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Reflections at night when the dark is good and we see further. A short meditation.
Brief Tales on a Whim.
Meditations on the 60th Anniversary of Hiroshima What would the end of the world entail? Do we boast that we can imagine such a thing?
3 short stories. $3
In the apprenticeship period hopes are high.
The manuscripts are under $8.
No doubt the Mud Hut saw its eccentricities and necessities in the century where all were happy, prosperous, well-rounded, educated, playfully executing desires with the new instruments.
Cold days passed quickly. The trees were a bestiary of delight. "Let us flock to the Mud Hut where the poet lives," the beasts seem to say.
He welcomed them all, family, friends, acquaintances, workers, agents and so forth. The Mud Hut was peaceful and only hinted from time to time discordance, even malefaction. They would come, they would go with hardly a trace of them marking the poet who watched everything in a fascinated gaze as though it weren't real, as though it all popped out of a storybook; the kind his uncle had gotten him as a kid where the story popped up out of the page and talked to him. Misguided ones would pull him aside and say, "But don't you see how punished you are!" Well, he thought, if this is punishment then I have been treated well by the punishing gods. They did not have faith, that was the problem. They had been granulated into a kind of bitter charcoal that neither comprehended the world or admitted the limitation of knowing it. Odd, he thought, what bitterness passes through these people!
And when it was apparent they didn't really care for the things he did or believed in he began to shut them out; he no longer trusted their happy natures. "They only want a stupid reflection of themselves. So much for all the education and travel they've done!"
A few of the treacherous women had tried to make his life miserable and he made it more miserable by trying to understand the depths of their own misery and why they would be treacherous.
Men, stamped by the rigors of corporate life did not like what they saw. He laughed. "Much is cut off from this type of person no matter how many things they end up owning."
The truth was that the Mud Hut made no sense without the poet residing in it. Without the poet the Mud Hut was mere darkness lit up occasionally with drunken revels. The poet had come and marked the center of the Earth's axis through the patio where the squirrels played. This is where he stood to watch Venus and the Moon eye each other. This is where he demanded the music of masters. That itself had driven most of the riff raff away.
A hollow and shallow bunch made a lot of noise that disappeared fast enough.
"I didn't come here to work in your labs or colleges. I came here to contemplate and to be with my God. I came here to answer the riddles I was given in my mid-20's. I came here to study and think."
He became increasingly intolerant of those who didn't do any of those things but who demanded the poet do the same things as they did.
"Well," they said huffy and bemused at the same moment, "we live and are in the middle of lives."
The silence of the Hut could be a beautiful thing. "I am here for the silence, for the largess of time packed in coils through the wonderful trees. I'm here so that nothing is wasted." And it was a nemesis. "It is a vast waste of time because you have no objects to show for it."
"Oh idiots, don't you see I'm where I'm supposed to be, for this period of time?"
He was a curiosity and accepted it; laughed and enjoyed roaring fires when the people came to drink the wine and converse in the mundane, yet satisfying ways that they did.
Wonderful travel tales at the drop of the hat! They had been in harbors, deep inland, in the mountains, and the oddly built cities. He always patiently waited, hand on knee, for the moment he heard something he hadn't heard before. It was rare but certainly a resource the moment he heard it.
It took him back to vast fantasies of roaming the Earth as a young man. "Let me stow away on a merchant ship to Mermansk. Let me float down the Niger and run with the killer pygmies. Let me hunt sharks in the stupendous Australian sun!" He so fantasized. It was only natural. One fantasy moved as a chain, down to the bottom of dark where they disappeared. "I will be President. I will write a novel and win the Nobel prize. I will be famed for discoveries. I will float down the Niger and run with a killer pygmy tribe."
The Mud Hut stood beneath stars worth gazing at in the hours after midnight. "This expanse, is it not our expanse?" "And if this expanse is our expanse why is so much of what we do cluttered with the infinitesimal of trivia and reduced down to the iterative function?"
"One day the Earth will be knocked out of its orbit and fly free into the dark center to be captured by another Sun. Only a few will survive the ordeal. They will know what to do when they see, for the first time, the new sun rise onto the new earth turning."
"It's not that the stars fall but that the earth rushes past its new environment with incredible speed."
"Our freedom often makes us intruders at the edge of the unprecedented." "We are existents without the true experience the future demands from us." "Oh, those people simply did what they were required to do. Why should we worry about them?"
"Well, it's a long way from there to here. And from here to there will be even longer and unimaginable. The clutter of objects and slow turning from bad habits to better ones. Time available. Time lost. Go to the proving grounds of imagination. Go to the few tellers of truth. Go to those who add value and richness."
So the conversations were constant in the hut with the raccoons, bats, and owls who visited night with a kind of pride of ownership so that their speech was sharp and joyful and fully conscious.
We heard them while emptying our daily waste like an old smelter on a dying river.
Frivolous days with their frivolous acts and frivolous words breeze like weighted charms across the eyes. "It's all a play of mediocrity and mendacity," so they say. "Belief in God or an afterlife was too difficult for them so they spent their lives trying to figure it all out and came up short."
