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Events in August/September 2006
THE WRITING LIFE

By David Eide

COasis

MANNA

"The preliminaries have ended and now great tension is felt for the main event. "It's why we are here." The betting is heavy. The women anticipate a few good fantasies."

There is manna and there is nothing; choose manna.

If my manna is your poison don't expect me to make it my poison as well.

By all means bring me manna that is not my own and let me eat and drink thereof.

Sometimes what tastes like manna one year dissolves into thin air the next.

Sometimes what dissolves into thin air one year re-appears as manna.

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Write through the complexity on the way to simplicity, says the old man.

Play! Not battle.

They wrapped the hot dogs in lambskin in the place. The heater was a vigorous work machine.

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The journals eventually became the best instant I could pull out of any given day. A day almost always plain and mundane. That was a given but for consciousness and its judicious use of imagination. And that wonderful omnivore known as intellect. And the claws of emotion; now opening, now closing. "Oh, here come the nasties again!" And while we are prepared this time the iron claws keep vibrating open and shut, depending on some genetic mishap.

So it goes down into the heap Christ said it would and we are here, blank, with what is fronting us. What? The source of our problems!

I would think if you've lived some decades and only have a few left, if that, the mind starts that wonderful synthesis, that meaningful extraction to give off to someone, something, somewhere perhaps but not with certainty, a consciousness of "well we have been through that, here we are and this is what few nuggets have been dug out. The rest? Down the rabbit hole. The rest? A dangerous sort of gossamer."

Gone to the bloody past. Yes, it happened. As did all the rotten days we suffered. They happened. How many deaths were realized! The happy hills and green valleys are to us, now, dangerous stratagems for the mad.

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"To use the mind well." That was one of the goals or objectives. I had seen a lot of ruin in my day. I had seen what happens when one thinks there are no consequences.

So much compression out of one who studied the long weaves in old novels!

I mentioned the microprocessor and nuclear device as two objects that inspire the careful implosion that folds up on itself and waits the mind with the right key.

That is poetry.

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In the beginning the world was flat and empty.

Don't be cut off at the pass by the bad nature of others. Freedom produces less bad but it is more intense than the merely good.

The bad rarely points beyond itself to the good. It continually points to itself.

I try to see the whole of the past 150 years. The rest of the continuum consists of bright bushes or speckled eggs that draw attention and are admired. But to comprehend and make sense of the past 150 years, from the Civil War to the present is the challenge and implicates much of what I do. And throwing it off is an option.

To be ignorant and throw it off is barbarism of a sort. To know it, comprehend it and then transcend it; that is a bit different.

SOUL

What is the mystery word of identifications and its' refusals: its' visions and dreams generated spontaneously by our outlines?

Without it there is no individual.
Without an individual there is no family.
Without a family there is no production.
Without production there are no social relations.
Without social relations there are no connections.

It has the desire to unite what moves toward and away from and by uniting making something other aimed at the future.

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Conversation in coffee shop on Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA:

"The effect of television is like being in a room against your will with a lot of people you don't want to be with; all of them telling you stupid, foolish things."

"Know all the shadow between the center and nothing."

"We're created from exaggeration."

"The world opens up out of a night that closes the bud of a mountain flower."

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Imagine what it would be like without the influences; imagine alternatives to the influences.

A false perfection is jealous of imperfection; a true perfection see's in imperfection an addition of growth to what is.

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Here is the form of the age: The seeds of its origination are known, there is no secret about them. We can point to any object, any thought, any institution, any law and know where it originated in the creative thought of some individual or group of individuals. We can observe its progress. We can observe its manifestations and, at any time, the present can intrude into that process and change it, giving it the illusion of a miracle.

We then know we're in a transitional period (forever) and that there will be a future which will use this present, may even condemn it to obscurity.

"Never try to insinuate yourself into history, man. You'll go mad. History is a trace of territory that lives around you all the time."

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It's not for me to say whether a life is justified or not. However, a justified life would not hunt in packs like wild dogs. A justified life would not insist on everything conforming to it.

Life is choice and taking responsibility for it. It is difficult.

"And what? They make mush out of you by mere judgment?" Perhaps they have little faith and so are filled with only the pretense of healthy nature but, no, an effortless shadow nature. Who knows?

I do believe that liberal democracy produces pathways. It is not one path. The pathways emerge from the single heart of the ideals embedded from the original thoughts. Our challenge is to get rid of the clogs dumped down from every source imaginable. Pathways do criss-cross like an army in panic. We shoot at eyes that turn out to be our own.

One good expression compounds into many possibilities of expression. One good thought compounds into a multitude of good thoughts. One good action compounds into the belief that many good actions can take place.

A FLEETING BEAUTIFUL THING

Much pours through the writer. He knows it and he knows what poured through many in the past. It all pours through. It pours through and then we are empty, perhaps alive for the first time with the heat of a large moon on top of us.

It is a kind of privilege but only if it is used well. It makes sense to me, now, that I observed and studied everything I could about the "real world." That is about the making-world, the sustaining world and such. That world that people seem to have disgust with. No. Never have disgust in anything but that which will harm your efforts. Have disgust at cynicism. Learn the structure of things. Use everything.

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In the quiet trees, in the dart of a red bird, in the evening when the jet rises up from the hills at an angle I've never seen, there is a fleeting beautiful thing.

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If you are in the right place it is as fine an age as any with its splendid systems, cities filled with achievable delight, a regular orgy of conversations over invisible distances, beautiful women and funny men, sports for the earnest warrior and much more. It's not the age. It is "what is the life then?" What is the life in all this complex good? One is very optimistic until the moment he realizes that the age could easily self-destruct and waste everything and give notice to whatever future succeeds it that, "after all, what we created was better than the creators, ourselves." A man begins to wonder at that point about the nature of life in the age. It will do what it will do. It will invent more, it will entertain more, it will speed up more, it will fly more, it will accumulate more. If not more, it will endure, it will continue. But what of the life in it? That is the thing.

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Long live contradictions! Contradictions are the beginning of energy. Find a decent conducting material to move quickly between the polarities.

Find a few rich and profound personalities from distant eras and pull them up alongside the modern and allow excellent discourse to take place. Converse on things that count rather than the trivia and gossip that dominates the culture-scape these days.

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I am only impressed with those who actually know how things work. Those things without which "we would not be in this place." That is the first step into modern credibility. Tell me how aircraft are made and why they stay in the air. Tell me the physics behind the internet. Tell me how a huge skyscraper is made. Tell me how something gets on TV. Tell me how the Constitution was made.

And someone will always know. Treat that person as an ally.

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The dominance of a political idea is both instructive and entertaining before one, properly, turns on it with savage teeth.

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Conversation overheard at a Denny's in Red Bluff, CA: "This is not my world; these are not my people. So the sadness wears... but then laughter out of nowhere. Isn't this the Earth you have loved?"

"The ho-hum of the hum drum does bug the soul many days."

