Living in such a state taTestaTesTaTe etats a hcus ni gniviL of mind in which time sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA emit hcihw ni dnim of does not pass, space STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE ecaps ,ssap ton seod does not exist, and sTATeSt oFOfOfo dna ,tsixe ton seod idea is not there. STatEst ofoFOFo .ereht ton si aedi Stuck in a place staTEsT OfOFofo ecalp a ni kcutS where movements TATeSTa foFofoF stnemevom erehw are impossible fOFoFOf elbissopmi era in all forms, UsOFofO ,smrof lla ni physical and nbEifof dna lacisyhp or mental - uNBeInO - latnem ro your mind is UNbeinG si dnim rouy focusing on a unBEING a no gnisucof lone thing, or NBeINgu ro ,gniht enol a lone nothing. bEinGUn .gnihton enol a You are numb and EiNguNB dna bmun era ouY unaware to events stneve ot erawanu taking place - not -iSSuE- ton - ecalp gnikat knowing how or what THiRTY-FOUR tahw ro woh gniwonk to think. You are in 02/27/97 ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
I thought I'd start this issue off with one of the strangest things I happened to overhear this month:
"The crustaceans on Bora Bora are crazy. When we were there, they didn't have paved roads. I'd say there were about cars on the island, and we were renting one of them. You couldn't drive anywhere without killing crabs. They would scramble into the middle of the road, see the spinning tires, and raise their claws in the air in defiance. Most damn aggressive crabs I've ever seen. A few seconds later, they were roadkill.
"And no one ever believes me when I tell 'em about the lobster that jumped down on me from a coconut tree. The most fucked up thing I saw, though, was when I was snorkeling. I watched this school of kingfish chase an octopus. No shit. Those fish were messed up."
Sometimes I wonder why life can get really messed up. This is the third February in a row where someone my friends or I have known that has run away. They're always minors, and they always leave in February. I don't know why they pick this month to do it, but I'd like to be able to go through a February and not wonder where the hell somebody is. I don't like expecting things like this to happen in February. This time isn't so bad for me, seeing as how it's a friend of a friend, but it still sucks.
But hey, it's nothing new. Thank goodness February is the shortest month of the year.
Some interesting details are developing in the case of Clockwork's recent travels. While not much can be said at the present time, I have felt it in the best interest of the zine to release Clockwork's last letter to myself, albeit slightly edited. We'll keep you informed on what may turn out to be a very eventful discovery. The letter can be found in the "Letters to the Editor" section.
I've got a real bad case of writers' block. Sucks. 'Nuff said bout that topic. Feh.
As for the rest of the zine, it just keeps getting better and better. We've got new writers and a bunch of new subscribers. We hope both of these trends continue. Keep those submissions coming, and we'll see you in March. Hope you survive Spring Break, and remember what the infamous Schwa head in the Apocalypse Culture Production offices proudly proclaims: "Everything not strictly forbidden is now mandatory."
From: The Almighty Elvis To: email@example.com Subject: please add me to your nice mailing list please Illuminati because I wanted to do my persuasive research paper for honors english on the existence of it (I believe, of course) and it gave me this list of ftp-ed files for www.io.com which was, of course, Illuminati Online, and I clicked on something and it turned out to be some pretty damn good writing and even had stuff about Kurt Vonnegut, my favorite author. So could you please add me to your nice mailing list so I can further bask in the warm fuzzy glow of the State of UnBeing Electronic Zine? Please? P.S. Because the Illuminati has evaded the public eye so, I had to change my topic to the probability of the existence of extra- terrestrial life. Ah, well. C'est la vie. So it goes. As if you care.
[apparently we're radioactive. or maybe it's more akin to something from "the colour out of space" by lovecraft. no matter. basking in the glow of the state of unbeing e-zine has been determined by the surgeon general to be harmful to normal though processes. proceed at your own risk. i believe the SoB faq mentions something about me being part of the illuminati. it would be news to me, but i wouldn't be surprised if it was true. who better to lead a secret organization than one who doesn't know he is the head?]
From: Sylpheria To: Kilgore@sage.net Subject: distribution list Kilgore, I'd like to request joining of the distribution list. I regret I have nothing worth while to say in order to get this published as some of the other distribution request letters have. Reading the SoB has become the high point in my life at this time. Don't think me pathetic. I'm 13, and live in a small town, I haven't discovered anything better to live for, (love, sex...) I'm not depressed either, I'd be conceited to say I'm depressed. At some point in my life I hope to submit something to this. Not now, I've yet to accomplish enough intellectuality or weirdness to qualify for your submission attention. - Sylpheria
From: Duane To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Hello Hello Kilgore, I have read a few SoB's and would like to be on the list. Don't be fooled by the little @aol.com you see above, It's your imagination (maybe you should cut back on the coffee?) Oh yeah, and about the "New spiffy graphics" that your web page can have, I say "Fuck it." Putting in a bunch of pretty pictures would be nothing but reduction. The raw black and white ascii is the pure essence of the zine. Thanks -Duane
[heh. the joke around the apocalypse culture offices here is that if we ever decide to include graphics with the zine, they'll be uuencoded.]
From: Expiring Velvet To: email@example.com Subject: put me on a list (and check it twice) Hey Mister Trout, I'd like you to put me on your mailing list for this bitchin zine. I have seen many e-zines in my time and none heve brought me more joy as to read yours. Though most of the time i don't agree with the fictional (or maybe they're not...hmmm...) characters ideas of the way the ought to be, i certainly understand the point the writer is trying to make about how the world actually is. It is for this reason that i ask to be put on the mailing list, and also i was tired of setting my browser up to the 'perfect' width....oh well... You and the writers may expect to hear from me often as i will no doubt have many comments to make about the articles and stories put in, and may decide to submit some of my own, as i see fit. Well, thanks for the many hours of enjoyed reading and intrigued thought, and best wishes to the succesfulness of your magizone as you wish it to be. Love and consideration, Expiring Velvet
[please, call me kilgore. no need to be so formal. we welcome any and all comments from you or anyone else. as for the successfulness of our magazine, the best thing you can do is rig the lottery. we promise we'll put out really nice editions on paper even. failing that, just get all of your friends to read it. works for me.]
From: Ezikiel Rage To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Intereted in the mailing list. I am interested in becomming part of SoB mailing list because it contains much great literature and stirrs ones mind into a mush with the truths and the depth of writing. I damn well enjoy reading this stuff, and i want MORE. Be well, Ezikiel Rage --,--'--,--'--,--@
[glad to be able to give you a mushy head. we used to do that with rocks and blunt objects, but that is a) really messy, and b) people are more willing to read a zine than let me and my cronies bean them across the head with pipes and planks of wood.]
From: Omin Channing To: email@example.com Subject: Umm ... ? Hullo, ... I've been reading SOB off and on for about 6 months and have been meaning to give you submissions but I am among the elite of procrastinators ... Well, anyway I'd like to be added to the distribution list. Umm ... until later.. or I think of something worth typing, ... wich of course would have to be later... hmmmm. Bye, Omin Channing, Everything I do is purely coincidental...
[welcome to the club. we here at the zine like to procrastinate dreadfully, and even as i type this response, i am waiting on a last minute submission that should be coming ANY MiNUTE NOW. wow. it just popped thru. what a coincidence. hmmm. synchronicity or something should be mentioned here, but i'm rambling.]
From: Ryan Lyle To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: wow Kilgore, I found your 25th issue quite by accident when I was doing a search for (of all things) "rubber chickens." Now I'm glad I checked it out. I would like to know a couple of things though.... Is this the web-version of a campus newspaper, or just an internet thing? Can anyone submit a piece? (and lastly) How long have you been putting this thing out? Before I go I must say that the piece called "ME" by Morrigan was really impressive. If you have a mailing list, I'd donate a kindey to be on it. Ryan "going to be reading the next few issues" Lyle
[rubber chickens. that's a first. i don't even want to know why you're searching the net for rubber chickens, but i'm sure you'll use some lame excuse about a "comedy routine." this is not a campus-publication of anykind, although many people who are students do read and write for it. right now it's still just an internet and BBS thing. if you wanna submit something, send it right in. and for your last question, we are now in our fourth year of publication. as for your kidney, make sure the people that remove it leave you in an ice-filled bathtub in las vegas with a message saying "call 911 now" scribbled in lipstick on the mirror. it'd be kinda cool to see that urban legend come true. kilgore "gonna be editing the next few issues" trout]
[this last letter, which i had to transcribe, was sent via snail mail, postmarked from germany. the letter looked like it had been opened and resealed a few times. we had been discussing the trip for a few months, but i was unable to acquire the needed cash to accompany him. we'll keep you informed as closely as possible on clockwork's journey.]
