Sunday, February 20, 2005

Don't Look Back; The Thing Itself Might be Gaining on You, or-

-having to do with turning into a pillar of salt.

Don’t look back. You’ve heard that before. Bob Dylan said it for some reason. I figure he got it from Satchel Page whose admonition was based upon the fact that someone might be gaining on you. There are a lot of reasons not to look back. I’m less concerned about whether someone might be gaining on me as I might be about getting sucked back into the outgoing tide or inclined to repeat something whose result I forgot between the last occurrence and the one looking to happen again.

Nations repeat things. Religions repeat things. Individuals repeat things. Sometimes you repeat things to reinforce the message, like a good discipline or habit. Sometimes you do it because you just don’t know any better, or you do know better but you don’t care. Sometimes you repeat things because you just never get them and you think if you keep repeating them somehow it will one day make sense. That’s not out of the question.

There are people who think if they read Thomas Aquinas for a hundred years that they may come across some great truth. They think if they burn a lot of incense and focus real hard on the pageant that the baby Jesus is going to come out of the diorama and talk to them. Many like the sackcloth and ashes thing, or the dressed in black with veils and all sorts of sailboat rigging beneath. A death or a betrayal is a cause for great celebration in reverse. A close death can be good for years of despairing repetitions.

It could just be me. Then again, the chance that it may just be me in regard to anything is highly unlikely. But it seems to me that the billboard is not the product. What I mean is that the thing you are being sold in the ad it not the thing in fact. And further more, the thing in fact is not the thing that was advertised. What I mean is that Coke is NOT the real thing in the back of your mind. Everything that is being sold is generally being sold as more than it could ever possibly be, as something that looks and tastes better than it does, as both supple entwining lover and peace of mind.

The difference between the established churches of the world and Wal-Mart is that Wal-Mart is selling you something that you can take home and eat, or play with, or rub on your body and the church is selling you something that is supposed to make the time that happens in between all of this, and that time as well, worthwhile- and you also get a VIP ticket to the crossover world of whatever Disneyland they told you to be expecting.

The fact is, everything is selling you something. Even in nature, everything is clamoring for attention, whether by scent or color; what have you. At no point along the way is anything you are being offered the actual thing itself. How are you supposed to appreciate or understand the thing out of which everything is made when you only see it after something else has been made out of it?

Where’s the genie in the bottle?

Where is the living God on the altar, in the hymnal, in the air, or outside and down the road? Where is it?

Where is the essential thing that was before any of the things you brought out to your car from the shopping center? Where is and what is that shimmering malleable whiteness that is previous to the thing being tasted, or touched or studied?

What is it that is hiding around and inside of and behind everything?

Alright, is this just a Warner Brothers cartoon where explosions don’t hurt anyone? Is this one of those insane roadrunner things where Wylie Coyote gets destroyed a hundred times and nothing really happens to him? Or does it really hurt? Do you hurt? Are you aware of people hurting? Are you aware of people across the globe hurting because of something you support, practice, believe in? Is it for their own good? Are you confused?

When you broke someone’s heart, or made them cry, or broke their arm; were they a cartoon? Did you feel bad? Did you do it again anyway? Are you still doing it? For some people, other people aren’t real, not in the sense that it matters what happens to them.

Let’s take it on faith that the force or thing that all churches purport to represent actually exists. Let’s also take it on faith that it went somewhere else shortly before or after the church got built. Let’s assume that there is a basic contradiction between the thing and the organizations designed to contain and dispense it. What you see isn’t what you get. Caveat Emptor and yadda, yadda, yadda...

Perhaps the real source of all the heartbreak and cruelty in the world has to do with being sold a false bill of goods. All the disappointments in the world; all the finding out that what you thought was wrong, what you loved was false, what you did was meaningless; all this is based on having believed something that was falsely represented as something else. Have you ever felt like you were close to getting to the heart of thee matter? Have you seen that bright shimmering thing at the peripheral point- disappearing around the corner just when you turned to look? Have you felt it bubbling up from the deep internal springs? There is was and there it went away; where it came from and where it went remains a mystery.

The comfort of tradition and repetition; the solid feel of the pew and the pistol and the historical precedence and justifications for bad actions- or, just about anything you want to convolute into being perfectly okay, is not the thing it’s made out of. It’s not the thing itself. It’s a crystallization of something that is no longer breathing inside of it. God went dancing down the road just as soon as God was done with that particular story. God undressed and dropped those clothes that now hang behind glass, wreathed with incense and sometimes alleged to cry tears of blood.

It’s not the easiest thing to talk around and through the thing itself. I guess I just want to tell you that disappointment is to be expected when you buy the package that doesn’t contain the thing itself. You can look back forever. You can turn into salt. You can repeat the words and maybe get lucky, or maybe not... but it’s the thing itself that you are after and it is waiting for you to recognize a critical feature. It’s waiting for you to realize that this is an internal affair, that it is alive and that it is part of you and that it is listening in. It’s not outside there somewhere. It’s not in any of the places that are proclaiming the presence. It doesn’t satisfy out of a Coca Cola can; that way lies tooth decay and diabetes, period. You may get a taste of it in the presence of numbers reaching in a confined space, for part of a moment- but the actual possession of, the discovery of it requires a reach past the swirling clutter of the ages... constantly doing the ‘new and improved’ dance of Shake and Bake presto manifesto.

Sooner or later we got to leave some things behind and this may hurt. It hurts less depending on how you feel about leaving them. It may even feel really good. That’s up to you. I guess it’s because you can’t have the thing itself as long as... Well, I’ll stop there and let you take over.

Visible sings: God in Country by Les Visible♫ When Darkness Falls ♫
'When Darkness Falls' is track no. 5 of 11 on Visible's 2001 album 'God in Country'
Lyrics (pops up)

God in Country by Les Visible


Anonymous said...

I much appreciate you sticking a part two on to that last essay. This one is fine like silk.

z a

Anonymous said...

I can't seem to log in as myself anymore. This is outstanding Les. What a great message to find waiting for me. Thank you very much!


Anonymous said...

You got me surrounded.

Anonymous said...

You say things I've never heard anyone say. When I read you it is like something magical happens. Sometimes I think I see things happening that aren't really there. It's a real power you have. These days the fray looks like one of those bombed European cities. People are scrounging in the rubble for something to eat. I'm so glad you're here.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Catholic, a lapsed Catholic actually. I couldn't find any spirituality in the church and all that pedophile business was the nail in the coffin for me.

You seem to be saying that the church isn't crucial to the process of faith and revelation. It's hard to accept that but it does seem that there isn't any other answer. If there is a God and the church is corrupt it doesn't serve that God can't be reached as a result.

You're saying it just is. I've read several of your essays and I'm not just responding in terms of this one. I hope you'll give a little information about what process you use to make contact. I've gotten some ideas but nothing I could call step by step practical. I would appreciate any guidance.

Bob Ross

Anonymous said...

I heard Mose Allison do a song. I don't know if he wrote it or not. It was something about "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and don't mess with Mr. In Between" While I was reading this that song started playing in my mind. Felt like I ought to say that.

Anonymous said...

You're the real thing in the back of my mind.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not a blog. I don't know what it is. Very different. I'll be back.



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God in Country

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