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THE POET OF MY DREAMS

I would tell the tale of my days in Berkeley when I was the "poet of my dreams," but every day seems, now, to flow into every other day until there is nothing left but a massive impression that is difficult to pull apart. So the story will be haphazard. It will be the dear myth it was and is, even at this late and sobering date. Today I drove through the city and though nothing seems to have changed, everything seems to have changed. The cars are bigger, the people sloppier.

Driving up Solano Avenue I noticed the great bowl of houses up in the hills and lovely it all seemed. Back there I thought are the forests and parks, the golf course and merry go round and the little farm that had the cow with a tear seemingly fixed under its eye. I see some of the old rascals and cringe. They lived as though there were no consequences. It was a good time. The people now gather under umbrellas and have lunch along the streets and avenues. It has become a gluttonous city. And the dogs remain fed on more than the scraps.

My first impression of the city of Berkeley was not a pretty one. "This is a burnt out refugee camp," was the first entry in a journal I decided to keep in the mid-70's. I had actually been born in the city but moved after a few years over the hills and into the valley. I moved back as if I were on an ancestral hunt.

To me it was always the City of Dogs.

It was fitting that a distressed young man would come to a distressed city, one that was ruled by the bums and dogs. It was a shoddy little place;

The infamous riots and goings on from the 60's were gone. A few nutty radicals dotted the little side streets and their 1910 Victorian houses but everything else receded behind the privacy of private aspirations. There was something visceral about the renunciation that went on in Berkeley in those years. No one wanted to admit that they had been part of something they thought was so large but was, in reality, rather small and stupid. A huge prank fueled by dope and loud music. Be that as it may, it was a strange place in 1975.

I lived briefly in a transient hotel on Shattack Avenue; the piss of which I can still smell. It was run by a frightened looking German lady who was always aware that the next guy to register at the hotel may be a parole violator hungry for some sex or money. She didn't know. She thought I was a runaway and, in a way she was certainly correct about that.

Below the hotel was an adult book store and a little pizza joint that smelled fat. Paper was always blowing up and around the streets, the noise was constant. I didn't not solicit noise, it was always there. At first I thought to myself, "ah, noise, you must have noise to make it a real city." Within several years I was trying to escape all noise and found it to be the most corrosive of modern phenomena.

Berkeley taught me early that walking is a good thing if one can put up with the exhaust of cars and trucks.

I had a car for awhile and a bicycle. The car was an old Volvo and I had driven up into the mountains with it to dry out from the divorce. When I came back I lived in it for a month or so on a pretty tree-lined street around the Claremont section. I had tried to stay in Tilden Park but the first night a Berkeley policeman woke me at 2am and chased me out. That's when I drove half asleep down the hill to the place near Claremont, parked, and did not drive the car again for a year. I slept in it for a month and then moved into the transient hotel and finally found a place in west Berkeley. I sold the car off after a year, checking it out occasionally to make sure they hadn't towed it away. And when I sold the car neighbors did come out and look at me, look at the guy who had the Volvo that had sat there for a year collecting bird shit and dirt.

* * * * * * * *

And so the center stood where the trains ran underground and the people walked, rather silently, over the personal streets they had made their own by walking constantly over them to the shops, the restuarants, the big department store, the library, the train station, up to the university, a small seethe in and out of people and cars. They sold donuts from trailers and pork bows from trucks. The sky was open and the ocean waited. A big black guy sat on the wall and critiqued the passer-byes. "Oh, fast man!" "Look at your shoes bad guy." "Oh sweet cakes!" They came from everywhere and ended up here and then back to everywhere. Influx. Along with the colored wrapping paper and throw away newspapers printed by cults and advocates of a cause.

There were three people in particular who I saw quite a bit of, who came in and out of the picture no matter where I happened to live. And Berkeley allows for that generosity of spirit that permits one person to live everywhere or, at least, walk the city up and down and across in a very short time.

There was Fid, the poet or he said he was. He didn't believe too much in the art but he talked a lot about it and, to be truthful about it, I could stand to be around him for only short periods of time. He made demands. I'm not sure he was conscious of them but I always felt obligated to do something for him. "I need a book can you buy it for me while I'm at work?" "I need ten bucks to buy some food." Things of that nature.

There was Ull, the philosopher who I suspected was a bit crazy but who spouted off some opinions based on his readings in Heidegger and Schopenhauer. He had low tolerance for anything he deemed trivial.

There was Bor, the wannabe saint who tried to practice every sacred mission he came across. He was always high strung, never settled or content but always talking about peace.

I realized at that time it is more provident to surrender to knowledge and curiosity than it is to movies or a novel. That escapism was the great drug of the age and I didn't want it and didn't want to produce it. "Give me a knowledge of society and my experience in it and then I will write through what I know and experience." That was the real source of epic poetry. It was not escape and blathering entertainment for 500 pages but a blasting voice through the world the poet knew. That is the thing. That is the only thing in the long run.

Berkeley taught this more than any other area I've lived in.

When young, at this time, I studied organizations; the organization of life. This was central and probably changed the direction of my writing from novel writing to poetry and philosophy. Novel writing was the study of human society for the most part. But society was only one sort of organization and had been studied to death.

What I learned, finally, from all this study, random as it was, profound as it was at times, is that the two greatest values to have are boundless curiosity and "learned ignorance." Christ is absolutely true: What benefit is there for a man to conquer the world and yet lose his soul? Which I take to mean, what matters if you know everything but don't have an inner core of "stuff" that allows for compassion, tolerance, pity, and the rest of it. Well, it's obvious what you have: Sick intelligent people running things.

To study something is not to kill it. And there is an art to it. As life, itself, is a kind of harsh art. This was a lesson I did not learn until the next phase of development.

Berkeley taught me that the pursuit of power without discovery of soul is a dangerous proposition.

I was never certain whether the openness in Berkeley was evidence of a dysfunctional breakdown or some new opening arising in the possibility of the new world.

I owe Fid the Poet, Ull the philospher, and Bor, the Saint all of my stretches, as I called them. They showed me the resources and introduced me to people that were mind-boggling to say the least. I met Fid at a wild party that was attended by whatever refugees were left of the infamous period. The atmosphere was husky with pot and songs. I felt completely out of place and told myself, "you are a writer, you are here to observe." But the trouble started when people figured out you were observing and not participating. Then they started to get on you and put pressure on you to do something they were doing. Fid pulled me aside and introduced himself and asked me about my writings. He mentioned a few local poets I had heard of and told me he would introduce them to me if I came to one of his readings. "Yes, I will go to your readings," but I lied because, frankly, I never wanted to see any of those people again, including Fid the Poet. I didn't even care about poetry at that time. I had heard some of the readings and they were bad; bad poets, bad poetry which equaled a bad atmosphere. But then, it was a very bad time so maybe it made sense and all. I couldn't shake Fid the Poet and finally we went outside and we smoked our cigarettes. The night was wet and cool. I suddenly felt elated for some reason and told Fid that I wrote poetry once in a while but I was mostly a prose guy. "The rutting season, I get that." I asked him to explain. "You learn after a time that poetry is written during specific times of the year. I call them the rutting times. All life stops. It's as though someone close has died or you've been diagnoses with a terrible disease. It all stops and then you devote this rutting time to conceive of, write, and then shape some poems. If you get fifteen or twenty during that time you're doing well." I nodded my head and said I understood. That night what he said stuck with me for some reason. I hadn't thought of it in those terms. Writing was something you did every day. It was the will of life.

Ull the Philospher came into the picture because of mutual friends. I had worked on a newspaper a few years before moving to Berkeley and kept in touch with the editor. The paper was an "alternative" paper that flourished during those times. It had been whisked away by the times like most everything else but he knew I had read philosophy and wanted me to meet his son-in-law. I didn't trust any philosopher who was married but I needed to stay in contact with the editor and so agreed to go to his house, high in the Berkeley Hills to have dinner and meet this Ull.

* * * * * * * *
[[down University Avenue]]

Seedy, disjointed avenue! Sometimes the spirit thirsts for it for here are the innocents who come to be slaughtered in blighted motels smelling of urine and bad coffee. Here are the old hotels owned by east asians with their turbans and unspeakable English. Rows of non description sliced in two by a poisonous snake of metal and glass. It glides past the dark people and their shopping carts and sleeping souls at the bus stop.

A certain outrage kicks in when you realize the world you despise cares not a bit about you and it wins out.

"Ah, you damn factories, railroads, jets, ships, fast-food restaurants, houses, apartment's mobile homes, cars, service stations, general stores, busses, glass buildings, trucks, street lights, avenues, freeways! Be gone! Vanish from my sight! Every day I get up, eat something, go to work, eat, leave and watch them either try to screw someone other or make a million dollars during the day. In the case of bureaucrats, making sure things move as roughly as possible.

Buildings! Phalluses stuffed with bindu but the seed is sterile."

"It isn't dear friend, science against religion," Ull was telling me. "That argument is a dead one. It is the creative power of human beings against the management/organization of modern states." He wasinterested in where I was working now and looked at me while smoking a cigarette, his legs crossed on a ratty chair some relative had given me.

I told him about the hospital and how it was a looming concrete non-profit that survived off of pregnant women and recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. "There are, hidden as it were, fascinating conversations in the bowels of the Hospital or, as we call it, the Hotel. In the business office of the Hotel are proud fundamentalists like James who calls himself a preacher of the Baptist Church and claims he has great powers of his own including speed reading, mind reading and other powers conferred on him by his faith in the Holy Spirit. He speaks of Jesus and claims that Jesus, before he taught, collected the apostles around him to protect Him from what James calls, "the interference." Ull seemed non-plussed about it. I always figured a smart layabout like Ull was culling out stories from me for his own use, to cover the fact he had no context and so was open to anyone's vicitimization.

I always tried talking philosophy with Ull but he would brush me off either because he was trying to make it a profession and my opinion didn't count or he was studying me and to talk about philosophy would crack the illusion that he was better than I was. And when I thought about it, philosophy was a lonely practice, done in empty rooms, in brains that wanted to build things without resistance. I knew the condition well and tried to signal to Ull that, I too, was a head-monk.

I did notice women were kept out of the conversation. "Oh, of course she should be free, why not? What's the big problem?" And then he'd veer off into some gossip about a person we knew.

I had met a woman at work though I didn't mention it to him. She was gentler in her religion than James the Baptist. She heard voices in the back of her mind which was God telling her what to do as a 7th Day Adventist. The woman, Tanya, read the Iliad and asked me "Have you read this book?" "Yes." "Ull, she is the only person I ever heard disparaging the book. She is fascinated about the oral story telling aspects of the Iliad, amazed at how one could hold all that information in their head at one time. She says she once went to plays but not too often now. "One play, Caesar and Cleopatra, made me laugh."

I had given the Greeks some thought, along that learning curve the swept me during those times. Despite the apparent foolishness of their gods they certainly had several advantages the present world lacked. Their gods were not ideals but patterns one could extend if a guy had the courage to do so; even though fate would eventually defeat him. "Perhaps," I thought, at my desk late at night listening to the whir of the copy-machine, "there was more freedom under such patterns." Several days later I heard myself say down the bright-lit street roaring with cars, "push through form the shared complain of the world and the shared joy of the world."

Women at the Hospital got me fascinated in the creature again. There was the attractive and sweet Tanya half black, half Filipina. The women loved to talk to each other. Anne, too, the long haired, long-legged daughter of a famous chemist who had been on the run for two years from the East Coast but I didn't know why. I felt close to her but something held me back. And then the Parisian entered the picture and I fell apart and agreed to show her all around San Francisco. I studied French in a two-day session to say something to her. She peed in the bushes behind Coit Tower.

Ignorance of passion teaches best what it is!

A new woman. There was always one and she was before me, a shy, awkward guy who didn't know what she wanted, not knowing the secrets she contained; living in a state of exquisite psychology.

Oh chain of disastrous women: little conversations in little cafes in lost little curls of smoke. New York woman. Pregnant, six months. Boyfriend is thinking of leaving her. Ah, the beautiful philosophy student who didn't want to talk about philosophy or Heraclitus or any of them. Ah, the one with the butterfly tattoo. The useless excursions with women. Nil. They were reminders of the state of my writing; they were in correspondence somehow. The expressive eyes of the woman, how she would attempt to coax information out of me, always a bit alienated as though she knew she would never quite be accepted the way she wanted to be and her imagination working furiously to ether cover up this fact or to figure out why this was so. And I would know this and make a remark of some kind which they probably took the wrong way. Yes, how one sees women is how one sees the work. This is why I've sometimes been harsh on women I've known and the same time feel rejected by them.

* * * * * * * *

The old wise guy kept telling me, "Separate what is mainly political from what is mainly artistic in your own efforts." That got me thinking about history and what, if anything, it contained. It can jump up and snag you in listless days because an act that is committed in the present day that we think is so great always has a complement act in some previous time and when a man sees that; that is, nothing can occur without its past and future being known at the same moment the act occurs, he is no longer the same. It's left to clever people to go around and discover common connections that become grains in the belly of what-goes-on. Tragedies happen but only against a larger circle of farce. They want to go forward, to discover, to make way as the future chokes in the absurd.

"Oh, the boy has challenged all his assumptions," the wise guy would taunt me. He knew what I was thinking and knew I thought I was a pretty clever guy.

We were not born there but pulled ourselves up like a guy who is asked to climb up a knotted rope and touch an ibeam in a gym filled with sweat and young women. "come on, don't be a day late, dollar shot," the coach shouted.

We were expected to fight for survival and if we lost, ah well, that was life and nature. What did we know? This was in many way contradicted by the wonderful idiocy Berkeley was at the time. It rationally fashioned a pyramid as the model for the larger culture and then abruptly turned it up side down with a laughing gesture like a college prank by drunken students.

My first impression of the place was as a kid when my dad took my brothers and I too the great old stadium to watch the University play football games. Always the long, deliberate walk from the car to the vast arches of the stadium, the fraternities partying along Piedmont Avenue, crowds of people, frat boys throwing footballs in the autumn morning, black boys selling programs, beautiful coeds everywhere, there was little conversation as we headed for the stadium and the anticipation of games.

And when the crowds gathered even a little boy knew an event was happening.

In the same streets I had seen the riots. Those too, events of high intention but always destined, like the football team, to lose and be decimated by the cops; the superior team in this case.

"Beautiful, lovely town full of reds and old rich people."

When I came there to live the riots were over and little attention was paid to the sports scene. A vast depression swept through the city, a deflation as though a rubber band has snapped and shriveled to nothing.

Bums were the heroes and pissed all over everything. The only energy came from a clot of nerds who were into computers and such. They kept raving about the future and, in retrospect, they were right but at the time I dismissed them as nerds who shouldn't have smoked pot.

