Friday, November 22, 2013

Karl's ballad

He and I together again, 
back in the deep shrouded forest, 
communicating once more with 
the eternal prospect of nothingness.  

Old friends, reunited.
Cool cider in hand.
Laughing at everything, everyone,
plucking re-purposed sitars and harmoniums.

Any note will suffice, Johnny says.
Any method or schedule.
Sounds too easy, I comment.
It is, he says.  
That's the problem!
And then again, laughing wildly,
to the point where we fall to the earth
and have some slight trouble breathing,
so absurd and exhausting is this business
of wandering about with no clear destination.

Camping for a few nights 
near a gravel pit in St. Louis.
The old river, the floodplain,
the war memorial,
arches, animals,
insects, books, coffee, wifi- 

all such basic realities!
(Whatever that means.)
Not sure.

Spirals, coils, matrices, atlases.

Meandering alone along sandbars.

Tiny towns, some of them nameless,
if you can believe such a vertiginous prospect
in this particularly "weary unto death" day and age-


Johnny says: "Hey, Karl- let's go see 
what the 'next' vista offers!"
I agree- we pack foodstuffs, a few batteries,
the instruments, get in the car, feral, shivering, 
gradually pull back out onto the next 
unlit system of inter-states...

A lot of time passes.

We hover alone with our thoughts.

When we speak next, there's the distinct sense
that something has shifted in this part of the wilderness.  

He and I together again,
late at night,
toying with the prospect of mineral water.
An old issue, standard practice,
re-invested by the pure sentience of
absolute and semi-perfect circles of strangers.


It stays better longer that way,
the hand-painted sign seems to indicate.
We mull it over in solitude.
Don't wanna keep making the same stupid mistakes
for the rest of our ridiculous lives.
It's too easy, someone comments.
But this time, no "identifiable crisis."
We sigh, clear our throats,
sink back into even deeper pockets 
of urban blight and decay.

Unnamed, uncharted, understated, reflective...

(A little reluctant to admit that we had been 
at this precise crossroads 
just couple 


Snug's realization

When Karl, who has seen many villages, nations, and continents, was asked by the neighbor boy Marcus what common attribute he had found everywhere existing among so-called human beings, he answered, "They have a tendency to sloth.  Some eventually lie down on the pavement and never get up again in their lives.  They have to be dragged away by the authorities.  They have very little get-up-and-go, I'm afraid.”  “Gosh, I hope I don’t turn out that way!” young Marcus responded.  “Well then, go home this instant and take up your pencil and paper and start making a very long list of activities.  That way, if one doesn’t work out, you still have many, many more possibilities to choose from, young fellow.  And if you ever become a skilled multi-tasker like me, you can pursue several or even many at once!”  “Three cheers for activity!” Marcus shouted, and immediately went home and started his list.

Many may think that the fuller truth would have been, "They are all timid." They hide themselves behind "manners" and "opinions" and "masks." At bottom every person knows well enough that she is a semi-unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvellously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as she is, ever be put together a second time. Never.  She knows this, she likes this, she writes about this in her diary, but from the rest of society she hides it like a strange, evil secret.  Why?  From fear of her neighbour, who looks for the latest conventionalities in her, and is almost certainly totally wrapped up in them himself! But what is it that forces the person to fear this bizarre neighbour of his, to think and act with the herd, like a gorilla, and not seek his own joy?  So what if his life has been unsuccessful thus far, uninspired, uninteresting, cleaving to one conventional thing after the next?  Cannot people evolve?  Shyness is another possible reason, but in the majority of cases it idleness, pure and simple, the "taking things rather easily,"  this accursed "tendency to sloth" of which Karl warned young Marcus about.

