Thursday, November 14, 2013

the friendship continues

It is with considerable difficulty that I recall the original era of my being; the villagers say that I was cobbled together by a fellow named Frankenstein, who later went on to commit many valorous deeds. I was not given a name. Some people simply call me 'the Creature.' You might look around and take a moment to recall the original era of your being as well.  Just a hunch, then another, and then maybe even a third- the hunches gather together- the hunches establish a friendship.  Political integrity is sometimes referred to as a “thing of the past.”  All the events of that period appear confused and indistinct.  Where now?  Who now?  When now?  Is that questioning?  Unbelieving?  Unknowing?  A cobbled-together creature like myself is often uncertain, timidly groping my way forward through the proverbial “mists of obscurity.”  Despite my enormous physical and intellectual prowess.  Questions, hypotheses, call them that.  Strikes me as solid as descriptions as any.  “Continue moving forward” they say to me- call that first process “continuing,” call the second one “moving,” call the final one “forwarding,” if that is even a word.  Well, my dear, I just used it, so it must be a word.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it, you constructor of sentences!   Or could it be that one day I simply stayed inside, in the home, instead of going out, into the wild, to spend day and night as far away as humanly, or in my case, inhumanly possible.  Taken all in all, it wasn’t really that far, though.  Maybe that is how this circus within a circus began?  Maybe you could fill me in on the rest of the details later.  Gazing out, gazing off, gazing in for no reason.  Human beings, plants, spirits, and animals alive for no discernible reason.  You think you are simply resting, the better to act when the critical moment arrives, and you soon find yourself powerless ever to do anything again!  I am crazy, cracked, loony, round the bed, and excitable. The people in white coats have come around asking questions. Ever so many times, lying on the floor after a disgraceful debauch of days' or weeks' duration, has my memory winged its way through realms of impenetrable darkness- some have referred to it as the “ever-widening mournful and lonesome equation of nothingness”- back through years of horror and suffering to the green and holy morning of life, as it at this moment seems to me, and rested for an instant on some quiet hour in that tender dawn.  Between semesters of my senior year at a small liberal arts college in Connecticut, I had the most profound experience of my life on an acid trip.  The organ stops playing and the church becomes eerily quiet.  I look over at my pet raccoon Murphy and assure him that everything is ok.  Then just as I was being released again in late 1990 Mother won a small product liability settlement and used the money to promptly go get cosmetic surgery on the crow’s feet around her eyes!  As soon as I could collect my scattered senses, I found myself nearly suffocated, and grovelling in utter darkness among a quantity of loose earth, which was also falling upon me heavily in every direction, threatening to bury my person entirely, as enormous and unwieldy as that person is- that was a particularly nice touch, doc.  Thanks for the monster proportions.  In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.  “Cartooning is not my trade” is another thing that Michelangelo allegedly said, when a pope told him that the Sistine Chapel might look more agreeable with some cartoons up on the ceiling.  It is with considerable difficulty that I recall the original era of my so-called “existence.”  There was quite a bit of stonily gazing off into a vast seeming emptiness.  Confused, indistinct, jumbled together, nonsensical- I suppose I have you to thank for all these inhuman adventures.  As I go on, I want to read for you certain bible verses that I copied into my notebook and carried around for guidance and solace:    

There was this sense of people together, people who had for some reason decided to gather together, strictly for the purpose of “journaling” in a kind of quiet “community setting.”  They bunched themselves together in “clusters” because it made sense to them somehow.  From a certain perspective, there was this sense of deliberately “unearthing” a entire lifetime’s worth of extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable “truths,” as if this old-fashioned yet time-honored activity might serve as something along the lines of a “critical turning point.”  Personally, I had never seen anything like it before in my life, and at the beginning it was sometimes difficult to stifle my laughter.  I wanted to give them the impression that I respected their commitment to “journaling.”

