Nausea, nausea, nausea. I am sick, how sick, I cannot say–it makes me sicker to think about how sick I am–I have to blank the mind. But I am sick, I am hungry, too, I think. How much is my nausea due to my hunger and how much is due to how sick I am which I cannot discern.
My name is irrelevant. What could it tell you that what I am cannot? I am a sick man. I am nauseous. I think I feel like throwing up. I have to exert some will; I have to put mind over matter. I recall having puked after a performance of End Game. I loved the performance; I love the play. I left the theater with a predilection for getting intoxicated beyond intoxicated.
What’s in a name? To name or not to name. Adam–an Adamesque.
My ethnicity has no bearing–bearing on what could it have? Italian men and American men and Irish-American men and Welsh bar maids at Welsh bars in Brooklyn, New York, all of them, all of us–we get sick in a similar way, no? Yes? How so this universality of sickness. To be sick or not to be sick, unto death, unto dying–dying is not beautiful.
I am unhappy–all unhappy men are alike, no? The religion I was raised in does not matter. How could his?
Death can be beautiful. Dying? No.
Who is he? When is he? Where is yet another position? To be in, to take? To essay or not to essay–whether it is nobler to write behind the veil of fiction–covered wagons circled?
Pronouns. Pronouns. We play a special hop-scotch with them.
The use of fiction in the genre of the essay would mean what? Fictional essays; essays like fiction–we have been blurring the boundaries for a long time–but that is a lot longer than we have assumed as of late.
I have not been one to throw out puppies with flea bath water. Distinctions of genres can help; we must never take them to be facts of nature like we do the tree we just crashed our car into. But–but what now?
Again, I ask, who am I? I pause. I imagine I know. I think I do not. I imagine that I cannot. I know how little I know. I know that I imagine this closely.
Who am I–who is he? Question after question. He and I are one in the same and not one in the same; I am everyone in my dreams and not exactly everyone in my dreams–I am all the characters I read in a novel; I am everyone in Lear, or Hamlet, whenever I re-read either–and it is now as it will be in any future then, rereading is everything. Who can say he is the same person now reading Othello as he was when he frist read Othello in college. I read Machiavelli when I was an undergraduate.
All good reading is rereading I used to say in my Freshman Composition classes . . . how long is also not pertinent to what I am trying to say–all this trying to say is just what it means to essay–an essay is a trying out, how trying are the times, are the experiences, are the memories–recollecting is not always very accurate–what we remember.
Even the video tape does not tell all–even looking, watching–I gaze at so much seeing not. Perception has gained more than it deserves in esteem under the accepted and adhered to dogmas of our empiricism.
How may times have I reread the books I have loved? How many times have I tried rereading the women I have known?
When he has become who he thinks he is, he then can come to be again, but what he becomes again he cannot persist in being forever. We are not beings of pure actuality–but then is it pure actuality that one needs to persist in to culminate the infinite?
What is that supposed to mean–culminating the infinite?
We have nearly limitless potential, but not in the way you think, not in the way we mean it. In the way it is meant, when pure actuality is a reserved for God, this is beyond us. But then only God is pure actuality, in no part potential; and in this, he is infinite each and every moment in his eternity.
I do understand a lot more about what most of us mock.
This is what is meant by Jesus proclaiming that He is Alph and Omega, beginning ad end–he is, in his eternity as the Son of God, begotten not made before Time and Creation, beginning and end simultaneously. From Eternity, beginning and end are the same moment.
To begin or not to begin.
This is not word play, you know. Nothing is just a matter of words as we like to say, as if words did not matter, were not matter, nothing, just a mere word. Yet words are never mere; they are more than we understand when we say the things we do about the things we need to say, around and around, everything returns. Breezes breeze by; all winds wind around, about; to wind is what the wind does. I wind up my father’s watch; the wind winds around and around.
A long pause.
When and where and why and from what is he? To be him or not to be him; I ask myself a similar question: to be me myself or not to be myself—who is better suited to be me than I am. I am that I am is true of me in a way; this is also true of God in another. He wonders. He does not wonder. He sometimes does one more often than the other, wondering, wondering, wondering, and then not at all. Sometimes he wonders more intensely than at other times.
Questions breed more questions. They’re like rodents, no?
Yes, I am that I am I think God says to Moses, he remembers—I recall. Call me whatever you want. The gray skies for days are getting to me. We are all of us God-like in our minds, are we not? Isn’t it mind that is in the image of God? We were made in the image of God not in our bodies, but in our minds—and that’s not brain alone. ? What is this God YAWH—who is He? The Hebrews called He-who-has-no-name, YAWH.
No Name—God. Everything was by the Eternal for the Hebrews. God was outside of time, outside of space. You know that infinity and eternity are not the same thing—infinity is within time and space; time and space—space-time, the continuum is infinite We know that the universe is expanding, that space itself is expanding and that the universe is not expanding into a space preformed before the beginnings of the universe. We do not know what is inside the expansion or outside the expansion. Eternity is outside time and space; outside time and space is where God is—and no more.
God is by the eternal, for the eternal and of the eternal. He is in no part here; he is eternally there, when there is outside the here of space-time. This is valid. Time is one—past, present and future are persistent illusions (delusions) we cling to out of vanity and hope. They are metaphors we use to understand the universe, giving us some sense of progression out of something that is not in itself progressive.
Jesus is the Word–in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. I like words; I play with words; I allow words to play about me too.
Chimps don’t have Gods, or do they? We all saw Planet of the Apes when we were boys, my friends and I. Did the chimps marking off a sacred space from profane space?
Jesus was the Word become flesh. Isn’t Yaweh the Light of Eternal Mind? I’m also wondering about the Heat of Eternal Cunt.
