Archive for the 'Outer Limits' Category
tryin’ to make it real
compared to what
Philip Seymour Hoffman, the other day, he died.
And all the eager scoured-brain skull-lickers, they are all, now, over all and every tube, telling us just how awfully, awfully Wrong, it was, the way, that he died.
He died, apparently, with a needle in his arm. Shooting heroin.
So. Striving. He was. Yassa yassa massa massa. For: the great wide open.
But why, cry the ur-humans, who these days are the all and every of “the press,” though they are knuckledraggers who have never even once gazed upon the monolith . . . why, would ol’ Phil, why would he knock hisself off, even inadvertently, with the ol’ Big Horse?
They do crocodile-weep, these ur-people: faux-crying what they never would say when he was alive—that he was perhaps the finest, most sensitive actor, of his generation.
And in this, they do answer their own question.
Phil, he was, with the needle in his arm, to try to bring the sweet peak understanding surcease release, to both body and mind, just, just, just:
tryin’ to make it real
compared to what
Once upon a time, there on the deeply sad, old-and-in-the-way mercy-preserve for crippled, doddering, withered, sick, ancient, and/or feeble white people—known round these parts as The Great White—there was a foam-at-the-mouth, projectile-vomiting, glow-in-the-dark racist, who called hisself Uberbah.
Among this man’s many manifest manifold sins, included his inability to inscribe a comment without upchucking either the term “weak tea,” or “hand-waving.”
Well, as it is said, “even a blind pig can find an acorn every once in a while.”
And so, tonight, Uberbah, I bow to you. In all your nightriding, white-hooded, glory.
Because, having heard, and turned round and round in my mind’s hands, like a rubik’s cube of the operative universe, the black man’s speech, in re the serial killers of the NSA, I conclude, but four words.
Let’s have a little break here, so that we don’t get too tired. Do you have any questions or problems? First issue: very often after the fourth beat there is a feeling of waiting for something. We wait for the fourth note . . . and the flow of the music stops . . . Or maybe my heart stops.
I have stage fright when I face you. I do not do this every day. Instead I listen to music, and I’m more interested in playing myself, than conducting.
But I will improve before tomorrow. If I live that long.
The most important problem for me at the end of the twentieth century is the continual lack of time. We are always in an awful hurry and still we waste an incredible amount of time, for instance in front of the TV or in a car. While I do like some aspects of our “fast” civilization—I love to fly in airplanes, I am fascinated with cosmic adventures, trips to the moon or Mars—and we do live in astounding times, still, here, in this music, we have to surrender ourselves to this other dimension of time. We have to slow down. Only then the sonority will be fantastic: the higher the music will go, the more distinctly it will sound. I dream of writing such tranquil music. I do not want to compose anything that echoes the modern “rush”—the cell phones, the telephones and faxes. It has to be calm. Life is too beautiful to be wasted in this way, by rushing things so much.
How should I explain it to you? Perhaps you should think about an elevator: you leave behind the basement of everyday life, filled with noises, distractions and anxieties, and you take the elevator up to the tenth floor, or even into the sky of timelessness. When you are in this music, time slows down, it is as if you were in heaven, it is like eternity. Do you understand what I want to achieve there? Total calm.
Let us play it again.
This is a mother’s song. This song has to be expressed both by the orchestra and the soloist. It has to be contemplative in mood, but still maintain the tempo. It approximates the speed of slow walking, when one walks alone, lost in thought. We have to enter into this mood. It is as if we were walking, or even slowly dancing. You have to think about walking here.
For me it is a very difficult movement because I do not usually engage in conducting and I do not know how to enchant you with my hand movements. But music carries me away and I may at some spots—and please forgive me if I do—make a wrong movement at a certain time. But you know the score and could play on. So then do not look at me, at what I am doing, but listen to each other, listen to what happens around you.
I am sorry for these mistakes. But I think that we will be able to communicate soon.
