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The Melancholy Of Anatomy: Fuku II

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 yesgradually 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 there is

The Melancholy Of Anatomy: Here II

They saw wild pigs running near the lake, and a soaring osprey. The mountains drew closer. Papyrus grew beside the water. Pelicans made their geometric, card-trick pterodactyl dives.

They had reached the edge of the Paz petrol roadmap Lucas had been using to navigate. Its corner sections were worn awayinto the great wide open and missing.

“Do we have a decent map?” Lucas asked.

“Just this,” said Sonia.

She handed him the rental car company’s map. It was not very detailed.

“This is the kind of map that killed Bishop Pike,” Lucas said.

“The one for us,” said Sonia.

—Robert Stone, Damascus Gate

The Melancholy Of Anatomy: Fuku

for mi Anacaona

They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Taino, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles. Fuku americanus, or more colloquially, fuku—generally a curse or a doom of some kind; specifically the Curse and the Doom of the New World. Also called the fuku of the Admiral because the Admiral was both its midwife and one of its great European victims; despite “discovering” the New World the Admiral died miserable and syphilitic, hearing (dique) divine voices. In Santo Domingo, the Land He Loved Best, the Admiral’s very name has become synonymous with both kinds of fuku, little and large; to say his name aloud or even to hear it is to invite calamity on the heads of you and yours.

No matter what its name or provenance, it is believed that the arrival of Europeans on Hispaniola unleashed the fuku on the world, and we’ve all been in the shit ever since. Santo Domingo might be fuku’s Kilometer Zero, its port of entry, but we are all of us its children, whether we know it or not . . . .

—Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Much about the Admiral is not known. Where he was born, and when: these are not known. The arc of his early years, when and what he studied at the University of Pavia: these, too, are not known. Where he obtained his ideas of geography, this is not known. The Admiral, it developed, did not know geography: he believed, to the end of his days, that where he landed in 1492 marked the far eastern fringe of Asia.

What is known is that when the Admiral stepped ashore on Hispaniola, he brought original sin to the New World. For the policies he pursued there exterminated that island’s people, the Taino. Every one.

All the Indians of these islands were allotted by the Admiral . . . to all the settlers who came to live in these parts; and in the opinion of many who saw what happened and speak of it as eyewitnesses, the Admiral, when he discovered these islands, passed sentence of death on a million or more Indians, men and women, of all ages, adults and children. Of this number and of those since born, it is believed that there do not survive today, in this year 1548, 500 Indians, adults and children, who are natives and who are offspring of the stock of those he found on arrival.”

Today, “the Taino survive in the shape of one’s eyes, the outline of one’s face, the idiom of one’s language.” All the rest, is gone.


The Melancholy Of Anatomy: News II

“News” is here to make you afraid. To fill you with Fear.

Ebola eye-bleeding the president on TV ISIL beheading drought policeman truncheon big black buck knife foam-fleckedold-man-laughing Mesicans streaming cross the border anti-abortion vaginal probes even up your anus all the water through climate change gone Chinese descending in parachutes Mongol Russians roll tanks polar bears howl on icebergs there Are No Jobs burger-meat this week $5 a pound Someone Looked At Me Nasty probably They have an ebola or sarin bomb This Means for sure The End Times.

Shut the shit off.

In your own life, away from the “news,” are people trying to kill you? Steal away your domicile? Extinguish all of you and yours? At least even, even mildly, dis you?

Or does the world look mighty much finer, when you just regard what is, around you, rather than get sucked into the “news” room, which is dedicated to gathering up and spewing, non-stop, each day, the very worst that human beings are doing to each other, from and on and atop each four corner of this here earth?

Truth is, here in the real world, everybody is pretty much okay.

Everybody is pretty much this guy:

A man has two legs. He’ll build a house—from cellar to rooftop, with his own hands. He’ll put seeds in the ground. He’ll watch the sun and the rain at work. He’ll take a woman to bed. He’ll find enough tenderness and love to get him through the day. You’d think that man deserved a little something. You’d think that man was worthy of a jot or two of sympathy and consideration. You’d think that maybe someone would say, Let’s just let him alone for a while, and see what he can do.

But what “news” does, is concentrate on the aberrants, the bad mutants, the freakazoids, the let’s-eat-brains people, the serial killers of the various worlds’ armed forces, to try to make you all fear fear fear.

Fuck that.

The world is a nice place. And so are the people in it.

Except the people, you find in the “news.”

Duality is such bullshit: there are, in truth, in reality, so many shades.

But here, in this world, on this planet, at this present time, people want most often to see it, all of what “it” is, in opposing twos.

That is why, in all your finest songs poems literature art etc, you see it—all, the world—in terms of “love” and “fear.”

But hey: dividing it like that: if you have to have twos: into “love” and “fear”: I guess that’s a good start.

I guess. : /

Then you go “furthur,” as the Kesey bus did—always—say.

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 who he isall 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.”

William Blake, wandering in his garden, nodding to the angels, he did say, that the problem, here on this Earth, was that the doors of perception, they have not been cleansed.

Yeah, well, mine: they’ve been cleansed.

As have yours.

I see you, as you really are. As you also, when you really look, see yourselves.

All of you are naked. All of you are alive. All of you are awake. All of you are without fear.

And all of you—kings, queens—are dancing. Into the great wide open.

The Melancholy Of Anatomy: Vote

The Melancholy of Anatomy: Gate

In Feerie pour un eautre fois Celine has taken the plunge. Instead of stopping at the gates of the spirit world he has marched in.

Prose has been left far behind, so has ordinary reality. Celine is making a conscious attempt to exhaust the possibilities of language. Alongside his linguistic exuberance runs the sense that language is inadequate and must give way to music and dance. Numbers are an alternative to words. The shapes and lines which the planes trace in the sky are yet another form of expression. Celine is showing a world full of signs that the artist must decipher. He can only express it by becoming a musician. The bars of music that recur in the closing pages are proof of this. All of Celine’s linguistic innovations are an attempt to reach the other reality that those few notes contain.

In doing so he lays bare the forces that shape the universe—the cry of pain, the web of time, the dance.


The Melancholy Of Anatomy: Holy

Florentino Ariza listened to him without blinking. Then he looked through the windows at the complete circle of the quadrant on the mariner’s compass, the clear horizon, the December sky without a single cloud, the waters that could be navigated forever, and he said:

“Let us keep going, going, going, to La Dorada.”

Fermina Daza shuddered because she recognized his former voice, illuminated by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and she looked at the Captain: he was their destiny. But the Captain did not see her because he was stupefied by Florentino Ariza’s tremendous powers of inspiration.

“Do you mean what you say?” he asked.

“From the moment I was born,” said Florentino Ariza, “I have never said anything I did not mean.”

The Captain looked at Fermina Daza and saw on her eyelashes the first glimmer of wintry frost. Then he looked at Florentino Ariza, his invincible power, his intrepid love, and he was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits.

“And how long do you think we can keep up this goddam coming and going?” he asked.

Florentino Ariza had kept his answer ready for fifty-three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights.

“Forever,” he said.

—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love In The Time Of Cholera

When I Worked

October 2014
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