While chatting about life and meaning with my still blog-less friend Pedro, I recalled the “famous” quote which according to most of the internet was written by Bukowksi in a letter:
Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain from you your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you, and let it devour your remains.
For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.
Henry Charles Bukowski”
I wasn’t able to find out if the quote was really from the poet himself, or just a typical invention of the internet.
In doubt, I simply labeled the letter to be misattributed since I had no further evidence to support its authenticity.
Turns out I wasn’t the only one to ask myself this question, but “Jef with one F” from HoustonPress actually got to the bottom of the matter:
The earliest source we could find for the phrase came from the April 1998 issue of CMJ New Music Monthly. In it David Grubbs interviewed Van Dyke Parks. Parks was asked about how he went about crafting a song, and he went on a roundabout answer involving trial and error and a fear that something wouldn’t work.
“It’s like my friend Kinky Friedman said,” mused Parks. “You’ve got to find what you love and let it kill you. I don’t think any of us should ever forget that.”
When contacted about Friedman being the original source, Friedman’s publicist Cleve Hattersley responded, “Kinky has assured me it is a pure Kinky-ism.”
I guess it’s myth busted… Up until the attribution to Bukowski. For all we know, Mr. Friedman could be pulling our leg :).