To fuck or not to fuck has been my to be or not. I sing of arms and the man, I remember my father reading Virgil to me, in English and in Latin. This is not for any of you, then, who either cannot read or write, or do not read and write; and there are many more of you in these United States who cannot read, than any of us who can read would dream of if we were to dream of all the things that were in the heaven and earth of reading and writing. Those who do not read and write at the level I infer might as well be among those who cannot. What we call reading today amounts more to alphabetics than literacy. Never either of the two can stand for the other.
Hamlet is my brother, I used to say—I read him, my hypocrite reader. If you ask why I say what I say then you are a bigger hypocrite than I thought.“You can spell your names, certainly. Taxpayers would be up in arms in America if graduates from High School could not sign their names correctly after receiving 12 years of state funded education. It used to be a way to get out of jury duty, spelling your name incorrectly, acting like an idiot, and I guess acting like an idiot is more acceptable these days, more people idiots the norm. What then is an idiot? “Idiocy one of the most pervasive human conditions.
Aristotle told us that an idiot was someone without general or social concerns, and I’m not talking about the concerns manufactured by monied elite controlled media. Aristotle’s idiot though is not a clinical idiot, or the old clinical idiot, the once ago term used. “An idiot according to Aristotle is a kind of solipsist. For most Americans today under forty, there is no reality outside their minds. There is also no Truth or little truths, that’s little ‘t’ truths. We live in an overarching doubt thinking that this will free us. We’re like teenagers who first discover that life thoughts feelings the world are not each of them full up literal.
“This is what Dostoevsky means when he calls Myshkin an Idiot; Myshkin has no guile, he is thus a social misfit. In his way of being in the world, he cannot succeed among the cunning, the shrewd, the intrigues that others everywhere around him plot. These are things of the world. Christ asks you to be in the world and not of it–and don’t tell me that you don’t understand what I mean,” he says. “It is one of the the biggest differences between Catholics and Jews, you know,” he says. “Jews are so much more of the world, even when they are not in the world–I think,” he says. The expectations from and the relationship toward society is quite distinctly framed and articulated, codified, defined, even if they are very similar in many of their ethical positions and postures.
“Aristotle says that a man without general or social concerns is an idiot. A man without these is not a political animal. He is an idiot, wrapped in himself, not necessarily in the way an egoist is wrapped up in himself. Pasternak has reserved some of this for Zhivago; Forest Gump succeeds in spite of his idiocy.
“With literacy as debased as it is, you can’t imagine that the alphabetics we support has garnered any respect from anyone anywhere in the world who is literate. Literacy is an archipelago. It doesn’t matter if you can spell. My son’s history teacher can’t spell and can barely write intelligible sentences on his exams, and that’s at Borough Tech and in an Honors class,” I said.
He continues to feel nauseous. I have felt so as of late as well.
“I get dizzy when I do, or do I when I get dizzy? It is alphabetics and not literacy we teach. Alphabetics is part of the program, part of the receiving-dogma. I can spell my name; and even that inability is no longer a guarantee of being excluded from Jury Duty. All you needed once was to misspell your name, write like an imbecile and you were sent home. Now, the morons are on juries; the ones who really can’t spell their names are deciding cases in the courts. Help us Lord!” I say as I have said as I have said he has said as he has said independent of my saying so or not.
It’s Jeremiah’s Jerusalem. Ah! Yes.In our efforts to emulate the rich and powerful we have become like pimps in our families, pimping ourselves the whores we sell, as we too sell our families.
Is he independent of me? He and I have more in common than he or I would like to admit.
Trees that fall in the woods with no one there to hear them fall do not make a sound. Sound is something created in an ear; ears create sound. No hearing ears, no sound. The falling tree makes a compression wave, but there needs to be an ear to transmit that wave as sound. Yes, if a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, that tree falling does not make a sound. Clear?
Do not imagine that literacy is not debased. We have brought the bottom up in a way it had not been, but in the process we have exerted a gravitational pull downward on the top. More of us are functionally literate, but fewer of us are better than that, right up to the top being lower than it has been in all the history of literacy. You wonder why we are in the shit we are in? I asked.
A person would have to at least be able to read at the eighth grade, if he received twelve years of schooling in this city of ours, New York, and you can’t imagine that much more than that is attainable by any less than half of the students that go through the city’s high schools, systematic under education is the way we work it in NYC and over all in America where freedom is slavery, reading is drudgery, and being as mindless as you can be without killing yourself is setting yourself free, liberty, liberty, liberty, he said with what he sensed at the moment of speech was conviction. I cannot help but mock public education—not because in some reactionary sensibility I think we are not making education strong enough, but because most of the attempts to make education more broadly democratic have failed,. and that our liberal academics, our liberal establishment have become themselves monolithically more conservative, have enacted measures, established a pedagogy that has only created a system of under-education with semi-literacy as the goal of achievement.
Every attempt to right former wrongs, to free ourselves of former shackles, of making education more democratic has moved headlong toward making power more powerful, the monied more monied and the system itself more elitist.
I know you read the tabloids without difficulty, if you can read as high as the eighth grade. The Post and News are not written at a level much higher than fourth. The New York Times Sunday Magazine is another thing if you read only around the eighth grade, sometimes that won’t go so smoothly, but if can negotiate the text of the NY Times Magazine, you will feel yourself special, far above the crowd. So what do we mean when we say someone is functionally literate? How sick is that? It makes me sick, so it is, sick, if you can understand that this is not supposed to be . . . women who are pregnant get nauseous in the morning and sometimes puke. I feel like I have to puke, he said.
