Peace, love, contentment, to all.
To that day. When we all go together.
Into the great wide open.
because the light is beautiful
Peace, love, contentment, to all.
To that day. When we all go together.
Into the great wide open.
It was as though they were sluggish oxen who refused to move. The world was a cart to which they were yoked; Jesus goaded them on, and they shifted under the yoke but did not budge. Looking at them, Jesus felt drained of all his strength. The road from earth to heaven was a long one, and there they were, motionless.
—The Last Temptation of Christ, Nikos Kazantzakis
After this world war, the United States and the USSR may unquestionably emerge unhurt when all other nations are devastated. I can imagine, therefore, that our country, which is placed between these two giants, may face great hardships. However, there is no need for despair. When these two lose the competition of other countries in their respective vicinities, they will grow careless and corrupt. We will simply have to sleep in the woodshed and eat bitter fruits for a few decades. Then when we have refurbished our manliness inside and out, we may still achieve a favorable result.
—Lord Koichi Kido, to Emperor Hirohito of Japan, December 3, 1940
Isoroku Yamamoto was a gambler. Though cards, and other games that matched him against fellow human beings, were too often too easy for him; shortly after he learned poker, while attending Harvard, he thoroughly cleaned out his classmates.
So roulette was his game. Like most who have become truly entranced by the wheel, Yamamoto understood that it was there that one may best flickeringly apprehend the ineffable laws of chance, and, maybe, occasionally, fleetingly, ride them. Aboard the wheel, Yamamoto became one of the few people ever to “break the bank at Monte Carlo”: that is, he won more chips than were present at the table, requiring that a black shroud be thrown over the whole works until replacement chips could be summoned. Yamamoto often mused aloud that he would like one day to quit his day job, and open his own casino.
Yamamoto was also a conjurer, adept in feats of magic. His speciality was making things disappear. At a White House dinner in December of 1929, he enchanted down-table aides to President Herbert Hoover by vanishing coins and matchsticks.
In December of 1941, Yamamoto successfully vanished an entire fleet. One moment the ships were in port, there in Japan; the next moment, they were gone. Reappearing some days later, unobserved, off the coast of Hawaii. From this disappeared fleet, was launched the attack on Pearl Harbor.
As a gambler, Yamamoto didn’t think much of his country’s imperial adventurings. He pronounced the invasion of China doomed: too much land, too many people. He likewise predicted failure for any Japanese war on the United States: too much wealth, too many resources. While traveling in the States, Yamamoto had passed through oil country in Texas, and there observed in one field more oil than was present in all of Japan. War runs on oil. Japan didn’t have any. Once the US and its allies ceased shipping oil to Japan, the taps ran dry. By December 7, 1941, many of the private vehicles in Japan still on the road were running on charcoal.
But although he thought it a mistake, Yamamoto, at his emperor’s command, devised the plan of attack on Pearl Harbor. And when that attack was over, it was Yamamoto who in the States was made to shoulder much of the blame: the nasty little arch-fiend of a sneak who perpetrated the “day that will live in infamy.”
And thus it was that, in April of 1943, Yamamoto’s spirit disappeared from his body. Departing through a bullet hole in his head, drilled there at the personal command of President Franklin Roosevelt, who had ordered Yamamoto’s assassination. In “Operation Vengeance.” America much more honest and direct, then, in its operational code names.
“I have this beetle here in one hand,” Aristotle proclaimed one day, “with a single oval shell and eight jointed legs, and I have here in my other hand this second beetle of lighter hue which has twelve legs and a shell that is longer and segmented. Can you explain the differences?”
“Yes,” said Plato. “There is no such thing as a beetle, in either of your hands. There is no such thing as your hand. What you think of as a beetle and a hand are merely reflections of your recognition of the idea of a beetle and a hand. There is only the idea, which existed before these specimens came into being. Otherwise, how could they come into being? And the form of the idea, of course, is always eternal and real, and never changes. What you are holding in what you think are your hands are shadows of that idea. Have you forgotten my illustration of the cave in my Republic? Read it once more. That the two beetles you have are different is clear enough proof that neither is real. It therefore follows that only the form or the idea of the form is susceptible to study, and it is something about which we will never be able to learn more than we already know. Ideas alone are worth contemplating. You are not real, my vain young Aristotle. I’m not real. Socrates himself was but an imitation of himself. All of us are merely inferior copies of the form that is us. I know you understand me.”
