Friday, February 1, 2013

older stuff 7

Older Stuff from the Barn 1998-2000 (part 7)

there was no way to approach you, reader.  I couldn’t see any way to approach you convincingly.  I could call you reader, and I did, but would that ultimately make any difference?  are you here to answer questions?  are you here to formulate questions? to rinse them? to rivet them?  are you here to coagulate time? to send back ancient music as if over a vast?  here in body but not spirit?  here one minute and then entirely vanished the next?  look, a lot of people I know are like that!  I myself am like that!  I’m not trying to put you into some special aspiration or category, nor am I a mind reader cookie cutter desperado lone ranger in training, despite the funny looks I've been getting recently by the rotating cast of front desk attendants.  I realize that you’re not the type of person who wants to live alone ever again, but even if you are in that sad and delicate situation right now, that doesn’t mean we can’t establish a little slipstream of common ground, at least for as long as it takes you to reach the end of this paragraph.  I visualize you moving off and uploading eventually, off and up and away into the glorious future. the television. election results. food riots. water tables.  it’s not a sad visualization but it’s not particularly happy either.  it’s an urban existence we’re living here, and it’s the "techno-sphere" that makes it possible. all good things to those who wait, who allow gravity the honeycomb it desires.  

I won’t pretend to know things about you that someone in my position obviously couldn’t or wouldn’t.  I subscribe to human ingenuity and enjoy most traditional forms of human knowledge and information gathering/ winnowing/ sprinkling/ rehashing/ collaging/ redeeming/ recycling.  photographing the great apes has always been one of my favorite activities.  I’ve always believed that as single cell organisms we need to have at least a few shared community interests.  if you would prefer the word “hobbies” I won’t object in the slightest.  hobbies, interests, enthusiasms, whatever- the main point is to "have" them.  to wake up super early in the morning and get up right away and pursue them. unlock the door of your cell and proceed cautiously out into the unnamed visualization. everything your fingers touch is plastic or some other form of digi-synthetic. not a bad thing, not a good thing. not so much long term but short term.


for a long time I must have been writing into or in the service of the actual void.  I won’t pretend to know things that I don’t or can’t or shouldn't or haven't, as attractive as that sometimes may be in the eyes of the archaeology advocates.  my notebooks must have been meaningless. the datebooks must have been rife with fractals. obvious? certainly.  I didn’t have any teachers then, but if I had, they would have pulled back the curtain, I'm sure of it, and laughed, laughed uproariously.  not so much with me but at me.  wasn’t intending to write humorous sketches but that’s how most of it turned out, I’m afraid. and then, the next moment, for no clear reason, not afraid in the slightest! machine culture must have seduced me and it must have helped me seduce several readers.  for a long time I must have been writing into or in the service of absolute nothingness.  that might come off as a pretty strange or severe thing to say, but my "education" was laughably jerry-rigged; I might as well be perfectly transparent about this ostentatious and odious stage of my life.  I won’t say I was troubled, but neither will I say I was comforted.  I won’t pretend to gloss things over, as much as that might please a particular cross-section of comrades. (cartoonish?)  I wasn’t a hillbilly per se, but neither was I particularly cosmopolitan.  my notebooks must have been child's play.  I didn’t have any valid reason for keeping them.  sometimes I just lied there, beneath the earth, wondering what in god's name had become of my "motives"- looking back, I can see that they were tainted from the very beginning.  a weak link in the preliminaries and the entire rest of the process is jeopardized.  writing into the void, writing stories as a slave to the void.  why didn’t the void reveal itself sooner?  what did the void have to gain by delaying?  increased loyalty on my part?  increased detachment/estrangement from all other primaries?  we didn’t maintain communication? I think that much is obvious?  we didn’t maintain our principles, and the global media eventually crushed us?  we deserved it, and at some level we might have even desired it?  there would never be a full confession?  neither would there ever be an honest accounting?  he was a tiresome fellow?  we can't all just admit that?  he was the sort of person who probably doesn’t have a whole lot of friends or even associates?  I’m not personally interested in telling his story, but I’m getting paid by a magazine to do it, so I’m pretty much forcing myself to just get it over with.  