So I was wandering the streets like a lost, stray dog as the times passed; the only times for youth in that brief moment when the young around the world are connected and know they will succeed to power and remake everything in their image.

It was a dirty city and didn't seem to mind. Paper flurries were an on-going thing. Garbage was heaped in piles.

Old clothes were put in boxes and deposited in one of the many parks. Old, dried pizza's were spattered on the sidewalks. Dog shit was everywhere. It was one of those periods of time when it was hip to be barbaric. To be civilized was not looked upon kindly. It was seen as a mask for slave owners and killers of other people in wars no one benefited from.

Perhaps the secret to Berkeley was that it believed that "madness was the 13th Muse." There were more than a few Andre Breton's in Berkeley, certainly Artuad's. They were not idealists. The idealists, suprisingly, existed in that technical/nerd community that had the grand idea of putting computing power in small, accessible boxes.

This group was infamous for their naivete. And yet they brought something Berkeley was void of which was practical sense.

Berkeley was like a body with the lower parts down in the flats, the belly and chest in the student area and the head up in the hills. Assuming the head was the stabilizing aspect of the body at least people stayed around in the hills. In the hills and down below in the flats people took root. In the middle their was constant movement in and out of streets, cars, apartments, and houses.

Berkeley was infected with that kind of European intellectual flavor that is so suave in its nihilism. A brain that thinks is as apt to try and revenge itself on the world as a person who is abused. And if no one thinks and one group thinks then what is a young person to do?

There were excellent questions raised at that time and when questions appear, when cracks open up from the way in which one has always viewed the world, when the establishment is no longer the fount of authority, then all kinds of things come rushing into play. That moment is a crucial one as the writer wrestles with these questions, more questions, all questions, no questions just the putrid universe and its odd creatures. It was no mystery why science fiction was the genre of choice in those days.

Berkeley always denied the massification of the larger world. That was its essential charm. Every individual would count in Berkeley. A kind of perfect democracy would exist. And at times it approached that point. It had a very salutary effect on people who were used to "just living" and not worrying about these things. Not worrying about how the world takes for granted the integrity of self and democracy. On either side of this were cults and political ideology. It was, in some sense, a testing ground for the American soul.

There was not a part of Berkeley that I did not know fairly well. I lived in the Rockridge area, west Berkeley, up on Oxford Street, on Telegraph Avenue. I loved College Avenue, Solano, and Shattuck. Parts of Telegraph still retained the aura it had in the 60's but by the time I moved there it had decayed quite a bit.

* * * * * * * *
[[telgraph leading into sproul plaza]]

One of the secrets of Berkeley: the young, on the street or in the campus, martyr themselves to the sins of the society. In fact, one could say Berkeley was a fight against the fathers.

The pyramid flipped. It was no different than tribes of pre-Columbia who ritually assisted the young to dis the old and all they hold sacred. It created new vitality. But it also created the shame that made the kids, eventually, just like the fathers. And it did a third thing. It showed the kids, after awhile, exactly why the fathers did what they did.

The radicalism that had marked Berkeley in the 60's and early 70's had petered out to a few crazed gangs like the ones who had shot and killed the Superintendent of schools and kidnapped Patty Hearst. Or the People's Temple.

By this time anything with "Peoples" in it rang rather hollow. The radicals had all gone back to school or lived sullen lives down in the flats. When they got together they would drink and laugh loudly. They were still alive they reasoned and proved to themselves they were better than anyone else. Or, at least, smarter than anyone else.

There was an unmistakable aura of craziness in Berkeley. It was not a simple and empty thing. It was a real atmosphere, a charged atmosphere you would not get in a large city. And I had felt this aura three distinct times.

Once had been in the mid-60's as a teen-ager and sensing great momentous things happening and feeling that Berkeley was the center of the universe. So clean, ideal, and perfect! And then when I moved there a terrible disillusionment that made everything sickly and driven down. It was the feeling of being driven down which was so startling and it was pervasive. And then feeling immersed in it so that the pyramid was flipped.

The self soon takes on the problems of the environment it moves in day after day. In Berkeley were cosmic, macro, personal, social problems that had an amazing structure to them. Some of the problems were dictated and formed out of ideology, some of them were formed out of great idealism after reading Ghandi or Thoreau. The ideologists tried to make cynicism into a hip thing so that people, wanting more in life than what the establishment gave, would turn to the ideological solution. On the other hand there was great "going inward," in the mid-70's. The cults were just the tip of the iceberg. Great restlessness took over the city. Jung and mythology came into vogue.

* * * * * * * *
[[radiation lab up in hill]]

There is a hill and out of the hill grows a building and from the building came the end. And there was no mistaking the hill and its building. They were the end. One imagined a sucking noise to one day leave a large black hole where the hill and building were; all the instruments, people, files gone- perhaps to an undiscovered dimension but safely away from the living.

The poet didn't have an ounce of fat on him. He claimed it was because he didn't own a car and walked everywhere. He always appeared on edge because he felt that the hammer could be lowered at any time. "Life was always lived this way because the hammer always came down. Now we have all these protections." I had a feeling he wanted to live in this intense place as long as he could and then nature, perhaps, would tell him to move on. He said the edge sharpened his thoughts and sliced off the trivia of life like a scalpal.

"Doom played a role," the poet said, "that goes without saying. There are all kinds of doom scenarios, some of them quite bizarre. It looked probable some type of nuclear war was going to be fought among nations. It threw everything off kilter. A friend of mine had said perhaps it wasn't so bad. "What it does, the mushroom cloud, has not destroyed anything but history. Everything is turned back to the eternal present and all we can snatch from the cinders of the past are a few instances of inspired thought or spirit."

"Perhaps but that was only one of the doom scenarios.

"This scenario always came popping up: extraction from earth, constant transformation of resources into products, products supporting larger and larger populations, increased populations demanding more and more resources.

"This scenario cut down my need for goods", the poet said, "Ah, they do not know yet we are doomed at this pace." This was the only solcace during bleak times.

It alarmed me but I also knew that our minds are tricksters. Most importantly I countered the doom with an attempt to understand these things. It was heroic in my own mind, I studied the cold war and war in general; geo politics, trying to find "an answer" for the nuclear problem. Where was the future with the nuclear dilemma there? And if there is no future, where does that lead us?

"This had an enormous impact that was only mollified when the earth and life seemed much more solid. Sometimes it happens. Rarely but a few precious times.

"When I think about it that was my initiation into the present day world. Taking on these problems and the fears they created took me out of my college days and put me at the center of something exciting. I did follow a great many leads and learned a lot of intricate, eccentric stuff. Much of it has slithered away.

"At that time I felt that novels were not going to solve any problem. The novel became a frivolous item.

"And I think I switched to poetry precisely because the novel failed to address my concerns.

"The counter acts to this sort of doom is beauty and wisdom.

"My friend, there is something stimulating about contemplating the death of the planet. It is one side of a huge mythology.

"It's not shocking to me either that during this time I absolutely connected with history, with the historic imagination, with great spirits, with common spirits, with the acts, with the existential history that can be a powerful thing."

"Berkeley was very amenable to all of this. It had its on-edge doom characters but it also had great knowledge resources. It had a very active environmental community. I can remember a spate of time when people were thinking about the future, future space colonies and so on and I was interested in that. Berkeley of course blamed everyone. I took it more as an alarming fact and tried to track it all down. Blame seems to cut off the sources of enlightenment or, at least, constricts the ability to find out and keep curious.

So the poet regaled me long into the night about his experience wrangling with annhiliation.

* * * * * * * *

We were up in the oily jungle of Eucylaptus trees that huddled together like foreign spies. They had been imported from Australia a century earlier and now taken over the hillsides. Oily, tall trees waiting for a sign.

Berkeley was like a woman who you believe holds the secret to life. You practically worship her. And then you realize, no, she just wants something from you, even as innocuous a thing as to live through you. There is a panic of realization. And then you step away and watch her as she lives out every odd, bad thing you perceived was there in her moment of mystery.

A provincial woman, then, who could not see the forest for the trees and yet had great inner beauty still lodged in her, somewhere in the folds of her hills and bad streets and run-down Victorians.

Intelligent women with long strides and absolutely non-receptive souls could dominate downtown around Shattack and Center. Manipulators but who later would feel , if not sorry, resigned to the fact they couldn't manipulate anyone.

If nothing else the city had vision. I saw the computer revolution, Internet, and solar power all in Berkeley. I discovered the difference between imagination and fantasy in Berkeley. Imagination was substance, it was something that had legs and could walk around the real people but that fantasy was something that belonged to boys rather than men. And for all of that reality counted. Reality was a big luscious thing filled with boats in the Marina and angry women, paper flying along the wonderful avenues, people pretending to be someone they were not and so on. It was the charm and aspect that one adapted to.

It nearly burnt down twice. Reagan sent old helicopters over it to bomb and chase out the young rebels. "Full of boring smart people who say the same things and have the same outlook on everything imaginable."

I discovered that the communists and socialists drink good wine and come from wealthy families. Their idealism is disguised hatred for the privilege they were born into and it destroyed more than a few. Well what is a world without a few drunken, idealistic communists? Those, in other words, who have never grown up because their mothers paid them off not to enter the real world. This was plenty afoot in Berkeley.

They drank good wines and lived in houses that looked out over the whole Bay Area as though they were pro counselors in Rome and the Empire was at their feet. But they had nothing to do but prostelize on behalf of the poor and left-out; people they never associated with and whose lives had more meaning and fiber than their own.

Yet even the communist knew that money counts. Money had the ability to produce any sort of life the imagination conjured up.

Generations of students passed through the town. The scholarly types were usually ashamed of their passions and kept them hidden behind either activism or parties. "It's amazing to me how the smart guys denounce everything that is smart in favor of things that are purely dumb," said the bum.

piedmont ave. by international house]]

"Coeds gazing out on the concrete, iron balcony toward the islands in the bay, smoking, heads going nuts, zigging and zagging trying to physically remove themselves from the very spot where they smoked and gazed, petrified of where they had ended up and wanting to get out; either through a career or a man. They were undecided by it all." Ull was telling me what he saw when he first came to the city.

"The students were, generally, arrogant and full of themselves. Life was their oyster. They were going to cook in its pulp and come out smelling like a rose. Nothing seemed to bother the students; they laughed uproariously at any suggestion that life was not what it appeared to be; a vast moveable feast of good liquor, dope, sex, a kind of nutty world performing in front of them for their amusement."

I didn't know many students. Bookstores, restaurants, clubs, and apartments. These seemed to be the venues for myself. The chicken and pork bows from the Chinese food truck on Shattuck Avenue by the BART station. I lived a few blocks from Chez Panisse and frequented more than few of the excellent restaurants that Berkeley seemed to thrive on in the 70's and early 80's. That and coffee shops. There was Peet's and one up along College Avenue I used to go to quite a bit.

It was a town of resources. I read books when many thought, even in Berkeley, that reading was passe. I always questioned this: "Do you mean that thought and knowledge are passe?" Those who downgraded reading usually went into money and wanted money more than anything and didn't relent until they had it. I read and researched all the bookstores and libraries of Berkeley because I was curious and I was angry at the state of the world, which, to a mind, seemed easy to figure out. The more complicated it got the more I read to try and figure it out.

I read anything that struck me as interesting, studious, or forbidden. It was a great joy. Many days and nights I spent at the university libraries reading on one, two, three levels of the building, going outside to smoke occasionally, sometimes the only person in the library. The books I read became a part of me, no question about it.

I was terrified often of the split between nihilistic types and stone-frightened types. It dominated everything. I didn't think anything generous would appear between these clashing rocks. The nihilist types were smart but empty; intelligent but superstitious and wanted nothing to do with the real world. They would destroy the real world given half the chance. The frightened types didn't recognize the historical changes going on, didn't move in the pathway of historic reality, couldn't control the vast fear of change and distance that permeated the culture at that time.

* * * * * * * *

So the poet of his dreams, named Fid, wanders around and thinks he's a wise guy: He cuts epitaphs into the trunks of huge oak trees: "Quickest way to Hell is to destroy Memory" "Life sad, short, and tragic for all the kind and masterful rationalizations" "Trust the soul, question the nation" "Theories only explain their existence as theories" "Who did I invite?" "What good is it to leave the misery of one circle and enter the misery of another?"

"So Fid, why do you destroy trees?"

"I have learned a great skill in carving and want to master it."

He showed me the trees he had defaced. It was ugly and unsettling to see the crude letters etched into the bark. But I did notice as he took me from venue to venue that his phrases of outrage got smaller and more precise; they were a wonderful art like an oak scrimshaw.

This Fid was so ugly and bent up that I won't even describe it. He was so frightful most people jumped a little bit when they were introduced to him. And his poetry was not very good. He wanted to say everything all at once, put the universe in a poem, even a word, and it came out flat and meaningless. He needed to take a few breaths and relax. His shoulders, especially, kept leaping up and down like something ferocious was trying to escape the confines of his body. But then again, Fid was generous. And with nothing to do I would go with him to a little club that had poetry readings

I began to realize that a Puritan guilt overtakes the writer who writes primarily "on himself." But it is simply an aspect of self not yet known, struggling to be known. A voice, then, as authentic, perhaps more authentic as the minister I listened to on TV. "This novel I thought. This novel, now, is a kind of novel of manners depicting a variety of levels abundant and mingling in good old American style." "Let them see who they live with!" That is one spirit in youth. Maybe it is the story of development with idea counterpoised against idea or, at least, a spiritual opening.

A decent writer starts off wanting to write novels in the way that Hugo, Steinbeck, and Zola did; huge sociological tracts of criticism that writers are sometimes weaned on. They could cut their teeth on lesser things. Then comes the psychological novel where each scene is constructed as a psychological state of mind and where action and thought try to fuse.

Bor says, "There is no static in youth. There are things all around one. The present as present and nothing else; things without association, things as things; physical things like buildings, planes, roads, bridges, houses, streetlights. Things. Objects. Common things. And then they worm through necessity, imagination, or, even desire. One object is in relation to an empty, littered lot and another in relation to hills filled with trees and birds. One sees through the eye, smells through the nose. But there is more. There's that inner fluid that comes up and meets things with its imperative and the things change. They can wither and die. Or, they can live forever." And I thought of what Bor had said and had a dream about it that night. A monstrous giant had taken out his erection and pissed on where we were and everyone was frightened and running helter skelter and the saintly Bor was drowned in it and I only escaped because of a princess who had a bicycle that could fly.

Pain and gentleness 
Under the eyes of the 
Wayward Girl lost 
in what all lose 
prominent in her awareness 
ah, where have you come from- 
Where? 

It was ironic that in a town full of intellectuals the intellect suddenly appears as grinding away with no pretense to the truth. It needs a conscience which says, "ah, you are only after power, enthralled by the obligatory anti-truths and anti-life sentiments of the day."

