, hallucinatory violence. In Claudia's hands, Gust discovers new depths of masochism, and she finds joy in tormenting him. Despite the garishness, brutality, and squalor of many passages (which are not for the squeamish), more sophisticated readers will appreciate the extraordinary feat Harnisch has accomplished. He lucidly, poignantly conveys a mind rivenwith what are, after all, human vulnerabilities: mental pathologies, shameful fantasies, anguished doubts about the natures of reality, love, and memory. In the hands of a lesser writer, these themes would splinter the narrative. Fortunately, the author masters his material; readers will believe the voices that vivify it and compassionately wish them to find the healing that eludes them.
An extraordinary, harrowing odyssey into an embattled self, full of humor, compassion, and a rare understanding of mental illness.
--Kirkus Reviews
00:0000:00
22
Nov

Chance Encounter | Book Excerpt: Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography

A Chance Encounter: Reality? Ben’s the last in line at the convenience store across the street. He appears to be conversing with someone, but no one is speaking to him. These people find better deals here, across the way from that 1-2-3-4-5 star hotel. Better deals on both coffee and cigarettes, Georgie announces. “Shhh. Shut up, Georgie. Get out of my head.” Hotel gift shops are for those in a hurry and for those who don’t care much for variety or value. “I never shop there. Guests shouldn’t either.” Ben gets a medium coffee and a pack of smokes, along with his change, from the clerk. He tears open the fresh pack of smokes, juggling the medium coffee in his other hand. He steps out the door, glancing at the profile of a woman sitting on the bench outside. She is heartbreakingly beautiful. Suddenly, Ben fumbles. He drops two quarters on the pavement. “What are the chances of that?” she chuckles. You’re almost completely blind and deaf. Almost completely, Georgie points out. “I know. Why?” Because, Ben. Because. We’re in the presence of a naturally beautiful older woman. It’s destiny. Fate. She’s the One. “This always happens to me, especially if she’s wearing open-toed shoes.” “Excuse me?” the lady murmurs. As she is. “I’d lose my senses completely.” As you have. As you do. “As I am. Oh God, I hope she hasn’t got the slightest imperfection of either character or . . . what’s the word?” Physique. She is just gorgeous, Ben. Isn’t she? Shoot. Here she is coming ‘round the mountain. Here she comes. The lady stands, approaching cautiously. “Are you okay?” she asks. Listen, Ben. Can you hear her? She’s got that Plain Jane style, that quietly rapturous voice you crave. Ben suddenly finds himself thrown backwards. I wake up early for once. By 8:30 am, I’ve already walked the ocean shoreline and am on my way to the convenience store to buy a cup of coffee and a pack of smokes. It is windy. I am almost blown away. I hold onto my bright blue lampshade hat with my left hand for about a block, until I step behind the local hotel and it screens the big ocean breeze. The Sea Port Hotel is right on the water. Some hotel guests are in line before me at the convenience store across the street. They would find better deals there on both coffee and cigarettes. Hotel gift shops are for those in a hurry and for those who don’t care much for variety or value. I never shop there. Guests shouldn’t either. I get my change and tear open the fresh pack of smokes with a medium coffee in my other hand. Then I fumble the smokes, the coffee, and the change. I drop 50 cents on the pavement. “What are the chances of that?” I hear. I become almost completely blind and deaf. I know I am in the presence of a naturally beautiful older woman. This whole blackout/flashback kick is usual, especially if the beautiful older woman is wearing open-toed shoes. I’d lose my senses altogether if she had the slightest imperfection of either character or physique. “What are the chances of what?” I answer. My own voice echoes strangely in the darkness of my mind. “You were just singing ‘Hotel California’,” she says. “I heard you.” It must’ve been playing on the radio while I showered this morning. She was humming the melody, too. I shut up. I look down. She scrapes something off her heel against the steps. “Aw! I stepped in somebody’s gum,” she moans. I pull out a fresh smoke. “I think it’s a Lifesaver,” I tell her. She discovers that I am right. “But you were singing the same song as me, weren’t you?” she persists. “I don’t know,” I explain. “I don’t remember.” And here she is. She’s brought such a Perplexity into my world. My senses collect every drop of her data. Right then, the bright lights of her jewelry flashes bury themselves in the nostalgic depths of my imagination and memory. “Well, don’t be embarrassed,” she suggests. “That’s amazing!” “Yeah,” I say. A vintage black Ferrari pulls out of the lot with its top down. Heidi gives it no attention. The male driver (in his 50s) probably suffers from the same premature ejaculation that the car does, backfiring. I grunt at the thought. “Hey, you live down the corner of the next block. You’re always smoking cigarettes out front,” she says. I confess, “Yeah. Probably. Maybe.” “I waved to you the other day,” she recalls, “and you just turned away.” She must have recognized the big blue hat. “I’m really groggy in the mornings,” I admit. She smiles. “You’re really anti-social.” I correct her. “Not anti-social. Non-social, maybe.” Her face lights up. She starts playing with her hair. “I was just on my way to get my nails done. I’ve been over at the Sea Port for the past week. God, it’s this convention for work. It’s so boring.” “What’s your name?” I ask. “Heidi Berillo.” Heidi has a nametag on. She must’ve forgotten. “What’s yours?” she asks. “Ben Schreiber,” I say, pointing to her nametag. “I was just checking to see if you were a liar.” I stick my hand out. “You’ve got a firm grip, Mr Schreiber,” she says. She laughs. Later that afternoon, we are hitting it off like we’ve known each other for years. “I can’t believe you’ve never given a girl a pedicure,” she scoffs. “Really?” I reply. (I do like feet.) I want to tell her that I am a virgin at making love to feet and toes. Hers are perfect. Heidi’s hotel room is strewn with papers and folders. And felt-tip pens. After she lights a joint, she gets a little feisty. Her hair is frizzy and red, and she is wild like my imagination. Like I imagine her imagination. I puff away on my cigarette. I try to read what she is thinking through her huge green eyes. Which eye cries for good things? Which one doesn’t? I am simply in the moment. I become an observer of myself, observing myself. I’m not my mind. My mind just works for me. Not the other way around. I am enlightened. For once, normal thoughts slip in, one after another. It becomes easier to focus. I’m not busy judging, analyzing, and making decisions. I am completely focused on Heidi. I think, who’s her dealer? Where’s this woman from? What does she tell herself about herself? I get the impression from Heidi’s eyes that she is experiencing something profoundly empty. Somehow, she is dramatically unfulfilled. She is left with voided hope—perhaps a little like me. She looks me right in the eyes. We have a perfect moment, a true connection. Unfortunately, it ends abruptly. I try not to pry into her life, but I am curious to know more about her. I know I’m not always the best at personal interaction. I’m not sure what is appropriate, sometimes. She asks a lot about me, but I don’t say much back. Heidi asks me about all my confusion, about what I want out of my time here on earth. Big philosophical stuff. I tell her all of my needs are already met. I tell her I’ve already lived my life. “I’ve had enough experiences with myself. All that crap.” And I tell her about my Pops, who always worked hard and always provided my family with wealth. I tell her about my Pops, who meant the world to me. She calls my ‘I’ve-lived-my-life-already’ bit bullshite, and takes a drag off my cigarette. “Are you happy?” she finally asks. “I’m not sure if happiness is what I’m really after,” I say. I tell her I am trying to actualize myself as “a writer,” a concept that is still completely muddy to me. I have idealized this image of myself in my mind, over the past 10 years, but the image keeps changing. In reality, I am writing mostly in my head, right at that moment. My friends and family want me to put something on paper, to complete something, to achieve something. I don’t think it matters anymore. “Why not?” asks Heidi. “It’s like I’m too far away, in time, from when I was actively participating in things and enjoying them while they were happening.” “How old are you, Ben?” “Thirty.” Heidi is under the veil of drugs, but she’s not paranoid or tripped-out or anything. Inside Heidi, there is somebody genuine, and I can see inside her, just barely make her out. There is somebody real in there. Funny, that’s always good to know. The alarm clock radio is tuned to Billy Joel’s “An Innocent Man.” Heidi says she has only recently figured out her life, at age 40. I don’t believe her, and I tell her so. “I don’t believe you,” I say. She says she takes things very seriously. She says that every encounter happens for a reason. “Every situation, every consequence. Everything,” she adds. I wonder what my role in her life really is. Somehow, this woman, whom I’ve just met, knows me so well already. I’ve really missed that. People usually take very little interest in other people. But with Heidi, I feel honored and appreciated. Still, I feel like I don’t really deserve the luxury. Heidi finishes her joint and pockets the roach. She slips off her open-toed leather shoes and stretches her toes. Her light blue polish has peeled off her nails, like an adolescent girl’s. “I need a pedicure,” Heidi says, smiling playfully. “Now!” Toto’s “Africa” airs next on the bedside radio: “Frightened of this thing that I’ve become,” somebody sings. I paint her toes with New Blue toenail polish and she falls asleep. I write a note: “Thank you. Ben.” I watch her sleep for half an hour. Then I write my home phone number below the note in my usual kiddie-print handwriting and walk out, not really knowing what else to do. Heidi has a lecture to attend later on. Later, I sit in my bedroom, still listening to the radio. “Hurry, boy, she’s waiting there for you.” The phone rings. The machine picks up. Click. “Hey, Ben, I was just thinking of you.” It’s all about me now, isn’t it? I can’t help it. I take a carefree stroll on the beach, remembering the best parts of growing up. They flood my mind with nostalgia. I try to remain in the present, but I am stuck in the past. The moonshine lights up the sand, and the whitecaps, that break 20 feet out. The tide is low, the rolling is a little choppy, but the wave sounds are soothing. I remember how rich and full my life was before. Before. Before what? I wonder what went wrong. I walk along the water’s edge to find some inner peace. I have always enjoyed wandering around, not doing much. I’m comfortable in my imagination, or I’m comfortable nowhere. I think: Has love ever made one whole year of