We smelled and tasted nothing but the ozone that rose off twisted metal and melting iron. We were sick, sick to the pit of our stomachs with the blackened feeling that bent everyone toward the ground. We were without humor. We gathered together around the ruins and argued without heart about what had happened. We all had opinions. We were all stupefied by some natural law still operating in the offal of doom. Suddenly I rose and announced that we were to leave, leave and start again. I had no enthusiasm but realizing my destiny I had no choice and watched them pick their knapsacks, utensils and meager belongings from the gound. We began a climb up a slope, leading to the great mountain. The air became pure. We breathed once again and felt joy for the first time in a long time.

We knew there were others. We didn't know where they were or if they were, even, "good." After all, it was explained, "those who we haven't found as yet may be those who started the nightmare in the first place." And for all their explanations of why they did what they did, they were always dreaming up the next scheme to destroy things. And if we met them what would we do?

We would test them. "If they viewed us as heroic or substantial that would be one thing. If they ripped us, ridiculed our escape as chicken or somehow less than what humans should do, we'd think something else." They left it an open question. It was out of their hands. They hadn't met anyone and for all they knew every living creature was dead. Perhaps all around the world was nothing but death and burning.

It was only later that we realized we were in a fortunate position, especially if we were the only ones left. We began to realize that with a certain oppression lifted from us we could be exactly who we were meant to be. And because our spirits weren't in constant competition with objects and scurrying-around-humanity we could live with a delightful variety rarely experienced on Earth.

It took a long time to get to this point because no one could leap up and out with joy at the fact that everything and everyone they knew was gone and dead. And then, almost at once, they dedicated their energies to everything and everyone gone and not alive and tremendous energy surged through them with such power that they immediately trusted each other and themselves.

That was the beginning of it of course. It wasn't a movie we were in. There were no cameras. We treated it like a dream so there was no pain really, even though life at every step was arduous. The painless state was such that each movement was graceful and quicker. Every gesture seemed meaningful as though we were the soldiers on a victorious battlefield where the dead still lay where they fell. It was as though we had been awakened to a new world we had never seen, even though it was the same old world. We stammered at first and pointed. Then gave names to the objects that already had names. We gave them the exact same names but we did it with authority as if now the names were real and would stick. When we lay down to sleep we were full of strange sounds as if we were entering a new territory, as if we were vulnerable for the first time. It rose out of us to a crescendo and mimicked all the animals we were familiar with. Then utter silence. And we woke for the first time out of an endless dream. And eliminated with curiosity and laughter. And someone said, "I am hungry," but we didn't know how to catch any food. We admitted to our faults, our limitations and went into a profound mourning for our lack of knowledge, even the simplest knowledge.

It was the idiot who never said anything who had a vision of catching food. He set out his dream and when he was finished we acted the dream out and killed a few small animals. We told the idiot, "keep dreaming and tell us what you come up with." And for seven nights he related dreams that led us to the "doing of things" that had proven difficult. He even told the dream of a pregnant woman and how she gave birth in the stream. An so it was. One guy got jealous of the idiot and tried to do him in but we stopped it just in time. We gave the idiot a special place and he was very happy until he realized he had to come up with a significant dream every night. I knew he made a few of them up, elaborated some of them but that was cool because the results were productive. We survived and started our next round of memories and a lot of what we thought was lost came back.

After a time we forgot about that time and lived as if tomorrow never existed and found what we needed right in front of us. It was literally a matter of thinking it was so and "poof" there it was.

Our thoughts always came back to the events leading up to the catastrophe. The idiot told us we should remember through as many generations as we could back to the earliest time possible. Only a few could do this. They would lay out sticks and every stick represented a generation.

And every generation stepped forward and played itself out, dressed up in its snazy clothing and weird hair styles. Some sticks were shorter than others. Then they would conjure a personification of the generation by the memory they had of it or some aspect of their brain that contained that information. A few got talented enough to have different personifications to "talk" to each other or reach out and shake hands across the generations. There was no talking of course, everything was done in a delightful telepathy.

The generations always provided clues to our dilemma. "It was there from the seed," one commented. Sometime the seed was hidden out of fear or shame, other times it was out front and center, umabiguous and throbbing with potential.

The generations paraded around until they finally disappeared into the woods. We had had our fill of them and even though they were fascinating, in the end they were of little use. "They are a reminder that we must continue, that we must fill out our part in this play of generations." So my old pal and fellow skeptic told me. I took it that way and smoked my cigar and looked over the meadow we were in, encircled by the woods.

A few of the survivors were stirring now from their crude huts made from tree branches, lean-to's would be an apt description. Most of us slept out in the open and kept a fire going to provide some heat and ward off wild animals. My thoughts always wandered off to the loss of humans the planet had suffered. During the day I saw it as a great advantage and we all had fun jumping around and gesticulating and exposing ourselves and shitting right out in the open because there was no one left to judge us. There was no one around to make us clean up our acts. Theorically we could roam the whole globe doing whatever we wanted to. We could use the left over technology for our benefit. It was this propect of using the world of gone-humanity that prompted one to say, "We should get going and head in a direction and find a city. In the first city we find we'll ransack it for all useable items and ensure our survival." We all agreed that was a sound plan. The idiot boy was silent and faced away from us looking into the woods. Something displeased him but I didn't want to bother him.

At night there was a ritual mourning and wailing for lost friends and family that were no longer on Earth. Such sorrow in dead men and women! And I called them dead because we had no future, no matter the great ability we still had of making up stories to convince us that "it was ok." After the wailing they would get down in the dirt and grass and depict or personify those very relatives and friends that were no longer with us. Some built figures out of grass and bent them to indicate motion. Others took sticks and carved out faces in the grass and dirt, would huddle over the drawings and try to make the reproduction as precise as possble. It was amazing what some were able to do.

During the day we walked toward the horizon hoping to run into an urban center where we could scavange what was left. "Even a pan or a few plates," someone said casuaully as we walked, sometimes in singlr file, at times disorderly and spread out, no one seeming to belong to the group at all. I used to name them in idle moments when the sun was fetching high in the sky and it felt like outings I took as a kid, with my parents and brothers, up into hills where the old collapsed house was populated by thousands of bees. We could hear the distintegrated house from a distance and when we reached it stood off to the side just to watch the magnificanet bees swirling around various parts of the downed house. I felt transported for some reason. I felt this sharp slide in my brain and it made me refocus so I was intently aware of the bees and that they posed a threat of some sort, even from a distance. We would leave the bee house and find a nice spot for a lunch and spread the blanket. My brothers and I would run up and down the path with my mother whooping encouragement. So I was in a state and started to name the people. "Mumble Man," "Flippant Guy", "The Wanderer", "Sexed Up Guy", "Scairdy Cat Woman", "Stinky", "Mr. Uncle" and so on. I would laugh to myself and make sure I would never make the names public. I also entertained odd questions such as, "Is it ok to have fun when the world ends?" or, "Who owns a dead Earth?"

One night a radiant moon suddenly appeared above us. For the first time I can ever remember, the moon looked alive, it had a soul. I could see right through it. It suddenly became an object of desire, I felt I needed to get there, stand on it, revel in it and actually live on it. My mind became crazed with notions of how to get there without a rocket and all the support necessary for such a thing. That night, I swear, I left my body and zoomed up to the moon and walked around. I can remember looking back on Earth with such longing, such sadness it was overwhelming. I told myself to wake up and struggled to open my eyes only to be staring up at the Moon. Now it was an object, it was away from me, I felt alienated from it. Oddly though I still felt it was my destiny to go there.

Perhaps it was dark irony but I realized one day that with the whole globe empty, apparently, of human beings and all that they produce from themselves, still, there was very little privacy. For one, I had admitted to two of my companions my odd desire to get to the Moon. "The Moon is a destination," I explained. They laughed. "The Moon? You have the whole Earth at your feet!" And they drifted off looking back at me as if I were a bad joke. I felt stripped of some quintessense at that moment and felt hate toward the two. I promised myself not to be so fast and loose with thoughts even in the limited group I was wandering around with.

The irony was that I had, over a period of time, tried to undo the influence of various doom scenarios I was exposed to as a young guy. Everywhere I turned was doom, the end of everything, the dropping of the sword of Damocles on all one knew and loved. As I got older I began to understand the con involved and began to distrust doom-calling. I resisted the doom scenario, applied a bit of logic and found anchors that took me back to the center of myself. And when I saw a person spouting doom or reading a book on doom I laughed to myself, "another sucker, another victim of the con."

And then this thing happened. There were prophets on the Earth that were treated as entertainers. No one took much of anything seriously. All could be conquered by money and/or technology. So it just happened and caught everyone in a strange moment. I couldn't know everything but I was hoping the adventure we had embarked on would lead to some answer or some inkling of what happened.

We continued on our adventure, past beautiful lakes and woods, into the mountain passes pioneers had made famous, along anonymous rivers that did what all rivers did, vitalize the sense of things. Sometimes we walked in complete silence, other times there was a break out of laughter and childish giggles. We finally came to a small town with its general store, a bar, a gas station and little else. There was no one around. There were no bodies. We looked earnestly and I think we were desperate to find some evidence of the great catastrophe but there was nothing. We found two cars parked in front of the general store but no one was inside.

We found plenty of supplies however. People searched throughout the town and when a big whoop went up people came running.

It took many months walking through valleys and over mountain passes for the despair to kick in. We survivors had had it. Rather than revelling in the idea that the "Earth was now ours," we despaired at all that had been lost and the awful burden put on our shoulders to "keep the damn thing going." As my friend Jake put it, "If it ain't going on, it's down the forever hole. Nothing escapes the forever hole." The thought didn't create despair in myself. My brain became more acute, more intense in understanding where we were and how we were going to survive. After all, small bands of humans had roamed the planet for hundreds of thousands of years. They had survived. We were no different. But just as soon as I had that thought another one popped into my head. "What about the very first band of humans? How did they survive?"

We had to decide between the "forever hole" or the first gestures of a new beginning. And those who said we needed a few laws to lay down to prevent a disaster from occuring in the future were right. And I was to undestand that all that had carried human beings to that point had absolutely failed, seeing that everything and everyone was gone. I laughed as I imagined a hireling coming to me and asking, "what now Sire?" There was so much to edit out of the proposition that human beings start again, at the seed, and move forward as before. The first law? "Make no tool beyond its first use."

We did not discover much more, other than repeats of what we had already discovered. We were swallowed by the Earth in a manner of speaking and rather than feeling we owned it we now understood that fallacy. The Earth bore us, the Earth claimed us. It was the Alph and Omega. I stood opposite a waterfall in a river valley somewhere near the Sacramento Valley. I was naked. Did it matter? It mattered not a bit. The few survivors had no secrets. The water falling gracefully over the granite hypnotized me. I thought it was singing to me. It was seducing me into the water, pulling me into the center of the waterfall. We were all like that, mesmerized by the Mother and connecting on a level I didn't think possible. Deep in her the Earth must have possessed a source of power, there from the beginning and in humans and animals so we could never leave its mystical lines of force. I had a passing thought, quick as lightening, "We will find all of humanity in the interior of the Earth. Heaven was not up but down!"


I have no name. No parents or brothers or sisters. I am not biochemically linked to any organism on this planet, not the trees, the fish, or the humans.

I suddenly emerged from a fissure in the ground like a sprouting seed, between granite rocks near the peak of a mountain by a stream of melted snow. I was there. It's all I remember. Being there with a huge crack in the earth, smoldering and bubbling behind me, my long shadow cast against the granite rocks.

It was the shadow I investigated first. An elongated appendage like a finger held to the wind, twisting it slowly around. Staring. This black blur against the rock held my fascination as if, when looking back on it, I had an instinct of instant recognition. It was me, whatever me was and that's when the trouble began and continues as I write this.

I found that everyone needs a name; no name, no life. When I found this out I remembered the shadow that cast up before me like a broken mirror so my name was born and so was I. I've found that I've had to do a lot of inventing along these lines.

Someday I will get back to that place where I sprang from. My sense of direction is quite bad. But these few months or years - time has become as fluid as the stream- that I roamed in naked delight searching for nothing, trying to catch the shadow that played up in the tall trees and on moss crawling rocks. I dream every night that I'll return to it.