He was right; people are more slothful than timid, and their greatest fear is of the burdens that an uncompromising honesty and nakedness of speech and action would lay on their souls. It is usually the difficult and temperamental 'artistic-types' who hate this lazy wandering in borrowed manners and ill-fitting opinions, and who attempt, often unsuccessfully, to discover the secret of the strange, unparalleled conscience, the truth that each human being is a unique disaster and marvel. They show us, how in every little movement of body and spirit that the so-called human person is in fact an individual nothingness, and further- as an analytical deduction from his individuality- a beautiful and miraculous object, a new and incredible phenomenon (as is every work of nature) that can never become weary or tedious.  Think of the woodworkers you know, how they are always hammering away down in the basement, very late into the night, deeply confused as to their overall purpose in life but highly intent on the project at hand, and the sawing, planing, sanding, and near-endless chiseling that it seems to always require if it is to be even the slightest bit functional!  If the carpenter's apprentice despises humankind on occasion, methinks it is for these infernal habits of laziness; they seem mere shavings, mere splinters, sawdust, scraps and dust swept into corners, not worth any serious attention or attempt towards improvement. The person who will not belong to the general mass, has only to stop "taking things so effing easily"; to follow his conscience, which cries out to him, "Be thyself! All that thou presently doest and thinkest and desirest, is not thyself, but a bunch of toys and battered items picked up at a rummage sale!”

Every youthful soul hears this cry day and night, and quivers to hear it: for she divines the sum of happiness that has been from eternity destined for her, if she think of her true deliverance; and towards this happiness she can in no wise be helped, so long as she lies in the chains of Opinion and of Fear. And how comfortless and unmeaning may life become without this deliverance! There is no more desolate and forsaken creature in nature than the person who has broken away from her true genius, and does nothing but wander listlessly among the tables and displays of a rummage sale.  Should he chance to engage in conversation, it will most likely be second-hand conversation.  Should he engage in activity, it will probably be pointless activity, and after a few hours, the poor soul will want to lie down on the earth, depressed and weary, and be tempted to stay down there, nevermore to assist with the improvements he so wanted to see in society.  He will in fact become a liability to that very society, and have to be dragged off by authorities, and warehoused in some sort of long term facility for the confused, old, and feeble.

Even so, there is no reason to attack such a person so callously, for he is a mere husk without a kernel, a painted cloth, tattered and sagging, a scarecrow, a sad ghost, that can rouse no fear, and most likely no pity. And though one be right in saying of such a sluggard that he is "slaughtering time" yet in respect of an age that rests its salvation on widespread public opinion- that is, on personal laziness- one must be quite determined that such a time shall be "slaughtered" once and for all: I mean that it shall be blotted from life's true History of Liberty, Color, and Energy.  Does this have anything to do with conversation?  Why, it most certainly does.  Later generations will be greatly disgusted, when they come to treat the movements of a period in which no living human beings ruled, but shadow-puppets on the screen of public opinion; and to some far posterity our age may well be the darkest chapter of history, the most unknown because the least authentically human.  

For what it’s worth,  I actually worked for a small puppet theater troupe in Chicago.  I was very confused at the time, barely even able to finish my sentences.  My words would invariably trail off into nothingness, and the people around me would just shake their heads sadly, some of them making the hushed observation in a tone of voice that I could very easily hear:  “That poor fellow probably has some psychological problems.”  Afterwards we all went out to Perkin’s Family Restaurant, where I ordered a Denver omelette with home fries and a short stack of blueberry pancakes.  I drank coffee in those days for the energy boost it provided, and I enjoyed nothing more than just sitting there munching away on my food and listening to the other people engage in lively discussion.  It just made sense, somehow.    