A strange multiplicity of sensations convulsed me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelled the world simultaneously; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses.  I bedded down for several nights on the bare and desolate earth, and spent my days wandering aimlessly, with a confused look upon my visage.  “I shall not be alone!” I cried out, shaking my fist at the heavens. And yet, how can one be sure of anything, in such impenetrable darkness?  “I shall have company!  Even if it’s just a few measly finger puppets!”  Kermit.  Ralph the Dog.  Gonzo.  And things- tell me, doctor- what is the correct attitude to adopt towards actual things?  To begin with, are they necessary?  What an impertinent question! But I have few illusions- things, objects, matter, rubbish, flotsam and jetsam- are to be, for the most part, expected. The best course is probably not to draw any rigid conclusions.  If a physical object turns up for some reason, well, by gar, human creature, take it into account!  Don’t just stand there gaping- take that shit into account!  Time will tell.  Puppets.  Ernie and Bert come to mind.  Loyal and long term companions.  Insanity soon overpowered everyone in the neighborhood- why, not even the innocent children were spared!  I was living “off campus,” sharing a house with an ocean view at Crescent Beach in Niantic, about a minute’s walk to the shore.  Collecting shells is the sort of thing that just naturally improves over time.  The sense that certain people may have finally made a decision to gather together out in the middle of a primeval wilderness.  I was born dirt poor and without any so-called “advantages”, therefore I ought to have been able to accomplish almost anything under the sun!  However, the cosmetic surgeon botched it and did something to the musculature of her face which caused her to look insanely frightened at all times!  Horribly alarmed at this prospect, I struggled to regain my composure, but with no success whatsoever.  Somebody is living in the Louvre, certain of the messages would say.  The experience of birth (and also agricultural growth) provides a grounding for the general concept of creation, which has as its core the concept of making a physical object but which extends to abstract entities also. We can see this grounding in birth metaphors for creation in general:  “Our nation was born out of a desire for freedom.” “His writings are products of his fertile imagination.”  “Her experiment spawned a host of new theories.”  “Your actions will only breed violence.”  “He hatched a clever scheme.”  “She conceived a brilliant theory of molecular motion.” “Universities are incubators for new ideas.”  “The theory of relativity first saw the light of day in 1905.”  “The University of Chicago was the birthplace of the nuclear age.”  “Edward Teller is the father of the hydrogen bomb.”   These are all instances of the general metaphor that creation is birth. This gives us another instance where a special case of causation is conceptualized metaphorically. Finally, there is another special case of causation which we conceptualize in terms of the emergence metaphor. This is the case where a mental or emotional state is viewed as causing an act or event:   “He shot the mayor out of desperation.”  “He gave up his career out of love for his family.”  “Her mother nearly went crazy from loneliness.”  “She dropped from exhaustion.”  “She became a mathematician out of a passion for order.”  “As Phil escorts me out of the Day Room, the counselor circumvents the group’s attention.” “Let’s get back to the drawings, shall we? I think your self-portrait is simply amazing! Did you decide to draw your portrait in a multitude of dots because you are a very complex, multifaceted individual?”  As stated earlier, a strange multiplicity of sensations convulsed me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelled the universe simultaneously; and it was, indeed, a vast stretch of “clock” time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses.  I bedded down for several nights on the bare and desolate earth, and spent my days wandering aimlessly, with a confused look upon my visage.  But my bible verses continued to give me strength and coherence:  

I would say: wide range of people.  I would like to say: wide range of activities.  But, sadly, the range of activities remained incredibly “narrow.”  More and more, they were beginning to “understand” the true importance of journaling.  If some of them occasionally drifted off into a temporary “mental confusion,” well, it was integrated, right then and there, into the community’s sense of “commitment” and “purpose.”  If, on the other hand, some of them drifted off into a state of permanent mental confusion- well, suffice it to say that these people were offered medical “care” if they desired, even if in most cases it turned out to be a total waste of time, money, and energy.  “A lost cause,” as it were.   Fortunately, very few of them even accepted the care in the first place.  Of course, others still were secretly attempting to initiate conversation- but it was expressly against the rules and mission statement of the group or “community”- they had gathered together strictly for the purpose of active and ongoing journaling.