He paused. I too paused—who are we; I know that I have noted before and will again that I am we—not as a multi-phrenic personality, but as a holistic Self of many selves.
I remember reading Dostoevsky. Notes From Underground. I am underground. Everyone’s underground, underground as in buried alive, underground as in hiding, underground as in the dark, another way to express the cave we have all come from. I also remembered from College, Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” We are all retreating back into our caves, preferring the shadows inside to things in daylight. I have spoken of this I could not count how many times.
What passes for education today in America makes him nauseous, but was it ever really much, much better? I know we did read more than we do, and required of reading greater capacity at literacy whereby today we play a shell game with reading. America is a sickening country. We are fat and weak and stupid, he has said. NO? You disagree, He thinks the Olympics are a charade. I have a tendency to believe the same. Those are positive assertions. It’s certainly not negative to say we are gross in these fore mentioned ways. If I said we were not fat, not weak, not lazy, not stupid–this would be negative. A B C is the best we can do, but we are fast coming to a place where we are managing the letters of the alphabet as well as many are able to manipulate the numerals in addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Just imagine how many more semiliterate cops there are with guns, he said to her one day.
Are cops not really in general fatter and less literate than when they were just fat and not too smart? She asked. Anyone who has graduated high school is supposed to be able to fill out applications for credit cards, but soon this will fade. Today’s high school graduates can at least address letters that contain nothing you have written other than your name on the check, she said.
Oh! You can fill out a check. That’s a real fucking achievement, he said.
If you can fill out deposit and withdrawal slips at the bank, but you cannot read, you cannot write, not in any way considered literate anywhere but in this debased and overtly crass America–we know the truth, she said.
We just turn away from it, he said.
America is crass, she said.
We no longer provide students with trades in our public high schools. Everyone must become a bourgeois drone, just semiliterate enough to work in the bee hives of bureaucracy that mismanage foreign production because finance capitalists don’t want to produce for themselves and don’t care where there profits come from and care even less that less and less money gets filtered back through our economy, he said.
Thirty per cent of New York City High School students drop out and that is because most of the teachers with degrees in Education instead of real disciplines of knowledge are pedagogic monkeys. Teachers are to blame, but that’s because the state’s also to blame. We have all of us become slaves to the state, the idea we have of the state, of serving the state, of abdicating our role as a people for the tiny bit more lucrative and the laughably more secure role as a good publican, one who serves the state as a member of the public, she said. Crumbs from the table—fucking peasants without the peasant’s wherewithal to chop off the heads of the bourgeois tyrants—at least the French peasants of The Reign of Terror . . . what about them? Where then must we come, must we be?
Without the guillotine and the memory of Les Jacobins, the new French bourgeois elite have become more sickened with the malady of greed, have become more socially corrupt, have become more powerful and richer and less likely to serve the Public they have convinced the People the People need to become. The great shift from People to Public has not come with greater stress on the the elites responsibility to serve and sustain, but only to sit at heel at the tables of state for the crumbs off the cloth like dogs.
There is no writing for slaves and we are all of us now slaves, she said.
We are slaves to our desires. We are slaves to those in power. We are slaves to an idea we will never realize. Slavery is the new democracy, a unilateral commonality everywhere for everyone whenever we get together all us in our trees swinging like monkeys to our immediate delight, he said.
Society is a jungle, society is a zoo–society is a prison, she said. Pick one; it is any one of the same as the others in a way not immediately obvious to the man who reads the way he has contemporaneously been taught to read, she said. Freedom is slavery, she said. Do you imagine we are free? She asked. 1984 is a perpetually recurring year for all of us now slaves or serfs of our bureaucracies.
You cannot imagine we are free or that we are not living the Orwellian nightmare, or that Wall Street does not own Congress, or the oil companies do not own politicians, she said.
Are they that naive? He asked.
We are slaves in our thoughts, slaves in our sorrow, slaves in our joy, our meagre ability to be happy rather than just satisfied as an infant is satisfied at his mother’s tit, every day every hour everywhere our mouths formed for the tit. We are slaves in our thoughts, our minds that bind. Our thoughts the manacles that chain us, she said.
We are the origin of our unhappiness, he said.
She said that that was not true. She said that unhappiness has a way of finding you no matter how much you try to avoid it.
He said that in trying to avoid unhappiness we often bring on unhappiness.
She asked him if I believed what I was saying. I told her that sometimes I did and that sometimes I did not. There were times, I said, when I did not know what I believed and that what I thought was how I could argue for both sides and that somehow I could talk my way into another way of thinking about this, the origin of unhappiness is the root of all psychology.
He added that Freud was in search of the origins of unhappiness, as many in the nineteenth century were in search of origins. The Romantics were in search of the origins of the Folk, others were in search of the origins of language or families of languages, yet others in search of the origins of the earth, Lyell, for instance, and for the origins of species, of course, like Darwin. It was a preoccupation. That origin of the Folk lead the Nazis later in the first half of the twentieth century to pick up this idea and use it for other purposes. The Aryans were the hypothesized first people of the Indo-Aryan language group, what we later call the Indo-European group.
The Nazis forever tainted the word Aryan, he said. It seemed as if he was upset by this. These Indo-Aryans spoke an earlier and hypothesized ancestor to all the Indo-European languages, he suggested; the fore parent of all the parents of the language families, the fore runner of all the European language families. Latin is the forefather of Italian and Spanish and French, for instance, and the fore parent of Latin was Proto-Italic, and the fore runner of this was yet another language traced back to an inferred origin in the Caucasus, and this language is also the ancestor of Hindi and Persian and Ancient Greek and all the current Slavic languages as well as the Germanic ones, which English is a part, he said.