Ah, up there, every color imaginable flashed around mysterious but enwombing form. It was as if I had gathered all my brain and soul strength and that the whole sounded portion of the inside of my skull was a slowly revolving pinwheel of every color sensation. Well, this was how it was at first. Every color bursting in my eye like fire, igniting in my head, throwing me off balance. And each form in front of me awesome, treacherous yet compelling as well. The forms were giants and I felt them with my hands. They were my first family. And I trained myself to feel around the most imposing form as a mountain or even, a sky. Then I would find myself filled with laughter and thrilled with the freedom I had to go where I pleased and do what I wanted. Of course, at that time I didn't know all that could please or all the things I could choose to do. But within the limits I was free and joyful at the new sounds, new forms, new colors that kept reappearing in my head until I had to do something with them. The moment I did something with them, at the beginning, the moment I consciously set up to do that, a new, strange, awful adventure began that drove the joy out and the freedom. I often thought, "now that I have captured this and put it in front of me I am committed to it." And as I got committed to it a prison formed around me that I was completely unaware of until it was too late. That's when the bitterness became my favorite joyful freedom. The bitterness drove me from everything that had become familiar.

Years passed as best I can figure it. Perhaps it was a minute who's to know these things. After all, I had been learning about the size of things and how the size of them makes time squirm and laugh and fall off every horizon one puts up there until you give it up with gusts of laughter. But, even there one has to be circumspect because laughter can be interpreted many different ways. And I certainly learned not to stir the pot of human nature, let it believe its stupidities and narrowness, let it seethe in its frustrations and sooth it if you must but don't jostle it. That was one of the first tactics I learned after I got my bearings or what someone called "your bearings." It's the way angles attack each other I finally decided and became acutely aware of intersections, understanding very few of them but knowing them, peering into them until I was predictable to myself and so less anxious, less vulgar.

I presented quite a figure in those days. I wore ropes and would invite women to pull me along as they wished. This is how I met the mean ones. The nice ones would fit the rope around their necks and then make a choking gesture with their eyes bugged out before throwing it off and leaving me to decipher what they had tried to show me. The kind ones were the cruel ones but that was life wasn't it? That's what we were going to suffer. That's what we brought into ourselves and made a daily ritual and that was what we ran from like a mad dog. I see it now but in those days I was still new, still fresh and not at all immune to the quiddities of this fleshy thing. And it took me awhile to get used to the smiles as you suffer.

I was at a disadvantage with people since they knew their mothers and fathers for the most part. I just showed up. Why? Did nature create some mutation and throw me up from the Earth? I don't remember residing in it, only standing on the surface and thinking things. I knew where I had come from but nothing else of the details. This ill-defined nature followed me for quite a while. I felt like a victim, then felt powerful because all the others could point and say, "I come from them," and while that was good it also made them act the same. And it was funny to me how people thought life and time began with their births from the womb and all that went before was irrelevant. Nearly everything I crossed paths with had that view, at least for a time.

I figured I was human because I had a natural affection for the human being. But it didn't pass me by that humans often show a great deal more affection for a pet horse or dog than human beings. So perhaps I had affection for the wrong reasons. I didn't think too much about it. The humans could project whatever they had onto me and I hardly flinched. That doesn't mean I didn't cry a lot or I looked at humans as pets. They rarely acted like pets. In fact, a good case could be made that they were constantly trying to make others into pets. I suppose observation trumped whatever native-born traits I had gotten from wherever it was I came from, where I originated from. And don't let anyone tell you that I didn't have dreams about the possibilities of my origins. They were vast, spectral dreams that faded quickly when I got awake until during the day they turned into premonitions. It was during one of my free times that I tried to track down some of these premonitions.

I was often criticized for "standing still," or "not moving." "You aren't moving enough," they said. They seemed irritated or angry when they said it but I laughed a little and then watched them move around. Certainly if a movement inspired me I tried to reproduce it in some way. If a person moved without effort I would try and be the same way but usually end up falling down somewhere and embarrassing myself. My movements were awkward, no doubt about it. But I tried. I felt it was up to me to please others than to simply be the awkward goof I saw myself as. "Move!" And sometimes they had taken some alcohol or dope so it was confusing to me. I naturally shied away from intoxicated people it wasn't something I thought too much about. It must have been a tribal thing it doesn't matter any longer. Yes, it was a tribal initiation into a new sort of life. "Move, git up and move it!"

It didn't anger me at all but left me perplexed. Did they know what they were asking of me? Did they truly understand this? I carried the question for a long time then they dissipated through a kind of inertia. And I noted early on that a certain inertia created more energy in those who wanted something from me. So it was a tool of sorts and when I saw it work out this way I would go somewhere and laugh myself into a fit.

Oh the buggers could laugh but I could laugh too. And sometimes it was a strange mixture of laughs, one soft and one hard, even sardonic. I got a lot of it when I first told my story, my arrival and so on. I think now I understand that I was trying find those like me, who had come in as I had and didn't realize it was some freak accident. If it was. I've never found that out. There are no texts, no movies or shows that clue me in to what could possibly have happened.

I couldn't have been the only one! That seemed absurd to me. I met people born in Portugal, Zambia, Japan, and Uzbekistan, even Antarctica but no brothers or sisters. I used to sit for long hours thinking about this, how life is rudely ironic. Whenever I heard the phrase, "life is hard," I understood to the root what they meant. So for a long time I ran around like a ninny listening to my CD player plugged into an ear, hiding my own facts from everyone including myself. And the most difficult thing was to learn the everyday normalcy necessary to live well if at all. I observed, I read, I watched TV and after a time I got it down pretty well. Not perfect. But the sense of having to hide something left me by degrees and I felt good, as they say, in my normal day by day life.

Perhaps that was a downfall of some sort that I couldn't identify right off. I could never be normal because I never spent time in the mother's womb. I do admit a feint feeling of birth if that's the word for it. I remember feeling cold and damp walls and what I would term, a launch. Laugh, sure. But it did feel like that in some distant memory. I might have had dreams about it, I've had so many dreams it's hard to say. The seed and egg could have been completely inorganic as far as I knew. I wanted to know but I didn't want to know. What if I discovered I was the product of intercourse between a clod of dirt and the root of a potato? Or two giant worms deep in the nickel of the Earth who traveled through a hard sort of osmosis? It was a blank for me.

I only sweat when they tried to pin me down. There were large gaps between "interrogations" as I called them. There was nothing sinister about them, it wasn't like they thought I was a spy but they wanted so much information! Why so much information? Especially from a guy who could only provide a bare minimum at best. And I think that made them angry so they'd wait a bit and then when my defenses were down, bam! another go at trying to figure out who I was.

This is precisely the moment stories emerge, that was the most delightful thing I learned. Take a bare thing and weave a rich and complex tale around it until the bareness and the richness are a fne mix. A tale for every strata. Or, maybe I mean strategy. Strategic telling of tales! And I know they tried verifying some of them but that was my plan all along. They would trip themselves up or discover something they hadn't figured on and would look at me quizzically, even at times with affection.

I often picked my parents out at random or because I had heard good things about them. I would say, "these are my parents," and then watch them carefully and make sure I did what they did. I learned as much as I could from a variety of these made-up parents, some of whom suspected something I know that. They said I was an odd duck and left it at that but then they would reveal themselves to be the odd ducks so I had another good laugh and moved on to another "community." There were many of those and the wonderful barriers they put up did not allow the community I had left to follow me and demand I tell them the truth or admit that I was using them because I didn't know who I was. A barrier was as good as a secret. How filled they were of themselves! All they could breathe were their ideas about who they were and what they were trying to accomplish.

I suppose people said I tried to fit in, I tried to be a regular guy so I wouldn't be constantly forced to remember myself and my origins. No, I tried to fit in because I was by nature polite and didn't want to make waves. I was only interested in knowing how I had come about. I couldn't leap up at a meeting or party and just blurt it out what would people make of that? No, I had to cultivate people and get them to see me as inoffensive as a pair of old shoes. When suspicions developed I had to make a quick decision of whether to leave the community and find a new one or try to fake my way through it. I almost always jumped ship and joined a new community and then set about to find those I could talk with, in private, in a kind of confessional way giving them, of course, all the power to determine, even, who I was. So I had to be cautious about it. Discrete. It was very difficult when fine looking women tried to seduce me. I didn't even realize I was capable of being seduced and it led to very embarrassing, even humiliating, episodes. For instance, I thought an erect penis was for show and paraded around one night with my back arched and hands on my hips after this beautiful woman had gotten my clothes off at a party. Fortunately it was a small gathering and most people laughed and told me to sober up. I could tell the laughter was meant to change my behavior so ran back into the bedroom where the beautiful woman was sitting brushing her hair out, sitting cross-legged, completely naked with pins in her mouth. "Well, you've must be a nut case so I'm leaving." Then she began to take her hands and fight off the erection, batting it from side to side until it hurt. After that incident I always associated the sex act with pain and stopped even thinking about it.

The sex thing was just the tip of the iceberg believe me. Yet, I moved on. I wanted to expatriate myself for a time. I would see a Dominican monk walking around the streets and entertained the idea of becoming that. I moved here, I moved there. Life was always knocking me off balance but I laughed a lot. For a long time I had a room in the transient hotel downtown. It felt like a home after awhile. A German rock band settled in on my floor. Occassionally the crazy person would be there, ranting and raving. Or an old guy who hacked and coughed for hours, spitting everyting out in either the sink or toilet I couldn't see. And I had very pleasant conversations with the manager and her daughter. She was certain I was a run away and expected someone to call for me or people to show up at the hotel and inquire about me. It never happened. I was happy for the fact. Aloneness was an enrichment what with the bookstores just down the street and the little TV I had purchased at the flea market held in the parking lot of BART. I always meditated on my origins from the interior of the Earth. In my mind I could burrow into the nickel core and fill the tight spaces there. I saw where the magma came from, where much of the Earth's water had come from. Such a grand adventure this brealthing life is!

Many things happened later, when I left the hotel but too much for this space I've allotted to the brief telling of my story. Maybe later when I've settled a bit.


He felt that if he touched them they would turn him into a toxic substance, unnamable and sharp in its ability to cut through to the very heart.

Very well, he thought, I will have nothing to do with them. They are little shits after all, why worry about it.

He had thought long and hard about this before committing himself to the path that his thought implicated. If he was not going to touch them and their toxicity then what was he going to get used to, as he had gotten used to them? This was the chief dilemma. He had to find a substitute!

Of course, there were plenty of toxicities to choose from; a regular smorgasbord of them, all laid out, not yet tagged by scientists but there, just the same, ready to poison the mind or heart as it perceived a great adventure for itself. "It must be that they have seen the very futility of ever dreaming anything and will, literally, kill anyone with the temerity to dream." It was his first encounter with the treachery in life and how it appeared one thing but then revealed itself to be something completely different. Bored human nature, with nothing important to do. Ah, the dangerous animal, that. So, he kept busy so he wouldn't be pulled down into this awful hell world he perceived coming from the wrathful others.

They did not have weapons per se. That was the first thing to notice. But they had some primitive tribal connection as must occur in the areas of the world like Afganistan or Nigeria, among those who decide that the path of terrorism is better than the alternatives. It's not something they happen on rationally but it leaks to them by the other tribe members who, perhaps, are too afraid to act out their thoughts until it reaches a critical mass of disgust.

The sinister women constituted one branch of the tribal tree and he, after awhile, became very suspicious of them as he passed them on his way to the other side of the encampment. It was by a shallow river, surrounded by low rolling hills and blackbirds. He often put his head in the river and would rear up only to find himself staring into the eyes of a blackbird.

"Ah, to get away, get away, what a beautiful sound that makes!" And he did want to get away without question. But what if I get away and find nothing but more toxicity? What will I do then?"

The world had become like little magnets applying a kind of pressure; now positive, now negative but in their own way, their own time. He could never figure it out. "One type of pressure makes me relent, another type gets the defenses up and new words appear mangled and stuttering as I figure out a response."

When the best story he had prepared went bust they were right there, in an instant, ready to shore up the fact that the story was wrong for him. "You are not that story. You are the story we have here for you," and they related this tale that he did not recognize as his own. In fact, it was so foreign, so alien to his sense of things that he wondered who they were referring to. "It certainly isn't me," he thought. "No, they are talking about some lost relative." But it cut into him with a bite. It gave rise to a series of pictures in his mind that acted out the abstract story they had related. It was of a boy trapped under a bridge and forced to live with trolls. When the trolls left to go get food he would feel free and dance under the bridge, even through the tiny creek under the bridge. But when they returned he clapped up and stiffened and they always asked him about the water on his pants. "Did you pee in your pants?" He felt ashamed as the pictures rolled through him. His story! They wanted it for him!

