Archive for the 'Wyrds' Category
Maundy Thursday is the Christian feast, or holy day, falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus . . . Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.” (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”)
I won’t leave the attic
and with apologies to Apollinaire I can smoke
while working. I’m doing it
I’m going to it. The jerks are working
empty handed and then they pick up
twigs. Now they want to smoke me
out, but I’m too bat-like!
too happy with my stash and rock and
roll. Unlike the souffle below
who intends to burst. Deep breath, funny air.
So apparently there is some rich-fuck rightwing racist shameless welfare-recipient Mormon-underpants-wearing rancher wantonly roaming his cows over public land for which he has not paid grazing fees for more than 30 years.
This nit-knock has deluded a Reality wherein the federal government don’t mean shit; only, so says he, shall he acknowledge the government of the State of Nevada. He’ll pay them, says he, the state people, to graze, his cattle, over land that don’t belong to him, but he won’t pay no feds.
Next, he’ll be raving on about how he gets to keep slaves.
‘Cause that is jist the sort of git, that this git is.
I am mostly— when not earning my crust in the folly of the law—painting oils, and planting seeds, these days.
Occasionally, I’ll peer into a tube.
That’s how I found out about this old nutbag Nevada sunburnt Mormon, who insists he can ejaculate his cows, for free, all over public land.
And my question, it is this: didn’t we already have the monolith?
Didn’t the true-life documentary film 2001: A Space Odyssey document the true fact that ape-men, they stood before a powerful passing planted black slab, millions of years ago, and thereby grew a brain?
So that we are actually millions of years beyond this yeehaw screaming till his lips bleed that he has a “natural right” to freely and flagrantly cornhole his cows on public land?
I am simply not allowing this crazed cattle-cornholer into my universe.
For he is like a species-appendix. Some weirdsmobile, completely shrunken and malfunctional organ, that may, several million years ago, have actually had a purpose. But, these days, we have no idea what that purpose may have been.
He is an old and desiccated desert rat, and soon he shall die. And, though his of-family people—who are many and manifold, because he refused in his lifetime to control in any way his loins—shall upon his memory weep, soon no one will remember anything about him.
Because, in the great wide open to come, all the land, will belong to everybody.
It is the bare beginnings of this, that this cornholing Rancher Retrovert, he cannot abide.
Too bad for him.
He’s already over.
We, of the seed people, we have gone long beyond all the galloping cornholing Rancher Retrovert horseshit that appears each day in the “news.”
This blah NSA blah Ukraine blah Nevada horse-ass blah blah blah blah.
Who gives a shit. None of them have ever once touched the monolith. They are so hundreds of millions of years behind the times. Just let them go. They don’t even actually exist. Close our minds to them: and they are gone. Willed-away wisps.
I am growing feverfew. Also, sunflowers. Moonflowers. Hot peppers. Potatoes. Some several different-one blueberries. I am growing passionflower—where it is not supposed to grow. Because I can, and I will. Dill. I am growing. Meadowsweet. Fairies. Magic. I am growing. Sage. Unto immortal May. I am growing. Madder. To dye all us good Celts red. As it has always been written. As even unto today it is done. I am growing. I am surrounding myself with garlic and arnica. I am growing. Buckwheat. It will be all and everywhere. I am growing. All the opium and wormwood: I shall plant thee: and then thee, shall, in vision, plant thyself in me.
I am growing.
I am no longer a sterile shrunken intertubes pod. “Living,” on a screen.
I am growing.
I am coming round here. Just about midnight.
were you ever driving at 3 in the morning down some 2 lane road in upstate new york & it was raining & the only thing you can get on the radio is some station out of memphis or someplace which comes in perfectly clear & plays great music like life is but a dream du wop du wop & you just turn it up & say to yourself “what the fuck, what the fuck?” well that’s how i feel walking to the post office.
and under the boughs unbowed
all clothed in snowy shroud
she had no heart so hardened
all under the boughs unbowed
Miep, you say:
Blueness, did you hear about that poor man who got shot down in the hills by the ABQ police? My other friends and I were all very upset. There are people trying to arrest the ABQ police department now. It’s horrible. Firing squads dressed up in police suits.
Blueness, he was just up there camping in the hills, because it got to be too much for him. And our delightful asshole culture sent a bunch of dudes up there after him with a trained attack dog and assault rifles.
And they murdered him after they escalated the situation. After he agreed to surrender.
He was just camping.
