It's like a movie I came into in the middle. And suddenly I know that I know how it ends. But I don't know how it ends. If you take my meaning. I just moved and the books are mostly still in boxes. Out in the garage. Or in here. I don't know; that's the point. On the other hand, everything worked. The trip to Chicago, the apartment, the money, the move. Chicago has so many beautiful women. In the Loop. I was in the loop at last. Loup garou. Nailed to the barn door in the Colorado sunshine. Remember that? No, probably not. And all through it I was thinking about manifest destiny. Not my own, though hah, that's a good one. No, in the 19th Century. Mexico, California, Oregon. That one. And I'd found this book. I forget now what it's called, but oh yeah, by a guy named Brands. Bigtime U.S. historian, looks like. This was before the women in the loop. I sat there on the last morning, or maybe it was the first morning, I was allowing for that, drinking coffee, waiting for one to walk by. I didn't have to wait long. I knew I wouldn't have to. They were all over. And they liked the way you looked at them when you looked at them that way. Not like here in Boulder. Not hardly. Nice shoes too. And me all the while thinking about manifest destiny.
The night before, I'd gone to the Borders store I saw when I got in off the el from Midway. Nice ride, after a war. So I finally went there thursday night. Had to. A compulsion. Couldn't stand it anymore. It was way better than the Borders here. I found Liquid Love (Ziggy Bauman, surely you remember that) right there on the shelves. But I didn't look because I knew it was on the way from some used Amazon reseller. I don't want to spoil the party so I'll go... Liquid Love. The fragility of human bonds. Something like that. They're all in boxes now, though, and I'm offline, so no quotes, no links, no errors.
Running into Brands, though, that was in the Barnes & Noble here. Before I flew north, still not knowing where I was going to live. Or how. Sounds dramatic, I know. That's because it was dramatic. Brands, I've been trying to say, says in one of his books that's in a box somewhere around here but I don't know which one, maybe the same one with Liquid Love, which came the morning I moved, lucky thing, that the first spike, the first apogee of the manifest destiny meme coincided with the Second Great Awakening. I wasn't sure what that was, something religious I could tell from the context, but it rang a deep bell. It's 11 o'clocke, do you know where your drugs are? Frankie called on the cell as I was in the History aisle at the Borders in the Loop. Yo, dude. But I'm distracted looking for a couple books that Daniel Boorstin, former Librarian of Congress, former HUAC informer, said in a footnote were the only trustworthy sources on manifest destiny. I take Boorstin with a grain of salt, former HUAC informer, but he knows this shit better than I do. I give him the benefit of the doubt, though I'm not about to forget that he doesn't deserve it. Reds under the bed, Danny? So what you think is trustworthy may very well not be.
One finds oneself in so many similar situations in life.
"Why are you so over-invested in this relationship?" she said.
"When did you stop beating your wife?" I thought. Tar Baby, now you best say hello or I gonna clip you one good! But I know a little something about Tar Babies.
So I said: "Do we really need to use financial metaphors?"
Oh Elektra, Elektra! Take me to your Daddy's farm!
At the end, she said she was in agony. And after the end I asked her what that was all about. "I was just as invested as you were," she said.
I would have laughed if it wasn't quite so tragic. Quite so blind. Destiny turns on the radio. Tiresias says it's 9 to 1, the bases loaded. The dice loaded. And Elvis C. says every click every heartbeat... 45. It's meant to be ambiguous. The record is maybe scratched. Or he's chambering a load. A hot load? Could be that too. Oh Chicago! Hog butcher to the world! I was just as invested in soybeans. All these fucking vegetarians? Yeah, I saw it coming, made a killing. Carl Sandberg, I am with you at State & Lake.