He had learned many things. He didn't know it all. But it struck him as bizarre that they would want him to abandon much of the knowledge he had acquired, in favor of their own superstitions. This was very strange to him and he began to suspect things at that point. "What? You want me to carry the load of your ignorance for you and get rid of the precious knowledge I have acquired? Never!" And he felt very good, very powerful after this encounter and slept well that night. But it didn't matter. They became more superstitious, evidenced more pride in their ignorance.

They were, ultimately, one of many, many fearful groups that populated the land at that time. It took him a long time to see through this, that their animus went to something more profound than mere dissatisfaction with him. That generally they were afraid of a whole way of life disappearing and becoming irrelevant in the type of world now being built. This was something he had inured himself to but they, those who judged him, obviously were freshly caught with the terrible perception that what they knew was meaningless, was backward and of no use to anyone. It was at that point they started to plot.

And a plot can be a treacherous thing. He remembered the story he heard of the wife who plotted to kill her husband by hiring some lunk for $300. And she wanted him to have no pain and for it to appear as an accident. "Oh yes, that can be arranged, " the lunk had said. Once the transaction was made she disappeared and figured her life had changed now. The plot would be carried out and she would be free, apparently. That's what she wanted.

The lunk turned out to be an uncover cop and grainy cameras caught her shock when she was arrested. She threw herself on a bed and demanded that the cops shoot her, "I'm better off dead, now, than alive....I can't go through this!" But they simply handcuffed her and led her away, bawling and moaning, hoping it was some nightmare that she would soon awaken from.

The husband was later interviewed and had a slight smile on his face and kept shaking his head, "wow, I didn't know she had it in her. Wow, imagine that. Man, that beats all." And one couldn't help but detect a kind of pride in the man as though his woman had proven her worth in some way. "But," he suddenly said in a very serious manner, "didn't she think of the kids? What would the kids do without their daddy?"

The only test of freedom is whether we are able to truly choose our entanglements. Not being able to choose, freedom is a farce because everything is conditioned by the loathsomeness of the entanglement we neither want nor willingly give ourselves to. That is why people flee. A whole land of fleeing people,d trying to find the entanglement that would be perfect for them, that would require no profound downpayment of emotion but simply a few oaths or pretended loyalties. Always, there was someone who took the entanglement very seriously; the dangerous one. Most called it, "life, it's just life and it pulls you along through its weird web."

They are the ones who stare into the core of the organizing principle and see nothing. So they totter around like petty tyrants having to tidy everything up and make the people straight and good. "If I don't look out for them, who will?" Says the tyrant, puffed up by a sudden success and, now, destined to ride things through to a bitter end. He will take many with him and there is little that wisdom can do. (A fight breaks out at this point, too bloody to relate. They all survive but are changed and decide to mend their ways...)

The backward among them are transfixed as they were in all ages. This fact astounded the man but it was verifiable without question. They had become exactly as he had predicted many years before, yet, he felt no pride in such an observation. Their fatal mistake? They believed what was empty had substance. They believed they could fabricate a nice substantial foundation for themselves after they had destroyed everything in sight. So, at that point, life became a joke. And then, in slow increments, it caught up to them and they were driven into a kind of madness.


My tools are broken. Isn't that a shame? I think it's a shame but I could laugh or cry really it doesn't matter now where I am. Where am I? I'll get to that. First I will explain about my tools, what I brought with me, about all I brought up here. Should I tell you now where I am? I don't know. It's been a long time between conversations so these questions are difficult to frame. I mean, I know its time to leave but where can I go? This whole experiment of mind has failed, ah, a pleasant enough failure and since I've been alone I don't rightly care one way or another. So what if the owls peer at night and know? That's actually dedication. What if I met someone on the road and he expected me to say something? I'd faint away I'd guess. I can see that. Falling away at his first word so he has to bend down from the waist to pick me up. If he want me to be up, I mean it's his prerogative. Myself, I'd think twice about it. When I lived in the city a bum walked into a pole and fell to the sidewalk. I watched it amused. He swore at the pole from top to bottom like an old woman. On his back he was, in languid tones cussing the lamplight. He had one veined fist in the air. He was wearing a kind of buckskin coat. I could have used that coat up here where it's damnable cold at nights. I was standing no more than five yards from him and didn't move. He picked himself up by wrapping his hands around the pole and pulling up. I felt bad the rest of the day. I mean my conscience bothered me that I hadn't helped the poor fellow. We have our moments. A pole is in the way. Down one goes simply stunned. A guy watches then moves away.

I'm writing this for myself, no one else. I'm speaking out loud before writing the words down. It's quiet around me but the words grasp between the burdens of the pain and sweetly return to me. I ran away and came up here. I'll get to the details. Yes, I've settled that between myself now that the details are crystal clear. If someone should ask me I need a story and a story is only a story if it has details.

But the details are only as sharp as my tools permit. Ah, my first dilemma! Now I feel human and dirty and can carry an attitude around with me.

To be human is to confess the brokenness of your tools, even skills. "Everything has changed!" And then the sinking feeling that you will not survive the first waves of change and be relegated to a complaint. A complaint sitting on a sidewalk somewhere reading Rimbaud or staring off into space while college girls throw you cigarettes. So it was an emergency of sorts. Why are they broken? Why did God do this to me, at this time? If God is real. Perhaps God is broken too although it seems impossible given the fact we only know as much as God permits.

It's as though they are laying now at my feet a useless reminder of something beautiful that the crowds step over and around as they hurry through life. I often thought they could come and take them if they wanted to, even trample them until they were bits and pieces. The crowds rule these days. They can do anything they want and get away with it, even murder thousands of people. If the crowds will it it is done. I would have none of it which is why my tools seemed bent and withered at my feet as I left my apartment on a cruddy afternoon in the middle of summer. Summer! It was a release into the heat of the sun! And I had, perhaps for the very first time, been optimistic or, at least, confident as a young person. Confident and brazen almost. Even arrogant in a way because I knew things and I had been in places.

Sometimes memory of them suffices to fill me with a glowing joy that pushes out vestiges of the awful day. Yes, in that sense they are like floating deities that flit back and forth across the closing skies of the mind. They fly with mischievous smiles and tongues lolling out waiting for some signal I suppose to show me how to replicate them. Oh, I tell them, don't give me the burden please!

A girlfriend used to laugh at me, "Good God, they enrich themselves now with all kinds of devices. They don't need your tools." This always pissed me off when she said this. I always took it as a challenge because she didn't appreciate how profoundly the tools had moved me. They moved me more than she did, I'll say that much. Maybe she was jealous. She couldn't compete for the affection I had for these wonderful tools.

Not that the crowds cared. I thought foolishly that once the tools were whole I'd take them and show them to the crowds who would know instantly my heroism. But quite the opposite occurred although I presented plans rather than the tools themselves. And every time the crowds competed with each other, to destroy me of my fantasy. At first I was assured this was perfectly ok. "It's the way it happens." But then, after a time, it began to feel as though the crowds really had no interest in my tools or the good I would do them. And I pled my case like a trooper bringing in vast knowledge that went back into antiquity. But, the crowds were either scowling at me or laughing at my expense and throwing up insults that stung deep on occasion.

And certainly a person here or there would recognize the dilemma and look at me with sad eyes and say, "it's the way it is..." I felt, on those occasions, like a man exiled to an island in the Pacific where rumors say they kill the islands with nuclear bombs. So you wait for it to fall. You even, in a wistful moment, prepare yourself for some joyous and instant vision of the constituent matter of things and so grasp before your annihilation what happens. What happens! Perhaps our pulverized minds are picked up by the explosion and held over everything we did not know. Good, bring it on I am ready. So I would think but then I would say, "no, you are just bitter because your tools are useless in this age." And who ever said or thought up the idea that tools are extensions of human beings and so compatriots in a manner of speaking was telling the truth of the matter. You have a skill, it allows you to work on the tools to get something done. The mind is occupied, the heart is in sync with the skill, the heart rises as you see it taking place, the thing, building up, breathing as you breathe, an old composer plays and comes down with the renunciation as you finish it off. It's a privilege. And you are told that. "Few can have this relation to your tools so you will never be happy with them. You will always hear their voices taunting you, questioning you."

Before the fracture you could eye that thing down the whole of its length and see all its roundness, its suppleness, its necessity to exist in just that way. I was tempted to treat it as an instrument rather than a tool and that threw me off a bit and I felt very awkward. No, it was a tool and it felt wonderfully machined in one of those shops I used to pass when I worked down there where they do that sort of work. They cut, glaze, solder, spin, down there and that made me appreciate the damn thing. The voluptuous care of one who is unknown. He, all hair and cuss kneading the transparency while whistling a song he heard back in the day.

What go me more than anything was that former defenders of the tool turned against it. "Throw it out we don't need it any longer. Look, look what we have...." And they would hold up an obvious imitation that smelled like money and not devotion. You can smell that on things, what makes it and why. Oh well, I would say at least I know the truth. I saw them all flood into the falsehood and gain power, that was their intention all along. Boy, was I fooled! I was an idiot but that is life. So many things had already battered down my lame illusions I just shrugged my shoulder. Let them get power. Let them revel in this life and light up when the dangling things jounce and their eyes get wide. Let them howl in derision. It's a big jungle anyway, that's what they tell me. "It's a big jungle. The big fish eat the little fish." On and on they would go convincing me that my tool was insufficient in the jungle that had been made. And perhaps they were right. In fact, the tool may have been mutated into something opposite of what I wanted it to be had it not been broken and laid out useless as it was.

It was an idiot, a regular clown, who taught me a very valuable lesson. He had seen the tool at my feet, broken and dissembled, and pointed it out to me.

"Yes I know, it is a shattered thing at my feet."

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" And he had a big goofy smile on. I thought his eyes were going to leap out at me like an old cartoon character.

"Why should I do anything? It's mine, my possession."

"Ah, you only think it's yours. But it interferes with the feeling that we, the public, are safe and can walk around without worrying about getting tripped by this broken thing."

"The public," I scoffed. "If that were the case I could claim the same thing for all the broken brains and broken hearts I see walking around the public space."

"Hee-hee, you are a clever guy." And he did a pirouette of some sort and took out a weird, tin cap and stuck it on his head.

I did not notice it at first but a crowd started to gather. It was a hot day and little girls were eating ice cream cones and the mothers all had expensive carriages for their darling babies. The men must be in offices, I thought to myself. I looked at the city built up around us at that moment and it all seemed fit together seamlessly with building edge fit to building edge and rooftops parallel, the fountain spewing effortlessly with hands cupping the water and drawing it out to wipe the face. And without question my broken tool looked inappropriate and I felt embarrassed for it. It angered me that such a small thing could get me riled up and disturb my day but that's how it was if you felt responsible for the tool that was broken.

But then there was a crowd! And the clown who had been bothering me was firing up the crowd against me and it divided the crowd and a few of them were actually for me and stared at me with imploring eyes as if to get me to do something. "Put it together," those eyes whispered. "Put it together and raise it high in victory and shut this clown up." I was jarred for a moment.

I had never understood the value the broken tool had for certain minds. I didn't want to figure it out and backed off for a time while some of the people in the crowd moved closer to the broken tool and inspected it, leaned over it with their hands behind their backs, one even got down on his knees, a young man, and eyed it from the ground level.

I watched from a distance. Perhaps it did really belong to them, at least when it was in the public. Once I took it away and put it in my basement it was mine I was convinced of that. And before long the crowd became distracted by something else. A few women had taken their shirts off and were strolling in the fountain bare-breasted as the teen-age boys hooted and howled. The women linked arms and I discovered later they were in a protest of some sort. Sure enough the cameras arrived, then the cops, everyone was smiling. The women put their shirts back on and by that time the gravity of the situation had drifted north where the fountain was and I was left standing with the broken tool. I quickly picked it up and put it under my arm all prickly in the belief someone would see me with it.

That's why I came up here, to get away and be with my thoughts. It does good, no, no good, hard to say. I figured I could repair those tools up here away from the destructive vibrations down there, probably where you are. I could make them heroic again. But then they'd have to stay up here wouldn't they? The whole purpose would be lost which was, after all, to prove that the tools still performed at a high degree and were useful, even beautiful if I'm allowed a strange word. A broken word if ever there was one. Up here I saw the fragment of sun on a leaf magnified by the falls water. And a spider was tenderly walking on its new web, to the leaf and to the center of the fragment. Just that moment. No words. You hide here for a time then the ugliness calls you back. I go back. It's always like the woman I met at the airport all fine in my brain but when she came out of the gate my mind and body sank and everything was ruined.