Kilgore, I write to you sitting atop a mountaintop somewhere in Germany. Somewhat strange, since I live in the United States, don't speak German at all, and have no financial means to travel overseas. Although I do have German descendents, or perhaps decadents, or maybe even gents. Alas, I fear I may have inadvertantly wandered into a minefield of woes and death and fear, with great ghastly figures lurking all about me every moment of my existence. I, of course, had visions of such things occurring, as I told you before my travels. The assumption of the left wing socialists and anarchists in Bavaria forming their Soviet Republic and then quickly getting shattered within weeks. Remnants of this organization -- if you could call it that -- formed the Order of Teutons a few years later, which included Theodor Fritsch, Philipp Stauff, and Herman Pohl. Based loosely along the lines of the Free Masons or Rosicrusians, applying their aryan beliefs into their rites. I've also discovered information pulling me towards one General Karl Haushofer, a university professor and director at the Munich Institute of Geopolitics. Apparently he has been long studied in Zen-Buddhism and has been through many initiations at the hands of the Tibetan Lamas. Haushofer had been the pupil of the Russian sorcerer and metaphysician Gregor Ivanovich Gurdyev, supposedly maintaining contact with the Tibetan lodges who had the secret of the "Superman." [part of text of letter snipped by editor.] In the next week or so I shall perhaps jourey towards Wewelsburg Castle in Westphalia for one reason for another. Perhaps to gain some sort of feeling or spirit since lost. Who knows. For now, I drink my plasma-like concoction of peyote and other various items to perhaps sweeten the bitterness. Perhaps I'll dream of Spears of Destiny and fragments of the Grail, stowed far beneath me somewhere in a cache of occult relics and records long since lost. Or maybe I shall just ingest pounds of peyote, vomit, and smile. [various personal tidbits snipped by editor.] clockwork 2/05/97
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
Nemo est Sanctus
The Super Realist
[The following is a letter of direction written by Frater Nemo est Sanctus to a young woman recently moved to New York City to study acting. The issue is solitude, as she has recently left family and almost all friends, and had been considering leaving her hometown and "never looking back." It appears almost exactly as sent.]
I'm still smarting about missing you those last few days. I tried to get in contact with you, since you too were invited to the New Year's Eve party. It would have been better with you. It seems I hardly got to see you this vacation.
I really like the compact disc you gave me for Christmas. It does indeed have the lyrics in English -- and in Latin, too. Also, an article about the life of Verdi and about the piece itself. I've been listening to it quite a lot these past couple of weeks.
I don't really know what to start writing to you about. I haven't started classes yet for the new semester, and I don't think you have, either. I have been spending my time as usual, reading and working on the computer.
I suppose I could tell you one thing. It is a story I knew when you were down here, but didn't happen to bring it up. You do remember that I said B. didn't seem all there upstairs? It probably sounded pretty cruel, but I think it is true. S. reached the same conclusion independently. She told me one story, about when B. got her report card back from school. She had failed her English class, with a sixty-nine. She made some obscene comment, and told S. it is her lucky number, and her favorite position. S. started talking about how that must make her feel, if she failed with her lucky number, and whether it can really be counted as "lucky" under the circumstances, and all that. Completely left B. behind. After a few minutes, S. stopped talking, and B. muttered something about how, "it is a great position, though."
That was S.'s example of how B. is not all there upstairs. Like me, I think she thinks B. melted away her short term memory with pot. S. kind of acts like it sometimes, too. I was over at S.'s house the other day, talking about religion and watching television, and she was scraping her parent's water pipe for ashes, to smoke in her own pipe. She advised me not to even try marijuana, because I'd end up like that. She said she doesn't even get high very much anymore, she just needs the THC. I have read there is no such thing as a physical addiction to marijuana, but she thinks differently. She thinks she is physically addicted to it.
I think kids' lives today are very much about waiting. They wait for school to get out. On vacation, they wait for school to get back in. They wait to drive, and to drink, and to graduate, and I think they use the drugs just to stop waiting, to escape from time. I can understand the feeling, of not belonging to the world. "In the world, but not of the world." To them, though, I think it all seems purposeless. S. tells me she wants to "feast on the pleasures of life." She used the same phrase more than once, and that tends to be a sure sign of self-programming. I pointed out to her how very empty that is, without a transcendent purpose. She said I shouldn't think about that, and just get high.
I am fortunate enough to have spent time with religion and philosophy, and I have the sense to look for the real purpose, rather than distract myself with fake purposes invented just to give myself something to do. To an extent, I'm afraid to tell that to the kids, because I know it makes this life less "pleasurable," but in another way I want to, since this life isn't pleasure at all.
That brings me to what I really mean to write about. I have been thinking about our conversations while you were down here, about solitude. It has me very disturbed. You know I consider solitude something valuable, but you also know I understand the dangers. Not all of us have the will of an Anthony of the Desert. Most of us need the support of those who care for us.
I'm going to try to make sense here, and cover a lot of ground, and I know I will be saying a lot of things that you already know. I'm just trying to be thorough, for myself as much as anything else. I'm going to try to cover the whole concept of solitude in this letter.
Solitude is at the center of the Christian faith, but not solitude for the sake of solitude. We do not choose to make ourselves exiles; we are exiles because we choose to follow Christ. The solitude only reaches its fulfillment in the Body of Christ, the Church.
i. The need for solitude
The ancient Romans disdained and despised the Christians for their "anti-social" behavior. To our ears, we think of criminals, of people wrapped up in themselves, seeking only their own pleasure. We think of deviants, nihilists. The early Christians were none of these.
Christians were not criminals. They followed just laws. It is only when the law contradicts the Law -- that is, the will of God -- that a Christian is compelled to refuse it. In the days of the early Church, this meant that the Christians refused to offer sacrifice to the gods, refused to attend obscene plays or bloody gladitorial games, and refused the immorality and sexual promiscuity of their fellow citizens. The Christians were not persecuted for being more criminal, but less criminal. The Romans saw signs of anti-social behavior in withdrawal from evil forms of behavior, sharing one's wealth with the poor, caring more for eternal life than temporal life, and especially for the willingness to die for what they believed in. (Some things never change.) The Christians were not "anti-social" in the sense of being misanthropic. There is nothing "anti-social" in communal living, or in giving to the poor. What they were, rather, was opposed to the society in which they lived, not society as a concept.
Today, we have many of the same social evils, and again Christians begin to seem "anti-social", in the sense of being opposed to our society. This opposition to society, though, is not unique of Christians. Indeed, it is nearly universal, in Christians and followers of other religions, and even in those of no faith. Noting the disease is only one step. Christians are the only ones with the Physician Who can heal us.
More than the evil in our world, many people note the pointlessness of it. They know the need for something higher, but do not see what is there. These turn to alcohol, drugs, sex. These things help them to forget, and at the root of these is the loss of the self. When you are watching a film and suddenly are surprised to remember yourself sitting in a theater; when you go dancing, and forget yourself. No one action here is evil; what is evil is the loss of self. Whether you lose yourself in dance or in drugs, in sex or in conversation, when you lose yourself you endanger your very soul. The Christian does not empty himself to empty himself; he empties himself to open himself up to Christ. As Jesus said [Luke 11:24-26]:
The Lord was speaking particularly about incomplete exorcisms, but also demonstrates the dangers of an empty "house".When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it wanders through arid wastes searching for a resting place; failing to find one, it says, "I will go back to where I came from." It then returns, to find the house swept and tidied. Next it goes out and returns with seven other spirits far worse than itself, who enter in and dwell there. The result is that the last state of the man is worse than the first.
This multilateral attempt to escape the world does show us one thing, though. No matter what the faith, it is universally agreed that we live in a world of pain. For a "good time", to "feel good", people seek to "lose themselves", "forget themselves". If you have forgotten yourself, or lost yourself, if you are no longer self-aware, who is feeling good? Truly, for those who do not have God, there can be no pleasure, and they seek relief from their pain through forgetting themselves in what they see as pleasures, but that are obviously only fleeting things.
