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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."
"Resentment had taught him the fine art of discrimination based on shared values, without which there was nothing but angry tribes."
"And angry tribes can destroy values as easily as they can set fire to police cars."
"Torch the poet, he describes police cars!"
"Cut it all down, it is a small branch growing on the corrupt tree!"
"They need to know that the discovery of the shadow is the first step in a long journey."
"The first step!"
"Warning! Understand the shadow, don't become the shadow!"
From the vistas he knew that the world was large and contained "multitudes." And the multitudes, with their multiple lives interact a multiplicity of ways. "My goddamn brain hurts." "Live," the old woman told him in the kitchen, "in front of you, not in wide circumferences. The circumferences are merely for added information so you may live well in front of you."
He couldn't answer her. She had a point. But he had reduced the scope of his knowing to a certain area of longitude and latitude. And yes, every year there was a sulpheric pile of things and odd people. "My things, my people, no?" Maybe not. But yes, he had family ties with them all and had studied local predictability and knew that patterns were iterative, in fact, he happened to live in a much more spontaneous place than the vast regions of the world so it was far easier to grasp the predictable nature of "those on the otherwise of the mountains."
He could not identify with the natural systems of the planet but he saluted their superiority and hoped they would not give out before he did. Where would it stop? If one identified with the natural systems they would have to venture far out into the natural processes of the universe and eventually would become nothing but string or mass. Their sense of time and space would put them at odds with everyone they came into contact with; would perhaps create way too much trouble than it was worth. No, identity along those lines had consequence.
"But you live here, in the Hut," she told him. "What else do you need?"
"And now you realize what sacrifice is, don't you?" He had been down for several days after finding out an old friend had finished a generous tour of the world. He looked up sadly, "I don't want to sacrifice, I want to engage." "But first you must understand the difference!"
The sacrifices had been merely personal; experienced personally and suffered personally with the larger world not caring one way or the other.
The sacrifices were like objects, completely invisible to all but the one who sacrifices. "And they are always in the room, still and large without expression."
"It becomes obvious to us that we want to be anyone but ourselves."
"But you see, sacrifice is painful. However, it always has a tiny hole of redemption in it. Look for that tiny hole."
"I find the easy way we are manipulated into our worst nature to be disturbing. Perhaps that's why I put the big shield up."
"Well, that should clue you into something." '
"So," he thought, "what is our role here at the Hut? Do we simply spy on consumers and make gnarly comments?"
He saw himself as a lousy consumer although he had consumed vast amounts of perception from outside himself. Perhaps consumers were a cut above colonists or conquistadors or mountain men. If the people were not busy consuming they would be busy doing something and most of it would be bad.
"But they see themselves not as they are but as they want to be thought of and so open to the literary imagination. After all, if I'm a lousy consumer but am always being judged by my prowess as a consumer then I have to defend my inefficiency or, better yet, supplant it with something superior or, at least, superior in my own scale of things."
And his experience had taken him into poor neighborhoods and rich ones and in all places he found the vast majority of people to be consumers. "Count the bodies and broken laws buried in the happy consumption of the wealthy," someone had remarked. He later found out what that meant and agreed in a general sense. "But, after all, aren't wealth creators above and beyond the mere consumers?" When the successful warrior-king had plundered a declining Roman town and taken its gold and silver didn't his prowess and violation of human decency allow him to distribute more goods to himself and his cronies?"
Idle questions were always sport at the Mud Hut.
He was only interested in those who consumed the world and turned it into wisdom.
Those few, in other words, who were unafraid.
"Memory nested in a variety of platforms. That's what the time will be remembered for," so the old sage was saying, shaking his head but speaking with confidence, as though he had learned to use a few of the new platforms. Each life had rich carvings in it and he was proud of his knack for listening.
"Lost, gained. Lost, gained. Transformed. Lost. Recovered. Squandered. Arisen."
"Bits of stuff operating under the same laws as Supernovas."
"They did not understand the implication of their own worst invention."
"The maps be marked by 'em."f
"Right before they went crazy and their good minds failed them, they told me what their favorite novels were. One said Magic Mountain, another the Sun Also Rises, still another V, and an old teacher had chimed in, "Huckleberry Finn."