The root of all psychology is in me, she said.
I am the origin and arbiter of happiness or unhappiness, he added. He wished he could see things differently than he did. She did as well, wanting him not to say what he sees, what he feels . . . how he should think, how it might make more sensitive people feel . . . everyone is today walking on eggshells. We are. We are a lot more uptight than we were–when were we less so?
That’s what politeness has come to, asking everyone to fear speaking the truth for whom it might offend. We fear offending more than we fear the lie, more than we fear living a lie, she said.
To lie or not to lie is not even the question, I say. But when to lie and how much to lie about is the question. We are a culture of liars in a world of lying; it is worse than it has been in a long, long time. There is no Truth, no Absolute, no transcendence; there are no longer even any truths, small truths, not big ‘T’ Truth, but just a truth here, a truth there, the truth about this, the truth about that, so help us God, we need to be able to tell the truth; however, we cannot because we do not believe it is possible or if we believe it is possible, we no longer think it is necessary, I say.
A publican will always take it in the ass from power and from money or from the state. I’m not disparaging anal intercourse as an expression of love, but aligning this metaphoric anal rape as an act like that expressed in our prisons or among male gorillas, I say . . . to say or not to say, who gets to say what needs to be said, to have said what was necessary, how well do we speak,not much better than we write–and in a democracy, we do need to speak as we should write, not write the way we allow ourselves to speak out of sloth and gluttony for our greed or greediness for our gluttony. We are not just the fattest motherfuckers on earth, we are the fattest thinkers too . . . slobs, every one of us.
When there were sanitation strikes in London, the people came and dumped their garbage on the steps of Parliament. Would we do the same? No, I say.
Gandhi said that it was preferable for a man of violence to commit violence if that’s what was in his heart than it was for another man to wear the cloak of non violence to cover his impotence. For the former Gandhi said there was hope, for the latter there was none. We are the latter, I say.
We should know this is true and not because he says so, or because I say so, because if either of us had never said so, it would still be true, I say I said. How do we discern the falsity or the truth value of our conclusions—today we do so by how it makes us feel, a degraded understanding of what thinking is—thinking is not randomly passing images in the mind, nor is it ever playing hop-scotch with words.
Vanity, vanity, vanity is not verity.
Why would Oedipus kill the first man old enough to be his father that he has a violent argument with? She asked.
He did not say anything. It seemed as if she wanted to say something else, maybe a little something about how he should have remembered, how he should have headed the warning, but he escaped the warning he said, he had left his home and his parents, the only mother and father he had ever known, it wasn’t as if he was a Japanese infant adopted by Bahamian parents.
Words we say, words we mean, words, words and more words, never really, though, do they, say what we mean at? How can they without first there being some negotiable contract of words in language, meaning, what to mean, how to mean, when to mean, to be mean, the mean’s between, you know? Nothing else, nothing more, what more could anyone have said when all the saying at says not what we define by putting words around things. We think of words as if they were things, sticks and stones are things . . . words I was told by my mother were never going to harm me,” he said. “That’s not what we say today think today react to today the words we think are things, they seem to be in every seeming I face. What do we face? I asked. I paused.
We are Uncle Tom’s Grandchildren. America is a plantation. Everyone must smile like blacks on the plantation. We are the niggers of power and money. Obama’s not a nigger, but I am in this America of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. We have no hope for freedom because we have no way to defend it or define it. We are never more inarticulate than when it comes to defining or defending our freedom. We have no desire for freedom. Everything is in what we want, and what we want is very far from being free, I said. And instead of defining freedom in a way necessary, we go off on tangents with manifestos on what it means to be Dominican American or Chicano or Italo-American with a set program on how to be authentically one or another, all of us living in a variegated assholia—assholic behavior everywhere by everyone.
We understand only appetite, I say. Liberty is license to us. We each had a tacit license with each other, how we felt, how we responded, in word or in action, how we touched one another, caressed each other, held the other as close as was possible. The times we’d walk the beach holding hands in the morning were the sweetest, waiting for the sun to come up, just several or minutes before dawn, the sky already having gone from black to blue-black to lighter and lighter shades of blue, I say.
“Bread and circuses everywhere in America: Hollywood, TV, Theater, pop music, what else have we in the way we placate the masses in America with ever debasing forms of entertainment. And do not try to tell me that Hollywood today does anything but give space for subversion to emerge so power can control it. As soon as the gopher of subversion sticks its head above ground power is there with either its cages or shotguns.
Mass is mass is mob is not a people. The great social en-masse. We pretend to fear communism, yet there’s nothing more communistic than our pop culture now,” he said. “Please don’t imagine Hollywood is an opponent to this. Look at the popularity of the Help and see how the received ideas of the culture popularly reinforce dogmas that are not relevant to our social reality. We are always out of focus. Let’s continue to preach the gospel of racism as if it were 1963, all the while we sell a set of values that says the only authentically way to be black is to be a nigger. Do not try to tell me that rap has not been a contemporary minstrel show . . . In any society where most of its people had any dignity or self-respect, Hollywood actors would fear for their lives, would act differently because they could so easily be killed, hung from the marquee of any movie theater naked and abused,” he said. “If Sambo is not now the latest rap artist, then no one ever was. How much more Uncle Tom can you get than . . . you name him, it doesn’t matter?” He asked.
He paused. How long he paused I do not remember. Did not–could not remember long afterward–I should say recollect.
“Rap as subversion?” He asked. “Do not try to make me laugh. Rap is the space created by power to control subversion, like I said for Hollywood and will say again and again so long as people are naive and yes, fucking stupid about their responsibilities to their and our freedom,” he said.
