Thursday, November 14, 2013

(reruns of Macguvyer on VHS tape can sometimes help out in a pinch)

Karl and I started a writing group last month and we were immediately and I mean immediately overwhelmed with submissions:

Hi, I'm 86 years old & a greeter/groundskeeper at the Wal-Mart Super Center in Columbia, Missouri, just off of Highway 63.  I’m one of those people who just likes to hover there in the zone.  You may or may not understand that, may or may not support that, may or may not want to join me.  These things are all up to you, it’s a matter of you finally becoming more of the person you actually are, and if that so-called actual person wants to join the greeting/groundskeeping crew well, you’re in luck, ok, total luck, because there are a bunch of new openings.

I was born without an identity, but I got fed Denver omelettes.  From day one.  Denver omelettes contain most of the important food groups as set forth in the classic Food Pyramid.  Perkin’s Family Restaurants.  The wishing well of recreational toys and activities.  I also ate the Spider omelette and enjoyed an English muffin with marmelade.

(If astroscience starts up in this weird community I wanna get in on the ground floor or something.  That doesn’t seem to much to ask.  I raked the leaves, picked the apples, split the wood, pitched the tent.  Grape jelly, if it exists, is probably the key to the mysteries.)

You know, I go in every day. Sharpen the blades, get the equipment all workin'. I show up usually seven, eight. Between seven and eight. Usually hit the lawns about nine, you know, start mowin'.  Then I put all the stuff away, do some blow,  take a shower, put on clean clothes and my name tag, head to the front of the store, put on a big smile, you know, open up a soda pop and start greetin’.

Some people like to wear uniforms, other forgo that little convenience.  If you want me to climb up on the roof and gaze off into the faraway wilderness I will do so, because I have received quite a bit of specialized training.  Sometimes I say strange words and make strange gestures but most of my words and gestures are normal.  If you don’t believe it, just ask my colleagues, or anyone else who spends a lot of time in my presence.  I’m not against conversation on principle, but I can’t say I’m its biggest supporter.  When I’m happy or excited I usually just jump up and down several times, as a way of signalling to the others.  We try very hard to understand one another but most of our efforts fail miserably.  We want to engage in conversation but are oftentimes not allowed to do so by the local authorities.  They are mean to us, and sometimes we are mean in return.  We venture out into nature.  We protect patches of wilderness.  We watch the movie Patch Adams for inspiration, laughter, and insight.

This might seem off the subject but I’m just gonna come out with it anyway: I remember, a few years ago, milling around in the lobby of Carlsbad Caverns, and suddenly feeling a strong urge to visit the men’s room.  Imagine my surprise upon entering and finding an elderly gentleman lying face down on the floor, presumably dead as a doornail.

Three years later, I watched a TV news report about a woman who collapsed on the floor of the waiting room of Lamman Hospital in Memphis, and continued to lay there, face down, for an hour before anyone bothered to check on her status, by which time she had disappeared into the void.  The people around her were just eating popcorn and watching Wheel of Fortune.

The lumber mill owner decided it was high time to level with Frank, and told him bluntly that he found it very nearly impossible to read a contemporary novel that presents itself unself-consciously as a novel per se, since it’s not clear to him how such a book could convey what it feels like to be alive right now.  Frank just shrugged.

*eat the antioxidant-rich foods listed in Chapter 4 and follow the antioxidant supplement regimen suggested in Chapter 5.  *sweat—exercise and heat therapies like saunas and steam rooms help rid the body of toxic buildup.  *use non-toxic, earth- and brain-friendly cleansers in the home and office.  *buy natural soaps, lotions, and shampoos, and avoid perfume or cologne.  *consider an occasional detoxifying regimen, perhaps with a period of fasting.   *I like doing a spring detox sometime in April and another in the fall, to prepare for winter.

Avatars of popcorn act as spies, saboteurs, criminals of amour fou, neither selfless nor selfish, accessible as children, mannered as barbarians, chafed with obsessions, unemployed, sensually deranged, wolf-angels, mirrors for contemplation, eyes like flowers, pirates of all signs and meanings, unite!  I know that you often struggle to come up with topics for interesting and informed conversation.  A greeter greets people, you realize- tries to make them feel welcome and so forth.  Wal-Mart appreciates folks coming in here and spending their benjamins, so we help them out if we can.  There’s a soda machine in the boiler room that Gerry, the former assistant manager, kept stocked with cans of Hamm’s and Bud Light. A cherished secret, by the way, that I hope never goes any further than this.  It’s the active life that we’re interested in.  Always has been, always will be.  Stuff like that doesn’t change.  Your electronic devices don’t add up to jack nowadays.  We greeters laugh at people like you.  For YEARS after the fact, in some cases! How turned around some folks can become in the Super Center! I wonder aloud sometimes how these people even survive.  Now on the other hand, if an older person comes in, depressed and burdened by a lifetime of woe, we hold the door open.  That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.  

So yeah, you want the delirium, man. You want it pretty bad.

A word as to the formation of caves, grottoes, caverns, and rock shelters: these vary greatly in size, some being so small as to furnish protection to but few individuals; others, especially caves, so large that whole tribes might have found a place of resort within their chambers.  Recycled material covers the walls, color abounds, and knickknacks accumulate to create a comfy zone. Sure, one room will house far more people than seems possible, but for many, a moss dwelling offers more comfort than a shaman’s rude bamboo hut. While the pirated electricity may be unreliable, AT LEAST THERE IS ELECTRICITY. Know what I’m sayin’?  To the north of both these great empires were barbaric wildernesses.

Something else to keep in mind if you are thinking about joining the gardening/groundskeeping team is that a palimpsest is a manuscript that has been reused by writing over the original writing, often at right angles to it, and sometimes more than once. frequently it's impossible to say which layer was first inscribed; and in any case any "development" (except in orthography) from layer to layer would be sheer accident.  the connections between layers are not sequential in time but juxtapositional in space.  silently gazing off into the void is a good example of this. letters of layer B might blot out letters in layer A, or vice versa, or might leave blank areas torn, disrupted, interrupted, flung about, defaced, like a carelessly arranged office after it has experienced in succession a bombardment, a hostile military occupation, looting, an earthquake, riots, and a fire, but one cannot say that layer A "developed" into layer B (we're not even sure which came first!)  and yet the juxtapositions may not be purely "random" or "meaningless" either.  from what I understand, the earliest waves of web activity were remarkably fun and energetic and had the sort of intimate, reproductive quality that we usually only associate with classic sexual intercourse. call to mind for a moment the summer that the two of us hiked nothingness canyon, and you begin to get an idea of why I spend so much time on social media sites.     

Hello, my name is Mary, I am interested in joining your writing group.  As a human being, I tend to be good, good and obedient.  I will bring a lot to the table.  Please let me enter into your writing group.  Yes Yes Yes.  I like the Doors, too.  Lighting of the fires, all that.  I like to walk thru doors into vast genres of emptiness.  Most other writing groups aggravate me.  People don’t appear to value being good, good and obedient.  Why is that?  My creative studies all imploded, so I made a bee-line back to the primordial volume.  I want to share my adventures with people and animals in some sort of loosely defined organization!  Is this possible?

So yeah, you want the delirium, man.  You want it more than anything in the universe.

Do I really know these people?  Not really.  Well then why do I greet them, you ask?  I have absolutely no idea.  I just do.  I just stand there and greet them.    

My grandma heard on satellite radio that the New Writing Group was not considered very successful.  She phoned in and told the satellite dj  to go f him or herself with a public library barcode, and surprisingly, the dj agreed to do so ON AIR!!!  He or she or whatever also took back what it said about the New Writing Group and stopped making insipid comparisons to all the other countless earlier Writing Groups, both successful and non.