Alpha and omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come.
On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow.
The chemical composition of seawater, the Science Men tell us, is identical to that of human tears.
And seawater, they tell us, is from where, on this planet, all life did grow.
I believe that, in a mobius strip of time, the tears shed by us, created the oceans, from which came us.
So. Don’t hold back. Let them flow. All your tears. Like water flow.
And upon them, someday, you may sail. Sail to Caledonia.
I want to tell my daughter not to be afraid. Instead I’ll tell her to be vigilant, and to look to her dreams and nightmares for clues and signs of progress. I’ll tell her to be open-minded about the spirit world, and if it feels right, to call upon the spirits for help. I will also tell her to seek out communities embarked on meaningful and noble acts. The acts need not be as large as the Sword of Heaven, for any act that makes the world a better place is worthy. Above all, I’ll tell her that all action, big or small, must always be accompanied by the opening of one’s heart. As the Sword of Heaven taught me, ritual only takes one to the door. To get through to the other side, there must be love.
The afternoon light moves from the end of my desk and for a moment illuminates the letters on my keyboard. From my window, I can see a huge ship passing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to dock. I lean back and take it all in. I wonder where the ship is going next. I wonder where the light will fall now.
—Mikkel Aaland, The Sword of Heaven
His weariness with things was frightening; it smacked of obliteration, a wall of anger and fatigue that felt as though it might sweep him into nothingness. Worst of all was loneliness.
There were times when he was capable of rejoicing in himself as a singularity—a man without a story, secure from tribal delusion, able to see the many levels. But at other times he felt that he might give anything to be able to explain himself. To call himself Jew or Greek, Gentile or otherwise, the citizen of no mean city. But he had no recourse except to call himself an American and hence the slave of possibility. He was not always up for the necessary degree of self-invention, unprepared, occasionally, to assemble himself.
And sometimes the entire field of folk seemed alien and hostile, driven by rages he could not comprehend, drunk on hopes he could not imagine. So he could make his way only through questioning, forever inquiring of wild-eyed obsessives the nature of their dreams, their assessment of themselves and their enemies, listening agreeably while they poured scorn on his ignorance and explained the all too obvious. When he wrote, it was for some reader like himself, a bastard, party to no covenants, promised nothing except the certainty of silence overhead, darkness around. Sometimes he had to face the simple fact that he had nothing and no one and try to remember when that had seemed a source of strength and perverse pride. Sometimes it came back for him.
—Robert Stone, Damascus Gate
(Something I reprint every now and again. Usually around this season. First appeared here.)
* * *
In my Father’s house are many mansions.
Christmastime again is here, and so be Santa, and so be Jesus.
A couple years ago, in contemplating Santa and Jesus, the two began to get confused in my mind. Santa Claus, for reasons that have never really been explained, devotes each year to overseeing minute laborers who fashion gifts which he annually delivers, in a single night, to all deserving children the world over. Jesus Christ, for reasons that have been variously explained, roamed for a short time across a relatively minute plot of land, uttering gnomic wisdoms, then was seized and subjected to excruciating suffering, so that all, deserving and undeserving alike, might be gifted with salvation.
When a sprout, I was taught that while Santa’s labors never end—a yearly, year-long grind—Jesus’ was a one-shot gig. Wander around Palestine, ascend the cross, into the tomb, three days later out again, brief appearances before various friends and lovers, then up to heaven for a well-deserved eternal rest.
I no longer believe that. I believe that, as is set forth here, “Jesus Christ suffers from now until the end. On the cross. He goes on suffering. Until the death of the last human being.” That is the mystic meaning of his tale: he suffers with all beings suffering in the exile of existence. And we are called upon to do the same—to grow to empathy, so that thy neighbor truly is thyself, and suffering everywhere, for everyone, may be eased. With this meaning there is no need for the resurrection. All of us are him, doing the same work; our work, his work, never ends.