There are those, too, who do not seek to "forget" or "lose" themselves in the despair of the hedonists, but to "subvert" themselves, to give themselves over entirely to something. The agony of being unable to make the world perfect, for example, drives people to forget their individual humanity and turn to politics that denies the individual, either in theory -- like Marxism, or indeed any materialist philosophy -- or in practice -- such as terrorism. Each denies the individual to try to effect change as an unindividuated mass. They despair of finding the true good of justice, which cannot be found outside of God, and their desire for good leads them to evil means. Others, despairing of finding the good of beauty, which only exists in its perfect state in God, set themselves above morality in their practice of art, either in attempts to create beauty whatever the cost to the soul -- to creator and viewer --, or in their attempts to despise beauty as something that cannot be had. Still others, despairing of finding spiritual truth, turn to the denial of the individual -- as the Pantheists and Panentheists -- or simply the denial of the soul -- as the atheists; Satanists; Buddhists; and, in practice, many self-proclaimed agnostics. They cannot escape the pain, so they seek to deny its reality or its control over them. This is like denying that one is sick, rather than going to the Physician Who could cure you.
These are the two main purposes of teaching Christian individualism: not to be conformed to an evil world [cf. Romans 12:2], and not to allow oneself to deny one's responsibility as an individual. Be in the world, but not of the world [cf. John 17:16, 18]. Both clauses must be carefully adhered to.
ii. Dangers of individualism.
It is not enough, though, to separate oneself if by separation one exalts oneself. We separate not to be self-absorbed, but to be servants [cf. John 13:14-15] -- and how can one be a servant when one is alone? Cloistered monks and nuns are not alone, the hermits in the desert were not alone, because they had constantly with them the communion of saints, and they had God. As you will read in Saint Augustine's Confessions [Book 5, Chapter 2]:
There are two ways to be individuated. One may be individual, or one may be insular. It is good to recognize one's individuality, both in the gifts one has been given, and in the responsibilities [cf. Luke 19:11-27]. It is not good, however, to be insular, to be self-absorbed.But where was I when I looked for you? You were there before my eyes, but I had deserted even my own self. I could not find myself, much less find you.
So, in individuation, there appears to be two dangers -- viz., exalting oneself above others or caring about oneself and forgetting others -- but they are both the same danger, the danger of believing the self to have intrinsic value.
All individuals, all human beings, have value. They do not have intrinsic value. Jesus did not say the most important rule was "love your neighbor as yourself" [cf. Matthew 22:39]. Not at all. He said this was "like" the most important commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind" [Matthew 22:37; cf. Deuteronomy 6:5]. As Christians, we do not love our neighbor because he has intrinsic merit. We love him because God loves him, and because he is in the image of He who made him. Every human has value as an individual, because God so wills it.
iii. The sign of the Cross.
Every Catholic prayer begins and ends with the sign of the Cross. Every Catholic Church has a crucifix prominently displayed, as is the case in most Catholic homes. Every rosary has a crucifix, on which the whole sequence begins.
There are many reasons for this. Historically, of course, it reminds us of the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord, the very center of our faith. "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again" [Memorial Acclamation]. It reminds us of the sacrifice of Christ and the martyrs and saints and all who have suffered and striven for Christ and His Church. Apart from that, though, the Cross demonstrates the whole Christian cosmology. The Cross is a picture of our universe.
Christ told all His followers to take up their crosses and follow Him [cf. Mark 9:34]. This speaks of accepting suffering and of not fearing death. It also explains the place of the Christian in the cosmos. I speak mystically here.
Every Christian is on their cross. In a manner of speaking, every Christian is a cross. Alone, we face God. When we lift up our eyes to heaven, we stand before God alone. The upright of the Cross typifies this. It stretches from heaven down to us. We are painfully supported on it, but it saves us from falling into Hell. Christ had to ascend His Cross alone, and so do we. On the vertical, we are alone.
There is another bar, though. Stretch out your arms, as did Christ, for every Christian's cross has also a crossbar. This is the world, the people around you, who suffer with you. Christ stretched out His arms, and embraced the world. We must come to His Cross, but when we do there is space sufficient for us. It is the same way with the Christian. We do not suffer alone, and we shouldn't think as if we do. We are not the most important things in the universe. God is. Our personal cross is not a stake around which the world revolves, but a junction at which our souls -- through God's grace -- struggle up, while we are bound to the joys and the sufferings of our fellows.
As Christians, we live in two worlds. It is fitting that we make the Cross the center of our lives.
iv. The dangers of isolation.
But you don't need to hear all this mysticism, and neither do I write to tell it to you. As I stated, all this writing is precipitated by your statements and our conversations on your intention to seek solitude. Solitude -- the solitude I spoke of as harboring wisdom -- is the knowledge of the self as individual. I have spoken already on how too much or too little focus on the individuality of a person can be dangerous. It still remains to be said how one goes about it. Before speaking of that, I will note some dangers inherent in the process, dangers less of over-individuation than of solitude.
The first question, though, is: How much solitude can you expect? If you could separate yourself from the evils of the world and live alone or with others striving for perfection, then you would have an advantage. I doubt, though, that you could. For the first, you have to deal with a great many people simply because of your position in life. In my life, in my field of study, if I so chose I could, without seeming rude, exchange no more than a dozen or so words -- if that -- in a day. Were you to try this secular solitude, you would have working against you, first, the fact that so many of your friends expect so much sociability from you, and second, that you are in a fundamentally extroverted career field. You are forced to deal with people, and, at this point, not permitted too much control over who your work with. (This, of course, is not so for friends outside of school, for whom you should only take those who will do you good. Do not accept friendships indiscriminately because you feel they cannot harm you -- you know they can -- nor because you feel you can pull people up. When God tells you it is time, it will be time. Before that, why imperil both your souls?)
The second thing working against you in this secular solitude is your naturally extroverted personality. You attract people to you, and you like to interact with people. Of course, it would do you good to balance that, cut back on time spent "relaxing" or just "hanging out" with people, and devote time to study and prayer. It would be a great strain for you, though, to try to cut all that out entirely, and then you risk relapse and guilt feelings.
What seems to me the most important consideration, though, is that you seem to me to perceive a need for human interaction. If you cut off interaction with those who have been important to you, if you make an effort to cut yourself off from others, you will create a vacuum in your feelings. Into that will come psychic leeches. You have seen yourself how you attract users and unscrupulous people. Manipulators. You are a very open person, and a very likable one. As such, you attract people like that. Cutting yourself off from those who are good for you will merely increase the vacuum, and make you more prey for that type.
Both for active reasons and defensive ones, you need to carefully select your friends and associates, but not cut them out completely.
But, presuming you could isolate yourself completely for a while, going into the wilderness like Moses or Christ. If you go into the wilderness with friends, it will do you no good, and probably harm. If you can manage to go alone, perhaps something more may come of it.
Saint Anthony of the Desert said: "Anyone who lives in solitude and quiet is saved from three kinds of warfare -- against hearing, talking, and seeing. All he still has to fight against is his heart" [Golden Legend, chapter 21]. The battle against the heart is the hardest. No one pretends Anthony had an easy time in the desert. The other distractions cause one to forget the battle, and dissipate energies that could be used for fighting. Friends and entertainments make us waste time, and care about trivial things, and make us think of immoralities we naturally would not be tempted by. Whether in city or country, though, one's heart is the chief accuser. If you separate yourself in the hopes of having no battles, read what Christ said at Luke 11:24-26, as I quoted above. If you hope to have time to think about yourself, or your own pleasures, or to give in to the demons, you will do yourself more harm than good. Only if you go out consciously and with planning to fight yourself will you stand to gain.
vi. Finding self and finding God.
So, then, what is to be done? Individuation is for two reasons: to find yourself, and to find God. As Saint Augustine advises [On the True Religion 39.72]:
It is good to understand the self. If you do not, how can you defeat her? But that is not enough. That will lead to self-absorption. In place of Augustine's "if" I would place a "when". And what happens then? Augustine tells that, too. You can read that yourself; it is in book seven, chapter ten of his Confessions:Go back into yourself; the truth dwells in the inner man; and if you discover that your nature is mutable, transcend yourself also.
"Charity", of course, means love. The pure, Christian love, from the Latin /caritas/, not the carnal, physical love.Under your guidance I entered the depths of my soul, and this I was able to do because your aid befriended me. I entered, and with the eye of my soul, such as it was, I saw the Light that never changes casting its rays over the same eye of my soul, over my mind. It was not the common light of day that is seen by the eye of every living thing of flesh and blood, nor was it some more spacious light of the same sort, as if the light of day were to shine far, far brighter than it does and fill all space with a vast brilliance. What I saw was something quite, quite different from any light we know on earth. It shone above my mind, but not in the way that oil floats above water or the sky hangs over the earth. It was above me because it was itself the Light that made me, and I was below because I was made by it. All who know the truth know this Light, and all who know this Light know eternity. It is the Light that charity knows.
