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Inside The Mind Of Rust Cohle


“True Detective” is a masterpiece. This show is different than all others out there. It was written by one person, start to finish. Nic Pizzolato’s vision was the one that was put on screen. Of course it was a collaborative effort between Nic and the producers, set designers, and other important people involved in the process, but they simply enabled Nic’s story come to life. Before Nic even pitched the show to HBO he had landed Matthew McConaughey as Rust Cohle and Woody Harrelson as Marty Hart. The final product is something that is more than entertaining, it is thought provoking.

I admit, I’m probably biased towards the show because it is so philosophical, and includes a shout-out to Nietzsche!

I particularly enjoy the final scene of the show which artfully wraps up everything that has happened and gives real implications to what Rust and Marty did. Rust, who throughout the show was a man who knew who he was, has his beliefs thrown into uncertainty. Rust was a nihilist, he didn’t have much faith in the future of our species and he critiqued us ruthlessly for eight episodes. He was a man who knew, for certain, that all there was to life is our biological existence, and that existence was finite. In the final scene Rust has an experience which changes his fundamental views.

I am posting below a piece I wrote for creative writing at school. I chose to get inside of the head of Rust during this last pivotal scene. Enjoy!


Rust’s Substance



A hallucination could be anything.  Now it could be a tree, a person, or even a whole world. And how do we hallucinate? Well there’s the crazies, and they’ll tell you anything I mean they will rationalize anything just to convince you that it’s real, that they aren’t crazy. There’s the drugs, and those will do wonders. They’re for the normal people, the one’s that aren’t seeing shit pop out at them when they’re dead sober. Then there’s the dreamers, the ones who want so desperately to leave this world for a different one, without laws, without restriction. And they’ll see it because they want to, they make it out of nothing just cause the brain wants so bad for it to be real.

What am I?

Well now I couldn’t answer that now could I? That’s what makes em so beautiful. Hallucinations happen, that’s all we know for certain. And we call em hallucinations because they don’t conform to societal boundaries. Sure I took drugs when I was undercover in narcotics, but does that make em any less real when I see shit 20 years after I got clean? You can put me in any category you like. Shit I’d be honored to be a crazy. I’ve been called worse than that in my day. Plus it doesn’t sound so bad. I’d be an elite; one of the few that sees the world for what it is, not for what we’re doing to it.

I’m sure my story sounds pretty crazy to a lot of people. I mean hell I’m seen as a hero now. That sure sounds like one big fucking hallucination if you ask me.

What’s my story?

I’m not gonna get into it. It’s long and complicated, like most things, and the ending sure as hell isn’t happy, like most things. But yeah sure I’ll give you what matters; the end. Now be sure to keep up, I don’t think like you do.

So Marty, my partner, is wheeling me outside the hospital. I am in the hospital on account of tracking down the worst serial killer Louisiana has ever seen. It took years, and it didn’t come easy, like most things. If I recall correctly Marty was giving me a pack of cigarettes, his idea of a get-well card.

The smoke particles seared into my throat, making little cuts in the flesh where the tobacco forces through. I inhaled, which means that your lungs actually expand drawing the smoke into a vacuum, filling the empty space. That’s why your chest gets bigger when you inhale, you’re making more room in your lungs which draws in the air from outside.

And Marty is standing next to me. I felt a smile creep into my eye when I looked at him, just standing there without a word, accompanying me like that. Marty’s good for me in that way, we can be partners, occupying the same space but both know when to just shut the hell up. We can keep things separate.

I can remember my hospital gown scratching against my stiches. It was papery, white, and uncomfortable and it’s just another uniform really. It’s disguising me as a member to some cause; some cause for the rehabilitation and rebirth of man. ‘The rehabilitation of man’, what bullshit, the flesh or the body can be rehabilitated but it can’t be reborn. Every man has one birth, just one. We don’t have the luxury of rebirth.

Alright now let me explain just relax I’ll get there.

Well the body is temporal. It’s biological, it is bound to the fate that all bodies share, all life shares. It will have to die. These hospitals man I mean they just keep pumping out these people who have been there. They’ve been to the edge and they’ve looked at death and these places just tear them back to life. They slap a new organ in you and off you go, back to the path which leads exactly where you started, a goddamn hospital. Now we can keep fixing our bodies, just keep replacing the parts but you can’t just tear someone back from the edge of death like they’re being reborn. Man has one birth, the birth which makes you the man you are today, and the man you’ll be for the rest of eternity, just like Reggie said.

Oh Reggie? Oh you don’t want to know about him.