I thought if I were up here for some time word would get out about the guy with the tools up there in the woods and young guys, even women, would make their way up to find out what I was up to. I suppose the curiosity of people has been damaged by so much information and stimulation. For a brief moment that gave me hope that they'd need the tools now more than ever.

I was up here so long I started talking to myself and hallucinating. I began to talk to the tools when they were laid out straight and passive with that gleam on them that radiates with its own pride. It was later that I began to hate them. That's when I realized the world gets in you whether you like it or not and won't let you go until you do its bidding. It will shake a man loose of everything he thinks he is or has until he's running like a nut trying to find himself again. And often I walked the long path, through the old gate, past the open pit, next to the stream, up beyond where the boards and old carts were and felt relaxed and decent. I'd sit for hours on a rock and talk to it about how sad the world was. I think it laughed at me. And most of the wilderness, if not laughing, had a mock-stern expression as though it were a puzzle I had to solve. 'Old trees, old rocks," I used to say, "you were here before and will be here after. You are starkly alive in my mind but then will burn down one of these days and be ash. So what do you really have to teach but that our cares are meaningless? Is that what you teach tree and rock?"

I was slipping, I admit it. In moonlit nights with the stars pounding down at me, I would stand erect and vomit out a ton of words finally breaking them up with little nonsensical expressions. And the nightlife would get real quiet. And I would stop and feel like an idiot and go back inside.

I didn't figure out anything. I tossed the tools and lived without them. I felt lighter and experienced what they call "well-being". That's when I decided to go down again to the thing again, down where it all happens and discover new tools, the undiscovered tools. I had seen them and I knew they were there.

* * * * * * * *


Hell is not a burning pit populated by devils and their victims. It is a perch between the higher planes of the atmosphere and the vacuum of space where one sits and stares at what he loves the most disintegrate through time and ordered to write reports about it for those he can't yet see.

He's told he can see them. A confident person has assured him that the reports will get him a good seat on the inside of Hell, "a most exciting place," and so, figuring that Hell is all he'll get he stares and reports; stares and reports.

This particular victim had never written a complete sentence in his life but was expected to record everything dissimulating down below where, at least, people stopped for breaks and slept. "Ah, they are lazier than they admit!" And he was amazed by how much pressure they put on each other not to be lazy but, in their daily lives, were always seeking the pleasure of being lazy.

The Earth rotated in a hypnotic, slow and easy manner, noiseless and absurdly there like an exotic stone found among those stretches of dunes up along the coast of Oregon. When he was not dictating his report down onto scraps of paper he found himself looking at this rotating thing, going right under him like the gears of a silent machine. It was the fishtank effect but with persons instead of fish, just as colorful and as unpredictable as the fishes he watched in a large tank he had in his office.

It was a glowing hemisphere that hypnotized him and distracted him from his duties as one put in Hell by, let us say, less than a valuable life "down there among 'em," he would mutter to himself.

The first thing he noticed was that they didn't, generally, know where they were. They had no idea they existed on a physical planet that rotated on its axis and sped around the sun. They did not grasp yet the implications of "knowing what is perceived," but insisted on living as the primitive peoples had lived. He tried to understand it as pure ignorance perhaps, even, fear but now he came to a different and more hellish conclusion. "They are the animals the scientists tell them they are!" To a scientific animal a piece of food is broken down a thousand different ways to produce a thousand different effects, except the final effect that is emptied out of every human being who eats. They perceive that the dog shits. And that the giraffe can have elegant intercourse in the grasslands of Africa. And the monkey happily urinates to the camera with a howling laughter.

Perceiving that it is thus with humans, albeit with our own peculiar riffs on these matters, most conclude, sadly, that we are animals. And then a man dies and is never heard from again. He disappears like a leaf down a long dark well. Animals too, pets, and zoo-kept animals disappear.

The scientific animal had its own specific poses without a doubt. Anything, for instance, that was noble or beautiful or beyond understanding was laughed at and then beaten down by the culture the scientific animals had created for themselves. Just as the religious animal and political animals before had found out, when you have competitive advantage build it so no one can take it away from you. Build it so they must hang on to you for dear life. And so the powers of the scientific animal went to work on anything that strayed out of the circumference of the known. Called "liberating" the scientific animal was, in truth, one of the most repressive animals known in all the cycles the Earth had been through. Everything was taken down into the bowels of the powerful method and scrutinized as rigorously as the inquisitors had inspected old texts for clues to its impious message.

If they were turned into animals because the scientists told them so, then perhaps there was no devil and no Hell and he was perched on this plane for reasons he couldn't fathom. They lied to me! he seethed for a time.

Animals who liked to watch things. Hmm, yes, it is apparently the case. And they watched the whole spectrum of things the animal was capable of doing, leaping around in excitement when they saw something for the first time.

He had a strange sensation akin to compassion watching them. They knew nothing of their fate. They were convinced they were living the right and singular life but, in reality, they were simply transmitting the same genes as they had done for thousands and thousands of years. And by not being able to arc from one life to all lives ever lived and adjusting for what they found there they were condemned to live the same life. It was their duty to kick, hit, judge, and otherwise try to halt anyone who went differently.

They knew nothing of their fate and yet jumped around with vigor, as though they knew exactly what it was they were doing and what everyone was doing or soon would be doing. It astounded him, now that he was in the position he was in, that everything was so ardent and sincere. "What wonderful fakers!" He exclaimed to no one but a passing cloud leisurely moving with the rotation of the Earth.

The wonderful fakers, he reasoned, were a permanent fixture on the surface of the planet and sought each other as in a species imperative. At first they were confused about their state of being and ran around getting into trouble in embarrassing situations and then they met each other as an instinct, connected, and formed their great tribes. There was nothing worse than a tribe of fakers that believed in itself, stampeding through "enemies" that emerged from some forgotten self.

His job, he figured out, was to watch the tribe of fakers destroy all that was good while calling themselves good and then demanding everyone surrender to their control. Ah, he thought to himself, so this is the way history is made! And he marvelled that one in Hell was vouchsafed such significant information, such profound truth.

More wealth created more fakers, hordes of them, so they were a dominant species. Fakers were seen breaking loose of every cord that had contained their parents to go do what pleased them since they were only loyal to what freed them to do whatever it was they wished to do.

Hell had clocks and the need to be organized to keep up with the happenings "down below," he chuckled to himself. They would bong and tinkle; buzz and pulse and he would alertly get out his file to note the dastardly deed happening that day. "Ah, they are killing powerful people. Well, yes, they have turned from killing the powerless to now killing the powerful. And the powerful go to Hell so I will have great conversations with them! It will be their turn to do this infernal reportage."

He then noted that everyone who was not killed or doing the killing were explaining why it was all happening. They used language and speech; gestures and moving images. "The survivors tell the tales but are always turned out by time." So, it was a kind of presage for Hell, a kind of intuition that all must pass through the mighty portals and learn a few things.

He did not like it when good people were destroyed. He had a twinge of heart. But then grew nearly philosophical about it and reasoned that good people were destroyed because they weren't quite prepared for what would hit them. Therefore, they had to take responsibility in the next go round so the process would stay healthy, efficient, and honest. If good people were permitted to simply move through life effortlessly, then the impossible would have been achieved and the impossible was not permitted on Earth; only in Hell and "that other place," he would think about wistfully. Ah, the other place. And what perch did they built for that "other place?"

Just as soon as he had that thought he was plunged down and then up in a radical way, so he was dizzy and shaking from one side to the other as if being punished for his mere thought. He must have dropped several thousand miles in a second he thought to himself. "Hell is full of surprises," he commented.

It was disconcerting to him how lonely Hell was. There was hardly a soul out with him and they were very conscious they were out in the void of space, that infinite place that can appear to be anything and nothing to people with imagination. Ah, so it was finally revealed to him! "Hell is above us, not below. It is starkly apparent, there, a palpable thing not a mystery down under the surface somewhere."

Hell is where a voice travels light years to go nowhere.

It was where the planets were deformed and stars burning bright for no reason at all.

It was the place where people spent half their eternity denying they were there. "Ah well, you see it's different for us then for the old set of beliefs. We see through things and know that they are phony. It's all bio-chemical. We are here for our courage. It is courageous for us to be in this place they call Hell, it stiffens us up for the hard work ahead."

The next third of their time in eternity they could be heard wailing like banshees, totally out of their minds with the realization of how real it was.

And then a devilish shuffle through the realms that Dante depicts.

The problem was that without belief there was no exit as the old philosopher put it. Many philosophers had pictured eternity or related it to the largeness of the physical universe and that convinced them that ignorance made people believe. They usually wailed the loudest.

Oh finely turned rotating thing here below me wrapped in pretty dark clouds, he thought to himself. If only when I had a life there could I have seen the whole of it and made the whole it a part of me, just a part, perhaps under my eyelid or a nail on the third toe. A beautiful lifetime could have been spent he thought, just listening to it grind one more year, a minute even that he would record and then play over and over again like a hungry man who finds the scraps thrown out by the finest restaurant built inside the corporate headquarters where the businessmen and businesswomen went to eat.

I know now I will be here for eternity to see four things I need to see.

A beginning, two middles, and an end.

Stretched across the two middles was a road and he watched the empty road when a car, one car, rode onward with one man or, sometimes a young woman, humming with happiness.

Hell. The end of intensity and the quiet waiting in a room of shadows. And after a time they say you can smoke. Ah, but I quit when I was a living man! Perhaps I can fake it, I can take a piece of paper and make it appear to be a cigarette.

Hell was superior in one sense, to the life people left behind regularly on the planet. There was more freedom and less anxiety because one did as they were told in Hell. There was, for instance, very little sickness and no anxiety about missing work and those types of trivial details that could ruin a life that lived on the planet. No, Hell had attributes. Hell was nearly a place one could aspire to while on the Earth! It was progress of a sort. But then it was eternal as well and that is why it became the Hell of lore. Yes, Hell said, you progress to here, to this place but it merely goes on forever, there is no change. You do not want to return to what is below you but you can not advance beyond to some "heaven" or, even, "purgatory."

Hell was always home to the roar of approval and was resounded on predictable turnings of the hour.

Hell could even become a collective passive sigh, heard through all of humanity one fine day; even small children picking up the vibration and feeling that they, too, were connected to something much greater than themselves.

Hell had made some people very earnest and they moved with meaning from place to place, never questioning why they did so or what the connections were that made their life cohere so well. Life appeared to be a train speeding backwards on narrow tracks and the trick was to hop on it with a non-plussed expression on the face. The train roared its disapproval of every person who happened to be on board and rushed backward until it ran into something or simply stopped for lack of energy.

At that point the people were in a quandary. Will it start again or will we get off and make our way through the formidable territory called Hell? Some braved the territory even without the ability to orientate themselves and use their animal instincts to go in the right direction.

It's what made Hell a sad and desperate place.

The mind was useless but the brain reigned supreme and, while commanded, did command or tried to in that space known as Hell. It was a matter of not-having-a-choice and so predictable reflexes and eyes that had widened before enacted at the slight hint that god was among them. That god was possible because a man had declared himself a god and it was good; it was a shining light among all the depressing dark thoughts one climbed through in the "enlightened age."

Hell was the idiot's paradise and they built vast structures centered around their idiocies.

The Victim was particularly interested in small clots of people who ran about with calculated abandon and always entered rooms with a sense of entitlement as they had been trained in a variety of places. Even though they were alive, in a sense, they had long ago given up their intimate and real self since they had experienced the Earth as a dome of all and nothing. And as life pinched into them it became all or nothing. And in nothing they experienced the horror of some reality they always tried to name and then throw the name out into the sea as if to protect themselves. Everytime they picked a flower it was on them. Everytime they glanced at the silver skyline of the city it was on them. Everytime they put their hand on a rushing cold brook it was on them.

The Victim watched them in fascination and tried to come up with names for them. Fools was the first thing because these people believed that they were the opposite of nothing for fear of it but in reality were the embodiment of it. "My nothingness today will be this, this, and that!" He put dialog into their mouths that moved but didn't say anything. Even in Hell, the Victim realized, not everything is heard or, even, perceived.

"The Devil has many tricks and this must be one of them. He must think by concealing things from one of his Victims that victim must concentrate and be more attentive, grow those large legs of the mind he was missing when he was alive.

He was entertained when the clots of people turned on one another either over a woman or money. And the arguments between men and women were no different than all the barking of dogs or hissing of cats through the ages, he'd seen it all. Their tears were an old river sagging under this impression that the dogs would heel.

"Nutty creatures, one day you'll have your turn on the perch and see what awful imitators you were!"