I'm afraid I have lapsed into mysticism again, and told you less what you should try to do than what you should hope to achieve, but words will no doubt fail me. What should be done is so simple, but sounds so hard: Learn the self, and love God. Study is important, but learning is useless if you don't have wisdom, and that wisdom comes from studying the self, and studying God.
You will have to find time for that study, but I know you can find it if you choose to. Not all your time will be able to be spent in introspection, and neither should it. No time should be wasted, though. When you study yourself, study yourself for God. When you work for school, work for God. When you eat, eat for God, and when you sleep, sleep for God. Nothing is yours, and Christian solitude is less about taking time for oneself, than taking responsibility for oneself.
And, above all, pray. You have said that you sometimes pray before bed and before meals, and that is good. Pray often, and keep a rapport with God. Repeating the words is good, and having a conversation is good -- attending Church would be very good --, but the most important thing is to be aware you are praying for God.
Paul said to pray without ceasing [First Thessalonians 5:17]. This doesn't need to mean repeating the same formula prayer, although that can be good, too. Rather, it means like I said above, making everything you do for God. Make it all a prayer. It also helps to repeat a short prayer, such as the one associated with the Purgatory of Saint Patrick -- Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner -- or, as some do, simply repeating the name "Jesus" constantly. My own favorite prayer comes straight from Scripture, Luke 22:42: "Not my will, but Thine be done."
In the most cold way, constant prayer conditions the mind to think about God. Its effectiveness is not doubted, and though it must be worked on like any other skill, it is one well worth the effort.
Remember Christ's words, when He described the place of the Christian in the world [John 17:14-19]:
I gave them your word
and the world has hated them for it;
they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask you to take them out of the world,
but to guard them from the evil one.
They are not of the world,
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them by means of truth --
'Your word is truth.'
As you have sent me into the world,
so I have sent them into the world;
I consecrate myself for their sakes now,
that they may be consecrated in truth.
Now I expect I have bored you enough with those theological ramblings. Before I quit them, though, when I was reading up on Saint Augustine and working on this letter I came across a passage from Pope John Paul II's letter on Saint Augustine, about the latter's opinion on beauty.
God is, of course, the ultimate attractive. All beauty comes from Him, for He is all beauty. I have been toying with studying theology, and if I ever do, I have been telling people I would like to write my thesis on the morality of art.It is not only the beauty of bodies, which could make one forget the beauty of the spirit, nor only the beauty of art, but the interior beauty of virtue and especially the eternal beauty of God, from which is derived the beauties of bodies, of art and of virtue. Augustine calls God "the beauty of all beauties," "in whom and from whom and through whom exist as good and beautiful everything that is good and beautiful."
But I promised I would lay off the theology for a moment, and so I do. It has been a long time since I started this letter, so I can talk about more recent things, now. This letter has been slowly developing for an amazing amount of time, and now today I received your letter of the twentieth, which has finally shamed me into finishing, in one last, late night push.
For one thing, I have by now started classes. They look pretty good, if I can keep up with the reading. I won't have much writing or test taking ahead of me, but I will have to read hundreds of pages. I have been in class maybe two weeks, and I have already read three Platonic dialogues, one novel, one essay, two prefaces, two chapters in my French grammar, and some selections from my French reader, and I haven't even begun work on one of my classes. I did begin trying to change majors, finally, though. I went to one office, and spoke to a counselor, and he gave me two more offices to go to next.
Other than school and the odd book I manage to read for fun, I haven't been up to a whole lot. Arguing theology on the local BBSs, hanging out with B., S., and their friends, not really anything exciting. Did I mention Hagbard is in my French class, and that Harlequin called me once? M. called me twice, too. But I think I told you that on the phone.
Tuesday the release party for the new Analecta literary magazine will happen. I still have not heard back from them abut the thing I submitted this semester, so it is not impossible they published it. I am not getting my hopes up, though. Marie is of the opinion I could get stuff published. I am of the opinion that may be wishful thinking. Time will tell.
But anyway, this letter has now run very long, and I have likely used up too much of your time, anyway. I hope to hear from you soon, and I still miss you.
He and She strolled through the Garden of Paradise holding hands. They were utterly ecstatic and happy. Each moment was pure joy.
A lion came into their presence. She stroked its luscious fur, delighting in the vibrations of its purr. He got upon it and rode, while She led the way.
They reached a bower of flowers by a stream where the birds sang beautiful symphonic masterpieces. They lay upon the grass in the warm sun and gave one another pleasure all the day long. For dinner, they had delicious mushrooms and fruits which they picked right off the trees. Because it was temperate, they had no need for shelter or clothes. Because their minds were one, they had no need for language to communicate.
This was all made possible by the Maker. They were utterly grateful to the Maker for giving them so much joy and awe. Everything was so perfect and beautiful. The Maker saw to it that they had all they needed. The Maker created them because the Maker was so delighted in their happiness.
However, the Maker imprinted into their minds that they were not to eat of a particular fruit from a particular tree. This was the only rule, the only limitation in a realm that was otherwise free. The Maker stressed that should they eat this fruit, they would become very unhappy with the knowledge it brought.
One day they were taking a walk and saw this particular tree. The leaves were oddly shaped, like five-pointed stars, and the fruit which grew from its flowers had a peculiar multichromatic glow to them. The fruits were shaped like oblong hexagons and gave off a rather attractive odor.
She walked towards the Tree, pulling He along. She pointed to the fruit, and they delighted in the beauty, for they had never seen anything quite like it. On an impulse, She grabbed the fruit, while He held She back, gesturing frantically upwards, their sign for the Maker. Then She kissed He, darting her tongue within his mouth. Covertly, She had bitten of the fruit, then inserted it within He's mouth.
How utterly sweet this fruit tasted! They had never tasted anything so delicious in their existence. A wondrous tingling went through their bodies, and they felt as if in permanent orgasm. They ate more and more of the fruit, it was irresistible.
Their heads became larger and their vision became more acute. Suddenly they knew things they did not know before. They became curious about the Maker and wondered if there even was a Maker. They wondered where they came from.
They made sounds with their mouths and discovered they could speak their thoughts to one another which was much quicker than gesturing. They were able to name things with these sounds and this gave them further power to pick out more details. Whereas before they saw the world as one whole, now they were able to see the world as consisting of many different pieces. And they wondered how all the pieces went together.
Suddenly She said: "I am naked! I need to cover my body with something. If we cover our bodies, this would distinguish us from the other creatures here."
He said: "You are right. We are certainly superior to these other creatures. And you know what? I think I should wear different coverings from you, because I have this rod between my legs and you don't. That makes us different from one another. Perhaps the Maker intended me to be superior to you."
She said: "Maybe it is not right for us to come into union so much. Perhaps the Maker intends this to be a special act and we must have special rituals for it."
"This is very strange," said He. "Before we had no sense that one action was right and another action was wrong, but now this fruit has enlightened us. Now we know better, don't we?"
And suddenly they saw the other creatures in the garden as their enemies rather than their friends. He discovered that by picking up a rock, he could made them still. And thus they discovered Death.
"This is horrible!" said She. "If these mere animals can become still, never to arise again, perhaps this is what is going to happen to us! Perhaps we should appease the Maker!"
"Yes," said He. "I have an idea. I will kill more of these animals and then the Maker will see how superior we are and make a special place for us after we become still." And He discovered better ways to kill the animals, which in turn, became afraid of them and ferocious towards them.
"Our life is so short!" said She. "We had better have rules about what is right and what is wrong in order to appease the Maker so we'll have a place in Paradise in the afterlife."
"Yes," said He, "but they better be my rules, because I am taller than you and have this rod between my legs, which obviously makes me as superior to you as we are to the animals."
"I do not agree," said She. "Can you not see I have the power of life and can bear babies?"
"Yes," said He, "but I have the power to plant the seeds for those babies and have the power to take you as I please!"
"You bastard!" said She, as He raped her then and there.
And they bore others of their kind and spread across the face of the planet. They killed one another because of differing ideas of what was right and what was wrong. They destroyed the very world which sustains them. And they lived in constant fear of Insecurity and Death.