Immanuel Kant: Well, for one thing, Pocahontas was just a kid when she met John Smith, who was practically middle-aged by Elizabethan standards. So I think she probably did have sort of a childish crush on him but they were probably never lovers or anything like that. Now the familiar American version of the story makes us think of a person today who speaks about getting something out of his “system” who locates himself within this new state of affairs whether or not he has any aptitude for computers. In calling the computer the “root metaphor” of this new age, pocahontas does not suppose that the computer has in any simple sense caused it, and her concept of lay literacy emphasizes this point. Ferdinand de Saussure had supposed that language was a system of signs, Alan Turing dreamed of a “universal machine,” Norbert Weiner coined the term cybernetics, and Erwin Schr√∂dinger guessed that even the human genetic stuff is a binary information code long before the existence of even the room-sized Univac became public knowledge in the 1950s. If we take her term “watershed” in its original sense, in which it represents a whole drainage basin and not just the height of land that defines its boundary, then it is clear, at least in retrospect, that during the course of the twentieth century many tributaries have flowed into the stream that pocahontas realized in the mid-1980s was now in obvious decline, not irresistible flood. Her mother recalls that the earth was once a ball of incandescent matter, like the sun, and has since cooled down. More than that, this process still continues; and the time must come when the earth, having yielded up its internal heat, will cease to be an inhabitable globe- nonetheless, the sense of outrage she felt in 1964 when “for the first time in my life I became aware that I was being addressed not as a person but as a transmitter.”  But, look, at some point, a change in quantity becomes a change in quality; and, by the time we spoke in 1988, pocahontas was very much preoccupied by the abstract and disembodied character of the new systems discourse, which was increasingly becoming the source of self-definition in the age of post-textual literacy as having temporarily saved the colony, and then she had a nice marriage with another englishman, and everything went on happily ever after. but things didn’t necessarily happen that tidily.  she was essentially kidnapped by argall and probably brainwashed into converting to christianity.  over the years, this gets translated by historians into “weird dancing in all-night computer-banking lobbies.”  I’ve also read accounts of unauthorized pyrotechnic displays, land-art, earthworks, reverse osmosis, etc as bizarre alien artifacts strewn in state parks, state forests, state caverns, state hospitals.  burglarize houses but instead of stealing, leave poetic-terrorist objects. kidnap someone and make them happy. pick someone at random and convince them they're the heir to an enormous, useless,and amazing fortune- say 5000 square miles of antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an orphanage in bombay, or a collection of ancient alchemical manuscripts.  later they will come to realize that for a few moments they believed in something extraordinary, and will perhaps be driven as a result to seek out some more intense mode of existence.

But sir, certain people whom I admire and respect very much as colleagues and peers have told me over and over that writing on Twitter, MySpace, Youtube, Flickr, Huffpo, and Facebook is a sort of mug's game of writing, that no self-respecting person would ever consider it. I have my own wishes, own feelings, own trends, own aspirations, at least to a certain extent. I admit at the outset that none of them have been regarded as the least bit successful and that I often go onto sites like Ubu or Google to lament my fate and solicit advice from friends, foes, total strangers, pseudo clergy, etc. After several minutes of sharing I usually feel as though these people finally know the real me, and that they want what is best for the entire community. Why that should be considered a mug's game sort of writing is very perplexing to me, sir. It doesn't jibe or jive with my experience, even if said experience has not been altogether unique. Opening up the laptop, gazing for awhile into the rectangle of nothingness, trying for several hours to generate a few decent ideas, no success whatsoever, maybe taking a break, doing some chin-ups, some push-ups, some jumping jacks, painting the hallway, some whittling, maybe a small health-conscious snack, like 3 bean salad or applesauce, maybe joining your writing group, maybe coming up with a different focus or life-plan altogether, maybe joining an action committee, maybe spending more time out in nature, maybe buying a fish tank, or studying the life and times of Johnny Appleseed or Nick Bottom the Weaver, maybe cutting the grass, or petting the cat, or literally flying a kite, if that's possible. I've never fancied myself the sort of person to consciously take part in a mug's game! I come from a small rural community where writing groups such as yours were held in the highest esteem. People have told me over and over that my education thus far has been laughable, and that if I don't make some serious changes asap it will probably remain laughable to the end of my days. Maybe this is where your writing group might come in. I don't know if there is a pedagogical component or not, but I'm interested. Very interested. In the information-gathering stage. Reviewing the incentives, the options, the drawbacks, etc. Wondering sometimes why I was born, and why this event required an official certificate. I guess there's lots of people. Sometimes we need explanations. Sorta like the time I went to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago as a child, wandering up and down the vast corridors, studying the various fishes, trying not to make too many errors but making many errors regardless, wanting to learn as much as possible about the many different colorful species, wanting to do a lot of on-site, on-point, on-task, and on-the-spot learning. If you let me into your writing group I will bring this sort of inquiry with me. I don't just wander around for no reason. I like to have deadlines and focus. I wanted to be an actual fish for awhile, and live at Shedd Aquarium 24/7. See, this is the sort of devotion I bring to a project once I decide to commit. Mug's game or no, I enjoy the way conversation develops over the long term. Person A says something, makes some sort of observation or asks a pertinent question. Person B considers it carefully, takes some time out for reflection, does some research, if not an original search, weighs the various pros and cons, the hidden pitfalls, the trade-offs, and then formulates what he or she hopes is a pertinent answer. The roles are then reversed, and Person A does the reflection. And so on. I wonder sometimes if it's possible to develop a writing group that mimics this process, or would that too be considered a potential mug's game by the locals? I would be more than happy to focus on just Shedd Aquarium, and tell all about the different species and their bizarre antics and habitats. Some people think fish don't have any tangible feelings, but my research suggests otherwise, sir.

The lumber mill owner continued: “I’m used to books with title headings thru which I can manually search with/for different fonts disengaged from the formal sense of bibliomatics this sick idea of indexing distinguished from the rest of the remote and indivisible wisdoms emerged intact for the first time around the seventeenth century enjoy yourself for a change enjoy the sweet meadow grasses sub-paragraphs sub-headings and sub-inversions appear out of the nothingness numbering becomes highly disordered a looming sense of apocalypse and again the recurring sense of terrible psychological problems psychological problems that just won’t go away people jumping up and down for no discernible reason it’s too early but you want to get your dog pregnant asap! I am willing to hear the truth from the kennel and I will tell you.  OK?  That’s just the sort of person I am.  Instead, believe, o believe, even if just for a second, believe, that humans AND canines are the result of billions of years of implicit, evolutionary study in the School of Hard Knocks.  My preferred medium is charcoal, yes, lightning-quick studies in charcoal.”  Frank was still very confused and shrugged again several times.  A familiar song came onto the stereo.  It was Simply the Best, by Tina Turner, in which she tells an unnamed listener that he or she is, in fact, simply the best.  Better than all the rest, ever.

(Frank is in charge of nothing less than constructing an entire world from scratch.)

Start the day with two to four glasses of water just after arising. Be sure that the water itself is pure so that you aren’t adding toxins by drinking it. I recommend carbon-filtered water.  distilled water or water treated with a reverse-osmosis filter is more likely to be pure.  Eat organic foods as much as possible.  In the world's past, millions of millions of species of such creatures may have lived and multiplied and flourished and passed away without a trace remaining. Get plenty of antioxidants into your diet, as they help protect cells from the damage of free radicals.