By degrees, doctor, I remember, a stronger light pressed upon my optical nerves, so that I was obliged to shut my eyes- yeah, yeah, I know- probably a questionable move. That I am not “stone” deaf is shown by the sounds that eventually reached me. For although the silence here is almost unbroken, it is not entirely so. I remember the first sound I heard in this place- indeed, I have often heard it since.  A sort of gurgling noise.  I might have accidentally ingested a mind-altering flower, but of course it’s hard to say when one’s mind is still in the process of initially organizing/recognizing itself.  I suppose I am obliged to assign a beginning to my “residence” here, if only for the sake of the “reading public” centuries and perhaps even millennia hence.  I don’t think there’s any question that we enjoy the human, or in my case, inhuman experience.  Hell itself, although eternal, dates from the revolt of that rascally Lucifer!  It is therefore permissible, in the light of this distant analogy, to think of myself as being here forever, but not as having been here forever. This will greatly help me in my relations with the plant and mineral kingdoms.  Memory notably, which I did not think myself capable of drawing upon, will have its word, in due course- you probably weren’t counting on that, were you doctor?  The image that comes to mind is people jumping up and down in excitement.  You get the peculiar sense sometimes that there will be no end to the ongoing excitement.  “Crazy” is of course a blanket term that covers all kinds of psychological troubles.  I could at this time repeat word for word conversations which took place twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five, fifty, even fifty-five years ago.  It was mid-December 1978.  We were once again “engulfed” by the murmur of traffic.  The reader will readily agree that the best inheritance that the average boy or girl can receive is indigence, low intelligence, and lack of concrete opportunities.  No doubt you know the way an individual’s face can look in the split second before they start to scream. And yet, I remained almost entirely motionless, endeavouring to conceive what had happened to me, and where in god’s name I was.  There was very very very little information forthcoming.  Possibly the garbage disposal “area” is one more thing that I have failed to mention.  One would have little reason to do so, however, it being nothing more extraordinary than a gaping hole in the ground. One follows a handpainted sign, to get there.  To the Garbage Disposal Area, the sign reads, in Helvetica.  In a manner of speaking, one follows the sign.  What one is actually following is a road, of course.  Possibly I did not need to make that explanation.  My own garbage is always meager enough to be disposed of by being buried on the beach, incidentally.  I do this while taking my walks, perhaps every third time I take one.  And doubtless it goes without saying that any such garbage as had once been disposed of at the hole has long since decomposed.  So that the hole is just a hole, as I have said.  Like the anus.  Although there is an enormous heap of broken bottles nearby.  Perhaps the latter is somewhat extraordinary, after all.  Certainly the bottles are extraordinarily pretty, being of various colors.  Too, they glisten much more dramatically than do my wet morning leaves.  In fact, the entire mound of them is sometimes like a kind of glistening structure.   That would be a distinct rise in my social position were it not that they still regard me as being as ridiculous as ever.  More verses, doctor:
Tell me- on what condition is a grammatology possible?  Its fundamental condition is the very undoing of all logocentrism!  Over time, this condition of possibility turns into a condition of impossibility.  In fact, it threatens to annihilate the fundamental tenets of everything we believe!  All of those people over there journaling would be in for a pretty nasty surprise!

Deep darkness then descended and troubled me greatly, as if I wasn’t already troubled enough, but hardly had I felt this when, by opening my eyes, as I now suppose, the light gushed in upon me again. Did I wait somewhere for this place to be ready to receive me? Or did it wait for me to come and people it?  By far the better of these hypotheses, from the point of view of usefulness, is the former, and I shall often have occasion to fall back on it, doctor.  But both are distasteful. I shall say therefore that our beginnings coincide, that this place was made for me, and I for it, at the very same instant.  Maybe that is why we are capable of this sort of light-hearted banter.  The medical term for my kind of crazy is bipolar disorder type 2, aka manic-depressive syndrome or the tendency to lie down inert on the pavement, not out of weariness, mind you, but because the pavement is whispering wisdom and anecdotes that I do not want to miss so much as one syllable of.  I do not so much attribute this to a retentive memory as to the habit I have had of thinking, when my mind was in a condition to think, of all that was a part of my “early development,” if that term even applies to the mad events of that era.  Exams were over and Christmas break had commenced.  The outer world glides by like a transparent film, and we all drop whatever we’re doing and turn photographer for awhile.  “Point and shoot,” for the most part, nothing terribly fancy- for getting on in the world and for carving out one’s own little niche, nothing beats having poverty-stricken, but sensible and respectable parents.  Why won’t you help me?  Do you want me to subsist on McDonalds and 7-Eleven?  That was now Mother, and in a more ghostly sense, Father.  Presently I heard a deep groan at my ear, and afterward the smothered voice of Peters calling to me for aid in the name of God.  With one hand, Phil continues to lead me out of the Day Room while he fishes for the key to the Quiet Room with the other. “Did you see her? Did you see how she provoked me?” I shriek. “Yeah, yeah…I know, Angie.” Phil’s not stupid. He’s done this one too many times to know never to argue with an irate crazy person. “She’s evil. She has no soul,” I say to him as he ushers me into the Quiet Room. “In you go, Angie. Why don’t you just take a little time out for yourself and try to calm down.” “A time-out? I don’t need a time-out. What am I, three years old?” I shout. “Now, Angie, you know the quicker you calm down, the quicker you can come out.” “Phil, you better make sure that Dr. Frankenstein knows that I’m in here,” I demand. “And make sure that I get a different room away from her when I get out!” “Will do,” he whispers with his pointer pressed to his lips as he quietly backs out of the Quiet Room and locks the door. I feel like a caged animal as I pace back and forth. Peering out the small cut-out window, I pound on the locked door, demanding to be heard, but to no avail. Defeated and deflated, I collapse onto the old, torn gym mat. I am no stranger to this room. In fact, Phil had been my escort here during a previous hospital visit. This barren room is quite deceiving. To the naked eye, it’s an eight by twelve empty room, but I know otherwise. It’s not empty. I may have been left alone here to my own devices, but my own devices will not leave me alone.  Have you heard?  Rembrandt has gotten a cat that he has named after a dog.  Most probably this is approximately the manner in which the local pharmacist would have put it, say, insofar as such a simple statement does not necessarily have to be interpreted as showing disapproval at all, really.  This is one of my favorite verses of all:

My chief ideas, such as they were, had never been considered very successful or interesting.  That’s a sad thing to have to admit, but I don’t see any way around it.  I’m sorry.