The nausea comes back, comes again without warning, arising like a particle in a vacuum of space-time . . .
Media managed America is the center of the Global Village, emphasis on ‘village,’ but with light at the end of the tunnel . . .
I remember my mother saying, and I mean always saying, all the time saying, almost every day, I hear her voice clearly I think the way we imagine we do when dreaming. Imagine hearing that every day. I imagine some friends who ate hot dogs every day. They still do or they never do.
I collected a box of super 8s my mother and father had made when I was a boy. I’ve made a series of silent Super8 films in color of the waves at the beach myself. I used my father’s old Bell and Howell Super8 camera, the one he used for the movies I collected from my parents after my mother died. The films are not cut I need to splice them I don’t have the means to do that. I need to have them transferred to DVD by the Video store guys up on the Avenue a few blocks away. I can do all the cutting and pasting I need to do on my MacBook Pro.
I think I’ll spring for the money for the film editing program that Apple produces. It’s about 300 dollars or is it 399 and really 400 dollars? That’s not really a lot. Not with what it allows you to do. The light out in Montauk was different from in New York, on New York beaches, what is surrounding us on each beach contributes to the color of everything else, reflection, refraction, the sky is wider, broader, bigger here there in Montauk.
“Waves of water, waves of light, waves of nausea overcoming me, I remember when I overcome myself, by overcoming myself, I remember,” he said.
What else did he say, did I say–who was I, who is he where I imagine him, think of him, remember him, recollect–recollection and remembering are not the same thing, not identically. What is it about their relationship? Brandy and Cognac?
What is in the word nausea? By any other name it would still be sickening. I recollect Sartre’s La Nausee–I read it how long ago now–I reread from it just recently, of course why it seems so fresh.
“It was as much rhetorical as interrogative. I am overcome with desire, preoccupied with images of her obliquely seen when we make love. Have sex? What is the difference? The desire to fuck I’ve said before is love. I liked looking into her eyes when we did it. To do or not to do; you know what that is. To die, to sleep, you get the euphemisms, no?
“I thought about Oedipus, I thought about Hamlet. I thought about Electra and I thought about Orestes. Hamlet is Orestes and Electra. Shakespeare’s genius is putting them in one character. Aeschylus has one protagonist with the chorus; Sophocles has two protagonists at a time with the chorus; Shakespeare has the Greek-two in one with others who match his complex interiority, or maybe not. Instead of the chorus, we get asides to the audience, reflections of interiority against a mute chorus, the audience,” he said.
“I thought about this, I thought about this fictional woman, I thought about before, I thought about when I was sitting at a table in French Roast on Sixth across from the Jefferson Market Library, with me photographing its Clock Tower. I thought about the question above rooted in a prejudice we hold about how we act and why we act and it presumes we have more forethought than we do or even can have why would Oedipus, why would Hamlet, why doesn’t Hamlet?” He asked.
Punctuation is not breath.
The question above presumes we are hyper aware of ourselves and our lives and our surroundings and the people we interact with, and the fact remains how much of our lives is lived without thought, without consideration of others for others with others they shall always perish from our minds, thinking ahead we do not do; warnings are heedless. Why shouldn’t Oedipus have killed the man who turns out to be his biological father? Is it patricide, if he does not know who the man is? Oedipus believes the step father he had was his real father and not a step father at all. He has no reason to think otherwise, any more than he has reason to suspect that Jocasta might be his mother when he marries her and has four children with her. Solving the riddle of the Sphinx and lifting the plague on Thebes, he must marry the Queen and be its King. The audience knows what it knows; there is a form of irony at work, but it certainly does not interfere with the play, and this is Sophocles’s genius at work, really, how he manages the material everyone already knows.
Oedipus does gouge out his eyes after learning the truth too horrible to tell, he cannot speak it. He blinds himself because what good are eyes he must think. His eyes have surely failed him, but it was not the eyes he plucked out that failed him, as I alluded to above, yet these eyes, these physical eyes are symbols of those other eyes others of us think are the symbolic eyes, the inner eyes are real. The eye balls that we gouge out and step on and squish are the symbols of those other more penetrating eyes that failed Oedipus, but do not fail Tiresias. We imagine we are more compassionate than Oedipus–there is an element of compassion in his act. However, we cannot fathom the depth of character, or of mind, or of soul that is necessary for compassion, let alone the kind of act Oedipus performs. It is a performance. The theater was a viewing place, but not exactly for spectacle. Oedipus without eyes is theatrical in the most ancient sense and means more than we do by saying it is symbolic. Oedipus has more compassion than we do in our feigned kindness.
A society bred on the idea that package is as important as, or more important than, product, cannot understand the distinctions between passion and emotion, or how depth of feeling is opposed to the appearance of having felt. It’s the Passion of Christ, not the Emotion of Christ.
How long should I pause?
You understand what I am saying. We are lost. Everywhere we go we are foundering; everything we do, the same; every way we try to think, also everything we do we do in repetition unacknowledged. We are always turning around and around on their merry-go-round we go on and we do not realize it. Those science fiction shows or movies where everyone does everything until someone has the gnawing sense too strongly felt that everything is not as it seems what appears and what is are the same thing for all of us most of the time. I’m not pronouncing a golden age, but there is a fallacy we fall victim to, and that’s the fallacy that history is progressive, and that because we are further along in the chronology, things are somehow better than in other ages, and that’s false.
Progress is a lie. History is not a river; it is an ocean. Is history progressive? No more than the ocean is progressive in the linear sense we have for time, for history, for rivers.