I have walked through the new streets of our cities, and thought how of all the dreadful houses that these avatars with their ‘public opinion’ have built for themselves, not a stone will remain in a hundred years, and that the opinions of these busy masons may well have collapsed along with them. But how full of hope should they all be who feel that they are no citizens of this weary age!  If they were, they would have to help with the daily task of "killing their time," and of most likely perishing along with it, to boot!  I had a brief love affair with Kristy, a brilliant dancer by night and an extremely attractive hostess at Perkin’s by day  It started out in the days when I would often go in to dine there by my lonesome, and request a certain corner table overlooking the south end of the parking lot, which was adjacent to a huge empty field over which people and animals occasionally wandered hollow-eyed and confused.  Kristy thought I was weird at first for always wanting this view, but she eventually started to ask a few questions, and I was gradually able to explain my philosophy, such as it was.  After several weeks she invited me back to her home for sexual intercourse, which was very enjoyable even though it required almost every ounce of my energy.  Afterwards I would drink more coffee, we might talk or watch dance performances for awhile, and then invariably she suggested a round two or even round three.  She claimed that Denver omelettes, home fries, and blueberry pancakes were pretty good fuel for activities like talking, watching TV, and sexual intercourse.  “Well, you work in the food industry, babe... you would probably know better than I” I responded.  ‘That’s exactly right, Snug... I do in fact know better than you.’  In October we started going on long walks thru the wastelands at the edges of town, and I almost convinced her to quit her job and live with me in my van for awhile, saying words to this effect: “But Kristy, think about it- even if the future leaves us nothing to hope for, the wonderful fact of our existing at this present moment of time gives us the greatest encouragement to live after our own rule and measure, right?  So inexplicable is it, that we should be living just today, for no reason, though there have been an infinity of time wherein we might have arisen; that we own nothing but a span's length of it, this "today", and must show in it wherefore and whereunto we have arisen. We have to answer for our existence to somebody, right? Shall we not therefore be our own true pilots, sort of like Captain Ahab or Ishamel? One must take a rather impudent and reckless way with the riddle; especially as the key is apt to be lost, however things turn out. Why cling to your bit of earth, or your little business, or listen to what your ridiculous neighbour believes?  It is so provincial to bind oneself to views which are no longer binding a couple of hundred miles away!  East and West are but crude signs that somebody chalks up in front of us to fool such cowards as we are, my love!  ‘I will make the attempt to gain freedom’ says the youthful soul; and will be hindered, just because two nations happen to hate each other and go to war, or because there is a sea between two parts of the earth, or a doctrine is taught in the vicinity, which did not exist even two hours earlier. ‘And this is not... thyself’, the soul whispers. No one can build thee the bridge, over which thou must cross the river of life, save thyself alone. There are paths and bridges and demi-gods without number, that will gladly carry thee over, but only at the price of thine own ridiculous self: thy self wouldst thou have to give in pawn, and then LOSE it! There is in the world one road whereon none may go, except thou: ask not whither it lead, but go forward. Who was it that spake that true word- ‘A person has never risen higher than when she knoweth not whither her road may yet lead her?’  Was it Oprah, maybe?  She has her own style of wisdom, you realize. But how can we ‘find ourselves’ again, honey, and how can a human being actually ‘know’ herself?  By working 50 hours a week at Perkin’s Family Restaurant?  Perhaps.  Even so, you have an amazing life underway. You're super cool, super talented, gorgeous, super smart, tons of energy.  You’ve taught me a lot about healthy diets and dance and vigorous sexual intercourse and somehow have even been able to put up with my bouts of suicidal depression, when I just lie down on the floor in my own filth and drool and refuse to get up for days and sometimes weeks at a time, a human worm, barely breathing, just lying there in the mud of my sloth and my third-degree misery.  You’ve also taught me something about this idea of digging or tunnelling into one's self, this straight, violent descent into the pit of one's being, and how it is such a difficult and dangerous business to start.  Maybe you noticed me, sitting there at my corner table for hours, completely motionless, staring off into the desolate fields.  A fellow may easily take such hurt, that no physician can heal him. And again, what were the use, since everything bears witness to our primordial essence- our friendships and enmities, our looks and greetings, our memories, oblivion, our books and our writing, our exercise regimens, diets, support or indifference to various charities, our tree forts, our vans and our jobs and our injuries, our police records, all the terrible mistakes we made in our 20’s, compounded by the even more terrible mistakes of our 30’s and 40’s...  This is the most effective way, I think, baby, of avoiding the occasional temptation to throw oneself into the path of an oncoming train: to let the youthful soul look back on life with the question, ‘What hast thou up to now truly loved, what has drawn thy soul upward, mastered it and blessed it and set it at liberty?’ Set up these things that thou hast honoured before thee, and, maybe, just maybe, they will show thee, in their being and inscrutable order, a law which is the fundamental law of thine own ridiculous self. Compare these objects, consider how they complete and broaden and transcend and explain one another, how they form a ladder on which thou hast all the time been climbing to thy mysterious destiny: for thy true being lies not deeply hidden in thee, but an infinite height above thee, or at least above that which thou dost commonly take to be thy ridiculous self. The true educators and sages reveal to thee the real groundwork and import of thy being, something that in itself cannot be molded or educated, but is anyhow difficult of approach, bound and crippled: thy educators can be nothing but thy deliverers. And that is the secret of all culture: it does not give artificial limbs, wax noses, or rose-colored spectacles- a thing that could buy such gifts is but the basest coin in existence. But it is rather a liberation, a removal of all the weeds and rubbish and vermin that attack the delicate shoots, the streaming forth of light and warmth, the pitter-patter of the gentle night rain; it is the following and the adoring of Nature when she is as tender-hearted as a mother- her completion, when it bends before her fierce and ruthless blasts and turns them to good, and draws a veil over all expression of her tragic unreason- for she is a step-mother too, sometimes.”  “I agree, Snug.  She is.  But that doesn’t mean she wants me to live with you in your van.”  “Why not, my love?”  “Well, for one, I’ve only known you a couple of weeks.  For two, winter will soon be upon us, and I can’t help but remember that haunting poem by Rilke.”  “Which one?”  “Autumn Day.”  ‘Oh yeah... that one is pretty intense.”  “Would you like me to recite it?”  “Sure.”  “Ok... let me gather my thoughts for a moment... ok... Valley Goddess: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.  Now overlap the sundials with your shadows, and on the meadows let the wind go free.  Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine; grant them a few more warm transparent days, urge them on to fulfillment then, and press the final sweetness into the sweet heavy wine, which should quickly be followed with cocaine or super strong coffee by a person like Snug, who doesn’t have too much energy and needs to watch his chemical intake very carefully.  Whoever has no house now, will never have one.  Whoever is alone will stay alone, will sit, read, write long letters through the evening, and wander along the boulevards, up and down, restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.”  “Hey!  Did you add that line about coffee?”  “No, Rilke also had a good friend named Snug with energy issues.”  “Wow.  Life’s a mystery.  You sure you don’t want to live with me in the van?”  “I’m sure, sweetheart.  And on that note, I need to start getting ready for work.  You wanna stay here, or go hang out in your van somewhere?”