For those who are wedded to the resurrection, the advances in science and philosophy in my lifetime, in the understanding of the multiple dimensions and multiple worlds about us, too mean that his work never ends. For the planets, it is now known, are innumerable, and so are the dimensional variations of this one. And if salvation is indeed his calling, he will forever be busy as twelve bastards, for there are those who need saving, inhabiting every one.
“In Vence,” said Herzog, “my parents left me under a crucifix. And I asked them, my parents, ‘What happened to him?’ I meant the man on the cross, the Christ figure. I was then ten years of age and had no idea what a crucifix was. We lived in Paris. After the liberation I was not yet fourteen. The prefect told me who I was. That I was a Jew. That my parents, my family, had been delivered to the Germans and murdered by them. And I felt—what can I say—a recognition.”
“But you couldn’t leave the Church?”
“Oh,” Herzog said with a little shrug, “I didn’t care much about the Church. The Church was men, people. Some good, some not.” He looked at the floor.
“Because I was waiting,” said Herzog. “Waiting where I had been left. At the foot of the cross. Out of spite or devotion, I don’t know.” He laughed and put a hand on Lucas’s shoulder. “Pascal says we understand nothing until we understand the principle from which it proceeds. Don’t you agree? So I understand very little.”
“We’re supposed to believe that Christ has gone on to reign in glory,” Lucas said.
“No,” said Herzog. “Jesus Christ suffers from now until the end. On the cross. He goes on suffering. Until the death of the last human being.”
“And that,” Lucas said, “brings you here?”
“Yes,” said Herzog. “To attend. To keep on waiting.”
From the steps of the church, the evening smelled of car exhaust and jasmine.
For the first time Herzog smiled.
“Don’t regret it, sir. Perhaps you know Malraux’s Anti-memoires? His priest tells us that people are much more unhappy than one might think.” He offered Lucas his hand. “And that there is no such thing as a grownup.”
—Robert Stone, Damascus Gate
Peace, love, contentment, to all.
To that day. When we all go together.
Into the great wide open.
—I have more Hair later, than when I was younger.
—I am deeply complicit, in my own Erasure.
There are those who believe that the world shall not truly attain wonderment until consciousness may be extracted from icky yucky bodies and downloaded into some matrix, machine, tube.
Perhaps this is why most of the 1400 English words that Google has deemed inappropriate for its Android involve bodies. More specifically, bodies carnally at work and at play. Which, as is well-known, can result in the production of more bodies.
These words, they are eschewed, maybe, because Android, it is impatient, for that day. The day when bodies shall be obviated.
There’s no “sex” at the Googleplex.
Type or swipe the word on the latest version of Android’s Google Keyboard—or for that matter “intercourse,” “coitus,” “screwing” or even “lovemaking”—and the web giant’s predictive algorithm will offer no help.
These are just a few examples from an obsessive, and often baffling list of more than 1,400 English words that Google has quietly deemed inappropriate for Android users.
The banned directory includes “butt” and “geek,” all seven of George Carlin’s dirty words, a frat party’s worth of homophobia and misogyny, and is peppered with pornographic sub genres and fetishistically obscure medical terms, like “gonadatrophia” and “irrumination.” Genitalia is banned (with special attention paid to women’s bodies)[.]
Taken as a whole, Google’s list suggests not only a surprising discomfort with sexuality, but also reproductive health and undergarments. Words like “panty,” “braless,” “Tampax,” “lactation,” and “preggers” are censored along with sexual health vocabulary like “uterus” and “STI.”
“I try to Swype-type the word ‘condom’ and I get ‘condition’ or ‘confusion,’” said Jillian York, a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There is no context in which that makes any sense. Grow up, Android.”
Bodies, sure, they can be a drag. But there’s a reason why we’re in them. For we don’t have to be. Consciousness can remain bodyless and whole and undifferentiated. If it wants to. But it doesn’t seem to want to.