Fucking shot him down. He turned away. I’ve had friends who were that upset. They fucking shot him down. He could have been a good friend of mine from earlier back in my life. They fucking shot him down. “Firing Squad Dressed Up In Police Costumes.”
Who knows who that man was? He could have been a lover, a painter, an artist. He could have been our best friend.
Fucking shot him down.
I love how you hew to non-violence, Blueness. That’s a tough road to travel.
And I say: how can I not hew to non-violence?
If I do not, then someday, in spirit, or in flesh, I will be up there, down there, just like them, them ABQ law-jockeys, knuckles drug all the way into the ground, fucking shooting someone down, because s/he did, basically, not sufficiently walk, like me, talk, like me.
and i will hang my head
hang my head
And I cannot do that, because, all those other all and everys, they’re me.
I know this. Whenever I ever encounter any other being on this, or any other, planet—animal, mineral, vegetable—I know that being is me.
How can people not see this?
How can people hurt and kill themselves?
Beats me. Beats us all. All us all.
I have arisen not from the dead. But from the living. And I am not a voice crying in the wilderness. For there is no winter here. No dark. No despair. The lights are going on in my house. For there is no darkness anywhere. I have all my lights on. And it is my own face, I see in the blazing windows of all the houses on earth.
Once upon an all and every, we were all of one undifferentiated consciousness, spanning all of space and time. Anything we wanted to be, any place we could be, we would be. All and every one of us. And always together.
Somewhere along the line, it was determined—probably by somebody like Satan—that such shit was, well, boring.
It was all happy and wrapped and loving and snug and snuggly and all, but, like, where was the great wide open?
What might it be like if one could shed the other 400 trillion beings clinging to the brain-pan, and live a life just as a one?
It’ll be, like, fun.
And so, they—we—did that.
And, from that, is where we, here on earth, get terms like “shrieking,” “ululating,” “rending their garments,” “biting through their tongues,” “scraping the shit off their skin with pot-shards,” “screaming till their lips bleed,” “blowing their brains out,” and other pleasantries.
I mean: think: why is the first thing a baby born into this world, do do, is cry?
Because that baby being, having moved from the collective consciousness, to the trapped caged lonely consciousness of singular, feels that hollowness and estrangement and alienation and radio silence, and then realizes: oh shit. I wanna go back.
All life. Of every human being. On this planet. Is about wanting to go back. To the undifferentiated cloud. To the great wide open.
All of everything every human has ever been about, here, is about that.
“Love,” always and every acknowledged in every culture as some sort of misty grail, is so acknowledged because it is the closest the scraped-off individualized human loonily marooned on this planet can get, to what it was, all and always. where they came from, where all were suffused in one, all were in touch, all were one.
Miep: the download, to this planet, from the collective to the individual: in this there are variables.
There are, like, the fucking rawboned mutant ruined Bill Gates 666 Windows downloads, which result in monsters like those ABQ cops, who feel no kin to anyone, ‘cept maybe pit bulls, and so slaver to kill, conquer, subdue, smile, smirk.
Whereas people like you and I, we are more suffused with something like the Eden-promise of Apple, when it was still but the gentle dream in Steve Wozniak’s soul, there in the puttering Palo Alto garage, long before the grasping money-souled Steve Jobs seized hold of it, and transformed it into Product.
It’s all going to be okay, Miep. Because we really are all one soul, and one being. And this all is just a temporary experiment, one disastrously launched upon because, up there in “heaven,” we got bored.
That’s what all this all is all about.
In getting there, some of us incarnate as dumbshit pit bulls, like the ABQ cops. And some incarnate as people who, like you, pet tarantulas, and feel so much you can barely stand to wake each day.
We all, eventually, one by one, decided up there, that this was a good idea.
We have to trust that it really is.
I believe it is.
I believe we will all go again into the great wide open. And without bodies. Which is the way that we came here. But we will go back out with individual “minds.” Within the collective ones.
And I believe that, when we at last swirl really away, a la Childhood’s End, we will retroactively bring with us all incarnated corporeal beings ever sentenced to this planet.
Which is what, fumbling, people like Jesus and Buddha were trying to get to.
And now you know. Why, really, I no longer post on the cross of Daily Kos.