"Yet, when the intellect is conned away from itself to let in other, lesser selves to walk out in the daylight aren't they revealed as horrible things? And who else to cauterize the wound but the old grinder itself? There is utter nihilism and around the corner is complete doubt; fast down the street comes slimy desires and then those small and petty conclusions that fret this way and that like a bug under a hot light.

* * * * * * * *
[[down in the flats]]

"Sometimes my brain feels like an elephant wandering off toward the high grass of the plains, full of muddy water in its belly. It pauses at times to trumpet at some fleeing Mastodon or Tigress. Isn't the bloated feeling symptom of shadows trying to fill themselves? There is reat danger in wrapping oneself in shadows disguised as artificial light." So said Fid who, unlike the philosopher talked about women all the time.

"A woman always embodies something; what is it now? Perhaps it is the personality of history itself; the contradiction between power and responsibility. A woman as an ideal type would be difficult when the whole mind is concerned with exposure." And when he said "exposure," he drew it out and flattened it, eyeing me like there was an oracular meaning in the way he'd expressed it. He wanted to impress me with his experience with women. That had come to be a way among the footless young who hung out in the urban parks smoking and playing guitars, flashing smiles and nodding heads as people went by, inconscipuously, headed for their important meetings in life.

I saw him with one woman who walked all disjointed with a pained expression on her face. It was disconcerting listening to her. She was always making pronouncements as if she were the smartest person in the world, yet, when one looked closely she lived like a gypsy and probably knew how to throw knives against trees.

The city made him a storyteller because even knowledge was only participating in a good tale. Tales enter other realms where we can not participate. Vanity kills the effort. The storyteller goes out and asks simple questions: "What creative principle are the living people dependent on?" "Have you recognized yet that separation from this principle is death, the center of it life?"

"Every shitty thing," Fid was saying, "has tried to knock me off some perceived pedestal. I laugh at the effort and commend the shits for trying but, eventually, it applies a few drags on things. The shits don't want to see. College, family, clowns, actresses, bosses, lovers, it doesn't matter. I just make 'em into characters. You want to hear my list of characters?" He was in an old bakery turned into a cafe and had a binder in front of him. A man had just entered the bakery and declared he was a god and they chased him out. "Well, there was the wicked, half-crazed drug dealer; a big talkin', cigar smoking contractor and his daughter addicted to something harmful; the big talking, big dreaming, little talented rock musician, the old, bitter professor "against the war,", the macho primitive working for the utility company; the jazz guitarist who works blue-collar during the day; the neurotic, suicidal woman who suffered in childhood and read Hesse novels; the left-liberal professor and his wife running an alternative newspaper; a lonely Marine in his apartment watching TV while his ex-wife throws a brick through his doors; pot smokers a plenty; loud, dark-spirited Trotskytes; the blonde, neurotic rich guy; Judge, the ganja smoker; golfing bureaucrats; bubbly, nubile innocents; parents of the middle, upper-middle class; young toughs who carry knives into bars; a young counselor training to be a minister who rides a bicycle; young Jewish writers on the make; a mother with her young children in the lonesome mountains; loud talking, smart-ass bureaucrat who drink too much; a New York exploiter of college students; lonely and rootless fellows suffering the bowels of the city; Nigerian student wanting to be "apart of the action:' astrologer healing woman; the steel-eyed stentorian librarian; a bookseller balding on top; loose women sitting in the saloons and clubs, pregnant and just in from the eastcoast; the computer company owner; Filipina nurse working full-time to support musician husband; single women in mid-20's roaming the land; an ex-Peace Corps worker desperate to find someone and build her career; the Greek girl who bragged that her boyfriend was in the Mafia; an effeminate ship steward trying to pick up middle-aged women on trains; the crazy Finn who belongs to the communist party or brags she does; a professor and his peccadilloes; a rich jewess who threatened suicide for 15 years and finally does it; a middle-aged lush who sleeps with stranger black men; kindly women lawyers, tough as balls feminist/lesbian lawyers; quiet, suspicious librarian; the ne'er-do-well relative that floats endlessly from the east coast to the west coast; the doctor and his huge stone castle in the crevice of some obscure mountain; and more, brother, and more."

* * * * * * * *

"A job is the cowards Army; responsibility is transferred from brute authority to financial-economic authority to produce a very facile freedom that everyone struggles to maintain. My relations with those working here are not bad by any means. I've known these people for years; they've crossed my eyes and imprinted themselves on my sensibility for so long all I can do now is breathe with them. There is something to be said for learning through new experiences, pride notwithstanding. The only thing I don't stand for is the horrible pressure to remake myself in the image of a slave. These people are so nice, accommodating, ineffectual, rather bumbling like myself and yet exert a force by their presence that is difficult to shake. One smells not fear but with fear I suppose."

"My relations with co-workers is always poor. I've known these people for years; they've crossed my eyes and imprinted themselves on me, somewhere, for so long that all I can do is breathe with them. There is something to learn everywhere, under all circumstances, pride notwithstanding. One wishes they could dismiss folk as in the old days but it is not au couture these days. Yes, my pride is bruised. I will not relent to the horrible pressure to re-make myself in the image of a slave. A nice, accommodating, ineffectual, rather buumbling slave."

"Let me tell you about conversations I've had: There were all those talks with R----, existential talks without an ounce of grace in them; then the kind couple who engaged me in talk about child-rearing and jobs no one liked having; there was the good guy M---- full of bluster and ego when filled up with good drink, swaggering, blustering kind of conversations; or MS and her conversations of the inner self, artistic talk; with D it was history and experience, practical matters of one sort or another; cocky banter with my brothers; that guy I worked with out in construction, B, who talked with me for hours about work, life, and society as we worked on the house; crazy H monologues on why he carried a knife with him into the city and how he'd eaten the aborted fetus of a doe in the woods; convicts I worked with out on the Straights demolishing a company town; the guy who smoked a pipe in the warehouse and Klaus, the German shipping clerk; the fine, neurotic women of the hospital, how I loved their sweet conversations, talking out dreams with my friend by the fence when we were kids; tales of Gummy the wonder pisser flying over the city of drunks to old Pat the Irish warrior; I used to tell my buddies that my dad had won the war, single-handed, and they quizzed him about it next time they had a chance; oh an endless diarrhea of conversations with the good, bad, and the ugly."

* * * * * * * *
[[on the bus]]

Today I gathered a satchel of faces; a long, skeletal face, "pale unto death," sunken as one from the dead with long, lanky hair, dark peerful glasses; sitting with his body rocking back and forth in strict, taut rhythm to some invisible exigency. Confused, dark Chicano man. Beautiful black woman with hair braided thinly and wrapped with turquoise beads. Scabbed, forlorn face of one not impressed by it all.

For So Long:

he continued, "For so long I was driven by a restless vanity that reached its dutiful conclusion in apocalyptic visions. For so long I have been roaming the fields and boroughs of the imagination. The people suspect the worst but then they should be ashamed of themselves and when I think on it they have sold their shame to the most absurd temptations so the back of my hand to them."

"For so long oppressed by a kind of telepathy! For so long unable to understand myself buried under the thoughts of others! I have only recently understood the way voices organize themselves. For so long believing I was relating to the world when I was actually relating to my self-consciousness, to my "impositions." So said Fid the poet. He was a sad man in many ways, a creature caught in time but out of time as well. He had asked me to buy him a book on the occult from the dingy new age hole-in-the-wall in Oakland. It was there. Much was there. While I made the transaction I questioned to myself why I was doing favors for another person, one I didn't like all that much but hung around as if he were a secret I needed to know.

"Language, my friend David, is a strip eternally moving through the body and soul. What the poet does is heighten its appearance. A language formed out of the spirit. A kind of false pride will try and manipulate itself to spirit through the manipulation of sentences. First, the spirit and its experiences through life. Then language that comes brave and beautiful from the heart.

"The difference between "ornate" and "hard, common language" that the poets of a previous generation struggled with, William Carlos Williams and so on. A man who says chair and think they have said a great deal are either laughed at or provide the greatest opportunity to succeed."

(Reach the truth through the shortest distance.)

Here. This place. Living in this particular place, this part of the country, this astounding vitality that breaks here, always signaling for a new man or new woman to arise although it is a place where men and women become disembodied before anyone else. All myths have a grain of truth in them. The people live horizontal to expectation. They dream in other words and even if the dreams are vulgar they are dreams and the fact the dreams are innate gives impetus to the more profound and real dream one finds in the ancient world or at the tail end of some golden age. Slowly but surely the dreams take on the character of tribal dreams of vanquished nations. Two worlds lower on each other, plus the Spanish. The mansion of the Emperor turned into hacienda spreads. Catholic missions. The Spanish is old, noble Spain and god-dark Aztec. Two dark bloods. Ancient dreams! Representations you have, here, in this place. The dreams of youth sadly flag in the mind. The dreams of manhood gain strength.

The Stuttering Utterances of a Cosmological View:

"I love reading about the stars but I love looking up at them even more. And if it were a choice between the two I would choose the second without regret."

* * * * * * * *

[[down in the flats- bonar street]]

Ull was going to tell me about his theory of consciousness late one night as we watched a baseball game on a small black and white TV propped up on a leather chair. "The first fact is motion. First, the motion of the mind in its first act of discovery. Next fact is the motion of the Earth in rotation and in orbit around the sun. This fact leads to a pleasurable sense when contemplating the facts that exist on the surface of the planet. Next fact: The motion of all the planets, the sun, the galaxy, the universe itself as a whole in and for itself, expanding, all these motions simultaneous and in concert and with mystery on mystery. Next fact: Distance followed by the treasure of discrimination. The universe takes on the form of a cube with the eye in the center, able to carry in it depth and the relation that creates depth."

"So friend, imagine the Earth suspended and suspended not on or by anything substantial but a play of forces. For the sake of perception tou imagine the light years below the ground one is standing on, the light years above and to the sides and the fact that science and probing make things tenuous. Tenuous, no?" I thought he was through and was rolling some images around in my mind when he broke in again. "There is a strange and liberating feeling to construct the universe from the "big bang,"to the expansion. And isn't it true that religions are society and static while science is individual and therefore progressive and adventuresome?"

I answered him, "Well Ull you seem to know more about this than I do."

"I traffic in facts, I am a fact-finder. And playful. Playfulness exists to fend off a society that doesn't want the mind to get too far out of hand; so it doesn't divulge too much. And the rest is a sorry tale!"

"Have you noticed Ull how the women compete? It is a hard thing to watch."

"Oh women, let them go. They have their own destiny, don't worry about it."

"But if women are competing like the men where will wisdom come from? Wisdom that is credible to the kids at any rate?"

"In America only the well-made thing is wise. This country is like a giant rolling an inflated ball around in an enormous field grinning madly and childishly at all the intracies crushed below. And then it sulks and goes mad another way. But I don't give up on America. It is just something "in you," and you either find out what it is "in you" or else surrender the beauty of it to the sighing thugs of political persuasion who have perfected either hate or fear. Why do you need women if you understand this?"

"But isn't woman protector of the soul? What happens to the soul if women, as women disappear?"

"Don't call it soul! That's a discarded word thrown around by nineteen year old singers. It is a mysterious word. What is important are the visions and dreams generated spontaneiously within the whats-its-name. It's not a room where items enter identified by desire. What-it-is doesn't like sentimentality and is explicit. In speaking ambiguously about this-thing we defer to its infinite variety. But here is a problem. What-it-is has a long history, it has attained an identity now in service to a will in love with techique and power. The intelligent mind see's its own death and forms images of itself where it can! The other-thing understands eternity and so forms images of past and future.

* * * * * * * *

"There is a future, David. There is faith in a future. It will exist. The question is how and why and what pressure does the belief put on the imaginative thought of such a thing? That is a responsibility for a sentient human being such as myself but I am inclined to believe that it is the action of the moment, the act of the present, the thousand and one details and activities that present the foundation for such a thought. This is why all those "simple" attributes are so important. We keep, however, the "big thought" in mind. For instance: The best use of technology. Its uses have been divulged over the past several generations, revealing some good, some bad uses but as yet technology has not appeared as "pure". There is no pure relation to it because when it appears it is immediately fit into some use and so either conforms to the use or extends the use under its own pressure. When people speak of a "technological world" they are speaking to the fact that each new technology is plunged into some use without too much thought. Many people are eager to take the technology and use it until a good fit is found. That commits the culture to technology and commits the people to all the tedious learning curves necessary to understand the new, complex technology. This is either an unconscious prejudgment on the part of society that technology is automatically good or technology has successfully molded the society to its own way. The star is always technology, the man or woman is merely a useful cog. It's tied into the psychology the victim /victimizer, one of the more recognizable tropes we live with. We raise the question but can't answer it."

Ull had cornered me in the coffee shop. I learned much later that is was owned by the Unification Church of the Reverend Moon. I always went to the coffee shop to write. They would kick me out late at night. "Alright writer guy, time to leave." I would take a sheaf of papers and stuff them into a black briefcase my girlfriend in college had given me and would leave. I never looked at the people but I knew they were looking at me.

"Well maybe it's not that complicated. It may be as simple as this: Those who benefit from technology and those who are oppressed by it create maddening divisions. Divisions exist everywhere. These divisions occur from decisions people make. These decisions are protected in various ways. Power struggles spawn naturally and require other decisions. So the divisions do become the reality. In a mystical sense everything must play itself out and see the light of day. Nothing will be hidden. This seems to be the law of nature. It may take 2000 years to catch up to but there it is. What is internal will become external. It's a generalization and what is important to note are the pressures under which the "externalization" takes place. There is no monolithic state of the "internal."

The "external" informs the "internal" just as much as the other way around. In the last several generations we see that when the internal is "weak" it adapts to the external. It is intimidated by the external and the ease of adaptability of other "weak internal selves" who, in their turn, create the atmosphere of adaptability. Just as in religious periods of time, when the internal was built up and protected by dogma and belief, the budding external creations of science and technology were scorned and shunned.

"You don't have to be an artist David to know we are in an age when the internal is weak and pulled apart by a hundred forces. It is devastated by its impotence in the world; crushed and humiliated by a world that leers and taunts its eternal questions. There has been healthy reaction to this in the past twenty years. Youth has the instinct that favors the purely human. Then again it also has a shadow that would hide in the great powers of the world without understanding them.

"At least the internal can neutralize the external by forms of thought. It can create breathing space for itself and then move intelligently in the world of objects. After all those objects were externalized out of the old self. The "internal " aspects recognize themselves quite readily in the environment. That is the great tension created between itself and the world about it. It recognizes the environment as an "old aspect" of itself and sees its own desire to grow pinioned by this old aspect. That is where confusion comes into being.

