Friday, January 27, 2006

I exploded in the Toilet.

Article removed for not being up to my usual standard and for the crime of self indulgence....coupled as it was with the preceding one by vitue of progression, one of them had to go. I'll be back soon.

Visible and The Critical List: The Pope of Rock and Roll by Visible and The Critical List♫ Bottoms Up ♫
'Bottoms Up' is track no. 5 of 7 on Visible and The Critical List's 1987 album
'The Pope of Rock and Roll'

The Pope of Rock and Roll by Visible and The Critical List

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Strange Things Happen.

Probably the biggest puzzle we ever have to deal with is to figure out the meaning of the world according to ourselves. This ties in with the most profound question of them all; “Who am I?” The solution to the puzzle possibly contains the answer to the question. Finding out who you are no doubt causes the pieces of the puzzle to come together automatically. I had just finished typing the words “Who am I?” and was sitting here staring at the screen when Susanne came into the room with her hands behind her back and said, “Which one do you want first?” In the spirit of the moment and, because I often react like this anyway I replied, “Enlightenment” One of her hands came forward with a small laminated picture of Ramana Maharshi that I had had for years; used to have it stuck in the brim of my black fedora. I had lost it on a trip to France. I was sorry to lose it but, like just about everything, I put it out of my mind. “Who am I?” is the phrase that Ramana is most known for. Well, I’m not going to speculate on the appearance of the picture or the very strange feature of the moment in which it appeared or the uncanny response I gave prior to its appearance. Strange things do happen. What makes them strange is only that we don’t understand them.

I was of a mind to write something lyrical. I had had this idea in my mind for a few days and it seemed like the time today to write it. It wasn’t flowing right out as it usually does and that is why I was sitting here staring at the screen when Susanne came in. Now my course is changed and I guess I will write about this. What was in her other hand? It was a microphone holder; a plastic grip into which you insert the microphone. I had set it on my desk one day and it vanished from the room. I was recording at the time and it suspended my project until I could drive to my friend’s business and buy another. It just migrated out of the room to an unlikely location. There is probably a rational explanation for this; I just don’t know what it is.

Early last year I was alone at the house. Susanne had gone to Portugal or somewhere. I don’t remember now where she was. I just remember I was alone with her mother for a week or so. There’s a pub down the way where I have performed on occasion. I don’t go there often, maybe four or five times a year. I don’t like bars. Usually I am a guarded person. When I drink, which I seldom do, I can get ebullient and friendly; friendlier than I want to be on later reflection because it brings people into my life that I find annoying at other, saner times. A Finish man approached me, well into his cups, and got really chummy. Apparently I said a few things to him that made him get the idea that I was from outer space or some far location. He was with another fellow; a large burly and sometimes contentious fellow that I had seen before. Lacking my usual reserve I invited them back to the house. I played some music, the drinking went on. Both of these fellows have/had an alcohol problem.

After a hour or two I got tired of their company and just wanted them out of the house. The Finish man seemed obliged to leave. The other fellow sat their in an intransigent stupor, although he heard me, I know, when I asked them to go. Well, I asked them to go several times and then I said, “Well, if you don’t go I’m going to have to put you out.” The Finish fellow was getting excited at this point. He wanted his friend to leave and his friend wouldn’t leave. So he went out of the room because it looked like something physical was going to transpire. He was gone into the yard for a moment, not very long. Certainly not long enough to accomplish what he would have had to accomplish in such a short time as we shall see after. And it is unlikely, given the circumstances of the moment that he would have done this, could have done this, as it was obvious he was more afraid than anything.

At that time I was in the apartment downstairs which I used for a recording studio. The upstairs was locked. I had set my keys where I always set them when I come into the studio. The Finish fellow came back into the room and at that point I said, “Okay, that’s it.” I got up and pulled the other fellow to his feet, spun him around and propelled him out the door. It wasn’t an aggressive thing really. I just did it without thinking about it and with no emotional content. Suddenly they were both outside the door and then gone.

I went back inside and messed around a bit at whatever it was I did and then I went to go upstairs and found that my keys were gone. I looked everywhere but could not find them and so I slept downstairs that night as I could not get upstairs. In the morning Susanne’s mother opened the door and I was in. I could not find my keys anywhere. Later that day the Finish fellow dropped by with some beer. He was already on his way toward another alcoholic sunset. I asked him about my keys and he said he didn’t know anything about them. He was just worried there would be a fight and he was surprised that there hadn’t been. I got rid of him.

Susanne returned and I still had not found my keys. A few weeks passed. I looked all over the grounds, thinking that the Finish fellow might have spitefully thrown them into the bushes. He might have thrown them into the pond outside my door too. There’s so much shrubbery here that I could do no more than check the perimeters. I gave up on looking for my keys. Some weeks later Susanne came into the studio with my keys in her hand. “Where did you find them I asked?” They were under a cushion in her mother’s living room. It defies possibility. I never went upstairs that night. If I had I would never have thrown my keys on the couch. If I had thrown them on the couch they would not have migrated under the cushions and Susanne’s mother never sits on the couch.

