Older Stuff from the Barn; 1998-2000 (part 1)
“...chances are, rachel, that there would be no recovery from a situation like that...and ya know, in a certain way...well...that might in fact be a good thing!...let’s put our heads together, babe, put our thinking caps on...maybe even play the fool if needs be...just because we’ve tried reaching out to them before doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying again...steve tried to utilize his intelligence but there didn’t seem to be any helpful intelligence. the dude was tangled up in the most desperate way! and this was all well before he even started “going downhill.” he was probably “going downhill” from the very beginning. I know, I know, life is supposed to be about going uphill! but this so-called intelligence was only utilized as a weapon from deep inside the fragile heart of the even more fragile system. chances are that there might not be a full recovery from a situation like that. hard to say. time will tell. rachel- remember- he wasn’t even willing to spend time out of doors, out in nature! wasn’t even willing to visit the library- public, private, or perhaps a bizarre combination thereof! didn’t appear to give a flying fuck about literature! again, chances are that there would be no traditional recovery from a situation like that. I might be wrong. I’ve been wrong about quite a bit before, as you know...”
we all began to agree that this was someone with pretty serious issues. there was no need whatsoever to hold back on our commentary. he threw up in the middle of the christmas eve service and people understandably scattered in several different directions. this accident constituted a fire-hazard, if nothing else, what with all of the cute little candles held aloft being dropped by understandably freaked out but also cute little kids. it was confirmed later that he had extremely serious psychological/ spiritual/ financial/ communication/ technological/ family/ educational/ political/ artistic problems.
“...rache, nobody was talking, but that’s ok, because nobody was listening either! it turns out that many of the other service attendees also had extremely serious and ongoing psycho/ spiri/ fin/ com/ tech/ fam/ edu/ pol/ artistic issues. some of them had been feeling a little bit queasy as well, but were able to hold it inside, at least until they got out to the parking lot. one looked at their faces, noticed the bizarre looks on their faces, tried not to laugh but that was simply impossible! performers and audience members alike were deeply confused, frightened, and troubled. not laughing was not an option, rache- not laughing was simply impossible.”
(and at this point they share a hearty laugh over the phone and encourage any readers out there to do so as well. you've probably heard that old adage about the best medicine, right? well, I’m taking it pretty seriously these days, just so ya know.)
as a potential solution they suggested that we consider venturing out into nature, and if that’s too much to ask, well, at least consider venturing out into a protected or confirmed nature area. almost every town has one. between the towns...well, it’s a little bit harder to say. different sort of areas kinda blend into each other sometimes. another way the brochures sometimes worded it was “interfacing with wilderness.” the writers of these brochures seemed to understand that quite a few of us in the late 90’s had extremely serious psycho/ spiri/ fin/ com/ techno/ fam/ edu/ pol/ artistic problems. if one could secretly open up the brain trust and peer closely into its ostensible workings it would become obvious why certain persons had not advanced very far in their chosen professions. (part of me just wants to say: they shoulda picked more straightforward professions!)
there were in fact quite a few of us. I think that’s been made abundantly clear. would you like to read david’s essay on civilization’s bargain with owls? on the information society? they cleared a new piece of land just last week, out behind the old mustard museum- man oh man, talk about the mind/body connection!!! everything has been funneled thru the wikipedia home site. even pedestrian culture! people wandering around in the ruins without any particular destination or reason! (who doesn’t like mustard and want to see it honored in a traditional, time-honored fashion?) “online conversation” tops the list of things one absolutely owes oneself to try out before fading off into oblivion. “online conversation” is the measurement by which all other achievements will be measured.
“...as I mentioned before, rache, he was known, for better or for worse, only as “carl the simple.” (laughter) sure, I wish things had turned out differently; well, guess what? they did not turn out differently! he “jogged about the country.” (wtf?) he “gazed back over the centuries.” that phrase has a nice ring to it. apparently, this is the way stevie boy makes sense of his “difficulties.” ok, ok, one of the ways. yeah, yeah, I know- I wish certain things had turned out differently. (laughter) I wish certain things had turned out differently. (laughter) I wish certain things but not others had turned out very differently. (laughter)
I met some of these so-called professionals and as much as I didn’t want to admit it, the entire situation ended up revolving around the sense of psycho/ spiri/ fin/ com/ tech/ fam/ edu/ pol/ artistic problems. I told them to “get the hell out of here”, get out of here with your serious problems, develop different problems, ya hear, cultivate more interesting emotional and/or societal problems! you privileged little fucker! they were angry, of course, and brought us before the board of directors. I knew some of them from my childhood and dissolute youth. as adults we had of course all gone our separate ways, but when I think back to those early relationships I begin to get a clearer picture of how certain types in this culture (and every other culture as well, for that matter) might go on to develop serious and most likely incurable psycho/ spiri/ fin/ com/ tech/ fam/ edu/ pol/ artistic issues. we picnicked under the oaks. this deserves to be gently acknowledged. we bicycled around for no reason and without any clear destination. the authority figures soon lost patience and sent us to the career development center. it makes sense that a few of us would eventually end up in an office like that. not the highest office in the land, no doubt, but not the lowest either, thank heavens! whatever placates the authorities, ya hear, whatever gets them off my back for awhile! I spent a lot of time in the map room, studying and contemplating our specie's ostensible origins. ms. milbourn wanted me to consider spending a little more time out in public. her pet phrase for it was “venturing out into the community.” they didn’t want me to be satisfied so I reluctantly agreed “not to be satisfied.” not to be satisfied until the we somehow got america working again. they didn’t want me to ask certain questions so indeed I dutifully refrained from asking those particular questions. ms. milbourn warned me that if I didn’t watch out I might be led away in restraints and forced to undergo several days of treatment at a local psychiatric facility. that had already happened several times in my dissolute youth but specific memories were fuzzy. it’s true- I had frittered away quite a bit of valuable time. heading down to the coffeehouse- is that really the most direct way to get ahead of the pack? spending 20 to 30 hours a week roaming the silent halls of the new and improved mustard museum? the voting might have happened in secret, sure, that’s a distinct possibility- but at least concede the possibility that it may have happened in full view of the public! this sense of going back and forth. this sense of no concrete identity. these were in fact some of the things that I was supposed to be working on. my tutor, ms. milbourn, down at the communication development center, was always printing off colorful flyers. sometimes I read them and contemplated our society's origins, other times I listened to speeches about the need for hard work and sacrifice. winston smith comes to mind here, but I can’t say why, exactly. I had neglected certain elements when it comes to core-level book-learnin’ and skill-cultivation and already I was beginning to pay a fairly steep price for that. I wish certain things had turned out differently- have I already mentioned that?