your life miserable? I wonder if my year of misery is approaching. It is nighttime. I start to dream. Heidi and I are lost in our thoughts; we take in all that surrounds us. We are walking the neighborhood sidewalks, holding hands, until we come to the beach where the whitecaps crash right at our feet. Huge seagulls with wide-open wingspans swoop in for their final feast of the day. The next morning, the beach is empty. The sky is gray, flat and still, surreal. The gulls fly low in flocks as the long Pacific rollers wash in and out. We revisit the past. But whose past? Oh my God! The Living Colorful Beauty is so intense. I just can’t stand it. I speak on the phone with Heidi. “I was downstairs at one of the lectures. It was sooo boring,” Heidi says. “Boring, huh?” “But I got several compliments on my new pedicure,” she teases. “Thank God,” I say, letting out a sigh of relief. I stand in the empty hotel room that weekend, bewildered. It had been quickly vacated—I could tell. In the bathroom, there is a wet towel lying on the floor, crumpled up from wet feet with a woman’s footprints embedded. Empty single-serving soap bottles make a mess on the corner shelf. A Mexican housekeeper readies the room for its next guests. Back at my place, I play the message player back again. “So I thought you might like to know what a great job you did, and on such short notice, too. You were just in time for the only panel discussion I really came here for in the first place.” Her telephone had sat on the unmade bed with a box of tissues beside it. Across the street from me is a fishing pier. A middle-aged couple walks hand in hand to the end of the pier. They stare out at the freight barges sailing into port. There is a snack and bait stand nearby, but it hasn’t opened yet. At the base of the pier, a pay phone dangles off its hook. There is some litter rolling around the streets. Not much, though. “I’m meeting some cool people here, but a lot of them are really boring. This whole convention thing is really dull.” The night before, Heidi and I shared a cherry Slush Puppie on the pier. She popped a few Tylenols because, she said, her head was still throbbing slightly from all the boredom and ennui lingering over her past week at the psych conference. I declined the Tylenol. I was still awe-struck by the whirling seagulls and the shooting stars. Only a few fishermen are out with their gear; it’s still pretty early. An Asian man pulls up a small fish. The thing must be contaminated—the seawater down below is brown and slimy—but his boy grabs the bucket anyway. That small radioactive fish is a keeper. “So, some of my friends and I wanted to hang out by the bar and talk medicine, but I was hoping we could finish our conversation from last night. I really enjoyed walking the town with you.” After the Slushie, we stopped by my place and shared a Winston. I invited her in, but she declined. We took a drive down the coast under the moon instead. My house is empty; nobody is up yet. The whole neighborhood is still asleep. A white van drives by. A newspaper is tossed on the manicured lawn out front. “At least before I leave tomorrow,” she said. “Oh, and the weather is so much nicer out here.” Sunlight bleeds horizontally through the closed blinds in my bedroom. Pretty soon I am sound asleep. “I was thinking about how brilliant you are,” Heidi told me on the answering machine. “And, jeez, you have so much talent. People look at you and they see big things.” Expect big things. That’s what she meant. Big things, little things. It doesn’t matter. It’s a stress I can’t handle, people expecting things. Anything. Not from me. I live in my head. Alone. I buy porno, coffee, and smokes from the snack and bait shop next door, and come home. Jerk off. Alone. I’m okay with that. The clock on Georgie’s nightstand reads 10:30 am. I wake up and glance at Georgie. I don’t wake him. I crawl out of bed. The sky has cleared up a bit over the beach, and the beach is packed with kite-fliers. A dozen kites glide over the blue-fogged coast, bright with color and wonder. The hotel room next door is clean by now. Ready for new guests. Downstairs, a conference is just letting out. The checkout line is already out the door. Most of the guests wear nametags on their blazers. The bellboys are busier than hell. There are dozens of fishermen on the pier. More men than fish. “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Heidi had asked. “I love that question.” I walk the beach, having no clue how to answer. Most of the neighborhood seems to be outdoors. Most people wear light jackets or hooded sweatshirts. They walk their dogs. (Parenthetical Pet Peeve) Tiny white dogs with brown runny stuff around their eyes. They walk their children. Alley cats run loose on the sidewalks, and slide underneath the cars parked on one-way streets. A few cars pass by slowly, going maybe 10 miles an hour. Pest control trucks park outside at least one house per block, it seems like. There is hardly any crime, violence, or vandalism in this part of the city. Maybe some drugs, some domestics; you know, whatever goes down inside people’s private residences—the stuff we never know about. “Grab hold of just one project and get in there with your teeth and see what happens,” she had said. “Why not? If somebody wants a story about you and you’re the only one who knows it well enough, then go for it! You would do the world a favor. Hell, do it for me! I’d love to hear about all that crap, as you call it.” A small gate leads to my front door. It is a charming little pad, perfect for a loner like me. “So what if your dad is some big, well-to-do asshole? This is your chance to shine,” she coaxed. “Just go for it!” It was really nice to have some woman cheering me on. It was the closest thing I’d ever known to true love. Heidi mentioned that she’d found the perfect little gift in the hotel gift shop. She wanted me to call her later. The orange sunset flashes between two buildings downtown. I sprawl out on the beach. The sun is setting earlier than usual, I think. Why did I just leave like that? What about going back? Somehow, I just couldn’t change my mind about Heidi. Reality hit me really hard, and I was scared to go after her, like a real man. Time stops for just a few exquisite seconds, maybe five or six, until I can’t take it much longer. I am self-aware in my newly discovered growth spurt. I am happy, I guess. I’m so happy, I start to cry—just because I am feeling good. Just because I can. Just until I need to stop. I start to really appreciate having met Heidi. Maybe I’m still working through the obsession with Claudia. From the beach, I head back home. I’m already starting to have conversations with Heidi in my head without her being there or being able to answer me. How lucky she is! Is this love? Beep. “Hey, Ben, I was just thinking of you. I was downstairs at one of the lectures.” Beep. “Hey, Ben, ugh . . .I’m just calling. I’m sorry. It’s this stupid conference. I’m not going to go to this class I have in 10 minutes. I’m getting so sick of the same thing over and over again. I’m just in my room taking a bath. Anyway, I’m sorry to bother you. Thanks for letting me vent.” Were we just two shattered souls who ended up trying to save each other in some doomed fashion? The door swings shut from inside the house. I never get calls. And when I do, I always miss them. “Hello?” I answer. “Ben?” “You must look so beautiful in that bathtub,” I say. “That’s one of the nicest things a guy has ever said to me.” Back at her place, her lovely feet await my attention. She doesn’t refuse when I administer an oral foot massage while she is still in the bath. “Right on the arches, Ben,” she cries. I love every minute of it. Her feet quiver with delight. Her toes stretch awkwardly. “I’m . . . sick . . . I’m dizzy,” she moans. “And you’re incredible.” Oh, the gibberish we speak in ecstasy, moaning meaningless words. “Sick-dizzy,” she giggles intensely. She giggles her orgasm, gibbers and moans her pleasure. I understand her, in some fucked-up way. Afterwards, Heidi lies quietly asleep, on top of the white bed covers. She is wearing men’s pajamas. I head back home. We hadn’t made love. She must think of me as the friendly type, like most other women do. But that is fine. I’m used to that. Heidi is a little nutty, but I like that, too. She is a mess. She is so innocently a disaster. She is the little Perplexity in my head. I get home at 3 am. I’ve always loved the night, when everyone else is asleep and the world is all mine. It’s quiet and dark—the perfect time for creativity. All of a sudden, inspiration comes. Things are clearer. My ideas make more sense. I can finally start to type out, with a little passion, some interesting letters on the screen. I’ll have to begin the story from here, with me, as ridiculous as that sounds. It’s been forever since I actually sat down to write again. Does this mean my writer’s block has broken? Or am I just fooling myself again? “I never meant to be such a narcissist,” I cry. “I just can’t get away from myself.” I’ve always wanted somebody like Heidi to love. But I still don’t know what I need. Maybe I just need one tiny success, one simple thing. Maybe I just need something in this life that will work out in the long run. Maybe I just need to complete something, to get over some things. Maybe I just need something good to last. God probably took delight in orchestrating me, that day. I’ll call it a day of personal growth. I never hear from Heidi or see her again. And now my mind runs wild with quiet confusion. The little affair we had felt so soothing to the senses. I’ll wake up tomorrow, thinking about today. The next day I’ll wake up thinking about tomorrow. Am I really just a perverted sex addict, like maybe I think I am? Or is this really some kind of love? (You tell me, Dr C. Please.)Dear Diary:I think we are all good souls, all of us, even me, even if only deep down inside.