The Mud Hut had its disturbing moments that crept up from the root of some unknown presence but which, when it was revealed, had always been there in the light.
It was not Edenic or, if it was, it was a cold Eden where all good was forbidden when the overseer was around.
"Something torn always remains torn no matter what you use to patch it up with."
"In America you either take freedom seriously, if not at its word, or it devours you. It is not a passive animal."
"In the Hut it took time to learn to let go. "Be a pro but let it go."
As they said in the Hut, "Someone, somewhere is taking things very seriously." Most felt that life was a poor joke and if everyone were in on the poor joke life would roll easily through and not stop until the required stoppage occurred. "Don't even take the required stoppage seriously because we obviously go into another state, perhaps a better one. Or, nothing happens and we are simply the non-plussed supine ones that they count backwards toward to find out how things have changed. So even the shined up world full of motion and objects is reduced to a few words in the future. Who could take that seriously?"
"Don't divide the world between the serious ones who do things, many of them bad, and those who laugh their way through, doing little or nothing but keeping the atmosphere clean and light."
In the Hut there was laughter. Some of it was, no doubt, created by the huge amounts of wine that was consumed but some of it was sincere and a good lesson to the poet.
"Isn't it true though that for every person who takes the world seriously there must be ten who don't? And for every ten people who take the world seriously five, at least, are bad and must be countered by fifty who take the world seriously but are good. Such are the ratios that keep the world spinning onward."
"Distill into this phase all that you have learned and experienced." That's what the wise tree has said, with its thick black trunk and rasping limbs trying to swim out of an impossible situation.
"Make real what has happened, what has been thought and felt by this distillation. But, it will be different than you think."
So now the picture of a small, discrete unit rushing around with purpose began to emerge.
It was an object not yet identifiable by the scientists.
"There is an art in packing lifetimes into a few, authentic moments."
"You have merely constructed a few tents and way stations when you were clobbered and survived. It is nothing yet. It is prelude. It rises up on a dramatic chord to show all that has happened. Then down into the new, into the open new."
He was saying, "most of life is uncontrollable, even here. The fight is always over relation and whether they are healthy or not. Good minds know this early on and try to establish relations with things that count. Bad minds try to control the uncontrollable and end up hurting others and, eventually, themselves."
"Well, I have relation to all those things and it still feels uncontrollable. Take women. I thought they were one thing and they turn out to be quite a different thing. Then I adjust to that and they turn again. Aren't there any fashionable women today? Are they all witches?"
Generous laughter rose up for a moment.
"The women who think they are fashionable today are the same ones who thought they were fashionable 1800 years ago during the reign of Hadrian. They showed their tits much more readily in those days. Women who appear to be breaking out of some straightjacket remind me of the crude dreams the Romans must have had in the middle of their tempestuous females."
"You're saying our decadence lacks elegance and a certain historical cred?"
"We should laugh at our voracious women and keep demanding better service. It's like our witches. We would never think of burning them when we could give them good brooms and ask them to entertain us."
"Oh certainly, entertain us."
They didn't tell tales too well at the MudHut. He noticed that right off. The stories were either cliches or had been repeated ad infinitum, to the verge of nausea. And even equipped with the latest in technology the stories that came over screens or between covers were lackluster. "A sign of the times, " the poet told himself. "They are overwhelmed and are hoping thousands of miniscule tales will save them." "Or," he was corrected, "to divert them until they think no more."
The poet had taken tales to the Hut and they withered yellow in neglect. Then he would get on a story jag as if his survival was dependent on it and end up with masses of confused stories no one was interested in.
Markets did not clamor for him. Relations spurned him. The odd and eccentric tried to ridicule or use him. His heart eventually belonged to a few dead masters who wanted to be left alone.
The people had transformed into a huge mass of uneducated believers in their own rightness. He had nothing to say to them.
"Well at least say something to their grandkids, if that is, they are still procreating."
"Direness is an excellent signifier to change a few things."
"The dirge bell rings and everyone runs from the center. Some of the yells and screams are appalling. If we hadn't heard it before perhaps we would be yelling and screaming in appalling ways ourselves."
So they are sitting around the Mudhut feeling dire and dark. Something appalling has fallen from the trees. The Mudhut is filled with a few more anonymous refugees and it takes the poet days to know who they are or where they've come from.
"I will become dire," he says to them, "when the center can not even hold its own empty promises and armies are raised to protect the regions. When, that is, resources are fought over because they are up for grabs and the people rather than learning about football and how to repair their cars must learn how to shoot and kill the enemy. When, that is, different flags are raised throughout the whole land and the direction is set for a dark reckoning. Then I will join in the wailing and lamentations of the dire voice."
"Up to that time it is all the howling of the naive forced to wear the political animal they dread."
There was some tittering in the small crowd that had gathered around him. Then excellent foods and wine were brought in and the people, as night fell, turned their thoughts to love making.
