So, Jamie, you might wonder why it’s taken this long to get up another post about you? I needed time to think—that’s the answer. All the earlier distractions have stopped and to make sense of my new life come it’s taken me so long to put up another post?
I’m at a new stage. How to reflect that in this piece of writing? Like Philip Marlow in MURDER MY SWEET expressing how he felt the first time after getting “sapped”: “A black pool opened at my feet. I dived in. It never stopped.”
But you’re another kind of spaceman. More like the one whose umbilical connecting him to the ship gets cut by the evil HAL the computer and we watch, in 2001 A SPACE ODDESSY, as he goes tumbling in utter black emptiness. Forever and ever. While I’m the one that stays—that the computer doesn’t—or hasn’t yet anyway—disconnected.
You said you’d find me if you had to sniff me out.
You also by your love of the desert and the consequences of this are an example still—for me when my own time comes. What do I mean by this?
Oh there’s the nature mysticism you always quoted about how it was for you growing up. How in times of trouble you’d get of your horse and just ride out until you got far away enough from everything, every little sounds even, and it was total silence and you’d think: the hills crumble, those pine trees will fall. Just as they are born so all the animals too will do the same—come to an end. It’s just how things are. Things emerge—then go back. To what? you never asked—philosophy didn’t impress you much. But all that nature, and the blankness of just desert between things there, like the cactus and scrub—that blankness—maybe that was where things went?
You accepted your sickness and death just like that. You were no different from any pine or hill or mountain lion—everything comes from somewhere, wherever it is, stays a little or even a long time, and then—there it goes, back to where it came from: are we any different? you’d ask me. And that’s what gave you that sense of peace—right in the middle of pain—and acceptance, I saw. When it’s time, it’ll be your example I”ll be trying to follow. Just accept—acceptance.
Not that you don’t do what you can to avoid what you can. Like the pain. Like that story of your daddy who you loved—that’s engraved in my mind. When Jamie’s dad was dying—also, like his mom later, of lung cancer, he was in terrible pain. He’d ask his son, little Jamie at, what? maybe in his early teens? to bring him some of that Ole Jack.
So Jamie’d sneak in a pint of Jack Daniels to alleviate his dad’s pain. It really helped. Only there’s always a spoiler out there just waiting—to make good things bad, and bad worse. And in this case it was his daddy’s nurse: “Get that outta here we don’t allow that kinda stuff here now you go ahead and git it OUT and I MEAN IT.” Nurse Ratched. But once in a while fate is good to you—and passing by in the corridor outside this particular day was Jamie’s dad’s doctor. Who overhears this tirade—and lickity split roars into the room and snatches the bottle out of Ratched’s hands, to the sighs of relief from father and son, and he tells the nurse: Look, if I EVER…EVER…see you trying to keep a dying man from one of the few satisfactions he as once more, you’ll be outta here on your ass. And don’t think I’m kidding!
I like that story. Go figure. Justice isn’t always picky about being polite and genteel—like I guess the medical profession is supposed to be. And this is a town that’s so close to being still part of the American fronteer that you can smell it, taste it. One thing they did have going for them, despite all the bad parts I could tell you about—is rough-hewn or not—it’s not exactly law that counts the most but instead they invoke tradition. If a man is dying give him whisky goddamn you—GIVE it to him, he’s in PAIN.
I saw that—not about his dad dying—but the acceptance that shows through those leathery faces down there. At some point or other HAL the computer is going to get the other astronaut isn’t he? if you stop to think? It’s inevitable. And inevitable is next to accept.
So what about me then—the other spaceman awaiting HAL to get ME? At this point it can’t be that long can it? Can a person prepare?
This is where the next stage I mentioned comes in. When I made my trip to go see your family, Gaetha and Monty especially.