Manifest destiny. Brands. The Second Great Awakening. The beautiful women would have to wait. I was onto something. Big wheel keep on turnin. My room 35 floors high, boats on the river, bridges collapsing in perspective to the horizon, neon twinkling in the water. Beautiful. And I'm landing the gig with Highbeam. All you killers / turn your lights on / 'cause there's a monster / under my bed... Ah, you must have been sleeping with Daniel Boorstin, then. Trotskyites in the Dewey Decimal System. Dit-dit-dit-dot-dit-dit. Yet another Enigma. Alan bites into the cyanide-laced apple. Fails the ultimate Turing test. Queer Studies not having yet been instituted at Oxford and Cambridge. Why were you so over-invested? Finite automata. A workaround for the Gödel bug. Singularity as manifest destiny. Also sprach Ray Kurzweil. Diodes, capacitors, printed circuits. Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Also sprach D. Dennett. Pandemonium, connection machines, societies of mind. Also sprach Warren McCulloch, Danny Hillis, Marvin Minksy. Winken, Blinken and Nod. If they wink and blink at you, it's hasta la vista, baby.
Old slave field holler I used to sing:
go down Hannah don't you rise no more
hey, hey, hey...
if you rise up in the mornin bring the judgment day
hey, hey, hey...
I was 16 and even then, you know? Black existentialism in those old cotton fields back home. Blacks, Indians, Mexicans, whatever. When the Lord gets ready, you gotta move. Mick wasn talkin bout no manifest destiny. But he might have been. Ambiguity is the soul of dit-dit-dit... yet another enigma. No fate but what we make? Yeah sure. A sop tossed out to the aging boomer babes who like to read Toltec fairy tales in bed with their vibrators cranked to STUN. Ooh! Ooh! Terminate me! Yeah sure, but maybe later. I'll be back. When the Intertext collapses in on itself, implodes, no need for links, there is no distance. I have experienced this singularity. And only I am left to tell the tale. American Renaissance II let's call it. Why not? Wherein I stuff Ralph Waldo's self reliance down his fucking cakehole. Cram it up your Transcendental-Vedanta Rope-Trick Oversoul, you Nazi schweinhundt! One must engage with one's material. Do I take it personally? You can bet your bottom dollar on it, babycakes.
A bit of context on the above, if you'll bear with me a moment longer. I know this is all terribly boring and (ewww!) negative, and that you could be debating who won the last presidential debate, or shopping the new Paris Hilton store on Amazon, but get a load of my virtual soul-mate (unbeknownst to her) Lauren Slater...
"We have long held in this country the Byronic belief that human
nature is essentially good or graceful, that behind the sheath of
skin is a little globe of glow to be harnessed for creative uses.
Benjamin Franklin, we believe, got that glow, as did Joseph Pulitzer
and scads of other, lesser, folks who eagerly caught on to what was
called, in the 19th century, 'mind cure.'
Mind cure augurs New Age healing, so that when we lift and look at
the roots, New Age is not new at all. In the 19th century, people
fervently believed that you were what you thought. Sound familiar?
Post it above your toilet paper. You are what you think. What you
think. What you think. In the 1920's, a French psychologist, Emile
Coue, became all the rage in this country; he proposed the technique
of autosuggestion and before long had many citizens repeating, 'Day
by day in every way I am getting better and better.'
But as John Hewitt says in his book criticizing self-esteem, it was
maybe Ralph Waldo Emerson more than anyone else who gave the modern
self-esteem movement its most eloquent words and suasive philosophy."
"The Trouble with Self-Esteem"
The New York Times Magazine
February 3, 2002
Day by day in every way...
In no particular order, I also read The Librarian a couple nights ago. By the guy who wrote the thing they made into Wag the Dog. Highly recommended if you want to know how this election could shell out. Plus, America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart and the Daily Show crew. Got laughing so hard in the bookstore, people were staring at me in alarm. I guess it looked like I was choking. I was. But on this, from the table of contents "Study Guide"...
And this from "Inside the Supreme Court" (p.94):
Chapter 2 The Founding of America
In this chapter you will:
- See graphic, full-color photos of America's birth
- Learn about the Founding Mothers and find out which ones were FMILFs...
Chapter 3 The President: King of Democracy
In this chapter you will:
- Learn that not everyone can be President and why people should really stop spreading that rumor
- Discover that most of what you've seen on The West Wing is total fucking bullshit...
