Sergio Romero is a young engineering student at an Ivy League university where he is trying to find a girlfriend, for love and sex, in the Spring of 1969 before he is drafted into the US Army to fight in the Vietnam War. Can he evade the military draft at the height of the war to pursue his career goals and to find a woman he can share love with, without missing out on both and having his young life cut short? This is a story of young people bursting into adulthood at a pivotal time of great uncertainty and creativity, filled with beauty, tragedy and promise, and it is a story of friendship.
Let me tell you something. You may have a wife, or husband, or somebody you’re legally married to, and maybe also parents, and children, or family people you have dependent on you, and you fret, you worry, and anticipate that they may tangle you up in another drama or crisis or legal or emotional mess, and it may drag on and on and on, and weigh you down, and suck up your time, and drain your bank account, and eat up your paychecks, and gobble up you house, and you just want to figure out how to plan for a smooth getaway without sacrificing your love of your needing ones or making you feel guilty about betraying them, and no government, or bank, or church, or relatives, or EMTs, or hospital, or friends, which don’t actually exist, are going to land johnny-on-the-spot like Superman or Batman and rescue you when the disaster finally strikes and knocks you flat, because everybody else is in the same suspended hazard as you are and has no slack in their lives to worry about anybody else, or they are filthy rich and making book on the general misery so no way are going to be sympathetic to nobodies like you, and so you ask yourself: will I and my people be okay?, will we make it smoothly all the way?, can I just get a clear sign not to worry?, can I know that all will be safe?, can I be sure that they won’t wig out? So, let me tell you the truth: everybody — is — fucking — nuts. Count on it. Best you can do is be ready to jump to it when the shit hits the fan, and to dance with the disaster without freaking out, and let go of what you’ll need to accept is being ripped off from you, and forget having anyone care about your personal emotional drama on it all, or about getting the right mood pills and needles to cocoon you in evaporating amnesias, because there’s no out from the zone for you however much you would like to think there is, and you’ll need to do all that letting go so you can keep going on and keep as much of your sanity as you can manage, without giving up. So that’s the truth: there’s no hope and don’t give up. Maybe you’ll win life’s lottery and all will be fine, just don’t plan on it. Maybe it’s all part of God’s Plan for you to bring you a deeper truth out of a world of pain, well that’s all bullshit for suckers so forget it: nothing good comes out of pain and suffering, at best there is only relief if and when it stops. And after that, recovery?, well that’s just good luck; bad luck is called “relapse,” end of parole, back in the slammer, yeah you were framed, wasn’t everybody? But aren’t some people guilty because they’re stupid? Yeah well, everybody’s stupid to some degree or other, and face it we have all decided that we have to die way sooner than we really have to because we have to stay stupid, we must, because that is who we are. We call that freedom, rights, comfort, even religion. See what I mean: stupid. So there you have it: everybody’s fucking nuts, you live in their insane asylum, there’s no way out and we’re all going to die alone together from now until the cows come home. There’s no hope, just don’t let it get you down, and don’t give up. Might as well enjoy the show. Now, can I get an “amen?” Oh, and don’t forget to “like” and “subscribe”!
Today, I saw the early dawn sky over the ridge on the far side of my canyon lighten from deep dark to softening grey, through the freshly rained-on forest standing on my downslope. Then the sky diffused into soft blue. A burst of brilliance on the east point of the ridge-cusp signaled the emergence of the Sun. That sharp white light streamed out to me skimming the glistening green of the forest floor below me making the new sprouts carpeting the ground radiate their green glow and igniting the uncountable number of droplets in the forest to sparkle. The clarity of the cool air made every surface that light fell on crystalline sharp down to vanishing detail, and the warmth of that light penetrated into me and everything as I watched it pass the coiling swirls of my breath’s evaporating condensation rising slowly into the advancing day.
The sound of dawn was a scattered chorus of birdsong, some distant and some quite close, like the hummingbirds twizzling and twittering as they buzzed boring through the air and sending me their acknowledgments for the sugarwater I hang from the eave of the house in glass feeders. My cat, who is a fluffy splotch of night, fixed his knowing yellow searchlight eyes on me as a brother of the dawn outside the house then looked up to a hummingbird he knew he could never reach and with a flick of his tail walked off into his jungle. To have a true knowing connection with an animal it is necessary to always show them a consistency of kindness that gives them complete freedom. The same is true of making a true knowing connection with another human, but humans are less reliable in their behavior than are other animals.
If someone asked me for an understanding of the human world by dividing it into just two categories, I would have to give them as: those who are suffering, and those who relieve suffering. We each spend parts of our lives in each category, and sometimes in both at once. If I were then tasked to state just one rule that each person was supposed to follow, as the purpose of individual life, it would be: spend as little time as possible causing suffering.