They had read them but now were babbling away utter nonsense in homes, not even their own homes but homes they had been put so that the mind could disintegrate with some safety and grace. And all memory would be wiped clean. And all opinion flown away on bats wings. Disparate tapes still ran from things said 45 years before, at a luncheon for a famed educator.
The MudHut had provided the poet an escape from all those who would empty him of meaning and say, "you are merely" He found it to be part of the ethos of the age he lived in. "If we empty this fool of his substance we will be able to control him and so the world will become that much closer to us!" He knew from the beginning the worst in human nature, even among those who he had trusted.
But naturally it was more complicated that that. The they that had been emptied first, filled their judgments with emptiness.
"The swarm is thickest when you are weakened by physical or emotional problems." The swarm would descend to pry loose whatever quality he had possessed and make him be as empty as they were. An emptiness that all the travel, sex, money, knowledge could not fill up.
"Ah," said a man of true emptiness, "you simply want them all to get religion. Ha!"
"No," the poet said, "only more meaning and substance."
"If your sacrifices have no meaning then you are kaput. That simple. However, if you were attempting to express value through the sacrifices then the meaning rises wonderfully from the mysterious place everyone wants to possess but no one can."
"Well, I spent a long time in study and thinking, acts that are despised in this world."
"But what were the values you were fighting for?"
"Overcoming that blood sucker known as alienation."
"So there was some meaning there."
"I was miserable except for a few moments of ecstatic understanding. I did deepen my relation to God. I just never found anyone who cared."
"And did you emerge non-alienated?"
"Sort of. Yes. Well who knows? I knew I could go on. And I knew I could handle a few problems. And I knew bullshit when I heard or read it."
"That's a start, that's good start my friend."
"A man follows his addictions rather than his passions. This is why you find the very odd phenomena of the fabulously wealthy and powerful being the weakest and most miserable of types. Once they have attained wealth and power they have to have more of it. It's no different than dope or booze or sex for that matter. We are driven into our addictions until we find ourselves crawling along a street crowded with others who we hate but who are just like us."
"And fame could be thrown in there. That's the most desperate addiction in a time like this. I pity those who get it, they can't get close to what they want and then the distracted masses move on to another famous head and the tumble downwards is a quiet roar. They fish the head from the sea and look on its closed eyes and say, "this man had it all."
"Life is such a sad lesson."
"Well worth the learning I remind you."
"So we take our quiet lessons into the silent room and wait for stillness to arrive."
"And these young writers and artists, so full of it, they depict their addictions as the truth."
"They crap on themselves."
"The professors and critics love it so. It keeps the crap off themselves."
"And what was happening the rest of the time?"
"So it is kind of like a battle that lasts three hours but has three months of preparation.
"Something like that."
"But why so secret about the preparation?"
"Oh, it’s all there if you pay attention. Those who want it spoon-fed always get the dregs and then they wonder why they feel so rotten. So it comes down to personal responsibility."
"It's obvious that those who are in battle all three months lose every bit of vitality and by the end are easily defeated."
"But then, there is that rest of the time and you can either spend it wandering around or settling down."
"And don't forget money."
"The poet's nightmare!"
"They always hoodwink you in doing it for them or for their ideas or their world."
"Write silently in a good and dark morning."
"Keep all your records straight."
"Suffer and keep the faith."
"Wisdom is not about power. Wisdom is only an end to itself among the wise. For everyone else it's a working tool to carry into the brunt of life, into its contingencies and mistakes and tar. Wisdom either works or it doesn't."
"Thanks for that boss."
"There is no place for old conflicts." So all agreed about the MudHut. "Let it all go. This is a new place. This is the face of old resolutions."
There were the classic conflicts between gender, race, class, religious belief and so on. There were modern ones such as the conflict between American democratic conscience and the requirements of being a "world power." There were the odious and fabricated political conflicts generated by people who were led by the nose and shaken like rag dolls at various times.
"Well then, it doesn't settle anything because the world is the way it is. But isn't it time to view the world as brand new, without conflict and what it might want to become?"
Laughter was conditioned by the nature of the spirit at any given time. And when the spirit soared the laughter was good and got caught up in the limbs of the oak trees until even the creek owls started to hoot. And then one would say, "This is a wonderful night for the grand idiots of the world!" Silence would follow and then the thing would break up. Before he went in the poet always looked to the night sky and saw himself as coming to the Earth for the first time and not knowing what he was getting into. From one hundred thousand miles away it looked pleasant, colorful but inert and no one could have prepared the happy traveler for what he would find on landing.