“...keith was living alone when the psycho/ eco/ socio/ archaeo/ logical problems returned with a vengeance.  he was supposed to write a feature article for field and stream's online subsidiary but ultimately there would be no such feature article.  the topic was, and then wasn’t.  the topic is, and then it isn’t.  this happens all the time in the wilderness-based magazine industry.  “interesting” turns towards and embraces its dear friend “uninteresting.”  keith was living alone when the psycho/ eco/ socio/ archaeo/ logical problems returned with an updated agenda.  at first he looked for the humor but it wore thin rather quickly. we could see its ribs and vertebrae sticking out. unwashed, tattered clothing, unreturned phone calls, poor diet. the usual.  if it was possible to embed the situation in a piece of experimental short fiction, voices rising up out of nowhere, appeals made directly to a ghostly character known only as “reader”, sound and silence in the house, a discrete adjustment in weather, person a) not  very cheerful as well as b) not in the least bit successful.  keith and josef k just might decide to switch places, and you as a reader would be roped into it whether you like it or not!  it’s your prerogative of course to pause and glance around the single cell if you desire, or at certain parts of your organism, or at your communication technology.  all of these are items that could be taken in at a glance if one wants to.  "the apes are permitted to spend their so-called leisure time however they choose!" direct quote. (?)  if the stories seem old fashioned, if they fail to implicate you as a relevant subject- the phrase “participation in the 13 billion ring circus” comes to mind for some reason- it’s regarded by the historians as a buzzword that outlived its usefulness.  regarded by the publishing industry as a necessary adjustment/embarrassment.  just the slightest fragment or fraction of keith’s life need concern us for this particular exercise.  he was "living alone" when the psycho/ eco/ socio/ archaeo/ logical problems returned with seemingly redoubled force.  of course he had made countless errors in this "department" before and most likely he was making countless errors "again."  the world was "made up of" errors.  you could probably even define the whole phenomenon by that single and simple word “error.” or "innocent."  there was no mention of a creator and no reference made to creation.  these terms were regarded as tiresome.  another adjective we heard a lot in regards to this situation was “weary.”  as in, “the person in question was weary.”  he laid down inert on the pavement.  the passers-by, although concerned, and maybe even a little bit sick to their stomachs, decided to continue along on their way to important appointments.  keith was living alone and it was by no means an "accident."  there was always traditional literature, always traditional storytelling, always a vast oral tradition invoking the stillness, the darkness, the emptiness.  after a series of interviews, rachel was "invited into my home" for a clandestine visit.  for reasons that will become clear in the semi-immediate future, I wanted to familiarize her with certain archaeological principles that had led our little team to the mother lode.  it had something to do with the feature article alluded to earlier, and some of my concerns regarding “nature” and “authorship”- the concern that there might not be any more “nature” and entirely way too much “authorship.”  venturing out into the public green space had never been my preferred mode of coping, yet there I was again, picking my nose, being asked to reveal my methods before a crack team of citizen journalists.  I won’t lump you into either category until I’ve learned a little bit more about you- you probably think that’s impossible and you have good reason for thinking that.  am I on track here?  is it fair to be implicating you so at such an early stage in the process? the art museum, the movie theater, the public park, the cafe?  is it fair to assume that you are already familiar with these institutions?  or should I sketch out a few particulars, familiarize you with my own version of these locations and textures?  is it desirable in this context to attempt turning my experience, however devastating or paltry, into something along the lines of your experience also?  can we really share some sort of experience?  and if so, is that desirable?  can you, will you, or might you?  our roles are completely transferable- that is a scientific fact of long standing.  the conversational tone is superseded by a long fade into ambient noise, and then, after that, utter silence.  people don’t usually like to hear about utter silence, I've noticed.  they don’t usually like to hear about utter solitude either.  that is why I am taking so long to introduce poor keith’s dismissal at the hands of the editorial board at field and stream's online subsidiary. all that you or they or anyone really knows about him at this particular point is that a)he is living alone and b)he is experiencing psycho/ eco/ socio/ archaeo/ logical difficulties. field and stream has "a checkered and colorful history."

if I had worked a little harder or received a better orientation none of this would even be happening, I overheard the chief editor saying.  all of us, including keith, and including keith's uncle kenneth, would be pursuing different hobbies, interests, enthusiasms, whatever.  notice I don’t use the term “fun activity,” even though it was the most logical choice.  our natural impulses, if we still even "have" them, are usually expressed via "activity."  we wake up in the morning and almost immediately start formulating new and better forms of coercion.  it makes you nervous, understandably, to be addressed by strangers out in the physical public.  you carry around your little secrets.  you adhere to some sort of schedule.  keith had issues, no doubt about it.  rachel attempted to help him.  and I in turn tried to help rachel , primarily by keeping in communication with you, the reader, and kenneth. the family crest had "a checkered and somewhat colorful history."

I know I’ve said this before, but the reader initially appeared to be "elsewhere."  venturing out into public, past traffic lights, moving thru the ocean of anonymous primates that constitute the physical public concavities.  I’ve already mentioned well known entities such as the art museum, movie theaters, public parks, and cafes, but you’ll notice, if you’re paying attention, that I am mentioning them yet again.  there’s a distinct reason for that- and it’s not just a covert way of winning you over to keith's side of the argument.  I don’t have a particular loyalty here.  like the person referred to earlier, I am also decidedly weary.  we’re in communication only because of a particular chain of events which could have turned out much differently- that’s why I remain more or less neutral.  I have no control over your life, no control over your response or reaction.  we might as well be strangers. or statues.  we might as well disappear into absolute anonymity.  not a trace of you remains in my consciousness after a couple of minutes, and I’m sure the reverse of that is true also- we move onto different and hopefully more interesting “activities.”  we murmur to ourselves, over and over, “thank god for activities.” we tattoo these words onto our skin: "three cheers for activity.'  

perhaps you wonder to yourself- is kenneth trying to purify some kind of lost friendship or love affair?  and the answer to that would be no.  the answer to that would be the single, simple, two-letter word “no.”  keith loved archaeology. yes indeed, he loved it more than words could express.  he was no longer leaving his underrground toolshed.  there wasn't any communication with the "rest of the faculty."  there didn’t "appear" to be any contact.  we were worried about his weekly address to the board of trustees.  it didn’t strike us as promising.  we wanted to reach out and encourage him but he was making that next to impossible.  email?  snail mail?  texts?  phone calls?  personal visits?  most of us were completely out of the habit of making these antiquated and cosmic "personal visits."  we wanted to convince society that it needed to make some adjustments, but the way we went about doing that just seemed to induce funny looks from the rotating cast of front desk attendants.

the first, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh, and so on.