"Yet there it is; our thing. That which swallows us but will disappear itself in due time, their time, some time. Good, that's a kind of map out of the way."

"We laugh at the transparent vanities meant to drive us from our constant deeds."

"We emerge smelling in oil and waste. A bolt of light makes all we know vanish. Pride soared at the first inkling of liberation. So high to that sun!"

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The world, seeking freedom, simply expresses the animal in every form imaginable. It's a regular carnival of expression from the pissing animal.

The writer accepts it, laughs with it, sometimes is even in awe of it but, ultimately, the writer asks a very poignant question of the free people. "What do you build? What are your constructive principles?" If a man can not answer that he is merely another unreal life being shuffled between extreme forms of propaganda. "Build me something wholly your own that matches what has been built and more...." No? Pass on. Play your games."

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THE FUTURE SPEAKS IN TONGUES

At the beginning of things there is adrenaline and the barbaric. Both the intelligent and the dumb seem equal in their stumbling ability to adapt to the times. "Society" is unknowable except in tiny clans embedded in huge cities or in huge nature. And when we allow our imaginations or intellects to range beyond the clans and tribes what do we see? Billions of suffering people. Weapons of mass destruction. New diseases. The Earth's climate being altered by all the people and their fuels. "Ah, I will reverse it by divesting myself of all that is modern!" "No, I will treat it all as a perception and take it on as a specialty, a cause, or the quirks of living in and around mass media."

That's the natural predilection for the poetic soul. "Go find the ways and means to live in this most problematic world. First understand it, then live as if the future is standing next to you speaking in tongues and making it clear that the decisions you make will effect everything."

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The writing life was simply one of revealing, playing, experimenting and putting literary values ahead of material ones. And many nuggets can be pulled out of the mess that made.

I fought two major impositions on myself. One came from the nativist American tradition and the other came from the great European tradition. "Here I am, a red-blooded, half-barbaric American boy, slice into me and give me your secrets!" It is very tempting and one tries and tries until he is confident enough to stop the process and start producing ab novo if that's the term.

I experienced the world as unprecedented, as never before in this form, with this complexity and odd call-outs to the resources of the people, free and independent as they are.

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If one wants to find darkness it is easy to find. It's fascinating to note that the two main responses to it are either a ferocious desire to transform it or a need to use it as the scapegoat for all problems. Light is a far more difficult substance to find and requires the sublime. In America one gets either extreme darkness or sentimentality; the extreme darkness is usually driven by an old literary or philosophical theory.

Of course, if you knock the props from everything that is building value and good then expect nothing but darkness to follow.

The only solution to a difficult life is to make it as simple as you can. Simply look at how to build the things you need to build.

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Most of what I've done, the major things, have been informed by "future thought." And in my twenties, especially, I read the futurists and thought a lot about it. It was a bridge between the idealism of my student days and avoiding the awful present. The future had exciting structures and vast possibilities that one knew were possible since it didn't take much to see how we were walking around in old possibilities.

Two worries did develop out of this. One was that the liberal, democracies that were dependent on the dreams and aspirations of the people would dry up and become dreamless. And the other was that the new possibilities were coming so fast and enacting at such a pace that there would be a revolt against change itself and so all thoughts about the future discredited.

It was also apparent that the rhythm of life was changed forever in the past three generations and would continue to change without a hint as to how exactly it would change. That created a culture of building and destroying at shorter intervals without the concomitant patience, experience etc to build well. All was implicated in that fact.

And that was the reason I had such a patient view of my own self, my own development and the development of my work. It had to be built well and take out as much of the modern dysfunction as was possible. Without, that is, taking out the vitality of the modern.

THE SEALING UP

The sealing up happens. The writer is caught. He is like the man in the Poe story sealed up brick by brick by his enemy. But the writer knows a few ways out. He knows that mindfulness is the key.

Individuality marks our time. Strange then how it is assaulted in and out of the culture it is part of. The stereotype, the mass assumption, conformism, archetypes not curious about themselves, utter hostility to anything with depth, anything that shows a little bit of difference; these thrive in American culture. It's not that the opposite of these things is automatically good. But what these restrictions do is limit the ability of the self to develop "sensibility," an ability that is nearly a taboo in America because of its distrust of leisure, its belief that sensibility is a product of wealth. Well yeah, it is a product of wealth.

We are the wealthiest people in the history of the world are we not? Rather than "sensibility" we have "lifestyle", as an expression of "sensibility." And it is always the same, always expressed the same way; a predictable path.

Americans can seem like the blunt instrument ready to strike at any moment.

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Oh journals! What a long trip it's been. The first journal entry I remember was when I came back from the Mines up in the Trinity Alps and was laying on a bed with a jumbling heap of books around me and wrote about them. I was 25 years old. The only two I remember were Rhinoceros by Ionesco and The Ticket That Exploded by William Burroughs.

The journals allowed me to develop a narrative I believed in. They gave me the self I truly was, protected from the greasy eyes of the world.

I protected the sense of writing from the evil world or, at least, the world I was expected to know but which had very little interest in knowing me.

The wreckage of the innocent is infamous in scope and depth.

In the wreckage the writer finds the pearls that can lead to a richness beyond all the sweet crude in the world.

For some god forsaken reason the pains are necessary and then you fight your way to something reasonable, something shaped by your experience with truth and beauty.

Peers require a massive sacrifice to someone else's power and glory while addicting you to some pleasure. Family requires conformity to the experience of the parents in a society that leaps up and over itself every generation. So conflict and slog. Society requires massive repression and denial, at least for creative types. It celebrates the bad things and scoffs at the good.

I wanted to drive my imagination through what I had experienced and knew as density, as a solid object.

The internet is the last density that has taken me for a whirl.

Much slips through my knarled brain and humbles me.

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Form is knowing when to advance, when to retreat and when to stand-still.

Advance is intrusive, an attempt at breaking up what is solid, located, immovable, and destined.

Retreat is recollection; objects rushing in and being met by the naked sensibliity. A sensiblity that is naked but with a skin, the flesh of sensibility. The eye and sex of sensibility.

Standing still is the equilibrium between the two, where they meet in the writers' mind for further exploration.

THE FABLED PARKS OF PISSING DOGS

The writer lets things live through him, writes, reflects, revises, and then applies some magical dose of artistry to take it all out of the realm of fact and into truth. This is the practice.

If it were so easy!

It's not easy but it is something that self-discipline will teach over time. If one survives.

I wanted to live like the Greeks: Outside the home, seeking truth, inquiring of my fellow citizens who they were and what they thought. Keeping vision alive, keeping the pulsing thing alive until even the dead streets were a living thing.

The world seemed so extraordinary, so starkly mad, so unlikely to survive that it gave a young man bold plans.

"Sat in parks with my back against stout oak trees and read or wrote while watching people practice oriental arts or dogs fornicating or bums pissing or, sometimes, a divine sort of emptiness. Always pretty quiet. And not one park but many parks."