A dry day at the beginning of winter's wet habitat. When all the living run for cover and hate the outside even as nature forces them into it.
So quietude rather than silence. Silence implies eternity. Quietude is already thinking of what to say next. It is prelude to vast rationalizations of why things are the way they are and when, finally, the stricken realize how wrong they are they return to quietude.
"An asshole will never turn to its own face."
"Quietude precedes plot."
At the Mud Hut the discouragers and no-nothings had sway for a time. Sometimes it was because a reputation had preceded them or, even, family structure. Whatever it was the poet found himself listening with a bare smile on his face, to all the words of discouragement and ignorance that poured self-assuredly from many who saw too much potential in him.
It was an ironic gift of sorts: "Everything I feared and interiorized as a barrier has come alive and fleshed itself in front of me. I am free."
So it was all projection!
"You are your own worst enemy!" Someone had shouted to him from across the patio with a finger-point to make sure he knew he was being singled out. "Yes," the poet replied, "but don't you see I've tried to make every enemy into an ally."
"And when you can support all the activity you support isn't it reasonable to think you can support thinking and generous tales?"
"And when the largess is without boundaries doesn't it make sense that some will take a difficult path of freedom and meaning?"
"And doesn't jealousy and resentment signal a failure in the jealous and resentful rather than the object of scorn?"
It had become obvious to him, after some time at the Hut, that the old men had much more substance and experience then his own peers, many of whom looked like addicted dogs still howling at the teen-age lyrics of songs that kept reappearing in a culture that wouldn't let anything die. The old men provided models of how to live as free citizens in a democracy. And just this act burnt away the natural cynicism the poet had gathered in himself as a young and open heart, especially when he heard the word, "democracy."
Democracy was relationship if nothing else. If relations were impossible and entangled, even inhuman then democracy was impossible. If relations were good and honest then democracy had a chance despite all the minefields it created in itself. It was a simple but profound observation and began the poet on a long meditation on human nature and human relationship.
He noted that if men wanted power then relationship was the business of women. If women wanted power then relationship was the business of men. And if both men and women wanted power and sought every inhuman means to get it, then relationship was chaos and doomed and things would be sucked down into a black hole.
The first law of relationship was, "connect with as little judgment as possible." '
"See here, if a thing could be written once, it could be written countless times. That is, if the person responsible was an artist and approached things with that attitude."
It was very easy to find people in the Hut who would gleefully deface the art of another to show he or she was just as inventive as the originator.
"The people have been taught the skill to destroy but not the art to build." It was a fatal flaw but he soon learned to protect his most prized assets from the people. "They growl and howl with savage unrequitedness," the lady told him. "Other than that they're ok."
"The writer transforms himself from a wide beam of generous light to a filter for all the light and dark streaming into him." "Oh, I understand what you're saying, yes, of course. Youth grows up!" And she was very pleased with herself that she had figured out the little metaphor.
"Time went from glacial to a flash of light. A year could be something to bounce around in with meaning and frivolous conversation. The seasons go."
"I remember that first entry. I had a dozen civil war books that I read one after the other plus I went to a civil war exhibit at the local college. It wasn't an escape from the present but a filling up of fractured pieces; an enriching game in other words."
"They understood suffering a great deal more poignantly than we do."
"I'm always reminded that when I go from the Revolutionary battlefield to the Civil War battlefield, to the WWII battlefield the carnage is ratcheted upward in ways the previous war could hardly comprehend. I don't want to see the next one."
"The rage is in this year. The center does not hold because the center is rotten. How you repair it is beyond me. The quality of trust is nowhere seen, nowhere shared. People forget how easy it is to buy off groups."
"Powerful modules interact with powerful modules and the individual is hardly a factor. Don't expect roses to pop up."
"I don't find a great kinship with the majority of people and their society. Maybe I feel some kinship but have to strive to extend out beyond what is there to find something ample and good. Good in the sense that "here is value, enriched."
"I'm glad the society doesn't sit around and wait for a novelist to capture and depict it. The anonymous motion is a source of things without a doubt."
"In America you either take freedom seriously, if not at its word, or it devours you. It is not a passive animal."
"In the Hut it took time to learn to let go. "Be a pro but let it go."
"Thankfully I live in a culture of many paths, of many ways. And that the way and path can be supported by a few or many (and depending on your devotion it doesn't matter). I don't trust those who believe in one path, one way. Their inexperience is a barrier to those who would go seek a new path or way. Their conformism speaks to a lack of confidence in the human spirit, even a lack of confidence in what they have conformed to. "Listen, we have not conformed because we wanted to, we have conformed because we've been pounded into this position. And we will pound you until you, too, conform." In a great society all of this is transparent and part of the grand game. In a terrible society it is nearly law, if not written then custom. And custom is transmitted like a virus from one to many and many to one."
"Freedom proves itself when it grows tolerance of all other paths and ways."
"The joy in leaving the intolerance behind!"
"The joy of it limned as it is with a trace of bitterness."
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