And I don’t know—it was something like a revelation I guess, like the one, the koan I mean, about the monk who does his zazen daily every time you’re supposed to, sees his master at dokusan for advice, reads the sutras—and everything. The years go by and he doesn’t achieve enlightenment. And I guess I’m kind of like that monk—going down to the desert to look for something not even knowing what. But I did. It happened. And like the monk—who having given up ever getting to be enlighted and having become an old man contents himself with just gardening—for the monastery. He’s given up all hope. He’ll never be enlightened but at least he can do good works to make better karma for himself for the next lifetime maybe. And then it happens. A tile falls off the roof—and suddenly: he’s enlightened.
She—your sister Monty-Jean—wanted to take me out and show me some desert I hadn’t seen yet, the altaplano, a huge mesa. We winded up and had a little lunch at one of those little hidden spaces in the cliff where there’s some trees and maybe a gas station and restaurant. After we climbed higher and reached the mesa—being now about, oh, maybe three or four hours into our day-long trip. We go along the flat land with every once in a while something green, then at this place, this certain place, she says why don’t we stop here?
We do. It’s the edge of the mesa and you can see along the stream in the canyon below itty-bitty dots that turn out to be pine trees. We’re higher up than I’d thought. She doesn’t say anything but just lets me do whatever it is I want to. I approach the edge—of the mesa—looking down. I smell the sharp smell of the pines to my right, and there’s a little bit of wind, not hardly any at all, but a little, that’s all, beginning top spring up. No planes or their sonic waste clutter this scene or the sky above—and all is just quiet. Total silence. I stand there and I stand—in total silence—and no one bothers me. I can take my time. I just let it sink it standing as still as I can just like you like to sit as still as you can on your zafu at meditation. Just silence. Emptiness—that’s incredibly beautiful. And it kicks me up a notch to this new stage. Where being there on the silent mesa all alone by myself and just letting it take over me, I can feel something happen. It’s not cognition. It’s not perception. It’s like the Ancestors say—mind and body fall away.
And that’s my stage, the stage I’m at now. It lasted—that time in the high desert—and it’s with me now still. And it’s changed someone about our relation—going from you being one person and me another to something that blurs or neglects that—so it just falls away. Have we merged molecular structures so we’re the same or what? Once you start to merge, it doesn’t end. Might start with nature. But it’s people too—us—you and me, darlin’, you and me now too.
The names Bruce and Jamie swinging on a porch. Dropping down on the desert like raindrops right before spring flowers come up. And in the evil little critters too, the tarantulas our car ran over, sunning themselves, the rattlers out there sometimes not two steps from you and you don’t even realize. All that.
I’m mixing this all up purposefully, I don’t want there to be any order that can make someone make a narrative out of it. Fuck narrative. These are just bits and snatches of something that the politics of time just would want to ruin, and I don’t want that.
So I”ll start doing a lot of backtracking now.
His death. Bruce asleep with his ear plugs as usual—what a dummy—doesn’t hear the hospital call. But getting up about eight real fast shakes off the sleep, realizes he has to check the phone for messages. “He died this morning at about 4:30am, we tried to get to you but nobody picked up—call when you get this.” I don’t think he’d miss my missing his death because of during that time when I was being a chaplain full-time up at UC Med Center? I noticed that really a lot of people wait for their family to go out—to get dinner or whatever. In other words they don’t die on our schedule but theirs—and mostly that means alone.
I grab little Sadie up under one arm—a position she doesn’t like (and lets me know this very clearly) but it’s easier for me when in a hurry. I throw on some clothes and then I’m off,twenty minutes later in the hospital, near his room. Someone wants to go with me. How come? Like I don’t ALREADY know where the room is, with the body of my beloved still in it, though now, I hear, all washed and “nice.” What an ugly word, nice. And anyway I prefer being in private when I want an emotional breakdown.
He’s all marble. This really beautiful wrinkle free and beautifully off-white color (all white is too deathly, called the “color of atheism” in MOBY DICK, which could be worse I guess). I mean he just radiates. I kiss him. On his forehead. Then that beautiful hand that drove me places, fixed the carpentry and electricity that went wrong—I was almost going to say his manhood. But no, that was limp. It implied to me when I saw it something almost contemptible—he wasn’t a man any more, a human I mean, a human being any more. It wasn’t about balls but about the change: from human being to just meat. Dead meat. (Heraklitus said, about any corpse that you would find in the city, throw it out, fast! it’s just garbage and doesn’t mean a thing.