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"America unleashes the creative spirit." That's what the politicians say and I hold them to their word. An American writer will take on an immeasurable amount of stuff since he has the naive belief he can solve anything with his native genius. "This is a land that belongs not to aristocratic elites but to the people who are free to pursue their goals," so they say. The pure and ideal American attempts to exist even where the dream has grown rancid and the people are mere ghosts out of history not yet face to face with the future.

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It does more good to simply cut away what fouls the senses than it does to continually snipper at it like a deranged, little dog.

"But it's a kind of maze built for rats to test them in the laboratory of the mad."

Mediocre minds telling other mediocre minds what to do and say does not produce a better culture.

A culture, in other words, that can stand eyeball to eyeball with all the effects the modern world has created.

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I am on the side of those who discover new things, who risk the ego of life for something greater, who know that even a great nation has a lot of unfinished business, that expression and liberation of the energies of life is only the beginning, never the ending.

Popular culture reminded me of a prison or a military installation where some agency has spent millions of dollars in free meals for the inmates who stand in long lines waiting for slop to be dished up on a metal plate.

Those things that destroy are meticulously organized and easily accessed. And those things that are demanding and difficult are hard as nails to get to. The hard work and search required has a prime characteristic: sacrifice.

So the artist had to have a sense of adventure.

And in the adventure he meets with death and his deep fear of death. And he meets with the solace of the truly wise, those few. And he meets with the taunts and jeers of even those he trusted the most. And he meets with murderers and horrific hatred. All for a few seeds, a few scratches on paper.

A PAST IS A FEW WINKS AWAY

Nothing said/excellent thoughts. It is good, sometimes, for a writer to think about all the words that have deceived him.

Deception tows us to Hell.

So many plans are concocted along the way!

Deceptive words come out of a general calculation that one's self-interest will be served by the world or, more importantly, by the way the words effect the actions of another.

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Adventures into the humility of the shadow evolves from earnest transformation to comedy. Yet, the shadow and the agent of transformation remains strong and eternal.

The flagging ego left standing in the shadow is forever a figure of contempt and comedic treatment.

Let us be the magnetic stick that runs through the polarities!

I was not anti anything but I was a contrarian. I saw the three greatest fears in the people and tested them out: mainly, poverty, sickness, and insanity. There was a kind of creative energy in doing so. If a man or society is dominated by fear then what can he really contribute?

"And they give you back exactly what they saw and believed." So the startled laughter.

The fear is real enough. The cause of the fear is real but it is also magnified by a reality that needs sellers and buyers in a huge way.

The days pass. The furious drumbeats lull behind the eucalyptus trees. A man whose head is filled with fire soon smells like ash and is scooted along by the slightest wind.

So there was conflict. And antics. Pedantics for certain.

But youth transforms and then hardens when it sees it all unfold again without stoppage.

"I remember those gum-weary streets as if it were yesterday. It made thought a living being cast cold into the little entryways to bookstores and restaurants."

A fading film clip of turning twisting smiling people.

Sounds of Long John Baldry from the incense and gift store at midnight.

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Not failure but transformation from a disappointment to a new form. Let failure teach what it can teach and then leap into a happier situation.

After all, innovation doesn't come cheap. It is not something penciled in by number. It is not a predictable path at all.

The politicians always say the right things. But then, where is the proof of what they say? Without proof of what he says the politician is simply allowing that anyone who can read a page and say the right things should be a politician or, in fact, is a politician. The politician can get away with it because everyone knows that the decisions are not made by speeches but by horse trading. And the speech of that activity is not exactly high or enlightened.

Through the respect one has of the generations comes the ability to correct their mistakes and leave a few of your own, as a generation. I look at the pictures of the soldiers and know them. I know these boys. I have been one of them. Yet I am not one of them because their mistakes were obvious and so we, the living, had to take on the problems. We had to clean up the ugly acts of the past.

But I love them. And know their hardship even from the distance of a grainy photograph. Real-time. A boat is frozen in a kind of fear there in the non-descript river. No one smiles. Not even the women. Life is hard and murderous and yet what sweetness flows from their thoughts. And when we let them go they remain in some secret pocket we lug around, always there, always present.

A MAN OF MISERIES

Three or four roars of thunder hit me in my 20's. I've talked about them. One was what I perceived as the decay of the liberal democracy, another was the presence of nuclear weapons, a third was the apparent destruction of the natural environment, and a fourth was the continual transformation of raw material into goods and services that could provide a larger carrying capacity, needing more and more transformations until the resources were depleted. "Society" interested me to the extent that one lives in different neighborhoods, has conflicts, is exposed to hatred and mutual aid.

These bent me backward for a long time. Then the cold war ended and I saw a genuine desire to clear these other problems. Things seemed to lift up and away for a while. Now it is terrorism and global economy.

And I don't think the liberal democracy is out of the woods quite yet. Or the environment, or the resource base.

There are generous sources of enjoyment all around the problematical aspects.

The creative and spiritual guide that was the past couldn't speak to the present after a time. It was a matter of experiencing things and then wrangling with them in the spirit and seeing what one came up with.

I think a lot of revered human sensibility from the past would be shocked at how things have turned out. How things are run by machines and dominated by easy money, noise, fractured, haptic images. Some would have been shocked. I'm sure that some of those past luminaries would be quite delighted and say, "ah, of course! The exact path we imagined."

The sense of the physical universe, the centrality of brain/mind, the vast storehouse of information/knowledge, the construction of and use of technology becomes central. Yet we die and know not what or why but the evidence sharply points to the fact that we never return. That fact alone makes the past very relevant.

And since we live in the present for a wink of time, why not invent, progress, engage, gain pleasures and ameliorate pains?

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One hasn't lived until he falls in love and has a constant relation, however distant, with a fully absorbed woman. She is beautiful and aging. She is fragile and haughty. She is guiltless, privileged and yet caring. Life, for her, has become a frightening game.

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"Return to the root." This is what is being called on now.

"The root of your true endeavors."

It was during the Berkeley years and was very expansive.

The modern way of Death proved to me that we had gone backward. We had re-entered, not ancient, but primitive and preliterate myth.

Completing the circle opened by a man thrown out of nature and wayward thoughts of annihilation.

Every man has his own miseries. No amount of analysis or cynicism helps in the matter. But a man of miseries must find the grace and solace in life that does, in fact, exist. It must be found through the density of misery.

If I could peel back the cold hands of civilization to unmask unheard of freedoms I would do so.

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I did study the time I was thrown into. It was a kind of academic game of orientation but could sharpen things. America was the best the world produced and the very worst. One was staggered by the amount of things in the world and the systems that permitted things to flow. And I was always amazed by the steady integrity of people despite the huge, fast and powerful world they tried to negotiate. Every era gets old. Things pass and pass and for brief moments one senses a stillness, a ripeness; "ah, it has all led to here then!" And more passing and passing and passing. Until one can see this little time surrounded on all sides by things it doesn't know or understand. Flying pieces of metal and weird sounds and massive crowds collected for no particular reason. The people levitated by the processes and technologies they scarcely gave attention to like the beautiful women that magicians used to saw in half or make disappear in a box. In many ways one can say that there is little about it one would want to remain as is, intact, perpetual. Take all things and make them new. Without that spirit all the things collapse on the people and what they've built.

