Man is only as great
as the devil which pursues
I am sitting on a log somewhere on the Sunshine Coast. Tetrahedron Park may be the location; the map I have is useless to me. My difficulty with maps may have something to do with the fact that I find it safer and certainly preferable in some respects, to be lost than to be found. However, I am in the middle of a saddle-shaped clear cut about ten years old. It snowed overnight and then the clouds cleared out during the day. It is now a blindingly bright sunny afternoon. My sight flows downward over the snow-covered young trees to the distant shimmering Strait of Georgia and beyond. The dark silhouette of Vancouver Island cuts across this explosion like a jagged shard to what my solitude perceives as a vast, silent and empty open stage. There are no perceptible movements. Waves, boats and tugs have been reduced to mere specks, frozen in time. It is just vast, silent and motionless splendour. The water of the strait is a golden blaze. The intensity of that blazing ocean has the same blinding brightness of the sun itself. It is as if that fireball had splashed down, dissolved evenly over the whole ocean. I am awed and puzzled. Can a reflection be so much greater that the object it reflects and yet not lose any of its intensity? Surely I might have observed this phenomenon many times before! Perhaps just not of such proportions.
Here and now it is of such a scale and fierce power that I am overwhelmed. This grandiose scene overflows the mental channel that leads down to the vault of precious memories.
I remember therefore I am! And is it not possible that under certain conditions I–the reflection–is greater, more focused and simultaneously more pervasively and profoundly present that the source I reflect? I am Gameteus. Life dances me to the tune of my memories. Instinctive, inculcated or fortuitous they deliver me to Nature’s seductive and forbidding terms, that I may contribute to her incomprehensible compulsion to evolve and experience every possible form and way. But, this is seduction of a different nature! I warn myself as I go on comparing the brightness of the setting sun to the brilliance of this spectacular splash.
This scene, like a starry sky or a weed’s struggle in a paved parking lot, does not communicate anything that can be assayed or measured, it does not tell me.... It does not speak to the dummy but just bewilders it? If anything, it excommunicates me! My vocabulary is awash in a deluge of light and colour flooding in through the senses. I am swamped. Words! Metaphors, Superlatives! All come to mind but to no avail. I want to grasp it, to capture it, merge with it, but it is as though I am a shipwreck and what is at hand is nothing more than flotsam without substance. Words, such as beautiful or spectacular, mock me. Awesome seems to do better because it lacks clarity, and it is awesome, something possibly wonderful but uncertain and untractable It evokes optimism and delight but withholds confidence leaving me with a vague but fascinating discomfort. It is this internal puzzling conflict as much as the grandiose spectacle before me that draws me in, but I cannot let go of the self that stands obstinately on guard. At last I am able to withdraw and suddenly I am just sitting on a log at the Pillars of Hercules beholding the end of the world, the un-begotten! How did I get here? Why? I did not get to be sitting on this log by chance. Not at all! Like a lesser god I have been bumped and shoved, caromed and ricocheted all the way as if by that uncaring hand of mother gravity. Yet I may choose to believe that gravity is intelligence at work! Perhaps even benevolent After all if God did not separate the waters and did not make light, gravity did. If God did, He evidently used gravity. I must add Holy Gravity to my pantheon. So words again!
Heeding a sense of foreboding, I allow myself one more moment of splendour unlimited, then I withdraw from it by contemplating the terrifying horror of it, were I to say: -STAY!
I could though, stay here for a while! I could stay as long as I want or need to tailor myself into a new cosmology. Like, in the beginning was the word…No! Numbers, then came gravity of course, then because of gravity things were gathered, took shape and began struggling against gravity. Then came MAYBE. And now finally gravity presents: Tataaa! Born again Christians!
On Sixty Minutes the head of the Evangelical Church and Born again Christians, which include Bush and Romsfeld, explained that this dispensation is about to end and that on that day all born again Christians (mostly American republicans) will be zoomed up to heaven and all there will be left of them on earth will be their clothes, glasses, prosthetics, etc., all in neat little piles on the ground wherever their owners may have happened to be at the time. Curiously the good man could not say about tooth fillings. God must be reflecting on that, and I am beginning to think this may cause another millennial delay. And how is God going to deal with implants? More delays.