Our human world is steadily and unevenly dying because we resist allowing ourselves to fashion societies and their governments that are designed entirely to relieve suffering. Were that so, I cannot see how Nature would not favor us with environments that were paradises despite their majestic ferocity.
I came back into the house to spend some hours writing this while looking out my large window at the expanding morning, and just as I was finishing my cat nosed his way past the door of my room, jumped up on the bed next to me, and I stopped writing to very slowly and gently stroke his lush black sheen just as he likes for quite a while, as he arched his back into my hand and then gradually coiled up laying down. He moves as smoothly as an eddy of smoke in still air. He would look into my eyes and bob his head, and I knew he wanted me to run my dull claws across the back of his neck and back along the line of his lips, as he began the deep internal vibration we call purring. His inner eyelids closed as his eyes rolled back while his outer lids closed, and he smoothed down his shiny fur with his rasping tongue before resting into an elegant quiet stillness.
It is all here wherever you are: to see, to know, to feel, and to be. That is my one wish for everybody.
Quantum mechanics is the condensation of existence out of nothingness, which statistics coalesce into continuity and causality, to roil as an ocean of heat that expands into entropy dissipating all memory into a fathomless frigidity of unbeing. God is in the hopes and hubris of man, Goddess is in the anxieties and emergent life by woman, the Afterlife is the Afterdeath of Consciousness dissolved and reabsorbed. Humanity will flourish to the extent it is generous, and it will perish to the extent that it is selfish, enlightenment is to know, salvation is to do, every Heaven is ringed by its necessary Hell of exclusion. Your only glory can be to light a brief candle in the eternal dark, whose afterglow carried in your heart would be your peace on sinking back into the emptiness. Reincarnation is the eruption of knowing from unknowning, the birth of future and past embraced, to diverge on each side of present until they merge once again into the embrace of nonexistence. Wisdom is the glare of sunlight streaming through a rain-bejewelled forest onto the eyes of dreamers lost in their shimmering illusions, moonlight shattered into sparkling ripples on the dark sea of night breathing silence, the entwined songs of life eddying and cascading, rivers to the sea, rains to the mountains, I am all that can be: a moment of the fountain.
I am glad to have survived to this point So I could see this beautiful day Of bright cool sunshine Filtering through the trees of my canyon In this November after the first rains After the yearlong drought With the eucalyptus leaves and pine needles Speckled with gems of light, and The fresh grasses exuded from the grateful earth Ablaze with translucent green radiance From the low winter angle of the rays Combing through the quiet of life’s renewal As gentle eddies of breeze caress the fronds And carry my drifting memories Back to the afterglow of my distant glories Freed now of the agonies they required, And hope that my sins cast out of memory Have long been forgotten by the aggrieved, As the freshness of this day has forgotten The uncountable agonies across eons It has renewed itself beyond into new gratitude With its unbounded possibilities For the simple pure joy of just being.
We are fleshy knots of emotion peppered with thought all woven into the great web of life connecting each to all even in their loneliness of free will to be enthralled by the illusion of gaining isolated protective power by saying yes to the extinction of others without ever letting that mirage evaporate to reveal ourselves as those others. Perhaps it is best to let everyone spin in their self-referential bubbles of dramatic trivialities designed to produce personal destinies of terminations in helpless surprise, if for all our deepest commitments are to avoid knowing ourselves in reality so as to hide from responsibility for not acting to stop destroying our world by that willful unknowing. So, I am silent. Life has no purpose if it has no end, but we would have no grace if we ended life by clinging to our delusions as purposes. So once awakened we go on through life’s void of meaning till that end is imposed on us because to stop before then is to defeat ourselves by letting that void rob us of the only purposes we could ever possibly have in reality: honor with compassion, beauty with truth, adventure with love. And in that way we achieve meaning in our own times, being passing grace notes in the eternal void.
Everyone wants to be heard, even me. Nobody wants to listen, even me. Everyone wants change, even me. Nobody wants to change, even me, but I will as needed to go on just to see how it all plays out though I already know. I am redundant except to pay, my audience gone, my knowledge old, dustbinned by new that recycles yet again, its drama riveting, the same suspense intact, pyramids ever built up as ever they crumble, linear thrusting of insect minds, of viral compulsion, detached blind in a field of light unseen. Watts happening? Refrigerate the drought to dry ice? Compress it to stone?, to diamonds? Sublimate it once again in viral aspirations?, pyramidal masturbation? Vanity dreaming its blackness mirrors light imagined endlessly returning. I watch. Symbolist Melville’s Moby-Dick turns once again ramming through our implacable fragility. Cold darkness rolls over the sinking wreck drowning all memories even God’s. I’ll go on. Failure is certain, Sam Barclay assures, but don’t quit. Just don’t say anything. It’s hopeless. Aye, O’Flahertie, the only worthwhile company is oneself. Keep on talking to yourself. Someone might overhear and tell you to shut up. Success! This castaway Ismael floats on coffined history knowing no Rachel is destined to sail its white-winged grieving heart’s succor by. But at least I’ve seen, and know. That is all.
