Older Stuff from the Barn; 1998-2000 (part 2)
pure existence no not really not meant to be in or stand around or just watch no existence some kind of joke when I say or no pure or impure way back to imply this no exact sum sorry no wording no crisis point and I realize, of course, you won’t either no exit no ego believe pure existence no hiding place me (it’s probably better no better existence that way) existence better for the quiet pure or no pure existence projection out into what is most likely soon to be, in plain language, mended...
I wander around pure existence no you’re kidding what’s called the new neighborhood ethic no new range of existence no ancient range either pure accident and help people organize an existence rummage or yard or pure existence garage sale so important to get rid of clutter...
there was a person pure existence called out into the open terrain no awareness some sort of cottage or factory covered over no or little diminishing returns pure existence...
you’re probably thinking pure existence isn’t this the sort of thing that people could organize for themselves? well, you’d be surprised pure existence impure existence but yes, indeed, certainly, you would in fact be highly aware tucked away inside of existence highly surprised no excuses the look on your face pure existence would indicate that very solitude with absolute clarity and quietly expose before some kind of pure canyon emptiness jury of peers or at least the ones who were paying existence the slightest bit of attention. I’m not saying that people wear masks as a general rule but neither am I saying or implying the opposite...my next-door-neighbor had a pool party the day before yesterday but at the last minute I made the firm decision not to attend. I heard later that the children, the teenagers, the adults, and the elderly all splashed around together for the better part of the day. they all appeared to enjoy themselves. they splashed around with enthusiasm. that’s not to say that certain people in the neighborhood aren’t complete and utter strangers, never adding one iota to the prevailing community ethos... never helpful, never friendly, never the slightest bit interested...ungrateful, privileged, naive little snots! that’s not the spirit that people around here like to project... they like to repeat that word, “wilderness,” and the closely-related word, “wildness”...sometimes for the better part of the day and then even late into the desolate night...I myself say that word a few times and am immediately and inexplicably comforted...of course, you won’t believe me...I’ve already taken that into account...concrete and asphalt were materials that made a lot of sense in that particular era...very seldom left his room...very seldom ventured outside, out-of-doors...worked on pure existence certain terms, outlines, and diagrams...I’ll never attend another pool party for as long as I live...people did everything in their power to maintain their official human status slash relevance...officialdom nonetheless slumbers...sometimes withers...trembles and vanishes...the people realize much too late and there is very little still left to salvage...to rummage thru...others nonetheless went on vacation...spent serious time alone in the canyon...indeed, I ceased paying attention to certain of the paid advertisements...even the ones that would have probably helped me...a fenced in area...walled-in, anonymous, desolate, poorly kept, suspicious, unsettling...one might say, extremely private, maybe even diabolically so...nature? communication? not important. mistakes and errors? not important. the hermit’s home was allegedly situated somewhere on the outermost crag...no more personal visits...wrote an essay for time magazine out of what he termed “absolute nothingness” but sadly enough, never submitted it...fear of living, fear of dying, fear of waiting, watching, and listening.
and so I went back to the chalkboard and created another list of concerns and priorities. the neighbors could see from the outset that I’d committed yet another series of fairly conspicuous blunders. they gaze off into the distance. they gaze off into what in an earlier time may have been referred to as “nothingness.” and yet, they were my only friends...my only confidants...a few of them were mentally ill in the most radical sense of the term...there would, in fact, be no recovery...they were homeless, do you understand? and they would probably go on being homeless for the rest of their lives- it probably goes without saying that a few of them had pretty serious psychological issues, not to mention spiritual, financial, communicative, technological, family, educational, political, artistic, etc.
“...rachel, c’mon- I need to know! no more beating around the bush, if that phrase isn’t too vulgar- do you or do you not want to go with me to the gathering? by that I mean, of course, the ancient and almost sanctified custom of people gathering together for no discernible reason. if david stays shut up inside his room, almost never venturing outside, out-of-doors, never interfacing with the public and yet trying in some desperate way to come to terms with that same precise public...
...you’ll automatically assume that I’m joking and I of course have only myself to blame for your only-too-well-established suspicion slash incredulity...at one point I even attempted to make friends with the reader...I even called him or her by that very name: “reader”, in a failed attempt to get at the core facts...to be intimate...
...rachel, I know you’ll assume it was imagined and in certain senses you’d be almost, but at the same time, not completely correct...