And thus He and She had partaken of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And this Knowledge brought them much pain, just as the Maker tried to tell them. Although they were in Paradise all along, they ceased to believe this and began to think it was somewhere in the future, a future they would never find as long as they were addicted to this Fruit.
Ironic, isn't it?
It is rather disturbing how rapidly one can go from the intellectual state of knowledge, savoir, "Humans are worthless and should not be deceived into believing otherwise," to a very personal, very immediate (unmediated), visceral state of knowledge, connaitre, gnosis, "I am worthless and cannot be deceived into believing otherwise." Even without a real desperation, but simply a pure, crystallized knowledge. Sometimes, one comes to the belief, the faith, and the only answer to the wise man's question, "What is truth?" is simply, "There is no truth." I know, as my religion says, that there is a Truth, and that this truth is the Torah Sophia Logos, but it is sometimes hard to know this with one's mind and soul simultaneously. I cannot die, as tempting as that may be, because I have not done what I am supposed to do. God will not let me off that easily. There is the desire, though, to make one's truth when the truth runs out. The desire to fall into someone's arms, to rape, or to torture, to take the validation of self if one cannot get it any other way. This is damned to be an empty victory, though. If you rape someone, they will accept that you exist, in a manner of speaking, but how do you know they do? How do you know they accept your existence? What does it matter that they realize your existence?
"What does it matter?"
That is a more painful question even then, "What is truth?" Truth is fleeting. We can make our own truth, and we can make our own meaning, like the Existentialists teach, but we cannot make ourselves true, and so from where can our artificial truth inherit validity?
If God does not exist, there can be no truth. If God does not exist, man would have had to invent Him to keep sane, to keep moving so one does not die of exposure on this bridge of life. We have to have a reason, however futile, to just keep putting one foot doggedly in front of another. There is a very good reason to create a God; there is no good reason to disbelieve.
Once one realizes there is no truth on the horizontal, no truth that can be found, proven, known by the mind or by the body, one is left with only three choices. One can die, cease to exist, simply lose any faith in oneself, go mad, somehow resign from the game of life. One can hypocritically turn away from the questions of reality, and pretend one has never seen it, like one does to beggars on the streets or disturbing commercials on television about starving children. One can, lastly, pursue truth on the vertical, turning to Torah Sophia Logos.
Option one is useless. If there is something of value, the first is a simply reneging of the obligation to find it. It does not even stand up to what little logic and experience we can con ourselves into believing.
Option two is tempting. Satan tempted Christ as Jesus with it in the wilderness. Turn away from God and take material goods. Turn away from God and take earthly power. Turn away from God, and force Him to accept you anyway. This is the path most seem to take. It is a poison, and will eat one up inside. Separate the subtle from the gross, but only to purify and recombine them.
Option three is all that is left. If we ignore the fact that logic cannot prove anything, we must choose the vertical Truth, the Cross.
I try, but it is hard. There are few answers forthcoming, and I am left emotionally prostrate, gibbering like an idiot any time I think I find someone who might have a clue, who might understand me, who might have insight into a piece of the puzzle I missed. All I can do is study the Fathers and cry "maranatha" with every fiber of my being.
I wish for the end, not just of me, but of everything. Only then, I feel, will I understand. Heaven would be the reintegration of all, and the dissolution of all.
And the rest is silence.
This is: Yod Heh Vau Heh.
This is truth: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. The story of the universe is the story of the death of a girl. Every woman is a perpetual virgin, Joe, if only you had the eyes to see.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered, died and was buried. On the third day He rose again, in fulfillment of the Scriptures. He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
I do not, however, understand it all. Faith does not mean understanding, for if we had proof, what need would there be of faith?
There is an old Sufi parable, that goes something like this. Once upon a time, there was a wise Sufi. He lived out in the desert, by himself, but over time he got a reputation for wisdom. Finally, one individual went to listen to this Sufi. After a while, he said, "You have a real reputation for wisdom, and having sat here and listened to you, I see that it is justified. Why don't you return to the city and teach, and help other people to see some of the wisdom you have." The Sufi replied: "I do not because I want to be a teacher. Someday, I will no longer want to be a teacher, and then I can choose to be a teacher."
I am afraid I want to be a teacher, or a writer, or a priest, or something. I want the recognition, and the people to look upon me as someone who knows something. Only when I can overcome that pride, I suppose, will I be able to see what I am supposed to do, apart from what I simply want to do.
In any case, I don't have much to add to what I have said today. This has been a quite unusual day, in relation to the diary. In any case, other than that I continued reading the Psalms of Solomon, and some stuff on the computer, and did a lot of thinking and walking in the biting wind, wondering where I am, where I am going, why I dream of girls in buildings that do not even exist, whether my desire to be with girls -- even the emotional, aside from the sexual, drive; if I can so separate them -- is from God or from me or from Satan.
In any case, I really have no more to say.
I was delighted at a recent issue of Time magazine, which presented an article illuminating the newest discoveries in the biological construction of the human brain. I can use this to partially unite my two previous pieces "The All-American Brain" (#32) and "Digging Toward the Roots" (#33).
I presented a model of the brain based on a static network of neurons, which expressed learning by the adjustment of connection strengths between axons and dendrites. The article in Time, however, reveals that scientists have recently discovered that this network is not static at all. Indeed, in the early ages, dendrites and formed and connected en masse -- but only those most used live, while others atrophy. Rather than simply providing a static network of varying connection strengths, the human brain also completely severs connections, thereby filtering out useless information. (The relationship between ELEPHANTS and GASOLINE is nil, so let's throw it out. (Of course, each of us now has a tenuous connection between those two concepts in our minds. Ha ha! Mindfuck!))
While this gradual weeding-out seems to threaten to lock the youngster's mind in dogmatic stasis, a regrowth of dendrites occurs around age ten. Consider -- the brain is created with infinite possibility (early after conception; when born, excepting structural defects caused by trauma or malnutrition, most babies' brains have infinite human possibility), and for ten years, the structure of reality as dictated through culture and language is imprinted on it. Then, the chaff is sown, and what remains is a relatively clear conception of whatever the brain has happened to learn. The regrowth of new connections then allows this structure to be supplemented with details aiding it in life. This explains the difficulty of learning language after age ten: the mind's concept of language, at least in America, centers around only one.
Obviously, the brain is not in stasis here, either. The new array of neural interconnections is constantly tweaked to account for new knowledge, although in the context of its first ten years of learning. Around age eighteen atrophy of unused connections again occurs. The article said nothing about further atrophy, however.
Consider the implications of this. This brings to light important philosophical questions about the nature of knowledge. Believing, as I do, that gnosis or enlightenment or satori or illumination are all the realization of reality beyond the brain's interpretation of reality, we can see why there has not yet emerged one clear way to reach this realization. The essentially static structure of neurons in the brain of an adult prevents many philosophies from even making sense; the Western and Eastern mindsets can be seen as antipodes of a continuum of means for structuring reality.
I do not claim that it is impossible for someone to shift mindsets; however, it is much more difficult for a Western technological wizard to learn the essence of the Tao than it is for him to master the operation of a new electronic device. Techniques of brainwashing, meditation, psychoactive drug use, magick, and Tantric ritual are all means of performing radical shifts in neural circuitry.
Brainwashing and psychoactive drug use are dangerous, however. Brainwashing involves intense psychological torture, far outweighing the benefits of forgetting unpopular beliefs. Psychoactive drug use is not as much dangerous as unpredictable. In amplifying neural connections, it allows us to see how we think -- revealing repressed patterns of thought, demonstrating the hidden relationships we perceive between things, which may be innocuous or shocking -- and this can be frightening and disorienting to the casual user. Of course, the opposite reaction may occur -- we may realize that we know exactly what we believe (not necessarily a truism) -- and propel us into the realms of ecstasy and gnosis right out of the remaining weak ties that bind us. In any case, the possibilities of psychoactive drug use are to be studied and understood before use; the simplicity of dropping acid points toward the tendency not to study it up, leading toward the former "bad trips." This is why meditation, achieving the same results in the end, is attempted and mastered by so few.
