the day, if you could even-or-odd-to-call-it-that-anymore any longer...
or, any old day, if you or he or she or it or they were still recognizable, cognizant, literate, pre or postmodern happenings that end up helping to essentially un-define the delicate era in question...
or even the "big day", if that is still considered an accurate term, became increasingly, over the hard slog of centuries, difficult...
I warned some of the people
(these were, by the way, people who lived "full time" out in uncharted wilderness.)
so in any case, the "day of reckoning", if we can even speak about such a thing realistically, and if the concepts "anymore" and "any longer" still apply to this so-called "offline roundtable discussion"...
the tired old words, and then, guess what: the new ones! yes, the endlessly interesting, endlessly generous new ones! guessed at, hinted over, identified inside of a vacuum, tried and tested and researched and ultimately determined to be equally weary...
does it come as any surprise that the day stumbled across an alleged "trap door in the ethos"?
I told the day to go elsewhere.
the day told me to ask more politely.
I did so, and astonishingly, the day complied,
without any more questions asked!
gosh- maybe it wasn't going to be as difficult as I originally thought!
dr. hill's various critiques of society, religion, personality, science, and language were not really able to help a person like jonah of ninevah. her assessments of what it meant to be human in the twenty-first century, within an industrialized and increasingly technologically determined society, religion, personality, science, and language were not only not able to help a person like that drama queen jonah, but it made things immeasurably worse. his usual hiding places were being sealed off one by one. he was very quickly and efficiently being backed into a corner, soon to be forced into a situation of raw animal panic. dr. hill encouraged jonah over and over to lash out at his oppressors, but he was the type of person who, when it came right down to it, would much prefer to lash out himself. it appeared to be simpler, quieter, and quicker that way.
most people, of course, didn't believe me so I had to work especially hard for awhile to convince them that I was in fact the most important person in the entire united states of america. I had made up my mind to run for an important political office.
first order of business: head down to the neighborhood coffeehouse! "no time to waste", I kept telling them. gather up a few personal belongings and head directly down to the neighborhood coffeehouse! push the walk button, wait for the diagram of the green human figure, look both ways, and proceed cautiously but quickly across the street toward the coffeehouse. (if there's not a coffeehouse there anymore just pretend that there is one.) there was a brief period during my twenties when I lived essentially out in the open, without a fixed abode, fixed identity, or fixed set of companions or tasks. I guess one might refer to it as an "information gathering exercise." my primary base of operations was established in a quiet nook under an interstate overpass, but there is no gainsaying the fact that I also spent enormous amounts of time at the neighborhood coffeehouse, gazing out at passersby, traffic, beggars, the odd sidewalk performer or preacher, stray animals, and sometimes even anonymous ghosts: attempting to discern their innermost thoughts, emotions, intentions, and memories.
(the barista, big tony, I regard as a personal friend, by the way. I can't say for sure if he regards me in an approximate light, but that's fine. there are quite a few things about big tony that I can't say for sure! trust me on one thing, though- he makes a mean peanut butter and jelly!)
I have painstakingly assembled around me a crack team of advisors, linguists, doctors, texas rangers, and scientists, several of whom have spent serious time living alone out in the wilderness. I mention this at the outset because it is considered by many in the helping professions to be one of the most important experiences an ostensible human being can possibly have: gathering up a few token possessions and disappearing beyond the margins of commerce, agriculture, and industry.
is it my fault that reporters and historians follow me around wherever I, jonah of ninevah, go? that they appear to chart my course for me several months and sometimes even years in advance? that, despite being the most important person in the entire united states of america, they seem to know better than I do what critical decisions I will eventually make? every other day I receive a call from good ol' jim lehrer, begging me to come onto his beloved newshour interview program for a little give and take style conversation or discourse. and then, on the alternate days, in comes a call from good ol' amy goodman, begging me to come onto her beloved democracy now interview program for- surprise, surprise! a little give and take style conversation or discourse and maybe say something along the lines of "it's a confusing era we live in" or "I think we all can agree on that." rumor has it that exponentially increasing numbers of so-called human formations log onto the internet in pursuit of information that can allegedly only be found out in primordial wilderness!
even though we kept on talking even though their confusion appeared to be laughable it was so important so essential that we or I continued to go to our or my job at the lumber mill. yes, for better or worse, I or we stacked and sandpapered boards for a living. I'm not one of those people who simply lies down on the cold barren earth and forgets his or her duty to society, history, science, the family, the lord, the community, the cosmos, the afterlife, all that stuff.
"dr. bill, please- for the love of god, please! please help me create the illusion of an external world! it's important for all of us here in the neighborhood organization, many of whom you will never have to see again in your life if you don't want to! and from the look on your face right now, I'm pretty sure you don't want to!"