"The last thing he said was, "Put it all together." And I thought, well that could mean anything or nothing. But then the way he said it, the angle of attack of his words reminded me that my own mind operated in a confusing duality. One was operated by nature and the other was operated by what someone, presumably myself, wanted to record as the highest or best and so on. Who knows? Why does it work that way?"
"It was a trail of masterful droppings that I had to go back and search through. And then when the brain went a bit nuts and there was a kind of seizure one thing would connect with another and suddenly things started to add up."
"They were dropped there because the brain rushed through trying to get something. It was an enemy of sorts, more like a dysfunctional brother who wanted all answers right now and didn't have the patience to lay the groundwork. And forget the signs of the market, none of them work and they always flash at the wrong places.
"So my own droppings lay there for years undiscovered and uncared for; saved up would be an optimist's way of putting it, one who felt anything could be salvaged, and for a brief moment I felt ecstasy. But then it quickly muted of its own accord, remembering no doubt how many times the feeling of ecstasy had gotten me into trouble and knowing, in a sublime way, that various types of energy can be shaped if the mind was put to it."
"But the context, the context? Something expressively belonging to the act of dropping, at that precise moment could not be reproduced or called back into an authentic state."
There was always one that, when the MudHut started to feel like a grind, began to plan his exit. But he discovered that would be much more difficult than he imagined. For one thing funding would be cut off. He would be thrown into the horrific contingency that had driven him out in the first place. "Those never change,: he thought to himself. "What good would it do me or anyone else to become another confused and dilapidated stick in the world completely alienated from my own true self?" It didn't make any sense in any tradition of freedom he was familiar with.
He discovered that the person can get tired of even the best of things after a while, surrounded by the best of things and toying with them all the time. It was the possibility of losing everything and being thrown into a new and dangerous situation that appealed to him as he worked himself out of the grind.
So many words had been broken over the backs of nothing. Their beauty and meaning had spilled out into the muddy air that reminded him of a road in the southern hemisphere. "They want words that will load them up with goods."
"Oh well," he thought. "hope they get what they wish for."
So much hatred in a well-meaning face. So much frustration because the powers he thought he owned had long gone away and so the world was a menacing detail of embodiment. It was an invisible army of powers he had lost or so he thought.
"Given everything I feel a new militancy in myself. After all, I've done the work and I've suffered for it and I tried to understand everything which denied the work. What have they done? They looked at my generosity and their eyes got red and big."
"They threw everything at me. I felt sometimes, like the Buddha who sits under the tree while his enemies do everything they can to knock him off course. Oh, they hated! Oh, they were filled with jealous rage!"
"They reminded me of the barbarian kings I had read about as a kid. It was all about them and they tried to destroy everything not-them and then they destroyed everything that could construct not-them until finally they met their own end. They would be the moon and the sun, the alph and omega so anything that went before was destroyed. And what was destroyed had no voice and couldn't fight back, not against the powers of the barbarian. So it was all laid low and the barbaric noises covered the ground and the ghosts did not rise up in pathetic disgust. So it was."
"Barbarians now, under the protection of a so-called civilized order which they failed to understand. So it was ludicrous after a while. And the people fell in love with the ludicrous and absurd."
"Oh you and your stupid disillusionments. Get with the program."
"Ah, the stupes don't know up from down, their ass from a hole in the ground."
"Well, they try."
"I've tried too much for them. I'm tired of them. I want to be free. Frankly if my writing introduced a new order or required some elite class then so what, that's not my concern. I do an honest days work in front of the project what else matters?"
"It's perplexing to me that someone who watched Howdy Doody, Jet Jackson, Davy Crocket, The Hardy Boys, Sky King, My Friend Flicka, Leave it to Beaver, Our Miss Brooks, The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, Combat!, Daniel Boone, Swamp Fox, McHale's Navy, Maverick, Sugarfoot, Have Gun Will Travel, Flipper, Sea Hunt, Route 66, Hawaiian Eye, Sunset Strip, Twilight Zone, Whirlybirds, Checkmate, Amos and Andy, Roy Rodgers, along with all the sports and news while growing up could have such European ideas."