* * * * * * * *

In Hell one consumed most of what human beings had produced, over and over again. Every scene, every horrible piece of music, every speech calculated to excite the dullest and deadest of the bunch, every nude sex scene, every secret told to powerful people, and then the final vision: every human being who ever lived lined up shitting as they did when alive, in Egypt, now in Kush, now in Japan, and again in modern America; males and females, poor and wealthy. Billions of shitting asses with blank expressions on their faces their bulging bellies heaving and collapsing; a person in Hell was never far from this terrible vision projected against granite cliffs.

It rode a river down to the nickel core and sent up a vast spout of steam so all the shitters sighed, "ahh," at the precise moment the steam vented through the mantle.

* * * * * * * *

Hell is that place where everything is figured out and no matter what style one has or how much one is ardent, they are two steps ahead of you and have already judged you even as you are overcome with the feeling that Hell is a place where you must justify yourself.

* * * * * * * *

Hell was a visible air that covered the faces of those who did not know. They did not know, we knew, they suffered. A few centuries could be described that way. But who knew had grave responsibilities depicted on the sides of clean wash walls inside of which were infinite arrays of products.

Hell was not necessarily an angry place but one where there were long sighs, as long as a thousand lifetimes in some cases. More than a few lived on their haunches in front of TV screens and watched everything depicted but were not allowed to feel any emotion. Still others were paralyzed with fear of their own shadows which always had strange hats on them with bright white teeth slit across the black of the face. Scientists, and there were many, had to swallow anything made from their ideas. Vast areas of Hell were filled with these types bulging and stretched for miles sometimes with the effect of the things they had helped birth into being. Minor despots were lined up along a barb wire fence and masturbated into a growing river of their own come from which came all their nutrient.

There were, of course, the phony commentators who, even at this late date, wanted influence and to be part of the on-going stupidity. Many made it to their particular level of stupidity and retired, later, only to be dragged away to Hell for taking advantage of useless women. It was a sin afterall to knowingly consume a useless woman when one knew they were useless, yet with a vote and coin purse. Those who agreed with these commentators were assigned to a row of sulphur like incense that jet up into their asses so they leapt disdainfully up and down to some ditty they played on obscure stations late at night. "Oh our asses are on fire but we love him so!" "He makes us feel as though we are knowledgeable even though we have nothing in our brains. It's all in our asses!" And they would bounce up and down as if they were on a hot toilet.

The world in a Hell it doesn't recognize, calls it something else, well there is something....

* * * * * * * *

Hell was for tricksters; for without them there would be no Heaven, no salvation, no connection. All would be a huge devouring spiral we would only recognize at the last fatal moment. "Ah, it doesn't matter where up is down or left is right, it doesn't matter at all whether we live or die, it is all the same!" And then silence and a kind of sucking sound.

Focused on a negative outcome of our own demise proved to be productive.

But so too was that divine spark that was conscious and could see how the passive spirit was fated. That was the thing! Aggression in the face of the eternal mask.

That was, if not the way out of Hell, at least the expression of pride. Anyone inherited a body and certain sense apparatus. Every man, like every centipede knew the dance of love. But only a human being could fashion a mask good enough to get him through life, through the terrible ones as he put it, through the muck and mire, and think how pleasant life could be after all. The mask. It was everything as the old novelists had known.

And yet, on entering Hell, the Devil had demanded every single mask a man had artfully made for himself!

* * * * * * * *


He played and watched himself. There were others. He watched and stared and then would utter something, a piece of information, part of which he would write down. Then he would stare and stare, now his eyes a burning pair of lamps into the white screen to find a scrap of something. He needed it. He knew they needed it. It thrilled him to think they needed it because every need he felt, erased one more humiliation he had suffered at their hands. And that went all the way back to childhood.

And he would think on an idle blank day, "ah, my knowledge creates pressure in them! And they move!" And he felt good about it. He felt that odd curiosity of power every free man was permitted. "It is a power, but I should not take it all for myself. No, it is a power that should be shared by all!" And so he had set up, in his own mind, the rationalization's for everything he did subsequently.

They had laid down the codes and he could access them. Most did not know how to unwrap the innocuous seal from the codes and get to the dense-pack of just about everything. "A grain of sand...." he hummed to himself.

"Little nodes all grown everywhere, the beginning to the end, now....." It had made him a bit nuts and he realized it but then nuttiness was a badge of honor, something that distinguished him from the run of absolute normalcy that had swept the world, where every tooth was white and in place, every pore on the face cleaned, every shirt from a hip store, every beard trimmed, every bag new with little plastic wheels, every conversation consisting of at least one expletive, one where every hand carried a phone, where every woman took her vote seriously, where people laughed at the same sorry jokes.

Life had turned, for him, into a superior joke since he was constantly being rewarded with good things. "I have good things, my peers do not, it worked exactly as I thought it would! God is great and just!" It gave him the outward appearance of humbleness. He always credited others. "Don't think I did anything great....I simply played well with what was here....."

In truth what arose in him amounted to a feeling of being equal to the invisible God. Or, at least of partaking of the invisible God and making it visible in himself, as himself, acting largely in the world.

He was not a mad scientist but a mild technician. He had asked an idle question to himself one day at his desk. "If I convince one person of this godlikeness that is good. That will prevent a kind of bad reputation I might get. If I convince dozens of people my life will change because I will have followers and have to accommodate them. If I convince thousands of people, I will start enacting all the good I know that is in themselves. And if I convince a critical mass of people, then I am a God! My deepest intuition will provide itself out and it is simply a matter of unlocking or liberating that which I already know!"

Thus he had passed through some ersatz modern initiation and rode on the bus knowing that his world would be different now.

The technician was especially keen on the awareness that technical objects were never expressions of an individual but a collaborative effort. "Ah, but if I am the strongest, the brightest of the collaborators that gives me a chance to have power over the collaboration. Why not? Isn't that the natural way in this bleak world? I will transform it from a bleak world to a world of light and play."

He could not believe the luck he had when the world climbed onto the new contraption and started to build things on it. "I know how it is built, I know the hidden walls and trap doors, I know the building is forever, therefore I am fully privileged on it and will cut off a piece for a staging area...."

He didn't chuckle like a madman thinking these thoughts but, rather, wrote a few notes and slipped them into a binder he kept for such things. He had, now, an inch of neat notes so that the folder could hardly close. His plans had become so intimately wound up in his mind and will that he had quit date stamping each note because he knew, in the end, they would all come together in a moment of time and be greater than any separate note he may have taken.

The pride a man takes for good planning is well-documented.

If nothing else happened he would always be proud of his process of documentation; his superb planning skills that were, as he described it to himself, "the grace of God."

He not only could organize, he could build and before long had built something they wanted and they came and made him riches. Riches beyond his wildest dreams.

"So I will take my riches and do some good and prove that I am a good god and not a bad, oppressive one."

After a while it became an oppression. "They must think me a good god and not a bad one. They must believe I am a good God and not one on the dark side of things. They must, they must, they must!"

And surprisingly it slowly became so. The oppression was ascribed to the shock of the new, to the imposition of learning curves, as the technician evolved into a god. "Oh, he is so good to us, he is such a charmer, he must be, at least, the offspring of gods. And even though we know them to be imaginative creatures they are real if we are to become more than barbarians or animals."

So he had his way for a time and thrown up from the crowd in this way he became, undoubtedly, quite nervous. "You must learn to hide your nervousness from the crowd." An advisor, a female, kept trying to remind him.

Now it was time for his first miracle, for if a human being is a God he must demonstrate some fantastic power that the people don't have. He thought a long time about this.

He decided he would wait until the Conference of Gods took place in a great city along the west coast.

There at the Conference, all the tricks would be played. One could learn a thing or two from a credible god. He could spot what he called "the lifers," that had been around from the beginning and claimed they were there even before the beginning.

The Gods, of course, were a curious sort. They were defined by the absence of anything or anyone who would challenge their grandiose title. They simply rushed in to fill a void and finding it an excellent place, lodged there without a thought. It was a kind and soft spot and people jostled around in it because there could be a big payoff. That was the lure at any rate.

A God could extract revenge; that was a great advantage. A god could act with impunity, yes he could see that. A heartless impunity! It flashed through him but he calmed himself with soft words.

"No, there is silliness in the human animal and we don't want it to romp away when he sees its next meal."

The one excellent thing about being a god was that one didn't obey anything but the dictates of ones own whims. A god could easily discriminate through 99 percent of what mere humans had to plow through and dismiss it with a slight jerk of the neck.

There were wild flourishes expected by a god, a kind of performance was demanded and in reality he had been a rather boring character, flourishing only in his mastery of the New.

* * * * * * * *

Even a god has nightmares. They occurred when it dawned on him that he could never prove he was a god, so that he would always be challenged. And challenged, it was very likely he'd be dethroned as a fraud and be worse off than he was before.

He redoubled his efforts on every front and advanced through the graphics and numbers at his beck and call.

* * * * * * * *

A god would both embrace the god that had been replaced and embrace the idea that god was no longer possible. A good god covered all bases because without that capacity what is a god? "He knows nothing! He is merely an opinion!" So, they would often yell at him in the street as he passed, nonplussed but with certainty. It brought him pressure but then he believed he had been born for this sort of pressure and it felt right to him, it felt like a destiny of some sort and he embraced it.

They were not skeptical at the Conference of Gods but rather collegial, exchanging any number of god-tricks used to get the people past a certain threshold.

* * * * * * * *

"God is a genre, don't you know?" He is that slice, that fragment that we believe in and gives us the ability to block everything else out. That is the trick of it." So he was telling a guy in the group who didn't have the same sanguine feelings about it. After all, things men made were very limited and broke down and never were able to hold to the credibility that they promised at the very beginning.

But then, he reasoned, when gods are challenged they have the power to ignore and simply do what they intended to do and that was that. There was no conversation necessary.

* * * * * * * *

What galled them the most was that even after they had killed millions off, the horde-enemies of the classic gods, the people remained staunchly skeptical. What, haven't they felt the fear yet? That was always in the frontal lobe somewhere.

What they feared the most that like all gods before them they would be forgotten. That the future would simply take what it wanted from them and kick them to the side and bury them along with their grandiose ideas of themselves. There was a kind of justice to it without question.

The new gods rarely wanted justice. They always felt they had been the ones unjustly treated, so everything was gravy after that. A certain type of modern wrath would build in them and then everything was justified, everything would be made good. A brain that had studied science was especially acute at that reasoning; science or engineering although the engineers were so inept that no one took them seriously, even when they claimed they were gods. It was a lame and shrill claim. "Ah, we all could claim that. Prove the claim. Work the claim. There it all is; in that nexus."

"If all are gods then who are gods?" So the phonies were driven out fairly quickly and what was left were sincere gods who agonized over their sincerity but who believed, deep down, that they were entitled to be the gods that were lacking in the lives of many people. Not all, but a critical mass of people who gave up the whole silly question of gods because death was so real to them. How could gods exist when death was so permanent a fixture in the lives of people? If, that is, one was not an automaton and fearless before mysterious questions. In other words, a free person would look into the sky, see the opaque nature of the ground, experience death as a time-moving event and say, "your gods are all in your brain." That would not explain anything away. It was not a positive modality, an absolute or anything of that nature. But many lived and died with such a mindset. We can imagine that even in the most profound religious periods of time, there were people with that mindset; those who simply faked it as the times required and who said to themselves, "it's all in their heads and yet they act as though it is more than that."

Yet, if it was not in their heads then what would be in their heads? Perhaps everything was in the head. Perhaps nothing was in the head.

Gods were infamous and bodacious liars. That was a two-edged sword. They could lie because they had power. But they lied so much they were exchanged easily from one epoch to another. After all, it is our representation of gods that is the thing. A god can be anything but when we depict and define the god, that is something. And gods and poets had long left the scene, so it seemed a quaint, ineffective question. A famed theologian, distraught and impervious to the urgency of crowds, was scorned and laughed at among the privileged few. That wrote the tale of the time as well as anything else. "You hate God because you hate the possibilities you have smothered!" The theologian lashed out in bitterness but also because he feared for his life.

After a long day that could have been a thousand years the way it seemed to linger and move like a tantalizing odor, the technician laid down to sleep. He had dreams. He started to sweat. It was not the content of the dreams, so much as their volition. They were wild and asymetrical dreams. He was being hunted, then became the hunter. Water rose and innundated everything. Then monsters of every description appeared from the back of the dream. Funny and ironic monsters leaped out and taunted him. Gross women appeared with grotesquely scarred and huge breasts and no sex organs. Dogs lapped his feet and angels were seen shuttling in and out of various scenes as if floating on air. Then it ended. There was silence and blankness in the dream. A calmness. He thought at any moment he would again, shoot out of his body and go elsewhere. And when he woke he bolted upright in bed.