BW: in all of your books so far you transport readers fluidly from different worlds, times, and reality zones.  It’s almost as if you want readers to recognize that their own worlds are more open-ended and more fluid, temporally and spatially, than they realize — that they’re not just sealed off. BO: People would be better off if they realized that their own particular world was not privileged.  Everyone’s world is no more and no less important than everyone else’s.  To have as many worlds as possible that are invested with interest or meaning is a way of making that point. I’ve gradually begun to see that I can use even my footnotes and glossaries and other sorts of materials to create some of this sense.

The lumber mill owner droned on, despite the very obvious look of weariness stealing over poor Frank’s visage: “The few thousand years of which we have historical evidence sink into absolute insignificance beside the unnumbered aeons which unroll themselves one by one as we penetrate the dim recesses of the past, and decipher with feeble vision the ponderous volumes in which the record of the earth is written.  And yet,  few years ago, a friend of mine was taking the train up the California coast, and decided to walk very slowly through the entire length of the thing, from the last car and even up into the locomotive, if possible, so that she might get a sense of what people were talking about.  Every single conversation, she told me, centered around the joys of pet ownership.”

“What do you mean by that?” Frank asked.

“Stone-cutting, gardening, hydraulics, watchmaking, mineralogy, architecture, glassworks, brewing, dyeing, wood engraving, type-founding, sawmilling, and so on.”


“The difference between a manuscript palimpsest and a theory-palimpsest is that the latter remains unfixed. it can be re-written -- re-inscribed -- with each new layer of accretion.  and all the layers are transparent, translucent, except where clusters of inscription block the cabalistic light -- (sort of like a stack of animation gels).  all the layers are ‘present’ on the surface of the palimpsest -- but their development (including dialectical development) has become ‘invisible’ and perhaps ‘meaningless.’”

“So you’re sayin’ that Mr. karl positively lusted for the chance to yield himself to the gratification of eco-technology?”

“Exactamundo, Frank.  Follow me here.”  

(Suddenly, I had an idea for dinner. “Hey! There’s a movie theater over there about a half mile. It’s getting nearer to closing time. I bet we could score some popcorn.” “Old popcorn for dinner?” Sam didn’t sound impressed. “It’s better than nothing,” I said. We decided to give it a try and started walking. When we got to the theater, I stayed outside with the gear while Sam went in to scout popcorn. We had noticed that we were more welcome if we did our begging alone, without a backpack and guitar. I sat on the theater steps. I could feel the power of the approaching storm charging the night air with electricity. A few minutes later, Sam emerged carrying two small boxes of popcorn and dragging a black garbage bag overflowing with the stuff. At the same moment, a hard rain swept down on us. “Great!” Sam yelled, sarcastically. “Soggy popcorn is even better!” We struggled to take our gear and our dinner to the shelter of a nearby overpass. The rain came in torrents, lightning flashed, and thunder shook the city. Above us on the freeway, traffic slowed and horns honked in the downpour. But Sam and I stood there feasting, happy to have a front row seat for the show— and popcorn, too. “This is amazing,” I said, taking another mouthful. “Yeah,” Sam agreed. “Way better than a movie. You can feel the thunder right in the center of your chest.” I thought back to when I was a boy, stretched out on my front lawn in Colorado to watch thunderstorms envelop my small town. The incredible forces of nature at work, the danger and excitement of the advancing storm. I’d watch entranced until Mom found me and called me back inside to keep me from getting electrocuted.)

“Frank, I don’t tell many people this but you’re a valued customer, neighbor, and friend: I awoke as from a trance, and, in the glare of the Crystal Palace which was burning – we could see it from the veranda where we slept – I caught a snap-glimpse of other patients, some dressed, and felt them, from their clothes mostly, to be thrillingly contemporary, of today, absolutely, and I imagined an element of cure in this experience.”

“I’m still not using a blueprint.”

“This has nothing to do with your treehouse!!!  Get it together, Frank!  My God!  What do you think I do all day here at the lumber mill?”

“Have you created a special technique of with these illustrations?  

“Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a few years, and I’ll show you a book that I have where I finally just bound all the possibilities for it.  (He leads Frank to more prints.)  This is a Hawaiian one that I did. there are a couple of versions of it, and I haven’t yet decided whether I want to hand-color it or what color it should be printed in.  This orange sunshine drove me deeper into my head than I’d ever been.  It was like a thousand cruise missiles pointed straight at my brain stem.  I drank a glass of chocolate milk.  My visual field had effectively expanded hundreds, even thousands, of times in resolution and detail, as though the data density and picture quality of the highest-quality animation had been magnified immeasurably!   

“Whoa there, partner- simmer down for a second- let’s take a step back and look at these foliage engravings. The scene looks like a dense, complex mound of vegetation, very thick with leaves and spidery branches.”

So yeah, the delirium.  Sometimes that’s all a person like me can think of for weeks.  You want it BAD, but wonder to yourself as you’re shutting down the systems at night: Is it a sad misconception?

Hello, my name is Larry78, I like the veneer of a “writing group.”  I was with that woman Mary for awhile, and trust me, she was/is NOT good OR obedient.  We DO need another hero, apparently, and my meager contribution/scholarship will help us figure out who that hero might be. Greg of Bordeaux?  Greg of Iowa? Greg of Visual Culture? Will the fools (the name that Lula kept floating was way too long to be feasible but Little Mac liked it anyway: "Can't Believe the Interlinked Technology is Still Actually Working!") ever agree about anything?

Hello, my name is G Lint.  I like cacti and most of my weird contributions will be about liking cacti and wandering thru Nevada with a pocket edition of Blake’s greatest hits and Understanding Media by Marshall Something Or Other cause, yeah, I suspected I would probably return to civilization eventually and knew I’d probably have to contend with some form of global digital outreach of tentacles and gosh darnit I wanted understanding and thought maybe your little group would be of some assistance... Am I way off here?  Usually am, so you can just go ahead and say ‘yes’ and it won’t hurt my feelings.  I’m solid.  Also, I am already a total fool so there’s no problemo on that front.

There is a thing, fool, confusedly formed
born way way before any of this recent stuff even got underway-
silent and void, it stands alone and does not change,
goes round and round and does not weary.

uh... come again?

there was something formless and perfect, fool,
before the universe was set into motion-
serene, empty, unchanging, silent, infinite, utterly present.

uh... are you sure?

undifferentiated and yet complete.  I'm not kidding!
but also radically nebulous.
hence, fool, empty yourself of desires in order to observe its profound and inscrutable subtlety.

uh... ok... maybe.

but also allow yourself to have desires so as to observe what it is after.

you've got strange notions, lady.

they're not mine.

whose are they then?

again- empty yourself of questions and you just might understand the thing suddenly.


(Godzilla usually lets his mighty roar be heard
when he makes his initial appearance in a production,
even if there is no discernible reason for doing so.
During destruction and fighting sequences
he usually roars multiple times.
Directors tend to re-use Akira’s original recording,
but in more recent years variations of this terrible roar
have been exquisitely crafted to express
some of Godzilla’s more complex emotions.)

the way can be spoken of, fool,
but it will not be the constant way.
the unnameable is the eternally real.
naming is the origin of particular entities.

but I like particular entities.

so do I, fool!  so do I.
and yet, free from hard and fast identifications,
you enter into the mystery.
wedded to them, you see only the manifestations.

but I like manifestations!

and again, so do I!
mystery and manifestations arise from the very same source!
I'm not joking around about this!

and what is this source, may I ask?

I'm sorry, fool.  it would be better for us both if you didn't.

why am I relieved to hear that...