It was at that moment I realized Kristy was totally right, that it would be a huge mistake for her to quit her job and her apartment and live with me in my van.  It would be extremely crowded.  It was already pretty crowded.  I had just enough room for my bed, a box of clothes, some food, and a bookshelf.  If I incorporated Kristy and all of her stuff as well there would hardly be any room to move around. She was a dancer, for fuck's sake!  We would be like worms, encased in black and extremely dense earth.  She was clearly the brighter bulb of the two of us. Looking back, I’m kind of surprised she was even into me at all.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Hello.  My name is Michael Rebeck.  I interviewed Johnny Appleseed yesterday on my radio program Rebeck Raw & Unfiltered.  I tried to get Johnny's backstory but he insisted on talking about different things.  I tried redirecting him several times, but he seemed pretty oblivious.  There were several times I wondered if he wasn't entirely right in the head.  In any case, he sent me the following email this morning which he implied would probably clear up any lingering concern or confusion, on either my part or my listeners' part.  I highly doubt that, but oh well.  


Hello Michael-

I very much enjoyed being on your radio program yesterday.  It seems like we covered a lot of interesting topics and had some pretty decent exchanges.  You kept asking me about the past and I kept sorta changing the subject, because I feel that what I have going on now is way, way cooler than any of my former projects, relationships, or experiences.  

You know as well as I do that things which happened during antiquity are now absolutely forgotten, and things that occurred ten thousand years ago are pretty much more myth and legend than fact.  Events that occurred five thousand years ago are probably more of a dream than concrete realities, and even if we retain a slight bit of memory regarding what happened a thousand or so years ago, most of those events are completely forgotten and most likely irrelevant. The history books might attempt to describe a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, but those writers are usually just amusing themselves with fairy tales they learned as small children.  I would even go so far as to say that it is a tremendous accomplishment to remember things that happened a mere hundred years ago.  Why, even the most observant eye-witnesses have a hard time recalling what they saw fifty years ago, and most of us would admit that even the events of last week or yesterday have started to grow more than just a little bit fuzzy.