But until things are better and new we have this complexity and senselessness. Good. The chaos is a challenge to individual effort to struggle hard or not at all.

A HISTORY OF THE UNSEEN

The Unseen has its day in the sun.

It is entertaining or instructive; maybe both.

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Driving the empty grey streets, the mizzling avenues, I thought how I missed the days when I drank at the fount of knowledge.

It was knowledge that pushed against the heavy pressures of those times in my 20's. It was the collapse of gravity of the late 70's against the chain reactions inside the mind that helped shape the writer.

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The purpose now is to resolve the limitless tundra we have crossed. To see it all, see everything, see and even feel what we felt and saw on our wanderings along the harsh eyes of the tundra.

We reserve one thin and energetic frequency band for the new statements.

A tale or two. Something our old masters would be proud of yet in the modern way, sucking up all this modernism into us as though we were feral giants of a long lost age. And out the other end the modulations of eloquence. The grunts of free men. The cries of hysterical women. The sighs of old and sterile beauties.

No, we are not tricked by our arrogance. That is the one privilege of getting older. It is what it is. We are free of the compulsions of youth and its jabber wocky.

The tragedy is that beauty never rests. It is always tearing down what's in the way. But then it either finds the redemptive seed or tears into itself.

"Don't fake anything. Fabricate. And at the end there will be laughter."

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I can't tell whether killing the novel in myself was an act of tremendous ambition or a complete lack of it. You come to realize that the will isn't shaped exactly the way you thought it was. Perhaps there are designs that one can't dream about, only discover and half-assed at that.

It was hard for me to manipulate characters. You never want to begin a piece of art by back engineering its analysis for gods sake.

Of course the novel, like movies, are great when young and you have little experience. The acts in a novel or movie are amplified. "Ah, I must have that act as my own!" It has ruined more than a few but better novel or movies than state or religion. I never felt the novel and movie could co-exist peacefully since the dynamics are quite different; reading and passively viewing are quite different. The ease at which film enters the brain is quite different than the struggle with a novelists' language. In some ways these differences destroyed both forms. Movies could never find their abundant self because they were required to make lots of money. That was from the beginning. In five hundred years they will say, "movies started in the vaunted free market age where there were nothing but products and markets. The consumers were the nobility and conferred value on the products."

After awhile I didn't care about any of it.

Life gained more significance as I shucked off the boundaries of youth. I stretched out quite a bit. I drew in all that I had seen or been exposed to. I felt the number one priority was to heal the divided self.

The mysteries begin to show up. And they run deep and are as dense as reality. At the end nothing is certain but all is changed.

Why does the predominance of what is "good" in life leave one an odd misfit of a human being? A man goes after the good in himself and the good in life, the real foundations, and he ends up in a sad corner of a run down building with the compromised people riding and flying above him as in a world of witches and warlocks. "Hahah," they taunt flying high above on their brooms.

FEAR AND OBLIGATION

The first fear was anonymity; death in the crowds of life. This is overcome by integrating virtues and by rootedness.

To be utterly absorbed by the self is a sign that the fear has the upper hand.

By taking off the masks a writer is able to find stories in the most impervious places.

The first obligation of the writer is to break the limits, to break the prejudices, to break the barriers so that no aspect of the society is obscure, no aspect unknown. That can hardly happen if a writer goes off pursuing his or her own self-interest. They tend to clan with those sharing their own self-interest and look at those outside the clan with high suspicion.

Then comes the obligation to pursue the boundaries of one's art; experiment with it, test it, expand it so that all one's spirit can get into it. To pursue self-interest in this area is disastrous if it gets caught up in the foolish wheel of the society.

Ask this question: "What then does this strange word freedom really mean?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I had the archaic American trait of "doing it all oneself." It's a pitiful, nearly pathetic trait in this day and age and will land you at the rear sucking bitter hind tit.

Before meaning comes the ferocity of nihilism; the chaos of devils and crazy people.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thinking about the internet years.

What does one come away with? The skill to construct things in the amniotic fluid that is the internet.

Communication is learned not by communication to likeminded people but communicating with people who you either fear or despise.

Information is useless, a great waste of time without a structure of knowledge and experience in place.

Resource is as good as its credibility.

To construct things you need to be fearless.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fearful people hide behind and are eventually controlled by the inhuman. They project it out whenever they can. And in my humble estimation a liberal democracy was impossible, freedom was impossible without "growth and development." That was a main structure through that period of time.

It levels off. You protect the path you've been on but look out into the larger world and have larger concerns.

The world rides on a delicate balance now. On the one hand the nation-state system isn't going away and when it does the present will become a moot question. On the other the peoples of the Earth can collaborate in ways never before seen and collaborate for mutual aid and increase as they used to say.

When growth and development levels off there is a need to see what is carried up to maintain the vitality of that growth and development. Strengthening the integrity of the intellect, growth and enrichment of the imagination, re-moralizing the senses, increasing the support of faith among other items. "Knowing how it works."

I doubt if our flow is that much different than theirs. We have more content sticking up from the mess as it goes past us. The mind is a beautiful song. We rarely, though, go past the outlines of power.


IT IS NATURE

I am at the powerful ocean and the powerful ocean draws me into wonderful thoughts and feelings about the life of the human species and time and darkness. Then I am (within an hour) on a mist-filled mountain and the beginning of raging rivers bounding through the granite of our own hidden sea cliffs. A slender valley of lonely farmhouses and their implements; green, the extraordinaire, is a sun. And when I hear the ignorant say the desert is empty I know it is fuller than their own brains.

We are so rich in it that we hardly notice the sky.

The sky opens and closes to reveal our truest state of mind. When it closes the mind is drawn down into what nature demands we do. When it is open the mind arches to the trails of ancient probes. We see old friends now exist in the void.

Isn't the city a thing built for this nature that comprehends us?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So it says, "We are in this thing: The epoch of striking colors and babbling nonsense. Of ugly, harsh women and their professors. Of soiled relations and window dressing; ornamentations and bubbles of froth. A nightmare to truth and beauty; a challenge to any half-sentient being.

An epoch of drowning hopes and aspirations, an era cracked against itself."

Or is it that simple? Perhaps it is the opposite of what we think and feel at any given moment. Our disgust lasts a moment. It's been forced on us so we conspire with a lingering swarm where we pluck out a seed or two and wait for the growling light.

Our city!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The passage and the change; the passage and the change. Nothing will be the same at the end of the passage and the change.

Vision is a powerful and liquid thing and cleans all before it.

How come a poet, a despised man if ever there was one, a man who despises well when the situation calls for it, who despises what so many hold dear, and who is hated the more his despising is known, produces such beauty?

In America one listens to many but knows only a very few.