As neither do you.
you can take
all the tea in china
put it in a big brown bag for me
sail it right around
all the seven oceans
drop it straight into the deep blue sea
yet will I sing
bonny mad boys
bedlam boys are bonny
for they all go bare
and they live in the air
and they want no drink nor money
i went to pluto’s kitchen
to break my fast one morning
and there i got souls piping hot
that on the spit were turning
bonny mad boys
bedlam boys are bonny
for they all go bare
and they live in the air
and they want no drink nor money
“This wilderness has destroy me,” Clam de Paty mumbled. He felt too tired, too sad even to make his English precise. What he had mumbled was the truth: the American wilderness had destroyed him. He did not want to walk across it—not even one more mile. He did not want to write about its mountain men, its savages, its grizzly bears, its mountains. He had come to America a famous man, a veteran of the Grande Armee, a man who had won medals; was he not the most famous journalist in the most civilized country in the world? Yet now, thanks to his bosses—always greedy for new information—he was destroyed, broken, finished, ended, afflicted with a numb despair. True, they had found a good spring, had drunk their fill, had bathed many times, had rested. And yet, all around, the wilderness still yawned. Sante Fe was still hundreds of miles away. The nice young Monsieur Charbonneau could talk to him all he wanted about how easy the rest of the trip would be compared to what had already been endured, but young Monsieur Charbonneau was missing one big point: Clam de Paty no longer cared. The wilderness had finished him.
—Larry McMurtry, By Sorrow’s River
Rabbi Nahum said no man was beyond redemption.
He said redemption was established before the creation of the world itself, that’s how important redemption is.
No one can take it away.
“Noah was an asshole.”
“He didn’t argue.”
“Noah should have argued?”
Yakov explained, “Abraham argues with God not to kill everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses pleads with God not to kill worshippers of the golden calf. But God tells Noah to build a boat because He’s going to flood the entire world, and what does Noah say? Not a word.”
“Not a word,” said Bobby, “and saves the minimum. What a bastard.”
—Martin Cruz Smith, Wolves Eat Dogs
Being in the country in the vacation time not many years since, at Lindley in Leicestershire, my father’s house, I first observed this amulet of a spider in a nut-shell lapped in silk, etc., so applied for an ague by my mother; whom although I knew to have excellent skill in chirurgery, sore eyes, aches, etc., and such experimental medicines, as all the country where she dwelt can witness, to have done many famous and good cures upon divers poor folks, that were otherwise destitute of help, yet, among all other experiments, this methought was most absurd and ridiculous, I could see no warrant for it. Quid aranea cum febre? [What has a spider to do with fever?] For what antipathy? till at length, rambling amongst authors (as often I do), I found this very medicine in Dioscorides, approved by Matthiolus, repeated by Aldrovandus; I began to have a better opinion of it, and give more credit to amulets, when I saw it in some parties answer to experience.
—Robert Burton, The Anatomy Of Melancholy
standin’ on the corner
suitcase in my hand
jack’s in his corset and jane’s in her vest, baby
me, i’m in a rocknroll band
you know they’re sayin’:
ah, sweet jane
I dream a lot.
Yeah. Well. Obviously.
But, I mean, I also dream, when I’m asleep.
Like, this afternoon, I awoke—like any cat, I sleep, and wake, all through the day, and all through the night—from a dream where I was at Lou Reed’s house.
Lou was there; there in his house. In the age and incarnation of the photo featured there just above. Settled; serene. Aged: experienced: passed. Beyond all the bullshit. In the clear.
There, in his house, Lou, he slung over his shoulder a guitar, and, naturally, effortlessly, clear as pure water, played for hisself, me just there hearing, “Sweet Jane.”
Then, he unslung the guitar. And passed it to me. So I could give it a try.
I commenced to fumbling with the strings. Trying to get it right.
Eventually, I hit, more or less correctly, the first couple chords (and in “Sweet Jane” there are really only two chords). And so began feeling a little better about myself.
Then I noticed Lou had settled himself into an easy chair. Had turned on a TV (and the sound was pretty dern loud). And was eating something like popcorn.
I felt kinda forlorn. Left behind.
I was playing his song. But he was paying me no mind.
I pass through these dreams, and they pass through me. But generally I have no idea what they might mean.
Sometimes I pass some crippled day-time gibbering verbal accounting of these dreams on to the wise—and these wise are always women—and, sometimes, through them, the light, it do shine.
For instance, in re the above-referenced Lou Reed dream, after I had cripple-jabbered it onto her, AvoMayor, she did say:
i think that is a perfect Lou Reed dream. How many times do you think he played Sweet Jane in the course of his career?? But he’s retired and trying to just relax now, so he has given it to you..