The Emperor Concerto, Second Movement He slaps the snooze button. Half hit. Half miss. It’s all gross. He’s sweaty and ashamed. He can’t even get up. Another fucking horrible day in the life of . . . me. Georgie Gust. And then laziness creeps in. Georgie starts hating himself. He starts to laugh. “Snooze, damn it!” he tells the alarm clock. He always thought a snooze was a good 9, 10 minutes. Georgie actually timed the motherfucker several times. This piece of crap mostly gives him 9 or 10 minutes of extra sleep time. This day, that day, though, the thing can’t even give him two. Cheap, damn thing. It’s 1:30 pm. Even at this hour, so far into the day, he hesitates to open the shades. He hopes it is not all dismal and gloomy outside. He’s trying to picture himself somewhere out there, in the world. But he just can’t picture it. Maybe if he just stays in bed someone else will open the shades, and save Georgie the trouble of discovering the day. He closes his eyes, falling half asleep. He finds himself in a non-smoking room at the local three-star hotel. He’s hotel-hopping. He needs to get away again. We always need to get away, Georgie and me, even if it’s only in our head. Geographical change is the easiest fix. Georgie opens his eyes. He can’t figure out where that three-star hotel has gone. He’s already forgotten—he’s still at home. The next day, our place now clean, Georgie still can’t get out of his head. He thinks how much he dreads, how much he resents, the effort it takes to take another shower, brush his teeth, and clean himself up, again and again. He just did that yesterday—he shouldn’t have to do it again today. Once should be enough. Once and forever. Now Georgie craves something different. He’s desperate for something new. He would kill for something new. We both would. (But who?) This particular morning, the razor burn on Georgie’s neck looks like a leper’s chafed jock-itch. He can’t wait the couple of days for the skin on his neck to heal, but at least he won’t have to spend the time and effort to shave again—and that’s comforting. After all, the longer he lets his facial hair grow out, the easier it is to shave. After all these years, Georgie still can’t find the right shaving method. Currently, he’s on a Panasonic electric for the first layer, then a straight edge without lotion for the second part. Back to a smaller electric beard trimmer, level one, for his goatee shadow. No lotion. No cream. No soap. With so much nausea, angst, worry, anxiety, and despair welling up inside him, Georgie is suffocating in life. His pathetic and abused gut keeps getting filled with an extra load of explosive anxiety. It’s worse than tickle torture. He hasn’t taken any risks for some time now. The rut where he’s been trapped has felt so safe. He’s had no view; the walls were high, the rut was deep. All Georgie could see was up and out. Up and away. (But away from what? Away where? More unanswerable questions, huh?) Most things and events really don’t have much meaning for him anymore. Georgie needs meaning more than anything else. But meaning is exactly what Georgie hasn’t got. And he probably won’t get it, either. Georgie really doesn’t know what the day will bring. The only thing he knows is his sloppy routine of rituals: smoking, shiting, showering, shaving, fixing his hair, flossing, brushing his teeth, taking his meds, and organizing. He uses a ton of paper creating lists of things to do, things to accomplish, so he can feel productive. His father tells him it’s important to be productive. So he tries. He really does. He looks at the bathroom mirror with the sticker in the corner that reads: JUST TRUST ME. Right. Like Georgie’s going to trust any of the shitey-assed people he calls friends. Georgie’s pathetic reflection looks back at him from the empty mirror. He has this huge ego blowing up his head, like an untied condom, until it screwballs up and away. He guesses he looks all right these days. No, really. He looks good. He just doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s so glam rock; he’s so smart. It’s like he has Asperger’s, or some kind of artistic autism. But he’s not sick. His doctor knows that. (Doesn’t she, Dr C?) He can’t deal with a label like depression or stress. He feels much worse than that. He feels like shite. (Do you have a Latin name for shite, Dr C?) When he shaves, the razor makes love to Georgie’s skin. When he pees, he aims for the silent section on the toilet’s water edge. Afterwards, he usually farts, shites, and pees again, while he’s sitting a little too long on the toilet. Georgie melts into the quality time he takes, thinking on the porcelain tank. His thoughts are trivial. They seem important, but they’re nothing he would ever act on. He is on good behavior. It’s just a lot of theory. A CD is usually skipping while Georgie’s in the shower. In the shower, he strips down to his naked self. He comes into his true element. He can’t see a thing without his glasses, and he can’t tell you how many wristwatches he’s lost because they don’t have waterproofing. But that’s okay. Waterproof watches are never appealing to the eye.(Parenthetical Pet Peeve) Smudged eyeglasses. There’s no washcloth. He washes himself by hand with shampoo—not soap. Shampoo works better because Georgie is hairy, like me. But I don’t wash with shampoo. I use hand-milled, organic soap from Northern California—Sunset Cedar, from a shop called Patti’s Organics. Georgie smiles in the shower because he was born a man. The shower is the one place where he’s rarely sexually charged. He thinks of himself as a connoisseur, a connoisseur of filth (so soap does not appeal). Women’s dirty fingernails, their smelly anal fetishes, anything nasty—her already-smoked cigarettes for the shrine, the smell of gasoline and melted hair follicles. Filth. Georgie hates dropping the soap. He hates all the bottles in the shower. They confuse him and make him think these products are really useful when he knows they’re not.(Parenthetical Pet Peeve) Long fingernails. Worse, long toenails. He hates falling in the shower. God, what else? What else can they do to mess up his day? (What else is there to complain about?) They should have a soap dispenser that mixes soap with water, like at a car wash. It would be a time-saving convenience. It would save energy. What an idea! He should patent that, and make a million bucks. Yeah, right, Georgie. Drying off, towels are so coarse and unfitting. Georgie gets water scars in between his toes sometimes.(Parenthetical Pet Peeve) Hangnails. Every day, all this, all that. Everything is still the same. Georgie doesn’t change. Nothing does. Neither do I. Same shite, different day, we say. Georgie and me. His feet are a size 12. He wears shoes all the time because his feet embarrass him. He wears blue shoes. That way, he doesn’t have to think of how disgusting his own feet are. His legs are still in shape but he wears long pants, no matter how hot the weather gets. His legs embarrass him, too. Otherwise, he is your generic, overweight pumpkin. His plump belly sticks out over his belt. Maybe it’s cute and huggie-bearish to some single sex addicts, but to hell if Georgie thinks so. He weighs in around 268. His driver’s license says he’s 168. The driver’s license picture doesn’t even look like him, but the photo came out pretty nice. He used to be in shape. Now he just recites affirmations. Now he just tells himself he loves himself just the way he is. It’s all bullshite, but it works for him. His passport picture is pleasing. He enjoys looking at himself. Georgie dresses up and blow-dries his hair, and then he primps and curls it. He has these highlights. He has a kind of WASPy, honk-Afro look going on. At least his hair is cool; at least his hair is always having a good day. My hair, now my hair is dark and thick with a bit of a permanent wave. My mother always said it was my best feature. And here I always thought it was my cuddly personality. Georgie should’ve picked out his clothes the night before. All his full-size shirts and comfortable pants are at the cleaners, and he doesn’t fit into the 32s anymore. He went from a “large” to an “extra large” in shirts. Georgie’s just started leaving the shirttails out of his pants. He used to tuck them in, neatly, and wear a belt. But no longer. Still, he’ll keep the smaller stuff in the closet—the shirts and pants don’t fit, but some of the clothes remind him of the past. They have a nostalgic meaning for Georgie. In Georgie’s case, too, clothes make the man. (But make him what? I want to know.) An hour later, he’s finally dressed. Now for the breakfast order. Like everything else in Georgie’s world, breakfast is a chore. He washes the dishes by hand to get his mind off everything else. He can’t help feeling like things are falling apart in slow motion. Doing things like that, little things, trivial things, reminds him of being hypnotized. Strolling down the supermarket aisles at midnight with the trippy supermarket music and the paradox of choice everywhere around him. In the grocery store, somehow, time feels different. Georgie’s out of orange juice, and the milk will give him gas, but milk goes best with microwave pancakes. Georgie likes his food a little cold, and he dislikes cooking. He presses the “cancel/stop” button twice on the microwave when it’s down to two seconds. It’s not like he’s in any rush. He has all day.(Parenthetical Pet Peeve) Fat free = taste free. His keys are in place. He locks the door without really checking. Georgie’s sick and tired of always lock-checking, lock-checking, and then remembering I forget important things after he’s already out the door.(Parenthetical Pet Peeve) If I return home, I suddenly get the feeling I didn’t lock the door, then find that I did after all. Georgie, I think, could very well be a loser, but what’s that say about me? That I’d be a loser of a literary character, too? What’s wrong with a whiner? A complainer? An agoraphobic with OCD? Is that me? I catch Georgie out of the corner of my eye and wonder what I’ve done, giving him all these issues. He swears he’s not going to check that lock—but he does, anyway, even though he’s just going out for coffee and coming right back. It’s not like he’s going to plan his whole life, sitting at the counter, sipping his cup of Joe. It’s not like he is some romantic poet at the Café Paris. Finally, Georgie lights his first cigarette of the day—a Marlboro Light—and he worries about cancer, like everything else. And puffs away. After his first cigarette comes another cup of coffee, and then another smoke—and a couple of more smokes, after that. He brings along his laptop computer, a pad and pen, and a couple of self-help books with the covers torn off, just in case. Just in case something strikes. He rarely uses any of these things in public. Sometimes he drives to the convenience store and sits in the parking lot. He watches people. He likes people-watching. But he doesn’t like people. Go figure. Georgie rarely looks forward to actually dealing with people. But he’ll end up running into somebody every time. People get in his way, and they are unavoidable—like signs on the sidewalks, or spills in the elevator. Or sometimes Georgie gets caught in some really important check-in with somebody who really shouldn’t care what’s up with him. (And neither should Georgie.) All this whining and baby shite gets him nowhere, he knows—but he just keeps bitching. He dreads being in line at the coffee shop again. He gets self-conscious and self-critical around the perfect advertisement-model-types in line ahead of him. They pretend they’re holding their noses and standing clear of the stench coming off Georgie’s stale, smelly sweater. It reeks of the toxic fumes of tobacco pollution. And they’re all so nice and friendly, and trivial, and guarded. Now that’s a challenge. Dealing with these people, I mean, without freaking out or throwing a temper tantrum. Still, he’s half asleep. Georgie’s always half asleep. No matter what I do. Except, of course, when he’s thinking of Claudia. She’s the only goddamn thing that really makes him feel alive. Georgie is next in line at the coffee shop. Tabitha’s working the counter, but Georgie’s not paying much attention to her. He’s thinking of Claudia. What else?Dear Diary:I just let others say and do what they want—I just keep being me. Well, sort of.
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21
Nov