It is a joy, sometimes, to see the disintegration of political ideas.

Nihilism appears a mighty force and prepares to conquer everything in its path. But in the end the nihilist whimpers before the mystery of life and death and vanishes without a trace.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

HARDLY A THING

When I don't write I feel guilty or at a loss but then when I go back to it I find whatever is pent up comes out. Writing is a win/win, never a zero/sum.

When the individual matures, this is what is happening. "Ah, I am this individual, the only one I will be. Many struggles have ended. Do I have a drop or two of wisdom? Perhaps. Am I concerned about things even though I believe we can do very little with this life? Yes but I have to choose and it usually comes down to the values that I think are supreme."

We know we have arrived when we suffer massive disappointments and yet go on. We know our powers are not our own. That even that supreme power, disillusionment, can be transformed with enough faith and patience. And the reward then! Rewards we never could have foretold.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The trick is to live inside one's own world with all its differences and yet objectify it as well. And leave a space of mind for the past and future.

Find what will humble you from the high and mighty brain.

The problem with "objectifying" is that it tends to stick in one place. In the modern world there must be flexibility. The object is never fully known. There are no absolutes, not for human beings at any rate. So, "how to know" is a premium in value, so is the ability to "orientate" where one is and allow for progress in order to go further.

To the writer's imagination myth seemed to have dried up because the emotional life of people is different today; more education, more experience, more perception, more of everything results in a people of almost pure manipulation and calculation. Those who have any motion to them at any rate..

A writer interested in myth should forget about old myths and focus his raw mythmaking capability on technology, time, space, the effects of money and democracy.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

PAEAN

Oh stimulated world, free yourself! For putting gadgets on you, in you, by you without thinking about you, yourself, you have imprisoned yourself and will impose that imprisonment everywhere you go for a century or two.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I couldn't do anything unless I was compelled to do it. To find the compelling spot is an art in itself. The novel was great when it sliced open society and revealed it and so objectified it for the readers. In our time what is society? Whose society? The highly specialized and complex society can't be captured so easily. All kinds of new things have appeared on the scene to show people "the society" or the many societies whatever the case may be. It's more important that the novelist know "the society" study it, know who studies it and why, puts that in a vast resource base but then writes about whatever is compelling to him or her.

"Society, I have run well through you! I have the taste of you all in my bones.

A thousand heads and hearts stick out of my skin.

Your words are delightful confusions. Your ignorance turns on every lust imaginable."

THE ROAD TO HELL

There is a hole in the surface of the planet that leads to hell.

There were the curvatures of a thousand suspended dreams high above the tower of the bridge.

There was a kind of mindless absorption into a pustule; a heap of voices growling from the pit of an empty belly.

There was a colorful pageant in youth down a street whose name we have forgotten. Splendid houses and happiness were in the air!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Things are easily lost without structure and form.

It is not only the books, though they are always close by. Everything not-the-book comes through the modern banshee, under our delicate thoughts and to the bone where death is.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Language

The language to startle the soul is created in the act of being startled.

The language that solves problems is created with the soul that has been pulverized for brief moments of time.

The language of love is carried through the invisibilities where the spirits reign.

The well-rounded language wheels through the various domains and learns, through mute symbols, the truth of things.

A buoyant atmosphere prevails when the democratic citizen understands to the depths of his being, the reality of freedom.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Random Considerations

"We underestimate how oppressive gravity is," the captain said.

Sometimes when the Earth is spotted in the distance, from the moon or from some point in the coordinates of black space, a terrible face is seen pressed against the surface like the eternal prisoner.

"We have no doubt the future will see ourselves as a series of lessons:"

  • "Mass movements of little meaning clashed like ancient armies in the deserts of Assyria."
  • "Women were engorged on a power that destroyed them."
  • "Men were feeble puppets who went nuts when they identified the first string."
  • "What seemed such a powerful form when young was not love but addiction."

So they perhaps say in trying to escape their own lessons.

No, the ego saves nothing and simply replicates itself generation after generation. It is a giant mask for the wounds and weaknesses of self. It is a blowhard. It is a chief weapon of passive/aggressive types. Ah, but full of good stories at times! And always shaped in the form of the experience of youth.

I learned long ago that ego was both friend and foe.

LINES AND SHAPES

Silence from the past, animated by swift and brave shadows. The jubilation moves forward into an uncreated moment. Ah, so that was the test! After these sullen years, that was the test!

The storehouse is not the object, it is the storehouse.

Return, return, return to me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"They were snakes, covered in shadows."

So I quoted the character as he was riding the train in the blue spring afternoon musing from a window of masks.

"And yet they are irresistible in a strange way. They demand you pass through the shadows first to find the gem of themselves."

When things go down I always sit in a quiet and dark chair and rebuild the world. It begins with the proposition that whatever created the universe created nature and the beings that emerged out of nature; created the mind able to perceive the universe and know it. And that is what I call God. The mind cannot know it absolutely but by degrees, by pushing the envelope back. A simple belief in science is not enough. Science, now, is a collective affair and so it is the people who must help the scientists push that envelope.

Clarity is a green infinity.

Life sprouts!

It courses and rests and begins again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A writer learns that trust is a stubborn acorn that refuses to grow until it is certain it will build a fine tree. Human beings, certainly, are better destroyers than creators. Destruction is fairly easy and it seems to find a variety of talents in people. Creating is difficult. The creator is rare. So the creator has to take responsibility to make sure his efforts will not be hampered by the destructive demiurge in other human beings.

The key is to trust only that which builds with integrity.

Begin with the few masters. Then get the circle as wide as trust will permit.

We are certainly in a "destructive" period of time. It does remind me of the era I grew up in. An astounding era to live through but a monstrous hell to get clear of.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We have our own lines and shapes. I grew up with the geometrics of things. We effaced the past with laughter and ease. Then got caught in our own conformities. And the future looked, often, bleak as an ancient catacomb.

We are free only by the knowledge base we have and by the vision of the future we acquire as an act of grace.

When the break occurs, the lines and shapes are overwhelming. So then the writer kicks in to discriminate which lines and shapes are useful. He cuts away from more than a few but wishes them no harm.

What the writer always looks for is courage. When doubt enters the frame courage is about the only thing that will save you.

A fairly benign period of time will seed great upheaval to follow. And upheaval is usually followed by inventiveness and adventure among peace loving people.

It's a lovely undulating time.

The phases were lessons; good, bad, and ugly.

APPROACHES TO WRITING

There are three approaches to writing after one has met the real world on its own terms:

One is to take the spiritual view and lift above it and let it slide beneath you, calmly observing it all but connect, not to it, but to eternity. In that sense you will write about your disillusionment and disgust of the world, your observations, and your connection to the ultimate reality in eternity.

The second approach is to remain on the Earth, feet on the ground, and then when something huge and unforgivable comes rushing at you such as instant annihilation by nukes, you twist and turn ala jujitsu until the force of it is behind you. Then the next one appears, "no audience for your material" and you do the same thing. Then massification or global poverty. They will twist you from where you began but because you've met them full on something on their quintessence lodges in you and you write it out until the air clears and you begin aggressively going after things that are desirable such as truth and beauty.