My name is Hank.  Who are we to believe we are who to believe to believe we are we know we aren’t the knot doesn’t fit and that’s old news but even so I think my dog film might segue nicely with the writing group's mandate, or at least that portion of it which embraces

let there be more light
let there be cave dwellers lurking among us

multi-disciplinary 'approaches' which reminds me last week I saw some wolves down by the river engaged in something resembling sexual congress and I made a few

allow your body to undulate and be drained
of all electricity

quick sketches in my student quality spiral bound notebook.  If you think these might be of any assistance to the overall project I will be more than glad to make them available, for almost nothing, even if it is just an old-fashioned writing group, i.e. people jotting down their ideas, aspirations, memories, introductions, business ideas, etc, on loose scraps of paper, in the spirit of Love the entrepreneurial

The lumber mill owner kept on talking, and the people around him sighed and lowered their gazes to the floor once again: “Frank, my boy, if restoring a home is like writing a nonfiction narrative, and if choosing the paint for one wall is like imagining one moment in the larger story, shouldn’t we acknowledge that the house and its walls were in fact never one particular way? On a single wall, sometimes wallpaper hung, sometimes paintings stared, sometimes children penned their names, sometimes flies sat, sometimes dust settled, sometimes sunlight blazed, sometimes fingerprints shimmered. The lost story the carpenter tries to restore isn’t one particular story, but a pool of possible tales, with different perspectives from different characters, told at different times for different reasons. The nonfiction writer who works to revive a lost scene adds one similar story to the collection of stories that ever existed for that moment. The entire platform of my imagination—my purpose, my hope, my intent—is different from that of a fiction writer’s. I don’t seek to tell the best story. I seek to tell a story that once was. I seek to fill a place that once had meaning with meaning again.”

“I’m happy to hear that, sir.”

the wolf gods
let them assist us
we are stumbling
thru primordial wilderness

They may have had all the tests and vaccines in the world, for sure, may have watched all the instructional videos that Awesome New Designs has in the pipeline, makes sense, but I think if we just all pull together and keep a close eye on loose cannons like that G Lint cacti enthusiast we can blend these different genres and tangents into something relatively harmonious.  Brian Eno's 'Oblique Strategies' have come to mind more than once, btw.

(Those river wolves really took matters into their own hands, know what I'm sayin'?)

Ok, who’s the person who keeps on talking about wanting or needing delirium?  We get the picture, person!!! You’re really into delirium!  Yay for you!  Double yay!

Nonetheless, I recall the Vice President of Panasonic’s AV research and development laboratory inquiring if the storm-fiend was planning to kick up another ruckus this evening.  His guitar playing is not welcomed, according to certain other folks at the campground.  Had best be getting back to the tent now to make sure everything is shipshape, weigh down the canvas with a few extra boulders, bank the fire, and prepare myself a little hardtack and gingersnap tea.  Fluff the pillows.   

Crocodiles are VERY FAST over short distances, in and out of the water. Because they hunt by lunging out and holding onto their prey, they have evolved extremely sharp teeth and massive jaws for tearing into and clamping down onto the flesh of their food source.  They have the most powerful bite of any known animal, clocking in at 5,000 pounds per square inch, compared to just 335 for a Rottweiler, 400 for a large great white shark, 900 for a hyena, or 2,000 for a giant sea tortoise.

Larry, on the other hand, not only has no metaphysics, he actually condemns and derides that particular science.  The supernatural and the material are equally laughable.  His only cosmogonic principle appears to be “recklessness.”  Oddly enough, the only philosophical tool he uses is logic, but with one minor qualification- it’s the logic of dreams.  He makes no mention of divinity, or the purpose of being, or the indestructibility of the self, or the abuses of conceptual language.  This a terrible thing to say out loud, but he even makes fun of yoga.

Flour of inferior quality, “runny” flour, and even that from wormy wheat: ground up worms, bugs, barber hair, the Sunday funnies, and what all- is often mixed in as much as the particular case will bear. Potato flour has been known to be mixed with Crispix, wood pulp, cobwebs, and barley; and so, thirty years ago, were plaster-of-Paris, bone-dust, white clay, etc. But these are little used now, if at all; and the worst thing in bread, aside from bad flour, which is bad enough, is usually the alum.  When your sixth-grade science fair project failed to show that sticking Flintstone vitamins into the soil helped potted plants grow, your teacher patted you on the back and told you that a negative result was just as important in science as a positive one.

“What kind of work?” Sam asked. “Carnival,” the old man said. “I tell you what. Just come straight north on this road until you see two churches on the right-hand side. You’ll see the Ferris wheel.” With that the man backed his pickup out into the street, nearly causing another accident. A truck rushing up from behind blasted its horn. The basset hound started baying. But the man just waved and roared away, leaving Sam and me to decide. “You realize we could have a hundred dollars by tomorrow evening,” I said. The idea almost had me reeling. “I’m in,” said Sam. And that was it. We limped on to the rescue mission for a meal, then put our last coins together to buy a ride back north on the city bus. There was no missing the carnival. Huge, colorful rides and truck trailers spread out across a large parking lot. But the carnival was moving on. Our job was to tear it down and load the trucks. We worked for twenty hours straight.

Our leaders say that a vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, and grievances are daily brought to their ears.

It doesn’t matter if the writing group support its or not.  You really want the delirium, man.  You want it bad.  More than ever.  People at home or at work keep telling you you need to turn over some kind of new leaf.  I have no idea what that means!   And besides, what’s wrong with a little delirium?  I’m a semi-functioning member of society.  I hold my own.  I sometimes vote.  I’m grateful to be alive, all that.  I’m happy.  I just want the delirium, man.  Is that such a terrible thing?  I’ve done all the pertinent research.  I hiked the Appalachian Trail.  Yeah, I know, big whoop, right?  Well, when it comes to the delirium, you don’t wanna leave any stone unturned.  This is your one shot at the big time.  This is where it all comes together.

New blogs every day, pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes of all sorts, new paradoxes, opinions, schisms, heresies, controversies in philosophy, religion, economics, particle physics, etc.

A didactic white arrow is superimposed on the left- and right-hand panels, pointing almost sardonically at the dying man. (These arrows, Francis Bacon’s favorite distancing device, are sometimes explained as merely formal ways of preventing the viewer from reading the image too literally. In reality, they do just the opposite and insist that one treat the image as hyper-exemplary, as though it came from a medical textbook.) The grief in the painting is intensified by the coolness of its layout and the detachment of its gaze.

Now come tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertainments, jubilees, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, revels, sports, plays: then again, as in a new shifted scene, treasons, cheating tricks, robberies, enormous villainies in all kinds, funerals, burials, deaths of celebrities, new discoveries, expeditions, now comical, then tragical matters.

This they daily hear, and such like, both private and public news, amidst the gallantry and misery of the the people, dogs, and strawberries who have set their cares aside for a moment to peruse the latest offerings of our gladsome writing group.  The global media asks: Is it a group like no other?  

Well, global media, that remains to be seen!  It’s early days yet, we are still poor and anonymous, the electricity is not completely reliable, it is a nipping and eager air that we will soon have to contend with, the group enjoys sailing, kayaking, canoeing, tubing, scuba diving, beachcombing, etc, this they daily hear, read, imagine, churning the butter out back, spending time with their little ones, collecting sap in the sugar bush, waiting for inspiration, emailing their constituents and telling them that indeed they plan to lead their sorry asses a little bit bit better this time around, wearing rope sandals, and fixing them with duct tape when the occasion demands it.

