Sunday, March 10, 2019

Breakbulk


The internal constitution of a word feeds the slow hum of a blue induction which is empirical and positive a taste for the immediate the rapture of fish tangled in gossamer webs of diamond dust
Your weather is a personal matter an overall distorter of reality blue and yellow and green an escape from the constraints of reality what a big wig you have
That spot of piss in the cat’s litterbox looks like freshly poured cement the speedometer of our car is spitting hardware and very humble church candles there’s a medication for this novel harmonies and vigorous rhythms strands of turmoil dripping with violins
Reality must be an awful place although there is wisdom among the masses a thoroughly romantic feeling the Kotoko of Chad are descended from the ancient Sao civilization who are known for their intriguing statuary in clay and fine personal ornaments in copper and iron today Lake Chad is disappearing it has shrunk by nine-tenths due to climate change
This line is a single strand of wire that supports nothing but itself
I have a formula for communion a longing for spring I pave an entry into trance
This is a mosaic of words it exists for and by itself literally and ranges in color from bone-white to Roman gold it’s robust and globular a big sound an epistle to the stethoscope pungent in creosote like a call to awakening the final flare-up of something about to die somersaulting in my breath a drama involving bedsprings and underwear and emotional intensity or cubic mass gathered at an unnamed place
The healing propagation of stars find me at home I have a bunch of ideas struggling for expression fossil-bearing semantic strata objects underwater feelings of oceanic bliss embedded in consciousness linear intricacies ancient rocks we keep the universe under the bed for reasons of safety it acts as a connective tissue and can be detected by its openness and transparency and weightlessness which releases energy by combining words
The elegy for elephants moves along its path swinging its trunk through a series of foreign keys I never realized what a kiss could be your kiss is like a sonata of membrane that seems to groan in a sugar paste somewhere in southwestern Greenland
An emotion is transformed into motion when it rumbles in enunciation and someone gets up from the couch to open a window space is there to be shaped vision is sounded in a fog
The cultural mechanics that manufacture religion have turned toward the embodiment of energy the earth is billions of years old and has begun to smell like a garage every little thing has just gone crazy a sense of reverence is critical to the understanding of thread
The poem has acquired a new flexibility although it has worn down by running water we can still make out certain features the world is an egg and will outgrow the problem of fate orioles hatch about 12 days later and are noteworthy for their flute-like songs
The mechanism that powers poetry has been shoved into a bouquet of stars here is an organ for nourishing an unborn horse go ahead open the welcomed doors of new imagined worlds we will fuse the words together at white heat while imitating organic substances things like oysters and cheese mental health prophylactics I hobnob with mushrooms and as you can see living forms spring out of the material itself without regard for the laws of gravity
Think of a colossal wagon drawn by animals camels elephants peacocks bears I seek salvation in art I envision a body of words imparting movement forward propulsion I can display both nerve and conviction via the physics of sentiment the slippery smell of a night fallen into the Mediterranean suffused with the spirit of dance sensuous and huge without being soft I will simulate an understanding of your legs let us embark on a raft of octaves sit at the piano and flower gently into the smell of the Italian courts the measured shuffle of shoes the first breath of air when the big oak doors open and the sunlight hits your eyes and everything rushes in at once causing privacy and cargo