How did primitives living in their caves in prehistory avoid the conclusions they must have made concerning the shadows they saw from the fires they kept for warmth? Caves and shadows and echoes in the dark. What was it like I try to imagine for a primitive human living in a cave? What was their fear like? We know they had to have fears we don’t. We have anxieties that can only occur in our world, in our time, in our culture, our civilization. Flames flickered, shadows jumped, danced, moved, wavered, souls, spirits, otherworldly creatures, aliens, good or evil, what were they? They had to be something other than themselves, the people watching them, shadows.
I recall Magdalene’s candle. Souls trying to free themselves from the bodies that held them captive. Perhaps these souls wandered while they were asleep. The essence of the soul in the existence of shadows. The light of Truth about our souls too much to bear?
We are too in-love with ourselves?
I wish I had more of the photos I had when I was a kid.
Sisyphus at least had his rock. Prometheus, his rock and chains and eagle. We run kicking and screaming back into our caves to be with our shadow selves because we cannot bear the light of day, the light of day, the light of Truth. Ask Saint John of the Cross about his dark night of the soul, the shadow self is soulless until it merges with its corporeal self that is made to house the incorporeal soul. We go to museums, we sit in bistros and drink good wine, and we fuck (at home or in parks or in the cabs on the way home). These are the only things we do. I love art, I love French wine, I love her cunt . . .
Art, wine and cunt.
To fuck or not to fuck; to drink good French wine or not to drink good French wine–these are the only pressing and serious philosophical questions in my life. To love her cunt or not to love her cunt and thereby to love or not to love her. Where then are the slings and arrows. I knew a girl when we were young who said that men think without thinking that their pricks are arrows and that the cunt is a target . . . but this means men always hit the bull’s eye, no? Men can miss the bull’s eye. Don’t think that most men have the right aim, she said. Just getting your prick in a vagina is not hitting the bull’s eye, it’s just hitting the target, there is a whole set of concentrically arranged hits you can make, closer or farther from the bull’s eye, the camera eye . . .
We are the oldest mass media society in the world. We are the father of everything crass in the world. We are the crassest civilization in history, next to the Nazis and the Soviets. The Soviets more than the Nazis, a civilization, and that is independent from any of your connotations for civilized. Camps beaches sky clouds wind waves water salt spray the sun shining relentlessly this August that July we were here one April and almost froze. We’ve transformed ourselves right out of the image we were made in during the eighteenth century, a time more dedicated to liberty and justice than our own, in spite of what the bureaucracy preaches . . .
The assault on Truth was launched by the Bolsheviks first, then taken up by the Nazis, then by us when power elites figured they could use the weapons of our enemies in revised ways here at home; GeStaPo, KGB, CIA, Mossad, whatever else we have in the way of thinking we protect ourselves from enemies when these organizations protect our enemies and manipulate our fear instead to maintain order for power outside the law. What does the law have to do with what I do, what I say, what I choose or do not choose? If I choose, what then? If I do not? How come I spend so much time thinking over what I think over in mind, going over and over it, thought takes place in language I remember–garbled on the page is garbled in the mind, for sure . . .
Presidents after Truman have all of them been the bitches of power and money, banks or oil. Our President is Wall Street’s bitch, and unless he does otherwise from what he has been doing, I’m never going to change my mind about him. Things do not get better for anyone like us, the slaves in America are now multi-colored. Master is black or white when just enough green is evident. I have no idea why we didn’t fuck. Maybe I could have learned something. I don’t know if it’s the world around me that’s incidental to my fucking, or if it’s fucking that is incidental to the world around me. Everything is incidental in another view. I like the views I get of her when we make love, nothing incidental, everything significant? Incidental and significant are not synonyms; they are mutually exclusive. The incidental can be significant.
What am I saying?
I think the world and its history and its events and its politics and its economics are all of them incidental to my fucking. It has always been to fuck or not to fuck. So, no, I would not gouge out my eyes and would most likely live as any one of the many scoundrels we set up to emulate in our horribly degraded popular culture. I remember reading recently graffiti on the subway wall in Manhattan, where someone wrote in red, red letters
Kill them. Wipe them out, all of them, murder them
To a man, to his wife, to his children too.
Impure blood must flow–the body is diseased.
Who spends time carefully writing this in verse lines, coarsely or not? What conditions cause a madman or a prophet to express what he’s expressed on the walls in the subway of New York? A people who have suffered a usurpation too long endured? I don’t understand liberals who do not understand or willfully misunderstand the role of the Second Amendment that Jefferson put right after the First. Jefferson was no stupid man,” he said. “Power that has no fear for its position from the people, the only institution that can counterbalance the state, is a power soon corrupted and corrupting. Power must fear the people. It will always seek to get the people to abdicate whatever power it can and turn them into a public, that is, the people serving the state. I have thought long about words, the words I use, the words I think I have a handle on, the ones I know I do and the others I only think I do–words do not always mean what they say at?
I wish I did know what to say, when to say it if I did know what. Do I have it in me to know these things where and when? I do wish I were able, as if I knew I was not. Am I or am I not?
My father used to tell me that the government is not your friend, never your friend in America there was a time when it was less your enemy than in other places without the Soviet Union Capitalists have become worse as they too have gotten stupider less literate no Truth no truths only now the will to power you ignorant, ignorant bastards in the universities preaching the gospel of No Truth and that metaphysics is nonsense. Do you have any idea what ethics are without metaphysics–what they have become, again, the will to power. I know what he meant now more than I had ever. It’s amazing how quickly and totally the reversal from the age of civil rights and protest we have come. I know first hand cops are worse than they have ever been, fatter and stupider and less literate than even they were fifty years ago. Tell me again why I should listen to the media or to the public schools or to the academies of learning or to any one of you anywhere who have no clue either and no determination to find out. There are truths too horrible or just too uncomfortable to acknowledge. How do I understand this . . . to stand under is another way of wearing the necessary shoes? We don’t want to walk two blocks to the store–we are so fat. Rather than park a half block away from where we want to buy the paper, we double park and then get annoyed when we get a summons as if double parking were necessary and right. How can nations of starving masses not hold us in contempt as obese as we are?