"dr. jill, you've gotta believe me- if we could have been stronger, we would have! if we could have personally put a stop to the systematic eradication of certain vulnerable animal species, we would have! do you enjoy professional wrestling? or do you prefer the greco-roman variety? well, if it's the former, let me say this: three cheers for professional wrestling! and if it's the latter, let me say this: three cheers for the greco-roman variety!"
"the people are bone tired- can't you see that? it doesn't take a jonah down in the whale to realize this, doctor! they just want some sort of fun recreational outlet!"
just as my foster son's final death throes were commencing, a moderate tempest began to quietly brew in the heavens. you won't believe this either, I realize, but I'm perfectly ok with that. big tony and I were sleeping under the interstate overpass and all of a sudden we both woke up simultaneously, hearts pounding, trembling arms and hands and crooked finger bones reaching, clawing out into the grit, and in halting voices began to recount the vivid dreams we'd been drowning in only a few moments earlier.
they were almost identical dreams.
yes, I know that's also somewhat hard to believe, but I'm getting more used to that these days, as the dream fragments themselves will attest to...
"there was a small group of us down in the old basement on orchard street, dr. hill. I'm not sure what we were supposed to be doing. there was music coming from somewhere but I'm not sure we were supposed to be listening. well, doctor, I know it's crazy... but we were listening anyways. weary unto death as we were from 17 hours straight at the lumber mill, ill clad, ill informed, warding off the advances inside certain anonymous pandora's boxes, the children, the infirm, the elderly, all tossed in willy-nilly like some digital form of stone soup- does that reference register, doc? anyhoo, it wasn't the so-called way of the world that bewildered us but the incessant talking, the endless questioning, answering, following up, re-assessing, restating the other's words in a gentler language, following up again on all the salient points until the whole thing becomes so obvious that the music begins to splinter and ripple, following suit much in the manner of your classic grand mal seizure style of intercourse..."
al suggested meekly that we all head down to the waterfront and every voice in the old basement on orchard street piped up immediately, agreeing that this was in fact the perfect activity for an ambiguous situation like this one. some of us went up to al and thanked him for coming thru in a pinch. he said something along the lines of "your welcome." (?) al's wife muttered something about "un-buried treasure often straightforwardly re-assigned and abandoned with nary a comment or quick backward glance... take that, fancy artisans, and see it it makes any difference in your fading career as a "watcher" in the elizabethan sense of the term..."
(sorry, jonah- didn't mean to lay your soul wide open to all of these carnivores on the internet- but that's how prophecy operates in this day and age, simple fellow! you would know this if you hadn't been thrown or jumped overboard- digital culture, the experts told us, was finally coming into its own, and there you were, down there, chilling out with all of the other gastro-intestinals.)
dr. bill was one of those people who gave the impression of "having all the time in the world." you might be wondering to yourself as you read this: might this be a subtle illusion? after all, there's the so-called "world" on the one hand and so-called "time" on the other- to think that the two might partake of each other to the extent that they became essentially the same- indistinguishable- well, that's asking an awful lot from the reader, I realize! the reader most likely maintains certain standards of decency. and if he or she doesn't, well, we may as well part ways right now.
another thing you might be wondering: is dr. bill a relatively elderly fellow? or rather, is he a relatively young, active-lifestyle type fellow? for reasons that will become clear in the relatively near future, I am going to refrain from satisfying your curiosity on this particular point. true enough, he did strike one as "having all the time in the world." the next obvious question is: how in god's name could this possibly be? did he earn it? or save it? or invest it wisely and prudently over the years? did he hire consultants? did he give it a moment of thought? dr. bill was an odd duck, there's no or little question about that. for a couple of weeks he decided to take jonah "under his wing", as it were. jonah was in visible need of some counseling.
"the people of ninevah, jonah, are weary of always hearing from the same third-person narrator. as in, 'gregory had his ideas. gregory lived under the interstate overpass. gregory had his identity. gregory sometimes played the harmonica to while away the hours.' and so on. or, to shift tenses and emphasis: 'gregory is his ideas. gregory owns and maintains the interstate overpass. gregory is his identity. the harmonica plays gregory.' do you see where I'm going with this, jonah of ninevah? yes sir, I do. good. well then, to push the matter even further, try this one on for size: 'gregory is a word and words can barely be said to exist. gregory built the interstate overpass with a pile of rubble and a small set of hand tools. gregory never has had and never will have an identity. and at a certain point, he melted himself down into a harmonica.' am I still making sense, son? you are, sir. ok. good. now, in regards to this business about me "having all the time in the world"- does it have anything to do with me being a relatively elderly fellow? an "old man", as it were? it might, dr. bill. but I think there are several other factors at work. care to enumerate some of them, jonah? no, not at this particular point. fair enough, fair enough. I like your style, young fellow. a little high strung, perhaps, but maybe we can figure out how to derive an advantage from that..."