It’s the simple life I aspire to.  I don’t expect you to envy that.  
Greeting people at Wal-Mart only takes up 5 or 6 hours a week!  This leaves me with enough time and energy to check in now and then with your writing group thingamajigger, and then, later on, after midnight, while I’m on the rowing machine, listening to satellite radio or watching reruns of Macguyver, I think about the contributions I might make to it someday if I could ever get my act together enough to just sit down and put pen to paper. (Btw, Macguyver was very helpful, brave, and resourceful. I wish my children and grandchildren could be a little more like him!  I gave them each a VHS tape of excerpts from my favorite episodes.  Have they studied it carefully?  I lay awake nights sometimes pondering questions like this.)  

I visited some websites last night about how to form successful writing groups.  There was so much information! Thank god for the net and people who have access to the net and contribute to the net and ask penetrating questions regarding the net and its future.  “What role do you want the net to play in your writing group?” was a question that came up over and over.  Some people didn’t know what the net even was.  One famous writer suggested that any and all interested parties assume the pose of Rodin’s famous statue The Thinker and ponder for 10 or 15 minutes all the ways that today’s net could make things more innovative and fun.  (“Make the net your ally” was another piece of advice that came up over and over.  Followed by “You probably have enough enemies as it is!”  I didn’t understand this little follow-up quip, btw, because as far as I can tell, our writing group, although totally obscure and without any obvious sense of direction or purpose, is universally liked, and supported by all people who log onto the net late at night, bored almost to death, looking for fun and innovative reading material.  Our group provides that material in spades, is the consensus.)

Another famous writer I contacted about getting some advice for the writing group posed the following questions:

Who has seen the wind?  Yet it was precisely this that these enterprising but deluded young people were asking themselves!  They were correct in assuming that the whole question of ‘behavior’ in life has to be rethought each second; that not a breath can be drawn nor a footstep ‘taken’ without our being forced in some way to reassess the age-old problem blah blah blah to be always conscious of these multiple facets is to incarnate a dimensionless organism like the wind’s, a living concern that can have no rest, BY DEFINITION: it is restlessness.  Look it up in the dictionary.  But this condition of eternal vigilance had been accepted blah blah blah unless the generalized shape of this nirvana-like state could impose its form on the continually active atoms of the handheld thingamajigger which was the price it exacted deep down in the catacombs of the digital marketplace...

(At this point he goes off a crazy tangent regarding net culture which didn’t seem to be as relevant to the present concerns of our writing group.  I’ll keep those remarks in reserve in case we decide, as a group, to tackle net culture itself as a theme for one of our poems, stories, or essays.  He made one final observation, however, before getting off the phone, that might be apropos to weird-ass thinkers and writers such as ourselves:  

“So that those who assumed that they had reached the end of an elaborate but basically simple progression, the logical last step of a so-called ‘personal history’, came more and more to be the dominant party: a motley group, certainly, but with many level and sober heads among them as well, whose voices chanting assorted pithy maxims gleaned from the worldwide web or net gradually approached the point of submerging the other cacophony of tinkling cymbals and piccolo; deep tones via tuba, bassoon, cello, or synthesizer; the mid-range covered by clarinet, banjo, the human voice itself, or maybe the simple clapping together of hands; animal and insect noises thrown in to create texture and atmosphere; and the sound of heavy machinery, pounding, cutting, grinding, pulping, transporting, deep into the night and beyond, might serve as a soothing backdrop to whatever forays your writing group might decide to undertake, either as a ‘group’ or as ‘individuals’, whether in ‘isolation’ or ‘concert.’”)    

I thanked him for his time, thought it over, enjoyed a cigar and root beer, and then went down to the kitchen, which in many homes is considered to the heart and soul of the dwelling.  My former love interest Patricia purchased a waffle iron for the household at the neighborhood thrift store.  Beat-up looking, sure, but totally kick-ass in its intended function.  Pat was and is a sweetheart, and when we decided to take a little break from each other, she let us keep the waffle iron.  That was a happy moment indeed for the household.

These discussions with famous writers as to how to go about
forming a writing group required a lot of clear thinking, concentration, and stamina.  Hence my decision to wander down to the kitchen and fry up some waffles while I pondered the famous author’s crazy but poignant advice.  

Someone had left some non-descript meat product festering
out on the counter.  I popped it into my mouth without thinking.  Sometimes I just go with my gut!  Waiting for the waffles to cook, I drank some syrup directly out of the bottle, and then ate some butter directly out of the butter churn.  

Later on, lying on the floor, I wondered if other people in the writing group would be interested in talking about their diets and exercise regimens, particularly as they pertain to fueling artistic undertakings like the ones Mary and G Lint proposed.  Mary and G Lint, if you’re reading this, know that your suggestions have been taken to heart.  I too would like to be good, good and obedient.  I too would like to learn more about cacti.

We were carnies for awhile and wanted the carnivals to be successful as possible.  We also liked money.  Is that bad?  The stuff we learned at school, the fun nature hikes, all of that, the stuff we learned by getting married and having kids and raising horses... it’s important to have hobbies in life, outside interests, enthusiasms, whatever.  Right?  Stuff you just like to do, for no particular reason.

This is where the new writing group might come into the picture.  There is no leader, no focus, no agenda, no rules.  Anything that pops into your head is fair game.  Say you’re walking around in nature and some cool ideas bubble up from somewhere.  Well, get your ass back home or to the library asap, log on, and start typing.  Share your experiences with the group.  Doesn’t have to be fancy.  You can go back later and edit if you want.  That is totally up to you.  

We wanted to have more activities.  Is that a weird thing to admit?  How many times have I woken up in the middle of the desolate night and laid awake for hours in the dark, trying to come up with a few more fun activities?  Thousands of times, is the answer.  Sometimes I miss being a carny and scour the internet for carny openings.

Bear in mind once again improvements in data-capture or “keyboarding” in the airline meta-pilot’s graded perceptual system.  This branch of ergonomic research has recently led to new dromo-matrixes for replacing the entire instrument panel with a digi-linked helmet and full-body data-suit, a sort of “virtual cockpit” whose semi or selectively transparent visor would display flight parameters at the precise moment they become indispensable.  

The lumber mill owner leaned closer to Frank and continued, in a confidential tone of voice: “In the year 304 BCE the Lady of the Lilac Gown came down to teach; thenceforth our founder exchanged letters with a number of realized people and animals and thoroughly practiced the methods of returning to the source, eating dust, and channelling, for sexual purposes, the obscure light of the moon. He used to wish he could roam the caves before receiving the proper license to do so; he didn’t want to stay in the human world for long. In 370 he went to the north cave and ostensibly died; he was thirty years old at the time.  It might seem strange to modern readers to accept these mad tales as concrete reality, but beneath the legendary Jade Islands there swirled and boiled a black ocean of molten rock substance. Under the dust, papers were spread willy-nilly on top of the desk.  I took this to be my invitation to sit down and finally get to work on my thesis, in the neck hands tense in the mud something wrong there breath caught it lasts I last like that a moment until the quiver of the lower face signifying I am saying have succeeded in saying something to myself it was important to be constantly referencing the joys of community inter-connectedness, apart from the  loathing most understandable if it be kindly considered that the two solitudes that of the journey and that of the abandon differ appreciably and consequently merit separate treatment whereas the two couples that in which I figure in the north as tormentor and that in which I figure in the south as victim compose the same maddening spectacle as we grope our way backward through the dark labyrinth of the ages, epoch succeeding to epoch, and period to period, each looming more gigantic in its outlines and more shadowy in its horrible features, as it rises, dimly revealed, from the mist and vapour of an older and ever-older past. It is useless to add century to century or millennium to millennium. When we pass a certain boundary-line, which, after all, is reached very soon, figures cease to convey to our finite faculties any real notion of the periods with which we have to deal.  Suffice it to say that the legendary Jade Islands were swallowed up by oblivion, and if people were visiting them at the time they were swallowed up too.”