"There is nothing so desperate as a believing man who is in fear for his life!"

* * * * * * * *


We arrived on time, most of us, and formed a circle around the subject of our interest, a man who said he would reveal "all that needed to be known." We pretended to come with great anticipation for his glorious words but in reality we had gotten together online and talked about him, about his request and decided that he should be able to vent to keep him from the red zone of human nastiness. It was something we had learned was necessary with the vagaries of human nature, with its long history of abuses and crimes.

Our solution, ad hoc as it was, was a perfectly human and modern one. An advanced one to be truthful about it. Put the poor bugger in the center and let him have his say. If he didn't have his say we could imagine him doing any number of terrible things.

"Everywhere are the killers of spirit. They know, after many trials and errors, where to hit, where to blast through to the heart to destroy the internal richness that is given by God or Buddha or Christ. "It's Us vs. Them and you really don't believe in Them, do you?" So, our friend lectured us as if it were a proposition most good people would be faced with.

First they kill the future, then they kill all reasonable belief in the present. After that is a clean disposal of the physical body which doesn't much matter anyway if the spirit goes.

Killers of the spirit do not build things. They find the entrance, small as a knat's head, and find a way into the core of the heart to work there for, sometimes, a day, sometimes many years. Each of us who gathered had a bit of experience with this nasty germ. We dealt with it as we could but in the end it was simple humiliation that drove it out of us. In my case it was discovering a person who contradicted every idea I held sacred. "My God," I thought to myself. "The pyramid is flipped upsidee down!" This confrontation took more than a year to work through me. I worked on it on a daily basis and not even causual distractions like playing pickup basketball in the open air courts or sex with the girlfriend could do it. Always, at an unexpected moment, the process would flash across my mind. I would practically stop with the ball in my hand or just lay down over the poor woman, my old girfirend, and wait for the flash to disappear.

The person so afflicted by the conscious designs of these killers will not know it for a long time but eventually he will start to feel that loss of feeling for things, that loss for a grand large future that leaps up fully structured and alive as happens to young people from time to time.

Oh yes, the killers will move into the real world and occupy important positions. They establish forms and quickly are part of the environment like a new office building or a new sign about prohibiting nuclear material from entering the city.

They will try to do everything, including telling your tales.

They were not particular and didn't care what "time" they lived in. "Ah, it is a democracy, so we will knock the spirit of it out of their hearts." And when autocracy came they said the same. And theocracies too.

It is important, as we look at the etiology of this particular virus, to make sure to note that the first thing they went after was the relation between power and those who obeyed power or were, at least, connected to it.

The killers either made them happy obeyers of the rulers and their structure or as haters of everything and everyone that had power. Sometimes they became larger movements that the politically ambitious had to navigate to gain or retain power. And after awhile, especially in democracy, it was a very predictable thing and once the obeyers and haters figured this out they lost the heart for it and simply waited for death and the end of time for them.

The people always assumed they were destroyed by the infinite array death and sent on their way to the horizons of mystery. But, no, they were always done in by their politics, whether it was local town politics, as one had in the medieval period or the massive, manipulative "democratic" politics of todays mass societies. The political animal was as malleable as they come and simply adapted to what the forces stamped at any given time. "Long and stout and beyond knowing. OK, I will fake a few things." "Short, brutish and without any defense against it, OK that is manageable." "Warriors determining everything, OK, I will make the warriors believe something that will protect me." And on and on it went. It was hard to decide whether the politics of the labyrinth or the politics of the solitary thug was more dangerous. One was more likely to destroy the spirit in men and women while the other was more likely to destroy the body of men and women.

An epoch could be determined by whether the people wanted their spirits or their bodies destroyed. That was one act of freedom they never gave up.

And we should make it clear that these killers were not "nonconformists" and acting in the spirit of de-hypnotizing their poor victims from the glare of the form of power they happened to be thrown into. If it were that benign then why worry about it? No, it was a much different case of infecting people with the least amount of hope they could have without leaping off the bridge or going nuts in the streets with the knowledge that nothing mattered because we were simply freaks of nature, no better or different than different colored and shaped bugs, and we didn't do ourselves in and we kept out of harms way for the same reason a bug did; it was programmed to do so. We had no choice in the matter. And once this fact had penetrated the poor person, it was straight to the bridge or leaping around wildly in the street until the cops shot him.

Since the purpose of these destroyers was to destroy them with their own nature, they required more than a simple deflation of belief to do the job. And there was an art to it without a doubt. There was only a thin membrane between the shred of hope and nothingness. They had to maintain the membrane but at the lowest threshold possible. This the killers learned over centuries, and passed it on as a secret of sorts.

It was an excellent thing during those ages when the killers of spirit decided to run for office. They were tired of destroying the lives of non-important, little people and set their sites on being enterprises. Unfortunately, as a consequence of destroying mere nations much was swept away and their boredom wreaked even more damage than they had wanted.

I know when I was infected I kept asking myself, "what is a story?" It was, after all, my "profession", even though I made no money from writing innocuous stories. To kill my stories was to kill my spirit so they knew where I was weak. It can't be forced but at the very least I trusted that something was possible. And trust is the bottom-line of most things that count. And it hangs by a thread at times.

We are taught not to "talk down" but rather "entertain." It is a tempting thing to do. I think that in my moments of clarity. The people are very easily distracted from lives and worlds that are monstrous and beyond their understanding. They are lucky in a way. The danger is if one is turned into a paranoiac who views life as having no rhyme or reason and there to exploit.

And no one believes the hero will come along anytime soon and save the bastards. It is much easier to imagine the hero as seeing the impossibility of his heroism and rather, turning his powers to account on behalf of his self-interest.

Oh lovely emptiness, you are too tempting! Your empty boredom is not redeemable and floats out there in a kind of abysmal eternity. It is so sad.

No matter how long they study your history they will always get it wrong. They will simply ascribe it to what is profoundly lacking in themselves and they will pass the torch onward as if they had accomplished something great.

The madman stopped now and made an excuse to leave the room. We were in a circle, standing up and looked at each other with goofy sneers, some were visibly relieved he had left the room. When he lost his sense of responsibility it was expected that, to get back in, he must account for himself, for his lapse of connection with what was good and necessary.

He called himself a writer, unlike others who had various titles, but few in the room believed it. Where were his works? Where were the books, the proofs? And more than a few in the room were, in fact, writers who had sold articles and had agents and so on. Who was this phony, this poseur? Later he e-mailed us that his "absolution" would take place at a location of his choosing. "And the door will be locked so no one will get in after noon."

He claimed that there were "killers of the spirit" everywhere but provided no proof. He offered it as a rationalization of himself, of his action. He made grandiose statements about history and narratives but gave no proof that he knew what he said or believed any of it. "All life and history can be reduced to the acts of excretion by famous and powerful men." He would give one example from Sumer that happened 4000 years ago, trying to impress us. "The elimination caused a cholera outbreak and killed everyone in Ur. This had a butterfly effect throughout the near east, the fertile crescent as I heard is described in childhood." . But we listened because we were good human beings who had run into our own problems.

Soon enough he was moving in perfect concentric circles pissing as he went announcing that he was here to save us. And that life would destroy us if we didn't know his system.

Most of us had gotten beyond the thought that the crazy were merely illuminated beings, ahead of their times and so unfit for the normal stupidity of life. We had believed it once. Ah, a long ago fit for wonderful crazies.

No, now we believed that the insane posed a community problem and had to be cordoned off so they wouldn't do much damage. And we were more fearful of the damage a nut could do than anything else. "Keep the nut behind the ropes," we'd hear often. "Just don't disturb this nut, you never know what he'll do." And sometimes it was a she but mostly a he.

* * * * * * * *

Of course, the most disturbing thing about the poor crazed in our world, is that they always say what we wish we could say but don't want to reveal ourselves. Since every age is, by nature, a repressed one the contents of the nut-class always conform to the nature of an age's repression. One era it is the fear of ghosts so the nuts are always talking to ghosts. Another age it is ferociously yelping and scratching human beings, and so the mad scratch and yelp as no others in the community are permitted to do. In other ages it is a sex thing and the crazy engage in wild sexual behavior, in public, but with no real partners, a pure simulation out in the street like dogs.

In our age, of course, it is criticism. It is impolite to criticize anything based on the fact we have freedom and power, as people, as a nation and so any criticism is seen as a crack in the code. In fact, it is only the young who are permitted this because everyone knows what happens to youth and from its liberation from the code will come new ideas.

* * * * * * * *

We were happily successful in moving the mad object into a position where he could be helped. Not only did it take dexterity but it took a special sort of humor that one or two of us possessed. One of us, for instance, could take any credible statistic and make it into an uproarious joke. And we listened and some of us said, "it takes a magnificent talent and spirit to turn a mere stat into a joke we can all laugh at."

We felt good we could participate in life at this level. It gave us moral courage and filled in a void left during the young days when we were convinced all the others lived life while we were simply observing.

And we felt that in helping the mad man we were, in a general but real way, helping all of humanity. After all, isn't suffering a kind of madness? Doesn't it come from the inability to grasp who we are and so be forever out of sync with that fluid known as happiness?

Of course it is; there is no need to discuss it. It was fait 'acompli and those who argued obviously did not know. And we would gather in a corner and bend our heads toward the center and put a hand over our mouths and laugh, "ah, he did not know! Had he known earlier it would have saved us, as well as him, a great deal of pain."


He would never admit it; it only dawned on him late, that indeed he had passed through a period of time analogous to a "restoration" period in history. That is, tumultuous events, a break-out of nuttiness in the citizens, jagged tensions, wild shouts are slowly, invariably replaced by peace and quiet and the dominance of the institutions. Respect returns to authority, a sense of stability that appears eternal descends to all the people.

It seems to be simply a waiting through, but on reflection he could see, no, it was something real and profound, therefore a value and thing to be cherished.

And, naturally, at all times there was the sense of being attacked, before and after the restoration but the act itself made the attacks moot. The success of the restoration depended on the ability to fend off attack, so in many ways, attack was wanted, even cultivated. This created the individual forms of restoration that broke off from the general cultural one. It was hushed up for a long time but now an integral part of social development. Most everyone went through his or her "restoration."

In the few years before the restoration there was a kind of wildness difficult to define; literal insanity and other bugaboos of the modern era. People sliced apart from each other, leaving gaping wounds and useless conflicts better dealt with in the lab or clinic. So much waste! That was the final thought before he sought out the restoration or, in fact, it sought him out.

It began with a game of chess; it ended with a murder. He was an amateur at the game of chess, a happy amateur; there was no pressure although he felt he had to win. But if he didn't win he always chalked it up to his laziness in front of the noble game. "The game demands I do what I least want to do, that is, abstract from reality its patterns. Why isn't reality what it says it is, that and nothing else?" It was a test, he realized that. They wanted to find out so much! They began to show a generosity he hadn't experienced before. That too was a sublime test, a seductive one that trip him up more than once.

For one thing his special glasses were returned to him after a long time of being locked away in a safe. He knew where the safe was but didn't know the combination and no matter how many times he pleaded for the glasses he was ignored. He couldn't read without them and ended up listening and watching television until he felt like an some child-gorilla who reacts to everything in its brain it doesn't understand. He had been measured for the glasses by an incredibly precise machine he had ever seen. Without them he found himself uncontrollably tapping his hand on his knee but then, becoming conscious of the gesture, would stop in mid-air and look at his hand for a long time as if it were a weapon of some sort.

After the restoration he was hired as a purchasing agent and sent to Europe and Asia to buy canned foods for military families. He noticed a new sense of confidence in himself, a new expansiveness that wasn't there before. "So, this is the feeling that I have been missing all this time," he thought to himself.

He was in a new place, a new phase of development; what would become known as his "restoration." And later, naturally, many people took credit for the restoration. "Oh, if it weren't for me the poor boy would have perished long ago." "He really was adrift and then I clued him into some things and he found himself." "We always worried that he would be a lost cause but I think the attention on him, the pressure, helped him find a way...."

Little did they know that he had concocted the restoration years before, in another era, another place. He had seen its necessity. "It will be necessary for me to be restored and it will go this way...." He forgot this detail as he was going through it and only with great exertion was he able to recapture the strategy he had in place to deal with the "stripping" as he called it.