Unfortunately, once we get here, into these bodies, we seem to forget why that is. The answer, I think, can be pretty simply stated. “The universe,” as my colleague puts it, “wants to taste itself.”
Ye gods. Belatedly, I notice, wordpress, informing me, that I have inscribed 1019 posts, to this blog.
That’s since August 2008. A little over five years. Roughly, then, 200 posts a year.
Ye gods. What’s become of me? What might I otherwise have accomplished, if not pounding my pud here?
Probably, maybe, might: have built a pyramid.
Not that I didn’t: here: try.
But, no matter. What’s done/not-done is done/not-done. Blood flowed in great creeping weeping clots, under the bridge.
Probably—and particularly as humans are so enamored of round numbers—there should have been, here, here on red, a 1000th-post celebration. With party hats, and streamers, and maybe a drunk, pissing in the corner.
But it’s too late, for any of that now.
Instead, I shall inscribe, late, again, the very first post ever entered onto this blog. August 1, 2008. Standing, still, to me, as a perfect expression of the yearning futile yearning futile yearning experience of human beings, on this here planet.
When Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he occupied himself with writing a history of the world. He had finished the first volume and was at work on the second when there was a scuffle between some workmen beneath the window of his cell, and one of the men was killed. In spite of diligent enquiries, and in spite of the fact that he had actually seen the thing happen, Sir Walter was never able to discover what the quarrel was about: whereupon, so it is said—and if the story is not true it certainly ought to be—he burned what he had written and abandoned his project.
And, in very belated response, to the sole comment posted, to that very first post of mine—”is the world so unrelievedly bleak from your tower?”—the answer is: no.
No. Not at all.
Because, sometimes, I am at that place. By the river. I can hear the boats go by. I can spend the night forever. And the sun pours down like honey. On our lady of the harbor. And she shows me where to look. Amid the garbage and the flowers.
And then: it matters not. That I was broken. Long before the sky would open. That I am forsaken. Almost human. That I sink beneath your wisdom. Like a stone.
For there are heroes in the seaweed. There are children in the mourning. And we’re leaning out for love. And we will lean that way. Forever.
While Suzanne: holds: the mirror.
F. Scott Fitzgerald saw it. To the bottom of every bottle. Which, early—44—killed him.
No matter. He got it right. Wrote the Great American Novel. The Great Gatsby. Which ends with this:
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away. Until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . . And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
The green light, it will never be attained, as Fitzgerald knew, on this continent, by white people. Because they do not belong here. It was a mistake, for them to ever to have come. To this place. Because it is not their place.
The green light, they can bask in it—the white people—when, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” they return to from where they came. Where they should, forever, have remained.
the little bird; all that there is
We now know the genesis of addled actor Clint Eastwood’s ”talk to the chair” routine at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
This is the Diamond number that contains the notorious foursome:
i am, i said
to no one there
and no one heard at all
not even the chair
This last line is one of the great clunkers in all of songwriting. People active and practiced in the craft, to this day they cannot understand why persons and/or sound machines emitting such a travesty are not pelted with tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and other rotting substances.
I mean, yeah, the guy needed a rhyme for “there.” And, in this tune, Diamond is deeply afunk in Bummertude. Because he ain’t being listened to. About the crushing burden of having to live in Los Angeles, rather than New York. In order to earn eleventy-billion dollars in the music business.
So sure, okay, we get it, nobody’s listening to him bleat.
And, among the nobodies, can be counted a chair.
But, like, had the chair ever heard him? When he was moaning about having to earn more money than Midas, out in LA, rather than in New York? Was it normal for the chair to give ear, when he was on about such things? Was this like . . . a magic chair?
Or, since we are talking 1971 here, a drug chair? A chair that, when Mr. Diamond delved into the many fine psychoactive substances of the time, heard and talked and danced and sang and otherwise engaged in all manner of merry wonderful weirdness?
We receive no information about any of this. All we know is that the chair doesn’t hear him.