Gentle Michael, much has gone on between the ancient times and the present.  Sages, tyrants, librarians, gardeners, saviors, actors, musicians, welders, architects, teachers, bus drivers, cooks, nature guides, drunkards, translators, inventors, thieves, carpenters, parasites, cave dwellers, and a whole bunch of others have come and gone, endlessly, well up into the trillions to the trillionth power, and probably more.  Intelligent people, foolish people, kind people, cruel people, good people, bad people, serious people, silly people, brave people, energetic people, complicated people, lazy people, timid people, tiny people, large people, loud people, quiet people and others have all made brief appearances on the world stage and then disappeared into total oblivion.  We don't know who they were or why they did what they did.  Not the slightest clue, simple Michael.

Our time on earth is short.  We do not "own" either our lives or our life stories, nor are many of us qualified to make even a semi-accurate summary.  You seem like a pretty solid fellow and your radio program is fast-paced, informative, entertaining, and cool, but that doesn't change the fact that you are a deeply confused human being, and seem to have no reservations whatsoever about inviting other deeply confused human beings, such as myself, onto your interview segments.  Be that as it may, we come into existence when yin and yang energies interact, and we disappear when they separate.  No big deal.  Thus, should we find ourselves alive in this world, which we apparently do, we should let this life run its course, and try to focus on the moment at hand, right?  Maybe when I'm retired I'll pen my silly memoirs, but until then I have too much going on to explore ancient history.

Be well, dear Michael Rebeck.  Maybe we could do a follow-up interview in a couple of months.  You may be one of the most confused human beings I have ever met in my life, but I like your brand of no-nonsense journalism, and the way you like to stick to the facts.  As you probably know, Tony Danza is serving as dramaturg for our production, and I think the two of you should meet sometime and talk about your shared interests.  He also used to have an interview program like yours, except it was on television, so fans had the added benefit of studying people's facial cues and body language.  He and I have talked quite a lot about his years on the hit show Who's the Boss?, in which he plays a former major league baseball player transitioning into a second career as a handyman/housekeeper for an attractive lady, her son, and her half-insane mother.  Sparks flew during those years, in every sense of the term.  The question of who was the actual boss was never sufficiently answered, and most TV critics/scholars believe it was precisely that ongoing tension and ambiguity that kept viewers intrigued, and constantly re-assessing the social dynamic at play.  I gave Tony your email address so maybe you'll be hearing from him one of these days.  If not, I'll do whatever is in my power to introduce you sometime.  Maybe it would be fun for you to take a turn being interviewed yourself after all of these years!  Tony would be a good person to do it.  He likes to search for hidden meanings.  As dramaturg, that is required.  He has no hesitation whatsoever in prompting us to ask the difficult questions.  He reminds us from time to time that the title of his hit show was itself a difficult question.  Most show titles nowadays are simple descriptions or statements, or perhaps a character's name, or some tidbit of pop culture lingo.  Raw and Unfiltered is symbolic of your desire to get down to the nitty-gritty, the facts, the dirt, is it not?  I enjoy the dirt also.  It is an important aspect of nature that I feel deserves more respect on the airwaves.  Keep up the good work, gentle Michael.     

your friend,

Johnny Appleseed


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

radio interview with Johnny Appleseed

Q: How, where, and when did you get started with all of this appleseed stuff?

A: Wow... to think of time... that’s a tough one... you really want retrospection?  Want me to talk about yesterday, and then gradually move on into the present, and finally into distant ages continued henceforward? 

Q: Sure!

A: Have you guessed you yourself would not continue? Have you dreaded those earthworms, and the image of them dining on your stiff, lifeless corpse?

Q: Uh...

A: Have you feared the future would be nothing to you? Is today nothing?  Is the beginningless past a mere nothing? If the future is nothing they are just as surely pure nothing. Or maybe a better word would be nothingness. What do you think, gentle sir?  

Q: Uh, nothingness works for me, I guess...