I walked and, I believe, descended, but I presently found a great alteration in my sensations.  I only add this detail to be on the safe side, as it were. These things I say, and shall say, if I can, are no longer, or are not yet, or never were, or never will be, or if they were, if they are, if they will be, were not here, are not here, will not be here, but elsewhere.  St. Elsewhere, patron of all psychological maladies.  I wanted to go down to the creek, drink the primordial waters, but no, I am here, so I am obliged to add this little detail: I who am here, who cannot speak, cannot think, and who must speak, and therefore perhaps think a little, cannot in relation only to me who am here, to here where I am, but can a little, sufficiently, I don’t know how, unimportant, in relation to me who was elsewhere, who shall be elsewhere, and to those places where I was and perhaps shall be in the future.  But I have never been elsewhere, however uncertain the psychological maladies. To my left is another apparition. She is not particularly affable. She also visits me in my sleep but is not very helpful. She jolts me out of sleep with her face only inches from mine, wearing an angry visage with bulging eyes and clenched jaw. Her hair frays out in all directions, making for a frightful appearance. Like my male friend to the right, she has no name and does not speak. She does, however, growl at me. At first when she growled, I would jump up from the pavement and shriek; then she would return that very same night to harass me. But with each visit, I became wise to her ways and decided to fight back. One night as I opened my eyes, there she was, as usual, inches from my face, growling.  And the simplest therefore is to say that what I say, what I shall say, if I can, relates to the place where I am, and to the “me” or “I” or “self” who appears to be on the premises. Again and again, as the years gather up around me, and the valley of life deepens its shadows toward the tomb, do I go back in memory to the original days of my being.  The house was empty except for me and my best friend, Marcus Aurelius.  Weary of all who come with words, words but no language, we quietly make my way to the fern covered island.  Many a fellow has been heard to deplore the lack of opportunities in his early youth when, in reality, nothing stood in his way, unless it may have been the rather unhandy handicap of being destitute and alone.  It turns out that it only takes a miniscule slip of the knife one way or the other in this procedure and now you look like someone in the shower scene of Hitchcock.  I scrambled one or two paces forward, when I fell directly over the head and shoulders of my companion, who, I soon discovered, was buried in a loose mass of earth as far as his middle, and struggling desperately to free himself from the pressure.  Somebody is living in the Metropolitan Museum, being what they would say when I was still in New York.  Harry interjects with all the precise guitar chords just like I knew he would. We are the perfect pair. We should go on the road. Our audience gathers around, forming a semicircular ring with the haze of cigarette smoke shielding their identities. I rise up from the bench to gain the strength for such a challenging vocal and continue, “Indeed we are eager- we jump and down in excitement; indeed we have energy- we climb the highest mountains for sheer recreation” Then for full effect, I fall to my knees. “Fall on your knees, oh stragglers.  Drink from the primordial waters.”  With my finish comes applause and adulation from the crowd. One fan walks over to me and says, “Angie, I need to shake your hand. You really made my day.” I don’t know her name and am surprised she knew mine. Since I’ve been here, I’ve noticed that she has never opened her mouth to anyone- except to herself. Every time I see her, I notice that she has a running, angry dialogue with herself- yet she knows my name!  I don't regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure. I did it to the full, as one should do everything that one does. There was no pleasure I did not experience. I threw the pearl of my soul into a cup of wine. I went down the primrose path to the sound of flutes. I lived on honeycomb.  Just like the bible verses encourages:

Heavy, torrential rain struck the 19th Hole Room’s large ‘bay window’ and ran down the leaded panes in lustrous sheets which overlapped complexly, and the sound on the glass and canvas awnings was much like a mechanized or ‘automated’ Car wash; and, with all of the fine, imported wood and dim light and scents of beverages and after shave and hair oil and fine, imported tobaccos and men’s damp sports wear, the 19th Hole felt both warm and cozy and ‘snug’ and yet also somewhat over-confined, not unlike the lap of a dominant adult. It was approximately then that a fresh wave of disorientation and, in a manner of speaking, distorted or ‘altered’ sensory perception from having recently found myself “alive” and cobbled together from corpses struck once more, as it had on the Fourth fairway with such embarrassing results, the symptoms and sensations of which were nearly impossible to describe, except perhaps to say that when these periods hit they were not unlike a cerebral earthquake or ‘tsunami,’ an, as it were, ‘neural protest’ or ‘-revolt’ against the conditions of emotional stress and alienation which they had been forced to function under. At the present time, everything in the 19th Hole’s respective colors seemed suddenly to brighten uncontrollably and become over-saturant, the visual environment appeared to faintly “pulse” or “throb,” and individual objects appeared, paradoxically, both to recede and become far-away and at the same time to come into an unnatural visual focus and become very, very precisely configured and lined, not unlike scenes in a Victorian oil.

Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty, with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid.  But I must have said this before, since I say it all again now. I have to speak in a certain way, with warmth perhaps, all is possible, first of the creature I am not, as if I were he, and then, as if I were he, of the creature I am.  Bert and Ernie gradually led me to this new understanding. It’s a question of voices, of voices to keep going, in the right manner, when they stop, on purpose, to put me to the test, as now the one whose burden is roughly to the effect that I am alive. Warmth, ease, conviction, the right manner, as if it were my own voice, pronouncing my own words, words pronouncing me alive, since that’s how they want me to be, I don’t know why, with their billions of quick, their trillions of dead, that’s not enough for them, I too must contribute my little convulsion, mewl, howl, gasp and rattle, loving my neighbour and blessed with “education” and “reason.”  Free of academic obligations for awhile, we wanted to “blow off some steam,” so we decided it was a good time for an acid trip.  Those were of course simpler times.  The untamed has no words.  So then she went and had more cosmetic surgery to try and correct it.  I tore the dirt from around him with all the energy I could command, and at length succeeded in getting him out.  We engaged for a few minutes in light conversation.

The Raritan Club’s distinctive escutcheon and motto, for instance, appeared both to recede and come into an almost excruciant focus on ‘the Hole’s’ opposite wall, beneath a perceptually tiny stuffed tarpon whose every imbricate scale seemed outlined or limned in an almost ‘Photo realist’ detail. There was the more quotidian dizziness and nausea, also. I gripped the small maple table’s ‘burled’ or beveled sides in a show of distress as ‘Father’ pored over the contents of the snack bowl, touching the contents of the bowl with his finger as he stirred them about. It was then at which I tried to bring up in conversation to Dr. Frankenstein, in some kind of ‘male-’ or ‘familial’ confidence, the strange and absurdly frustrating existential conflict that I was having in regards to my “synthetic” origins.  Whereupon: ‘Do not even take up my time in mentioning this, as any man knows what an absurd and trivial issue it is compared to many other existential conflicts and problems. In other words, “de minimis non curat,” or, the whole matter is, ultimately, beneath my notice’- for such was the gist or ‘thrust’ of the dismissive hand gesture which the doctor made in response to my broaching of this delicate subject, making the derisive gesture which all of my other “siblings” still associate with him from throughout their youths, and which Paul, in particular, a successful entrepreneur in automated, out-sourced Medical and Dental billing, can imitate so uncannily to this day when the gang all gets together over the Holiday season at Paul and his wife Theresa’s extraordinary vacation home in Sea Girt, where the Winter surf booms against the rocks of the light-house tower which the Coast Guard closed once G.P.S. or ‘satellite’ navigation rendered its functions redundant, and where all of the both ‘organic’ and ‘synthetic” creatures and their spouses and families will gather in Norwegian sweaters with insulated thermi of hot cider on the basalt outcroppings amid gulls’ pulsing cries to watch the booming surf and the distant lights of the Point Pleasant ferry moving north-ward up the Inter Coastal Waterway towards Staten Island, the vistas all iron greys and profound maroons and, privately to myself, desolate in the extreme.