* * * * * * * *
[[buttercup cafe]]

Talking with Ull produced exquiste defenses in myself that I used for other social purposes. He would speak as though you were nothing but a blank piece of paper. He used his hands frequently and even if he let you say something he'd run over what you said with aplomb.

"Even a young guy has participated in a few archetypal situations!" Ull was saying. And then he ticked them off one by one without an explanation.

  • a medieval hermit
  • a father in suffering joy
  • a man concerned for the well-being of all life he sees
  • a lover broken by his love
  • a stranger in the middle of a group
  • a man of appetite
  • a man of ideological swagger
  • a man rejected by the world
  • a man rejected by the devil
  • a dreamer who brings all things into the plasma of his dream
  • a scientist manipulating objects under a method
  • a man in prayer
  • a man in nature
  • a man in fear
  • a man of the Earth

"Societies, like people, dream and become disillusioned; refashion dream from some obscure opportunity and move toward this opportunity with vengeance. Where opportunity does not yet exist, the dreamers step forward.

Notice that there are two types; the social person who surrenders to convention and opinion and the psychological person who abstracts everything in himself to protest the conventional, to gain a kind of supercilious personal identity. It may be necessary. But that base was a common one for both types. The desire for power or, even, the desire for immortality. The conventional type surrenders to objects of convention believing them to extend into the future where his or her personality re-enacts itself through the convention. The psychological person surrenders to advance thought believing the same thing. And believes a kind of equilibrium in the present is a kind of immortality."

"I want to be free of all this," I said. "My first loyalty is to my creative spirit and that finds its fullest expression in making language speak out the powers, pains, and joys of having a spirit. It works in conjunction with an ineffable opening spirit that best goes unnamed."

"Certainly your greatest desire is to compress and compel experience toward a healthy future by opening up knots of obstruction that keeps the streams of nature damned up, concealed, and riddled with demons of every sort. Oh these frustrated human beings! With all its expansive techniques and its variety not able to consummate even one desire to bring life up to its ripe and profound richness!"

"With study I take a bath in pools with shadows and glint of sunshine through the leaves, over the water."

"Youth discovers in the nick of time it is saddled with a double-nature swimming off in opposite directions and if he isn't careful will simply obey the desires of other people.

A nation created out of thought expects its adventuresome types to experiment; many failures and successes will follow, at the end of which comes understanding that will bring on more experiment, further experiment will bring on more failures and success, more understanding to the end of time. The paternalistic equation says, "material growth = freedom." Only a nation filled with refugees and immigrants filled with sentimental souls would believe in it. You can detect the bitterness in their voice as you can with orphans. What other nation started with a thought? A thought conscious of itself as a thought. A thought at the end point of experience?"

I couldn't argue one way or the other. Ull had obviously spent time thinking on these things. He was trying to convince me of something that eluded me. Society was a simple thing for me. It would see me die at some point and move on. It would put some demands on me and make me laugh from time to time. Ull had an ulterior motive as if he were using me to test out ideas he had cooking. I knew enough about the society to realize that his ideas were useless but I didn't tell him that.

* * * * * * * *
[off Shattack- Emerson?]

Fid is explaining to me what poetry is. We were in his ramshackle, off Shattack Avenue on an afternoon filled with rain and sun and that smell that comes up when the two commingle.

"The first poems are intimate like sex; a rarified relationship between self and ideal. Even if sex finally exhausts itself and is disillusioning it is a tasteful act, driven by nature, from which one scrambles back into the light. Perhaps sex is self-contained like art and only refers to the limits of the body. And after the sounds have quieted down the perennial question, "what am I doing with this particular being?" Sometimes I think Mr. Freud wanted everyone to have continual sexual adventure until the brain finally tired, spits out the libido and returns to contemplation or actively pursue something without the damn interference of "those feelings." Maybe the sex theorists want to intellectualize the women so they support their genius men. Everyone would be happier!"

Fid has just lost his girlfriend or hanger-on I wasn't sure what she was. I think she was from the valley and looking for adventure, "dangerous men," not those who did evil things but those capable of evil things who finally laughed and did a petty crime like illegal drugs. Or even parade around like a poet. When he was drunk or stoned he could go off on fine riffs that I never saw in his poetry. He was well-read, books were always open and laying about in his wreck of a place. Now he was drunk. It was not a staggering drunk but a soft and kind sort of drunk that allowed him to be himself for a moment.

"The song is subversive in that it desires the bored man to sing with fleeing birds who sing over city avenues at mid-noon,

* * * * * * * *
[kittridge st. library]

"It is often like this: Once upon a time there was a man who loved a woman with as fierce a love one can imagine but this love did not satisfy a wider circle of influence. At every point along the way huge boulders were thrown between himself and his love. He was driven apart and forced to conquer that which had seperated him in the first place. All this time his love is changing. She is growing a bit older, a bit more experienced. She begins to demand more. And as the lover is engaged in his distant fights and struggles he stops by occassionally to pay his lover a visit. And when he does the same argument takes place. "Come back and forget this odd sturggle. Let's just make our lives together and forget the world and its stupidities." And the lover pauses, promises are made, dreams are constructed that ensure a bridge, however thin, between the two lovers. Time dissembles my friend."

"Madness as the 13th Muse. This is the old poet Novalis:" "Man might discover all kinds of new possibilities if he were to begin to love sickness..." Perhaps it means that sickness is a truer anchor than anything else from which a man can view the outline of a world. The physician of the soul."

So the-would-be saint concluded. Bor. The man was scary from time to time with his adherence to codes thousands of years old. He was a modern sort of anchorite, his cave in the dingy part of the city where the distress was a leaverage to his beliefs. The world was evil. That was Bor's view. And so any contact with the world would corrupt a person and make them, eventually, just as evil. For this reason Bor didn't own anything; no car, no insurance, no niceties, only a few books. He would buy food at the local farmers market, usually a bagette and a peach. He would eat this slowly, over many hours and claimed that's all he needed for the day. He would empty out boxes of clothing that dotted the local parks for people in need and find a few items then neatly pack up the box and put it back on the corner. The city was filled with plenty like him although I doubt if they read Thomas Merton and Meister Eckart. He would disappear for long periods of time then show up in a park I was in or downtown by the BART station. He liked me because I listened to him as I made it a practice to listen to everyone.

* * * * * * * *

I listened to the traffic that plowed before me. I stood at the end of the day with lingering dread. I watched the commute traffic plunge over the off-ramp and stream up Ashby. "At least," I thought, "they relieve the pressure through their vehicles. When a guy rides a bus it all stays pinned between the grimy windows where I glimpse here and there the low-slung city." And then I would board with a rasp of disappointment

In the smaller companies there were four or five managers at various levels Then a gaggle of salesmen with their chalkboard all lit up with sales brags. They were like descriptions of iron-werkes or mills in histories of technology; a craftsman walks through and makes his notes, especially of those who run the places. In my useless thinking, in the cavern of the warehouse, with Mozart or Saint-Saens playing in the background, I thought of the difference between individuals and persons who were simply isolated from everything good. The isolatos could be easily manipulated but an individual could never be manipulated because they had encountered somewhere in themselves, in their experience, whatever can possibly impinge from the outside. The only real danger for the individual was to stop along the way, turn his new knowledge back toward what he had emerged from (with a vengeance). This had proven fatal and evil in most cases.

In the executive office: Family pictures on the paneled wall; wife, children, Executive Magazine, Four photographs of a hunting expedition (truck driving on sand dunes), a worthless painting of some scant-talented naturalist of the 18th century.

"Ladies and gentlemen it's not rocket science. We're here to make more money today than we did yesterday. We don't pamper you."

their song were vibrating off the metallic traffic, into their precious beaks. His face is a perplexed fear in front of the abyss; is he free or trapped? He can't decide. Some underpinnings have been cut out. A particular kind of classiscism has fallen. The world has floated on clouds of its own invention until......well, everything catches up to it. And like the giant in the fairytale must chase the thief from the clouds down the preciptious stalk as the Earth mother stands at the bottom chopping with her happy ax.

"Stand at the edges of the old world with sharpened claws and a glean in the revengeless eye. Stop me brother. An oppression is sighted. Men no longer are addicted to the kind of suffering where every value is destoryed by madness. Mad machines dangling from the end of iron threaded fingers spun by the golden processes. There is delight in a strange premonition that they are taking a last stand and yet are at the threshold.

"People distrust a language when they feel it's not really theirs. It's a borrowed syntax, vocabulary, meaning; all borrowed and stuffed between feeling like foam. And since they lack language a space or hole remins in the mind, always ineffable. It's even a source of pride. The pride of perception! of depth! But without language all this is a flabby passion; the hole is just that.

"If this "space" is filled with one's own language (contained in the spirit of each man, as any quality is) this space would vanish; it would vanish but re-appear deeper beneath the nexus of his inate language. But now he'd have the tools to "get at" the hole. Instead, they fill themsleves up with borrowed language and borrowed images which throws a loose net over the hole so they no longer have the disconcerting feeling that it is them. Their pride and discomfot have the same source."

Yes Fid was drunk and had discovered things only he knew about. His eyes were dark and sad.

Then Fid told me a dream he had recently: "Christ stands before Pilate. Pilate asks for a miracle, "out of curiosity," and Christ transforms himself into a modern businessman. They are in a room and the communication between them is done in their own language; Pilate speaks Latin and Christ, Armenian. A translator laboriously goes from one to the other. Christ uses various gestures and objects in the room to bring his point over. The fascinated Pilate is defending himself by throwing out the ideology of the Empire."

And then laughter as only Fid knew to laugh.

* * * * * * * *
\ [kittridge st. library]

"It is often like this: Once upon a time there was a man who loved a woman with as fierce a love one can imagine but this love did not satisfy a wider circle of influence. At every point along the way huge boulders were thrown between himself and his love. He was driven apart and forced to conquer that which had seperated him in the first place. All this time his love is changing. She is growing a bit older, a bit more experienced. She begins to demand more. And as the lover is engaged in his distant fights and struggles he stops by occassionally to pay his lover a visit. And when he does the same argument takes place. "Come back and forget this odd sturggle. Let's just make our lives together and forget the world and its stupidities." And the lover pauses, promises are made, dreams are constructed that ensure a bridge, however thin, between the two lovers. Time dissembles my friend."

"Madness as the 13th Muse. This is the old poet Novalis:" "Man might discover all kinds of new possibilities if he were to begin to love sickness..." Perhaps it means that sickness is a truer anchor than anything else from which a man can view the outline of a world. The physician of the soul."

So the-would-be saint concluded. Bor. The man was scary from time to time with his adherence to codes thousands of years old. He was a modern sort of anchorite, his cave in the dingy part of the city where the distress was a leaverage to his beliefs. The world was evil. That was Bor's view. And so any contact with the world would corrupt a person and make them, eventually, just as evil. For this reason Bor didn't own anything; no car, no insurance, no niceties, only a few books. He would buy food at the local farmers market, usually a bagette and a peach. He would eat this slowly, over many hours and claimed that's all he needed for the day. He would empty out boxes of clothing that dotted the local parks for people in need and find a few items then neatly pack up the box and put it back on the corner. The city was filled with plenty like him although I doubt if they read Thomas Merton and Meister Eckart. He would disappear for long periods of time then show up in a park I was in or downtown by the BART station. He liked me because I listened to him as I made it a practice to listen to everyone.

* * * * * * * *
[[in the park]]

The guy was almost down and out. He would entertain me with his stories of roaming up and down the west coast, most of the time as a vagrant, but sometimes being gainfully employed at some job that didn't exist any longer. He confessed to me, sometimes in ways that were odd and elaborate. "Yeah, you know, I have to stop being so damn foolish! I'm too passive, not determined enough and it has cost me but good. I think over things and a dry ash appears. And I know better!

I know what I've seen man!

And no way I want to live it over again

Well, here's one that will amuse you. I was bored in school. I didn't get the education I wanted. In high school I wrote a novel and rested my hopes on that novel. I don't even know where it is. As I told you, I was bored but I was living with a woman. That was far more interesting. Not that education didn't interest me, I always read stuff; political ideas, literature, revolutionary material. And thinking, man. Always thinking wildly but earnestly and protecting it all with a kind of silence.

But why did I flow and flutter in the wind? After a time I kept the substantial part of myself hidden, working in its own way, conscious to myself but hidden from others. That part of myself that showed itself to others soon was the face of themselves; sorry, I can't describe it any other way. I became no better and no worse than themselves. It is a fine art my friend. But it also pulled me down. That face kept turning back in a taunting and leering sort of way. My good parts were all humiliated, let me tell you."

Well, I wanted to tell him that a man's whole life is his growth. Only the defeated, the damned, and the disillusioned will cut it all off and try to perfect something that he has inherited. His whole life. And not the pressure to become everything at once which leads downward.

But I didn't.

I should have done some confessing myself and told him that at one point I felt life to be so overwhlemingly in momentum, so resmembling wild nature I was familar with up in the Valley's that I felt there was nothing to do but observe it all, give it some opinion and even concoct a ritual or two as if I were a cavemen surrounded by nature. It appeared to me at that time that it showed all the symptoms of insanity as well as profit-making. Voices heard, incongruent images, valuelessness, telepathy, a real insane world. I should have confessed that to him but I didn't.

* * * * * * * *
[before the adult book store on shattuck]]

The Dark Night of the Soul

Anything for a buck. A liquid sigh about to fall into the wasting night.

...over the skyline of the city, over the greyblue of the horizon, a single plane travels just out of eye of the crawling humanity ducking into alleyways and buildings. It drops its load- a detonating blockbuster filled with oils, melted crayons, pigs blood, the come of a lost tribe of giants, mucus from old pensioners, tears of gallant lassies waiting for their lads to return, import piss from Patagonia, liquid pulp from the Black Forest, maple drool, anything THEY could find that was running--- rich boy bodies lost in communion, rampant genius afraid of itself, dispirited souls clawing from the black machete's, bodies chasing naked shadows, shadows ski8pping along corrugated walls after naked bodies, abandoned hairy cunts searching the woods for a choice piece, all the bulls moving south in stampede drawing their hoofs in slippery come... they and all are inside the blockbuster falling through the clouds towards the unsuspecting---who are frozen in a kind of epileptic moment. And when it explodes the animated figures think its Fourth of July. They come out and serpentine the streets, arms thrown skyward, letting their bodies swim in the deluge. Only a few have the courage to draw on the buildings....