Or, thirdly, you develop a hybrid from those two approaches because you develop the knowledge and experience to do so.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To "find God" step outside your comfort zone and experience the world as it really is.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Pride and our useless thoughts---there they are, on the street, staring back at us with disdain knowing how they tripped us up, their victory.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The ugly spirits are flying like mad through every dense object available.

There are only a few abstractions worth having. Protect them with your life but get rid of all the rest of them.

Know how things work. When you reach your limit you will find out who knows how to make things that are over your limit.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thinking is a great equilibrium to the pressures of the world. It's also a great way to correct and balance the pressures inside the mind.

If things from the world lodge in the mind thought can deconstruct them and prevent the lodged item to sink down into the spirit of things.

It's not a pre-mental condition but a learned one.

There's very little salvation in going crazy.

One of the bigger objects to be met with is the ego of others. The thinking apparatus is pretty good at obliterating the nasty effects of egotism without doing damage to the person him or herself. After all if we can comprehend a star why fear an ego?

A lover of knowledge rather than an owner of it.

Enough knowledge to allow the mind to play.

Thinking is one of the most democratic things people can do.

Formless Intimidation of the General Conditions

There is a great amount of material just waiting raw out there. Any square of longitude and latitude presents its odd and beautiful ways. Life flows through. Things move. They roar. Sometimes it is good, sometimes bad. The wounded are there. We are surrounded by the wounded. Our skylines speak. Confusion is silent.

The dart of a man who had already seen too much said, "When obstruction comes from the mouth of another remain silent. Don't involve yourself in the stupidity of others. What are the forms of this stupidity? Listen here: Disillusionment without a redeeming attempt to find the root of it. Aggravating desires flowing off the top of the head. Easy opinions about conditions prevailing in the general world. Ambition that shows no beating heart. Ridicule and contempt of general conditions. Distrust of intelligence. Formless intimidation of the general conditions. Selfishness. Uneasiness with children. Inauthentic authority. The acceptance of experience as the only criterion for reality. Wistful doom purveyors. Distrust of memory. Masks of professions. Crude, inauthentic, cultic new thought that doesn't admit its true roots. A showy kind of expression. Imitation. Lack of imagination. Confusing imagination with fantasy. Vanity that doesn't admit itself. Those at war with their families. Those who scoff at the valuable and sacred trusts of life."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

History is infinite in complexity and in a kind of mundane sorrow. At first it is so simple and stark like playing with stick figures in an old sand box. But soon one is in the sand box and the stick figures are playing on top of you.

Things play out. Things manifest. All wisdom points to the ability to simply let be.

The key is to draw out the core of value and make it one's own and then block or spit out the poison that naturally comes with it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am, like most, a divided self. On the one hand I am more simpatico with a dead Chinese poet who flourished in 100B.C. or a French novelist of two hundred years ago then I am with most of my fellow creatures. On the other hand I am here, not in China, not in France and I have a brain that has absorbed as much of the time and nation as is required or good for one's health. And it's necessary to straighten out, understand some of the stuff I have experienced as a citizen in real-time as it is necessary to connect with my brothers and sisters of past ages.

The writer uses the fact of a specialized culture to his advantage. Learning everything, an impossible task, is not very meaningful and not very wise. And certainly not possible. A writer could spend five lifetimes learning everything and yet, somewhere, in a variety of areas would be armies of specialists who knew more. This is the sad fact of the world. It is better to let go of the need to know everything, honor your insatiable appetite for knowledge, and learn to use the experts and specialists as you learn to use history.

Respect it and it opens into whatever domain of value is possible to attain.

Know where things are. Know how to question information.

SADNESS

"A piece of writing is meant to liven the mind, perform little dances, speak to spirits, know the stars and then fade down into the eternal heart of the reader."

No, anywhere else.

Sadness is a free floating thing between the old tired limbs of the oaks and the unkempt yard. Loss. The transformation from freedom to judgment is a subtle one and catches an aging writer by surprise.

No, somewhere else where there isn't such attachment. Where the bricks themselves remind one of discouragement. It is silence. You have done something wrong or bad. If you try to figure it out it will drive you crazy. But it lingers and plays the mind for a fool. So laughter itself is a still mask of death. So the adrenaline is driven through empty space that doesn't care one way or the other until finally it ends.

A kind of creepiness enters again. The old bad magic.

Sometimes it is good to remember the abyss that exists between you and the familiar.

"You have to fight from behind." Ok. I will fight from behind. I will fight out of whatever hole I am in. I will not take anything for granted. I will fight for the good of the myth. I will fight for what no one else, apparently, sees. I will fight up. I will fight down. Splendid words and concepts will emerge from the fight sprayed out and away from the physicality of the contestants.

Unrelenting days of sameness paint down on the imagination and make it a grey thing. Where are the joyous festivals with its colorful streamers, toothless brown women, and music high above the rooms where the powerful meet? Where is the release that forgives? Things shut down early in the grey town. Unrelenting traffic of anonymous cars blur with its familiar pitch. The sky bends and robs the eye of information it dearly wants.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

They would watch me from a sealed room observing me as if I were on death row and waiting for last words and then the simple exhalation that tells them they have no further use of me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Stare into the future to help create it." Yes. It's happened before. I was a young man thinking as though I were a young bushman taken out of the comforts of the tribe to endure pain and see visions. It's true enough. It all came to pass. Wisdom swung down from the trees and swooped me up. It was more powerful than the reality that was in front of me, subject to vision and wisdom as well as other qualities.

Remarkable was the prescience of those days!

Sad for the things destined to disappear.

Then I understood some of the gestures of time.

MORTAL LIFE

The novelists taught me to look at the hard shapes and the thing that exists. Poetry taught me to look inside the hard and real things, at the actual real, at the life and seed of things and to let the large emotions run freely. Philosophy taught me skepticism and how to break things apart in order to understand attainable wisdom. The spiritual taught me the reality of the eternal, the arts of transformation, that life moves out past death but that death is a formidable task.

The people taught me humor, fun, desire, guilt, shame and many things besides.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The past interrupts the soft dreams of the imagination fat in a present it did not create and puts substance there. It is not an absolute area. When we imagine Christ or Buddha walking about teaching, then going to their secret lodgings to think about the next day and the next stage of the revelation we see specific men. Men who move through time and space no differently than billions of people before and since.

But when one comes to the teachings they say, "I come across something remarkable."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There is a mortal life lived in a specific time-frame. And this mortal life shows the individual many things both internal and external. And there is a certain feel to the temporal life, let us say, forty years of it. And so when one plunks himself down on the stream of history he can imagine it in chunks of forty years, about half-a-century. And soon has the privilege of living nearly a whole century and so would know, mind and body-wise, what they would feel like any century. What it would be like to take on the problems of a quarter, a half and a full century.