As I sat there on that log before the Pillars of Hercules contemplating the end of the world, the superimposed image of little piles of accessories all over this great continent of ours put my soul at ease. Gone was the discomfort of the bewildering spell. This image had somehow re-established my precarious balance in a teetering universe.
But don’t think I am laughing, I am not even amused. Had I been persuaded to move with the pack and within the pack, I would now probably have a garage full of exercise machines, and more machines, thousands and thousands of pictures, a mantelpiece with trophies, framed parchments, the whole caboodle! I would be a snowbird, and on Sunday a crystal cathedral dove cooing with all the other Sundays’ doves longing for the aviary in the sky.
I have got things in order again and everything seems O.K. That river of gold before me, (perhaps the Lethe) flows imperceptibly in both directions, the sun above it stands still as it goes on its orbit, and still is the tiny silhouette of a barge pulling a raft of logs.
Everything has the stillness and silence of things that are, that unexplainably, and unintentionally just happened and just are. They seem to me to be at a distance not of space but of essence, separated not by time but symmetry.
The little piles of clothes just lie where they have dropped. The log just rested in a clear-cut on a mountainside, I just sat on it for a moment of uncertainty knowing that I had not yet reached my own angle of repose.
I am–just not yet! Not complete, and so all of creation is continuing to increase its potential by expanding its limits.
Yet I feel that I am no longer a man. I am a kind of butterfly. The world, the past, the present and future are all one medium for me, one season, my season of becoming, of fullness. Wings will take me off without intent or aim; here and there I will alight without care, because in a sense it is all done, all taken care of. All was taken care of from day one and number four. The caterpillar just did not know it.
The wind, the earth, sun and rain, the crawling, chewing and spinning of the immense other had metamorphosed and spread out to beckon and attract me to it and receive from me, from my spontaneous response, its own significance. Pain, laughter, joys and sorrows have bloomed to nourish what is now an entirely different creature touching sense to an entirely different world. If you follow this dance, you will realize that the movements, the pauses and reflections are not in themselves the rhythm nor the purpose. You will understand that your mind should not focus on the seemingly haphazard pattern but abandon itself to its apparent nonsense and so let another order penetrate and dissolve temporarily the tight-knit bindings of perception.
I am no longer a man, not always a butterfly. But the blink, the stasis, the metaphor, the synthesis. And what you might see is a toothless old man, ranting and raving and laughing. Insane, ridiculous. A madman.
I am a wretched blank among billions, and yet I am Gameteus, half god and half beast. Half of everything that exists...its consciousness! Half a universe! And what complex different universes we are! I write poetry like I stepped on a wet log and there I am, flat on my back peering through the top branches at blue infinity.
You on the other hand lure me to the base of the same High Throne through a perfectly arranged and neat labyrinth where only a few coloured pebbles draw my eyes back to Quarnaro.
I get there with a pocket full of pebbles and Canio’s laughter still moist with tears.
You (I suspect) lay where I fell you, munching thoughtfully on a string of vocables.
-I may be wrong, but I think that poets should be decimated, Hollywoodism is enough for anybody.
It was sad to see the tearful garlanded bull led into the temple of shame. The lecherous self-adulating mob celebrating as the fancy bitch cheered them on.
The taming of yet another soul that may have dared but got lost, tired, and confused. He, was brought back to the fold, was fed to the fold.
-And HERE HE IS! She trumpeted with glut, -OUR! . . . LEONARD COHEN!
I have no heroes left. NONE! They all wound up in their glorious graves.
-What is his name?
-Leonard Cohen, General Sir!
And I tell you, if you do, I mean if you do have heroes, you are yet far from being. You are nothing more than someone else’s indigestion.
If you have a Hero, a Buddha, a Christ, slay him. For in truth, Nietzsche is dead and God insane. The mob lives and jubilates, they are clutching at paradise.
-Paradise my ass!
-If you think of it, Hell might work. But Paradise, you’d have to be an unconscionable bastard to enjoy it! I mean how can you enjoy Paradise when your brother is burning in Hell? And this, when even the stones are your brothers. So, make this, your perfect hell. A major makeover I know, but we’ve been at it so long and it is coming along splendidly. Isn’t it?
De tribus impostoribus.
From the squirrel cages:
…The famous Temple of the LORD that Solomon built was no more than a cosy whorehouse of male and female prostitutes!!!
All I had asked this guy was–if in his scholarly opinion–more people have been tortured and killed in the name of Christ than anyone else in history or if that record should rightly belong to Moses who started the whole damn thing.