She imagines an oil derrick. It stands in the middle of a forlorn field- tumbleweeds, rusting metal, bone rock. The dry rod screw begins its descent into the earth, boring through the crust and adobe, the soft loam, looking for primeval bones, transmogrified by sleeping eons into the gushing brew of lust. Past the dead phantoms, past the bristling gates, gates separating the air of the known- a slippage out beyond all voyages and transports-- commerce and heraldic banners, walled cities, the clamoring market, the godded mountains, altars and incense, docks and mossy pilings, the painted temples, the child's hill, out beyond the quiet glassed conversations and bleating horns, the vapor trails, the crawling stucco, the poundings, every day the hammering of concrete, the splitting of streets, the nausea of asphalt pouring---the billowing of souls into the haze, browning before the sweet rains, the boxers, the vultures circling--beaks red, dripping dotting the avenues, the sleeves of desperadoes turned from quietude to a loud, pitying moan like the long far-away shots of cannon knocking against the walls of castles. She is dreaming, bathing in a sunlit room, her body glistening sweat. A bird perches on the window sill.

They converse like old friends. They both laugh. Out he flies.

A hill. It's rim. People standing pondering down the hole circumscribed by the hill. A laughing man is running around. "Jump in! Go ahead, jump! All your friends are down there! All your family! Life continues down there!

Go ahead, jump! You don't want to die...you don't want to be evaporated by the Torch, do you?"

A few fall forward due to his goading. The others kick around the dirt, their heads bowed. One yells across to him. "Why don't you jump? You seem to know all about it. You jump!"

"Oh, I have jumped...and now am back again, exposing myself to the great Flame that is approaching...Hurry!

Jump. Do you want evaporation or do you want continuing life? Go, jump! Life continues down there in the pit...

In the obscene pit. You'll all have TV's and you'll be able to drive the freeways...and one man will say to the other, "hell, this ain't so bad." And they'll laugh together and swig down their drinks. Women are down there with their legs spread....they're in glass cages and everyone can see them beat-off with walking sticks...you can set up governments....the same as before! Dope is plenty down there....Everything will be the same but everyone will think it's different. So jump! It's either jump or fly towards the Flame!" And the remaining stragglers leap. The single man faces the Flame with open arms.

A fire blows a storm across the waving grains. The grains are wavering slowly back and forth, undulating with a cautious wind that skitters like little girls laughing from the Beast in the woods. Then the fires comes and in and in a moment, in a blink, the grains are blackened stumps, each thin stalk a dark remnant of itself. The millions are running before the deluge, up the sloping hill, clawing their way to the top. The great Flame rises up, gathers itself all at once and forms a circular mouth in the center of the yellow-blue----blowing streams of their Flame toward the bottom slope of the hill.

Scene I

Woman is tied to railroad tracks. A team of writers, posing as outlaws, have just left the scene in a bursting cloud of dust and gravel.

"HiHo," says one, pointing to the perked ears of Rocinante.

The apparent leader is nattily dressed. Sequins abound. A vial of cocaine is stuck from his pocket in front of the monogrammed hanky, silken gold.

"Behind us is our fortune....Now we roll towards our mounting glory- a beaming, gridding glow on the darkened cave of our compadres."

"All hail! All hail the heroes of culture!"

The leader starts spewing a foamy speech blown through his head on the tails of the wind. Our his mouth comes the jumbling, bumbling alphabet- not 24 but 24 billions- all frothing like the disease of a mad dog.

It begins raining gold and the spirited pirates reach out their hands in the mighty quest.

Scene II

"Where's the ax?" the engineer asks, grump-like to the fireman. "We need to stoke the fire."

Before they can look specific, an eye catches the form of the quivering, trembling maiden, snug tight on the steel tracks.

"Need we stop?! Where's the brakeman?"

"Agone to the land of dreams, the ultimate show of shows," says one.

They franticize. A life is about to be lost under their spinning metal.

The maiden watches as her death pours down on her. She wants one more surge of feeling before the big darkness spirits her away into the diffusion. "A slab of metal...an iron arm...."

Scene III

The drunken aristocrats are solemnizing their humble beginnings. "Why just yesterday," one says- his hands gilt with the reigning dust, "I was a picker in a nose factory....I dreamt of this day, my day in golden lights...It seemed impossible as the noses passed on the rubber conveyer...it seemed wild and crazy to one day be responded in a community of my talented peers. Then I quit thinking about it...I took classes...I studied all the scripts...my head grew hollow and I became frantic...it was the last day of desperation as I recall, that I suddenly was overcome with the urge to automize my mind...out came the typer and in went the paper. I was possessed by spirits beyond the vale of the reflected sun. Now, I is beyond the scripts...And naked women lie at my feet... Haha" And the man throws the gold dust in the air.

Scene IV

A fading shot of the scene from the rim of the valley. The settled scripters are entertaining the beasts of prey, with their lightning fast quick-draws. The smoke of the iron horse swirls in the background....a body is fomented on the iron tracks. Feathers and arrows dot the horizon.

The alien, HVHI sits in front of his charts and calculations. He wants his connections to be of a deeper, more subtle kind....He sends out a telepathic message.

Our Jane hears him. "Yes, I will come to your observatory," she signals back, not knowing where she's headed but headed just the same.

And soon she is gliding down his telescope with nothing between her and his huge eyes but a thick glass, which she passes through without a problem. After a solemn tea, they face each other to talk. He wants to know where she is from and why she's been floating out in space.

Her voice is tired. "I died. I was hacked up on some distant speck and when my body was devoured by alligators

I spirited up....God knows how long it's been. For all I know my dear planet is dead and vanished by now....it was getting pretty boring until I picked up your message. I guess it's always been a pretty dream of mine--to fly into space and encounter other beings.....But I can tell that you are just one of them...."

The alien looks hurt. "What do you mean?"

"Well, for one thing, you have no exotic shape---no antennae from the nose or anything like that. And you're pretty colorless to boot. In fact, you remind me of my old man."

"Well," HVHI enthuses, "I'm sure somewhere in the infinite there are other forms....If it is infinite...do you think it is?....Do you think it is infinite?"

Jane draws in a deep breath. "I...I don't know. I don't think about it much...All I know is that I've been floating around till time has evaporated....And the scenery is all different... yet all the same....Do you know what I mean?"

"You mean the arrangements of the constellations change, is that it?"

"Yeah, yeah, something like that...No....now...I can't quite say it...it's on the tip of my tongue you know but I can't explain it in so many words....But it's as if each little light pulses in its own life...And that life is fully infinite. It's a spiraling down into invisible infinite. This is the feeling I get when I pass along the blackness and see all the shimmering lights. They're all pulsing out their infinitudes, each single one of them, all profoundly different...and the only thing the same about them is their infinity...the depth...but whether the whole thing, I mean the universe is infinite." And she shrugs her shoulders.

And HVHI laughs. "Yes. I have the very same feeling. I have had it since I was a little boy. My confidence wavers sometimes but when it does I just look and by god, I'm a new man."

* * * * * * * *
[[flats of berkeley]]

"Learn from," he was saying, "the dust-eaters shall we say. Those are the ones who have choosen death for whatever reason. Those are the ones whose outlook is so poor, so decimated by experience that they are ready to die before death is ready for them. They are soul parasites. Everything less than a queer sort of perfection, in their minds, is the devil. Puke of the spirit dead." I listened to him as an act of friendship, an act of participation but it could get too much. I told him, in so many words, that I would rather make love to a woman than listen to him. That was an insult to him and it was my form of teasing the poor fellow.

"A structure of evil is a fine phrase for it. A structure of evil in the most vulnerable so that they believe their righteousness is in the perfect place all the while they are serving some dark necessity." He kept a steady eye on me as if I were in a classroom against my will.

"In relation to memory there are two interweaving aspects. The consious mind applies some logic on the outward appearnance of an apparent memory; including it more and more in its "scheme" whatever that may be. The "logic" leans toward the paranoid side. The other thread is the knot of energy in any particular memory. Events move too quickly for the present. A man is outstripped." As he talked on I remembered a woman I knew while in school. I had met her playing pool and took her back to my apartment where we frolicked for the night in all kinds of youthful, delightful ways. I remember what she looked like, her voice, what she was wearing. This memory could be manipulated in my presenet mind a variety of ways. I was sitting on my bed feeling guilty about many things, about the whole change that came over everything; the darkness, the smell of her body, how she was soliciting me to find out what was wrong while everything buzzed in my guilt-ridden mind. At that moment. No other. That too, that too.

"What takes over to destroy dreams?" He was now testing me. "The dreams of religion could mean anything. And the dreams of science are already manifest. You need more and more discrimination. The mania of the world is really an abdication. Don't get tricked by people who think that the past was some glorious temple of enlightenment. The past is a form. Admit to yourself that you have stood at a point outside a vast circle and have merely commented on the revolving activity. While this builds good perspective it has its opposite effects in that it builds resentments and personal animosities."

The older man, Ull, was trying to school me on what to avoid in the world. He had suffered in life, I could tell by looking at him and it frightened me. Am I going to end up like that? I thought. I wanted to be one of those with the happy face, not necessarily a pretty face but a happy face with nice teeth showing during a smile and only a few lines in it. A face proud of its privledge, to bring on the resentment a place like Berkeley produced like the breathing air.

He always enticed me with cheap wine and pizza from Leaning Tower of Pizza down in the flats, down where the prosititues were not pretty. It was a little hole in the wall with two seats in it but we'd drive down in his car and pick up an order. His room stank of something. It was coming from the oven. He had wild birds flapping all around and the place was a mess. I would stay because he paid for the wine and pizza and interesting characters were like bars of gold at that time. Broken men with profound insights.

* * * * * * * *
[[sitting with dalmation man on shattuck in front of department store]]

Man playing violin in street. The woman who had a pack on the bus to Calgary and spoke without saying a word.

"Strange in-taking of various "speech-forces" and how it insinutates in and out of the mind with images and a variety of abstractions. It operates at all levels. And then all the crude judgements on the poor soul! The dwarf dances well in the city. I try to fight it in the middle of the street, driven now by hope, now by pain, now by a glimpse of a truth or a paradise. The dwarf is driven by pride and power and is the master of the dwarfish mediocrity treating it like a thermostat." And the dalmation man made weird gestures with his hands, an outline of some sort.

Now he spoke as he played his music. These dialogs happened all the time, came from every weird angle speech was capable of dealing out.

"How trapped I felt by the powers of the lower mind! It was as though it would hold me forever in a kind of taunting hell filled up with demons and burning sulphur, tv sets, the surge of falsity and untruth that feeds the air.

"It has the sense of the eternal about it."

"It is the fate of one who asks questions and opens ones heart to all possibilities. There is no redemption where it's not wanted."

"Yes girls, it's all horrors and delights."

"The loss of possibilities. People trapped in history. Unseen power creating destinies. Delights are elsewhere."

"Deal then young women, with a reality stronger than you."

The run-away girls were not easily impressed. They got on their haunches and tilted their heads to listen to the guy with the two dalmations. He always sat on a mat in front of the department store, playing an accordian. When run-aways or a curious passer-by came along he always talked to them. He seemed angry at the girls, almost fatherly trying to use the moment as a teaching one. The girls laughed a few times, then pulled out a few dollars and threw it on the mat, thanking the guy as if he had just sold them a good pair of shoes, and skipped off into the crowds of Shattack Avenue.

* * * * * * * *
[[down ashby avenue]]

"Women have stories to tell and long into the night she will tell you her stories."

"Terrible, cruel world," he thinks. It is followed by a complex vision of power and organization. "Perhaps," he thinks again, "if the world is suddenly conscious of its injustice it would instantly transform. No? Good, I will write down my objections to the injustice and describe them as a scientist would describe the arrogant bug.

Among the women are hunter's of women and he hears their plangent sound.

Big, round, and hairy come the hunters of women.

But then there is the professor and he gives the impression he has compassion for all living things but turns and harms the nearest, most innocent child.

Pleasure is the central organizing principle of youth. Choas either drives them out or kills them.
"Yes the love, the love
Love that is lost
Love that is gained;
Eternity won, eternity lost
Eternity won again."

"Old guy! Keep your hands off the development of that child!"

When youth has joy, age has worry.

Horrible spirits surround genius to warn it not to go forward.

There are the lovers disintegrating. When will they stop dreaming about the other? When will they forget the soft and rolling nights of unconscious love?

"Old guy! Defend yourself."

"The young forget that I, too, was young; young until it nearly killed me, young until I was accused for it, young until no one would look me in the eye. The longer you are young the harder it is. I try to draw it out of them quickly."

And young woman, bitter after the disillusionment of youth, what do you have to say for yourself?

"I had to protect secret dreams that I will never give up. My bitterness, as you call it, is the armor I wear to protect my secrets. Everyone knows that but you..."

* * * * * * * *
[[downtown berkeley]]

It is a city square dominated by two buildings. A drama is played out. A young woman wants her lover but he is too busy; he has only money and sees her as a vascular exercise. She has caught up with him in her car. She gives him tax forms and credit cards, bills from the furniture store. He laughs and drives away, sad later, but that afternoon gleeful and happy.

It is the exact moment the flatulent businessman crosses the bridge for the third time in the day. He cusses. He drives an old, souless car with boxes piled in the back, his products to sell in the city.

The people haphazardly throw things onto the highway as if protesting the lack of permanency.

Oh clear the way for a man who knows everything. He has a notepad and looks like he has some revengeful tale up his sleeve. It is a pissant parade that carries the future on its back. There is an old man in an old hotel watching a puppet show.

Games that treat us like children no longer delight us.

Games that cannot compete with the traffic of the daily meanderings.

A young man is a memory of wild and riotous times had in empty, venerable buildings surrounded by poisoned air.

"Oh? Time move forward please. It is a block of stone pushed by the dead until it is upon us too. We see it approach and then, later, our shoulders are on the block and we are fastened to it with those who we have despised."

Oh city to re-moralize the writer! The blessings of streets that permit a mind to wheel and deal with itself in the overcast of Sunday afternoons! The smell of bitter grass while reading 11th century poets! Looking for the wonderful modern agora's where truth is spoken or, at least, the lies are laughed at. Berkeley is a pyramid that flips itself from head to base with a furtive grin.

* * * * * * * *
[[driving up solano toward the tunnel and Los angeles avenue]]

Dreams come easily in the city of dreams. They are mad dreams of cities that never are, perfect people unstained by the world, a world of easy relations that become like glass for fear the ease will be disturbed. Dreams written and stated on street corners. Dreams of all the emotional effluvia one is trying to escape from; that which takes down rather than lifts up. That which pummels rather than strokes. Terrible dreams of women in the past who one has wronged. Terrible dreams of parents let down or involved in secret societies tinged in darkness. Dreams of vast snakes choking the life out of one. Dreams of endless apartments next to water where there is lovemaking and fights on the ledge above the water. Dreams of cats coiled up in a nautilaus of steel like a shell at the beach.

"You've said it exactly," he was telling me and not soon enough, "Ideas want to cover their shame. But, when one has worked long and hard at presenting ideas without a cover and simply letting the shame mix in with the pleasure of having a potential audience....then something happens."