RECENT REVIEWS OF BOOKS BY JONATHAN HARNISCH

RECENT REVIEWS OF BOOKS BY JONATHAN HARNISCH

Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography

This, it is easy to imagine, is what life with mental illness is like for some: full of continuous questioning, rationalization, guilt, anxiety.

Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography presents a simultaneously dazzling and frightening portrayal of mental illness through the eyes of several characters—though all embodied in the same being.

The complex narrative is seemingly told from the viewpoint of Benjamin J. Schreiber, son of a wealthy blue-blood family who converses with his doctor (known as C). The privilege afforded to him by birth enables him to live relatively well off; his multitude of diagnoses, including Tourette’s and schizoaffective disorder, would effectively render him incapable of functioning in society under other circumstances. However, Ben doesn’t wish to talk about himself with Dr. C, but rather a fictional counterpart, Georgie Gust.

Georgie, like Ben, comes from an aristocratic family and views reality from a different vantage. An obsessive coffee drinker and chain smoker, he maintains a quiet (though sordid) existence on the outside, a rich sexual life in private. Early in the text, an erotic scene focusing on his foot fetishism appears in exacting detail. This proves to be the most tame of Georgie’s passions, as soon he begins his sadomasochistic conquest of Claudia, an older woman whom he hires to torture him. This, too, is richly rendered, as Georgie is teased with dripping wax, hot pans, and psychological distress. The two become dependent upon each other, hating yet needing their company, and their relationship evolves into a bizarre reimagining of the American Dream, one in which we are privy to the seedy reality underneath the polished exterior.

Forced to confront the darker nature of desire, An Alibiography shocks and confuses as the narrative unspools itself with a randomness that evokes a questioning of reality. This, it is easy to imagine, is what life with mental illness is like for some: full of continuous questioning, rationalization, guilt, and anxiety. In many respects, this work can be compared to Alasdair Gray’s 1982, Janine, in which a businessman obsesses over his sadomasochistic desires and dreams, seeking meaning in his own marginalized existence. Harnisch’s work, however, employs many main characters embodied in the same man, building realities within realities that often cannot be constructed into a cohesive narrative.

At over eight hundred pages, the subject loses shock value and becomes mundane. As Georgie and Claudia’s passion evolves and intensifies, and the novel ventures into the completely surreal, disgusting, and criminal, the oversaturation of violence and S&M confuses the message. Mental illness is romanticized at points in the text, as well, which may leave some familiar with the realities with an unsavory taste. That’s not to say the work isn’t well written—it’s carefully plotted with well-rendered characters, presented in a narrative that would appropriately be deemed “schizophrenic.”
However, upon reaching the end, there is an exhaustion. Perhaps, though, this is in itself a meaning: that life with mental illness is difficult and confusing, yet produces a desperation for understanding.

-- ​Foreword Clarion Reviews

The author of this deeply moving portrait of a schizophrenic is afflicted himself with schizo-affective disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome and a few other things. Jonathan Harnisch even calls himself “the king of mental illness.” Given those obstacles, it’s a wonder he can write anything, much less a semi-autobiographical novel as fiercely intelligent and finely crafted as this one.

First, a caveat: At 803 pages, Harnisch’s cleverly named “alibiography” contains all the repetitions and anomalies you might expect from a writer with serious demons. There’s also some gibberish. Sample: “Make it and makeshift it. Prototype it! Grab it! Snag it!”

Little matter. The protagonist, a disturbed trust-funder named Benjamin J. Schreiber, who has a self-destructive alter ego called Georgie Gust boiling inside his head, may be the most compelling character in the literature of madness since A Beautiful Mind’s John Nash. Unable to cope with dark childhood traumas, reclusive Ben transfers his fears and obsessions to his extroverted creation, Georgie, who falls into the clutches of a cruel sado-masochist lover, Claudia Nesbitt. That means Ben suffers too, of course, and Harnisch’s depictions of inner torment are harrowing. When Ben tries to hang himself, the scene reverberates with authorial knowingness.

Ben descends into drug addiction. He tries to rob a bank in Pasadena. He spends years in a mental ward as “everything I don’t want to be.”  Luckily, he also comes under the care of a gifted psychiatrist, “Dr. C,” who unlocks the secrets of his past and gives Ben hope. All he’s ever dreamed of—what the author obviously wants, too-—is some “seemingly impossible peace of mind, through complete honesty and self-love, by any means necessary.”

For Harnisch, those means seem to have included writing this powerful, heart-wrenching and clearly self-therapeutic book, even though his alter ego, Ben, feels obliged to apologize to the reader “for all the utter confusion, chaos and inconsistencies here within.”  No apology necessary.

-- BlueInk Review

Second Alibi: The Banality of Life

Harnisch’s words and images dance vividly and repeat themselves in strange succession; even his most self-conscious writing has rhythmic energy and flair.

Jonathan Harnisch doesn’t so much showcase literary genius as he grapples with it in his experimental autobiography, Second Alibi: The Banality of Life. Genius is a creative spirit he chases. When he gets his hands on it, when genius possesses him, the results are stunning. Parts of Second Alibi radiate with originality.

With a self-referential postmodern style reminiscent of William Burroughs, Harnisch chronicles his hell-bent search for personal truth. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental disorders, he explores all aspects of his personality: his alter ego, Ben; his alter ego’s alter ego, Georgie; and their mutual love interest, Claudia. Harnisch wrangles to the page episodes of madness and lucidity, hospitalizations, hallucinations, love affairs. He searches every experience for meaning, sometimes exhaustively, and offers up whatever truth he can.

If there’s fault in Harnisch’s methodology, it’s that he overanalyzes and micromanages his own creative process. For example, the book’s third act flounders in a sea of platitudinous journal entries about living with mental illness, the writing process, the progress of his manuscript, and his ultimate aspirations as a writer. Although well-intentioned, the entries become preening and laborious. At one point, the author admits, “I feel like I am forcing this writing.”

The book’s first and second acts are much stronger—the first relayed in stream-of-consciousness passages, and the second in the form of a screenplay. In the first act, Harnisch produces the stuff of poetry. His words and images dance vividly and repeat themselves in strange succession: “The living, colorful sound of the mysterious telephone still haunts us, even me. It rings and rings, again and again.” In these passages, even his most self-conscious writing has rhythmic energy and flair: “The sensation of sensational sex and blue movies, the characters and chaos, onslaughts of sketches, prototypes … of expanding pounding putty and pus, some sex and violence. I’m built for it.”

The second act, the screenplay, offers the book’s most absorbing and sharply written drama. Harnisch appears to be a natural in the medium, exploring past trauma through scene and dialogue. The screenplay ends with amazing profundity. “And sometimes you just have to listen to the sounds of your life,” Ben says. “That kind of silence. That deep remarkable hollow stuff.”
Second Alibi provides an honest window into the “hollow stuff.” Harnisch is at his best, though, when he leaves his inner critic behind and allows his creativity to color the world around him.