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Auditions For Hamlet


I have an itch to travel I study the zipper on my pants it gives me something to do most of my emotions are incongruous they lead me to an intriguing seclusion and I slip into another dimension
I don’t like getting old I like to sweep the ceiling with my eyes looking for other worlds other things that I can say about this one the fabric of this sense requires a structure like a tent set up in a park it needs poles and a framework it needs prisms and goulash it needs Hound Dog Taylor there’s a light shining all around me this is the rascal called poetry it causes my balls to rattle I exhort one and all to visit a junkyard it’s our new sideshow built entirely out of sugar
Right now I’m busy doing push-ups I need to get my shoulder in order it hurts all the time I don’t want to see an orthopedist but I will if I deem it necessary at some point
I might do some things here that I haven’t done before I might produce energy using words I’ve got a little device here it’s made out of calliope hearts ascension is aided by an oboe I purify it with the seamlessness of a fetus
Hanging in the closet
Don’t be seduced by so many worries some of them are abstractions bubbling with minds I twinkle like a thyroid gland among the magisterial camels of a caravan headed to Djibouti
Rip the stiches apart and you’ll find a heart beating beneath the stars are made mostly of hydrogen anything technicolor is proof that a drink is aggressively red if it’s a bloody Mary and the day is grand and large as Nevada the emotive pulse of a noble resistance visits me at night what is a mind I’m only sleeping but one day I shall awaken and rise and assume the form of Euclid’s ghost
My ancestry is bacteria microbes of the Archean era stromatolites and grandmother thrombolites microbial mats formed in shallow water please recall that mass equals energy and by doing so win a sound in China imparting words to no one in particular as a boy I was put in the outfield where I could daydream and pretend to catch the ball when on rare occasions someone hit it into my air space I stood there luminous and trembling until one fine day I sat watching the Beatles in Hamburg John Lennon goofing wearing a toilet seat around his head newly minted coins of air opposed to empire
I like pebbles and planets because I’m a little clumsy and amber is the umber of lumber experiments in knife throwing tonic cement supersonic coffee empire is no umpire the pain in my heart won’t let me speak where can my baby be
I step into the garments of magic I have a new ingredient for happiness it’s awkward to say such things I feel like a caboose on a Cubist train I hold a world teeming with grouse and shine like a sinus I’m focused on a poem by Max Jacob the window sighs
Look here at these rocks collected by Apollo astronauts you’ll never break this heart of stone darlin’ you won’t break this heart of stone you’d better go home I dream of Ireland I like to dig the earth I like to drop anchor and study the beach alpha particles flying through tinfoil crows on a wire
Texture is the literature of touch the eyes throw themselves at paintings the jellyfish are hungry for personalities I do what I can and boil I like to stretch out on the bed having taken time to cool from a molten ball this is my only Cézanne before we split into groups and look I can see the rain underwater this is my chemical identity gushing with elbows that were once adrift in space Heidegger’s hammer emitting photons before the rumor found its milieu and I drive a Subaru thus proving the old adage that a novel must be made of durable twilled cotton cloth and have words in it and exciting ideas thrown with a light quick action into writing where it all happens sand dunes and fragments of shells depressive realism and auditions for Hamlet


Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Death Of Gravity


The map of bamboo thrives in an exultation of steeples. There are roads one can take in life that go in truant sequence, like a rogue meow that declaims reality to be a valve, or marketplace. I see the avocados. But what are these? I believe they’re students of hope. The vagaries of hope. The soaps and gropes and tropes of hope. The students bow in concentration. They weep. Their tears become patents. The patents are only valid if there is tip-toeing and multiplication. Otherwise, they’re just nozzles walking around in a wooded area.
Hope is a Polynesia entangled in caresses of moonlight. I like drugs. But do drugs like me?
Drugs and hope go together like glands and augurs. Consider this pancreas. It rests in a bucket of ice controlled by two knights with lances. It was the prized possession of a great prince who lived in a palace of ice eating oysters and caviar and humming songs gathered from West Virginia. If there is a sleeveless one-piece dress in the closet you may put it on. You can wear it to the Ball of the Magic Pancreas. Do you have balls in your life? A life without balls is a life lived steamily amid jigsaws. Everything is a puzzle. Primeval traffic. Meaning encased in syntax. Sweet meringue scratched into existence with a blue rake and an effulgent cerebellum.
Imagine a propaganda based on punctuation. Make a bonfire on Saturday. Lend the pilot some gold. Nothing can come out of the breath but drapery. Everything else is satire.
Infinity’s vines are for rent. This will make our exchanges important and bend them into scales. I think, therefore I struggle. Coffee storms into my gums at the small café on the corner of your attention. We see tables and chairs. We see encroachments and uniforms. The careless organs of a swan. A poem by Stéphane Mallarmé eating a stadium.
The ratatouille of time is shaking in its book. I have a pound of wind with which to build a narrative of shoals and yo-yos. The detached sumptuous foam of a howling storm inserts its literature into the fungus and scenery of an existential contusion. A reader’s eyes move back and forth scraping meaning out of a page of hints and innuendoes. The leg of a cat drinks movement from a bird. The whole incident provokes a metallic tongue into making pencils of sound. We back away from the door just before a house comes crashing into real estate.
The buffalo were plugged into veins of Cubism. We plunged our minds into the problem of light. The answer brightened into unconsciousness. A few of us began to float. Some of us used oarlocks. Other used truisms. Everyone meanders. It’s a fact of life. Even the eyes of the crocodile reveal a primordial reverie as they glimmer just above the surface of the bayou.
The constant drumming has made us thin and urgent. Any rhapsody can cure a claw but can a claw cure a rhapsody? The claw is just an excuse for genuflection. Spread the limestone on the bread and the landscape will precede its own hills in a trance of speculation. The crime universe was parked next to a satyr which made everything feverish and new. The tar package jumped into cognition, and this modernized my dignity into a young male horse, which was fast, and worrisome, and made of words. I felt, at last, the airplanes sell themselves to the death of gravity, and put my trust in voodoo. 