"Yes, it is a sad argument. But unfortunately, in this country at any rate, ideas are merely irritants. And if you want my personal opinion it's a good idea they are an irritant. We have an old peasant heart that believes the mind tricks itself more times than it fixes itself."

"Oh but you know walking around here is like walking around a hatchery for new life; it's struggling plasma emerging in all the forms that can possibly occur. Forms not yet set by circumstances and, oddly, completely formed by circumstance! It goes both ways, there is no up and down, top and bottom; no "hierarchy of being." One guy is a mumbling anguished possessed idiot, another man is the stoic professor working at the Rad Lab dreaming of some increment of change that will throw the world in a wholly different direction. He perceives (once his experiment is complete) how those in the community will use it. Perhaps he has no general trust of the community but then there is the government after all. Just about every weird fantasy is lived out, yes, it just jets from them like a fine spray."

* * * * * * * *
[[on the campus greensward]]

"And what were you going to do? Were you going to make yourself into the perfect reflection of a perfect desire so that all the weak would be envious?" "It's not the man who judges; the man as a judgment is only a dying ego."

This was a bunch of us sitting around on the University grounds even though none of us was a student. I had worked at the university driving through its intricate pathway of little roads picking up and delivering packages. And one or maybe all three of my friends had been enrolled at one time or another. I had assumed they had.

"And were you going to read everything and become everything?"

I told them all the endless hours I spent at the libraries on campus and in the city. An endless flood of good words flowed through me in the off-hours and off-days when I had a chance to go to the wonderous libraries of Berkeley.

"There are teachers of light, teachers of dark. The teachers from the lower self can arrive with a vengenace." "All things conspire to keep the spirit from attaining recognition of itself."

I explained to them the idealism I had in college. The world as a giant commune where people came and went with happy faces because nothing was repressed, including the ability to refuse.

"Idealism is a radical desire in itself to break from the teachers of the dark. All the idealisms propel the eyes of the spirit upward before the long grind brings them back to the surface of things. The next level of disgust is a telling thing.

"Kierkegaard believed that true love wants to make everything equal to itself. I would think before this happened a person would have to resolve remorse and so the emotions would be swift and deep."

"Oh love. Everyone loves. But only individuals can have idealism. An organization or movement that is idealistic putrifies quickly and is seen as another con game where the idealism is the hook."

Yes but then every individual thinks that his idealism is the right one, so a bunch of them hang together and end up fighting each other.

"Neither a person or a society can talk their way out of guilt. Lift the weight of it there and it will appear over here, shifting and slinking as it goes. Who determines the nature of guilt and the nature of guiltlessness usually rules a people."

The pontificator was saying, "We are approaching a global civilization and it is very painful for many people.

"Disorder is converging into an order that should be gently guided. The belief that life is coming more and more conformist is a mistaken one; life concentrates itself at times in order to burst forth in greater variety and freedom."

"Humility should teach this: No man is complete. That when he believes he is complete he is at the edge of an abyss. And that nations and civilizations can never be complete. This is why disillusion and cynicism are hateful qualities because they are the jealosy of presumed completeness. If this happens the soul of a nation will sink down into choas and totalitarianism."

I had been obsessed with doom for a time. Doom. I had to wonder why it was so prominent in me. "It's a syndrome perhaps," I thought to myself. Since childhood it had reared up without warning. "It's a regular virus that comes in and zooms for the gut." The assassinations, right? The threat of total annhiliation at the hands of crazy men, no? All compounded by thousands of lesser events, ideas, and feelings swirling in the air.

And then it was mysteriously gone when I read something written well in a book or watched happy, unconscious people playing volleyball or read a good science book, geology perhaps and tectonic plate theory. It would go away and I would see it lingering in some mist-state before it sunk beneath the garish horizon.

* * * * * * * *

[[down in flats]]

Fantasia of a Young Man: "I go to Australia and get involved in sheep farming and live on or near the beach. And tell everyone I'm involved in shark hunting since sheep farming is a pleasant but passive activity."

"I'd left and returned home after five years with no word from me to friends or family. I come into a party where they are all there and then start to tell them of my travels. "I snuck into Russia," says I, "a stowaway on a freighter in Murmansk. I got off and travelled down into Moscow with a Russian woman I had met. I went down the Nile River where there was difficulty with the boat and we were dumped into the River. When I got to shore I went into the jungle, found a tribe and ran with this tribe for a time. Went through Tibet, walking, until I came to the Chinese border, found a Chinese commune and worked on it until the officials found me out at which time I was taken to the capital city. But I convinced them I was a good man, a man of insight and wisdom. They laughed at me but patted me on the back with those silly smiles, cigarettes dangling from their mouths, rifles slung over their shoulders. They drove me to Hong Kong and dropped me off, still laughing and smiling.

This is what used to be called splendid days. Splendid days! A crux day or one that can be bitten into to open a hole to the future. Oddly I could see myself writing for a new age group or a group therapy group and getting yelled out, stripped down and out by maniacs or true believers and me thinking all the time how I could manipuate them and at the end tell them exactly what is what and leave with a smile. I laughed them off and thought about the lingering influence of the esoterica of pyschological ideas, of one who so intently observes himself that when I am reading it is a reflection of some deep turning of the mind. It's what I want to escape the most.

But isn't it true that sometimes one escapes dread? And in doing background reading for this job I was telling you about, I read an article by Herman Hesse on psychoanalysis and the artist. "Whenever the artist views himself analytically it does not remain hidden from him that among the weaknesses for which he suffers is a mistrust of his calling; a doubt of phantasy, or his voice within him which gives assent to the bourgois attitude and education which wants to evaluate all his activity as "only" a petty fiction...." And so one lives with this. And then it is real. It's out among the cars and buildings with a life of its own. This is why the first victim is conscience and how the artist verges on a dangerous break with everything. So, one knows his feelings.

[[park on euclid]]

"I feel at my best when I am in a park, on a week-end, with my daughter. The park is not large and it's a crisp Autumn Saturday. There are many people in the park. It is shaded-in by the hillside with great oaks growing to add to the shade. There is a path that leads up the hillside and plunges into a wooded world all to its own. The children play; of every race, size, shape, and age. Some are aloof, testing out the equipment, shy with their parents around. Some make an effort to play together some simple game. The parents are around. One woman is suckling a baby. A couple watch their child, wondering perhaps about the kid. The parents are young. They too are of various hues and shapes.

It was a day with friends.

* * * * * * * *
[[telegraph avenue]]

"So," he says, "let's walk down from the butt-end of Oakland, across the city line to Berkeley, down Telegraph and into the campus. There will be a hundred different sights and feelings that will tumble from the buildings and passer-bys! And we will pause at that desolate corner of Telegraph and Alcatraz with its dissolute traffic intersecting with its regular and transients moving along the street, shuffling or darting across the avenues with dogs wandering, children playing on concrete steps all with the ambience of an old movie not believing its a town or section of a city. We shall meet an elderly red-faced gentleman with a paper tucked under his arm, an old hankerchiefed peasant-looking woman pulling her shopping cart behind her, roller skating children, folks going in and out of the various businesses, sulking bums (one is a fast moving slick haired black-dressed middle-aged guy with a limp and a cane who goes from phone booth to phone booth looking for dimes), past Ashby with its heavy traffic and people, newer offices and buildings, better dressed citizens until we will reach that area from Dwight onward with lurking transients in doorways and people on mats talking to themselves or making derisive gestures to people going by; Shakespeare Book Co., the shops on the dirty street, peddlers, street artists, bubbles, depression, pain, attempts at joy, oh the many dogs, students, foreigners, probably Iranians, certainly Africans passing through each other all the way to Sather Gate and the collective moving crowds flowing through the campus."

So we did.

"In the city," he says, "the senses read bad things; in nature they are delighted." That fellow was clever.

"Television," he was telling me in the donut shop, "seems more real because it imitates memory, imitates the past and as the old poet Williams said, the past always seems more real than the life being lived." I learned from this guy.

Half the day spend chiding myself on every trivial ridiculous hook one could find. Half the day spent in reviving out of this stupor. A few moments of light and good work.

"Oh horrible night of inscrutable bits of chewed up opinions and garbage." It's what I wanted to say. Everything wrong! Wrong path taken! Horrible feelings emitted by the acquaintances and strangers. "Death has taken so many."

* * * * * * * *
[[oakland, down telegraph]]

"So you see, I go to get some quiet and buy a paper and sit in the breakfast place down the street, you know, the one the fat Korean woman owns always looking serious and scared. Well I go in and get the breakfast and read a story about frightening people who say frightening things. Then I hear this voice, a small, beaten up looking guy with yellow teeth, laughing. "I is Custer! I is Custer!" And he's pointing and raving around in this breakfast place. Stops at one table, bends his face down into the face of the guy at the table and tells him that he's been robbed. Robbed, "even of my shoes man!" He holds up one shoeless foot, then the other. "Black boy did it- one of my own. That's right. Black boy!"

A Query: "In West Oakland?"

"That's right!"

He goes on and on, I go back reading the paper. There's a kind of tension in the air, he's acting rather crazy. He comes over and asks me for a smoke. "A Marlboro Man," he says to me. "I want a Marlboro." He bends down and sticks his face into my face and says something about me being a cowboy, leaves, goes over and yaps away, leaping this way and that in front of the counter. A guy at a table tells him to cut it out. There are words and one of the guys stands up. "Sit down white boy!" The odd fellow says. They keep calling the white man Frank. Frank is poised ready to fight this man until the owner has a phone in her hand and says she's going to call the cops if there's any fighting. It was a good breakfast. And when I left I saw the poor man on the otherside of the street gesticulating, pointing, leaping, turning in front of a few cops.

I used to say, "if I were black in this country I'd go crazy too." The truth of the matter is that the blacks I lived among down in the neighborhoods I did were saner, more sober-minded than many whites that I had known. They wanted what all people want, respect. Respect a man and you have a chance to discover his particular richness.

* * * * * * * *
[[alta bates]]

"I worked tonight for seven and a half hours," said my friend Ull, "in utter silence and boredom. Then a fellow asked me about a movie on Gurgief; had I seen it? Did I know what the name of it was? I thought awhile. Yes. The Meetings of Remarkable Men. Ah, yes, that was it. So we discussed Gurgief. I know very little about him, Gurgief that is, but I'm explaining the little I knew about his system of "rays and the 7 spheres." Some ridiculous thing and the discussion got into "what is real," are these things actual realities? It became tense. I think he is a student at U.C. Berkeley in computers. What I tried to say was that the description of E=MC squared is not the thing itself; that is is a description of processes and that, likewise, Gurgief's rays and spheres were descriptions of processes that may or may not be real depending on whether you believed his system. Hands thrown up, end of argument.

"Well," he says, "it's completely hypothetical then; you either believe it or you don't, yes." I answered that one must pay two thousand dollars to find out. "Pay for enlightenment," he said in disgust. "Yes, I answered."

Then out of the blue he says, "Watch out for women who keep you pinned down with a constant image of you that is less than the truth."

I had met a few like that. They "pinned" you down because of misunderstandings and not enough fight in the man to ward off the woman. The man has to fight somewhere, at some time, to fight off those who want something from him. I knew that to be true but had a devil of a time finding a good fight.

"...took them along the paved, lit roads of the ten thousand things/and held our arms to the open wind;/the sea rapidly a memory/held in the palm like a burnished coin."

Downtown Berkeley: 9:30am Thursday. An echoing silence echoing the passing traffic. Individuals bent and struggling along the sidewalk. Travelers asleep on benches with radios in their ears. Confusion in the eyes of the most expressively dressed; stoicism through hell. Depressed by personal problems that create neither self-absorption or shame; simply let the weight of it. Little pleasures in the window. Thoughts on escaping to Oregon or, at least, one major move. Half-complete manuscripts in the home of my mother's sister. Successful cousin in town. Wayward artist makes million from stamp. Phone call to see if there is any work at the last tomb I entered.

* * * * * * * *
[[sproul plaza]]

"Societies, like people, dream and become disillusioned; refashion dream from some obscure opportunity and move toward this opportunity with vengeance. Where opportunity does not yet exist, the dreamers step forward." I knew I was in for it when Fid, the poet started up with practiced phrases he would impart to me at a moment of his choosing.

"Don't you notice the two predominant types that rise up out of things? There is the social person who surrends to convention and opinion and the psychological person who abstracts everything in himself to protest the conventional, to gain a kind of supercilious personal identity. It may be necessary, he thinks. But that base is a common one for both types. The desire for power or, even, the desire for immortality. The conventional type surrenders to objects of convention believing them to extend into the future where his or her personality re-enacts itself through the convention. The psychological person surrenders to advance thought believing the same thing. And further believes that a kind of equilibrium in the present is a kind of immortality."

Fid didn't say these things at one time. He would wait until he thought you were listening and then spring it loose. He was a lousy poet but did posses this vast mytho-poetic mind that thought in primitive meanings. If he felt you were outside the bounds of the myth he concocted he would find a way to sabatoge you and make you feel small.

"I want to be free of all this," he said. "My first loyalty is to my creative spirit, make language speak out the powers, pains, and joys of having a spirit. A spirit that best goes unnamed." "I just want to compress and compel experience toward a healthy future by opening up knots of obstruction that keeps the streams of nature damned up, concealed, and riddled with demons of every sort."

"Oh these frustrated human beings! Here in late 20th century with all its expansive techniques and its variety not able to consummate even one desire to bring life up to its ripe and profound richness!"

If someone were watching they would see me standing with a slight smile, nodding with every pause in his phrasing, moving my body now to one leg, now to the other, now with one hand on a hip, now with two hands on my hips, akimbo as they say. I would wait until Fid's eyes spotted the new gesture and then change again. He was taller than I was with hair that looked as if he had cut it himself. He didn't care how he appeared to people. He wanted them to know that his brain was a fire.

"With study, David, we bathe in pools with shadows and glint of sunshine through the leaves, over the water."

"Youth discovers in the nick of time, it is saddled with a double-nature swimming off in opposite directions and if he isn't careful will simply obey the desires of other people."

This insight startled me because it precisely described my state of being. I had some feeling of entitlement with that state of being and was upset for days on end that it was just a run of the mill syndrome to Fid.

"You see David, a country created out of thought expects its adventuresome types to experiment; many failures and successes will follow, at the end of which comes understanding. And that will bring on more experiment, further experiment will bring on more failures and success, and more understanding to the end of time. Can't you detect the bitterness in their voice? They are like orphans. What other country started with a thought? A thought conscious of itself as a thought? A thought at the end point of experience?" I aways put his bitterness down to the fact he didn't have the followers he wanted. Once in a while he would do a reading at a local club but he hardly ranked next to the star poet, Paladin, the leathery midget who peppered his poems with scorn and cuss words. Not only that the guy was drunk all the time, always nursing a beer, and getting beligerent by the moment. The small clot of people who frequented the club thought he was a genius and lapped up all his horrible verse. This was unimaginably horrific for Fid who had devoured the whole corpus and canon of American and European poetry and believed the role of the poet was to offer up well-stated insights. "That fucking Paladin is a fraud," he would tell me when we watched his antics on stage.