Future systems of rebellious philosophy (freedom from, not freedom to) must understand the neural structure of the mind and its capacity for change. We have long since passed the age of considering members of a culture to be cookie cutouts in a rigid typology, but we must now enter the age of ultimate relativism -- that while other cultures have different interpretations of reality, so does every person within a culture. The deepest sense of this relativism is in the random construction of knowledge through the brain's ever-changing neural connections. If someone wants to liberate his mind, then he must be TOLD what is keeping it back. In some degree, an understanding of the culture that has imposed these restrictions can liberate the mind a great deal, but the rest can only be known personally. And this is the structure of reality encoded in his brain, which for the average adult has been strongly reinforced out twice in his life.
Nothing can be learned without a quality of understanding existing between student and teacher. This involves a similarity of mind between the two, allowing ideas to pass freely from one to the other. Finding a person with such a similarity may be a learning experience in itself. Trying to teach oneself can be treacherous if the seeker of knowledge and the interpreter of knowledge don't think alike.
In learning philosophy, abstractions are the basis, and every mind inculcated in a human culture understands abstractions and is built upon them. For this reason, one is said to only learn what one knows. Even in learning specifics, any school of thought builds upon abstractions one already knows.
But for those of us blindered by the monotonous culture that has structured our brains, we must be introduced to the very structures we cannot see as they are so integrated in our every thought. It is this lack of self-understanding that makes many human lives seem so futile, struggling to thrive without any idea how to do so. The elucidation of the ways in which we think can only be achieved by (1) learning how we think in the first place (patterns of thought, construction of knowledge), (2) interpreting our own minds in these terms, and (3) discarding barriers to free living -- or forgetting. To learn is to forget.
To learn is to forget. That very sentence may help someone toward achieving his goal, but for a more general approach I present:
Algorithm v0.1b for achieving illumination.
1) Have a reason for becoming illuminated. Concerns about humanity, one's own destiny, the nature of reality, the import of the discoveries of science, the implications of technology, the soul-stretching adventures of romantic love, history, millennialism, and paranoia are all good reasons.
2) Learn as much about your brain as possible. First and foremost, study psychology and sociology, politics and religion, history and psychic predictions -- whatever is appropriate, whatever you feel you know least about -- and compare your own beliefs to theories of how you attained them. Through this you will be able to find and eliminate your prejudices.
3) Find a philosophical or religious or athletic or sexual system that suits your tastes. If you have eliminated your prejudices, then your tastes represent hints of deeper truths. Through the system, you can get to the basis of these truths. Devote yourself to the system and become one with it. You may choose a system absolutely appalling to your tastes as well; be warned that this makes learning that much harder, but the learning is that much more fruitful as well. Becoming one with the system will allow you to forget your ego, the concerns of which cause the majority of human suffering.
4) If your system is rigorous enough, you will have a brand-new tried-and-true means of interpreting reality. Do not be surprised if the world seems to be mere details cloaking deeper abstractions. With this mindset, you will be able to interpret and categorize systems you never considered thinking about before. Having picked a system that most meshes with your beliefs, you will now be free to discard that system and head toward different concerns. From here, go to step (1).
5) If you got here, then you are illuminated. You broke free from an infinite loop, or merely didn't read closely enough. Life and death are the same; language is a silly code to be used and abused; motion, physical matter, and time are but perspectives on reality; and you can stop living to learn and can learn to live.
(Or, to repeat it simply: LEARN HOW TO FORGET.)
Have you ever worshiped from afar? Slipped back into the corner of a room and watch beauty glide softly across the other side. No direct interaction, no unbelievably idiotic pick-up lines putting in the class of Those kind of people. Just a following of your eyes that was unconsciously drawn to a person who just casually walked in. Not too take in the size of breasts or the tightness of an ass, but to admire the entire beauty as a whole, including the spirit and mind, sensed but not known.
The eyes grasp you first, tear breath from your lungs, forcing you to consciously remember how to breather. You get captured and entranced in their mystifying world, dancing in the world of the soul, realizing the old saying of the eyes being the windows to the soul is incredibly accurate.
A smooth, soft, caring face with no makeup to mask the natural beauty, as it should be. A smile to someone or about something and your left with that cloud-like feeling - propels you towards Olympus understanding how the Gods may feel. And she walks, flows across the room, casts her aura of purity, kindness, and eroticism about her. It is hard to convince others these occurrences are not merely lustful occasions. You understand there is something above that, something above the physical that beckons your spirit towards hers.
You make brief eye contact once - the most amazing event of all - and lives, prisons, loves and pains are all transferred in an instant. She knows you and you know her for that one moment and you are bathed completely in her beauty, cleansed in a sense.
I don't think people understand me when I say that I've written most of my stories on the computer. "Well, sure," they think they agree, "you use a word processor, right?" NO! No, not at all. I might as well explain.
Ever since January 1996, I've given up fiction writing. I hate fiction. Fiction is boring, drab, lame. The best use of fiction to me is to waste time and lie to yourself. Fiction is low art. But, the stories I've written on the computer, they are high art. A totally new form.
What I did during 1995 during part of a dry spell was to write a program that could generate stories. It's fairly easy, you know. First of all, I entered in the basic plotlines I like to use. Effectively, there are only two. You figure them out. From there, I entered in the patterns representing the paragraph sequences and sentence structures I use most. Such as, a lot of sentences beginning with appositives, and overuse of 'then' and 'suddenly' and 'well'. After that, I entered in a simple formal English grammar, and entered all the mosts I'm most likely to use.
Operation of the program is easy. I select a plot, name the characters, and let the program work. But, it's a little more complex than that. It always works by selecting random scenes and times, starting off 'at the beginning' and working forward from there. All the stories it generates are linear in time. Only occasionally have I manually switched the order of paragraphs to use flashback.
I admit, the program is a little buggy. It tends to produce stories that start out with tons of exposition and then degenerate into conversation. That damned program loves conversation. It's so easy. It doesn't have to make sense at all, and can ramble, and can also repeat the same things over and over again. Also, the stories end much too abruptly. Something about a critical overdamping I need to study up on. Well, such is 'my style.'
I also apologize for anyone who really thought I was purposefully writing a series of interrelated stories. Apparently my program generated several stories about a loser named 'Ethan' and a couple with a fag named 'Jeremy'. All I can say is, whoops! More repetitious redundancy I should have detected. I also should apologize to Kilgore for letting the program write 100k stories. I certainly wouldn't want to read them.
"But I thought you really came up with these stories and wrote them!"
No, I didn't. I hate writing. Articles are my only love. It was fun to write the program that wrote the fiction though. It likes to use fractals. Oooh, fractals! I've got to write an article about those sometime, I think.
"But you have to admit, the stories sound a lot like your life!"
Yes, I agree. It's because I entered in some events from my life. But the details are lies. Too many of the stories center around suicide and homosexuality. I guess I should have entered some other themes like "happiness" and "science fiction" and "Irish-loving bastardry." In reality most of my waking thoughts center around making money fast.
"It's fiction!" I protest. "How can you let yourself be deluded into thinking that everything I appear to write is true? It's only a myth that 'You can only write what you know.' What bullshit."
"Ah, fiction! It's just lies?"
"Lies, yes, fiction is lies!"
"Lies, lies, lies," it said.
"Lies." And as he watched, a graceful bird dropped dead in flight and spiraled to the ground.
"A computer program, eh? Doesn't it only write what it knows about, like Forrest Gump?"
Ethan knew better. He just laughed and laughed and laughed, and then suddenly walked away toward Juncture without saying a word.
"The poets? They stink. They write badly. They're idiots you see, because the strong people don't write poetry.... They become hitmen for the Mafia. The good people do the serious jobs."