“sir, I don’t mean to criticize you but I think that there might be a relationship between those tendencies.  what two tendencies?  religious aspiration and suicidal ideation.  do you think any of this has to do with my weight problem?  sir, I’m tired of you always bringing everything back to your weight problem.  now listen- I’m serious.  jettison the aspiration, jettison the ideation.  I think they’re closely related. just stop eating so much.  I think all those calories are simply dragging you down.  focus on other stuff for awhile, ok? venture out into society. disappear into society.  

you had a lot of skills. (?)  people were important to you. (?)  you had a lot of friends. (?)  success was important to you. (?)  you lived alone down by the docks. (?)  great, now I’m just repeating myself!  it was automatic.  it was easy.  society corrected itself with the silky smoothness of motor oil.  the people I knew the best.  the greatest civilization in existence.  it becomes clear and we like it that way.  the greatest civilization in history.

it becomes gradually clearer to everyone.

gradually becomes more important to obscure what is happening.

why did you do that?
why did you say that?
why did you read that?
why did you purchase that?
why did you ruin that?
why did you not return that?
why did you stay in your room?
why did you not visit with people?
hideous men, how it is, ulysses, the castle, tim of athens, various, others, etc.
always talking about nothing
always talking about other people
felt bad before, during, and after the latest global technology conference.
went back without any solution.
went back without any coherent language.
went back without the same confidence in my online community.

one of the only things that I could say with any conviction- one of the few statements that I felt contained some form of intrinsic, undeniable sense- the words themselves containing something like actual value- tony did indeed live a life of adventure, sorta like indiana jones and the temple of coconuts.

person whose name might have been nothing
person whose name might have been anything

even if you, as native speaker-
even if you attempted to conjure absolute nothingness-

no existence
wait, you’re kidding
that’s really interesting
no, I'm not just saying that, honey
banishment followed by utter oblivion
are you serious?  kidding?  
maybe both at the same exact time?
no existence, no housing, no conversation, no wilderness, nothing-
but honey, we engaged in conversation!
I can tell just by the look on your face you were banished from the steering committee!
no existence.
no science.
nobody around here qualified
to talk about the paradigm shifts.
art and experimentation.
not a matter of number.
not a matter of timing.

formal tools? not that important
people’s bones?  not important
colonel sanders shaved off his beard.
you can read all about it on the company website!
woke up this morning and almost immediately logged onto a couple of interesting websites.  
I heard this phrase in passing:  “there will be no more commitment to websites”; but I didn’t believe it for a minute, and I doubt you did either.

I realize as well as anyone that this is going to sound a little bit crazy, but I still maintain that my neighbor larry is the most important person in the entire united states of america.  in spite of all his psycho/ eco/ socio/ archaeo/ logical difficulties, he remains the most important person in the entire united states of america.

(people, I’m sure, are going to think that I’m just joking around when I say this, but I went to a neighborhood meet-n-greet yesterday and really enjoyed myself!)

as a child I played in the sprinkler and I wonder if you did also.  later on I started using recreational drugs and I wonder if there’s any chance you did anything similar.  we would go down to the viaduct- I don’t see what the big mystery is.  we would go down there so as not to be seen by any authority figures.  when the drugs had taken effect, we would oftentimes just engage in conversation.  my neighbor ron just so happens to be the most important person in the entire united states of america.  there’s a parade later this summer and he is going to be in it, I think!  there are so many things to be shared between an author and reader.  they exchange little tidbits from their personal lives- I don’t exactly know why this is so, but it is so.  it has been verified.

if I could go down there and meet woodsy the owl I probably would.  that’s how empty and ridiculous my life has become.  I paced for several minutes outside the neighborhood bookstore, looking thru the large picture window, very much afraid of going in.  the big newscast starts in several minutes and I do not want to miss anything.  chances are a lot of important stuff happened last night and today.  if I don’t find out about it first hand I’m gonna be in serious trouble.  someone will find out about my shortcomings and publish them in the community newsletter.  they suggested I relax but I responded that I was already relaxed.  what’s wrong with pacing around outside a neighborhood bookstore?  there’s a high chance that somebody I know is in there browsing the aisles.  my neighbor ron is the most important person in the entire united states of america.  ivy grows and clings to the walls of his toolshed.  it’s details like this that make the narrative fun for people to read and reflect on.