Reggie Ledoux was one of ‘em satanic worshipers who was in league with our guy, Errol Childress. Who knows how many people those sick bastards killed. I remember Reggie when we got him, outside of his run down skeleton of a meth house. It was way out there, the cicadas were deafening, like the constant crashing of waves on our ears. The brush was thick and hid the shack well. We had him at gunpoint, he was on his knees, head bowed and back bent. He looked decrepit. The sun shone on his blonde hair and lit it up like a golden helmet, encasing all his twisted thoughts. Marty was about to run over and crack it open with his Glock, let all of Reggie’s secrets escape and seal my fate. I can still hear Reggie’s voice whispering “You’ll do this again. Time is a flat circle.” It’s some pretentious shit to hear a meth head spewing Nietzsche at you the moment before he gets his head blown off.

When we die we are born into another life, but it’s the same life that we are living now. That’s humanity’s shit hand. Our fate is to live the same life, again and again, for all eternity. We are birthed the same birth, again and again. We live the same life, make the same decisions, and die the same death, only to wake up being born again, and these damn hospitals are just prolonging the inevitable. I mean Reggie got it, hell Nietzsche got it.

If you just think about it we are all prisoners, prisoners of the body, these biological jail cells where inmates line up and take their hospital gowns, one after the other like good Christians. They sport their uniforms and wait for the doctors to throw them back into the world again. I was close.

Close to death I mean. Oh yeah, I was close. That son of a bitch put me into a coma, stabbed me right in the fucking belly. I’m talking about Errol now, the guy that we caught, our guy. And I was close man I mean real close, and so ready to just cross over, let it take me. But then I was thrown back into the prison of this damn body, with a uniform on and everything, like a little science experiment. What I would give now to go back and just give him the extra strength to finish me, wipe me out, obliterate me, put me past any condition these doctors could have resuscitated me from. But it’s too late for that now, here I am withering away thanks to the miracles of modern medicine.

I can remember the stars the night I left the hospital. They were bright, but they were empty. I remember looking at them and thinking that they didn’t give me the same feeling they usually do. You know, that feeling when you look up and just realize how vast it really is, the expanse of black. Those stars are millions of light years away, but when you get up real close you realize that they aren’t so small, they’re giant turbines of energy, exploding and imploding and releasing catastrophic amounts of energy, the same energy that we look at when there’s a clear night. That same energy crossed millions of light years to bounce around in our eyes and give us a sense of wonder.

You’re right, they aren’t empty at all.

That night was different though. Usually the stars are bursting with life, but this time they were different. It was like the sky was a black velvet canvas, matted to the inside of a snow globe, and the stars were little empty spaces, tiny holes someone poked out that didn’t go anywhere at all. They were little pockets in space that someone stabbed out just for fun, and I was standing there while someone shook the snow globe, shook it as hard as they could while my feet were plastered to the ground. My body was motionless, it was a ceramic figure in a children’s toy. The contents of my head just rattled around as the globe was shook. I waited for the plaster to break and to be thrown towards the little pinpricks of light, breaking through to the other side, and be in that place again.

It’s difficult to describe.

I felt like trying to describe it to Marty was pointless. He’s a practical man, but he doesn’t have much time for the abnormal. Sure he’s a Christian but that’s only a part of his routine. Marty has never had much time for indulging in anything that didn’t fit into his image of normalcy. I think he’s always kept me at arm’s distance because of my proneness to things of the hallucinatory sort. The synesthesia didn’t help for sure, that always seemed to freak Marty out. But I can’t help when an image moves me, it overflows the senses and leaks into my mouth, into my nasal cavity, into my whole head. The blackness of the sky tasted dry that night, like stuffing the velvet canvas down my throat.

Anyways at this point I’m trying to find the best way to tell Marty about what I experienced when I was in that coma, after Errol Childress stabbed me. Partly because I’m not exactly sure and partly because I don’t think he’d believe it. But first I’ll tell you what I saw right before he stabbed me.

You got it, actually I think it’s the most vivid hallucination I’ve ever had.

We had him trapped in this old abandoned civil war fort that was a few hundred meters behind his house. I’ll tell you it was the most fucked up place I have ever seen in my life. I was lost in the dark passageways, trying to find my way around only by the moonlight. The passages were cluttered with rotting bones and stick contraptions called devil catchers. It took me a while until I was able to discern the human bones from the branches. It was eerie seeing everything in gray. At night when there isn’t enough light, receptors in your eyes called rods are activated to help you see better in the dark, the only problem is that they can’t see color, that’s why everything is in shades of gray. He could have been anywhere in those tunnels, hiding in the gray, lurking behind the bones. If he was maybe he would have killed me, finished the job with one swift stab. But he has a taste for the theatrics of course, he led me into the center of the fort, where the moon shone brightly through an opening in the roof. There was an altar, and a crudely built statue. The frame was built from bones and on top four or five skulls. I remember shivering when I looked at it. I should’ve checked my surroundings and cleared the area but at that moment I had the vision. It appeared to me just before Errol jumped out from behind the statue of bones. That second lasted a long time. It hung in the air, just to the left of the of the altar, ten or fifteen feet above me.