So thinking through twenty centuries is not all that difficult. To know the intimacy of life in any number of places, to know the conflicts that animated a community---these are the things to know. Each generation and each self-defined age figures it is the first to be self-conscious and so dresses for the part. It's no different now than it was ten centuries ago in that regard.

Ten centuries from now people will be able to see the changes that took place at this time, in the early part of the 21st century. The change took place for a variety of reasons; the technological advances, the dire threats that were felt collectively, the space adventure and expansion of the universe in human perception.

They will perceive, without question, the terrible tension that existed between potential and limitation. There will be great disgust at some of the manifestations.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Life before machines is appearing as a great mystery. In this period of time human action exists before thought and thought must meditate on what has occurred.

Rather than getting bogged down in the messy material of the day you must contemplate on those categories and subjects of interest as if they are new, as if you are responsible for the creation of a new world.

In writing you commit to some aggression in yourself and write like you mean it or, else, you are trying to put something over on people. You have to have that sort of aggression which purifies the soft side of perception and empties out the dancing figures within.

ADRENALINE AND ITS ENVELOPE

Even during a feast of wonderment, the festival of light and beauty, something always seems missing. Perhaps it is a bit too conformist, a bit too pat and easy. Something of substance and depth has been ripped from it and people settle. A writer will often attempt to embody what is missing but in order to do that he must know the difference and to know that he becomes different. This is unavoidable.

Saying that, the task of the writer is to keep pushing the envelope.

"Experience dear people and tell me your tales. And if you have ambition embody those experiences in something outside the self, outside the ego into an object of truth and beauty. Do that, do that often."

In the beginning is the wonderful but vain presumption that the envelope will be pushed to the very end.

The envelope, so-called, must be pushed and pushed each stage of life. Push it back to let in a little bit more light. It can't be fabricated. Any fabrication will bring in force to support its vanity!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Slipped into the winter cold with hardly a warning song from the birds and bats.

Understanding the world is no solace. But not understanding it would be sheer hell.

We are most happy when we understand our ignorance and open up a window to let new things fly in.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That adrenaline known as the Internet began to simmer down around 2001 or so and by 2003 I was sick of the whole thing. I was like the beggar who hated to go out into the street and yet the street delivered a few dollars a day and what else was the beggar going to do? He was doing about the only thing he could do. I worked ceaselessly and hard through 2006 and then hit a wall.

I had to ask whether I was doing what I really could commit myself to do. I had to look at some cold hard facts. I had to try and figure out whether the internet was going to be a platform for a career or not. I had to try and calculate or think of it as a legitimate publishing platform. So many people, so many communities, so many things zig zagging around it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now the long days and nights that seem to fly through the haunting owl's plea. Let us prepare ourselves for the task. The superfluous and diversion are key enemies. Piss poor habits pull us back into the rectangular halter we wear to show we are as blind and stupid as everyone else. There are few heroes. There are makers of bombs and makers of poems. Youth knows the generosity of life and slowly loses it to experience.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Do the times give you courage or do they make you a coward? That seems like a perennial question. I think so much was going on it was difficult to act along any particular road. And there are surprising things you reject and shocking things you accept. It is integrating everything along the high road so the substance is heavy as the earth, light as the cloud.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It's always been easy to drop out and wander around. What is difficult is to take on the thing itself, the whole thing, as it is, to take it on and patiently transform it into your own sense of things, your own language. And know it. And deliver it in wonderful ways.

ABSORPTION AND A WRITER'S DREAM

Absorption of city, suburb, freeway, stadium, trains and planes, airports, silly people, obnoxious people, and saintly people. The color driving through the day. A pure density of green. A moment before the sun comes and heat dances on the leaves with speckled blue between the spaces; a covering for the infinite darkness and its taunting light.

Absorption of the past.

"Past, you are a mighty thing and fight against every tendency to destroy you."

The thousand cameras are like the eyes of insects making us laugh at the outrageous speed of the mind when it is thoughtless.

Pictures of countless conmen who successfully negotiate the spirit of the people. Oh damaged people! Closed down for all the splendor around them.

"You stick with the materials that make you effective. You develop higher synthesis of the materials. And add in only to be more effective."

It is important to order things through the phases of development but it is also important to destroy the phases of development or laugh at them.

Art and wisdom; the playful synthesis at the high levels. Devil take the hindmost. Let the buggers figure it out themselves.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We begin as lost men in the mountains with ca-ca spewing from our mouths against our will. It flows down our mouths like a putrid gravy into the dead Earth. We know, then, we are not the angels we took ourselves for and try to make our way back up into the meadow of splendid visions.

A king of nothing! He is saluted and runs boldly through the small shrines and temples we make.

Empty, anonymous houses line the road to Hell.

It is on the surface. It knows no boundary.

Paved into it are the faces of the dead, their mouths prepared to speak. Yelp! Discuss! Make a case!

Men and women move from the houses with fierce determination to fill the streets and make a glum carnival out of nothing.

A man who sells Chinese food from his hut is the pretext for wild insults. Mad youth rampages and turns over everything in its path.

The day is a pounding head with eyes deep into the sense of dread. It is a day that sweats nightmares below the white day-gleam of the moon.

A man carries a moon on his back from morning to night.

He crosses the line of sight from horizon to horizon and becomes a puff of smoke.

We would explode then in laughter and delight on some final night we knew would come.

Sustained as we are by fine music from behind the trees, just below where the steam flows from the underground venting system.

A man is measuring the long street and declaring that the lines that meet from either end start the descent into Hell or ascent into Heaven. A crowd gathers and applauds him wildly knowing they have seen something not shown on TV. They are happy something confirms a reality outside the spoon feeds of the innocuous screen. All screens. Big ones and little ones. Screens! Heads. Properties of the indivisible light.

Awful silence becomes a virtue just before we think it is going to destroy us for good.

"There is only one thing stronger than God and that is a mother's harsh voice."

A minor devil has visited this town and scorched it with the only thing it needs: cynical laughter at everything that tries to crawl from under the rocks. So, at least, we know something of the reality of things.

They suddenly smell themselves and realize they are not dogs and they are not alone.

Grand theories are expounded along the forlorn beaches that look out on the vast ocean. Nothing. Nothing but life, more and more life, life never ending, swallowing even the good and spectral thoughts. Everywhere men go there is danger; there is resistance to his life. He is forced to the surface and remains there waiting for some dark secret to fall down among the trees. "Here man are clouds. You must not live in them."

This is about the time good stories should be told.

ACTION

Writing, like wine or sex, never protects you against the pricks of life; whether those pricks are human or inhuman. If you don't pay the bills things are taken away from you. If you don't have enough money you suffer. You suffer whether you write the greatest story or drink the fantastic wine or make love to the most beautiful woman. Dreams will tell you this. They will flood the mind with inexplicable pleasure and then make you watch as it all turns into poison for lack of funds.