-- ​Foreword Clarion Reviews

Afflicted with schizophrenia, Tourette’s Syndrome and other mental illnesses, the prolific and gifted Jonathan Harnisch has transformed the harrowing raw material of his life into what he calls “transgressive fiction” in semi-autobiographical novels such as Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography and Living Colorful Beauty. With Second Alibi: The Banality of Life, he revisits the abrasive, triangular psychodrama of his brilliant, questing psychotic Ben Schreiber, Ben’s libertine alter-ego, Georgie Gust, and the sadistic temptress, Claudia Nesbitt, who torments them both, while also including a moving plea for understanding that stands apart from the disturbed fevers of his fiction.

“This is a story, I hope, about my coming to enlightenment,” Harnisch writes, and in that vein he enlightens us, too, about the fantastic terrors of schizophrenia: “What this life is like with the ups and the downs, the confusion, the love and the hate; the black and the white.” He tells us about his moods abruptly shifting 25 times in an hour, his suicide attempts and addictions, the grim realities of sleep deprivation and the fear that his beloved wife has been reading his mind.

Second Alibi toggles unpredictably between semi-coherent rage (Harnisch says he often writes when symptomatic) and cool detachment, and it deploys several forms: Harnisch’s sexually-charged fiction (Claudia is “a slow-moving serpent with a tongue of fire and the ass of a bombshell”); a 106-page screenplay featuring dialogues between Ben and his old antagonists, and with his life-saving therapist, “Dr. C”; self-lacerating entries from “Georgie Gust’s” 2005 diary, and the author’s clear explanations of his condition, apparently written at moments when his symptoms have subsided.
At times, Harnisch is energized by the very power of his illness. “The mind and the sickness is all so sublime,” he writes, “the heart of living, colorful beauty.” But in his most lucid moments, this brave and eloquent writer struggles mightily to escape the dark woods of madness: “As always, my journey continues, on and on.”

-- BlueInk Review

Living Colorful Beauty

Living Colorful Beauty is a twisted, intensely character-driven ride.
In Living Colorful Beauty, author Jonathan Harnisch tells the story of Ben, a man diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, schizoaffective disorder, and several other issues. Ever since his youth, Ben has been both plagued by mental illness and obsessed with venality. As he navigates through an unstable, directionless life and leaves a string of shattered romances in his wake, he generates a fictional character, Georgie Gust, to deal with his many paraphilias and neuroses. But with the introduction of a new psychotherapist, Ben may have a chance to let go of his doppelgänger as well as his overwhelming insecurity.

Though the book is saturated with Ben’s sexuality, its prevailing theme is actually his struggle to come to terms with his mental health. The entire book reads like a Freudian therapy session, so the ultimate resolution of Ben’s problems is appropriate. Ben’s internal creative process is integral to the book’s effectiveness, since much of the psychoanalysis Ben receives seems to come from himself through the lens of his fictional creation, Georgie. The book features an almost claustrophobic amount of of navel-gazing, which may be intentional. At times, the reading experience leaves no doubt as to how the book’s main character could drive himself crazy with his recursive, obsessive self-examination.

Ben and Georgie have an interesting and nuanced relationship. At times Ben seems completely unable to control his double while simultaneously being one with him. He often reassures himself that his creation is the inferior man, citing Georgie’s pumpkin-like body as the reason that nobody will ever want him. On the other hand, of the two of them, Georgie seems to have the more active love life. Ben reaches for emotional intimacy through relationship after relationship, but his illness, issues with women, and physical demands—the Georgie in him—constantly hamper his progress.

As the narrator, Ben’s point of view colors all of the other characters. Several of these, in addition to Georgie, are or may be fictional, mere expressions of Ben’s illness. This is especially true of the women in Ben’s life. There are comparatively very few men in this story, but the women are usually of a seductive and even predatory type. Ben aggressively sizes up the ladies he knows, from his girlfriends to his therapist, in terms of their attractiveness, perhaps in an attempt to balance the scales, since in his own perception, women are domineering copies of his own terrifying mother. Part of Ben’s evolution is to move toward a valuing of women beyond his mother issues, a satisfying direction for this character to travel.

Living Colorful Beauty is a twisted, intensely character-driven ride that ends on a hopeful note. It may interest fans of Charles Bukowski and Tom Robbins.
-- ​Foreword Clarion Reviews

This short novel by New Mexico writer Jonathan Harnisch features the same urgent anguish—and the same disturbing characters—as the author’s 803-page, semi-autobiographical rampage through sexual obsession, schizophrenia and healing, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography. Good news: Living Colorful Beauty stands on its own, serving as a vivid introduction to this gifted, if flawed, writer’s teeming mind.

In 30-year-old Benjamin J. Schreiber, who suffers (like Harnisch) from schizo-affective disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome, the author has created a brilliant and memorable psychotic. In reckless Georgie Gust, he delivers a convincing alter-ego to whom Ben can transfer “my confessionary details, my sins, my fetishes.”  As in Alibiography, their destructive common fantasy is the cruel, manipulative siren Claudia Nesbitt. Their possible salvation? An insightful shrink called Dr. C.

Once again, Harnisch’s prose is simultaneously original and confusing: ”the words in my head have turned to salad,” Ben tells us, but “my imagination’s on fire.”  Careening between New York and Southern California, and even more wildly between the searing traumas of Ben’s childhood and the perilous uncertainties of his present, the narrative reveals a tormented soul who is “merely a spy, an observer, into the world of my hallucinations” but who can sometimes make peace with his demons. “Let me lose my mind,” Ben muses. “Fuck it. I’m going out for a walk on the beach. The beach is a block away. The voices in my head are raging. They’re calling me a winner.”

For Harnisch, who playfully calls himself “the king of mental illness,” writing fiction is clearly therapeutic. An editor character tells Ben: “The problem though is that your reader cannot possibly follow your train of thought,” and that’s often our problem, too. But the authenticity of Harnisch’s voice bursts through the tangles and repetitions of his language. He’s the real thing.
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19
Nov

Living Colorful Beauty by Jonathan Harnisch

"This short novel by New Mexico writer Jonathan Harnisch features the same urgent anguish--and the same disturbing characters--as the author's 803-page, semi- autobiographical rampage through sexual obsession, schizophrenia and healing, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography. Good news: Living Colorful Beauty stands on its own, serving as a vivid introduction to this gifted, if flawed, writer's teeming mind. 

In 30-year-old Benjamin J. Schreiber, who suffers (like Harnisch) from schizoaffective disorder and Tourette's Syndrome, the author has created a brilliant and memorable psychotic. In reckless Georgie Gust, he delivers a convincing alter-ego to whom Ben can transfer "my confessionary details, my sins, my fetishes." As in Alibiography, their destructive common fantasy is the cruel, manipulative siren Claudia Nesbitt. Their possible salvation? An insightful shrink called Dr. C. 

Once again, Harnisch's prose is simultaneously original and confusing: "the words in my head have turned to salad," Ben tells us, but "my imagination's on fire." Careening between New York and Southern California, and even more wildly between the searing traumas of Ben's childhood and the perilous uncertainties of his present, the narrative reveals a tormented soul who is "merely a spy, an observer, into the world of my hallucinations" but who can sometimes make peace with his demons. "Let me lose my mind," Ben muses. "Fuck it. I'm going out for a walk on the beach. The beach is a block away. The voices in my head are raging. They're calling me a winner." 

For Harnisch, who playfully calls himself "the king of mental illness," writing fiction is clearly therapeutic. An editor character tells Ben: "The problem though is that your reader cannot possibly follow your train of thought," and that's often our problem, too. But the authenticity of Harnisch's voice bursts through the tangles and repetitions of his language. He's the real thing." 

-- BlueInk Review
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19
Nov

The Brutal Truth by Jonathan Harnisch

Jonathan Harnisch is an "artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you." He is also "a deeply troubled and disturbed person," who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others.

Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: "The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about."

For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, "I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive." After all, he knows that he is "a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven."

The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch's essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live--moment upon moment--with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately.

But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, "We schizophrenics, through our psychosis--our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality--create or develop a story." Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
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19
Nov

When We Were Invincible by Jonathan Harnisch

When We Were Invincible by Jonathan Harnisch is written in the vein of Catcher in the Rye or The World According to Garp, When We Were Invincible is a coming-of-age novella, which details the experiences of outsider Georgie Gust navigating the fictional St. Michael’s Academy, a prestigious East Coast boarding school. Georgie suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome and early onset schizophrenia, which makes his journey all the more poignant. In addition to When We Were Invincible, I have written several screenplays and the semi-autobiographical novel, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography. My own diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome and other mental illnesses informs my work and helps educate the public on what it is to live with these disabilities.

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19
Nov

Glad You’re Not Me by Jonathan Harnisch

Glad You're Not Me, takes the act of transgression to another level. Harnisch, the author himself, discovers he has been fictionalized as a character in an old friend's chapbook, and decides to come out of the woodwork as a real person, The Mentally Ill Artist, in this explicit transgressive reaction chapbook.