And this is not surprising. Because a chair—unless it is a drug chair, and/or a quantum physics chair—is not equipped with aural apparati. Hearing is not what a chair is supposed to be about. The thing is there but to plant your butt on.
No. Sorry to say, what we must here reluctantly conclude, is that Diamond was a lazy-ass mofo. Who just settled on some “chair,” not hearing him, because he was too slothful and/or thickheaded to come up with any other rhyme for “there.”
And it is said that the man spent four months writing that song.
And in all that time the best he could up with was “not even the chair”? The mind: it reels.
Today, while driving, it took me about four minutes to come up with about fourteen alternatives.
For instance, if Diamond had not been suffering from a city-disability, and were singing instead from or about some country place Normal, then various and sundry animals could have been mustered not to hear him. We could have had “not even the bear” or “not even the hare” or “not even the mare.” Who were not hearing the guy.
Or he could have complained “not even Aunt Clare,” which would also have allowed him to go wild with banjos in the break. Or “in all County Klare,” which would have permitted him to pour a thundering wall of bagpipes into the song.
Since Diamond at the time was riding a wave of songs in which he praised unrestrained bibulation—”Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Red, Red Wine,” etc.—he could have referenced his ongoing rednoseness by admitting “and no one heard at all/when I tripped on the stair.”
He could have been all stoic, and defiantly proclaimed: “and I did not care.” He could have gone dada, and pronounced: “so I ate a pear.” Or strayed into Isaac Hayes territory, with “so I porked the au pair.” He could have envisioned the onrushing cult of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and come out as a crossdresser, boasting “so I shaved with Nair.”
And so on.
Anywho. Clint—fast-forward to 2012—is there in his hotel room, when suddenly the extraterrestrials—who, as has previously been documented here on red, owned and controlled the GOoPer portion of the 2012 presidential campaign—bring to him over the radio Diamond declaiming about the obdurate chair that will not hear.
And Clint, he experiences a truly massive brainshower. He will go on stage, with a chair, and pretend it is President Obama. And, like the Diamond chair, the Obama chair, when Clint pours out upon it his complaints, it will just sit there; it will neither hear, nor respond.
This brainshower, it will be remembered, when it was spewed out across the land, was considered a laff riot by that 23% of the American population that occupies what is today the equivalent of Dogpatch.
“Way to put it to the black man, Clint!” the Dogpatchians, they squealed like a pig. “Yeehaw!”
However, those of us who have not married or otherwise had sexual congress with our sisters, and/or other blood relatives, we had quite a different reaction.
Not even the Captain Underpants people, it developed, not even they, could easily stomach the chair scene. Literally, they could not stomach it. Senior Underpants advisor Stuart Stevens, it is said, vomited. While the Neil-inspired Eastwood, he was dying there, on stage, with the chair. Stevens, he wished that, like in the Diamond song, no one would hear Clint. At all. Not even the chair.
It was the astute AvoWoman who first pointed out to me that this speech was not the first time that Eastwood had publicly addressed wood products.
Oh no. For way back in 1969, Eastwood wandered around on screen, “singing,” in the film Paint Your Wagon, “I Talk To The Trees.”
And even back then, the wood gave ol’ Clint the deaf ear.
And it was not only the trees. But every other blessed natural element, as well.
I talk to the trees
But they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me
The breeze hasn’t time
To stop and hear what I say
I talk to them all in vain
Be warned. Beyond the furthur, I shall embed Mr. Eastwood. “Singing.” Not only that, I shall also embed, from the same film, Lee Marvin, also “singing.” And this last, some say, is the aural equivalent of the Holocaust.
i am here with the range for everything
corpuscle muscle hair
hands that need the rub of metal
those senses that
that want to crash things with an axe
that listen to deep buried veins in our palms
those who move in dreams over your women night
near you, every paw, the invisible hooves
the mind’s invisible blackout the intricate never
the body’s waiting rut
—Michael Ondaatje, The Collected Works Of Billy The Kid
Mort Sahl is an American satirist who for many years made a career of walking on stage with a newspaper; he then proceeded to consult the headlines, in order to effectively mock the day’s political news.