—Joseph Heller, Picture This
It could have been that our own hearts turned to stone. It could have been that we inscribed vengeance on our banners of battle and resolved to meet brutality with brutality.
But we understood that oppression dehumanises the oppressor as it hurts the oppressed. We understood that to emulate the barbarity of the tyrant would also transform us into savages. We knew that we would sully and degrade our cause if we allowed that it should, at any stage, borrow anything from the practices of the oppressor. We had to refuse that our long sacrifice should make a stone of our hearts.
The time for the healing of the wounds has come.
The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.
We must act together as a united people, for the birth of a new world.
Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.
Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.
I will return.
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
The wood of the madrone burns with a flame at once
lavender and mossy green, a color you sometimes see in a sari.
Oak burns with a peppery smell.
All winter long I make wood stews:
Poem to stove to woodpile to stove to
typewriter. woodpile. stove.
and can’t stop peeking at it!
can’t stop opening up the door!
can’t stop giggling at it
crazy as Han Shan as
Wittgenstein in his German hut, as
all the others ever were and are
Ancient Order of the Fire Gigglers
who walked away from it, finally
kicked the habit, finally, of Self, of
(which is not, at last, estrangement)
—Lew Welch, “He Thanks His Woodpile”
From the beginning, as a Spanish colonial town, Los Angeles was a tough place, whose first building was the jail. After the Mexicans were dispossessed by the Yankees in the 1850s, with a chicanery that is typical of the place, it remained for the next twenty years the worst frontier outpost in the West, with whorehouses, weekend murders, and frequent lynchings of Chinese and Mexicans. The Protestant churches even closed down and abandoned the city to the devil—and the Roman Catholic Church.
—Frank MacShane, The Life of Raymond Chandler
Time for another episode of “Overheard in LA,” in which little conversational gems culled—okay, stolen—from the laist featurette are rendered here for red readers. I so enjoyed the last one I posted, back there in September, that I thought I’d put up another.
To refresh: these are Real words, uttered by Real lost angels, which touchingly reveal who they are, and what they are about.
—”Oh my god, I just realized they didn’t play ‘Gangam Style’ at our wedding!”
—”Oh my god, that dog is so cute. You should have it stuffed when it dies.”
—”Oh my god, I just got the best parking spot. I am going to change all my plans for the day.”
—”Why would anyone squeeze juice out of a giant mammal and drink it?”
—”If they can make watermelons seedless, I’m pretty sure they can make dogs that don’t shit.”
—”I don’t need to be drunk to be a stripper.”
—”After a wax, all my follicles are sore.”
—”It looks like the collagen is only in half of my lip!”
—”I spend a lot of time alone, so I change my look a lot so the people I talk to in the mirror always look different.”
—”People in L.A. are terrible drivers. Trust me, I almost hit a bicyclist, like, every day.”
—”Don’t you just hate it when your WiFi doesn’t reach your hot tub?”
—”Yeah, I guess I could just go home and write some songs.”
—”She never worked again after she got a nose job.”
—Young woman: “If I pay for coffee on a date, I devalue myself.”
—”You are the first guy I have dated in years that doesn’t have an iPhone. I still feel weird that your messages aren’t blue.”
—”I’m going to outsource my next breakup.”
—”He wasn’t a vegan. He was a Vulcan. It’s a different dietary situation.”
—”They’ve gotten more sexy now: Brussels sprouts.”
—”Spit that gum ball out. It’s not good for you. IT’S NOT SUGAR FREE.”
—”It’s a paleo, gluten-free, probiotic wrap. And it’s farm-to-table!”
—”Maybe I’m, like, just not meant to eat kale.”
—”I wouldn’t say I’m manorexic, but I’m giving up sugars and dinners.”
—”Whatever you do, Aaron, don’t get blackballed from Bay Cities the way our last intern did.”
—”My brother was re-birthed in a men’s group today. He literally simulated a vaginal water birth in a pool surrounded by men. He really had some breakthroughs. Apparently our mom was stressed during labor.”
—”I swear on my hamster’s life.”
—”I hate Waze. Buncha assholes telling me how to drive. I don’t need to crowd source my self-loathing.”
—”Halloween stresses me out. I can’t tell if people are celebrating early, or just back from their estheticians.”
—”I’m really shocked by the lack of Jesus in California.”
—”Will there be Xanax in heaven?”