Use it wisely : ) No pressure or anything………
and jack he is a banker
and jane she is a clerk
and both them save their moneys, honeys
all when they come home from work
sittin’ there by the fire
radio does play
a little classical music from
march of the wooden soldiers
you can hear jack say:
he says: sweet ukraine
ah now baby: sweet ukraine
ah: sweet ukraine
Ukraine is a little tiny baby country.
Appearing, under that name, within those borders, but in the afterbirth of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
During which Lenin & Co., in a new and dusky shiny Red way, carved out, and named, various territories that, for the most part, had been subsumed, some decades, and even centuries, before, into the Russian Empire.
What is today, in these 24/7 times, causing ape-men to foam, from sea to shining to sea, rattling all and every saber, over “Ukraine,” is about a dirt-patch that, for most of recorded history, for about 500 years, was part of Poland.
People, these days, because it is nearly against the law to know history, do not understand that long before these was any Russian Empire—or even any Russia—Poland, like a colossus, did bestride, all and every, of its nearby earth.
But then, in the course of things, like all empires, Poland waxed, and waned, and, eventually, crumbled into dust.
Until it was no more.
Until there became no Poland.
Until, in the late 18th Century, Poland actually ceased to exist. What was once “Poland,” was divided between Russia, Prussia (read: crazed Germans), and the doomed Habsburgs of Austria.
After WWI, to punish the Austrians and Germans, who had been defeated, and the Russians, who had gone wild and gone Commie, the allied powers decided “Poland” should be reconstituted.
They also Made a new and different-one nation, out of what was once Poland, known as “Ukraine.”
Which was, quickly, and in the course of things, absorbed into the nascent Soviet Union.
This “Ukraine,” it yoked together a “western” stretch of people on soil that had, for millennia, yearned towards the west, and an “eastern” stretch of people on soil that had, for millennia, yearned towards the east.
Everybody, west or east, who ever wanted to grow shit, has always liked “Ukraine”—and lots. Because it features deep fertile soil, unmatched, anywhere on the planet, except in California’s central valley. Deep, unbelievably rich topsoil, 20 feet deep.
Of course, these days, the soil, that everybody for millennia has fought so over, is all ruint. Because, there in Ukraine, in 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor erupted, and scarred not only the near and far, but all the planet.
There were forty-one official deaths from the accident, and half a million unofficial.
An honest list would reach to the moon.
some people like to go out dancin’
then there’s other people, baby, they gotta work
—you better watch me now—
there’s some evil mothers
they’ll just tell you that life’s just made out of dirt
that pretty women baby they never really faint
and villains always blink their eyes
that children are the only ones who blush
and that life—LIFE—that life is just to die
but i want to tell you somethin’:
Bobby Hoffman and Yakov stood in the middle of the road facing a security wall decked with shiny coils of wire. Each man wore a yarmulke and a tasselled shawl. Arkady couldn’t make out what they were saying, though they rocked back and forth to its rhythm.
Beyond the wall was another wire-draped wall and, fifty meters farther on, the sarcophagus, as stained and massive as a windowless cathedral. Dim security lamps glowed here and there. A crane and a chimney stack towered over the sarcophagus, but compared to it, they were insignificant. The sarcophagus was apart, alone, alive.
Arkady didn’t need to use his dosimeter; he felt his hair rise.
The chanting wasn’t loud enough to carry far. Bobby’s voice was whispery. Yakov’s was deep and worn, and Arkady recognized the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. Their voices overlapped, separated, joined again. Standing outside the corrupted shell of a nuclear disaster, rocking back and forth like human metronomes and intoning the same verses over and over, “Ose sholom himromov hu yaase sholom.” When they finished the prayer, they simply began again.
Arkady moved into their line of vision. Each step brought the sarcophagus closer, too, as if it had been waiting for the right hour to leap the wall, a hard sight to face without a prayer. Yakov acknowledged Arkady with the briefest nod, to say not to worry, that he and Bobby were fine. Bobby clutched a list of names that Arkady could see because of a rising moon that spilled over the station yard. The list looked long. Arkady remembered Eva saying that a complete list would reach the moon.
I loathe that I feel I have to step-by-step. I just want to play the chords.
Russia, the one place it has warm water, the one place it can sail its boats, is on the Black Sea. And the one place it can access that sea, is through the Crimea. Little strait. Through which the Russians can sail, and sail and sail, from the sea of Azov, to the sea of Black, and then into the Mediterranean. Where it can feel, at last, like it is a Real nation.