(they were as real to me, if not more so, than many of my actual neighbors)
even some of the beautiful women splashing around at the pool party!
they were more consequential, at least at the critical moments. they might even help save my life. pool parties generally don’t.
I was reduced once again to hovering secretly, quietly, taking discrete peeks thru the curtains, the dark room sealed and silent.
they shrugged their shoulders, ignored me, pretended that the whole thing hadn’t happened
and as a result, I in turn started ignoring myself!
ain’t gonna make that mistake again, let me tell ya!
late at night I was still hovering, secretly, still repeating that bizarre word, “wilderness”, many times in succession...
did it make the least bit of difference?
did it make any discernible difference?
perhaps he had “problems.”
oh yeah? what kind?
psychological, spiritual, financial, communicative, technological, family, educational, political, artistic, etc?
yeah, that’s a few of ‘em.
apparently at some point he went off to some sort of “clinic.”
not really the sort of thing people like to talk about at the pool or bowling alley-
how do you know, smarty pants? when’s the last time you’ve been to either a pool or bowling alley?
hmm...you’ve got a point there, rache...let me scratch out that sentiment and try to come up with something better...
call it an exercise in communicative techniques and/or strategies.
no, no, not that one! the other one!
which one, babe?
the one where you started to say “whatever he was doing wasn’t working, but he couldn’t see any other viable alternatives...”
but I like that one! that’s what happened!
still, I don’t know if people are ready for that-
you mean random, anonymous readers?
well, rache, with all due respect, I don’t think you’re giving them enough credit.
and I think you’re giving them a little too much.
look, I told them at the very beginning that this was all just an experiment.
and do you think they believed you?
how am I to know that?
so you think you can just throw anything out there and just let people decide for themselves?
wow. no wonder you’re so clueless. but I guess that’s part of what I love about you. (they laugh)
whatever it was that was coming naturally, at nature’s ostensible bidding, no longer appeared to be functioning, so thank god there was still a spot left in the communication techniques and/or strategies workshop!
(preliminary remarks from the director, dr. hodges.)
“the man in question woke up around eleven o’clock in the morning. unwell, unacquainted, unemployed, unkept, unaffiliated. all that and more. don’t have time today to cover all of the details. it was a morning more or less like many others he had experienced over the vast stretch of years. it was a situation here on earth, among spirits, humans, animals, plants, ethers, transcripts, and minerals. he gazed out the window for awhile into his neighbors’ tiny scrap of ill-maintained backyard and garden. the relationship was nearly anonymous, and I’m pretty sure that’s how all parties preferred it.
did you want to communicate something, sir?
and I guess I mean by that: something specific.
do you have a sense of what those words even mean: “to communicate?” I’m afraid that the man in question might have been experiencing a wide range of problems, including but of course not limited to psychological, spiritual, financial, communicative, technological, family, educational, political, artistic, etc. that’s probably not the kind of thing that a person like you wants to hear right off of the bat, and I know this because it’s not the kind of thing that I want to hear right off of the bat either! I think we’re the same or at least very similar in this certain respect, and should try and be more relaxed when it comes to this particular issue. even though it’s very sensitive, we should at least try our hardest to be more relaxed. there will be plenty of other issues to get hot and bothered about if we choose to! nor am I, dr. hodges, the director of this particular clinic, suggesting that we consider initiating a core-level friendship or anything, but isn’t it worth at least acknowledging even the slightest bit of common ground? chances are I’ll never see you, so you don’t need to worry about your appearance. I’ll probably never know your name or your general outlook and interests. if you have personal hobbies, well, that’s great- I’m trying to cultivate a few of my own! do you spend time down in the floodplain? do you spend time in the “wilderness?” I’m sorry to put that word in quotes but I just don’t see how I can avoid it any longer. the very word instigates giggling. (giggling sounds from the audience) I’m sorry, folks, it’s just a word that I’ve always liked repeating over and over, for no particular reason and without any expectation that it will make the least bit of difference! I wore a coonskin cap as a child. I feel as though that also deserves to be gently acknowledged. a few people have been worried that I might also be developing a host of serious problems so look- you can be totally open and transparent about your own if you want to. for better or for worse, I’m not really in a position to judge. but even if I was, so what? their constant obsessing about all of this shit probably isn’t going to make things any better for anyone! in fact, it’s probably making it worse! that sounds crazy, I realize, especially when you pause for a moment and consider that one of the things we’re talking about here in coded language is actual “craziness!” full blown, no-holds-barred, good old fashioned shakespearean “zaniness”! I’ll just keep living my ostensible life as a person with serious psycho/ spiri/ fin/ communi/ techno/ fam/ edu/ pol/ and artistic problems and hope that at some time in the distant future I get the chance to sit down and have a close look at the archives and genealogical record. thank you all for coming this afternoon to check out our clinic- stroll around the grounds if you want to, have coffee, have donuts, have organic coconut juice, have a ball, have the time of your life, have a care, have a reason for saying one thing instead of another, I beg of you...”