There are a number of keys on the ring and to open the single side door requires a bit of a trick. The main door is chained from the inside, so a key wouldn’t have worked there. The Finish fellow had no idea of the layout of the house and the doors anyway. There are further reasons why he couldn’t have accomplished this but I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the argument. Strange things happen.

A few years ago I was spending the night with my friend Bud in Kihei, Maui. He lived in a large studio apartment. It was perhaps forty feet long and fifteen wide. He was lying on his bed at one end and I was meditating at the other. I had a locket sitting in front of me that had a picture of a young teenage girl in it. She had given it to me when I was on the East Coast some months earlier. The story there is unimportant, I think. While I was meditating I heard something hit hard behind me and then Bud cried out, “Holy shit!” I turned around and asked what happened. “This happened.” Bud said. I got up and went over to him. He was holding the bent locket in his hand. It had gone flying at him and just missed his head, crashing into the headboard behind him. Neither of us knew what to make of that. We still don’t. These are just a few events, not by any means are they anywhere near the strangest of events I could recount. Some of the stories I could tell might leave me in a less credible state with those who read here and, anyway, I’m not into that kind of thing here... or anywhere. Strange things happen.

Every one of these things could have a credible explanation, I guess- except maybe the locket. Other things I have not mentioned could not. Then there is the matter of typing “Who am I?” moments before Susanne comes into the room with Mr. Who am I’s picture. But let’s leave that all aside because the strangest thing of all is that we are here at all. We look for miracles and magic and mysteries while sidestepping the most miraculous and magical and mysterious thing of all; the fact that we are here. Who is it that is reading this, writing this, thinking about this? Who is it that is watching you in the process? Something there is within us and some of us know this. We just don’t know who.

Repetition makes things seem common and mundane; ordinary. There is nothing ordinary about the power of life. Our prisons are woven from the comfortable repetition of things within familiar parameters. This doesn’t make it that way. This just makes it ‘seem’ that way. But getting comfortable in life is like trying to get a good nights rest in a bus station; in a bus station seat. It’s not going to happen, not for very long.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Compassion is the Hardest Thing.

More and more I realize that I am at least two separate people; more likely a small family living in a building with a long slow curve like the earth and primarily composed of studio apartments. Then again, these phenomena may be much more common and just aren’t recognized as such. Some schools of thought tell us these voices are parts of ourselves. Some schools of thought tell us it matters less where these voices come from and more how we manage them.

Until I recognized that these were distinct voices, regardless of their origin, I used to get into trouble with the line police on the grid. One of my voices is more than a little bit sure that these authorities are less concerned with my safety and the safety of others than they are about control. He should know, he’s been outside the lines many times. He’s been outside the lines so far on occasion that there were no lines to be seen. Another voice is less concerned with making a point out of this argument to the other line-walkers and the line-herders. He prefers to appear to be walking within the parameters while actually being at some distance from them. He’s the guy that wears the t-shirt, with the controversial writing on it, under his jumper.

In order to discuss and understand this properly we will have to assume that there is yet another voice that is contemplating and writing about these two voices. It may be that this is not a person as much as it is a neutral corner and that either of these two voices; dressed the same in this particular instance, will move in and out of that field for the purpose of speech. They may not seem all that dissimilar in this case because there’s a thoughtfulness taking place that is generally the home province of only one of the voices. So they may appear more alike than usual.

We can think of voice #1 as passion and voice #2 as reason but that is overly simplistic. It is more defining to say that they are combinations of each other and that #2 has a better understanding of #1 than #1 does of himself. In reverse we could say #2 has a better understanding of himself than #1 does of #2. Certainly there are other voices besides these but we’ll let that go for now. Otherwise this will turn into a numbers game and be more confusing than it needs to be for the purpose of this exercise. We’ll call the neutral corner The Witness. He’s two kinds of a voyeur without any thoughts or feelings on the matter. One critical addition and then we are off and on our way; the conversation between #1 and #2 often drown out the most important voice which is a synthesis of them both but which naturally precedes the two. This voice is the softest voice; best heard when the other two are asleep or making Love.

#1 knows that there are things which are wrong. He is convinced of the existence of injustice and he feels that if he doesn’t say something he is culpable for the crime. #2 knows that injustice appears to exist but only within a limited segment of time. #2 knows that, somehow, the scales always come into balance and that it is just a matter of seeing the problem to participate in the solution.