one of those awkward social situations which are usually never regarded as terribly pleasant in which a person finally admits to an incredibly wide range of problems.
(one of those situations, which, admittedly, are seldom regarded as one of life’s perennial mysteries.)
the man was not aware, not excited, not enthusiastic, not anything- no adjective applies in his case. no verbs, no adverbs, no anything.
one of those situations in which a person eventually decides to just lie down on the pavement, muttering something about “wishing that for once it was the right sort or style of pavement.” there’s so many types nowadays- almost impossible to keep them sorted out in one’s head.
you wonder to yourself, if you’re like me- is he really going to sleep there?
and the answer turns out to be yes. the disheveled person stretches out and, before too long, falls fast asleep on the pavement.
you’d like to do something for him but you just don’t know what that something might be!
one of those difficult situations in which everyone grows increasingly fatalistic and sad, some even going so far as to talk about ending their lives prematurely:
“I’ve seen everything I want to, and a lot that I haven’t. if I have to walk past one more tent city...I’ve experienced everything I’ve ever wanted to, really- it seems as though from this point on it’s just gonna be increasingly harsh and wearisome lessons.”
and with that, he disappears, never to be heard from again.
I guess it’s true what they told us- that business about the lasting importance of the career development center.
one of those situations which nobody particularly wants to remember in detail. in moments like that it’s usually best to move onto other activities. thankfully, there’s still a lot of fun ones to choose from! at least in this part of the world, at least for a couple more years! chances are that they won’t be any more sustainable than the previous options, but at least there will be that brief initial period when it feels like maybe things will be different this time.
the same people, the same incredibly, almost unspeakably wide range of problems!
sometimes it feels like we’re being followed and monitored!
of course this isn’t true, and of course it doesn’t reflect well on the person who says such a thing-
before I know it, you’ll be thinking that I have psychological problems!
why, yes- me! my very self! the sanest one of the bunch!
even so, I continue to work at my job as a gardener/ groundskeeper/ handyman-
one of those situations in which people wish that someone might...I don’t know...take care of the problem without drawing any undue attention.
it wasn’t our fault that society had so many problems! or let me phrase that a different way: was it really our fault that society had so many problems? why didn’t the archeologists try and make friends with the congresspeople who had related or similar insights? psychological, spiritual, financial, communicative, technological, family, educational, political, artistic, etc.
that way they might all possibly feel a bit more at home with each other. they might feel as though there was not always something to hide.
they would be wrong, of course, but at least there would be that brief window of time when it felt that understanding or empathy was actually possible!
“rache, honey, listen: I don’t mean to be judgemental or unnecessarily coy but it seems as though every time we ended up talking I was pressured to reveal further and further degrees of what I think could only be termed acute psychological illness. and no, not everyone in the community wanted to hear every last sickening detail. and no, not everyone in the community was committed to preserving lands for public gardens and homesteads. and no, not everyone was interested in attending the technology carnival. and no, not everyone was planning on heading out into the wilderness. and no, not everyone wanted to be seen thru the windows by neighbors. and no, not everyone wanted to create homemade puppet theater down in the root cellar. if I could have convinced him that it was in his own best interests to live, well- I would have. it seems as though merely staying alive should be a semi-natural thing. some of the strangers around here appeared to be filled with fervent ongoing desires. they wandered around in small groups without any clear destination. the warehouse district? the canyon? the cluster of general stores? you know, as much as those locations make a lot of practical sense, and as much as they would contribute to the ongoing narrative, for the time being at least I’m gonna just have to fold my arms and say no. I’m gonna foreclose on that particular narrative, at least in the short term. if he wants to dream up another- if he feels he still can summon up that type of energy- well, good for him, good for you, good for all parties concerned. by the way, I heard about your little fashion design project and may it meet with whatever degree of success you are hoping for. a wild ride, you might have called it. a wild ride into the open arms of the local fine arts community. calling people up on the phone, conjuring them up via this new thing called “the internet.” sending our photos back and forth at the touch of a button. our priceless family photos. I don’t mean to be judgemental or unnecessarily coy but it seems as though every time we ended up chatting informally I was subtly pressured to reveal further and further degrees of what I think could only be termed massive psychological horror. again, winston smith comes to mind, but I don’t know why, exactly. as I mentioned before, this is not something that people necessarily want to spend a lot of time thinking about. this one fellow I know has made a career out of stocking soda machines. when we get together at a restaurant to discuss our latest ideas the other people at the restaurant or bowling alley sometimes ask us to leave. because we’re peaceful fellows, for the most part, we usually comply right away. a few times, though, we’ve lingered on and found ourselves engaged in a shouting match. I read somewhere that shouting matches generally are not considered conducive to the march of civilization, but somewhere else I read just the opposite. go figure. (my bowling average is about 125, by the way.)