* * * * * * * *

Ull wanted to tell me how to be a writer. "This is important, you need to know." I told him I thought I knew how to be one but he insisted that I knew little or nothing about it. "You haven't even scratched the first surface yet." He always preyed on my lack of confidence which was a common experience around the intelligent crowd.

"Get to the ideal structure underneath your own society," he told me.

"Carry around a notebook with you and transcribe things in some obscure place. You want to put down the emotional contingencies that crowd you in any place at any time." He let that soak in for a time. I was faking it, writing, that is, in my notebook. I didn't want to hear these things, they seemed an affront to my dignity which had suffered enormously in the past few years.

"You should understand the relationship between the sensitized "voice and feelings one picks up" whether in crowds or among individuals." That was a new one. I picked up a lot of voices and feelings but was suspicious of them.

"Never turn and hate yourself for your decisions." I told him I had never gotten to that point. "Oh you will."

"Part of your silence is anger. Part of your silence is despair. Part of your silence is silence. Anger for the ways the human heart has learned to manipulate the good healthy spirit away from some true calling; your own supreme happiness. Despair because, "what if they are right?" And silence because in silence one re-learns how to speak truly, from truth, to write in truth and create in truth."

I was stunned for a moment because he had hit on something that was true and discomforting.

"You don't want to be the guy who they say, "Oh I watched him, that man. He had good vision, good sight, a good conscience, quick judgment but then he ran afoul of an inevitable law that prevents a reconciliation in the spirit but puts two rivers where before there was a rich and fertile valley, so one must have brave desires in the murky waters and either swim or drown in the effort. He let himself go for a while. Nothing mattered it seemed. "There is no God, no intellect, no order, no meaning, no attempt," he used to say. "Only the unfurling of pitted, sad dreams collapsing between the buildings." We observed him and knew the world offers up its meaning in the common shapes of things; all things contain an element of heaven and an element of hell."

That would be saying too much in my case. I wouldn't trust a guy that much a blow-hard.

Then he lectured me about women and said they would interfere with everything. "The great appeal of sex is that it's hard work. The pleasure is nothing; a little vibration of shame."

I was silent.

"Listen," he said, there's inane information in the air streaming into the weakest points of development. Atrophy! Amputation! Sacrifice to the machine-like conditions. Noise, more noise to conspire to keep people stupid or worse, it amputates and kills the good nature allowing the worst nature to rise up and take control. What say? Right O? Good?

I shrugged my shoulders as an act of solidarity

"A spirit can overcome these but only with a tremendous effort. Alertness. Honesty. Imagination. But the effort is never taken up by the mass of men and women who are seduced by the environment and made to perform all kinds of foolish ways. I didn't find one simple handle I could grasp onto to divert the damn riverofit through the Aegean Stables. I was nothing. I was reduced. I was driven mad with conflict. Jeez, can't a man criticize what is detrimental to living? Can't he oppose life denying? Ain't life a challenge? Always (spit) criticize it. Silence (bah) is no good. Unfortunate things happen and they teach that what is good unless the good is a change in the very core of mind, is adapted quite easily to the life deniers."

"You want to divest yourself of those illusions that have been imposed on you."

In the end it was about stepping through the doom predicted and envisioned by every sentient being and seeing what was on the other side. Youth is such healthy silliness!

There are only a few peep holes youth needs to find. All the time wasted to find them is worth it. They look deep into the future, their own future and what they must do. What will happen. Where they will be when they need to change again.

* * * * * * * *

Rough contradictions run in the hot blood streets of Berkeley! The rapids flow into quiet paradise for a moment, there, with a few books under the tree where the dogs romp on the grass.

The annihilate matter of speech when the sun is hot. And all things spin in the air with no place to go. And there one spots his imagination unleashed like happy puppies high above the building.

The word is sword tonight. And heads will roll.

The head is an orange filled with balls of light and pushes out to its rendezvous; that curious corner of destiny where young men roost ready to fight off those who tell them otherwise.

Birds of the withering wings swoop down to take heads far away. Away and out from the eternal gabbling that novelists use for their stories. "Oh, these people are no different and said the same things a thousand years ago so why bother?" A laugh. A twinge.

The rapid fire dreams are a senseless harpy on his desire to escape. "Why harpies do you turn on me in this fragile state?"

It often felt that way on summer nights walking in and among happy crowds coming in from the clubs or hole-in-the-wall theater where they put on Ionesco and Andreyev. Littered clouds glowed with a hidden moon and it felt prelude to a good rain even if the rains were months off. There was no piece of mind as I heard the BART train in the distance at Rockridge or a siren going down Ashby. Out at night, free and fully oneself, having written in the park with back against the tree, all was good. I could not see the fierce future and the past seemed like a happy mistake. Those nights, some nights when the dogs are all asleep and the criminals have not yet appeared. Those nights, those times.

Time of great expansions!

* * * * * * * *
[telegraph and alcatraz]]

"Consider this," Ull told me one day. "A man is alone. He has a principle or two. He can't help but believe that the world is organized against him and his principles. Even if the conspiratorial mind seems a senile, demented one, where holiness is turned into a fetish object but the master is not Christ or God or Buddha or Krishna no one escapes it."

Oh world, I thought to myself, I distrust you whether you are in the mundane work-a-day world or the claims and supersititons that come from every nook. 95% prove to be useless nonsense or some half-ass power play. But then I reasoned, "I'm a sociable guy."

"At the corner of youth", Ull kept at it, "I see walking in front of me obstruction, pettiness, ill-will, manipulation, stupidity, arrows of impunity. I have a long memory of misunderstandings, I understand now! I note all instances of failed individuality, all vulnerabilities to growth and development. The world, my friend, can break a good brain down and make it a leaping dog biting invisible bones. It can make that dog chase its own tail around and around until it catches itself and eats itself piece by piece."

I was aware of the pathetic in myself. I couldn't fathom where Ull or anyone else got their insights. Something bad must have happened to him, I thought. He was swindled out of money or had a series of horrific bosses. That can certainly destroy life as I knew from experience.

Ull was good to be around for a time. But he would wear me out and no longer make me feel as though I were a special person for listening to his disillusionments.

Berkeley was so small it was hard to hide in. Telegraph Avenue was always filled with the odd beauty of the city. It was some prophecy of the future when all would crowd in together and make a go of it. There was Shattack Avenue where a lot of the business stood along with the downtown BART station. And then that long slide into decay called University Avenue that ended at the racetrack and its half empty stands.

[[behind the jr. high school- williard]]

Bor was lounging against a stone wall.

"A vast story could begin with a small dream told in a cold December in the back of a lousy cafe that the listener embellishes with comment and relays it to another and then again on down the row of patrons out into the street and offices until the dream begins to approximate some form of reality. For a moment it replaces reality and ties together the relater and the listener!" His arm was flourishing backward to indicate a chain of some sort.

"They say we've lost God. No, we've simply imposed a limitation on ourselves in order to plunge downard into dark sensibilty. A birth of timid, weird monsters."

Then he eyed me. "But you knew all that didn't you?"

I shrugged my shoulders and told him about my friends and I who would meet before school in the cool fog and tell each other our dreams often elaborating on them until they had a life of their own.

* * * * * * * *
[[Irwin ct]]

"So my friend, what is better? To let a dream refresh to inform you or let it die out into the growing day? I did have a dream and when I woke up I couldn't remember the dream but I picked up a book by my bedside and began reading it. It was a fairly good, non-specialist book on modern physics. It seemed fresh and alive with the intellect connecting at the speed of light all the obscure things I had missed in a previous reading. I credit this to a dream that has done its work and needed no more amplification."

The street was short and sweet jumbled up in cars and old Victorian houses. Children played unselfconsciously in the street before the workers started arriving in early evening. There were slender driveways and fences that led to marvelous surprises. Tender gardens made by the tender people. I walked down with Bor to his place, a short walk from the park. Only a few of the people on the street had lived there for a long time. The old maiden aunt and her battered Chevy carrying her nippy Chihuahua in her arms. Or Mr Henry, the black man people hired to fix things in the neighborhood. It was frankly like a 1910 street except for the cars, a few of them fairly new. Mr Henry was stout and could be heard chanting inside his house and when he appeared outside he was wearing a fez of some sort with a tassel hanging on the side as if he'd been in a religious order. Students lived there along with young couples. It was not a happpy street but a determined one. Bor told me he had significant dreams about the street like the time a blimp landed between the phone polls carrying both John Lennon and Hitler.

We went up musty stairs to the flat he lived in.

"Man this sadness, this unopposed sadness. No money. No understanding. My insight turns against me. Feel the need to get fascinated with another woman. I stare too long into the facts of death; it has wheels, sound, and velocity today you know."

I shifted around uncomfortable hearing all the collapse going on in Bor. What could I do? What could I say to the poor guy? He had every type of spiritual teaching and religious book one could imagine. There were tomes from mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, mystics, new agism, Taoism and Hinduism. It appeared to me something was stirring long and deep in the man. It wasn't quite as disconcerting as sitting in front of the mad who not only made funny faces, but said prophetic things mingled with great shouts of anger and hate.

"The devices are many but perhaps the devices are, themselves, only symptoms. I went through a profound disillusionment of old memories after which they attempted to become fables and myths of some sort. America, that fabulous beast, fights its dependence on other histories."

Bor it's too early to doom the world, I thought. I didn't say it outloud but regretted it later that night and wondered at my own cowardly self that couldn't even tell a friend what I thought.

I suppose he was a friend. I knew he'd move on. It didn't bother me. Every little phase I had been in presented a host of characters that moved on.

When I left and walked down that little street, I passed a party happening in the front yard of one of the old Victorians. An aging woman was doing a belly dance among a group of people, sitting and standing in a circle around the woman, drinking from glasses with festive ribbons draped through trees. I stood and watched. "Sex so close to the street," I thought. It was startling in its lasciviousness and exciting to me, casting a powerful spell over the little patch of ground. She was not a beautiful woman and not old but aging away from her youth. And her eyes, those damn eyes cold as black stones!

* * * * * * * *
[[orinda]]

"When I'm at my father's house I suddenly realize how much a part of me it is; the great stark grey tree sprawling into the hot blue sky, the dominance of the thing and how the trees, the beauty, the house, the traffic sounds from the only thoroughfare in the town, the barking dogs and yes, my father, how much a part of me all this is. The words spoken. Things seen. Unspoken things. Here was childhood. Reality was what one dreamed and lived out. There were the dreams and then the living out of the dream. There were the secrets of gold and pirates, buried treasure and monsters. The imagination was free and our bodies were one with our dreams; dreams of conquest, bravery, heroism, romance, phantasmagorical schemes and inventions, terrors."

He looked over to where I was sitting. I clasped one knee with a hand and was pensive. What was home? What was a father? I had no nostalgic feelings like that. I could be cold toward my home and family. It always came up in strife and pain; the house of horrors because no one got along; parents fighting and yelling all the time. We played outside and yet, for all our freedoms, we were cruel to each other.

"Childhood," he said, "is the divine animal come to embody its need for pure adventure; an animal is complete and lives out its completeness in whatever life is allotted to it. Human beings can only complete themselves through meaning. This is the great task isn't it?"

I nodded but hadn't suffered his quandary. I knew why childhood was a burden to me. And I didn't like thinking of a human being as an animal. Animals didn't write or draw. An animal couldn't say at some point, "I am a rabbit but I want to be a jaguar." And so transform into the jaguar or, at least, make the attempt. All he would do is resent being a rabbit for the rest of his short, very short days.

"I can remember a few fleeting glances of things native to my spirit before ambition appeared. But once ambition snaked its way through the brain I had already accepted the process. The rut of these thoughts! Oh man. When I'm at my weakest I see myself explaining and justifying myself over and over again to some anonymous group of people as though I am the center of attention and being taken to task for something. Doesn't it come down to breaking the mold? One is alone. One is incomplete. One is swimming on the surface. One begins to take in everything. Tracks are laid in the mind travelling back to points of origin. It is a danger zone; the past stripped of significance. Die and resurrect, die and resurrect. Isn't this what the mind says?"

"I've always known certain things can happen. I am tired of trying to solve a mass of problems. I am tired of the martyr daily killed and resurrected on problems. The mouth of the dark world begins to speak. So long jealous of death out of which the only true emotion seems to come! Sometimes that is my only ambition; to enter into the truest emotion. And here is where death no longer is a content but a form, an ally to life. But there's more to know. Everything must flow through the points of the mind which don't know; then there is significant occurrence."

* * * * * * * *
[[in the movie theater]]

Ull loved movies, he loved them more than literature. "Oh, literature is old hat, I don't even know why they do it anymore." And then he would explain how the modern brain had been seduced away from language to image and image drove to the center of the brain and didn't need the pause of interpretation. When a spate of sex films would come out he would go to each one, then the theme would change to a science fiction one and he'd go to all of those. Cops and crime came into vogue and he dutifully attended those movies and then would seek people out to analyze what these films were about, what the characters were really about and so on. Now it was super-heroes from comic books when they were kids. "See, what we read and was a flat piece of color, now has fullness and animation because flesh and blood is enacting the story." As long as Batman was on flat panes of paper he was a fantasy. But once he was embodied by an actual human being and enacted among real objects he became real. And Ull would rock back and forth, laughing at the inside jokes of the movie.

We got there early during the week day when no one is in the theater. During the previews he gave me some instructions for how to view the upcoming movie:

"Love or a sense of failure raises the question, "in relation to what?" What braces that sense of love or sense of failure? Who is making the judgment of failure and who is making the judgment that this is love? If it is internal then who or what brought that internal sense into being and what keeps it constant?

"Penetrate the illusion behind this consistent judgment and you are susceptible to many forces, some of them benign and some of them not so benign. Doesn't that describe a problem when all the illusions are down and great susceptibility is opened up? There is great opportunity but great danger as well because in place of the broken illusions may come something far worse, may come something far more treacherous and illusory.

The screen lit up, music played, the first images appeared, a few names. He leaned over and whispered, "There is wonderful pleasure in overcoming personal mythology and overcoming the inherited tensions thrown out of a society you did not make."

[under the campanelli]]

The movie did not deserve its reputation and had wasted millions of dollars to produce. But if not that what? The movie spent millions, it filtered back into the economy. Nothing lost, it was all good. Rather than an art, the film was an economic necessity like professional sports. Where was the problem?

We now arrived on the campus. We had leapt the little creek where the squirrels played and walked up to the wide plaza more in litter than students.