Don’t all wise men and women enter the dark at least of their souls? You must see San Juan de la Cruz in his Dark Night of the Soul, the spiritual path of Truth . . . recall the Psalms, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley in the shadow of Death. . . .’ Would you or I have Oedipus’s courage, or Saint John’s, or the hero of Plato’s most famous allegory who ventures into the light of day. I remember Tomas in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He asked in an essay that got him in hot water with the Czech Communist Party.
He ended up washing windows after having been a surgeon. I like to believe that I would have his courage, but then there is no one easier to flatter than myself. I am too weak not to succumb to self-flattery; who is stronger? Would any of us be as responsible as he was, answerable as Oedipus becomes? I remember what Primo Levi discovered in the Nazis camps–hem arrived later in the war, sometime in the spring of 1945, from Italy. He saw first hand how many of society’s alleged betters acted horribly in the camps, less than themselves, less than their assumed station would allow, less than their alleged breeding, education, manners could possibly let them–they were abominable. It was pimps and prostitutes and coal miners and other laborers and drunks who acted better, with greater compassion, more courage, more willingness to help others. If you want to believe this, you can. My saying this is not what makes this so any more than someone else’s denial makes it untrue. There is nothing that cannot be denied. We cannot let the deniability of an assertion, or an inference, or a fact make it possible for us to disbelieve what we need to understand. Perish the thought that Jews betrayed Jews in the camps because our mass media culture has made new saints out of victims of the Holocaust–and there were millions of victims, even millions who were not Jewish. The dead are martyrs and the survivors are all of them heroes whether their survival depended on working for the Nazis in the camps as those who would police the inmates. Now we need movies to shuffle the three shells of telling what was . . . how there were no Jews in the camps who collaborated with the Nazis–there were only Russians, and Frenchmen and Poles who collaborated with the Nazis–and this is where Hollywood will remain monstrously full of shit, always looking to stay one step ahead of the stereotype manufacturing it has perfected over the decades. I know just how Jews hounded Primo Levi to suicide–yes, Primo Levi was the Italian Jewish man suicided by The Jewish People, especially their intellectual elite here in America. I’ve known too many Jewish people in my life, especially my life growing up, too many people I have had fondness and tenderness for, I have shared friendship and love with, varying kinds and degrees of affection, a deep respect for, to not say what I see, what I feel, what I understand . . .
Do you or I have Oedipus’s sense of justice–and it is justice he has a sense of as he gouges out his eyes. I know I would be too attached to my eyes to pluck them out. Christ understands our vanity when he says if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out. I hope Christ understands mine. The truth of something is true whether all disbelieve or even if only one person believes. Everyone believing something is not what makes the something true. Truth is like this. The Truth is the Truth whether you believe there is a Truth or not. The Nazis were voted into power by local majorities equalling a national majority. Maybe the Germans did not know what they were doing for Germany. The Nazis had little support from Catholic Bavaria, but how much of this do you get from those who control the dissemination of information–and the conduits of information are not as open and liberal (in its broadest sense) as we imagine here in America. There are groups that never get critiqued in the New York media, never put under the scrutinizing lens of journalistic investigation.
After communists, Catholics were the first group targeted for systematic persecution by the Nazis–you don’t here this in New York. Imagine that in this here America where history is nearly as distorted today as it was in the Soviet Union in another historical yesterday, we might only here a version of the truth–or is it a truth–yes, a version of a truth, little ‘t’ and never capital ‘T.’
The dogma of political correctness was preached by the Nazis and the Bolsheviks before them; by Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and so on; by Franco in Spain and Mussolini in Italy; by Pinochet, by Mao, by Ho, by Pol Pot, by Castro, by McCarthy, by Maggie Thatcher, by Petain, by Gaddafi, by Presidents Obama, Reagan, Clinton, Bush I and II, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Roosevelt, Truman and every director of the CIA appointed by these men; by Herbert Hoover and by every cop you meet whether a pig or not.
Bull Connor preached the dogma of Jim Crow political correctness and it is the push toward correctness that adds to the horror. You can’t use this dogma of political correctness for any politics. Political correctness is right out of the epistemology of totalitarianism. Everyone suffers his or her dark night of the soul in a totalitarian society. Winston Smith is a secular Saint John of the Cross, La Noche Oscura de la Alma. There is no Truth in our culture; there are no truths; right and wrong and good and bad are what we think because there is no reality outside the mind. What do I say, what does he say, you say, we say?
Every destination the soul departs for is reached by indirection. Be quiet, be still. Be sure. I am sure of nothing. I must be sure of something. I am sure of my name. I am sure I am who I am whenever I am, even when I am not being who others would expect me to be, even when I surprise myself and become someone I have not been. To be somebody not me, as we mean sometimes when we say we are not ourselves–even then I am me. I don’t want to pause and ask who I am or who I could be if, or who I should have been. We’ve been raised in dishonesty. We are a dishonest people. All people are dishonest in ways . . . Kings of hypocrisy all of us led by our political pimps. Whores . . . of a different kind, the way we mean when we say what we do about them . . . yet whores acted in the camps differently than the wives of doctors or the women who were school teachers–it was the school teachers that came out and voted for the Nazis virtually en masse. The word ‘whore’ gets flagged for being politically incorrect. ‘Wives’ gets flagged too for the same reason.