The light became more and more oppressive to me, and the heat wearying me as I walked, I sought a place where I could receive shade.  But it’s a feint, you understand, to have me rejoice without cause, after their fashion, and accept their terms, for the sake of “peace at any price.”  An argument is a journey- I think that much at least is painfully obvious.  We have set out to prove that bats are birds. When we get to the next point, we shall see that philosophy is dead. So far, we've seen that no current theories will work. We will proceed in a step-by-step fashion. Our goal is to show that hummingbirds are essential to military defense. This observation points the way to an elegant solution. We have arrived at a disturbing conclusion.   One thing we know about journeys is that a journey defines a path: He strayed from the path. He's gone off in the wrong direction. They're following us. I'm lost.   Putting together AN ARGUMENT IS A JOURNEY AND A JOURNEY DEFINES A PATH, we get:   AN ARGUMENT DEFINES A PATH:  “He strayed from the line of argument.”  “Do you follow my argument?”  “Now we've gone off in the wrong direction again.”   “I'm lost.”   “You're going around in circles.”   Moreover, paths are conceived of as surfaces (think of a carpet unrolling as you go along, thus creating a path behind you.)  THE PATH OF A JOURNEY IS A SURFACE:   “We covered a lot of ground.”   “She's on our trail.”   “She strayed off the trail.”  “We went back over the same trail.”   Given that AN ARGUMENT DEFINES A PATH AND THE PATH OF A JOURNEY IS A SURFACE, we get: THE PATH OF AN ARGUMENT IS A SURFACE:   “We have already covered those points.”  “We have covered a lot of ground in our argument.”  “Let's go back over the argument again.”  “You're getting off the subject.” “You're really onto something there.”  “We're well on our way to solving this problem.”   Here we have a set of cases that fall under the metaphor AN ARGUMENT IS A JOURNEY. What makes them systematic is a pair of metaphorical entailments that are based on two facts about journeys.   The facts about journeys:  1) A JOURNEY DEFINES A PATH.  2) THE PATH OF A JOURNEY IS A SURFACE.  I say what it is, but I don’t know. I emit sounds, better and better it seems to me. If that’s not enough for them I can’t help it. If I speak of a head, referring to me, it’s because I hear it being spoken of. But why keep on saying the same thing? They hope things will change one day, it’s natural. That one day on my windpipe, or some other section of the conduit, a nice little abscess will form, with an idea inside, point of departure for a general infection. This would enable me to jubilate like a normal person, knowing why. And in no time I’d be a network of fistulae, bubbling with the blessed pus of reason. Ah if I were flesh and blood, as they are kind enough to posit, I wouldn’t say no, there might be something in their little idea. They say I suffer like true thinking flesh, but I’m sorry, I feel nothing. I may not look crazy.  They are all dear and sacred to me now, though I know they can come no more, and that the hollow spaces of time between the Here and There- the Now and Then- will reverberate forever with the echoes of many-voiced sorrows.  So midmorning on a clear winter’s day, we split a hit of four-way Windowpane.  The unwritten pages spread out on every side!  I consider myself fortunate in having been born well, except that I inherited a neurosis instead of an estate. But the second surgeon also botched it and the appearance of fright became even worse.  I coined the word “cloning” in 1841 in one of my first science-fiction stories and subsequently used it to describe something that people insist on seeing as a sort of literary forerunner of the Internet. This being so, some think it remarkable that I do not use e-mail!  In all truth, I have avoided it because I am lazy and enjoy staring blankly into space (which is also the space where novels come from) and because unanswered mail, e- or otherwise, is a source of discomfort. But I have recently become an avid browser of the World Wide Web. Some people find this odd. My neighbor finds it positively perverse. I, however, scent big changes afoot, possibilities that were never quite as manifest in earlier incarnations of cloning. As soon as we sufficiently recovered from our terror and surprise to be capable of conversing rationally, we both came to the conclusion that the walls of the fissure in which we had ventured had, by some convulsion of nature, or probably from their own weight, caved in overhead, and that we were consequently lost for ever, being thus entombed alive.  Eventually I stopped leaving the messages, and it’s sad for this one simple reason: they do not know the truth and I do.