(Ophthalmology thus no longer restricts itself to practices necessitated by disease or deficiency; it has broadened its range to include an intensive exploitation of the actual gaze in which the depth of field of human vision is being progressively confiscated by opto-electronic programming that has the modest aim of organizing the most subconscious visual reflexes in order to simultaneously improve the witnesses’ reception of signals, response times, and stereo-grapha-nomic relationships.)  

A kind of mirror image, more or less, based on the open marriage concept one often reads about in upper-paleolithic societies.

How could something that brings kids so much joy bring two men so much misery? Take the Tilt-a-Whirl. The Tilt-a-Whirl makes kids scream with pleasure while it scrambles their wits and presses their cotton-candy-filled bellies to the red plastic seats. But for the tear down crew, it is simply a vast assembly of fourteen-foot steel structures, each weighing about two hundred pounds. Fortunately, a Tilt-a-Whirl fits nicely onto an eighteen wheeler. Unfortunately, Sam and I- being the “young bucks” according to the older guys on the crew- got the task of heaving these massive steel objects six feet straight up, then sliding them onto the eighteen wheeler. Dismantling and loading the Tilt-a-Whirl alone took nearly six hours of back-breaking labor that bloodied four of my fingers and blackened one of my toenails. Sam didn’t fare any better. We worked through the afternoon and through the night and into the next day with hardly a pause. When the trucks were finally loaded, Sam and I collapsed in the shade behind the trailer that doubled as the ticket booth. Our foreman had disappeared inside, and we weren’t about to leave that ticket-booth-on-wheels until he reemerged with cash. Fifty dollars for each of us. We laid there comparing bloodied fingers and toes, intermittently groaning or trying to stretch cramping muscles. “You know, Sam,” I said, “I’ve never really wanted to drink or do drugs before. But you know what? After being out here, I can’t blame the guys who do stuff like that in order to forget. There’s not much out here I want to remember.” When we finally got paid, we knew what to do. We headed straight for the Greyhound bus station.

Crocodile embryos do not have sex chromosomes, and unlike humans, sex is not determined genetically. Sex is determined by temperature, with males produced at around 89 °F, and females produced at slightly lower and higher temperatures. The average incubation period is around 80 days, and also is dependent on temperature.  Crocodiles are protected in many parts of the world, but they also are farmed commercially. Their hides are tanned and used to make leather goods such as shoes, wallets, belts, handbags, bracelets, headbands, and briefcases; crocodile meat is also considered a delicacy. The saltwater crocodile and Nile crocodile are by far the most dangerous, killing between 5 and 7 hundred people each year.
Godzilla's body constantly emits its own radiation, similar to the process of nuclear fission. It has been shown to contaminate water sources, raise ocean temperatures, destroy crops, and create mutations, such as the giant sea louse in Godzilla Loses All Will to Live.  His massive footprints as well as objects and people he has been in close contact with hold traces that register on a geiger counter, while Godzilla himself will register at a distance of approximately 300 miles.  
His radiation, however, doesn't appear to be destructive at all times and places.  For example, In Godzilla Goes to Hawaii, in a panoramic underwater scene, a smiling Godzilla swims in close proximity with several schools of colorful fish and not only are the fish not visibly harmed, but they even appear to increase in strength and over-all confidence at having such a powerful ally and neighbor.
“Chaos never died,” the films seem to be telling us.  The avant-garde eats its own shit and apparently likes it!  If the artist has in fact perished, and if the audience has in fact withered away, then we find ourselves free of even more useless freight, and may commence slapping high-fives in the traditional manner.  Provided we can escape from the museums floating around in our skulls; provided we can stop selling raffle tickets to the guillotines inside our computers; we can begin to contemplate an exchange which re-creates the dynamic of the old Taoist masters, who were often described as not rushing into anything, ever, as if fording icy streams in early winter; retiring and hesitant, as if shy or even afraid of other people; reverent in demeanor to total strangers, as if encountering visiting royalty.  Or something.  
Despite his incredible power, Godzilla has displayed a few weaknesses over the years. In King Kong vs. Godzilla and Godzilla Contemplates Suicide he is shown to be vulnerable to strong voltages of coal powered electricity. And yet, as the series progressed, natural lightning has been shown to have the opposite property, serving to revitalize him from his paralyzing guilt-trips and depressions.

And then, a full century later, in Godzilla Interrogates God it was revealed that he had a back-up, miniature brain in his spine, which came in handy when Aquaman ordered a small brood of poisonous eels to suck out his original brain thru his nostrils while he was collapsed in a drunken stupor on one of the island chain’s crystalline beaches.   

Language has been leveled to a mode of sameness, blandness. can the bland be differentiated? the featureless be exaggerated?  through length?  amplification?  variation?  repetition?  would it make a difference?  words exist for the purpose of d√©tournement: take the most hateful language you can find and neuter it; take the sweetest and make it ugly.  restore, rearrange, reassemble, revamp, renovate, revise, recover, redesign, return, redo: verbs that start with re- produce provisional language. entire authorial oeuvres now adopt provisional language, establishing a holotropic breathwork practice launched by mr. karl in the mid-seventies in part because the avenue for legal psychedelic psychotherapy had been crushed underfoot by a shadow committee that went by the cryptic name of “smokey the undulating.”  during my years at the asylum, a catalog from mr. karl’s university was mysteriously sent to my inbox.  the only thing I could imagine was a herd of stampeding elephants.  that explains the thundering noises and flashes of lightning.  I broached my experience of the sacred flame with his secretary, ryan peters, and ryan peter’s response was upbeat and reassuring, despite so many regimes of engineered disorientation to instigate a politics of systematic disarray.

I was a theater major- I’m sorry.  My life had never been very successful, and I continued to go to incredible lengths to avoid science, math, and technology classes- but Puck’s Pizza and Penelope’s Sidewalk Internet Cafeteria occupied a strategic location on campus, midway between my residence and one of the premier entertainment districts in the region, and on weekend evenings I’d often spend an hour or two at a terminal while waiting for the keg parties to get underway.  I had always been a keenly staunch supporter of alcohol.  I frequented gatherings where it was sometimes available in essentially unlimited fashion.  55 gallon barrels and half barrels stacked 15 feet high, on any piece of property that was at that time available to Ron’s Public House.  Unbelievable numbers of books, unbelievable amounts of high quality alcohol- typically, I’d fritter away the time playing Super Mario Brothers. But I did manage to eventually teach myself how to use the system’s cumbersome “trip-to-Mars”  program and even managed a few sophisticated inter-network marriage ties and symposia.  There were, of course, quiet negotiations going off on the side- but I still was able to order the computer around pretty effectively.  I guess it’s fair to say that I made it grovel on a pretty regular basis.   I delivered orders, instructions, negotiations, and judgments.  I wanted to make it my slave.  I wanted to be able to go on issuing this quality and number of threats and commands for the long term.  And that was just the beginning of what might be called a digital dalliance.  It was a foregone conclusion that I would be ending my life prematurely.  For every hour I passed in Puck and Penelopes, I must have spent two dozen next door in Ron’s lending library and public house. I crammed for exams up in the shop’s cavernous reading room, looked up facts in the weighty volumes on the reference shelves, and worked part-time checking books in and out at the circulation desk. Most of my library time, though, went to wandering the long, narrow corridors of the stacks.  Despite being surrounded by tens of thousands of books, I don’t remember feeling the anxiety that’s symptomatic of what we today call “information overload.”  Mostly I just thought about hurling myself into the path of oncoming traffic.  There was something calming in the reticence of all those books, their willingness to wait years, decades even, for the right reader to come along and pull them from their appointed slots. Take your time, the books whispered to me in their dusty voices. We’re not going anywhere.