"It always impressed me that something written, made, or thought two thousand or more years ago could be vastly superior to what is written, made, or thought today. I suppose that hooked me into something."
"Well, live in the past, get buried by the past."
"Oh, those old shows still float in there with magic to them. Was it a gift or a burden?"
"A lot of good it did you."
"Still, it did good."
"You were still in the good."
"I stood in the good rather still."
"Yet you complain you have no will."
"I have enough to swallow a pill. Not enough to curse a hill."
"I hope they come in the night to take us away. I know they will take us away. Hope it's painless."
"It's never painless when you know how much you've left on the cutting room floor. And how much more there is to shoot."
"Been around damn moralists all my life. Never taught me anything but self-hatred. But one. And he can hardly be talked about without embarrassment, apparently."
"We will ice skate backwards in his honor."
"Well look it, it was all bundled together at the beginning so he was in there and his father was in there and then it all exploded outward and made gas and creature. Since they were in there and we were in there it stands to reason we love the way we do."
"And now we bloody have to put it back together not with our brains but with our bodies. That's the challenge now. That's why we put it all behind us. Happy, happy days."
A man, long-standing resident of the MudHut, came pouncing from his room one time and confronted the poet who was half-asleep under a great oak tree.
"I've read some of your writings and you refer to the people as "masses" and "barbarians." They are neither masses nor barbarians. They are only potential."
The poet was startled and knew immediately he was being attacked but it took him some time to figure out who the attacker was.
"Oh well, when I was young anyone who didn't appreciate my writing I called part of the masses or a barbarian. You are right. All the disparate peoples are but potentials abutting against pitfalls and pigs of one sort or another."
He tried to go back asleep but the man was persistent. "My father couldn't read any fine writing because he had to work two jobs to support his family, including myself who escaped early on. Would you treat him as part of the slagheap?"
"No because that's where I come from and all good free democratic people come from. But then, why don't the people improve themselves? Why do they constantly poison themselves as is evident in pop culture and their personal lives?"
"Who cares about these things? That's just the price of freedom. It creates a lot of guinea pigs don't you know?"
"Shouldn't the imagination free the people of their guinea-pigness? Isn't that one of its roles? To show a better way? To show a better self?"
"But then when you call them the masses or barbarians what chance do they have? Why should they even care?"
"If a job, house, wife, car, and a few good vacations do it then I don't criticize anything. But there are some who assume the whole and out of the whole make things, so that type is always dealing with floors and ceilings. Free men and women know they are free and don't worry about it too much. But imagination wants more. And if a free man or woman puts a limit on that imagination then they are certainly less than free, at least in my humble opinion."
"Oh the delicate balances over bridges we have crossed. And conflicts between the fishes and the rocks below. So we love to see them in their native habitat and let them resolve it as best they can. The smell of the one becomes the hardness of the other and on they go. We comment on the enjoyment we get from the way the fishes slip and slide through their obstacles in some sort of desperate dance no one prepared them for. I don't imagine anyone told them about the struggle. Nature demands it."
"And do you learn anything from all this observation? Or do you observe simply because you lack all other means of power?"
"Oh well, you never know what observation will catch the eye of power or of a powerful person."
"Think hard my friend on what power has done to even well-meaning observation."
"Well, in a democracy they're supposed to be vetted, drawn and quartered, squashed and squeezed by the ignorant people until their truth spills out somewhere in an old rundown restaurant in Kansas City. They are, individually, harmless, toothless burglars of the national integrity. However, stick them all together and they make a fabricated beast of some sort, each finger and toe vastly different than the other."
"You forget that they read books in Brazil and Venezuela; probably more so than in the U.S. Those, at any rate, who want power."
"Do with whatever I give what you will."
"Oh it was different then from now, good God, so different it goes beyond saying."
"I knew that. I knew it was more intense because death was more a reality and death does quicken the pace don't you think?"
"Right. Death does quicken the pace. And frankly everything smelled bad and it was violent and heads rolled much more frequently. Now they only roll in accidents."