It was a swirling funnel of galaxies. I remember the shadows on the altar being suddenly illuminated by the tornado of stars and gases. The thing felt like it invited me into its center, a calm of dark space empty of everything, but protected by a spinning display of energized matter, spewing photons of all wavelengths into that dark amphitheater. Of all my hallucinations this one made the most sense to me. I could taste the mass of stars on my tongue, the gases too, they tasted familiar. They were lemonade and grass and Jameson all at once. It was the taste of her shampoo, the taste of a time when things were right in my life. That was the last hallucination I’ve ever experienced. It was the greatest piece of evidence I could hope for, it made its presence known right when I needed it most. It was the presence of my daughter. I was lying there at the foot of the altar, disemboweled with Errol’s scarecrow standing over us.

My daughter.

Yeah I had a daughter, and a wife once. She died. She had blonde hair, like her mother’s. It was thin and fragile, with little curls that had strands poking out. It was always messy, she was always outside in the dirt. She loved my old toys more than anything her mother bought her. She would go out into the lawn with my set of green army men and she would set up these wars. Every man had a purpose, every soldier had a reason for being where he was. She would sit me down and tell me which army was going to win and why, she even understood high ground she was that smart. She would set up little snipers on top of rocks and tell me they could see everything better.

How? She was hit by a car.

I was watching her but had to go back into the house to take a call from the station. She got too close to the road. After that my wife and I didn’t last too long. She never said she blamed me but it was there. The blame was there. It made itself known every once in a while and neither of us could take it. I mean we tried talking about having another, thinking that it could bring love back into our lives. That was bullshit. Neither of us wanted to take another chance. I can still smell her hair whenever I see the right shade of yellow. I would buy her that fruity shampoo that smelled like berries and candy. I never understood how you could stand to smell something so sweet all day long but I got used to it. And no I miss it. She was beautiful.

So I guess what I’ve been trying to tell you is that I was with her that night when Errol stabbed me. I was with her when I went into that coma. She was in that swirling galaxy, right in the middle, and that’s where I went that night.

I don’t think humanity has any right being here on this earth. We are decaying one of the most luscious and fruitful planets in the universe. We are infectious, reproducing and populating every square inch of it. Our time is almost up, and we’ll do it to ourselves through overpopulation eventually if we don’t finally go out willingly, walk hand in hand out of existence. I think any creature with intelligence and a sense of self-importance should recognize what we’re doing. But people just go on denying. I’m a pessimist, and Marty knows that. He knows it well, and that’s why I didn’t think he would believe when I told him, and maybe he still doesn’t but I was with her.

Certain leading astrophysicists believe in a theory which breaks the perceptual concepts of space and time. Our world is perceived as four dimensional but only through our eyes, through our conscious. The universe wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for our conscious perceiving it, all matter would exist in a state of probability until an observer is involved. I believe that I went somewhere that really does exist.

When I finally faded into the darkness, when there wasn’t enough blood to keep me conscious, I went somewhere different. I think I was in that mass of stars that I saw right before Errol stabbed me. There was a warmth in there, like some kind of a substance, and I could feel it there. It was my daughter, it was her love that was in there. My pops was there too, and it was all three of us just fading. Our love was intertwined in a world of pleasant blackness. I felt like I had fallen through that hole in the canvas. I felt like I had broken free from the poisonous world of hate and killing into something more. Marty would find that hard to believe. But I told him anyway.

He was generally concerned for me that night at the hospital, after I had come out of the coma. And I don’t blame him, I must’ve looked like shit. But it wasn’t because of the surgery, it was because of the stars. I looked up at the night sky with him and I went back to that place, and remembered what it was like to feel my daughter’s love again. I just wanted to go back there. I wanted Errol to finish me and release me into that warmth, the substance that I know exists out there, beyond my vision, beyond anyone’s vision. There’s more to this life.

But I was ripped back. I was taken from the edge, looking over into what could have been and I was ripped back into existence because of these damned hospitals. I just wanted to slip away. I finished what I started, Marty and I got Errol, he isn’t killing any more, and now these past years I’ve been sitting and wasting away in this jail cell. I’m just sitting here, waiting for my time to finally come.

No I don’t regret these past years, and I wouldn’t go so far as to end it myself.

It was good to hear from the families of the victims. They were very grateful, very grateful indeed. But I’ve had my answer, and its tough to live in this life with an answer, wondering what these people do without knowing, wondering what I was doing my whole life without knowing. I mean now I have the evidence that there’s something beyond this, how am I supposed to lead any sort of purposeful life when I know my daughter waits for me out there?

Anyways that’s my story. If it sounds like a big fucking hallucination well then I can’t blame you. It seems to me every day is a hallucination to each and every person. Some people think they’re heroes, and some people think they’re Gods, and some people will never waste a thought about either, they’ll just move through live, like a pebble in a stream, bouncing along and taking for granted the hallucinations that come before them.


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