Open ceiling closed up black sparkled by white candles of lightyears and unreachable birthday cakes. Feet fall asleep under open ceiling, white socks blanket bomb ant and bedbug lairs. Grey carpet turned teal eel in turn carpet bomb the feet alternatively oxymoronic. Culturally illiterate broad minded broad shouldered Jane Eyre Jordan in socks of pounding death sit in silence contemplating less than simple parts of mechanical failure of Society. It's a shame when the parts fit but the machine doesn't work. Dressed in dreams and white socks contemplating unions of states of minds of eyes and no's. Ears hear her, eyes see her, mouth breathes her, skin feels her, nose turned up in distasteful scrutiny mutiny of apartment compartment complexity. Bed bugs don't mind her, why should she? Witty Aphrodite, bedroom sparkling around her in white candles of lightyears. Scintillating, manipulating, contemplating all the contemplations of the past and Rimbaud in reversal of gender role. Pulling her closer, she firmly pushes herself off the stigmatic and social precipice and prerequisites of dressing up of blessed unions of states of minds of eyes and nays. Taboos are tattooed into her psyche and removal leaves behind scars. There's more to joining than just the physical, and even this obstacle can (and must) be overcome. Without the spiritual joining and emotional joining, she can be left clinging to threads like Burroughs reciting a cut-up. Sure it's all there in one form or another, but does it flow? Does it comprehend? Does it flower and multiply without continual religious and dogmatic pruning? Even Burroughs had to use three complete stories to pull his cut-up off. Even Monet had to attach all the dots to pull it off. Even Beethoven had to hear it all in his head before he could pull it off. She opens her heart to her and herself, exposing ribs and endoskeleton and lungs and spleen as well as heart. Sometimes the inside is messy, but without it we'd all be shallow, hollow, empty shells. pick one, two or three; one has the pearl under it, only cost ya ten dollars to play. Don't you wish live and love was that simple? As simple as a game? As simple as children? As simple as unreachable birthday cakes?
no one understood the perfume of the dark magnolia of your womb;
no one knew how you tortured a hummingbird of love between your teeth--
a thousand persian ponies lay in the moonlit plaza of your forehead while i,
for four nights, embraced your waist: enemy of the snow--
between plaster and jasmines, your glance was a pale branch of seeds;
i sought, in my heart, to give you the ivory letters that spell ALWAYS-
always, always: garden of my agony, your body elusive always
the blood of your veins in my mouth, your mouth already darkened
for my death
Silence silence silence
leaves clatter dead and not falling, no orange red yellow in inky
pillow stuffed night.
Hands arms eyes folding unfolding appearing on opposite sides of the
twisting and turn completely
circling circling circling
elm vultures cry clatter russle not dead
beat boom boom
slot machine rolling orange apple yellow
ears cocked to side
working through drudgery pulling arm ache with knee jerk sincerity
hamstrings cut by viscious fangs of underlings but deer can't bite!
Groping flash flash orange red yellow clatter of leaves not falling dead
Underlings rising over for the final kill boom boom
heart tearing out paranoia of underlings
deer with teeth but not pretty
blood on grass briefs thrown into the air
clatter clatter with dead leaves, blowing reckless without heed to deer
thoughts or boss or paranoia
It's the job that gets done, cycling circle circle circle
silence silence silence
Sitting, head down--
ever vigilant, but cravenly so.
Self-loathing, scorn ever dull
the stripped screw,
blunted by fiery chastisement.
Boot straps so low,
slick with apathy.
Driven forward blindly--
lacking justification for less or more--
Success without risk is
elevation along smooth walls.
lines ENTER, IF YOU DARE, THE TEMPLE OF YOUR INNERMOST MIND! HAVE COURAGE, FOR THE SLIGHTEST THOUGHTS WILL BECOME DEMONS WHO WILL ATTACK YOU OR ANGELS WHO WILL CARRY YOU TO THE BLISS OF HEAVEN! ABANDON YOUR PERSONA! YOUR USUAL DEFENSE MECHANISMS WILL NOT PROTECT YOU HERE! NO MASK WILL HELP YOU; IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LIE HERE! PLUNGE INTO THE VOID! FALL THROUGH INFINITY INTO ENDLESS SPACELESSNESS! BECOME LOST IN ENDLESS LABYRINTHS OF COUNTLESS DREAMS! YOUR FOOTSTEPS ECHO THROUGH A MAZE OF MIRRORS ALL REFLECTING WHO YOU ARE IN YOUR DEEPEST ESSENCE! STOP! LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF SILENCE! VERILY, THIS IS THE HOUSE OF MANY MANSIONS! READ THE EQUATIONS ON THE WALLS, SCRAWLED IN ANCIENT HIEROGLYPHICS:
MATTER IS TRANSFORMABLE INTO ENERGY... ENERGY IS TRANSFORMABLE INTO MIND... MIND IS TRANSFORMABLE INTO CONSCIOUSNESS... CONSCIOUSNESS IS TRANSFORMABLE INTO NO-THING... NO-THING IS TRANSFORMABLE INTO EVERYTHING!
THIS IS THE KEY WHICH WILL UNLOCK THE DOORS OF THE UNIVERSE! THIS IS THE THREAD WHICH WILL HELP YOU FIND YOUR WAY OUT OF THE MAZE!
GLADLY PARTICIPATE IN THE GREAT CYCLE! THIS IS THE CYCLE OF ENDLESS DESTRUCTION! THIS IS THE CYCLE OF ENDLESS CREATION!
I saw my first crazy person on the bus today
Silver hair with same anniversary
Ring of sweat streaked clothes and coffee mug
held tight in hand held baby inner vision
Santa Fe'd Bob Dylan extracted vocals
fashion now, too bad she's not young
now than where she was a minute ago
privacy by listening in to open book
my own generation to offer security to
bye, I still wonder who is mad.
The mysterious stranger was forcibly guided into the doctor's office by two strong-armed attendants in white uniforms. He was deposited (dumped might be a better word) into a huge leather arm chair in front of the desk. He had an odd steady gaze that seemed to look right through the doctor.
The doctor furtively looked at his notes about this particular case. The stranger apparently gave no name and he had no identification on him. He was found wandering in the streets by the city police doing nothing. He was arrested for loitering. Then, his extreme silence and occasional enigmatic comments made them come to the conclusion that he was mentally ill. Thus, he was transferred here.
Nevertheless, the doctor attempted: "You were found in the streets with no identification. Would you mind telling me your name?"
The stranger grinned weirdly at him and replied: "I have no name. But if it would make you feel better, you may refer to me as Agent X."
"Hmmm, Agent X, eh? And who are you an agent for?"
"I am here to transform the evolution of your species."
This one is definitely strange, thought the doctor. "And why do you want to transform our species? And what species do you represent, if I may inquire?"
"Well, let us put it this way. I am a mutant. I do not perceive the world quite like you do and my thinking processes are radically different. We are born into your world from time to time. Many of us become artists, musicians, or writers. Many of us are scientists or inventors. Not a few of us become mystics or spiritual teachers. In more primitive cultures, we may have been the shamans or witch doctors.
"The one thing that sets us apart is we have the ability to think or invent in highly original ways. Such ways are not often understood during the duration of our lifetimes. Then, ironically, we become revered after our deaths."
"Ah, you seem to be a rather intelligent man. If you are what you say you are, then why are you not doing one of these things you say you might be doing?"
"I see I can at least confide in you, even though it is obvious you are trained to perceive me and my kind as insane," said the man..
"You see, sir, there is a downside to our existence. Not a few times, we will be so original that we are regarded as heretics, then tortured or killed. Or we will be completely disregarded, a rather painful ordeal. Finally, we will be considered demon-possessed in more ancient times or insane in your own time, locked up 'for our own good'."
"I wonder, Agent X, if you could give me a demonstration of these marvelous thinking powers of yours."
"Very well, good doctor, even though I realize you will be taking avid notes towards the aim of diagnosing me in one of your mythic categories of madness. I know you have your sacred book of categories on your shelf behind you which you and your fellow doctors consider it heresy to contradict for fear of losing your rather lucrative position. Here goes:
(The unknown stranger got up and put his hand on the doctor's desk, an action which made the doctor rather uncomfortable and begin reaching for the phone to call in the attendants.)
"Do not worry, poor stressed man, I have no intentions to hurt you or put you out of your misery. My kind has transcended such primitive behavior, unlike your own...
"Do you see this object I have my hand on. What do you call this?"
(The doctor, streams of sweat coming down his face): "Why we refer to this as a desk, do we not?"
(The stranger, grinning enigmatically): "I suppose that is what your kind speaking your particular language would call it. That makes it so simple, does it not, to limit the totality of this object to just a mere 'desk'.
"But consider this, dear doctor, this supposedly complete object you call a 'desk' is so much more if you could examine it with an electron microscope. You would then perceive a vast array of writhing electrons and atomic nuclei. If you could squint further, you would perceive quarks and stranger matter than you could imagine in your wildest dreams. You would see entire universes in the microcosm. You would be unable to perceive where the desk ends and where the surrounding air and various objects on it begin."
"Agent X," the doctor interrupted impatiently. "This is fine in imagination. You simply quote the knowledge of physicists of our time. I do not see anything original about your line of thinking at all. I still say it's a desk."
"Doctor," the stranger grinned as though he'd won a grand sweepstakes. "I do not imagine this that I have told you. I see it!"
(The doctor's actual thought was, "Aww, give me a break!" as he professionally replied:) "You have quite vivid perception."