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19
Nov

CHANCE ENCOUNTER: SEXUAL DEVIANCE IN “SEX, DRUGS, AND SCHIZOPHRENIA” BY JONATHAN HARNISCH

The collected writings of Jonathan Harnisch mark a magnificent contribution to the public understanding of mental illness through a masterpiece of transgressive fiction with a heart. The general reader is finally able to see mainstream literary author Jonathan Harnisch at his best. Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia contain the works of 2014, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography and Second Alibi: The Banality of Life, in one complete streaming narrative. The monumental scale of Harnisch’s achievement through adversity flourishes and can now be appreciated in this diverse, invaluable, and thought-provoking collection of fragmented fiction, which will make your brain spin as Harnisch's sense of the inner machinations within the human experience spring into life through the written word. It forces one to question reality and step into another world wanting the protagonist and his alter ego to get it together and be okay. The author reveals himself through a series of alibis in the day-to-day meetings of multiple personalities, a corner of psychiatry that is hardly understood, and shedding light on the experiences of schizophrenia in a language that the non-sufferer can understand, albeit from the author who suffers himself. Not for the faint of heart, this fictionalized account of a disparate mind triumphs.

Watch Now:
18
Nov

JONATHAN HARNISCH | COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL TREATMENT OF ‪‎SCHIZOPHRENIA‬

The cognitive treatment for the persecutory delusions of Jonathan Harnisch on November 17th, 2015; persecutory delusions conceptualized as threat beliefs. The beliefs are hypothesized to arise from a search for meaning for internal or external experiences that are unusual, anomalous, or emotionally significant for Harnisch.

Watch Now:
15
Nov

Excerpt from Forthcoming Psych Book ‎The Brutal Truth | Jonathan Harnisch

I don't know what I'm doing anymore. I don't know what I want to see. My world used to be worth living for, but now it's hard enough just to be me.
 
Life is short, but it's also wide. So to my dear friends, fans, and readers, just for today, I'm done. I am done crying, fighting, and trying. I am just done. Ever feel this way? I sure do. But I feel I should be rewarded for my struggles and my pain. I will win. So my wish to all of you is that you never, ever, ever, give up! Don't you dare give up. Make a fucking plan and work for it, every single day, hour, minute, and moment.
 
If you want something badly enough, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse. There are only two options: Make progress or make excuses. No more fucking excuses! Excuses be gone! To quote Pope John Paul the Second: "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded." Are excuses more important than your dreams? Live. Live life. Be happy.
 
Some days you have to say "screw it, I did what I could today" and just let go of all the stuff you wanted to do. Life is too short to be angry with yourself for being human. Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep the faith. It will all be worth it in the end. I am thankful for my struggle because otherwise I wouldn't have stumbled across my strength. You will survive through hard times. Just believe that things will work out.
 
I could go on and on, but I resist the temptation. Sometimes you have to hold on to your sanity. There are people that have achieved mastery by making you believe that you are the crazy one. Just hang in there. We are all survivors of something. We all have the scars to prove it! Just keep going. Just keep going. We've got the power! You can do it; we can all fucking do it.
 
I feel so passionate about this right now. I feel realistic and optimistic, all the while knowing that my moments, seconds, and hours bring change, all sorts of change. I think of turning this diatribe into a longer writing excise, perhaps a blog post or the beginning of my new book, The Brutal Truth—a book written as an affirmation of life. Keep calm, and breathe, one breath at a time, accepting, when you can, each battle, no matter how big or small, one step at a time. Take baby steps, if you will. Great times lie sparkling ahead.
 
Does my life preach louder than my writing? I hope so. However, realistically, sometimes it's hard to practice what I preach. I think this is common for many. Thank you for taking the time to read my rant of inspiration—my introduction. I am an author that mainly writes erotic and transgressive fiction, often with very disturbing clarity and embellished with addiction, fetish, lust, and love. My professional writing is known to use pornography as a narrative device. This has attracted much criticism, but I try to keep it real.
 
The bottom line for my literature is to inspire hope, inviting others to question themselves, their reality, and their sanity by sharing my complicated experiences as a result of my diagnosis with schizophrenia. My work has been considered brilliant, and I keep at it. My point in mentioning this is that I have a heart that speaks. I am who I am. That is for sure. Honest, brazen, and often uncensored—with a stream-of-thought style. I invite you, my readers, to allow the brutal truth to sink in. Take what you want and leave the rest. I write from pure passion at the moment and that will change naturally according to my fluctuating brain chemistry. I feel fucking inspired, determined, uncut, and raw.
 
Please understand we are all human beings. We all fuck, up, and we all have our triumphs. We overcome—even if sometimes there is no closure. I try to get by—today—just like everyone else. What is the truth, the brutal truth? What is the final answer to all life's dilemmas, to all our vacillations of mood, thought, and perception, to all our triumphs and losses? Jesus, I don’t fucking know. I don’t think anybody does. The invitation here is to question the truth yourself, over and over again. What about the grief, phlegm, delusion, reality, response, confusion, complications, and clarifications that we feel the need to explain in order to be understood? Or perhaps we don’t feel the need to explain?
 
My desire is not to be understood. I can’t even understand myself. Why is there be a need to be understood rather than just noticed, loved, hated, and rejected? Why can’t we simply be seen as lost as we all are—failed and flawed? The brutal truth for me is, at times, a sense, perhaps an emotional sensation—feeling bankruptcy, the bankruptcy of mind, body, spirit, and soul. What is the purpose of life? What is its affirmation? What are these big questions, these inspiring quotes we find online, and these gimmicks that are seen and sold on TV? Who are these fake people, real people, fake friends, real friends, enemies, and supporters that show concern, blame, apologize, and excuse? I just don't know.
 
I would like to share something I wrote on my private Facebook page: "I don't post much on this personal page. I get scared. I lie. I use people, and I suffer. No, I struggle, not suffer. I deactivate my account only to come back. I get frustrated, angry, and mad. I'm crazy, by definition. I am mad. I'm schizophrenic, and I often don't enjoy the decline, but I took my morning medication a minute ago and put on Duran Duran—they are playing on my favorite music playlist real loud. 5:15 AM. I realize that no, I am not scared. I am fucking determined. I'm a badass motherfucker. I'm the ‘King of Mental Illness.’ I'm smart as hell. No, I am brilliant! I love myself. I have a good heart. I'm beautiful. I'm often miserable. I live life. I live. I survive. I win. I lose. I rule. I rock the mic. I love music. I'm not stopping. I'm writing, posting, and publishing what I want and what I wish. Even with typos if they happen. I'm posting my accomplishments. My stuff. I'm barely awake still, but I kick it. Can I kick it? Can I get over the past? Can I get over the loss of my friends here on Facebook and in life? No, probably not. I kick it good. I am Jonathan. I am a living, breathing person, I am a survivor, and I know it. For today, I am just trying to get by, and I am unable to choose between different courses of action and opinions. I continuously waver through all the storms and sunshine. I keep hope and faith alive. I am doing my best as always, for whatever that's worth. My existence in itself gives me a reason to love, survive, and thrive—overall. And that's enough for now.”
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14
Nov

When We Were Invincible

When We Were Invincible, which is semi-autobiographical and details the struggles of Georgie Gust, who attends a prestigious prep school, where he wrestles with Tourette’s Syndrome, early onset schizophrenia, and his feelings for Claudia, an intelligent and mature young woman who looks past his tics and see Georgie for the inquisitive, intelligent young man that he is.
As their relationship progresses through midnight excursions off school grounds, the exchange of passionate letters, and profound conversations about philosophy and God, Georgie also struggles to confront the truth about his afflictions and what they mean for his future.
I have written several novels, available in print and e-book, including the Alibiograpahy series, Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia, Glad You’re Not Me, and the screenplays Freak and Crime and Passion. In addition, I am a mental health advocate and blogger. 
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14
Nov

The Brutal Truth

I am an artist, author, and filmmaker who lives with comorbid schizoaffective disorder, as well as a range of other mental health conditions. In The Brutal Truth, I reveal my schizophrenic world with all its terrors and wonders. The book offers a raw and candid glimpse into the rarely told and poorly understood reality of living with schizophrenia—where “the only place where my dreams become impossibilities is in my mind.”
The Brutal Truth is a collection of essays that brings together material that was written for my online community dedicated to mental health. I have 100,000+ followers on Twitter, as well as a popular Facebook group dedicated to mental health advocacy. This 25,000 word volume is written for others living with severe mental health conditions, as well as general readers interested in understanding the nature of psychosis. 
I am the author of the semi-fictional and semi-autobiographical novels, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography and Second Alibi: The Banality of Life. I am also a controversial mental health advocate, podcast host, and filmmaker. 
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14
Nov

Naive Melody

An experimental film by Jonathan Harnisch.

Watch Now:
14
Nov

Naive Melody Movie Trailer

An experimental film by Jonathan Harnisch.