Russia, astrologically, is a Scorpio. Which means, at root, it believes that all and every are always out to get it. Whether that is true or no.
Crimea. The Mongols swept into all and everywhere beginning in the 12th Century: no one, anywhere (except the Vietnamese), could stop them.
Centuries later, the last Mongol Khanate to be made to retreat was that in the Crimea, which was absorbed into the avidly advancing Russian Empire, only round about 1800.
Some of them, during WWII, allied themselves with the Germans.
And so, WWII concluded, Stalin decreed it was right and meet to export the entire population of the Crimea, to Central Asia.
When he was done, not a native inhabitant remained.
Stalin—heh—that’s just the way he be. A stone cold killer. With one hand on a vodka bottle. And another on a List.
I these days am only amused by those who burrow deep into dark and dank and-all-and-every all-encompassing theories. Where all is forever explained. By some nefarious puppet-stringing total control over everything.
The current ferment over Ukraine is a perfect example of how it is not so black/white, from however one approaches black/white, as it may seem.
Russia will never give up Crimea. That is the only place its Navy may flow from a warm-water port.
Crimea was part of Russia. Until 1954. When, Khrushchev gifted the Crimea to Ukraine. Why? Because Khrushchev was Ukrainian. He wanted to reward the homeboys. Against all logic. Against all history. But what did that matter? He did it. Because he could.
That’s all there is. There isn’t anymore. Except, again, I’ve wasted my time. I should, really, only have inscribed, these final eight lines. All the rest, in the long view, is either masturbation, or waste.
anyone who had a heart
they wouldn’t turn around and break it
and anyone who’s ever played a part
they wouldn’t turn around and hate it
they say: jane
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
(Alexa posted this on her Never In Our Names blog for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in 2009. I think it’s worth reposting every year.)
For Just One Day
“And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, the whole world is doomed.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop.”
For just one day, let there be no progress. Let us not find a new way to convert seemingly worthless pieces of earth into technological slaves that fulfill our every whim. Let us not alter the chemical composition of this substance to turn it into something new, something nature never thought of, that will come back in the fish as a poison lasting millions of years. Let us not bring the fossil fuels up from the ground so that we can burn them, their particles rising into the air to return back to us in rain water. Let us not re-engineer the rice so that we get three crops a year instead of two, but are forever dependent on the manufacturers of the rice seed, because it is a sterile, patented product now. Let us leave Mars to the science fiction writers and give up thoughts of permanent homes on the Moon.
For just one day, let us be something less than what we could be. Let us have something less than what we could have. Let us look at what is possible and say, “no thanks,” in favor of what is preferable. Let the moon be for poets who make meaning out of its reflection on a lake. Let all things be as they are born and enjoyed just for that. And may you too be loved and embraced just as you were born, needing no embellishment or proof of your worth. Let how we treat the least among us reveal a societal identity we are proud to claim, one that leaves each of us feeling safe and secure even as we rest in the pure essence of our being.
For just one day, let us not earn our keep. Let us instead be still and listen to the birds sing in the trees, watch the wind blow in the leaves, feel that same breeze against our skin, and smile at how lucky we are to be living on Earth.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
Today marks the holiday for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who dedicated his life to the freedom and dignity of all people, just as they were born. He was slain by an assasin’s bullet, but you still live. There remains a hope that if you dare, if you have the courage and the conviction, you may claim your life as your own and set yourself free.
This is an invitation. Be still and know that you are God, that God is all there is, and that that is good enough.
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.
Looking through the photographs in the New Year’s Honours List, I am struck (as usual) by the quite exceptional ugliness and vulgarity of the faces displayed there. It seems to be almost the rule that the kind of person who earns the right to call himself Lord Percy de Falcontowers should look at best like an overfed publican and at worst like a tax-collector with a duodenal ulcer. But our country is not alone in this. Anyone who is a good hand with scissors and paste could compile an excellent book entitled Our Rulers, and consisting simply of published photographs of the great ones of the earth. The idea first occurred to me when I saw in Picture Post some “stills” of Beaverbrook delivering a speech and looking more like a monkey on a stick than you would think possible for anyone who was not doing it on purpose.