Time was a crucial ingredient in the restoration; without some sympathy for time, some obedience to its powers, some way to honor its absoluteness, the restoration would have been superfluous. "Oh yeah, a crisis of some sort. I see, I see it all the time....what difference does it make? You make too much of your own problems...." He had always wanted to answer those who made these judgments but was quiet. "No, behind your back, time will resolve the problems and I will be set free just at the moment time seizes you and makes you a fool." It was a kind of vow that he took with him throughout the period.

And make no mistake about it; bitterness runs through the core of restoration. After all, if we can't come to terms with all the awful things that have happened to us then what can we really do? We simply schlep from one episode to the next and then die quietly one autumn evening with no one watching. Every person must have the will to restoration. There, I think I came up with a valuable theory. Every person must have the will to restoration and if he lacks it or is not taught this he lives in a repressive environment; one that he must resist.

That's when he had the conversation with an old friend who appeared out of the blue as all this was transpiring. You have to understand that he was the type who drifts from people and once they are out of his range rarely shows up So he was taken back when the old pal showed up one day with a big smile on his face. "Long time no see!" "Yes, yes you are right, long time." He fumbled over his words for a bit then invited the guy into his living space where they sat in what was apparently his kitchen.

"What's going on? What's happening?"

"Oh, just going through a restoration you know, I had a lot stripped away from me. It was brutal. I'm glad you didn't see me."

His friend looked at him and didn't say anything for a long time. "Well, it's good you're getting restored."

"Yes, yes it is."

"It doesn't happen to everyone. I had a cousin who got stripped and never returned. He's out there somewhere wandering like a lost sheep."

"I remembered my strategy in the nick of time, that's what saved me."

"Right, right that's smart, we should all have a strategy in place.

"I suppose you are clear and never went through it."

"Never," he said stoutly.

The friend left after a time. They agreed to meet again before the year was out and the friend wished him well. After the friend left, he felt odd as thought the restoration was a burden and not a privledge that he had won by his strategy. No, the man was impressed and asked the right questions but still, there was something incommunicable that said, "I've been through it and you have not." At the same time it said, "I had no need for a restoration and you did." It was odd.

On reflection he realized that he, too, could have been wandering around lost and absurd without a stitch of protection for years and years. It was a vague memory now. "And at the time it was so powerful. Forgetfulness must be some divine intervention." He remembered certain places in the city where he had been and he thought that many things had happened to him there. It was like a dream that is totally involving but fades the moment the eyes open and, soon, forgotten, not fully and ocmpletely fogotten but for all intents and purposes forgotten. He may have murdered someone during that time. No, impossible he thought. I would remember that and, besides, they wouldn't renovate a killer.

He knew, at the beginning, that things were flowing out of him and all things that had marked him flowed out, out and gone. Treasured boyhood memories and the toys he loved. The careful rationalizations of authority he had learned in school. The garb of protection that kept the world at bay. Habits, good and bad. Whoosed out.

He remembered that much but then it could have been days or months or years even. That was the troubling thing although he was careful now not to make it a troubling thing and to be grateful for the renovation.

* * * * * * * *

And he had seen those in the full powers of the restoration, resist, and blame all and everything on their misery. Pathetic fools! They simply reveal that they are empty, bankrupt, and that they are the problem not the myriad conditions of the world they point to as the source. It became a truism: "Half a restoration is no restoration at all."

Sometimes, it is true, it lasts for decades and the mind is pulled through the decades like a reticent animal being hauled out of the jungle to the zoo. It knows. It has been warned but there it is, now, fighting some force it knew existed and it has it by the painful parts and image after image is emptied into the animal. "I will pace up and down an empty cage, concrete, and they will feed me meat at evening and think that evens it all out." And yet, the animal reasons, if I attack and kill this beast they will have me in no seconds flat. I will be dead and then they will eat me unceremoniously. And even an animal at this late day, has pride."

A scene of beauty can often be the catalyst to our restoration. It attacks us when we feel unapproachable, as though we know everything now and can learn nothing from, even, the scholar. "Oh, he is only in a thin world of his own making. And I am here, between the blades of axes that would cut me down! So I have loyalty to what I have experienced and not their mere words."

And by the time the heads begin speaking, lined up as they are on a placid street, it is too late. The populace has made up their mind and will not have it any other way. "Bring us victory today!" The heads shout. Only one head says what was true for him. "Nothing is lost!"


There was a kind of fire in the sky, discernable from a distance and yet interpreted differently by different people as they watched the phenomena streak through them, carrying dreams themselves into the dark universe.

The planet, looking at the planet, seeing it as a vast whole had become rather boring so, after awhile, they all reverted back to thinking of the nation, community, religion and other artifacts of the limited scope of experience and knowledge. Who or what could contain the feeling of immense reality in the ball of grasss and dirt and water known as the Earth? From a distnace it looked like a bald head, cleanly shaven like a penitent ready to confess his sins.

People knew, eventually, that the vision was not enough. There had to be some meaning, some substance running down on the surface otherwise simply looking at the damn thing meant nothing; was a kind of vanity, a trick offered up by the newer technologies, although it was suspected that mystics and others had seen the vision long before. And they had lived in caves or underground fortresses near where the molten lava was, it was hard to say.

Hell one finally concluded, was fifteen miles deep in the physical Earth but an eternal distance in the spirit; "fine, poets existed even at this late date." Poets knew that the rhythm of life was dependent on the speed of life and its obstacles. A jet flying at 600 mph was, after all, resisted by the air but it flew anyway at a speed that people were not used to. Wild drivers tested obstacles at every moment. And even pedestrians were resisted by rotten voices calling out obscenely in the tree-shaded avenues or a stiff wind or, even, crowds moving as one, against their own wishes, the other way, as though collectively they had thought it a good thing; had collected downtown and decided they would trip up the one pedestrian by walking opposite against him. Life, with too much time on its hands, is a dangerous animal.

They had fallen; well, it wasn't the first or last time but it was quite remarkable that, despite all the resources and warnings, they had fallen yet again. It's true that some had struggled back to the surface after enormous exertion and had plenty of tales to tell. Some had been lifted up and out as in a pleasant dream and deposited somewhere they had never been before with only the clothes on their back and a few pieces of currency in their pockets. A few were actual agents assigned to come up and persuade as many as possible that the Earth contained multitudes, all with personalities and histories, and that the living was not too bad. And they were always instructed to say, following their speil, "after all, we all have to die."

If we knew where Hell was, then where was Purgatory and, indeed, Heaven itself? This was a kind of mission after all the necessities had been taken care of. At least for those who believed that the necessities need not be layered on each other, endlessly like some sedimentary rock that grows as the minerals are deposited. Ah, we will add another layer old man and stand back like an artist and decide that life, at this point, is a good thing.

They had gone thorugh Hell but denied it and left it for the kids to figure out. No, in reality the search for Purgatory and Heaven was left to a kind of idiot-class who had not acquired things but kept walking up and down the street looking for pennies. "Nuts," the kind-hearted had said from their windows, looking at the debacle of people walking up and down the street straining to find pennies along the curb perhaps or under a parking meter. "Just plain nuts."

Terrible, wrathful story to tell!

The fallen, at first, were quite pleased by their fate. "We are where we should be and let us not wish for anything else." But after awhile, it got old. And they decided that a fallen state was a bad one, a maleficent one that they really shouldn't have to suffer. "After all, we have done our falling, now it is someone elses turn at it."

The fallen are recognized by the empty tears they spill over something they don't understand. "Where is your ability to understand?" "Don't you know that knowlegde is power?" We want to shake them up so their brains start to operate but all that comes are the empty tears.

The fallen had money and wicked smiles; those smiles that say, "the world has told me to be as greedy as I can, I have fulfilled the worlds directive, and now I am here, in a good place, a position I never thought I'd have."

And they had to have a beautufil woman by their side. The beautiful woman signaled, again, that the world had found a true son.

And we had always hoped they lived happily after all. That was one thing we discussed when the subject came up. After all, Hell is a laborious place, chock full of sheer boredom where the condemned people come and go wanting to buy and sell but with nothing to sell and no means to buy. They pace up and down along this ten thousand mile sidewalk pausing for a moment to speak to someone they knew in the life above. Two old business partners, for instance, recognize each other by putting up their hands in surprise, with hardly an expression on their faces. They don't touch. They speak in whispers and move on as though they are as restless in Hell as they were on Earth; as though both Hell and Earth are not adaquete for their energies.

Some of course, are simply transported up to the surface and given a name, a superficial life and made to try and convince fellow humans that God is real, Hell is real and so forth. This is the first stage of redemption and results in people going crazy for no reason, conflicts in and out of family, religion getting a bad name and so on.

All who come to the Hellish regions are told, immediately, that something worse exists even further down. The dead are not adventuresome. If there is a rock out in the deep, lonely stretches of Hell new arrivals will find it and hide behind it. Popular media has it almost right. Their portrayals are, unfortuantely, usually literary and based on things like Dante's Inferno believing in themselves that if they are so literary their words will remain on the surface of the planet for a bit longer. The creators of these vanities are thrown down deep of course and kept there as zoo specimins for the grand parade of souls who venture down in Hell.

Those who had bounced back and forth between Earth and Hell were the worst of the bunch. They always thought they were entering paradise and had smiles on their faces, in Hell, and on the surface of the planet. It never dawned on them that paradise might be something way beyond what they were used to.

To the vast majority of moderns it was shocking that both Hell and Paradise actually existed. They never expected it. When they perished, at the last breath, they assumed that was it and hoped people they left behind had a good image of them and treated their memory well. But then they were whisked all around and given a glimmer of paradise if they had been ok in life, but certainly spent time in Hell which was a kind of repository of all souls that were going to be sent out throughout the universe, depending on criteria no one had figured out. So it was even more shocking when a religious type died and realized that he had no privlidge in this domain unless he had been utterly perfect, which was never the case.

They were not transported in bussess or trains but by thought; thought would convert them to a seed of light and poof, off they would go depending on he or she who directed the thought. The dead did not escape mystery! It lay behind some great, thick wall and was whispered about but never revealed. And besides, those who came down for the first time were busy orientating themselves since no one told them a damn thing. There were no classes. There was not a team of people to check them in. And on reflection it was stunning to figure out that there was more freedom, sheer freedom, in Hell than anywhere else. It created a buoyant freeling in some, a sense of horrific dread in others.

More than a few would stand in the middle of Hell and stare at the top of it; the top of ragged boundaries that kept the surface of Earth from bursting down into the core of Hell itself.

When it started to sink in that Hell was a physical place, as real as the stadium filled with people or the car they were driving, they would get very depressed and start to blame all those influences that had tried to convince them that, no, Hell is merely an invention by men to keep people in line. Most in their circle had accepted the premise and lived as if nothing would happen to them. One of the first punishements of Hell was that all were equipted with the rapturous feeling that infinity moved in them but the more they felt it, the smaller came the space they were alloted to live in and move around in during their long stay in Hell. More than a few lived by rocks, inside boxes no bigger than eyeballs and containing a squirming figure who was madly trying to reverse the image of infinitude. His mind was slowly sucked down into the impossiblity of living in a box as big as an eyeball and so the misfortunate one was robbed of the remnants of rapturous feelings of flying free through the empty universe, at the speed of light, dancing and zooming through clusters of galaxies and all the life they contained. That quite ended.

Most people up on the surface never understood their role in the scheme of things. Only when it was too late did they realize what a monstrous mistake their lives had been; event-filled or empty it was a huge mistake that they now regretted, outfitted as they were for new digs in an unfriedly place where the condemened were forced to know each other.

There was a kind of air of suffocation in this spacious Hell. Occassionally one could hear the distnat cries of old popular music but then they would disappear. The walls were lit up with images from above that, one supposed, was to make the people suffer in the knowledge that others were having more fun or were just enjoying life as it was meant to be enjoyed. Scenes of common household fidelity, lovemaking between men and women who appeared to love each other, bright blue skies with a hint of winter moon in it, an arena filled with cheering people, men standing in line to make expensive purchases and more were here.

What was noticeable after a bit, and strange when one thought about it, was the absence of animals of any sort. There was hardly an environment in existence that didn't have some animal besides the human one. Where was the faithful dog or the mysterious cat? Where was the powerful horse and funny monkey? Some of the inhabitants apparently saw this fact after some time and began to imitate the sounds of animals they missed. Thrown down tribemen from the Amazon were especially colorful as they sang out the songs of many tropical birds. Strangely though, rather than beautifying the place and giving it diginity, all it did was make it seem like a madhouse. In Hell and crazy too! That inevitably, is what a newcomer said.