Watch Now:
13
Nov

The Brutal Truth Outline

Jonathan Harnisch is an “artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you.” He is also “a deeply troubled and disturbed person,” who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others. 
Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, “I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive.” After all, he knows that he is “a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven.”
The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch’s essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live—moment upon moment—with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately. 
But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, “We schizophrenics, through our psychosis—our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality—create or develop a story.” Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
00:0000:00
13
Nov

The Brutal Truth Synopsis

Jonathan Harnisch is an “artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you.” He is also “a deeply troubled and disturbed person,” who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others. 
Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, “I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive.” After all, he knows that he is “a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven.”
The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch’s essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live—moment upon moment—with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately. 
But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, “We schizophrenics, through our psychosis—our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality—create or develop a story.” Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
00:0000:00
13
Nov

The Brutal Truth Query Letter

Jonathan Harnisch is an “artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you.” He is also “a deeply troubled and disturbed person,” who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others. 
Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, “I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive.” After all, he knows that he is “a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven.”
The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch’s essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live—moment upon moment—with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately. 
But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, “We schizophrenics, through our psychosis—our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality—create or develop a story.” Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
00:0000:00
13
Nov

The Brutal Truth Note from the Editor

Jonathan Harnisch is an “artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you.” He is also “a deeply troubled and disturbed person,” who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others. 
Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, “I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive.” After all, he knows that he is “a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven.”
The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch’s essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live—moment upon moment—with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately. 
But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, “We schizophrenics, through our psychosis—our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality—create or develop a story.” Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
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13
Nov

THE BRUTAL TRUTH BY JONATHAN HARNISCH | FRIDAY THE 13TH

Jonathan Harnisch is an “artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you.” He is also “a deeply troubled and disturbed person,” who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others. 
Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, “I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive.” After all, he knows that he is “a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven.”
The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch’s essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live—moment upon moment—with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately. 
But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, “We schizophrenics, through our psychosis—our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality—create or develop a story.” Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
00:0000:00
13
Nov

THE BRUTAL TRUTH BY JONATHAN HARNISCH | INTRODUCTION | FRIDAY THE 13TH

Jonathan Harnisch is an “artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you.” He is also “a deeply troubled and disturbed person,” who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others. 
Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, “I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive.” After all, he knows that he is “a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven.”
The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch’s essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live—moment upon moment—with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately. 
But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, “We schizophrenics, through our psychosis—our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality—create or develop a story.” Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
00:0000:00
11
Nov

Brand New Book Review of Living Colorful Beauty by Jonathan Harnisch

Living Colorful Beauty Paperback – October 13, 2015
by Jonathan Harnisch  (Author)

"This short novel by New Mexico writer Jonathan Harnisch features the same urgent anguish--and the same disturbing characters--as the author's 803-page, semi- autobiographical rampage through sexual obsession, schizophrenia and healing, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography. Good news: Living Colorful Beauty stands on its own, serving as a vivid introduction to this gifted, if flawed, writer's teeming mind. 
In 30-year-old Benjamin J. Schreiber, who suffers (like Harnisch) from schizo-affective disorder and Tourette's Syndrome, the author has created a brilliant and memorable psychotic. In reckless Georgie Gust, he delivers a convincing alter-ego to whom Ben can transfer "my confessionary details, my sins, my fetishes." As in Alibiography, their destructive common fantasy is the cruel, manipulative siren Claudia Nesbitt. Their possible salvation? An insightful shrink called Dr. C. 
Once again, Harnisch's prose is simultaneously original and confusing: "the words in my head have turned to salad," Ben tells us, but "my imagination's on fire." Careening between New York and Southern California, and even more wildly between the searing traumas of Ben's childhood and the perilous uncertainties of his present, the narrative reveals a tormented soul who is "merely a spy, an observer, into the world of my hallucinations" but who can sometimes make peace with his demons. "Let me lose my mind," Ben muses. "Fuck it. I'm going out for a walk on the beach. The beach is a block away. The voices in my head are raging. They're calling me a winner." 
For Harnisch, who playfully calls himself "the king of mental illness," writing fiction is clearly therapeutic. An editor character tells Ben: "The problem though is that your reader cannot possibly follow your train of thought," and that's often our problem, too. But the authenticity of Harnisch's voice bursts through the tangles and repetitions of his language. He's the real thing." 
-- BlueInk Review
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11
Nov

Brand New Book Review of Second Alibi: The Banality of Life by Jonathan Harnisch

"Afflicted with schizophrenia, Tourette's Syndrome and other mental illnesses, the prolific and gifted Jonathan Harnisch has transformed the harrowing raw material of his life into what he calls "transgressive fiction" in semi-autobiographical novels such as Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography and Living Colorful Beauty. With Second Alibi: The Banality of Life, he revisits the abrasive, triangular psychodrama of his brilliant, questing psychotic Ben Schreiber, Ben's libertine alter-ego, Georgie Gust, and the sadistic temptress, Claudia Nesbitt, who torments them both, while also including a moving plea for understanding that stands apart from the disturbed fevers of his fiction. 
"This is a story, I hope, about my coming to enlightenment," Harnisch writes, and in that vein he enlightens us, too, about the fantastic terrors of schizophrenia: "What this life is like with the ups and the downs, the confusion, the love and the hate; the black and the white." He tells us about his moods abruptly shifting 25 times in an hour, his suicide attempts and addictions, the grim realities of sleep deprivation and the fear that his beloved wife has been reading his mind. 
Second Alibi toggles unpredictably between semi-coherent rage (Harnisch says he often writes when symptomatic) and cool detachment, and it deploys several forms: Harnisch's sexually-charged fiction (Claudia is "a slow-moving serpent with a tongue of fire and the ass of a bombshell"); a 106-page screenplay featuring dialogues between Ben and his old antagonists, and with his life-saving therapist, "Dr. C"; self-lacerating entries from "Georgie Gust's" 2005 diary, and the author's clear explanations of his condition, apparently written at moments when his symptoms have subsided. 
At times, Harnisch is energized by the very power of his illness. "The mind and the sickness is all so sublime," he writes, "the heart of living, colorful beauty." But in his most lucid moments, this brave and eloquent writer struggles mightily to escape the dark woods of madness: 'As always, my journey continues, on and on.'"
-- BlueInk Review
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11
Nov

Jonathan Harnisch An Alibiography | Amazon and Goodreads | Top 5 Most Helpful Customer Book Reviews

Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography Paperback – May 10, 2014
by Jonathan Harnisch  (Author)

"The most compelling character in the literature of madness since A Beautiful Mind's John Nash."
-- BlueInk Review
...This, it is easy to imagine, is what life with mental illness is like for some: full of continuous questioning, rationalization, guilt, anxiety.
Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography presents a simultaneously dazzling and frightening portrayal of mental illness through the eyes of several characters--though all embodied in the same being.
The complex narrative is seemingly told from the viewpoint of Benjamin J. Schreiber, son of a wealthy blue- blood family who converses with his doctor (known as C). The privilege afforded to him by birth enables him to live relatively well off; his multitude of diagnoses, including Tourette's and schizoaffective disorder, would effectively render him incapable of functioning in society under other circumstances. However, Ben doesn't wish to talk about himself with Dr. C, but rather a fictional counterpart, Georgie Gust.
Georgie, like Ben, comes from an aristocratic family and views reality from a different vantage. An obsessive coffee drinker and chain smoker, he maintains a quiet (though sordid) existence on the outside, a rich sexual life in private. Early in the text, an erotic scene focusing on his foot fetishism appears in exacting detail. This proves to be the most tame of Georgie's passions, as soon he begins his sadomasochistic conquest of Claudia, an older woman whom he hires to torture him. This, too, is richly rendered, as Georgie is teased with dripping wax, hot pans, and psychological distress. The two become dependent upon each other, hating yet needing their company, and their relationship evolves into a bizarre reimagining of the American Dream, one in which we are privy to the seedy reality underneath the polished exterior.
Forced to confront the darker nature of desire, An Alibiography shocks and confuses as the narrative unspools itself with a randomness that evokes a questioning of reality. This, it is easy to imagine, is what life with mental illness is like for some: full of continuous questioning, rationalization, guilt, and anxiety. In many respects, this work can be compared to Alasdair Gray's 1982, Janine, in which a businessman obsesses over his sadomasochistic desires and dreams, seeking meaning in his own marginalized existence. Harnisch's work, however, employs many main characters embodied in the same man, building realities within realities that often cannot be constructed into a cohesive narrative.
At over eight hundred pages, the subject loses shock value and becomes mundane. As Georgie and Claudia's passion evolves and intensifies, and the novel ventures into the completely surreal, disgusting, and criminal, the oversaturation of violence and S&M confuses the message. Mental illness is romanticized at points in the text, as well, which may leave some familiar with the realities with an unsavory taste. That's not to say the work isn't well written--it's carefully plotted with well-rendered characters, presented in a narrative that would appropriately be deemed "schizophrenic."
However, upon reaching the end, there is an exhaustion. Perhaps, though, this is in itself a meaning: that life with mental illness is difficult and confusing, yet produces a desperation for understanding.
ALEX FRANKS (October 14, 2015)
-- Foreword Clarion Reviews
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5
Nov

THE BRUTAL TRUTH | COMPLIMENTARY AUDIOBOOK | BY JONATHAN HARNISCH

The Brutal Truth
by
Jonathan Harnisch

I am an artist, author, and filmmaker who lives with comorbid schizoaffective disorder, as well as a range of other mental health conditions. In The Brutal Truth, I reveal my schizophrenic world with all its terrors and wonders. The book offers a raw and candid glimpse into the rarely told and poorly understood reality of living with schizophrenia—where “the only place where my dreams become impossibilities is in my mind.”
 