"Yes, I do. And furthermore, I see how everything is interconnected with everything else. I can see into the interior of things and perceive what we might call a Primal Substance, which mystics of Western persuasions have called 'God' and mystics of Eastern persuasions have called 'Void'."
"I believe you. But, Agent X, I do not see how you can possibly function this way. If you cannot perceive the separability of things, how can you manipulate things in a reasonable way?"
"That is the difference between you and me. I have no interest at all in what you call 'functioning', a mode which you regard as sacred as primitives worshiping their demonic totems. Do you want to know my own word for 'functioning': automatic conditioned behavior. You and your kind are basically automatons. You relate to one another in a highly automatic way and you manipulate your world in an automatic way. You rarely, if ever, have any real consciousness of what you do. You and your fellow men are sleepwalkers. To me, to 'function' is to be deep asleep. Snore away, doctor, and do your repetitious behavior.
"Tell me something, doctor, why are you in this line of work anyway?"
(The doctor was beginning to really look forward to his vacation. Maybe it's time for a sabattical to write that book about behavior modification.)
"Well, let's see, at first I wanted to figure myself out, then I chose to figure out why it is that others become what they do."
"And have you ever figured out the answers to those questions?"
"No, not really, the human mind is still quite a mystery to us. But we have faith that we can know someone with enough analysis."
"Maybe you do what you do because it is more comfortable to simply do what others around you do and imitate their thoughts and actions. Have you ever noticed how when there is an open voting in a meeting, everyone looks around at what their fellows are doing before they all raise their hands or say 'aye' together. Or people automaticlly imitate the same fashion. I have constantly been amused at observing this kind of behavior.
"Let me tell you something doctor. What you see before you is a forerunner to what the next human species will be. Mutants such as us are to you as Neanderthal man was to Australopithecus man. Initially, we were killed off, but just enough of us survived, and with greater brain power, we became the new race.
"Now, I am becoming rather bored with talking with idiots such as you. I know you will try to control me by your silly psychotherapeutic methods, but you see, you won't succeed. You will merely alter my outward appearance. However, you cannot touch my spirit, another level you are too obtuse to perceive. That will be reborn in another form. You see, we are at a stage where we can consciously affect our own evolution rather than wait for random mutations as was the procedure in the past."
"We will do all we can for you, Agent X," said the doctor as he buzzed the attendants in to take him away to his solitary room.
When he was gone, the doctor quickly grabbed his well-thumbed DSM-IV off his shelf and studied it for a few moments. On a piece of paper he wrote:
"Strong manic schizoid tendencies. Clear delusions of grandeur. Give forced doses of phenothiazines, possibly antidepressents. Behavior modification definitely indicated. Consider for shock treatments and neurosurgery if none of above work."
One of those summer nights, when the sun has gone down far enough in the sky to leave a warm, mellow air, I stopped by the Three Table bar and met Paco all over again.
"What the fuck! How's it goin', Paco?" I cried out, seeing him across the bar in a booth by himself.
"Really smooth," he said back with a grin.
"God damn!" I replied, marching over to the booth and sitting down. "Where've you been, guy?"
"Around," he said. "Right here in Bon Porte, specifically. Doing the same ol'."
"I sure as hell hope so! Wow! You want a refill on that beer?"
"Sure, what the hey."
"I'll be right back," I said.
Paco, he's the man. Most fucking awesome musician I've ever had the luck to run into. He and I went to the same college, and I found out about him when I checked in to listen to him play at the local coffee house. He had nothing more special than a twelve-string guitar and his voice, but I was hooked instantly. Imagine my surprise when I saw him play again, but this time with a synthesizer and a saxophone. Right then it would have been silly to imagine he could play anything, but not with Paco.
I started hanging out at all his shows, becoming a veritable groupie. I told my friends about him, and some of them came for a few shows, but left upon finding no consistent 'style.' Those assholes were too blind to see style right in front of their eyes! I have to admit that he was a little too free-wheeling for most people, but I totally got off in attending a show pleasantly drunk and letting his music carry me away.
Only regret I've ever had is watching him graduate two years ahead of me and not taking any steps to communicate with him. Most I did was talk to him after shows and gush and make a schoolgirlish ass of myself, but he didn't mind in the slightest, and I knew that all along.
I came back from the bar with two beers, totally ignorant of Paco's original brand. Of course, he wouldn't care. Nothing ever turned him off. I sat down and pushed a mug over to him.
"Still hangin' local, eh?" I asked. "Any specifics?"
"Nothing much," he said pleasantly. "Pretty much playing for myself lately."
"No shit! Why are you cooping yourself up? People have to hear you!"
"Aaah, I'm experimenting with new stuff now. Don't want to unleash anything unfinished on an unsuspecting world. These aren't all college kids."
"Spare me," I said. "You've got no excuse not to perform, and they've got no excuse to complain. Have you played at any of the clubs?"
"No, actually," he said, smirking strangely while sipping his beer. "May '95 was my last public performance."
I gawked at him. "Why?!"
"My audience is gone. The kids from school are spread far and wide by now."
"Find a new audience, Paco! Hello!"
"I dunno, man, I think you people at school were the most receptive group I could have, and all in one place too. I don't think I can find anything like that again."
"What about putting out some CDs? Can't you do that?"
"I don't have much money, man."
"What kinda job you have?" I asked, taking a chug.
He grinned, looking at his fingernails. "Livin'."
"That's it, man."
"Not usually, no."
"No more than I need. I've got my tunes."
I rested my head in my hands and stared at him in awe. "Same ol' Paco."
He smiled and laughed quietly. Both of us sat back and sipped the rest of the beers in silence. When we finished, I said, "I'll pick up the tab, 'kay?"
"Sure, thanks, man."
"Well, I was just dropping by," I said, standing up. "I guess I'll see you around."
Paco waved his hand. "Not so fast. I want to play something for you."
"Really?" I asked happily.
Paco got out of the booth and headed outside while I paid. I followed him out and we started walking down the street in the dusk summer air, kicking leaves up and moving sedately through the night. He led me down near the lake and turned toward a collection of run-down shacks, making me wonder if he was joking, and then he stepped into one of them.
"Es la casa," he announced.
"You like this?" I asked incredulously, remembering the veritable middle-classness he came from.
"No rent, no worries. Happy homestead. Now sit down over there."
I carefully found a spot on the floor and leaned back carefully against a flimsy wall. The surroundings were upsetting me a little and I hoped I could enjoy the music. I obviously would, I realized when I saw Paco gracefully pull a guitar out a case near his mattress, handling it with the same sure-handed delicacy he put into his life.
He put one leg on a chair and sat on the back, one long leg against the floor, and he started to play. The chords jumped out at me in the silence and made me gasp. Immediately I shut my eyes and started to concentrate, shutting out the world around me, all my experience stemming from the strumming strings. Paco led me through an utterly novel melody, with no repeating bars but with an underlying pattern my mind couldn't interpret but only vicariously enjoy. Faster, slower tempos, undulating arpeggios bouncing throughout the song, nothing to be listened to but only experienced. His fingers hammered the frets effortlessly, pulled off with mind-numbing rings, slid up and down the scales, making me doubt he wasn't using three hands. The song went on and on and ended just when I expected, no surprises or disappointments. I hoped he would never duplicate it.
I opened my eyes and the shack appeared momentarily ethereal, as if it had only been an illusion. The physical conditions were utterly detached from the spirit that Paco exuded into the room. What little worries I had about the place vanished, and what little worries I had about Paco withering away without an audience disappeared with them. I knew I would come to understand him again, as I always have.
--SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-- State of unBeing is copyrighted (c) 1997 by Kilgore Trout and Apocalypse Culture Publications. All rights are reserved to cover, format, editorials, and all incidental material. All individual items are copyrighted (c) 1997 by the individual author, unless otherwise stated. This file may be disseminated without restriction for nonprofit purposes so long as it is preserved complete and unmodified. Quotes and ideas not already in the public domain may be freely used so long as due recognition is provided. State of unBeing is available at the following places: CYBERVERSE 512.255.5728 14.4 TEENAGE RiOt 418.833.4213 14.4 NUP: COSMIC_JOKE THAT STUPID PLACE 215.985.0462 14.4 ftp to ftp.io.com /pub/SoB World Wide Web http://www.io.com/~hagbard/sob.html Submissions may also be sent to Kilgore Trout at <email@example.com>. The SoB distribution list may also be joined by sending email to Kilgore Trout. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--