i'm taking another crack at denis johnson's "already dead - a california gothic" - i was almost ready to give up, admitting that i didn't get the point, but i turned another page instead of smoking a cigarette, and started to find the groove, the groove that "johnson hits... " according to one of the back blurbs, during the witch yvonne’s séance scene - and although i thought i was mis-remembering it as a “séance” in my cliche-ridden brain, it was actually referred to by that term through one of the characters! a scheming hippie's for-profit cosmology fictionalized with poker-faced poetry, and it was so startling, the resonance it made with me, that i had to keep reading for another thirty pages - i’ve seen a lot in alan watts, and owe him a debt as articular of eastern philosophy, one who can reach a sixty hertz mind like mine - but i also tired of his raps, rhymes, and reasons, too assonant, consistent - so i stopped thinking in that direction - so i stopped feeling that lucky charm, that i would call sacred at times, or profound, or whatever - so my progress in this path, whatever that could be, stopped dead
but metaphors take on new meanings in new times, sometimes inverting entirely like a figure-background transformation - assorted spiritual event horizons, that ol’ wheel of life rolling back to relevance - there was something modern and hedonistically-informed to yvonne's assumptions, shared by the dead-end californian "marks" at the séance - the idea of this journey through a billion lives - it encompassed reincarnation but it was less literal, more complete - yes, Complete, a word that felt important as i read - a bullseye word that sent shudders through me, bringing a giddy smile to my face - a private joke, the random stumbling on a "next step" i didn't think could exist - absurd but divine that my human mind, with its limitations, could handle a synthesis of borrowed folk wisdom, fractured textbook intellect, and pedestrian experience with ---... the Complete ness of...
it's hard to explain, it’s where language breaks down - the thing is in my head, still, a little, though dependent on the consistency of my hippo-campus - it's like, Complete - the sum of experience - not only that, it has a moral complete ness to it - which brings me back to yvonne: i imagine her character as a pretty zen woman - i think zen is good for the skin, if not skin product wholesalers - but maybe even then sometimes - cause, when hungry, eat, when tired, sleep, when watching the home shopping network for the third consecutive hour, when the products start looking sensible, pick up the phone and order now - so skin care, like anger at the scumfuck who stole your wallet, is within the grasp of a zen master - the wobbling grace your anger takes will recede like a tide upon discovery of a particularly striking sunset, and all things considered, it’s better on your skin than herbal extracts - yvonne tells her clients that in the sanctuary of the séance, morality is open-ended - relations between people are not of the moment, but of all moments - although... there are spirits, incarnations - and radar interferes with people's auras, apparently, that too - might as well go for the goblin bonus pack if you’ve come this far
but what hit home for me was this notion of a soul’s journey, even little ol’ me, through the whole of history - all lives, experience... flattening to imagine what that does to morality, mortality, time and space, matter and spirit - i know, it sounds shoddy and cerebral in these terms, but i'm writing about it because it was a feeling like i haven't felt in years, that seems to matter, still - even if it might be irrelevant to my life... maybe that's the point, that it is irrelevant to my life, but it's the bullseye! the Complete ness i can only glimpse through a network of associations in my brain, from a string of code that woke me, like a sleeper agent, to the deck of a ship in a vast sea - i was going to say "endless ocean" but that doesn't feel quite right, because if the ocean is endless then it wouldn't be Complete. . . see, it's tricky getting past semantics - "endless" does sort of fit, because essentially, i'm talking about a kind of immortality, through ego-death and real, but non-literal reincarnation - but there's more, and less, to it - complete is not infinite - the infinite is not complete...
"pedestrian," some techno-magician surely says, cause he’s heard it all before, “time”, “space”, whatever - but what else is there? there's this complete thing i can sense - it's not an endless ocean, merely huge, vast enough for me, i think - wake up, it whispers, politely - it's not urgent, maybe an alarm but i set the time with a shuffling algorithm, and the mp3 track it plays is something my subconscious can sing harmonies with that reference fellow musicians, and detritus from childhood - or maybe it was just the buzz of current - excitable electrons, silly
so this thing, when does it get its questions answered? or its purpose fulfilled? now? no, not in the next several decades - i don't think this is an age for heroes - maybe, but i doubt it - oh the potential is there, and it's so beautiful, like when my friend blake dismissed his "buddhist" friend for being a silver-spoon-fed empty head, and also said that hard work could get us out of this mess we all sort of sense, like as if any of this crazy bullshit is going as planned, "hard work" of a sort more weighted to good ideas, scalpels of reason, rigors of intellect, and the painful balance of this with empathy and pragmatism, and letting go of the rancid ideas that will get results right away, and get you your own state villa, or even just get you out of debt - a style of work more akin to that practiced by enlightenment thinkers, some of those good and nasty folks who paved the way for this casino cabaret health-food joke i say i enjoy even though i haven’t felt right since a lot of things - and that's heroic enough for me - at times, i wouldn't even hate myself for hero worshipping blake, but those were muonic moments, quickly swallowed up in green despair