It was in 1986, five years after I was released from prison, that computers entered my life in earnest. To my wife’s dismay, I spent nearly our entire savings, some $ 2,000, on one of Apple’s earliest Macintoshes— a Mac Plus decked out with a single megabyte of RAM, a 20-megabyte hard drive, and a tiny black-and-white screen. I still recall the excitement I felt as I unpacked the little beige machine. I set it on my desk, plugged in the keyboard and mouse, and flipped the power switch. It lit up, sounded a welcoming chime, and smiled at me as it went through the mysterious routines that brought it to life. I was smitten. The Plus did double duty as both a home and a business computer. Every day, I lugged it into the offices of the management consulting firm where I worked as an editor. I used Microsoft Word to revise proposals, reports, and presentations, and sometimes I’d launch Excel to key in revisions to a consultant’s spreadsheet. Every evening, I carted it back home, where I used it to keep track of the family finances, write letters, play games (still goofy, but less primitive), and— most diverting of all— cobble together simple databases using the ingenious HyperCard application that back then came with every Mac. Created by Bill Atkinson, one of Apple’s most inventive programmers, HyperCard incorporated a hypertext system that anticipated the look and feel of the World Wide Web. Where on the Web you click links on pages, on HyperCard you clicked buttons on cards— but the idea, and its seductiveness, was the same. The computer, I began to sense, was more than just a simple tool that did what you told it to do. It was a machine that, in subtle but unmistakable ways, exerted an influence over you. The more I used it, the more it altered the way I worked. At first I had found it impossible to edit anything on-screen. I’d print out a document, mark it up with a pencil, and type the revisions back into the digital version. Then I’d print it out again and take another pass with the pencil. Sometimes I’d go through the cycle a dozen times a day. But at some point— and abruptly— my editing routine changed. I found I could no longer write or revise anything on paper. I felt lost without the Delete key, the scrollbar, the cut and paste functions, the Undo command. I had to do all my editing on-screen. In using the word processor, I had become something of a word processor myself. Bigger changes came after I bought a modem, sometime around 1990. Up to then, the Plus had been a self-contained machine, its functions limited to whatever software I installed on its hard drive. When hooked up to other computers through the modem, it took on a new identity and a new role. It was no longer just a high-tech Swiss Army knife. It was a communications medium, a device for finding, organizing, and sharing information. I tried all the online services— CompuServe, Prodigy, even Apple’s short-lived eWorld— but the one I stuck with was America Online. My original AOL subscription limited me to five hours online a week, and I would painstakingly parcel out the precious minutes to exchange e-mails with a small group of friends who also had AOL accounts, to follow the conversations on a few bulletin boards, and to read articles reprinted from newspapers and magazines. I actually grew fond of the sound of my modem connecting through the phone lines to the AOL servers. Listening to the bleeps and clangs was like overhearing a friendly argument between a couple of robots. By the mid-nineties, I had become trapped, not unhappily, in the “upgrade cycle.” I retired the aging Plus in 1994, replacing it with a Macintosh Performa 550 with a color screen, a CD-ROM drive, a 500-megabyte hard drive, and what seemed at the time a miraculously fast 33-megahertz processor. The new computer required updated versions of most of the programs I used, and it let me run all sorts of new applications with the latest multimedia features. By the time I had installed all the new software, my hard drive was full. I had to go out and buy an external drive as a supplement. I added a Zip drive too— and then a CD burner. Within a couple of years, I’d bought another new desktop, with a much larger monitor and a much faster chip, as well as a portable model that I could use while traveling. My employer had, in the meantime, banished Macs in (a sort of mask in which she comes before the world, retaining all the privileges of pure isolation—a contrivance, in short, like the white drapery of the Veiled Lady of Babylon.  For some people, the very idea of reading a book has come to seem old-fashioned, maybe even a little silly— like sewing your own shirts or butchering your own meat) favor of Windows PCs, so I was using two different systems, one at work and one at home. It was around this same time that I started hearing talk of something called the Internet, a mysterious “network of networks” that promised, according to people in the know, to “change everything.” A 1994 article in Wired declared my beloved AOL “suddenly obsolete.” A new invention, the “graphical browser,” promised a far more exciting digital experience: “By following the links— click, and the linked document appears— you can travel through the online world along paths of whim and intuition.” 13 I was intrigued, and then I was hooked. By the end of 1995 I had installed the new Netscape browser on my work computer and was using it to explore the seemingly infinite pages of the World Wide Web. Soon I had an ISP account at home as well— and a much faster modem to go with it. I canceled my AOL service.

You know the rest.  Right?  You know the rest of the story.  You know the rest of the story because it’s probably your story, too.  You want the delirium.  BIG TIME.

Every day after practice we would engage in conversation.  People seemed to like that.  We visited musical websites.

The practice fields were often muddy so that meant we would get muddy also.  But that just seems to be an integral part of raw nature, and a sign that we were improving in whatever it was we were practicing.

The conversations meandered aimlessly from one topic to another.  There were usually always a few new faces on the weekends, and the owners of these faces were given a chance to introduce themselves if they so desired.  About three-fourths did not so desire.  They milled around casually, partaking of the desultory conversation, maybe munching some of the snack mix that was set out on a picnic table for that express purpose.

Adjoining the fields was a designated wilderness area, but many of us pretended that there was nothing designated about it.  We decided that it was, in fact, a large patch of utterly unexplored and uncharted wilderness.  We liked it, and often made it the subject of our rambling discussions.  We already had mud on our clothing, right?  Why not wander into it someday?  We had canteens, we had snack mix, we had been practicing dutifully, there seemed to be a sense of shared purpose, and an impulse to transgress certain boundaries.  And yet, there was no question that we were a harmonious people.  