They shriek when the truth hits them. By then it's way too late and life dissembles in the natural way it does. We, who observe, have certain feelings and look over the landscape with a muted, understated anger as though we should have known all along. We did know! We predicted it. We had visions of it, no question.

The shriek distorts their features and is inhuman. It is difficult to know whether the inhuman is attempting to leave them or to possess them but there it is. A puzzle. What is it doing? How are the pieces related? When the inhunman laughs and hunman cries what does it signify?

It is a city and devours souls. Many paintings have shown this, especially in the more creative periods of painting. Those painters who could visualize the whole of the city were usually melancholic about the fact their vision meant nothing and offered them nothing in return. But then their paintings must have encouraged less melancholic men to desire power over that which was depicted.

As members of a democracy we have nothing to worry about. Go forth and visualize and have visions! The bigger the better. And yes we will try to gain power over what you have depicted. Yet, we are swallowed up by something much greater than ourselves. It is perhaps at the peak of their power, that they shriek. Who is to know this? We watch and observe and can nearly predict the moment when the mouth stretches open to that inevitable drawn out sound so piercing and awful to our soft ears.

There are owners of baseball teams or horses, for instance, who must shriek in the privacy of their own homes. That is their privilege. For us, the unprivileged, we must shriek in public and hope they don't take us away to an institution, penal or mental. That's all we can hope for. If we are allowed, then, to "exist" so much the better. We will open our bottle of wine, eat our cheese and piece of whole wheat bread and celebrate what great thing life is. And of course, relatives are trying to take your life away and forces are conspiring to make a mockery of everything you hold dear. But if this weren't the case, would you dare to shriek?

We shriek at the failure implicit when they build things and yet they build things. We are happy they do. If they did not build things after their failure to do so, then life would be even worse than we perceive it, from a distance, to be certain.

For all the vortex of activity we don't jump in at any point but, rather, abstract it all and try to understand it. That is, we try to understand the unself- conscious ones, the happy breed of people who neither know nor care of anything but what they inherit and bop around from point A to point B wanting nothing negative said about it. A few of them have weapons to protect themselves. Very well. Experience has taught us a few things. Stay away from those who have weapons to protect themselves! They will use the weapons when you least expect it.

We throw up our pathetic notes, up there where they belong I suppose and think they actually take cognizance of them. No. The reality is that they direct their piss on them and then laugh and comment on what a wonderful show they are part of. It is Florence without the art. It is as though Rome had lost all of its nobility and the farting peasants had taken over and dragged the sentient ones into the vast portals of the Coliseum where huge galleys rammed each other and threw fire on each others decks until one blew up in flames and all the persons lost. Our world and we will make you bow to it and love it. So said the peasants when the nobles were all dead.

We look out at them, the cameras capture their furtive movements waiting to pounce and beat-up some poor unfortunate character. We could have told him it was going to happen, it was predictable but we lacked the lines of communication at that moment, so all was lost. We did not own the lines of communication and we could hardly identify them when they were right in front of our eyes.

The shriek can be a friend in dreams. It can handle the odd twists that occur in those confabulations. Little mind shits is what they are. The mind has to evacuate itself and flush it away somewhere. Pity the poor fools who write them down and swim in it all day long. But, occasionally, we have been in one of these episodes, so epic and powerful, we know something great has been revealed to us. But then great water or wind comes up and we are carried through the air, effortlessly, to a situation that is impossible, surrounded by ghouls of some sort or, at least, people who don't like us and constantly watch us as if measuring every step. It's at that point that a shriek can come in and chase everything out and we struggle with our eyes until they are open, again, to the night and the few odd shapes that surround us.

We realize, briefly and one might say with a blinding flash of light, that the few objects that surround us have all come from dreams at one point or the other. And now they are surrounding us as mute testaments or ready to transmogrify if and when we say the right word.

I think every religion, every ethnicity, every nationality must have its own version of the shriek. One can see similarities, across all platforms, enough so to make the judgement that the shriek is human and belongs to all human beings, fortunate or unfortunate, travelers or homebodies, beautiful or ugly. Studies have been made and posted on the internet. Very serious people comment on it and say that the differentiation of shrieks through time and other lands proves that it is both an indwelling property but, as well, formed by the environment we happen to come from. So, certainly, one can say that one shriek is more privileged than another one. And one shriek is really a call for power and another one is really a kind of irrational disgust; it all depends on the person and where he or she is from after all.

So it is ours very good....why shouldn't we possess our own shriek? What would we have without it? We'd be pretty poor and misbegotten I think.

No matter how they try they can't reproduce it as it actually is. They fake it and then employ legions of PR types to convince you and I that it is the real thing. It isn't. Don't listen.

We need the characters to speak for themselves. They get awfully impatient and angry if they believe you are speaking for them. Come! To the center of the stage and tell your tales......

They are running along the olive orchards when the heat is blazing on the goodman's back. They run furiously thinking that if they are ten seconds too late it is vastly too late and they must open their veins in order to purge themselves of guilt. It is a ghastly thing but prevails even during our so-called enlightened age. They want some representation of their guilt and then an excuse to run wild and crazy through the awful avenues that will have them and reject them at the same time. Oh nation, something moves through you the like of which we haven't seen for centuries!

Oh the beautiful attempt to redeem it through the voice that falters when traffic is flowing all the night. It flows with voracious tail lights and sounds that seem to bound from the steel objects out into the midnight air.

* * * * * * * *

And old man, you linger too long in your obscene nostalgia and don't recognize that time moves forward. Very well, so what. It was a good thing, this life. Move on. Move forward. For gods sake, everything is forgiven and forgotten in the end.

The shriek was heard across memories thatched together on hopeless evenings when the ballgame was on. It was, after all, nothingness and nothingness was attained and it was very sad. Something unretrievalbe and bouncing out there, along the horizon of time, out there, real and substantial but lost all the same. So even the old men shriek when it is too late and they lay out, drunken, in front of the games as though life is only this and nothing else.

The shriek was like a forbidden city rumored to have existed among travelers no one paid mind to. Oh they wrote their books but the books languished in old bookstores and were finally retired. Out there! A forbidden place where those who listen hear the shrieks of the people, even those unborn. Oh terrible place, outside the thin membrane above the Earth where cities are placed, their freeways a kind of grey string with lights dragged behind them.

They shriek in the absence of conversations. No voices, even, pleasant female voices on the naked beaches of the pleasant mind that decides that, after all, life is good; a tanned thing, with tall cool drinks and beautiful ships to pass the time. "Here they come," one cries. "The ships!" And they are spectacular, we have never seen anything so wonderful as yet. They pass and we wonder who built them, who was so persistent that these fabulous ships attained form? "Oh, it's a miracle," one said, among the many who crowded the beach that day.

Oh men who beat up other men for telling the truth, the shriek in you has not yet appeared. But it will. And perhaps you will confuse it with a fart and go on to the mall to buy the basket filled with sausages and cheeses. No, the truth can be painful and it is worth killing and dying for; or against, whatever the case. And certainly we are all called on, at one point, to see whether we are capable of dying for a truth or killing to prevent one from coming into being. It's all up in the air.

And the air is where grand gestures are made and, observing them, one feels free. Finally, free! After all of this, after the travails and terrible disillusionments, the heart-aches and lonliness, here finally, a free place no one could describe to us. In fact, we rather think they tried to hide it from us. Bastards. They are legion, these bastards. We know now that it exists and it is real and it will be our own one of these days.

So there is a pathetic sky in the universe of skies that we catch on a lousy, sunlit day, unware that what we see may last a lifetime. And what is that? One lifetime. We are capable of ten or twenty at least. One we pass through quickly farting and snarling like a dog in heat. The movies divert us from a path at times but then we are back at it, hunkered over with a burden we ask strangers to identify for us. "What is this pustule on my back? I hope it's not cancer. What? What is it?" And the only ones we come to trust are without guile; they are sadly alone and full of wisdom but innocuous and near destitution. They resemble sketetons in a way that have, somehow, grown a bit of flesh on them and when they smile (if they do) we are always startled and taken back to some memory we have fled for years and years.

Yes, they become the men weary of long days when they suddenly realize the riches they have perceived. But it is not in them anymore. This lonely galaxy rotating for eons back to some still point rolls around in their spirit. Or used to. They urge the scientist in themselves to identify and study this terrible demiurge. There must be life there! It must teem with it. Billions of cities, filled with billions of people. And unimaginative machines and shouts between them, voices, sounds, emissions, fluids, gasses. With that profound memory that only sentient creatures seem to have pulling the brain back into some childhood fantasy. Ah glass jars filled with coins and old comic books buried in the friendly Earth. But it is all gone for them now.

There is a divine shriek and a profane shriek and, if one is experienced enough, they can tell the difference. It is a nuance never taught in schools or the popular arts. The divine shriek is a kind of privledge only those who understand the past can attain. It is plaintive but drawn, too, because the shriek is suspended between a sound of helplessness and a paen to the inelcutable forces active even at this late date. The profane shriek reveals the animal in the human and startles one who has become complacent. "Ah you see, the animal lives high in him and it has hit a wall." So it is settled, if you are on a road you want to see the spiritual shriek beyond the profane shriek. The profane one reminds the witness that nothing has changed in all of these orbits around the Sun. It is exactly the same except for the machines. It is a ghastly reminder that we come from the grave robbers rather than the Kings. And how are the grave robbers to improve themselves? We'd love to see the seminar on that. No, even the smart and manipulative ones don't know how to divert the shriek; and they do a poor job themselves; it's another chore like dancing or writing letters. They shriek but their heart is concealed. Good. We always knew that was the case but hesitated on calling them out on it.

* * * * * * * *


"We do not describe; we are the description."

"Woe to those caught in the early, collective fantasies of their own generation. The fantasies will lift up for a while and then transform into an albatross to slowly pull the poor soul to the depths.

The condition of being locked into these collective fantasies results not in free people but silly people." With that I said good bye to my old pal Jim. He was emptying something on me, I knew it, didn't appreciate it but perhaps it was the stage of development we were in. We were no longer in idealistic youth, the prime time for mythical ideas that overcomes the evil world we have no interest in. No, we were past that but not quite convinced that the world we were trying to get into was not a pure sort of evil. So a kind of modern abyss.

Every step was a stuttering step. Every word was watched carefully so not to betray our disillusionment. We were embarrassed of the mythical beings we thought we were. And the odd thing was that it appeared all people we ran into knew it, knew exactly what state of mind we were in. Rarely we received a sign of "take it easy it all works out." Mostly it was a taunting of sorts. It was the attempt to cut off our legs from running too fast now that we knew a modern truth.

* * * * * * * *

When I left my friend Jim, it was dark and cold with spare traffic along Telegraph Avenue. I had a fierce night travelling through the imaginative qualities of the past six or seven years: Sights, sounds, faces. I saw myself as a man adrift but at a specific moment when I discovered I was not who I thought I was, a ball of information welled up and a sense of, "this is the way it is supposed to be," came over me.

I connected what I saw in my mind with the casual writing I had started. It was a kind of tentative physical description of walking down a city street and places I had lived. I watched a TV set following me into an alley. What was immanent, what was transcendent at that moment? The raw, exquisite data of physical things I called immanent and the interpretations that danced around the data as transcendent.

I admitted problems with the types of physical environments that had been built the last twenty or thirty years. It was the background to all the daily activity; both divine and mundane. The environment always seemed alien to my own sense; foreign and even hostile to everything I knew. I would carry this knowledge through the city streets and always find my knowledge in competition with the raw information of the physical environment: Buildings, cars, bridges, streets, stadiums, post boxes, telephones. Information I viewed as regressive and locked into something that wanted to punish rather than liberate.

And sometimes a strange reversal would take place. I would walk quiet streets with fine, broad avenues and that wonderful felicitous architecture the city was famed for. There was a woman at the window, a dog laying up on the white, wooden steps, a man in his car turning his head as he backed out from his driveway, the wind blowing softly through elm trees in a park with a stream rolling through it, dotted with sunlight. And my mind full of problems and solutions! My mind taken away into abstract problems that existed somewhere, perhaps here where I stood, but, they existed since I had seen and experienced, if not the problem, the effects of the problem and that was proof enough for me; as much as the scene I passed through. The phenomenal world had no real ambition to solve the problems that surged in my mind. They existed. Perhaps they lead away from the world and its objects. But, they existed. Perhaps they existed at the vertex of the phenomenal world.

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