Phillip appeared: I see you’re a modern married man. How can you tell? Your clothes are wrinkled. That could be true for a bachelor. No, they pay for wash-and-fold by the bag. They could be poor. No, vanity is totality, appearance obligation, they laundromat it themselves, you machine wash at home and get brainwiped from drying. I hang it on a line outside. Yes, except when you forget because listening is required, you wear the wrinkled badge of courage of the modern feminist man. Sometimes I rebel. Harmlessly, when your socks mismatch. What should I do? As you are, why add more suffering? I see: say nothing and drink alone unseen. Its best, love disguised as peace. The indeterminate illusion of eternity is finite even when you see through it. Enjoy, why not?
I want a dinner of sautéed mushrooms and Veuve Clicquot, cioppino and Pouilly-Fuissé, Renoir and Chateau Margaux, Mozart at midnight. Breakfast eggs fried over bacon at dawn’s riverbank sandbar campfire by the hauled out canoes, fresh coolness beckoning another paddle down the shimmering burbling ribbon to light’s wide horizon, somewhere beyond nightfall, behind the thrumming of crickets, prophesying.
I saw a world dawn today That will never see another day As sunlight streams through evaporating mist Quivering pinpoint rainbow lights Bejeweled spidersilk enmeshing forest green Deep out to vanishing sight of glowing sky Earth’s heaving bosom steaming rising light To crystallize air fractured by bird calls Overturning the ceaseless awakening Pristine indifference to our thoughts Of self-regarding nothingness grasping void That disappears all wanting And can never be all love The solidity nothingness imagines Even memories descendants are destined to forget What never was learned and never remembered Like the dawning of this world today A world that will never see another day Like this blazing taste of freedom in The glistening rainwater halo on these twining twigs.
From rain to rain, From rain to light.
Of what use is our warmth If not to pass on as love to others? To fear the world’s end Is to imagine obligating immortality. Absorb the dawning light Exhale the breath of night There is no loss no mystery Only blissful sleep bathed in light. Will my bones parch in desert sun? My legacy a dusty swirl that fades from eyeless sight? Our lost world ever sinking stern first Into the cold icy ocean of indifference While I, a misanthrope write poems of love To a world made miserable with visions from above The mindless matter of matterless minds The perennial pinings of humankind.
19 December 2019 — 19 September 2021
Here the ways of men divide. If you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe; if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then search.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
There have been a few times in my life when I could see the total reality of our human world, and where it was going, with complete clarity. 2011 was such a time. This is not to say that I am some kind of genius or seer, but simply that by 2011 I had lived long enough, had learned enough and experienced enough to have my sense of awareness fully opened and finely sharpened to understand the full spectacle on display. It was a fortuitous combination of the flow of life and the pure luck of being. But it was nevertheless true: I saw, I knew, and I wrote some of it all down.
But what I also knew by then was that such moments of insight come with the realization that one is existentially alone: nobody else, however conventionally close and loved, can truly know your experience or feel your truths. And this is always true though one is usually oblivious to it because one is bedazzled by the moment-to-moment immediacy of their enthrallment with their desires and fears and emotions in the ever-changing ever-flowing kaleidoscope of personally experienced life.
So to be fully aware is to realize that one is a perpetual outsider, like Meursault in Albert Camus’s brilliant novel L’étranger. It’s not that I wish to be apart from people I conventionally love — children, spouse, family, even friends — or from the clubs I wish to be a part of, like that of the political Ezekiels ardent to bring about the socialist utopia of brotherhood and sisterhood they can so easily imagine and which few if any are prepared to actually bring about; no, it is simply that the conscious experience of being alive — and knowing — is completely unitary even as we are myriadly interconnected as social beings, as a species, and as organic forms of life.
So my instances of being prescient can only illuminate reality for me, they can never affect the perceptions of others, nor alter the course of human events. In that sense I am Sisyphus, and Meursault, alone in a world of implacable absurdity despite its many miraculous beauties flung across space and time like a spiderweb bejeweled with droplets from the first rainfall of the year now glinting and sparkling in the sun of a fresh new dawn.