A: And yet, to think that the sun rose in the east- that men and women and the critters and flowers and glaciers and mastodons and our early chimpanzee ancestors were flexible, real, alive, moving about, eating apples- that everything was alive, to think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part, and to think that we are here now and do in fact bear our part!  

Q: It does seem that way, yes...

A: Not a day passes, not a minute or second without a cool achievement , not a day passes, not a minute or second without a horrible failure, right?

Q: But sir, t

A: The dull nights go over and the dull days go also, where, I'm not exactly sure, some sort of warehouse in oblivion, maybe, the soreness of lying so much on the hard ground goes over, the physician after long putting off gives the silent and terrible look for an answer, the children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters are sent for, medicines stand unused on the shelf, (the camphor-smell has long pervaded the rooms) the faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying, the twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the person passing away, the breath ceases and the pulse of the heart grinds to a halt, the corpse stretches on the bed and the living look upon it, and think about that storehouse of cosmic oblivion and realize that it must be of pretty gigantic proportions, ya know?

Q: Sir, I understand all that, really... what I was really hoping to learn from you, though, was how you got started off with the apples and all.  Surely you must have had some sort of mentor, some sort of childhood hero, correct?

A: To think the thoughts of spirit merged with the thoughts of materials, to think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking great interest in them, and we taking no interest at all.  Why is that, gentle sir? Can we properly even be said to be living?

Q: I take plenty of interest, Johnny.  That’s sort of my job, as a journalist.

A: To think how eager we are in building our houses, or planting our orchards, or you here in this studio, endlessly recording new interviews, endlessly asking people about their endless thoughts and activities, which will all be gone in an instant, essentially, and then to think that still others shall be just as eager, and we completely indifferent, already lodged away in the storehouse, twiddling our thumbs, as it were.

Q: So that's how you see it, eh?

A: I enjoy conversation with you, sir! Don't let anyone try and say otherwise! Imagine, if you can, a cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf, trash and ice in the river, half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray discouraged sky overhead, people wandering around near the harbor with no sense of direction or purpose, the short last daylight of December, a hearse and stages, the funeral of an old Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.  Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the gate is passed, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the hearse opens, the coffin is passed out, lowered and settled, the flowers are laid on the coffin, the earth is shoveled in rudely, the mound above is flatted with the spades- silence, a minute- no one moves or speaks- it is done, he is decently laid to his well-deserved rest- is there anything more? He was a good fellow, free-mouthed, quick-tempered, not bad-looking, ready with life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty, drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited toward the last, sickened, was helped by a contribution, died, aged forty-one years... and that was my mentor’s funeral, since it is he that you ask about.

Q: And what was his name?

A: Thomas Brody.

Q: And how did you come to know him?

A: The schools, the markets, the zoos, the orchards, the barracks, the forests, the swamplands, the islanders, castaways, people such as the Swiss Family Robinson and the Lord of the Flies. The vulgar and the refined, what you call sin and what you call goodness, to think how wide a difference, to think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond the difference, supposedly.

Q: Are you sure about that?

A: Do you enjoy yourself in the city? Or engaged in farming or business? Or planning a nomination and election? Or with your wife and family? Or with your mother and sisters? Or in housework or yardwork? Or here, in this studio, creating your silly radio program? These also flow onward to others, you and I flow onward, but in due time you and I shall take less interest in them, I suspect. Your farm, profits, crops, neighbors, interviews, newspaper articles- to think how engrossed you are, to think there will still be farms, profits, crops, neighbors, interviews, articles, whatnot, yet for you and I- of what avail? We will already be lodged in the warehouse.

Q: You really wanna go down this road?

A: What will be will be well, for what is is well also, to take interest is well, and not to take interest is a fine prospect also. The domestic joys, the computers, sorting out the recycling, watching TV, reading books, paying bills, doing yoga, the building of houses, the tree planting, the upcoming theater piece at the White House, Franz’s endless confusion, Karl’s crazy ideas, none of these things are phantasms, they have weight, form, location, substance, gravity, meaning. Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them phantasms, the difference between sin and goodness is no mere delusion, the earth is not an echo, human beings are as well-considered as our ape ancestors were, not a jot more or less, according to most anthropologists.