She—the dog—was whining so I put her up on the sheet covering him and she started toward him then stopped. Kind of like turning up her nose. It was an act of disavowal: this isn’t my daddy, I don’t know what it is. Did she get these vibes from me? I think it’s the natural response. I like the Eastern response, starting with the Vedics, and the Iranians after, and then Buddhists in general, us zens like to do that—it’s like it’s pure. Or maybe better put—purifying. Flame purifes. I wanted him put into the cremation oven but they said that will take a couple of days and the thought of him lying all alone down there in some morgue drawer for a whole two days just floored me. Turn on the gass now. This isn’t him—wherever he is—it’s NOT Jamie. She and I got out of Dodge fast at that point. Left the body, returned to the apartment.
Services? He was so alone up here, said I was his whole world and didn’t want to know anybody else. And his sister wanted half the ashes to put, as he wanted, with his mother in her grave in Carlsbad. So be it.
We had our ceremony presided over by David my gardiner friend who’s an ordained zen priest—so he knew all the things to do. People seemed to aggree: impressive. And David chose his ceremonial things well. They ate afterwards and went home, and that was that.
But not for me.
Not for me.
I already know the room, god knows I was there plenty of times I swear (do they think I need “emotional support”? Ick.) And then I’m off. By the time Because I might need “emotional help”? Wrong—I cry on my own time. didn’t hear the phone ring because it accidentally fell off the hook. Too bad. Or maybe not—what do you think? I get their urgent messages and stowing Sadie under my arm decide to walk the eight or so short blocks—to the hospital where you are. Then enter the room.
You all marble now—really! all laid out and bathed, naked under your sheet,dazzling white like one of your community’s babtist congregants. It’s like heaven. Your wrinkles all gone because the pain causing them gone. More beautiful than life. And that’s maybe what should have put me on notice. Not that you stinked yet. But it wasn’t you. I kissed that lovely forehead. Touched your lips. It wasn’t you—I hated it. And the limp cock, your tool of majesty I so often kissed, worshipped. Limp means your manhood’s gone—despite that they’ll say this is politically incorrect, do I give a damn?
But now you’re meat. Or what was you is. Throw a dead body over the wall as fast as you can said Heraklitus. It pollutes the purity of the city.
I turned away, disgusted. This is not you. How can they say it’s you. It’s dirty dead meat that’s all. Throw it out. I have no use for it, I think. And putting Sadie up on the bed for one last look, she takes a step and stops. Yeah she’s looking all right but more than that she’s smelling. And it’s just a corpse she smells. Turns up her nose, turns away from you—just as I do.
And out the door.
(note to readers: friends please bear with me, I’m new to the technology of this and the following material needs to more editing, so actually it got published “by mistake”—so if you can please hold off reading until you see this parenthetical paragraph disappear and the rest of the material below will then be ready for you to read)
I don’t know where to put this one—it’s not really related. So I”ll stick it here.
It’s about mischeviousness, Jamie’s and his community’s. Where to start.
First time at Grannie’s Jamie showed me my tiny room—he would take the floor—everything there was poor and so small, small. He came in to tell me something. About the critters.
He said in the morning, because you never know, shake out your shoes. Cause an animal, a little scorpion, or a rattler, it might have got in. So you got to shake em before putting em on. Is this a joke? No, he said solemnly, we’re sitting on top of the Sonoran desert. You got to shake them out in the morning. Ugh, I go—you never told me about this—how will I ever dare?
Come morning though I did, I shook em all out—and nothing came out. I was met at breakfast by Jamie and Grannie breaking into laughter when I told them about this. Since it turns out really there’s only a scorpion or black widow or rattler or something that gets in about once every three years, so you really don’t have to worry. It was a practical joke of theirs.
I vowed revenge. I got it. From Jamie—but I’m not going to tell you about this one because it’s boring. But I”ll tell you about the way I “got” Grannie because it tells about the whole culture of them down there, him included, not just Grannie, but all of them. (She’s typical in never in her long life ever having been more further than to El Paso—and believe you me, that’s not saying too damn much!)