Both of these voices are quite strong. #2 has for a long time let #1 run. Possibly he thought #1 might exhaust himself and thereby come into balance too. Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, #1 is tireless. He operates off of heavy fuel and can burn until the composition of all substance and time has melted away. That is a very long time indeed. He may come and go like the tides and in both the tides and the waves continue until every rock has become a handful of sand. Somewhere on that measureless beach The Witness lets the sand run through its fingers over and over again. There is no one else to be seen.


Ariel Sharon is no more, one way or the other. Soon enough he and everyone like him will be gone and then will have returned under a different name. The spectacle itself may migrate and mutate but there can hardly be a spectacle without players and their dramas and agendas, as history shows and Shakespeare has so eloquently displayed.

#1 wanted to take the song “Big Bad John” and change the lyrics; calling the song “Big Bad Sharon” “Every morning at the Knesset you could see him arrive. He stood 5’7 and weighed 265.” and like that ...and it would have brought in the miners too, because it is a miner’s song. #1 thought it would be funny and fierce at the same time and it would serve as a eulogy for contrast to all of the hypocritical eulogies that arrive when they praise famous men. #2 might have called him “a fellow of infinite jest.” and then said no more because there was no more that would have been polite. #2 is polite, #1 is not.

Is either of them entirely right or wrong? Certainly neither one is comprehensive. Our limited definitions seldom contain, cannot contain, the whole of the circle. We cannot see around corners and so ‘shit’ is only shit and not the food of flowers or the appetizing feast; changing in that moment once again.

#1 is outraged that he will be called a man of peace. #1 can see the empty promise of a small thing given with a larger theft the actual result. #1 sees a small boy given an apple in order to distract him while his bicycle is stolen. #2 says, “That is the nature of the world, this world, my friend.” #1 doesn’t like it and he rages against the hypocritical garments of false testimony. He sees the crime lords arranged about the coffin. #2 knows they will soon follow. The Witness never says a word. Someone is speaking but he goes unheard.

The problem really is the life #1 creates for himself. It is also a problem for #2 who is often confused with #1 because of the noise. #2 is suspect when #1 goes into flames. Still, this is life. This is the spectacle. This is the conundrum of everything said and done and misunderstood by everyone watching their proxies on the stage. It is as if those who deceive us the most are most defended by the ones deceived purely for the convenience of the mechanics of the thing. Somehow the idea of prominence lends gravitas to fools. It is in the encouragement of new life to an old order that the greatest crime is committed. Whatever life teaches us it seems that the power of the lesson is directed to another stage around a corner that we cannot see.

It appears that #2 has prevailed here. #2 does not always prevail. Number #1 is not always wrong. It is just the life and the kicks and the softer moments out of sight. We must go on. Mercifully we forget. To forget and to dream anew; washed in tears and bathed in blood, the horrible echoes recede. In every life someday, Rick Blaine and Victor Lazlo take that walk and a beautiful friendship begins. Until that day the protagonists move in and out of view on their way to some wonderful sacrifice that is the better part of all they have said and done. It isn’t always easy being #1.

All the Mistakes

Monday, January 02, 2006

She'll Be Driving Six White Horses When She Comes.

In the arcane tradition Adam translated means, “namer of things’. The indication is that we are defined by the things we define in the way we define them. Our world is a mental construct that exists according to our perceptions. Things are what we think they are and we are what we think we are; even if we aren’t actually. We are that for however long we hold that view. Once past childhood we’re just moving toward the recycling plant unless... we maintain some portion of our childlike nature; a willingness to grow and to change. In the Bible it says, “We shall not all die but we shall all be changed.” Were a person capable of constant change in the right direction they would never die. Such people move among us. Such a destiny remains possible as long as breath remains. Failure only leads to another opportunity. Each new opportunity contains restrictions based upon the mindset at our last exit... and so it goes and goes and goes.

Besides whatever we believe to be true there is the force of the environment that is the collective understanding of what is true. Out of this come our cultures and moralities and all the features attendant to communities of any size. It’s no small pressure. For most people, going along seems to be the thing to do. Then there are the options; getting on your water buffalo and riding out past the gates, opposition and confrontation, holding up a Roman candle in a dark theater, playing with the fabric of the thing for personal gain, a quiet reversal of perspective in the midst- swimming up stream without collision with the large schools of fish moving in the opposite direction. There are a lot of possibilities and there are the tests of sincerity. If you think that exclusive club down the way has requirements and conditions... this is a whole other thing.

The reason that nations rise and fall; why cultures disappear, why the Four Horsemen trot out of the clouds every now and then, why there are wars and rumors of wars, is because the human experiment always fails due to the agenda of the false self in the marketplace of things. Then again, it’s just an experiment. The palpable success of the experiment occurs outside the measurement parameters of the field in which it takes place. I could talk about resurrection, trans-substantiation or what Elijah thought he was doing with that chariot but this isn’t about that. This is more about right now; about where we find ourselves right now and where we are on the dial. Things go up and things go down. Sometimes it’s Swan Lake for awhile and sometimes Wagner has the baton. You can tell, more or less, where you are by the soundtrack and the omens. Omens are like warnings. You might call them cosmic movie trailers or commercials for tomorrow.