Oh yes the butler referred to the modern day grocery store shopping experience as a total re-imprinting of the nervous system per se, but Michelle and I were soulmates that eventually got broken up into smaller republics. On the other hand let’s suppose that technological problems, which we brought about ourselves very directly, continue to operate and cause a lot of death and destruction and transform the eco-realms in which vast ages ago, the sun was a spinning, flaring mass of matter, not yet concentrated into a compact centre of heat and light, considerably larger than it is now, and spinning very much faster, and that as it whirled, a series of fragments detached themselves from it, which became the planets. Our earth is one of these planets!  Our earth is not one-of-a-kind! The flaring mass that was the material of the earth broke into two masses as it spun; a larger, the earth itself, and a smaller, which is now the dead, silent moon: modifications in early aesthetic production are most dramatically visible.  Their theoretical underpinnings have been raised and articulated by absolute dogs. Brian Williams: as in canines?  Barack Obama: no, as in insensitive and loutish human actors.  BW: well, I think we already see some of this happening already with multinational brokerage firms- they swap new modes of insanity for the more traditional forms.  I see this in all of your stump speeches.  they’re already manipulating different aspects of our country (our economy, our relationship to our natural environment, etc.) in ways that aren’t tied to our national anthem.  BO: that’s right, jack.  a lot of the horrible ecological things that both we and the chinese continue to do are outgrowths of very predictable technological decisions, which in turn impact on psychology, which in turn impact on my presidency.  I’ve always been totally open about my attitudes regarding the mentally ill.  After the first several years of living on sister-planets such as Saturn and Jupiter, the old fad for 100% anonymity surged once again, sending shockwaves through this newly colonized part of the universe.  BW: yeah, I figured as much.  BO: we talked for quite long time, yes we most certainly did, we were trained to understand that the geometry is no longer affirmative, but eroded, dusty, and worn.  the angle no longer is right, but is wrong.  it bespeaks a terrible weariness, an inert form laying sprawled on the pavement.  approaching one of these tropical monoliths, coca-cola in hand, suddenly appearing to me almost animal in nature.  a fleeting memory of the extraordinary sheen of his mind; and it is there they are reflected like (Wild hogs and bears had begun to harvest the nuts before the Cave-men returned. Each day they went to the trees and ate the nuts that had fallen. When Eagle-eye saw what they were doing, she said, “Bring your bags and baskets and come. If we do not look out the hogs will get the best of the nuts this year.”) shadows cast by the new scavenger filled with disgust and self-loathing. He is ashamed of being seen and may lurk around, trying to duck behind things, or he may try to dive at night.... Every grain of rice seems to be a maggot. Everything seems to stink. He can wipe the egg yolk off the found can, but he cannot erase from his mind the stigma of eating garbage or the ghosts of lost selves, for the war need never have taken place!  You can say otherwise, but that doesn’t make it so, asswipe!  It takes place now, and repeatedly, in my grandfather’s great cool prose, in these half-fictive events passing through my years spent alone in the caverns; talking for long periods of time starting from a very early age and continuing into the present day, hour, and moment; never have I been so excited by the prospects of pure conversation: the fragile kind made for the blackbirds when to the day the long night yields at last and to the night a little later the interminable day but us this life how it was how it is how most certainly it will be not made for that a second time next per shaving per splinter.  we are all refining our skills, pulling together as a virtual people, pulling together in what today’s parlance refers to as community inter-connectedness.  

“Kant spent a few weeks in antarctica near the end of his life but he still maintained that the senses were not trustworthy guides to moral behavior—feelings, emotions, and passions are much too subjective and arbitrary to establish universal moral standards. Instead, he argued that his categorical imperative is an articulation of a universal moral code that is applicable at all times and appear in the mythology of mankind again and again. Neolithic man was enormously impressed by serpents, for example.  he no longer took the sun for granted.  After the first several years of living on sister-planets such as Saturn and Jupiter, the old fad for 100% anonymity surged once again, sending shockwaves through this newly colonized part of the universe.  Nearly everywhere that Neolithic culture went, there went a disposition to associate the sun and the serpent with decoration and worship. We teach the idea of bankruptcy in regards to commonplace or exterior files to our children as if it were an established component of primordial nature!   And as a result they often refuse to surrender their urine and feces to the vast underground sewage network without first demanding some form of acknowledgment!  This primitive serpent worship spread ultimately far beyond the regions where the snake is of serious practical importance in every conceivable circumstance, independent of the empirical situation.  For some people, the very idea of reading a book has come to seem old-fashioned, maybe even a little bit silly— like sewing your own shirts or butchering your own ox or chickens.  In other words, pure reason, detached from emotional subjectivity, dictates one’s moral duty!  The moral person is cool, detached, disinterested, and driven by reason and moral obligation rather than emotion and passion.  The legendary Moby Dick’s grandson went into the Gobi Desert with Lao-tzu and ate black sesame seed. No one knows where he ended up.”

"The Ghanaians seem to regard it as a form of perversion if a person has no friends, lives alone, and goes around by themselves. It was like you were a bad person, an outcast; possessed. There was no such thing as an individual in our Western sense, a person who existed outside of any social group- i.e., a loner except maybe shamans, the sick, and the insane."

We tend to think of our memories as having been tucked away for safekeeping in, say, file cabinets or dusty old boxes in the backs of closets or filed away on the hard drives of computers, where they can easily be accessed by the click of a button. All it takes to remember events and objects is to open the boxes, open the files, and there our memories will be, waiting for us. Just as boxes and files molder and rot and computers become infected with viruses making the files inaccessible or corrupted, so do our memories. In a sense, all memories have been forgotten. Memories are predicated on loss. It’s through the act of remembering that we bring these forgotten experiences back from oblivion. They require this rescuing because they’ve run their course.  They’re useless.

Sometimes I think that even our pitiful tar-paper shacks are better than your luxury homes.  walking a hundred feet to the outhouse on a clear wintry night, through mud or snow. that's one small link with nature.  or in the summer, in the back country, leaving the door of the privy open, taking your time, listening to the humming of the insects, the sun warming your bones through the thin planks of wood; that’s another simple pleasure that you folks have completely discarded.  

It was getting to be rush hour, and the number of people on the streets had increased substantially. Sam and I stopped at a busy intersection, both of us feeling shamed by the reason we had stopped. It was time to beg. I slung off my pack, setting it down flat on the concrete in order to use the sleeping bag as a seat. Propping open my guitar case, I grabbed the guitar and sat down. I was sweating and I felt my face turning red with embarrassment. This was a moment we had both dreaded. Begging is hard. It’s something you expect hungry dogs to do, but not men and women made in God’s image. The minute you put out your hand, or open your guitar case, it feels like you’re writing “failure” and “weakness” all over yourself. You’re telling everyone who comes by, “I am unable.” The message blares up and down the sidewalk, and across multiple lanes of traffic. And the message doesn’t stop screaming until you pull back your hand, or close up your case. On our first go at it, panhandling was almost too humiliating to bear. We began with “In the Secret,” normally a fast paced, excited worship song. But we didn’t feel excited. And anyway the noisy street seemed to swallow our music whole. Gradually, song by song, we added volume and confidence.  Even so, we understood that if we could have visited the Earth a long time ago we should have stood on great lava-like masses of rock without a trace of soil or touch of living vegetation, under a storm-rent sky. Hot and violent winds, exceeding the fiercest tornado to face transfer of things swinging of arms silent relishing of sea and isles heads pivoting as one to the city fumes silent location of steeples and towers heads back and downpours of rain such as our milder, slower Earth today knows nothing of, might have assailed us. The water of the downpour would have rushed by    us, muddy with the spoils of the rocks, coming together into torrents, cutting deep gorges and canyons as they hurried past to deposit their sediment in the earliest seas. Through the clouds we should have glimpsed dimming lights mountain if I turn water roughening he falls I fall on my knees crawl forward clink of chains perhaps it's not me perhaps it's another perhaps it's another voyage confusion with another what isle what moon you say the thing you see the thoughts sometimes that go with it it disappears the voice goes on a few words a great sun moving visibly across the sky, and in its wake and in the wake of the moon would have come a diurnal tide of Earthquake and upheaval. And the moon, which nowadays keeps one constant face to Earth, would then have been rotating visibly and showing the side it now hides so inexorably. The Earth aged. One million years followed another, and the day lengthened, the sun grew more distant and milder, the moon's pace in the sky slackened; the intensity of rain and storm diminished and the water in the first seas increased and ran together into the ocean garment our planet henceforth wore. But there was no life as yet upon the Earth; the seas were lifeless, and the rocks were barren.

A few months later, I asked if he would write on my behalf to the DAAD in Berlin. He did and, as a result, I was an artist in residence there, briefly, in 1974.  Many, many years later we spent an evening together at a Kronos Quartet concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music when they performed Mary Had A Little Lamb arranged for chainsaw and flute.