the hermit fashioned his little outpost on one of the outermost crags and, yes, I’ll do something similar if society thinks it would be better that way. I’ll carry my books and papers around in what the brochures keep calling, quaintly, a “rucksack”; I’ll forage for the wild foods, roots, and berries that I learned about during my brief stint at one of the local community colleges. believe it or not, I was part of their “wilderness program,” sometimes also referred to as “wilderness training”- they promised us that we would learn many valuable lessons, many valuable skill-sets and knowledges that we would almost certainly be able to apply at some dim, distant point in the future.
(I could “intuitively” sense that the reader was “concerned” that I might not tell the story in a “straightforward” manner- I could almost overhear her or him privately worrying that “the author” might not have the basic wherewithal to “tell the story”, if there was one, in an essentially straightforward manner.)
“...rache? are you still up? yeah, I l know it’s late, baby- yeah, I realize that- errors. hodges kept repeating that ridiculous word I alluded to earlier. the man in question confused me- I had, perhaps unadvisedly, taken something along the lines of a “personal interest.” was it related to my lack of confidants and all the talk about the health benefits of strolling around the grounds until we all felt at home? mrs. robinson? or was it because “the neighbors” still seemed to think that we didn’t have enough interests or personal hobbies? I thought I’d at least try and conjure up a portrait of the ostensible “reader,” as it were, out of thin air, more or less on my own, discreetly, using if at all possible the man in question and his “concern for the environment” as a sort of jumping-off point for more traditional storytelling. rache- I’m sorry, but I’ve been honest with you about this from the very first day- I’m one of those weird people who believes that the world would actually benefit from a little more traditional storytelling...”
sure, I could go back thru my old lecture notes and reintroduce some of the more immediate problems, but I’d rather focus on the positives! yipee-ki-yay! the positives! jr. high almost killed me! I shit you not. it was serious! take the common garage sale as an example. people sell the stuff they don’t want or need anymore for unbelievably low prices, or even just give it away for a song. it builds “community spirit.” the man in question just kept lying there well past eleven o’clock in the morning- don’t you agree with me that maybe he needed to initiate a few more activities? he needed to initiate dialogue, don’t you think, and maybe, just maybe, rache- that’s where you and I can come in! I know that you’re probably already over-scheduled and already have a long list of well-established, rewarding, fun, and interesting hobbies- take for example that old guy edward, one of our many local eccentrics. he lives in a run down warehouse. chances are you’d find him “intriguing”! he wanted to start some sort of arts initiative, some sort of community studio for the arts and performance. the building was a little run down, the initial expenses got out of hand, there were some licensing and building code issues, and the whole project quickly ground to a halt. he’s one of the local eccentrics but that doesn’t mean you two wouldn’t have a few things in common! like a lot of people around here I spend considerable time puttering around in the yard. if you want my peer group to make suggestions we’ll try getting together later this week- we’ll put your ideas on the agenda and then address them in the typical first-come-first-served tradition of dealing with difficult stuff. you know- the usual psychological, spiritual, financial, communicative, technological, family, educational, political, artistic crapola. don’t look to me for the answers, dude! that’s why I joined this god damned discussion group! reader, don’t you agree that that’s usually the best way to do things? don’t you think it’s important that we establish at least a little basic or core-level agreement? if you’d prefer, we could meet at one of the local neighborhood restaurants- they dot the landscape in the very ways that our original city founders imagined. they wanted what was best for the entire human, animal, plant, and mineral communities- I don’t know about you, but I’d like to do my part in extending their dream as far into the future as possible! maybe even further than possible, if I’m permitted to say such a thing! this is something I don’t necessarily bring up in all social or interpersonal contexts, but sometimes, sitting down in the evening, pausing, as I’m starting to think about turning in, I visualize the mountains, canyons, and glaciers, and ask them to guide my decisions as I move towards a good night of restorative sleep-