I said, you know us Catholics (I should have said ex Catholics now Buddhists but figured that was too complex of an explanation) have this ritual that you have to do, oh about when you’re a teen, or you can’t be a Catholic. “What?” she asked, curious. Well, I said, first you got to find yourself a Protestant baby (and mind you—everybody white at least down there is babtist), then you all gather in a circle way away from anybody. Granny’s eyes got real big here on the verge of the saucers they would become)—well, I said, pausing—and then you got to sacrifice it. Or you can’t become a Catholic. “No!!!!” to her great horror, goes Grannie. Jamie, he’s just trying real real hard to suppress laughing. I tell Granny YES! and she is so shocked she practically yelps. “Ohhhhhhhhh my goodness.”
Course I didn’t leave her ignorant for long, that woulda been cruel and she was one of the kindest ladies I have ever met and I loved her. So I disabused her—after just a moment. I had “got” her. She smiled. “Well you got me good with that one but you watch, I’ll get you good too.”
And she did. In a little innocent non-harmful way that was the closest she ever got to naughty, I guess—which wasn’t too close. he was astounded, as he had just assumed only Mexicans were that.) I said well we had some interesting rituals, as all Catholics throughout the world did. For instance I said—noting her eyes beginning to grow larger—there’s the ceremony we do with Protestant badies. She had the beginnings of fear on her face now. “What?” Well to become a Catholic you don’t just have to be baptized but around the age of 12 there’s this ceremony where we all gather (and here her eyes were becoming saucers) and sacrifice a Protestant baby.
There was a long silence. I could see Jamie was having trouble trying to keep a straight face but his mother was absolutely stricken. Then Jamie let out with this great yowl. Which let Grannie know it was just a joke, a practical joke. And I told her—“Grannie, I got you good on that one didn’t I?” I did. And this innocent humor was typically “country”—it’s not so far from the innocent sentimentality about sex and romance you hear on country records.
And like I said, I do have my Buck Owens.
Innocent Jamie, too. Guileless, easy to cheat. And he GOT cheated. For all his country stuff which many mistook for being dumb (his twang at the bank meant to the tellers that he was stupid) he was a very smart man. I know that. I had more education, he had less—so what? Plenty of dumb academics of there and lots of real intelligent country—but you wouldn’t know it for the image they’re represented by. Oh well.
Innocence. Jamie was as good a fighter in Carlsbad as they came. Only when learning he made the mistake of giving the other guy a chance. He knocked down this one guy giving him trouble and the guy just lay there. Later he’d learn in jail and other places that when you fight you got to go for blood. But now he just let the guy slowly get to his feet—then give Jamie a punch that could have been spared if Jamie after getting him down just pounded the shit out of him. That was Jamie’s guilelessness, innocence. And some lessons in mistrusting human nature he never learned. Even when he was with me.
He’d got out for marijuana and come back with straw. I”d say let me smell that and see it. He gives it over. I smell and just from the smell right away you can tell it IS straw—and he’s cheated again. Over-trusting.
He was smart all right. But never got too far in this world.
I loved that in him and always will. Innocence. Oh yeah he should have been more aware, but I liked him just the way he was. Loved in fact. I guess that’s what I wanted to say—before we leave this horrible hospital room that doesn’t have him in it anymore but just a dead body.
Throw it out.
Of course I was terrified and you never saw anything shake anything like I rattled those shoes of mine—holding them as far from me as possible. Nothing came out. But I noticed nobody else shook their shoes getting up that morning. Why? First I thought it was a joke—oh, how could rattlers get in, in here? ThenShoes. I’ll close this interlude before more Rome with this. It shows Jame’s mischeviousness I guess. First visit to Grannie, bed-time arrives, I’m shown my room and after lights out Jamie sneaks in to snuggle a little. )Bishop Pike the controversial Episcopal bishop of Grace cathedral in the 60shim through year was testing myself. What I found was that Jamie was floating further and further into outer space away from me: I seemed to be losing memories, he seemed less present to me when the thought occurred, there was less intensity of love for him and yearning. And yet what could be more important for me in this last part of life than to keep his presence with me in mutual love. What had gone wrong?