Q: I don't really know, Johnny.

A: You are not thrown to the winds, sir. You have your own radio program! Every person you interview probably becomes a sort of eternal soul mate, I bet.

Q: Think again, Johnny.

A: It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and father, it is to identify you, gentle sir. To locate you here in your studio, pressing all these little buttons and talking into all of these fancy machines. It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided. Ok?  Try and get that through your thick skull! Something long preparing and formless is arrived and formed in you, brother!

Q: Uh... ok...

A: You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes. The threads that were spun are gathered, the weft crosses the warp, the pattern is systematic, and yes, apples are indeed very nutritious and tasty. The preparations have every one been justified. The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal. The guest that was coming, he waited long, he is now housed, he is one of those who are beautiful and happy, he is one of those that to look upon and be with is enough. The law of the past cannot be eluded, the law of the present and future cannot be eluded, the law of the living cannot be eluded, it is eternal, the law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded, the law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded, the law of drunkards, informers, mean persons, not one iota thereof can be eluded.

Q: Where did you learn all this stuff, Johnny?

A: The internet, mostly. The great masters and cosmos are well as they go, the heroes and good-doers are well, the known leaders and inventors and the rich owners and pious and distinguished may be well, but there is more account than that, there is strict account of all. The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing, the barbarians of yore are not nothing, aliens and UFOs are not nothing, the perpetual successions of shallow people such as you and I are not nothing. Of and in all these things, I have dreamed that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of us changed.

Q: You would let the present laws stand, then?

A: I have dreamed that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present and past law, and that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and past law, for I have dreamed that the law they are under now is enough.

Q: What do you mean by “enough”?  And what’s all this stuff about dreaming? And thanks for calling me shallow, by the way. I really appreciate that.

A: I have dreamed that the purpose and essence of the known life, the transient, is to form and decide identity for the unknown life, the permanent. If all came but to ashes of dung, if maggots and rats ended us, then alarum! For we are betrayed, then indeed suspicion of death. Do you suspect death, radio man?

Q: I’m not sure how to answer that, sir.

A: Well, if I were to suspect death I should die right this instant!  Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward annihilation? Pleasantly and well-suited I walk, whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good, the whole universe indicates that it is good, the past and the present indicate that it is good.

Q: Uh... pretty good, I suppose.

A: How beautiful and perfect are the animals! The computers! The libraries! The orchards! How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as perfect. The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable fluids perfect. I went on a canoe trip with Karl once. We liked seeing the wildlife.

Q: And you are saying that you’re OK with all that?

A: I swear I think now that everything without exception has an eternal soul, sir!  The trees have, rooted in the ground!  The weeds of the sea have! The animals! The deep canyons! The glaciers! Even your fancy three-piece suit and all these shiny radio doo-dads! These blinking lights, these computers, that cocaine you did right before we went on the air!  I swear I think there is nothing but full blown immortality! I was probably wrong about the warehouse! There's probably no such thing as oblivion! That the exquisite scheme is for immortality, and the nebulous float is for immortality, and the canoe trips and wildlife and endless cohering and melting away! Spirit and materials are like two peas in a pod!

Q: So now we’re back to spirit and materials- anything else you want to say about them?

A: Darest thou now, gentle sir, to walk out with me toward the unknown region, where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?

Q: Excuse me?

A: No map there, nor guide, nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand, nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land. I know it not, gentle sir, nor dost thou, all is a blank verse before us, all waits undreamed of in that region, that inaccessible land. The Swiss Family Robinson sort of symbolizes what I'm trying to say here, and the movie Castaway starring Tom Hanks, and that one scene on the beach where he is gazing up in awe at the heavens. Till when the ties loosen, all but the ties infinite and eternal, time and space, nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us. Then we burst forth, we float, in time and space, gentle sir, prepared for them, equal, equipped and educated at last!

Q: Well Johnny, that’s about all the time we have for today.  Thanks for coming into the studio and telling us about the apples and The Orchard Players and everything.  Best of luck to you, friend.