There are two kinds of whores. There is the whore who sells her body, her talents with her body; and there is the woman who is a whore in her soul, the wife of a man who makes money and does nothing else but spend his money in return for giving him awful children, lawful children. She resents everything her husband has to give his workers, and although he might be cheap, he is cheaper because of her, more unreasonable because she drips poison in his ear against his workers, especially if they are women, most certainly if they are younger or prettier, absolutely, and if their faith is different—it does not matter if they really believe in the tenets of their faith, we have come to wear religion like Nazis wore their Swastikas. Whores to the left of us, whores to the right of us, whores in front of us . . . there are the traditional bourgeoisie of Europe who are the greatest whores the world has ever known. America is fast becoming the whorehouse Europe has always been. I don’t imagine Asia or Africa are much better. The Americas are other bordellos. America, America, her people now the whores of Wall Street Pimps.
Sodom is a city of righteousness compared to these Dorian Grays everywhere in our banks, schools, law offices, accounting firms, hospitals . . . then how is Hollywood not Babylon or Sodom and Gomorrah? All of us will be whores in this America headed for a fall, and we are going to fall, fast and hard and we will not have it in us to pick ourselves up as we had during the Great Depression. We cannot avoid this fate, and it is fate as surely as the Furies follow anyone guilty of Hubris. Any person can be a whore, of course; men can be whores as can women, Presidents and mayors as well as Priests, Rabbis and writers. They don’t have to be gay or effeminate either, these men who are whores. Every prison punk is a whore when he is another inmate’s bitch, but his being another inmates bitch has nothing to do with homosexuality. It has nothing more to do with homosexuality than anal rape does among gorillas. Every man is a whore when he sells himself, sells his soul. The prison punk is given the choice, shit on the dick or blood on the knife. There is payment in that.
We sell our water for money, our future for money, our sons and daughters for money. All so a few can get richer at the expense of our children’s future, the presence of happiness no longer. We let our political pimps tell us it’s our fault our economy is in the shit hole, we are their whores, and that we have to do with less because we want to get America back on track. Our responsibility; where was this mutual responsibility when the rich were getting richer; hasn’t our mayor tripled his wealth while being mayor? We are all of us, fools. Solipsism, solipsism, solipsism–how fucked we are. Why then shouldn’t we just fuck? No, really, why don’t we just fuck. Is there another explanation, other than biology, that explains our preoccupation with sex, and I’m not one to separate sex from love.
The desire to fuck is in itself love, should be treated as love, but we separate the two in the unspoken ways we keep them separate, the Puritanism we still hold dear in our hearts. Everybody using one negative or subtractive image for sex, doing the nasty, doing the dirty, or whatever the fuck else assholes everywhere use when they are talking about fucking–fucking is glorious–fucking is the way–the desire to fuck is predominant, but it is still corrupted by the idea that to fuck is dirty; that’s what underlies everything in our culture. Just look at the pop culture. If this culture didn’t have serious issues with sex we wouldn’t have a pop culture as grotesque as we do. We’re twisted around and around so tightly wound we cannot breath. Fucking is the way to God, but not as cheaply as we do in package over product America, controlled by the Church of Advertising and bound by the morality of the Ledger Book. What good are eyes, though, we could ask? Lear must ask the same when he is on the heath, when he is finally blind. He comes to wisdom only after his folly.
Nausea. Everywhere nausea.
Have we yet come close to wisdom as a culture, certainly not now as a society–they’re not identical. Why do we make something dirty or nasty out of sex, the desire for sex, the ned for sex, acting on our inclinations–our inclinations, predilections–I still like to think in terms that express need or desire, wanting, which is always the recognition of a lack.
I don’t know yet what I am to become, what I will come to be in the time to come. How is it that I should behave? To behave, what I have in order to be. What do I already have when I do? Lear does not see on the heath, does he? Is Heathcliff Heathcliff because of Lear’s scene on the heath, his cry of the soul from the soul, the tempest he walks through, imagine that when you dream rain you are trying to purge something? I cry out. I shout inside of me. Inside I am shouting.
Last night I dreamed a tempest so fierce, the hurricane last I saw when I was a boy and the eye passed over and we went to the shore to see the waves coming in at ten or more feet high I don’t exactly recollect, how does anyone recollect anything. What I bracket . . . to put in brackets–I recall wanting to use parentheses with brackets to indicate a deepening of a narrator’s thoughts, or a layering like we want to express when we use the analogue of the onion . . .
I am Lear. I am MacBeth. I am Iago and Othello and Desdemona. How am I not? Rosalind and Hamlet and Ophelia; just as I am Orpheus and Eurydice; just as I am Orestes and Electra, just as Hamlet is Electra and Orestes in one. Who else am I? What am I? What could I be? What would I become if I were any one of the many things or persons I could be, to be or to become, that is the question.
Lear was a fool. I am a fool. He was a fool from the start. I am no different.Lear can see but cannot see. To see or to stand under, what I must do to walk a mile in another man’s shoes? I imagine myself not only capable of compassion, but actualizing it.
Day in day out from my birth. Lear’s hubris leads to his blindness, a blindness that ironically leaves him with physiological ability to see with his eyes–what’s in his heart, his soul, what happens to him beyond knowing–hubris is already blindness. We are stumbling around the coffee table of our lives, hands stretched out unable to see two feet in front of us. What stretches out in front of me, the stars at night, the waves of the sea, the ocean shore here at Land’s End.
I’m waiting for the chickens.
[I make the clucking sound of a chicken.]
I throw up. Perhaps I am sicker than I realized.