Monday, March 4, 2019

The Opposite Of Despair


I’ve been haunted by feelings of maladjustment my entire life. For starters, I’ve never embraced the core values of United States culture: the idiotic obsession with money and its confusion with real wealth; the love of guns and violence; the virulent anti-intellectualism and exaltation of team sports; the hyper-militaristic supremacy and supposed right to dominate and exploit other people and resources; the blithe disregard for harming or inconveniencing another person or group of people; the infantile belief in the power of positive thinking and its consequent egotistical, willfully ignorant and mean-spirited assumptions about poverty, particularly the cruel policies criminalizing destitution and ascribing its causes to the personal failure of its victims. The United States is now essentially a dystopic, barbaric oligarchy with a powerful extortion ring called healthcare, a rapacious appetite for oil and a foreign policy based on bombs, hellfire missiles and warrior drones.
Strangest of all, is the cultural obsession with Christianity. If it were the real deal, if Christian fundamentalists espoused the teachings of Christ and lived accordingly the United States would be the polar opposite of what it has become. But it behaves in just the opposite way; it has far more in common with the Roman empire and its disciplined legions than the man who stood on the mount in Galilee and espoused beatitudes of mercy and forgiveness.
I find all this deeply confusing, mystifying, and contradictory since I grew up in the United States. I’ve never lived abroad. My early childhood was spent in Minnesota and my path from adolescence to adulthood occurred in Seattle, Washington. I absorbed the values of the United States. My parents were 2nd generation Americans, the schools I attended were all in the United States, and all the movies and TV shows I watched dramatized the mythologies of American life. Yet, at about age 15, I began to reject these values. I’m not sure how that came about, but books like Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984, Kerouac’s On the Road and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had a lot to do with it. As did magazine articles in the late 50s and early 60s about the revelations ascribed to hallucinogenic drugs like peyote and psilocybin.
And then the Beatles: I can’t emphasize that enough. The Beatles were more than a rock group, more than a sound. They challenged the prevailing paradigms, both in England and the United States. And they did so almost by accident. They didn’t set out to subvert values and revolutionize anyone’s outlook. It was the music itself that did that. Suddenly, it was ok to be odd, to be silly, to be eccentric. You could be effeminate. You could dress weird. You could spurn the American dream and its toxic materialism. You were at liberty to evolve however you wanted. And this was accompanied by a spirit of fellowship and benevolence.
Not so much the Beatle’s immediate counterpart, The Rolling Stones. Their sound derived from the blues, from black culture, which arose out of hundreds of years of enslavement and institutional violence. There were definite subversive elements in their music, but its energy was decidedly more hedonistic and centered around the pleasure principle. It was openly sexual. It was unembarrassed by its inherent contradictions. It was Dionysian. It was defiant and urgent and brilliantly sassy.
And then there was Bob Dylan. Dylan drew on elements of Dada and Surrealism and gave the cultural momentum of the riotous 60s its poetry and drive.
I was lucky to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood during this time. I had a subculture. I had support. Friends. Lovers. Generosity and goodwill. What happened to that subculture is another mystery. It didn’t take long for it to be co-opted and commercialized and trivialized into inanition. I strongly suspect that much of that had to do with the fact that many of the principle players in that movement came from families of affluence.
Today there is very little subversion in evidence. In the music industry (which is most certainly an industry with all the pathology that the word ‘industry’ implies) you’ve got Rap, which I don’t much care for, but glad it exists. It’s full of anger and defiance. It’s aware. It’s engaged. It’s motivating. It’s abrasive. It’s a far cry from the poetry of Chuck Berry and Smokey Robinson but it’s something. It’s a manifestation of hostility to the status quo, even when it celebrates gangsterism, or exalts the power of wealth. I can hear the language of maladjustment in it: a rise in temperature for a culture turned abysmally cold.
None of this, however, answers the ongoing riddle: how is it possible to absorb the values of a culture and then find oneself embattled and burdened by them?
I look for some clues in Morris Berman’s book A Question of Values. Berman is an historian and social critic who moved to Mexico in 2006. He describes how pervasive a culture’s values are, how virtually inescapable. He refers to this phenomenon as tribal consciousness, and refers (as a partial explanation) to the theories of Richard Dawkins about the nature and the power of the meme: “an idea, behavior, style or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” It’s a virus that colonizes the brain. “Memes are essentially replicators, and their mode of transmission can be likened to a contagion.” He is also quick to point out that the meme theory itself is a meme and “can be seen as a meme, moving through society like a virus.” “But this,” he elaborates, “takes us into a classic situation known as ‘Mannheim’s paradox,’ because the scientific status of the theory is called into question (it too is a fad, in other words).”
If the values of a culture are transmitted by this quasi-genetic unit called a meme, is there a way that once can be vaccinated or develop an immunity against it? Were the Beatles, in the days of my youth, a form of counter-virus? Sure, but within the narrow framework of meme theory, the counter-virus becomes the new virus and there is no such thing as a non-meme world. There is only the Beatles, no Captain Beefheart or Frank Zappa or Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Morris doesn’t discount the meme theory so much as emphasize its pervasiveness and offers – as a form of antidote – another sociological theory called “nonparticipating consciousness.” “It all comes down to reflexivity,” he declares.