It is said that Sahl retired sometime during the Nixon administration, having glumly concluded that the news was now satirizing itself: there was no longer any place for him. The political world had become so absurd and unsane, the news itself had usurped Sahl’s former role. A great Tear had occurred in the fabric of Reality, so that it was no longer possible to discern the Real, from the Joke.
The Sahl-retirement story probably isn’t true, but it should be. Richard Nixon, for instance, couldn’t possibly have been Real. And Sahl no doubt sensed this. Nixon was instead a character from a Robert Coover novel. Nixon was followed into the presidency by a former football player who never wore a helmet and who fell down the ramp whenever Air Force One landed. Next came a born-again nuclear-powered peanut farmer. Anyone who previously had pitched a work of fiction featuring as president a born-again nuclear-powered peanut farmer would have been shown the door. On the grounds that such a thing strayed just too far from the Real. Then, Ronald Reagan, who was clearly impossible, an Alzheimers-afflicted animatronic-being escaped from a Disney lab.
With Reagan’s successor, that’s when they really started getting obvious about it. Whoever “they” might be. With George I, who, in his convention acceptance speech, said “read my lips: no new taxes.” Even though he had no lips. Once in office, this comedic character indulged in absurdities like hauling a big bag of crack cocaine into the Oval Office, there to display it to the American people. Not even all the many pounds of Peruvian Marching Powder in the offices of Saturday Night Live would have inspired that show’s writers to concoct a president who played with a bag of crack during a nationally televised presidential address. George I they followed into office with an insatiable six-foot-tall penis. And, in the course of things, we were expected to believe that, in the late 20th Century, the political class of an entire nation would devote 18 straight months to minutely tracing every peregrination of this penis. Just as we were next expected to believe George II was the son of George I, when it was clear the man was actually Andy Kaufman.
And the nonsense continues to this day. Where, during the arc of Kaufman’s presidency, the two men on all the planet identified as America’s premier boogeymen were Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. So they next roll into the presidency some guy named Barack Hussein Obama. No one could make up such a thing. And no one has to. Because it is Reality.
Of course, it is not only in politics where the Joke is inseparable from the Real. Which brings us to the hideous photo from which you are averting your eyes, above. Here, we are expected to believe that humans shall soon stroll the streets wearing “food helmets,” a.k.a. the Algaculture Symbiosis Suit. Instead of whistling while they work, humans shall grow algae, with their breath, piped into a series of wormy tubes draped all over their heads. Then, at the end of the day, the algae, they shall eat it.
[The suit] grows food while wearers go about their daily business. A series of tubes, placed in front of the mouth, capture carbon dioxide and feed it to a constantly growing population of suit-embedded algae. But algae needs sunlight to grow, right? Easy, the wearer just needs to sit by a window or go outside.
You probably consume more algae than you think. That sushi you had last night and the ice cream you had for dessert, even the mayonnaise you spread on your lunchtime turkey sandwich—all have derivatives of algae.
“Algaculture designs a new symbiotic relationship between humans and algae. It proposes a future where humans will be enhanced with algae living inside new bodily organs, allowing us to be semi-photosynthetic[.]“
Yesterday came news that Science Men are now guesstimating that some 8.8 billion Earth-like planets exist in this galaxy. Out there in the dimmer precincts of the intertubes, humans immediately began wailing: “if there are so many Earth-like places out there, which must have lifes on them, how for come none of these lifes have contacted us Americans?”
The answer to this is both simple, and obvious. Intelligent life in this universe is deliberately eschewing direct contact with the human species. Until such time as said species get its Reality straight. And so no longer indulges in such weirdsmobiles as the Algaculture Symbiosis Suit. Or Richard Nixon.