This was of course the forest-preserve outside Ingolstadt; and here I lay by the side of a brook resting from my fatigue, until I felt tormented by hunger, thirst, and depression, sighing “No no,” crying, “Enough,” ejaculating, “Not yet,” mumbling non-stop, incessantly, any old thing, doesn’t matter, seeking once more, any old thing, doesn’t matter, thirsting away, you don’t know what for, ah yes, something to do, no no, nothing to be done, and now enough of that, unless perhaps, that’s an idea, let’s seek over there, one last little effort, seek what, pertinent objection, let us try and determine, before we seek, what it can be, before we seek over there, over where, talking unceasingly, seeking incessantly, in yourself, outside yourself, cursing man, cursing God, cursing the likes of you, Dr. Frankenstein, stopping cursing, past bearing it, going on bearing it, seeking indefatigably, in the world of nature, the world of man, where is nature, where is man, where are you, what are you seeking, who is seeking, seeking who you are, supreme aberration, where you are, what you’re doing, what you’ve done to them, what they’ve done to you, prattling along, where are the others, who is talking, not I, where am I, where is the place where I’ve always been, where are the others, it’s they are talking, talking to me, talking of me, I hear them, I’m mute, what do they want, what have I done to them, what have I done to you, what have you done to me, what has God done to us, nothing, and we’ve done nothing to him, you can’t do anything to him, he can’t do anything to us, we’re innocent, he’s innocent, it’s nobody’s fault, what’s nobody’s fault, this state of affairs, what state of affairs, so it is, so be it, don’t fret, so it will be, how so, rattling on, dying of thirst, seeking determinedly, what they want, they want me to be, this, that, to howl, stir, crawl out of here, be born, die, listen, extrapolate.  In fact, I look quite normal.  Could those who meet me look down into the depths of my ghastly and bitter desolation, they would behold more appalling pictures of human agony than ever mortal eye gazed upon since the opening of the day of time- since the roses of Eden first bloomed and knew not the blight so soon to darken the earthly paradise by the rivers of the east.  To get the juices flowing, I pounded on some bongos in the living room, while Marcus Aurelius  drove off on a quick Mickey D’s run.  I come upon the droppings of deer in the ferns.  Daft. Deranged. Lunatic. Psycho. Out to lunch, lost the plot, not on the ball, not the brightest bulb in the chandelier or the sharpest tool in the box or the roundest marble in the toy chest; one card short of a full deck, one curl short of a perm, one sandwich short of a picnic, one clown short of a circus. Bananas, crackers, nuts, fruitcake. Off the deep end, over the edge, in a blue funk, off the rocker.  Addicted, anxious, depressed, delusional, melancholic, manic, neurotic, psychotic. Dementia praecox, drapetomania, hebetude, hysteria, monomania, neurasthenia; bipolar or dissociative identity or obsessive-compulsive or post-traumatic stress disorder; schizophrenia: catatonic, chronic undifferentiated, disorganized, paranoid, residual.  Especially around this time of the year.  For a long time we gave up supinely to the most intense agony and despair, such as cannot be adequately imagined by those who have never been in a similar position.  To tell the truth, perhaps I left only three or four messages altogether.  Oh, how hard it is to be the only human being on earth who knows the full truth!  

When asked if, upon reflection, he thought a cigar this early in the day was perhaps such a good idea, Dr. Frankenstein, who was due to turn age 76 this coming July 6th (his birth stone was known to be ‘the Ruby’), responded that the sole indicator of his desiring my input on his personal habits would consist in his explicitly coming to me and requesting it, at which I cleared my throat slightly and shrugged or smiled, avoiding Audrey Bogen’s dark (our own Audrey’s being grey-green or, in certain lights, ‘Hazel’) eyes as she placed on the table a small bowl of very shiny nuts and an ash-tray of clear glass on whose bottom was reproduced the Raritan Club’s escutcheon, which Dr. Sipe pulled closer and rotated slightly to satisfy some obscure criteria in his ritual for enjoying a cigar.

This roused me from my nearly dormant state, and I ate some berries which I found hanging on the trees or lying on the ground.  How I managed, it’s not clear, dear dear, you say it’s not clear, something is wanting to make it clear, I’ll seek, what is wanting, to make everything clear, I’m always seeking something, it’s tiring in the end, and it’s only the beginning, how I managed, under such conditions, to do what I’m doing, what am I doing, I must find out what I’m doing, tell me what you’re doing and I’ll ask you how it’s possible, I hear, you say I hear, and that I seek, it’s a lie, I seek nothing, nothing any more, no matter, let’s leave it, no harking, and that I seek, listen to them now, jogging my memory, seek what, firstly what it is, secondly where it comes from, thirdly how I manage. People are somewhat surprised when they find out and respond by saying, “But you don’t look crazy.”  Nonetheless, I wander again from my subject.  It usually takes an hour or so to start feeling the effects of LSD, but this stuff came on in forty-five minutes.  I sensed that this one would be the game-changer I had always been looking for.  Language but no words.  Words but no meaning.  Meaning but only private, idiosyncratic reception.  People living like animals, because they “care” about animals and want to “protect” them.  If this one wasn’t the “game-changer” I hoped it was, I would spend the rest of the summer at the Grand Canyon, alone, under a tarp, doing absolutely nothing. “Mine” and “Thine” broke into my vocabulary while I was yet at a tender age, and during all the intervening years I have learned more and more about them, both from literary and experimental standpoints.  She asked for my candid reaction and I felt that our relationship deserved nothing less.  In the past, I have always shot down the idea of shock treatment.  Remnants of the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest haunt me to this day. I remember watching the scene in which Jack Nicholson’s character is forced to have shock treatment. They drag him into the room, strap him down, stick things on his head, and shove a bit in his mouth while sending electrical shockwaves to his temples. His entire body convulses while he remains conscious the entire time. The wackiness of it all made a major impact on me and has lasted to this day. My doctor reassures me that the process is not as jolting as they depict in the movie. He reminds me that the movie was made in 1975, and the technology and the way in which they administer shock treatment has come a long way since then. They don’t even call it shock treatment anymore. It has a kinder, gentler name—electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Dr. Frankenstein’s partner, Dr. Marcus Aurelius has been treating me for several years now. He is a gentle, gentle man who speaks with a Bulgarian accent that is soothing to the ear; his accent even makes shock treatment sound inviting. He never makes me feel like a crazy person. There is a sense of trust. Having faith in a doctor is incredibly important to the recovery process, especially if you have paranoiac tendencies. He explains, in his accent, the ECT process in a methodical way. “First, you will walk to the treatment room in the morning and lie down on the bed. The nurse will attach a blood pressure cuff and EEG and EKG leads in order to monitor your pressure and heart rate. I will then swab your forehead and temples and attach the electrodes. I will then ask you to breathe in oxygen through a mask while the anesthesiologist administers the general anesthesia intravenously, and you will be unconscious throughout the entire treatment.” “How long will I be under anesthesia?”  No incident ever occurring in the course of human events is more adapted to inspire the supremeness of mental and bodily distress than a case like our own, of living inhumation, also known as being buried alive.  I have no idea how long ago it was when that happened.  In the depths of an acid-trip I would sometimes convince myself that it never happened at all.  I composed the music for those cute little neighborhood ice cream trucks.  But they won’t understand or appreciate that.  In fact, they would probably mock it.  They would probably mock me as well.  Mock my very essence, as it were.  Give me the chance to open your minds to new thoughts and ideas that you have never dared to imagine before.  