Can we break the hold of the meme-trance, and look at things from the “outside”? After all, intuitively speaking, heavy bodies should hit the earth faster than light ones when dropped from the same height, and we can plainly see the sun “rise” in the East and “set” in the West. Getting outside of the (medieval) meme here means that we look at evidence that is counter-intuitive; that we recognize that there is an objective truth to the situation that doesn’t give a damn about our personal or tribal belief system; that one can stand outside a situation and evaluate it, and extend this analytical mode to our own beliefs, and to who we are.

I am not, I should add, claiming that nonparticipating consciousness is without its problems; indeed, that was the entire point of my book The Reenchantment of the World. But it is also the case that there is too much that simply cannot be solved from within a strictly mimetic framework, and this is why we need to ask if the Enlightenment tradition can ever be made to “stick.” Reading its late twentieth-century representatives – I am thinking of philosophers such as Peter Singer and John Rawls – I am often frustrated at how naïve they are, because they are clearly taking about how people “ought” to behave (i.e., rationally) and not how they actually behave (i.e., tribally). What planet are you guys on?

Singer and Rawls don’t have any clear ideas on how to get to such a place, and frankly, neither do I. My guess is that force, not reason, will be the deciding factor in a whole host of areas as the twenty-first century wears on. But it’s challenging to think about what a non-mimetic path might consist of.