E-mail from Alex:
Lots of snow then it melted now lots of rain. No squirrel cage online yet. And I'm still socially acceptable so no basket weaving. I'm feeling pretty low. In the last 2 weeks a friend died and another told me he's dying. And of course I have the friends that are killing themselves, like the one who does 200 Tylenol with codeine pills a week then wonders why he can't remember what day of the week it is.
I've been playing tennis after work but now it's too dark and cold so it's to the gym. I hate the gym but it's better than slowly rotting. What do you do for entertainment in the winter?
-I usually stay at the “ El Arab” in Dubai.
But yes it is intellectually elegant and spiritually noble
To feel the ennui of winter slither in,
cold and damp. Reptilian.
A winter’s den, is this reptilian man.
Awareness slithers, side-winds.… Something that a man of forty told me I may have understood at forty, and sometimes much later.
I heard one say: “do the opposite!” Half a century later it reaches me as I read again the first words of the “The portable Nietzsche”, which are Nietzsche’s sister and it hit me “the truth is always on the side of the more difficult.” Difficult because it hides in the unlikely, in the unacceptable, in madness but it hides best in art, poetry, books and cannons, on altars and among the heroes, the angels, saints and the gods of the living dead. You can tell the living dead now easier than ever because they try so hard to appear alive, not only are they everywhere but they are much more ostentatious with today’s’ means. Yet I am in part one of these hypogean creatures, just another bastard offspring of Pollyanna’s rape, but so strange that I should have been advised to do the opposite, which I found hard to do, but failed and failed so many times that in the end although my performance did not improve, I began to see and think contrary to the norm. Disturbing images, visions. Consider my share of the security budget. It can’t amount to much right? Yet as mine and yours and everyone else’s miserable needs add up, they produce unimaginable arsenals of destructive power. Of course we can all begrudgingly admit to this, but how did we get to this? The truth is always on the side of the difficult! Do the opposite! To do the opposite is only possible if you have no allies! What at are the probabilities that there are not fifty, not ten, maybe not even four people in the world today who would agree with me? Pretty good in fact! Ha the great grinding stone of nature crushed all and any dissension that may have been tempted to sprout by a stray and strange beam of light and missed me somehow? Yeah, it is possible!
-And of Pollyanna’s rape what have you to say? Do you still maintain your testimony that it was she who…
-I swear to God Your Honour, it was She, uh, her! I swear to God almighty!
-It is three in the morning, Mercury can’t sleep, the din of sixty million squirrel cages squeaking. Must I stay? Must I be alone?
-Well yeah! What the hell did you expect when you chose the path least travelled?
It would have been better for me that I would have been castrated at birth, then taught how to read and then for good measure be beaten to death with Pierre Bayle’s dictionnaire! What madness could have led me to suspect that what we hold most sacred and see as our only hope is the cause of all our evils? How many scorching jabs before I was able to snatch that notion out of the fire! And now, I am burning with it, like a moth in a close searing transit.
Hume: When I shall be dead, the principles of which I am composed will still perform their part in the universe, and will be equally useful in the grand fabric...
What we have may be creation by default. A weakness in a field has allowed the tumbling out of an infinite number of factors which operating at random may or did eventually form the hyper-improbable to contemplate its own self annihilation as the only and supremely exquisite expression of free will.
Email from Jeff: There is a cabin for me at Horsefly if I am heading that way. I have no idea which way I am heading. Down Regret Boulevard in the season of sighs has bloomed into winter. I regret everything, even some of the good things I may have done, because they happened in the loom of deception and were too few anyway. That I cannot look back with any pride, that I can only feel shame may be the price of redemption.
…Yep right across from the Anvil Pub in the old rodeo grounds, talk to Gillies, the owner and my drinking buddy-tell him you know me Jeff, Elvis.
Sometimes I find myself climbing a mountain in a storm and in complete darkness. I just have to reach the top because way up there, above the clouds and the tempest, above the darkness, at the very summit, a sage is waiting for me. So I struggle on and on and by gum I make it every time! Only to find out that the guy up there is an idiot, and that this fool had been up there for years and years waiting for me!
In a variation of it, when I finally get there he asks eagerly,
-Did you bring beer?