When younger one prefers wine and sex. As one matures writing is a strong competitor and then overhauls the youthful pleasures altogether.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Any and all conflict is raw material. The more complex the conflict the more difficult it is to know how to deal with. The long standing conflict must be done with great thoughtfulness.

In decline hatred is a lively beast.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Language is action. If the world is full of action then language, too, should be varietal and sweet to the experienced mind. Driving the freeway is an action. Flying a plane is an action. Making a business deal is an action. Deciding to work here and not there is an action. Voting for a candidate is an action. As many actions that the world possesses determines the sort of actions language will have.

Language strives to be its own action.

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Mellow day, soft breeze. Sat in sun. If all one did was sit in the sun life would be good in a sense. The ferocious will of free people has run into a ghastly trap. Now they want to save the world! Better that they save their energy for life's demands.

Sat in sun without a hat in sight, so sunned without sinning with the pretty birds all a singing.

Then silence.

The tongue is a fret run up through the limbs of tangling trees and in a breeze new songs appear, it is so dear and precious a thing.

On the far end of the morose rainbow sits five ugly wild turkeys thinking they are beautiful.

A space is as good as the thought it keeps.

Life certainly slices through things to the bitter ringing end.

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SYSTEMS

Products are emptied out of the old world like eggs from the fecund hen. A million hens. A billion of them. The planes fly through the clouds, over the land and sea, under the space that exists for trillions of light years in all directions, in absolute hostility to human life. The leaders talk and solve little or nothing. Cities vibrate every morning with action, with the ceaseless need to stay alive, with intrigue, with dramas of every sort. The long drive passes through us. Then the image we did not expect begins to yammer about nothingness. And now beautiful trees, sexual from the ground to the sky, speak through the wind that blows between their limbs. Green! It is here and lifts us to that domain that is untouchable. We are free of you ungreen people! You nasty bastards.

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Our imaginations are filled with doom and endings. The aliens are always here to take us over as we, the creators of the imaginative beings, have often taken over what existed in some place in the world. And even forward looking types are consumed by the future they had predicted as it becomes the present.

Yet it is always wrong. Spring will appear a thousand years from now and delight whatever beings exist. They will play games and live in some structure that they believe in. They will doubt and fret and worry over things that we would either laugh at or be frightened of.

They will sleep, crap, sex, fight, laugh, dream, and die.

What is designed and created by human beings, in the spaces between now and then, is not predictable.

Tomorrow evening is hardly predictable.

True freedom produces honest debate, good laughter, good will between people, a magnanimous spirit, optimism, openness to learn new things, welcome new experiences, healthy experimentation and a great many other things that I've seen slammed by putative free people. They are not "free" but more like displaced persons from totalitarian and scary regimes who have snuck in by the back door to declare themselves, "Americans." And if they pull down the concept freedom, which is a living concept, to their level then the very idea suffers.

Ah then, perhaps they are not as free as they think. Or it is an empty slogan that has led them into misery.

I studied myself out of a frantic state of mind.

GO

When they taught me I went to them with an open and natural heart. When they no longer taught me I moved on. The rest is a kind of dull, dutiful entertainment.

And yet the cruelty of feeling pinned in and useless among them. The cruelty of it. Yet, are we defined by what pins us?

And aren't those definitions potential allies? So.

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The cursed man runs abundantly wild because everything has gone up in smoke. The sky is not the limit. We leap like little rascals from point to point and count ourselves one of the few lucky ones.

And he who gains the world must decide if the goal is worth it. That is the crucial moment in the life of a writer. And he is divided between the thought and the spirit. Too much thought leads to sterility and control, too much spirit leads to craziness of its own dark. A dance then between the powers of life.

The long advancement down the dangerous road where deception comes from every naked branch, every cry of the jay, every brittle streak of the sun.

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So another year. A year of scandal and self-analysis. Remembering what we wanted to process and forget. Our time moves in us this way for good or ill. We own it finally and are captured and the large contradiction of knowing eternity has been absorbed in the present time. A succession of sincere moments reduced to a few flying thoughts and memories. What is built through time? What hobbles us yet? Have we become what we hated in youth? Those, in other words, who give up the idea of perfectibility to settle with what one has?

Even cats lose their desire to chase rats.

I could be very defensive. I was never rude.

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And the old man was dying and said, in a steady and ironic voice, "Go, go quickly from your past and make yourself run. Do it in waves every time there is need to vitalize what is old and settled. Go west, go north, go inward, go to Mars but go. Leave everything behind but a few seeds of meaning that linger and then bloom when all is bleak. Go until you can't go anymore."

He said this before his passing, in the room with the pictures, "You will be stopped when you must defend what history says you must defend. Defend it well. Note the slow rotting loss in the wide smile. Then you will know where you are. It is not Mars. It is not a fresh colony we claim as our own. But it is not this."

ANOTHER YEAR SPEEDS BY

Another year speeds by with hardly a holler or a whimper. A perfect life would consist in a series of years in which one did what nature intended him to do most of the year. There wouldn't be contentment but there would be the solace of productivity. And the knowledge that one did well regardless if anyone was watching or cared.

Most of the year is spent in trivial matters or bodily functions. What did the Cro-Magnons do, after all, when the game was safely stored away? They slept, eliminated, sexed, dreamt, fought, laughed, and died. A writer always looks to see when and why they started to build cities and tell elaborate tales.

Every age cons itself in believing that pursuing its goals is the only human way. It's true in that the inducements and punishments are very real. Woe to the one who penetrates the mask!

What a writer needs to ask of his or her age is, "what is your perfect shape?" "What is the logic that arcs from then to now?" "Given the amount of stuffing that goes into the brain what stands out as wisdom?"

The writer assumes that progress is real and that the totality of effect of any era is the tension between progress and its resistance. He learns the value of each over time. He learns the shadow of each over time.

Personally I prefer the ascension over the decline. But a writer can be equally fascinated by each.

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The very success of the culture is its oppression. That is, it hides in its complexity and pretends that all is well.

The writer takes on burdens. So much has to do with the relief of the burden.

It is the gap between aspiration and reality; the space between what claws at our freedom from on top and below.

Common reality presumes that it is the final point of development; that nothing can "go beyond" and, obviously, reality has its representatives that require that no one "go beyond" some arbitrary point. That is all part of the game and freedom allows one to escape for moments of time this game and see the splendor which could exist if the limitation were banished.

Yet, it exists and it exists from all directions and the moment of splendor closes swiftly on the need to fly back through the window before nightfall.

So much sorrow and weeping brings us back!

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Since self-interest draws to itself enormous puffs of thought and imagination, it discredits thought and imagination and presents the possibility that, perhaps, these things will vanish as human attributes.

This is experienced as a dilemma, one that you wrangle with for as long as possible before giving up in exasperation. "They do not want the highest development of thought and imagination." That is the thought that finishes off a stage of life.

They want to humiliate and belittle the whole proposition so you go elsewhere and chalk it up to bad experience.

You can't simply "give it away"- they will take it.

Don't go where you are not wanted.

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