"All I know is that everybody was fucking. Everybody. It was nine heads and 36 tangled limbs intertwined in a writhing, whirling dervish of group sex. Some guy -- a clerk I can only assume -- was twanging a sitar off to the side. Once in a while Scalia would break off from the orgy to cut hunks off a giant brick of hash with a Bowie knife. Then he remounted Ginsberg."
And, speaking of Emerson, I started Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult, with a forward by -- are you ready for this? -- Norman Mailer. Sure, Norm's dropped the ball a couple times, but hey, we all make mistakes. Right? True, they don't usually involve working to free known homicidal maniacs who, as soon as they're out on bond, murder their waiters because the soup was cold. Whoops. Nonetheless moving on, Mailer says that the book's "first virtue... is in its assiduous detail, its close description of the events and ideas of the occultists who gathered around the Nazis as practitioners, fellow travelers, and in the case of Himmler and the SS, as dedicated acolytes, fortified cultists."
Here's a bit of the recap from the book's conclusion:
"We have seen how some occultists -- what Aleister Crowley would have called 'Brothers of the Left Hand Path' -- were responsible for creating a peculiar moral environment from which the bizarre religious, racial, and political theories of the Third Reich germinated. We have also seen how the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion was introduced to the Western world by a Theosophist when it was already of the verge of being discredited in Russia. Indeed, both directly and indirectly, that fabulous creation of Madame Blavatsky -- her Theosophical Society -- can be found at the root of virtually all the occult societies that gave rise to the Thule Gesellschaft and, eventually, to the Third Reich itself.... Racial theory including the superiority of the Aryan 'race,' the supreme significance of the swastika and other runic emblems, the universal application of an initiated interpretation of world myths, and a 'scientific' approach to religion... all of this can be traced back to Theosophy."
In light of this lineage, the following passage from the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary is more than a little interesting, especially the second paragraph...
"Other associations and groups of students have been formed, such as Dr. Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophical Society, originating as an offshoot from the Adyar Theosophical Society. These do not all employ the name theosophy, but they use its teachings to a considerable extent, interpreting them according to their own ideas, which may not always agree with the 'Original Programme.' The number of independent writers who have derived their inspiration directly or indirectly from H. P. Blavatsky's work is rapidly increasing.
It is not necessary here to refer to the unseemly counterfeits, the vulgar parodies which pervert the true teachings of occultism and exploit them for questionable purposes."
I included Steiner in that clip because he founded the Waldorf Schools, which to this day propagate Theosophical concepts. There are at least three in Boulder, and hundreds throughout the U.S. and Europe. Perhaps your kid goes to one. Hers did.
Like a movie I came into in the middle because the Second Great Awakening reminded me of the Third -- been away so long I hardly knew the place -- referred to in the title of the seminal 1977 essay by Tom Wolfe, "The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening." It was about narcissism. In New York Magazine, no less. First of its kind. When I read it, I wondered what Awakenings One and Two were. It took me so long / to find out. / I found out. Now I'm reading about the Puritans: a biography of Jonathan Edwards, Perry Miller's The New England Mind: From Colony to Province, Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. Reading that last one on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall last night, new jeans, new socks, new shoes, a silk jacket because it's cool. Eating sashimi and gyoza right out on the street. Heart of the Beast. Reading Hofstadter. I ask you: how hip is that? How lonely? Increase and Cotton Mather. Shades of eminem. Melts in your enthusiasm, not in your doctrine. Theodore Frelinghuysen, George Whitefield, Gilbert Tennant, James Davenport. Evangelicals, Charismatics, Holy Rollers. In the Ozarks sometime later they'd be screwing around with live pit vipers. To prove a point. To prove to themselves that there is a point. And as Wolfe says, paraphrasing freely, once you bring religion into it: oh look out!
She came in through the bathroom window...