TWO leaves often look identical. But, he argues, if 'two' things are alike in every respect, then they are the same object, and not two things at all. So, it must be the case that no two leaves are ever exactly alike. But why should this be the case? For if they were in every way the same, but actually different, then there would be no sufficient reason (i.e. no possible explanation) why the first is where (and when) it is and the second is where (and when) it is, and not the other way around.
If, then, we posit the possible existence of two identical things (things that differ in number only, that is, we can count them, but that is all), then we also posit the existence of an absurd universe, one in which the principle of sufficient reason is not universally true .
…ELVIS at Horsefly?! There too?
E-mail from Eric:
cant seem to read any more not writhing either.
it was hot today I watched the cat climb the cedar tree and arrive at the translucent roof a blue shadow appeared to meet the cat and together they passed over me and I for my part became a last cicada song
and the cicada song became the rush of the rain which fell with night falling and today it is cold
in this way no one thing is identical with anything else but neither is it different
is she in your mind? if she is your head must feel very heavy is she out there? and out ther only? then how is it you perceive her? for what is perceived becomes part of the body does it not? so two identical leaves are part of the body and the body is part of the universe and the universe is part of the body what therefore is absurd or not absurd?what is absurdity but thinking? and what is thinking but absurdity?
I did not go to Horsefly. I went back to that esker in Kokanee Park to visit with a boulder I had befriended on my previous trip there. It could talk, let me tell you, and maybe it understood…imagine…and yes that is practically what the boulder said!
-I can’t remember who it was at the moment, said the boulder, -but someone went on about how God could not have made a world in which there were more cows than sheep and more sheep than cows at the same time, said the boulder. Which made sense to me. -Nature is like that because it is self-creating and self directing. It does not have to account to anything because it is based on mathematical principles, that’s all! Do you get it?
No, no actually. It is a different animal, can’t catch that one with this old trap. This trap is made to catch only what I believe to exist out there. Truth is like a wild beast, it cannot be tamed and so it cannot be used to do work and it is not even good to eat. Might be poisonous in fact. On the other hand the compromises are delicious. Speaking of which, yes I came here as a compromise as well, because what I really would have wanted to do was to go back to Revelstoke and see Quasimodo again. But to be honest I was afraid. What could I say to him! I mean what could I say to a guy who is every mother’s worst nightmare? Gee Chris, I am really sorry that you are a monster, ah, in viso only mind you! Ah, and what I really was afraid of and am still troubled by, would have been to find out that such an horrendous looking creature had not been compensated with a nobly beautiful mind like the elephant man. A Caliban through and through. For me the worst part was that finally I had found something for which I really could not feel responsible and damn if I didn’t feel guilty anyway! Guilty by having witnessed if nothing else. Guilty for continuing to exist in a patently unacceptable world. Think about it–what does everyone want? To be liked, to be handsome or beautiful, to be smart, successful, admired and loved. All the wrong things in a sense, but then there is Chris. He is as ugly as the naked truth. The presence, the injection of this monstrous looking young lad into my evolving new order of reality has destabilized everything so that in the end, even if I could rid myself of all the poets, and all the heroes, saints and prophets I would still have this Quasimodo and a child dying of cancer to deal with somehow. To justify, to rationalize? No, not this. It is not possible. So, when in doubt masturbate, right Carl? I will not do that, done enough of it, too much, even once is too much. The best thing is to get in good shape, because to die properly at the right time, is a gift that must be fully appreciated. Life is but its colourful wrapping. And yes, the only meaningful gift is that great terrifying gift that becomes fearfully yours no matter how desperately you wish to avoid it.
I think that your dead are my mob. At least that's how I think of them…
I'd like to understand your suicide. I don't quite get it yet.
Do you like Mozart?
-Yeah, Mozart…alchemists…thieves…actors…sorcerers, swindlers!
Mozart, yes! Language is music, words incantations. Words conjuring experience, existence. We are these sounds, these incantations, this music… Ha we are the music Alex!