We’re all stars in our own personal movies. We write our own scripts. We do our own directing. There’s a lot of creativity involved. What gets in the way of that creative impulse is much the same as what gets in the way of original film makers: finance. You need to please your investors. This leads, inevitably, to a diluted project, an endeavor so compromised by vested interests that it’s no longer recognizable, much less original or authentic.
Psychotherapist Donald Winnicott offered a theory of the authentic self – an instinctual, spontaneous being expressing itself freely and autonomously – as opposed to a false self that is sensitive to the signals of other people and is always eager to please and be rewarded with approval. Erich Fromm gave this theory a spin by claiming that the inauthenticity of the pseudo self is a way to escape the loneliness of freedom. This is similar to the earlier claim of philosopher Sorën Kierkegaard that “to will to be that self which one truly is, is indeed the opposite of despair.” The despair, that is, of choosing “to be another than himself.” The one thing all these theories of the self have in common is narcissism. Narcissism doesn’t have to be a bad thing, there are such things as a malignant versus a healthy narcissism, but it continues to mire the self and the values that go along with that self in the larger dynamic of culture and its norms. It does suggest that if one manages to unchain the authentic self from the dictates of the norm one might be able to live more fully, more intensely. But a lot of that élan might well be spent in constant conflict with the society in which one lives. The trick is in learning how to be authentic without always being at loggerheads with people, without disrupting the social fabric to such an extent one is forever unemployable or quite possibly in jail.
There are a surprising number of words to describe people who have a tough time adjusting to the rigors of conventional society – in particular, capitalist society with all of its stupid, soul-killing jobs – few of which are without a pejorative resonance: kook, weirdo, oddball, screwball, wacko, nutjob, eccentric, freak, beatnik, hippie, bohemian, outsider and misfit. I was delighted to find that there is a blog devoted to “Outsiders and Misfits” by Wesley Stuer (https://www.outsidersandmisfits.com/blog). His book recommendations include – quite robustly – books by Charles Bukowski. Excellent choice.
I have a special place in my heart for Charles Bukowski. I enjoy his poetry, I like the baldness of its confessions and affirmations and the unaffected transparency of their situations and the easy spread of the words across the page. I don’t give them quite the respect they deserve because they don’t appear crafted in a way that calls out for anyone’s respect. They’re not fussed over and self-consciously assembled to please the academicians in the postmodern poetry world and now that the beat era is all but forgotten and poetry has been helped back into the universities again like a drunk put to bed in a hotel room, Bukowski’s poetry would be facing extinction were it not that it continues to find an audience among other disaffected misfits. Like Kerouac, they’re especially popular among the young.
Bukowski’s prose is where his real flair for clarity, audacity, and observation occur. Few writers capture the shabbiness of the world but also its terrible beauty as lucidly and openly as he does. And he lived it. There’s little that has been made up. I know Bukowski’s world. He spent 15 years as a mail clerk. I spent 19. He continued to drink. I quit. I admire Bukowski’s determination to continue drinking, however horrific the hangovers. Here is one of my favorite Bukowski quotes about drinking: "Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you're allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It's like killing yourself, and then you're reborn. I guess I've lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now." 

Friday, March 1, 2019

A Minute Past Pink


The nipple has been washed without harm. For this, and many other things, are we thankful today. My ears are attuned to the evolution of viewpoints. Birds sing. The clouds mutter their therapies of rain. I wear a hat of stars and alligators. A piquant sunlight awakens thoughts of matter and density and points to the boiling of leaves during office hours. Gauze curtains blow inward where Fanny Brawne lies on a bed. I emerge into tolerance and drift toward summer. I climb into bubbles and perturb the statistics of a cornflake station wagon. Loud red feathers stream behind my head. The muse of torment gives me a dollar. I buy a cheap microphone and deliver a lovely jeremiad to no one in particular. If you want an audience for your reflections, look in a mirror. I guarantee that something about makeup will elongate into victory over the vagaries of nature. This is the instinctual part of the mind, its protocol and druids, theism and drums. I feel suddenly graceful, like elevator doors opening, or a leak in my chest revealing truant emotions. I need a lot of wool in order to say what I think. My sense of angels drops into empirical bombast. Worries tumble in my mind like the noisy temperatures of a dead clock. I swim among almonds. My name is tied to a jar of clay. It contains caviar. I hurry to wax the footstool most immediate to my perception. Apple blossoms pull libraries of thunder out of the air. The river considers itself red, but the clouds are a constant source of imprecision. The maple totem has succeeded at percussion. Beauty disrupts our voyage. Distance is an attitude, not a necessity. We go where the wind blows. We go where the snowshoes decipher the snow. Where the seven tigers of whoever and whatever convene in grooves of ancient music, and the reason for zeal is understanding, and understanding is understood as radar. If anything of this comes to a boil, I will end neurosis with a scowl and scramble the meaning of bricks with a few good protons and a parenthetical trowel.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Peripatetic Ducks