—personals ad, espied in the FreeBeeAuto shopper, just before it was fed into the Fisher
I had some remarkable students at Yale . . . But as for the students of the early 21st century, one of the surprising things about them was what they didn’t know. They simply didn’t know much about what had happened in the world before their own existence. History, a lot of literature, was just not open to them.
Q: How do they understand America?
I think they took it absolutely for granted in some ways, and let’s say that their attitudes were extremely simplistic. They saw it as behaving dreadfully or behaving with transcendent virtue. And they didn’t seem to be able to figure out that there were these many problems, that there were these fine gradations. I was surprised by their inability to reason closely as to motive.
(More Veterans Day. Because there can never be enough. Until it is over.)
Here, if, from 3:27 on, you hear, and you are all and every spirit in human: then, Veterans Day, it is over; because war, is over; because over, too, is any and all killing; because, finally, Thanatos himself, the heap-big mewling coward, is over.
But a ghost.
Long gone away.
Spring comes to Kirrie, all the world’s in bloom
Winter is forgiven now, fooled by April’s broom
Kirrie, oh Kirrie, you were aye my hame
‘Til Napoleon’s bloody cannon hit their aim
Jeanie, oh Jeanie, I am surely done
Stricken down in battle, at the mooth o’ Boney’s guns
Jeanie, oh Jeanie, aye sae dear tae me
Let me hold you in my mind, afore I dee
For the cold returns in autumn
When the wind rakes the trees
And the summer lies forgotten
In the cold bed of leaves
As winter begins, aye mind Boney
It wasn’t only you
Who was broken on the fields of Waterloo
Nowadays, when I write a review, I sit down at the typewriter and type it straight out. Till recently, indeed till six months ago, I never did this and would have said that I could not do it. Virtually all that I wrote was written at least twice, and my books as a whole three times—individual passages as many as five or ten times. It is not really that I have gained in facility, merely that I have ceased to care, so long as the work will pass inspection and bring in a little money. It is a deterioration directly due to the war.
—George Orwell, War-time Diary, 17 June 1940
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
The first thing that must be understood about Science Men is this: they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.
To wit: the latest wonderment to bleed from these people: that there was oxygen on this planet hundreds of million of years before they previously thought there was.
Kind of a boner, there.
Squeal like a pig.
In truth, they’re just groping.
Like everybody else.
And the only truly really way to get there, near as I can tell, at least on this planet, is through, first, knowledge and appreciation and attention and empathy, which results in pain, and pain, and pain, and pain, and great loneliness; and then, through magic, and through childhood, and through grace, there may be achieved a conscious uncoupling of oneself, from all and all of all their all and every, and a return of thyself, to from where we all did came: the great wide open.
when i was a child
i spake as a child
i understood as a child
i thought as a child
but when i became a man
i put away childish things
and now, we see through a glass, darkly:
but then: face to face
now i know, in part
but then, shall i know
even as also i am known
and now, stays: faith, hope, charity
but the greatest of these is charity
for though i speak with the tongues of men
and of angels
and have not charity
i am become as sounding brass
or a tinkling cymbal
and though i have the gift of prophecy
and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge
and though i have all faith
so that i could remove mountains
and have not charity
i am nothing
Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
—William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
So far as I can determine, Darth Cheney has always been controlled by Fear.
He grew up—a child—in Caspar, Wyoming. Staring across the endless wastes. Where there was nothing. Nothing at all. Least of all: him. Amidst all this nothingness. Young Darth. He became Afraid. So lonely. So cold. Just . . . so lonely.
And then, his corporeal container, it failed him. Utterly. And early.
In 1978, when Darth was but 37, a massive real-bad heart attack, attempted to carry him away. This he, somehow, survived. Six years later, he had a second heart attack. A third came after four more years. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery at age 47. In late November of 2000, while waiting for the United States Supreme Court to complete its judicial coup, and thereby elevate Darth, and his minion George II, to the vice presidency and presidency, of the United States, respectively, Cheney was hit with a fourth heart attack. A fifth struck in 2010.
In the many meantimes, Cheney underwent coronary artery stenting, urgent coronary balloon angioplasty, the implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator. Etc., etc., and etc. He also had fitted this and that and the other, and more, pacemakers.
In the spring of 2011, amid desperate and extraordinary attempts to extend his life, he became a man with no pulse.
Basically, Darth Cheney is a roboman. Nature, it tried to carry him off. And many years ago. But technology. It keeps him keepin’ on.