"Power, power, power. If one is not strong look out! If one is not strong! Look out. It is a lot easier to be inhuman, which the world is often about. Ironically, the inhuman which is played out is so insipid, so foolish, and so ultimately weak that it's wiped clean in one generation. It twists this way and that way, gains and loses but it's always wiped clean, captured, twisted, and wiped away again. The problem is with the persistance of the inhuman." Then he saw someone he knew and waved and turned to me. "I need to go now. I had a wonderful day of it. Great movie!"

* * * * * * * *
[[driving through campus]]

((Oh intimacy, where did you go? I tasted your wonderful fruits and then lit out to the most airless planet, filled with voices dragging weary spirits to open graves.

It started when I saw the packaging of intimacy in the market. Why would I want my intimacy taken from me to serve some package mad culture? Intimacy itself had made me realize how disfigured human nature had become.

Intimacy brings us worlds. It takes away worlds. I have left some brilliant shadow plays on the walls of youth. But then, intimacy proves that attitude is all; attitude determines whether we love or kill. Attitude determines the intimacy of the citizen as well as the lover. )) Ambiguties that float around a vehicle near noon when the radio is dead and the windows are sealed tight.

"When the woman finally realizes that pleasure can be given as well as taken, ah! a change appears in her eyes. Why use words to open the bitter and lovely fruit? Why not wild gestures and the laughter of the body?" That was the end of the conversation with a guy who I never saw again. Strange are the worlds that sex brings together.

[[at the library]]

"Watch out for the ambition of women, my friend; it knows no bounds and is reckless. Reckless!" The large, damp, gibbous library had nooks throughout it's ancient rows of obsolete and rarely read books. It was a beautiful thing. Even the most obscure, unread book, with its cover hanging by a thread over the leaves was infinitely more interesting than a few years worth of conversations. Bor was squat on the floor next to the old, bespattered window that had mesh over it looking over the venting system and damp sky like an old hand.

"I fear love loss. Why does the best instinct raise up in people the worst thoughts?" I asked him.

He wasn't listening but holding a book up in the air. "Reading about science always generates characters in me. I feel free moving through it; not that the stuff frees but I feel free to travel value-free among it."

"I'm always eulogizing, always seeing my future in the past tense. It's a horrible habit."

"The personality, now that's a concept. Why does it always reflect the battles of the generation and the time? After all, there is a spirit that reflects the battles of eternity. The times? A snarl of free information floating around a passive breathing thing."

* * * * * * * *
[[dingy apartment]]

"And where is philosophy in the hall of mirrors? It's the abandoned child whose parents thought weak so threw to the wolves, whose memory of the child is poignant and patronizing while the child itself is raised on the milk of wolves and finally returns to destroy those who cast him out."

"Truth, whatever it may be, is not glibness. And in the city, down on the street level, one finds a kind of heroic pastiche that wants the truth but is not the truth." The man was practically homeless and had seen and heard a lot down there.

"Perhaps truth is that which can't be tricked out of itself. We live in this monstrous world of mirrors that trick all the time. And who doesn't settle into a semi-calm resolution with the tricks, adding their own style of trickery to the pile? When the accumulation of these tricks reaches a certain point they explode or are opened ever so innocently by some Pandora." He had been a literary man and remembered Pandora from a fifth grade class on ancient stories. But he knew about the monstrous world of mirrors and the tricks human nature had come up to convince itself that it was something it was not. After a while he shrugged, once, "what can I do about it?"

"When a person, even a normal person, feels as though he's been robbed of something essential in his being doesn't he feel betrayed?" He was often met by sniggering or pure cold laughter as people tried to defend themselves against his imperial insights.

* * * * * * * *

She was not a Muse but a succubus who I had never imagined existed in this life. Fascinating as she was to be around I felt my hard-won youth vanish under her spell, her constant conjurations of the dark mind to prove that I was crazier than she was. I would go and disappear into the daylight ashamed that I had the freedom I had and winding up in libraries reading heavy books to convince myself that I was useful for something. I didn't want to return to the crazy woman. I saw her everywhere. It seemed as though her very purpose was to upwell in me the worst sort of emotions, the worst conclusions about life, and the most pessimistic forebodings about the future.

Then she would play her Rachmaninoff or force me to read Thomas Mann and then make a wonderful stroganoff for dinner and I was back between her claws.

"This woman has destroyed my poetry," I thought to myself as I quickly gathered all my things. "She has taken every shred of imagination and made it into a weapon to use against me."

I left her that night. I got into what was left of my car and drove. I drove like a monk who dreams he is floating in air because he has ecstatic feelings. It was persistent and believed in itself but I wanted to get away. I wanted to shed a skin or two and go to a less vexatious place.

I heard the distinctive voice say, "It's not what you wrote but what compelled you to write."

* * * * * * * *
[[apartment along durant]]

Ok, she was the homeliest blind woman I had ever met but she had an interesting edge to her, with her white cane and recent story. "I was on the corner of Telegraph and Durant and a guy comes up and says he is attracted to me and wants to take me out on a date. Sure, I said. How many dates had I had up to that time? Zero, that's how many. We talked and found some common interests and I left to go back to my apartment. I spent the whole day getting fixed up, even put on some war paint; of course it takes me a bit longer with the problem you know. So he picks me up in the early evening and we talk so sweetly, so pleasantly to the restaurant. I was so excited I could hardly stop myself from crying or yelling out. We entered the restaurant and the first thing I felt was a cool draft from left to right carrying along a melange of smells that I couldn't identify. Hm, strange place I think to myself. And I hear the clattering of plates and numerous conversations all over the place. "Too many for a decent restaurant. This is more like a cafeteria", I think to myself. We sit and order a dinner. Drinks come, only ice tea and cola. Ok, I would have liked some wine. I was starting to get nervous and I wasn't sure why. I needed some wine to calm me down a bit. Suddenly I hear a bit of clamor and a rustling as if everyone was looking up or forward. I heard a few reverbs from a mic and then this prissy voice came on. "We welcome you all. Aren't you all excited! This is the moment you'll look back and say, my life began here." A cheer went up, some clapping. Now I am getting a bit confused. How many restaurants had guys at the mic. Well, maybe a few. Entertainer's right? Now he continued. "Tonight you will meet your new life, your new identity so stoke up for the long haul." I asked my date what he was talking about. "Oh, we are going on a trip." "What kind of trip." "You'll see." The man at the mic then told us that we'd be leaving in half an hour and to make sure to carry our bags to the bus. "Bus? Why are we going to a bus?" Now I was worried. I felt a lot of anxiety. I demanded to know what was going on. The date heed and hawed and finally admitted that we were being recruited for the Unification Church and would be going up to the day camp for a week of intense schooling. By that time the place had settled down and everyone was eating, in a hurried manner I picked up, and so I stood up violently and threw my plate on the floor. "Get me the hell out of here you prick!" "Hey now settle down, we're almost to a new life." "Take me out of here before I start using my cane to destroy things." I could hear heads turning and everything grew stone silent. Finally I heard a few voices talking near our table and they agreed to take me back home. I just remember the humiliation I felt probing the floor with my cane between what I felt were prying eyes, maybe eyes of disgust. Well, that ended my dating life for awhile.

* * * * * * * *

"This place is a carnival of communities. Let me tell you a story. When I was down and out, between jobs, I used to go down to that big library on Kittredge Street and spend the day reading and pondering. Well, down in the bowels of the thing was a reading room, a spacious open area that had the newspapers of every major paper in the world hanging on racks so you could pick out a publication and take it back to one of a dozen or so stations that had high stools to sit in front of what looked like drafting tables. Then you could spread the paper on the table and read the Times or the Post, Pravda, they had them all. So I'm down there early afternoon and I noticed some movement to my right and look over to see this little black guy, a midget I guess you'd call him, and he's dressed up in a white uniform of some sort with a white bag and white tennis racket. He struggles up the stool as a mature kid would and proceeds to read his paper. Well, this happened over a period of several weeks and after a while we began to acknowledge each other with nods when our eyes met. He was an older man, muscular with a fashionable afro haircut. So I start to think to myself. "I wonder if there are any other midgets in town? I guess you call them little people now that sounds better. But I became fascinated by this fellow. We didn't have what you'd consider a conversation after all we were there to read our papers but I couldn't help visualizing some tale of this little guy and how he'd come to this fine city. One day he doesn't show up. And then the next and I figure that's it for him, perhaps he's moved on to another city. At that time I was living down in West Berkeley and would get all wound up from reading so much downtown and then unwind by walking from the library to my little apartment down on Dwight. One night I made that walk my brain buzzing with the daily news from Asia, mixed in with this awful tension you get when money is the big elephant in the room and the world races around you as if everything is good and perfect as it is. I had this anxiety for a long time and would walk briskly home trying to convince myself I was on the verge of wonderful things. So I'm walking down Kittredge to Grove and pass in front of Berkeley High School. And across the street are public tennis courts all lit up at night. I could hear the balls being whacked and a few voices so crossed the street to watch them play tennis. That was another excellent way to relieve these tensions: go find a game and watch it as if it were the most important thing in the world at that moment. So I went over and peered into the chain link fence they had around the place and to my astonishment I saw every court was manned by midgets, male and female. There were at least twenty of them batting the tennis balls back and forth. I thought immediately, "There’s a community here!" And so I felt uplifted as I made my way down Dwight to my sad little apartment that here, in this city, a community of midgets had found the audacity to live as normal human beings and I kind of did a salute to the little black guy I had met in the library.

The man was a communist because his mother wanted him to be a communist and would pay him not to work. He lived in the basement of a large house overlooking the Bay in the Berkeley Hills and would go down, each morning, and play his ukelele with other old communists in the fresh-ground coffee place. "Let me tell you a story," he would say. "I rescued a pilot in the North Sea that had been shot down by Nazi's. Oh yes, I was in the Air Force and flew missions as a navigator and was very proud of helping fight those mad dog Nazi's." He was drunk all the time, in fact he would go to AA meetings lit up strumming his ukelele with, sometimes, a younger woman on his arm. The communists of that day seemed to know each other and were always in a loose circle that included academics, local politicians, some media types. They loved to pour wine and tell tales. "What? Is a communist a criminal? No, a communinist is just another point of view, a superior point of view that would make the world better if adopted. Will it get adopted here in the US? I doubt it but you stick to your principles, this is what I was always taught".

His father had owned a construction company back east, the other brother divorced and they came out West together. "My mother lived in Finland and saved Lenin when he was shot before the revolution. That's why when I go to Russia I'm escorted around by the KGB. I can go almost anywhere, not quite everywhere."

He was short and wiry with a shock of white hair with a sailor cap on all the time. It wasn't a cap I was familiar with but I had seen them worn in some European films.

"I have to live with my conscience you see. It's only fitting. But I don't belief half of it." And then he would laugh and strum his ukelele very fast and end with a flourish, his arm thrown up and his face frozen in a gesture of good will or guilt it was hard to tell.

There was another communist who lived in a good sized cottage at the fringes of the Hills. He lived there with his wife and had been the editor of People's World for a long time before retiring and running apartment buildings for income. Science fiction excited him a great deal and he organized reading and writing groups devoted to science fiction. He collected young talent around him and they published an anthology that sat upright in the Berkeley public library among other places.

She was crazy girl, that's what we called her and she didn't mind. "I've been in the hootch...have you?" "I'm a nut-case...are you?" She would look at me with these iron blue eyes and willed herself to a kind of homeliness not exceptional in the town of Berkeley. She had danced one night whirling around and around until she found some node, some innocuous guy sitting there in the party among the music and smoke, and stuck her hand down his shirt and started squeezing him. Rumor had it that, as a teen-ager, she had hid aboard a luxury liner from San Francisco to Hawaii until found out mid-cruise. It was a rumor until she brought out a fading yellow clipping showing her and the smiling captain with the caption, "Local Teen Is A Stow-Away," and how she had been given the captains berth and dined in fine style across the Pacific Ocean.

She would go down to the Finnish Hall and help cook meals for homeless people. Everyone knew her by name. At a wedding up in the Hills she nodded, greeted, and said hi to half the people and threw her cigarettes in the small pool along side the house of the bride's uncle. She had been arrested trying to steal moon rocks up at the Hall of Science and, later, mimeo-graphed what she thought were bomb secrets from the Rad Lab where she worked and was secretary to the chess club, and drove over to San Francisco offering them to the Russian Consulate on Green Street. The Russians refused and told her not to keep showing up there or they'd call the cops.

A woman so out in the open and free was to be admired and guys clustered around her; physicists from the rad lab and communist artists who drew elaborate skeletons dancing in a variety of poses came to her. We were together until she went nuts on me. It happened this way: we were going to go our seperate ways and were very amicable about it. I lost touch with her for several days and when I returned to the apartment she was there with a someone I had never met. She was disheveled and jerking around with nervous energy. The apartment had been tied off in a series of corridors made with string that she had elaborately strung from one corner of the apartment to the next so to get anywhere you had to discover the right path. "Oh does my darling want something to drink?" She asked me. She took a flower pot and poured the dirt into a glass and handed it to me. The guy was making expressions of both contrition and embarrassement. He finally just said, "she's been like this. Just ignore her."

The night was one of the strangest I had to that point. I went back to get my mattress and a few boxes and she met me at the door with that crazy look that you weren't sure was a put on or not. The mental illness had destroyed her life she claimed. "I can't rest anywhere!" I was sympathetic to her plight but in no shape myself to help her any.

After sitting down I asked her how she was doing. That started it I suppose. In the next few hours she performed two or three different characters I had never seen her do. She was this aggressive persona that ordered me to do this, do that, say it this way, not that way, how dare you talk to me that way, don't you know who I am? And so forth. AFter awhile I found myself getting up off the chair and sitting back down per her instructions conscious of what I was doing but strangely frightened of this immense power that seemed to possess her. Then she was paranoid and in a high-pitched voice accused me of wanting to steal her purse. And then she accused me of raping her. "He's raping me! He's raping me!" She was yelling it so loud I was certain the neighbors would hear and tried to make my way out of the apartment. She blocked every exit and trapped me with this fierce expression of her face was like some ancient statue I had seen in books. This went on for hours. The whole time I was mesmerized by the possession. And I thought back to readings in the Bible and other ancient texts and how I understood, now, what they meant when an ancient "was possessed," and running around wild. The defenses I experienced that night were complex and foreign to me as she acted out her craziness.

Then I was out of there. While standing by my car I heard the upper window slide open and she was there like Moses before the pagans and threw two huge tomes down at me yelling, "you were going to steal these anyway!" They bounced in front of me and I went to pick them up. One of them was Tolstoy's War and Peace, the other was an American Heritage Dictionary. This was a significant book because in it were all kinds of marginalia she had written depicting conversations with a "space being" she had named Zocar.

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