A:  Same to you, gentle sir.  And just so you know, from this hour I ordain myself loosed of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, listening to others, considering well what they say, pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

Q: Sir, that’s a wonderful thought, but I rel

A: I inhale great draughts of space, the east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine also, at least in a manner of speaking. I am larger, better than I thought, I did not know I held so much goodness, and had no idea I would accidentally stumble into a successful career in the theater.  All seems beautiful to me, and I have no problem repeating it over and over and over: “You have done such good to me I would do the same unto you, I will recruit for myself and you as I go, I will scatter myself among men and women as I go, I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them, whoever denies me it shall not trouble me, whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.”

Q: Well, on that note sir, I’d like to th

A: Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear it would not amaze me at all, sir.

Q: I believe you, Johnny.  Really, I do.

A: And if a thousand beautiful forms of women appeared it would not astonish me a single solitary iota. Now I see the secret of becoming truly successful, sir.

Q: Oh yeah?  And what might that be?

A: It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. Here a great personal deed has room, (Such a deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men, Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law and mocks all authority and all argument against it.) Here is the test of wisdom, wisdom is not finally tested in schools, wisdom cannot be passed from one having it to another not having it, wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof, applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content, is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things.  Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.

Q: If you say so, my friend.

A: Re-examine philosophies and religions sometime, they may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and rivers.

Q: Ok.

A: Here is the efflux of the soul, my good fellow, the efflux of the soul comes from within through embowered gates, ever provoking questions. These yearnings- why are they?  These thoughts in the darkness, and by the campfire late at with my good buddy Karl- why are they? Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood? Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank? Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me? (I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and always drop fruit as I pass;) What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers? What with some driver as I ride on the seat by his side? What with some fisherman drawing his seine by the shore as I walk by and pause? What gives me to be free to a woman's and man's goodwill? What gives them to be free to mine?

Q: I have absolutely no idea.

A: The efflux of the soul is happiness, here is happiness, I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times.  

Q: All times, all places, all people, I’m guessing.

A: You guess correct, sir. Now it flows unto us, we are rightly charged. Here rises the fluid and attaching character, the fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman and animals, including the fishes and insects. Don't be crestfallen that your ancestors were like gorillas and chimps.

Q: You’re a wild dude, Johnny.

A: Come travel with Karl and I, sir! Traveling with us you find what never tires. The earth never tires, the earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, nature is rude and incomprehensible at first, be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well enveloped, I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell. Bring your cell phone, your laptop, your microphone, whatever you think is essential! Gentle sir!  We must not stop here, however sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here, however sheltered this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here, however welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

Q: But I like it here, Johnny.  I have a job, a family, a house.

A: I don’t care, sir! Trust me, the inducements shall become unspeakably greater!  We will sail pathless and wild seas, we will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.  Bring the whole gang along!  With power, liberty, the earth, the elements, health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity.  I’m not fooling around!

Q: You really think we could hack it?

A: Of course, sir! Yet, take warning. He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance, none may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health, come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself, only those may come who come in sweet and determined bodies, no diseased person, no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.

Q: Oh... well, that pretty much disqualifies my wife and I, then.

A: Listen, buddy- I will be honest with you- I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes. These are the days that must happen to you: You shall not heap up what is called riches, you shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve, you but arrive at the city to which you were destined, you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction before you are called by an irresistible call to depart, you shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you. What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting.

Q: Sorry, Johnny.  Can’t do it.

A: I heartily disagree, sir.  Come, with your family, to that which is endless as it was beginningless.

Q: No way, no how.

A: To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights, to merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to, again to merge them in the start of superior journeys, to see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it, to conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it, to look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for you, to see no being, not God's or any, but you also go thither, to see no possession but you may possess it, enjoying all without labor or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not abstracting one particle of it, to take the best of the farmer's farm and the rich man's elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens, to take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through, to carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go, to gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them, to gather the love out of their hearts, to take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you, to know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.

A: It’s an inspired vision, Johnny.  I get it.  Look, I’m running extremely late for my next appointment, OK?  If you wanna stay here and think about all of this stuff some more, go right ahead.  Jason is here til 11, maybe you can share your ideas with him.  So long, Johnny.  Pleasure meeting you.

A: Same to you, gentle sir.