The twang of a guitar gives us a brain full of music. One trigger triggers another trigger, as they say, and before you know it there is an oyster tickling your explanation for water. I float upstream and lie there staring at the ceiling. My intestines seem faraway, bunched in ooze and teasing Montmartre with a resurrection of lost saloons. The warp of a warm front twinkles over a crimson lake. It feels gold, like a moral, or a crack in the wall letting the sunlight through. The cardboard elegy is dipped in seven seas and given an anatomy of sidewalks and stilts. This makes everything words. I stumble through the apparel of my mind looking for something nice to wear. I need to murder a cloud at the aerodrome. We don’t need obscurity, we need flight. We need elevation. We need to combine wisdom with muscle and muscle with cartilage. It’s only proper to move around and dance to the music of the Beatles. The TV has thus modified its pixies and become a placenta of modern culture. Everything you need to know about Belgium is hiding inside a piano. The age whispered paper, but the bagpipes created animals of authentic fur and collar studs. A sexual fantasy scratched its genitalia with a tired enthusiasm. The garden, meanwhile, spit deliverance at a subpoenaed parakeet. A burned pickled named Dyl dropped by occasionally and told me stories about spurs and horses and the kind of anticipations that might arise in the middle of the prairie. I showed him my fingernails and he left in a huff. I took a bite of energy and bought an engagement ring for the planet Venus. This is what happens when a language broods in your indignation. All sorts of verbs come loose and become a tidepool of amusing nouns and peripatetic ducks.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Dread Ahead