so potential is there, like doesn’t jesus fit the bill, for instance? and ghandi was no slouch, you could even say he was closer than christ to the red felt bullseye, because he had to deal with the extra complexities of modernity - and how about this modern age, and how even the martyrs can't feel right, cause you're either schizophrenic or deluded or pawned, right? wouldn't a hero, in this age, have to take on some contortion akin to the folding of a hypercross? dali comes close, to me, cause he didn't have no heart of gold, but he had his thing, and he made paintings with titles like “crucifixus hypercubicus”, and intentionally wet the bed, and so much more! so much so that i heard a zany dali story just the other day that was new to me, even after gorging on so much wedding cake at the museum in st. petersburg - so, maybe dali could pay the piper by accepting all my sins, feeling all my self-hatred as emblematic of humanity's festering sore, and putting a brave mustache-twirling face on it, and converting introverted hate to extroverted joy, through his idiom - or maybe i just like the hypercube - it's a little of this and a little of that - but i could have made it better had i stitched in an aside from page nine of today's telegram
so i still marvel in new ways, these days, that despite how grave it's been, at times, wading through life in this interesting monkey’s paw epoch, and how gamely i've soldiered on, there's so many people, that i even know personally, that have suffered more, and even sought such venues of suffering, and have soared higher despite that - or, of course, because of it - they sought, while i sought to avoid, avoid suffering, avoid assholes - not smite them, or challenge them, or convert them - and i haven't tasted a fraction of all that's out there for even a person of my low caste
so, heroes, saviors, debonair devils, any of these seem right to me, if we're to avoid anything less than apocalypse - and i was thinking, during the bus ride to my narcotics anonymous meeting today, that the transition from what we have now, for even runty late-comers to the industrial party, to economic scarcity and the resulting violence - could be a kind of suffering never before experienced by such a sum of minds - i was thinking this as i reasoned how much it would suck to be a small woodland creature, somewhere in the middle of the food chain, always fearing attack - i hate stress - even the small amount i have to put up with makes me fantasize about performing EZ kamikaze through opiates - poor rodents, what small pleasures they get through food and sex (do they fuck? i guess so, probably really quickly) must be so cherished, but still, that doesn't mean the value of those pleasures being inflated through scarcity makes up for missing out on eight thousand hours of A-list stand up comedy available in digital video format for periods of boredom and depression - poor rodents, most of them probably don't even live past infancy, and the ones who do are mostly zeta males, or breeder females - and in the end, you get eaten by a bird if you're lucky, or tortured by a cat otherwise, but...
your nervous system is wired for this spectrum of pleasure and pain and is not expecting anything else - thus, it’s normal, not tragic, or hellish - bearable, in a sense - there's no need for religion, or blankies, or stand-up comedy - a warm burrow will suffice - there's no "tragedy", no need for samuel barber's weepy string adagio - no need for all those sanity-draining dramas
not to dehumanize people who are in what seem to me like hellish circumstances, but i see an analogue here - the idea that the spectrum of pain and pleasure has different focus levels - that said, i don't imagine the nervous system adaptable enough to spare us modern luxury items from massive malfunction, ie, agony, when our resources run out, and their toxic byproducts catch up with us - the sense of loss and the knowledge of what is outside the new narrow spectrum imposed by circumstance - that would never be endurable for me, i'm nearly certain - but i'm not certain i could self-administer an overdose, let alone pull the trigger of a gun inside my mouth
anyway, the hero won't be me - i can't even write heroically, except at that rare growth on the deepest trough of misery, the contour that winks at me, perverse with aesthetic righteousness, in B major? i could see us ekeing out the next century, crowded on the toxic precipice, white-knuckling it, everybody trying to hold onto their comforts - i could also see an apocalypse, not a Complete biblical-style thing, just a pedestrian apocalypse of the kind unseen in our history - not the complete erasure of humanity, just the collapse of anything worth living for
what i can't see very easily, even though i'm a wishful thinker, is space colonies, or a brilliant green ecological revolution, or a global coordination for the common good - i could see that if we started earlier, but it's too late now - this is a lesson that will only take effect if one of us spontaneously puts it together, that this alien world this being is living on that seems oddly familiar, could redeem itself through heroic insight and action, starting with me, the change she wants to see in the world, let's say feminizing at ground zero, empathizing beyond extremes
maybe this can only happen if the devil has his due - so what i say to myself, or you, or whoever is listening, or whoever wants to take ownership, as a compromised, hypocritical mediocrity, is: shit or get off the pot - make something happen - and yet, for all that, that hypocritical mediocrity, eating cow, not being proud, feeling guilty about the millions killed in my name, custer dying for my sins, suffused with dread, worrying about what's going to happen when the other shoe drops... for all that, haven't i had some good times? haven't there, maybe, been pleasures of a kind that heroes will never know? a style, i mean, that hamstrings the slickest ninja moves for power, profit, and alpha male orgasm - i mean, there was a moment, it's been said, in ancient scrolls, during which a man made doritos dust look cool, like he wore it well, on his face, and he even noticed it, in the reflection of his roommate's sunglasses, and laughed, cause he knew there was no one there to see it, except his roommate who wouldn't get it, but would be there to reflect it, and that's cool, and he was a pretty cool roommate anyway, and maybe one day, it would be his turn to get the pretty dukhabor girl instead of his roommate, or something of equivalency, plus or minus 17
i can never tell what denis johnson really thinks of his characters, i guess some would say that makes him a great writer - i sensed contempt for yvonne, but not enough to dismiss her entirely - and more importantly i sensed the absence of that killjoy stoic empiricism that infests online discussion everywhere because it’s easy to talk tough when you’re an avatar and you don’t have to back it up with action, that bravado that eschews anything other than the most mundane explanations for how, and why, things exist - yes, johnson has contempt and cynicism, certainly, but also an openness to possibilities - you're at least in the vicinity of mysticism when nietzsche quotes are your neighbors