According to my own pocket watch, no more than five or six minutes had passed since we had first entered the 19th Hole. The rain against the window’s convex and mullioned and glass window came in what now appeared to be vascular or peristaltic ‘pulses’ or ‘waves,’ and during the brief, rhythmic lulls or troughs of these, one could make out the Eighteenth fairway’s ‘dog leg’’s copse of trees being bent and wrung by the storm’s violent winds, as well as tiny and fore-shortened golfing foursomes running hard for their carts or the Pro-shop’s shelter, their shoes’ spikes producing the exaggeratedly high stride of men almost running in place. Those wearing hats held them down with one hand. The 19th Hole’s long, mahogany bar and tables began gradually to fill as more and more men chased in off various parts of the course by the storm came in to get warm and wait out the rain before going home to whatever was left of their “families.”

I slaked my thirst at the brook, and then lying down, was overcome by sleep.  whether I am words among words, or silence in the midst of silence, to recall only two of the hypotheses launched in this connexion, though silence to tell the truth does not appear to have been very conspicuous up to now, but appearances may sometimes be deceptive, I resume, not yet our good fortune to establish, among other things, what I am, no, sorry, already mentioned, what I’m doing, how I manage, to hear, if I hear, if it’s I who hear, and who can doubt it, I don’t know, doubt is present, in this connexion, somewhere or other, I resume, how I manage to hear, if it’s I who hear, and how to understand, ellipse when possible, it saves time, how to understand, same observation, and how it happens, if it’s I who speak, and it may be assumed it is. Most people laugh it off when someone calls them crazy.  I lived and worked on my father's farm until I was eighteen years of age.  Mark came back giggling and reported he’d had a little trouble driving back because he’d started tripping much sooner than he’d expected.  Men of footnotes, not headlines.  A neurosis is a nervous symptom of some sort, and if you have a sufficient number and variety of them you are a “neurasthenic.”  Her crow’s feet were indeed things of the past but now her face was a chronic mask of insane terror.  The blackness of darkness which envelops the victim, the terrific oppression of lungs, the stifling fumes from the damp earth, unite with the ghastly considerations that we are beyond the remotest confines of hope, and that such is the allotted portion of the dead, to carry into the human heart a degree of appalling awe and horror not to be tolerated- never to be conceived.  If I were forced to guess, I believe I would guess ten years.   It is my intention to reveal the mystery of beachcombing, to expel the untruths about it that are popular conceptions on Earth.  “Will I lose my memory?” “Depending upon how many treatments you have, there will be some short-term memory that will be lost during the series of treatments. For example, you may forget conversations you might have, a person’s name, or appointments. Sometimes, there is also some long-term memory loss as well.” “How many treatments will I need?” “At first, the treatments will be intensive. Three times a week for the first couple of weeks; depending upon your progress, we will reduce the treatments to once a week, then once every two weeks, then once per month and so on.” I breathe in deep and contemplate. Why am I so afraid of shock treatment? After a suicide attempt, low voltages of electrical currents running through my body don’t sound so frightening. I also take into consideration the attendance of my three guests at the tea party in the Quiet Room. Without further delay, I make my decision. “Sure, why not? Let’s give it a go.”