I’m not ready for the future. I’m so used to electricity, running water, food procured easily at a grocery store, the ability to contact other people by phone or internet, that their lack is inconceivable. I’m spoiled. Beyond spoiled: I’m so tightly connected to this apparatus – what people like to call “the grid” – that I’m not even sure where my identity ends and the external world begins. I don’t feel separated from the world by my body, a unique, singular identity nicely enveloped in this soft, highly pliable organ called skin; I feel connected by my skin. I don’t feel a separation from the world at all. I feel very much a part of the world. But this conception is a luxury. It’s the product of leisure. Of freedom. Freedom from brute survival. I don’t need to hunt. I don’t need to seek or build a shelter. I’m part of a giant social network called civilization that takes what it needs from the environment and wraps it plastic and puts it on a shelf in a store. And even that setup is disappearing. I’m now more apt to find what I need via a corporate colossus called Amazon. What would I be without this set-up? I’d be fucked.
If the grid were to collapse, I’d be lost. It’s not even a question of if; it’s a question of when. My mind races in circles and spirals searching for a plan, a strategy, a series of actions I can take to prepare for this horror. Should I buy a gun? A pistol for protection and to prevent our neighbors – crazed with hunger – from eating our cat? A rifle to kill squirrels? How do you prepare a squirrel for eating? What kind of stove can I buy that won’t require electricity? How many squirrels will be running around in a densely populated neighborhood of starving, disoriented people who – even on the best of days – evinced very little in the way of kindness or courtesy? Signs of the collapse are woefully present already. Every day I see people who appear hollowed out by a combination of technology and social isolation, zombies staring emptily at smartphones, people stewing with unmet needs and personal injuries in the lines at Starbucks.
Should I be buying canned goods? Fruit cocktail, bean and bacon soup, Dinty Moore beef stew? A solar charger? A prepper pack? Mayday survival bars? What about bathing? Illness? A nice private place to defecate without stepping in someone else’s deposits?
Will something in me heretofore unexpected suddenly emerge and turn me into a tough, enduring, self-reliant mountain man like Hugh Glass or Jedidiah Smith? Do I have capacities I don’t know about? I doubt it. I wore a coonskin cap in the 50s. I also earned some badges as a cub scout, but I forget what they were for. I vaguely remember making a radio with the help of my dad. That’s as close to self-reliance as I’ve come so far.
Most of the time, I sit and gaze into the void without a clue. Every time there’s a power outage we get some flashlights and candles out and wait patiently for the energy to return. The key word here is ‘patience.’ That’s the first and only implement in our survival kit thus far. The ability to wait for power to return. And enjoy a dinner of ham sandwiches by candlelight.
Depression, observed Rollo May, is the incapacity to construct a future. I can construct a future, but it’s a very bleak one. It strongly resembles what Cormac McCarthy mapped out in his novel The Road.
I envision horrific temperatures of cold and heat, massive hurricanes, ginormous tornadoes, respirable air and potable water sorely diminished, crop failure, famine, disease from the Paleolithic pathogens in the thawing tundra of the north, not to mention the diseases already afloat form the growing pandemic of homelessness and habit loss in the world, hordes of brain-devouring zombies attacking our door with hatchets and bloodthirsty determination.
Today, we still have electricity and running water and food to cook and eat. I’m typing this on a laptop which is connected to the rest of the world via Wi-Fi. And I’ve had a tough time adjusting to this world. I’m a writer writing at a time when fewer and fewer people are capable of reading and are far more inclined to play a video game anyway. They could be functionally illiterate and not give a damn. Try to sell a book in these circumstances. Ron Jonson made a tidy sum writing about porn. Do that. Write about porn.
Or don’t. Just saying. People don’t read for style. People read for content. Big tits and blow jobs. That’s where we’re at as a society now.
I don’t remember the last time I went camping. I think it was sometime in the 80s. I drank then. Maintaining a nice alcoholic buzz helped considerably when going a few days without a shower or running water. Some of the campgrounds had public bathrooms equipped with the basic amenities, a sink and a toilet and a mirror. I liked swigging beer and gazing at a mountain. A nice warm shower at a motel was just a few miles distant in time and geography. I could think about other things than hunting animals. I could think about Zen. I could think about my next beer.
A course in survival training might be helpful. But these classes are based on the functioning of a planet – planet Earth – as it has done for millions of years. Until now. The climates are different. Everything is different. Survival training will teach you how to catch insects and eat them. But there has been a dramatic decline in insect populations. I’m not sure crickets and ants and stinkbugs will still be on the menu. I suspect the menu of the future will include things like shoes and cannibalism.
Then there is the option put forward – albeit, of necessity, somewhat vaguely – by the writer Deb Ozarko, author of Beyond Hope: Letting Go of a World in Collapse. She has said that when the going becomes intolerable, she has a “graceful exit strategy.” I’m guessing morphine.
It’s comforting to think of that moment in the movie Gravity when Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) floating in endless space, his only chance of survival the parachute cord which Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) has caught with her foot, which is attached to what is left of the space station decimated by debris from a disintegrated Russian satellite, both of them clinging insecurely to the strand stretched to capacity, taut and delicate, both arriving at the sober conclusion that the survival of Ryan Stone will only have a chance of Kowalski lets go of her hand. Which he does. Calmly. Stoically. Gracefully. We watch as he floats away, receding into the infinite reaches of space to die in his spacesuit as Doctor Stone comes to the sobering, terrifying reality of being totally, utterly alone.
And then there’s that final, glorious scene at the end when Stone swims ashore from the lake in which her space capsule – Tiangong Shenzou (shenzou translates roughly as “divine vessel”) – has sunk to the bottom, and she crawls onto the sand and weakly manages to bring herself to stand, erect, under a gorgeous blue sky still streaked with the meteoric burn of disintegrating, falling spacecraft. This place called home, which is itself rapidly disintegrating. I hope, when the time comes, I can let go as calmly and stoically as Matt Kowalski.