The Brutal Truth is a collection of essays that brings together material that was written for my online community dedicated to mental health. I have over 100,000 followers on Twitter, as well as a popular Facebook group dedicated to mental health advocacy. This 25,000 word volume is written for others living with severe mental health conditions, as well as general readers interested in understanding the nature of psychosis.
 
I am the author of the semi-fictional and semi-autobiographical novels, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography and Second Alibi: The Banality of Life. I am also a controversial mental health advocate, podcast host, and filmmaker.

Synopsis: The Brutal Truth
 
Jonathan Harnisch is an “artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you.” He is also “a deeply troubled and disturbed person,” who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others.
 
Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”

For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, “I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive.” After all, he knows that he is “a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven.”
 
The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch’s essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live—moment upon moment—with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately.
 
But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, “We schizophrenics, through our psychosis—our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality—create or develop a story.” Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
 
Outline: The Brutal Truth

The Brutal Truth consists of 13 essays that shed light on the day-to-day experience of living with schizophrenia.

I Have Schizophrenia, but Schizophrenia Does Not Have Me

Even though we all have our battles and our bad days, this does not mean that we have a bad life. Harnisch describes his realisation that the ultimate goal that he is striving for, as a person living with acute mental disorders, is independence. He refuses to be controlled by his illness.

The Brutal Truth: Where Am I?

Of the things you lose as a schizophrenic, it is the mind that you miss the most. Harnisch describes his search for solitude, walking away from life to find peace but being unable to escape the past or his day-to-day problems. The truth must be spoken, however savage that may be: “You do not want to feel what I feel.”

Thanks

Here Harnisch thanks his readers, especially his online mental health advocacy community, which has proved to be his “trapeze net” on his schizophrenic flights.

Getting Through an Episode

Harnisch is an unemployed artist with “a life that, in terms of conventional reality, doesn’t actually exist.” And so he creates a “double self” made up of his delusions. This double self allows him to experience a reality that substitutes for the uncomfortable truths he prefers not to acknowledge. It allows him to not be himself.

If You Are Going Through Hell, Keep Going

If you hang in there long enough, things will change for the better. In Harnisch’s case, a severe psychotic break was required for him to finally get the right help. Whatever our hand in life, we must discover our worth: “what we give to the world and what the world gives to us.” Harnisch cannot escape schizophrenia, but he can make it his friend. By altering his perspective on suffering, he learns that even though he still struggles, he no longer suffers.

It's Coming to Get Me: The Voices of Paranoia

If you are afflicted with paranoia, you know, wholeheartedly, that these are not delusions. People areharassing you. People are jealous of you. By now, Harnisch is able to see that his paranoid beliefs are “only the schizophrenia,” but “it’s for damn sure the truth and as frightening as all hell.”

Living with Psychosis: Living in Shame

Nothing is more terrifying than battling your own mind every day. Harnisch’s accounts of his psychotic episodes are evidence of his resilience and ability to survive. But he asks people who don’t understand the first thing about him and his delusional reality to stop expecting “normal” from him: “We all know it is never going to happen.”

People with Depression Cannot “Snap Out of It”

It is difficult to be told that you “inspire” others so long as you remain depressed. Harnisch knows that hewill get out of this depressed state. But it won’t be right now. People with depression cannot “snap out of it.” But they can know hope.

Addiction and Schizophrenia

Facing an addiction is a scary encounter with the self—especially if your reality is schizophrenic. Quitting smoking is a battle that Harnisch knows he must fight peacefully. He is a warrior and a survivor. He should be able to do this. It is a common enough struggle, but there is nothing common about how this feels.

The Delusional Thinking Process: To the Victor Go the Spoils

Harnisch describes his latest episode of delusion and paranoia, seeking to demystify what has happened in his mind so that he can learn how to cope even better next time. As he digs more deeply into “the vulnerabilities of psychosis,” he discovers that his delusions are for the most part rooted in a grain of truth.

When Delusions Are Real: The Schizophrenic Experience

How can people diagnosed with psychotic disorders get people to believe their truths? After all, once you’ve been diagnosed as being psychotic, your credibility is never the same. Harnisch reveals what his illness has taken from him, including recognition for his accomplishments. He puts together pieces of the “shattered stained glass” of schizophrenia, attempting to describe what is usually dismissed as “indescribable.” He explains the often mystical schizophrenic experience of reality, which those who seek to help them need to understand.

When Things Get Better

In this essay Harnisch calls for positivity, love, and gratitude even as he struggles “through the minefield—the deep darkness and confusion—that is schizophrenia.” It is by embracing even our darkest experiences that we are able to strengthen ourselves for the journey.

Writing Therapy: Easy Does it

Harnisch describes the metamorphosis that led him from the pursuit of fame to using writing as therapy—to heal. Through writing, he fights for his mind every day and is able to come to a clearer perspective on life. “We all have problems, but let's not kid ourselves! It's how we deal with them that makes the difference.”
 
"I don't know what I'm doing anymore. I don't know what I want to see. My world use to be worth living for, and now it's hard enough just to be me." 

— Jonathan Harnisch, Author
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The Brutal Truth [Abridged First Edition] by Jonathan Harnisch - Halloween 2015

Synopsis: The Brutal Truth
Jonathan Harnisch is an “artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you.” He is also “a deeply troubled and disturbed person,” who lives with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. He is committed to sharing his unique life online in order to help others. 
Through a relentless, direct encounter with his schizophrenic self and thoughts, Harnisch offers a rare insight into this often misunderstood disorder. Extraordinarily, the message is one of resilience and hope, finding rare wisdom through enduring and learning to understand his psychotic episodes. Rather than retreating into his own troubles, Harnisch journeys inside himself in order to understand the humanity that he shares with others: “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
For all its fearless honesty, The Brutal Truth is throughout an affirmation of life. As Harnisch says, “I write and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in, but I always do my best to keep things positive.” After all, he knows that he is “a legitimate, loving, grateful, and spiritual human being who deserves to be loved and accepted and who deserves to make decisions, to make mistakes, and to be forgiven.”
The Brutal Truth shows that it is by acknowledging the schizophrenic experience that we can come to understand and deal with it. Harnisch’s essays offer daring descriptions of what it is like to live—moment upon moment—with schizophrenia. These essays are written to help others undergoing mental disorders. They will also help those who want to better understand what their loved ones are going through so that they can help them more effectively and more compassionately. 
But these essays are not just for those affected by psychiatric disorders. All readers will feel enriched after spending time with Harnisch in this extraordinary and too often untold schizophrenic world. As Harnisch says, “We schizophrenics, through our psychosis—our delusions, our hallucinations, our reality—create or develop a story.” Seldom has the schizophrenic story been told with such unflinching honesty and truth.
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Halloween Film 2015 | Beautiful Nightmare HD | Jonathan Harnisch

Hello again friends and fans! Working on BEAUTIFUL NIGHTMARE was primarily influenced by challenging myself to be okay with the gifts of imperfection, artistic imperfection, to be more precise, leaving some intentionally undone otherwise perfectionistic creative choices; my goal was to not overdo or over produce the film or soundtrack edits on this particular project. I completed this short film on Valentine’s Day 2015 feeling rather incomplete at the same time extremely satisfied and proud. Aside from THE MORNING AFTER in late 2014 which within its first 3 weeks upon upload tops my all time most popular films on Vimeo Pro, I have borrowed some footage from the vault of 2 of my Academy qualifying films, WAX and ON THE BUS, both featured on international television, and with the slightest hint of THE MORNING AFTER in the background in order to produce a rather creepily but intentionally disordered dream, if you will, of my past successes in cinema, while incorporating themes as parallel lives, masochistic tendencies in sexual escapades, and disturbing clarities embellished with addiction, fetish, lust, and love while evoking a dancing laughter at the past in order to come to terms with it, and bring it back, incorporating a perhaps occasional “neonic shock,” but more so evoking heightened elation and sadness. Once again, my hope overall is to force you to step back and question your own version of reality. I am an artist of many media, namely film, experimental music, and literature and I suffer from a rare comorbid form of schizophrenia, which has blessed me with many creative gifts. I hope you enjoy this example of inherent beauty in BEAUTIFUL NIGHTMARE. I never forget those who have inspired me over the years and I am eternally grateful, learning who I am and what I believe in and stand for lately with the films I have been competing on Vimeo Pro over the 5 or so years past now. Thank you, with love, from Jonathan Harnisch.

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