Imagine the music. The music of an infinite orchestra, a super symmetrical orchestra if you will, of which we are protagonists and spectators. So vast the music that members and public are one and they carry on with their daily routines, their personal dramas, eat sleep, fornicate, they are born and die in the score. Argue, struggle, fight, and even engage in murderous wars where all of these are the excitations of strings, the turbulent fluxes of air and the shocks of percussions all in perfect harmony to the infinite music. Music and harmony. It is nearly impossible for us to produce any sound that would be dissonant to that big magic. The vibes you get from the sound “suicide” have been fine-tuned for ages. Did you ever wonder who was the first man to commit suicide? And can you imagine the surprise and incredulity of his fellow cavemen? When you use this word, or for that matter any word–love, beauty or harquebus–you are intoning a perfectly attuned and franchised sound part of the score of an infinite symphony. You are its energy, its vibrations, its language. If you were indeed able to use words for your own scope, words reflecting a unique personal concept and will, words that issued from a new pristine and independent creative centre within an independent consciousness it would be so dissonant, so disturbing that it would not only be heard above the vastness of its melody but it would tear its majesty and destroy its magic, and then maybe your electric toothbrush would mysteriously turn itself on, your garage door go insane and the whole power grid fail catastrophically….
Oh how I marvel when a child prodigy comes along, a ten year old youth maybe who–let’s say–has founded a very successful international organization to help bridge the chalk gap between first and third world. So he or she is on the stage performing what amounts to a solo passage, and it is so amusing to see how well he/she has mastered the technique of playing the right words to form phrases, counterpoints and fugues which exquisitely produce the melodies which are of such comfort to us. And then you might consider another aspect of this rather unreserved metaphor if you take a normal orchestra, one of seventy or more members which would represent a fairly good cross section of types. Individually taken these types may include weirdos, cheats, liars, perverts, scoundrels of many colours, even murderers and they may also be at odds with each other but all these individualities are of no import whatever, nor any impediment to what they have in common and what this common ability and objective can achieve by its unity of purpose. This overriding common interest elevates the individual to the power of teams, tribes, governments, nations and ultimately, species. No Alex, seriously; when you are sitting among those rows and piles of literature and philosophy, all of which by the way, is dedicated to concealment, waiting, hoping that a nice pair of tits walks into your store and into your life, what is there is not really you. That is the vehicle, the spaceship. The real you is coiled up inside you sleeping like an astronaut on a long interstellar voyage. It isn’t going to wake up until it approaches its destination. These dissonant words and concepts that I was talking about are the approaches to that destination. But that may never happen to you. Your dormant seed may go on being shuttled to one spaceship after another like an astronaut in suspended animation in a spaceship that does not have a target. These proscribed words that are the approaches to the most hidden, like the bee’s sting, have barbs that are rooted in the entrails of your master form, unless you use them as approved these words can eviscerate you, lif-erate you. If you chance upon a concept of a sound that is not part of this score or its counterpoints, you must take great care to handle it as you would pick Mandrake, only in the darkest part of the new moon when both the living and the dead are unaware.
The sign read “books and music.” I went in and saw him immersed in books and discs.
-But I don’t understand it! he protested.
-What is the point of living a few more years. It is not like a bank deposit, I said.
-True, adding to the total makes no difference. Whenever the moment comes to die you will still naturally wish to put it off.
You see Alex, the fault is not in ourselves, but in the stars.
-All I'like is to be allowed my fuckups.
In fact he has no idea what a fuck up really is. One of mine has lasted over forty years! I believe that only the state of motherhood can produce more enduring delusions.
Speaking of fuckups, lately, as I had just mentioned, I have mentally gone down that hall of shame. I just got mired in it and couldn’t get out of it.
I have been ad infimis since I finished the first draft of this logbook of maybes.
It is of some consolation to know that no one should feel entitled to leave this world satisfied or proud of oneself. That would be the ultimate joke, the final deception.
Excellence only sugar-coats and perpetuates the lie, and “To the best goes the most terrible eulogy: Hell is a better place because of him.”
Thus, like the censor, I am condemned to go around mumbling -Kill the poets! Kill the saints! Kill the heroes. And it does literally happen sometimes. But it cannot be explained.
Dawn and I have corresponded lately. We do that now and then. She has a good sense of humour. I remember I wrote to her from Mexico a few years back, that I had ordered a coffee in one dusty pueblo and I was served a paper cup of a lukewarm liquid of uncertain composition, and as I was looking at it trying to decide what to do with it, something came up from its depth, broke to the surface and spit at me.
-'Twasn’t me, was her reply.
This time we had a flurry of show and tell ending in:
-Alright who are you and what have you done with my dad?
I went down a familiar old trail that retraces in part
the contorted form that–pursued by hope–
the spirit followed everywhere.