There was this thing with Moses and the Golden Calf. There are conditions and forces in manifest life that strive for preeminence. There are extremes of these. Consider the Spanish Inquisition, the Dark Ages and our present wall to Wal-Mart world. You get segments like The Enlightenment (which wasn’t all about enlightenment) and The Renaissance. Often we call things by names that don’t identify them. Things that were gospel turn out to be fallacies. Things that were universally laughed at and worse turn out to have been true. It isn’t any different now. Often what is laughed at and persecuted is only something that stands counter to prevailing- temporary- preeminence. The world of commerce and religion are both businesses and take their inspiration and their objectives from the conning tower located at the top of the head of the Golden Calf. Maybe the two horns are both conning towers with a double message that serves to keep the flock in the middle; where the ‘action’ is.

We have a variety of laws that we are either directly aware of, have heard about, or pay no attention to but are profoundly affected by anyway. There is some truth to the saying that “ignorance is no excuse of the law”. It’s no excuse for the law either. When you feed cows the crushed up reprocessed bodies of other cows (because you want to save expense to maximize profit) you are going to get some kind of a result that is different than when you don’t do this. When you pen millions of chickens into small confining spaces you are going to get certain results. When you raise livestock in a state of intense fear and crowded circumstance you season the meat. Certain things happen when you shit where you eat.

The Golden Calf says that we have to make everything cheaper than we did before because we have a duty to our stockholders. Every cost and quality control that can be cut or eliminated is a good thing because it benefits everyone. Milo Minderbinder will tell you this. Lots of people will tell you this and they will explain in a dignified and intelligent way in the voiceover by Dr. Pangloss how this is the best of all possible worlds and ways. The whole world will turn into the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing hallelujah amen to just how good it is; how good it tastes, how healthy it is and what savages everyone else is who might not think it is such a good idea. Most people don’t wonder about the Mormon Tabernacle and (at the same time) all that Blood Covenant-Blood Atonement stuff... the lies and the murders are just part of the whole business framework and there is no real difference between the Scientologists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the Zionists and any group of men and women sitting around any table discussing what’s messing with the bottom line and next years projected revenue.

Most people don’t make the connection between the avuncular face of the Grand Poobah and the sausage factory in the basement. Most people don’t see the conveyor belt of lives moving toward the steel thresher port while they’re watching the commercial for the product composed of these lives. They don’t see themselves moving on the conveyor belt through Einstein’s train window while they’re headed to the Six Flags amusement park in Samarra. Most people don’t see how a dead planet like the Moon could be a body factory on the dark side of the Mobius loop. It isn’t that so much as it is that they don’t care. They would care if they could put it together but putting it together makes you a stranger in a strange land. It makes you different and that can frighten you worse than ignoring the inevitable. Anyway, you got TV, you got the idea of sex, you got it all right here baby. Sometimes it’s just better not to know... isn’t it?

Even if you do know, you don’t know. The light from The Golden Calf makes a seeming wonderland of opportunity out of everything (in many cases... by that warm desire-light ...of what you can see on the surface anyway) upon which the light falls. Outside that light is the darkness. In that darkness, we are told, there are demons and dragons and leviathan mouths. You remember those old maps when the world was flat? Even after it stopped being flat there were those cool pictures of monsters at the peripheries; the lands of legend, the unknown. The lunatic irony of it all; the biggest, nastiest monster is lighting up the landscape in front of you. It’s John Wayne Gacy in the Ronald McDonald suit. It’s the Minotaur in the Las Vegas ice cream suit. It’s Bob Barker at the gates of Hell. “Come on down!!!”

People talk about the emperor’s new clothes. Even while they’re talking about it they are remarking how nice he looks. Well, this isn’t about how dreary a thing is life; not by a long shot. It’s about choices and how you name things. After awhile it comes out right. In the meantime though, here it is and here you are, seemingly. Somebody is making omelets and somebody is breaking eggs and somebody is doing shit to the chicken. All these cogs are turning in the Mad Hatter’s watch; or was it the rabbit that had the watch? Salvador Dali’s watch is ticking in the omelet and you’ll know what time it is when it hits your stomach.

It’s been coming for awhile. It’s been coming since it started coming and it’s been getting there by the by. I’d be mindful how close I sat to that great big cow and especially mindful of ‘where’ I was sitting. The hard thing is you can’t always tell which end of the cow you are sitting in front of. What I found was that all that scary darkness wasn’t any more than a black velvet curtain. It’s a bit thicker and I expect that accounts for all the tenuous efforts at penetration. Well, that’s your call. I can tell you this. She is definitely driving six white horses, more or less.