"That's why this trite but comfortable time was an ugly seductress. And she taught me to do everything that was done, at least one time, and to use the machines and mix in neighborhoods and know cities and suburbs and rural areas. And I admit that my youth was a short stay in Hell that felt eternal until I looked out at the happy middle-aged people without a frown or wrinkle among them. It got me thinking. An age of fabrication needs its own spaces so that the quick in life is conserved and passed to the next space. And that new space is its own quickened theme but dies in common with everything else. And I listened to the tales and sped around like a nut, like the rest of the nuts, and thought about the universe and the fate of the earth. If the bulkheads held everything was fine but if they burst look out."
"Well people lived long sometimes but rarely did they live well, long. But it was ok for the hapless many who fished around in those digs."
"A good-hearted man makes for a better thinker and writer because he is magnanimous and allows all into himself. And then the bitterness as he sees human nature work against him fires up the need to express. And then loss after loss because the good-hearted are the easiest to abuse so he finds himself, after a while, with nothing else but his thoughts and words; his ideas and stories. Nothing is left of the good-hearted man but that."
"Well put! All you need are a dozen good-hearted men and women with the freedom to enact themselves."
"I yawn now at old arguments that come out of the 19th or 20th centuries. The earth has rolled them over. All that is left are stinking legs and arms sticking from the ground like a fresh battlefield dominated by artillery. I have developed a new chant for when I hear one. "Ho-hum, ho-hum, ho-hum, ho-hum." If you can build from the corpse's a new vector bravo and let us see where the road takes us."
"Hell, I'd rather just wander around and talk to people."
"Ah, many streams experienced and perceived and finally made sensible by one!"
"If the sublime re-entered the democratic soul it would be so much better. The word now is only used to sell bad ideas and convince people of the worst things imaginable.
"Well, gabble on."
"The competitive spirit has given way to the sameness spirit and god help those who stray outside the boundary of sameness. They will find a classification for you and that will be that."
"It will revive when all the free attributes have been played out in the open beyond what you see now because democracy has no confidence in itself and merely wants to do more than what was done in the past."
"Will it ever learn again how hard it is to get anything done?"
"Plenty of acts of freedom and few acts of power. Doesn't that describe something we want to be part of?"
"Sentimentalists say it is that way every day but I'm not sure. If all of freedom is being lived today then what will be lived tomorrow?"
"Have things run down that much for you? Things aren't what they what they used to be and yet claim they are better than all that came before it?"
"Always the red flag with you!"
"This terrible life will continue onward for millions of years. Doesn't that give us a clue as to what is in store? It's a fragile beginning."
"Did you get along, go ahead, achieve the goals after your weird youth?"
"I lived in cities and read books, what was weird about that?"
"Cities and books can make even the sanest man quite weird."
"Well laugh, I was sincere and onto something. If you could only have seen my brain at that time! It was a fierce and righteous animal at the edge of some magnificent horizon."
"But you must have had some goals at that time? Some sense of where you'd be in middle age."
"Oh it changed and flowed in and out, strong and weak. I knew I was up to something that most people weren't. I knew it but they didn't. That makes a difference."
"Well, that's why they say 'know thyself.'
So the time that seemed the longest was really the shortest. There was something pathetic in the way we had tried to capture the uncapturable; no one taught us style. We had to learn from well-defined dreams and then pretend we had no shame when we appeared in public. "Oh, there goes one of them!" I heard that voice on more than one occasion. After a time I laughed. It could have been my own voice. I was so conscious of how I looked in and among strangers.
"You were moved so much by men who do not write and thought that writing was an almost desperate act and inferior to simply acting wisely in the world. Socrates and Christ didn't sit down and write much, although I hear Socrates wrote some poems before he was going to die. They did not write but enacted the spirit at a level that moves the self even thousands of years after the fact."
"And if they can kill those two they can kill anyone."
"A point. But the thing is you feel less than those two because you can not enact as they could but have to write." '
"I haven't thought about it. But I admired so many writers from the dawn of time!"
"Ah but you had to face yourself and not worry about all the writers from the dawn of time. All the writers from the dawn can't help you face yourself as you need to make it over the final threshold."
"Those two had the common touch; they were so absolutely confident in what they were doing. How can a writer have this common touch when he is using language as it isn't used in the common sense of the word? Besides, all the sights and sounds today drown out the beautiful words."
"It lays back there without fanfare but there it is."
"And who knows what Socrates or Christ you may run into, even at this late date? Life is irony."
"So we start with acts and words and let vanity die into the summer trees."
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