When you had got together your collection of fuehrers, actual and would-be, you would notice that several qualities recur throughout the list. To begin with, they are all old. In spite of the lip-service that is paid everywhere to youth, there is no such thing as a person in a truly commanding position who is less than fifty years old. Secondly, they are nearly all undersized. A dictator taller than five feet six inches is a very great rarity. And, thirdly, there is this almost general and sometimes quite fantastic ugliness. The collection would contain photographs of Streicher bursting a blood vessel, Japanese war-lords impersonating baboons, Mussolini with his scrubby dewlap, the chinless de Gaulle, the stumpy short-armed Churchill, Gandhi with his long sly nose and huge bat’s ears, Tojo displaying thirty-two teeth with gold in every one of them. And opposite each, to make a contrast, there would be a photograph of an ordinary human being from the country concerned. Opposite Hitler a young sailor from a German submarine, opposite Tojo a Japanese peasant of the old type—and so on.
—George Orwell, “As I Please,” January 7, 1944
Every time I wash up a batch of crockery I marvel at the unimaginativeness of human beings who can travel under the sea and fly through the clouds, and yet have not known how to eliminate this sordid time-wasting drudgery from their daily lives. If you go into the Bronze Age room in the British Museum you will notice that some of our domestic appliances have barely altered in three thousand years. A saucepan, say, or a comb, is very much the same as it was when the Greeks were besieging Troy. In the same period we have advanced from the leaky galley to the 50,000 ton liner, and from the ox-cart to the aeroplane.
It is true that in the modern labour-saving house in which a tiny percentage of human beings live, a job like washing-up takes rather less time than it used to. With soap flakes, abundant hot water, plate racks, a well-lighted kitchen, and—what very few houses in England have—an easy method of rubbish disposal, you can make it more tolerable than it used to be when copper dishes had to be scoured with sand in porous stone sinks by the light of a candle. But certain jobs (for instance, cleaning out a frying-pan which has had fish in it) are inherently disgusting, and this whole business of messing about with dish-mops and basins of hot water is incredibly primitive.
Washing-up, like sweeping, scrubbing, and dusting, is of its nature an uncreative and life-wasting job. You cannot make an art out of it as you can out of cooking or gardening. What, then, is to be done about it? I see no solution except to do it communally, like a laundry. Every morning the municipal van will stop at your door and carry off a box of dirty crocks, handing you a box of clean ones (marked with your initial, of course) in return. This would be hardly more difficult to organise than the daily diaper service which was operating before the war. And though it would mean that some people would have to be full-time washers-up, as some people are now full-time laundry-workers, the all-over saving in labour and fuel would be enormous. The alternatives are to continue fumbling about with greasy dish-mops, or to eat out of paper containers.
—George Orwell, “As I Please,” February 9, 1945
On one occasion a Dog-Rib Indian chased a squirrel up a tree until he reached the sky, where he set a snare for the squirrel and descended. Next day, instead of the squirrel, the sun was caught, and darkness at once ensued—in other words, the sun was eclipsed. “Something wrong up there,” thought the Indian, “I must have caught the sun.” So he sent up a number of animals to try to release it, but they were all burned to ashes. Finally a mole, burrowing through the ground of the sky, succeeded in gnawing the cords asunder. But just as it put its head through the ground, a flash of light put its eyes out, and it has been blind ever since. The sun, however, after this experience, travels more carefully.
—Alexander Porteous, The Forest
A little while back a young American soldier had rung up and I asked him to stay the night at our flat. He was quite interested and said it was the first time he had been inside an English home. I said, “How long have you been in this country?” and he said, “two months.” He went on to tell me that the previous day a girl had come up to him on the pavement and seized hold of his penis with the words, “Hullo, Yank!” Yet he had not seen the inside of an ordinary English home. This makes me sad.
—George Orwell, summer 1944 Partisan Review
There are no nations, no parties, no ideologies.
There are only queens. And kings.
It was a test. And there were people that passed, and there were people that didn’t pass.
When we did the show up in Portland—to give you an idea of someone who passed—some businessman, just walkin’ around on the street, came in; we charged a buck, and for a buck you got to see us make all our noise, and the Dead make all their noise, and anything else that happened.
This guy was in a suit, and he had an umbrella. He got the customary cup of stuff. And about midnight, you could see him really get ripped. Somebody who’d probably never been anything but drunk on beer. But he looked around, and he saw all these strange people, and he looked down, and the spotlight was showing down on him, and he saw his shadow.
And he stands up straight, puts that umbrella over his shoulder, and he says:
“The king walks.”
“The king turns around.”
“Now the king will dance.”