So reading till near dawn this morning: American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon by Stephen Prothero, chair of the department of religion at Boston University (did you know that nearly 25% of Americans say they believe in reincarnation?); and Rational Mysticism: Spirituality Meets Science in the Search for Enlightenment, by John Horgan, also author of The Undiscovered Mind and The End of Science, both of which I've read bits and pieces of. This isn't my usual fare, I know, but flash! I'm seeing this continuous line of vicious Anglo-Saxon euphemism running through the history of these United States of Mind, a pattern coming into focus like rattlesnakes suddenly in fallen leaves. Puritan repression snapping up the trunks like maple sap, shedding in sheets like roofmelt in a January thaw, breaking under the 100-year strain like a trillion-ton faultline slipping in slo-mo into manic echolalia speaking in tongues rolling on the floor laughing I am God I am I am. No guilt no shame. And fuck you! Blacks, Indians, Mexicans, Iraqis. Me. What a blessed relief. Now I don't feel so singled out, so... targeted. Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean that Narcissism + Religion ≠ Homeland Security. You are cattle, you are chattel, you are in the way. It's God's will. Manifest destiny. Move over. Shove off.
I like John Horgan. Which kinda surprises me. Because, as you know, I hate everyone. I hated Terrence McKenna. On general principle. Too much DMT. Too much white-boy shamanism, even if he was Black Irish. Just another drug-addled new-age nutcase. But Horgan made me like him. Probably wasn't McKenna though. Probably more like the Beatles. The magic was in the four of them. Alone they were insufferable. Especially George. Even Lennon, Yoko rotting what was left of his brain after all the booze. That bed piece in Toronto thing, jesus. So it wasn't McKenna per se (he would laugh, I imagine, if he were still alive). It was McKenna-Horgan-Borges I liked. (Borges is a story for another time.) One of those synergy things. And I also like Horgan because he thinks Ken Wilber is full of shit. Doesn't say it in so many words, but it's clear he couldn't stand the guy. With these discoveries, my admiration for John Horgan grew apace from 2 to 5am.
There's a lot about psychedelics in Rational Mysticism. But of course. LSD, psilocybin, ayhuasca. Peyote. Gag. The paper bag / was on my knee. I was getting flashbacks, those brooding alien Aztec cliffs high on mushrooms 22 years ago at Rocky Horror Dharma Center up near Red Feather Lakes. Pat Metheny on the box. Wrote about it once; google aztec metheny 55; probably find it. That interesting experiment in intractable pain, come around again lately, round the bend riverrun past Eve and Adam's. And Horgan's talking to this guy, Steven Katz, some postmodern religious studies prof, who says: "Drug experiences are irrelevant... because all they do is tell you about what is going on in your own mind." I burst out laughing. Dude! You are definitely not qualified on this one. Have you ever been experienced? No way. Here, take these two purple footballs and call me in the morning. If you can talk, that is. If you're not still so fucking awestruck by what's going on in what you used to think of as "your own mind" that you can't tell where your face begins and the universe leaves off. Can't even sing along: man I had a dreadful flight. You will though when it all comes unravelled. Trust me.
So I was up late again, all night just about, then crashed, had weird dreams, got waked up by the kitty wanting food, wanting out. A beautiful morning despite my brain damage with only like maybe three hours sleep. Took my meds. Made coffee. Started writing this. Three thousand words later I look up and it's night. Then daybreak and I'm still editing, adding bits. I think: this seems to be how it happens.
No phone line or DSL here until October 6. What day is it now? Monday, but that doesn't tell me anything. I have to go over to Starbucks to upload. Fucking T-Mobile those prices. However. I've been thinking about you guys for almost two weeks now. You think I'm kidding. I asked Tiffany to marry me Saturday night. She manages the Starbucks at 28th and Pearl. Plays polo. No kidding. She laughed and gave me a Turkey sandwich instead. But damn, it was good to see her after so long. And after so many strangers at Boulder Books. As I was leaving there btw, I saw this woman wearing what had to be a $500 designer knit sweater, at least $500 in the hand-tooled cowgirl boots. She had picked out A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Only in Boulder. Babe was a regular Wobbly, you could tell. These people are stupid and they have no shame. Not you, Tiffany. The sandwich was delicious. I devoured it soon as I got home. Japanese is like social construction. Fun, and it's tasty going down, but an hour later you're hungry again. You call me up, I'll demonstrate. Garnish you with cilantro. Ravish you with grated daikon and wasabi. We can eat with our hands. Build castles in the air. You can leave your socks on.