In the meantime there were changes in what can I call it? a “pyschic” or “paranormal” self? This became clear one night when again I was awakened by a swirling vortex of whispers of whispering—which gradually became clearer. They were as if fractured HIS voice. As if you could shatter a voice like glass and then what would you have? This was a development from my audible (not mental) hearing of him in the hallway earlier calling my name loudly, twice. What did it indicate about Jamie—or about my relationship with him? If now there could be a Jamie splintered in many different places what sort of Jamie would that be. I decided it would be a Jamie scattered to the world, being at once both Jamie and all that is—call it Buddhacitta if the realization is present. The non-discriminating mind doesn’t just think this and that and neither does it think just “one” or “oneness.” It is unaware of the difference between those two statements. That is how I took that tissue-paper-thin sound of the simultaneous whispering voices of a dispersed Jamie.
When Seth the brother that sets bad things in motion appears, he seeks out his brother Osiris to cut him into pieces. In the end, as we know from the story, the sister-wife of Osiris, Isis, who has spent an undetermined but extremely lengthy period of time looking for and finding part after part of the unjustly tossed-away parts of her husband, when she succeeds, she succeeds by magic. You cannot rule out something as “dumb” as that. Nothing can be ruled out. I can see and hear Jamie. Now. After death. Dogen: delusion and reality, the same. Just as if the lesson Jamie was trying to impart were exactly that there’s no longer a discrimination between Jamie and all else but neither does that discrimination fail to be present, either.
For a sensitive young boy like Jamie, growing up at the northern end of the Sonoran desert such a mysticism—unconsciously even—would have developed from the circumstances of a time and a place where what Zen master Dogen calls “the great matter” and—“the great matter of life and death. The desert’s nature is always the cutting edge. The green pines in their maturity today that tomorrow, in the spring, you’ll find picked bare as a bone—as if taken by a raptor. The continuous awareness that develops when a misstep, a miscalculation—forgetting enough water in a day-treck out into the sands around you, or the lack of enough blankets, clothing, means of fire, at night. Daily animals in the wild that kill with barely a thought—scorpion to mountain lion.
I remember on a two lane “highway” riding with him to a neighboring town—it was midday and shortly after, when hottest—how the pickup truck passed over what in the distance looked like a dark pool of oil but hearing the squishing sound as we passed over them and looking out I saw what Jamie told me was not an unusual phenomenon, the roads being near-deserted most times—the early afternoon gathering of vast numbers of tarantulas in one spot, sunning themselves, soaking up as much of the heat they needed for a continuation of their lives.
Mountains as he surely saw here and there collapsed in landslides. The wild animals of which the desert was full would be found in spring as skeletons. And beneath your feet would be the vast square miles of tunnels of which the Carlsbad Caverns, a few miles away, was only a larger space, one of the calm places where the rush of whatever made the underground everywere around here porous with infinite holos, caves, tunnels, a whole network of empty areas of dark and silence.
With his dad on day-long or longer trapping expeditions, little Jamie was made away that upon an awareness of this life-turning-into-death hung the family income: and the father made the son dwell on the natural perceptions he already would have been having—so the net effect would have been a very highly developed awareness of time passing, which is after all only change, or its measuring, and its end: an equation through time of mountain pine, rattler, cactus, scorpion—with his own life as a progress to an ending.
We talked and talked at the end—in his hospital room. He’d want to be wheeled out in his wheelchair, plastic tubes flying, machines still ticking where he’d delight in turning his chair around and around to push him to a state of vertigo. He’s known all his life that all of life is always leaving. But why should that stop you from squeezing as much enjoyment as you can down to the last minute?
Of death there was nothing to discuss. You come into existence and you go out of existence. There’s nothing to think about, speculate on, worse. When I asked him how he could be so accepting in the face of his own death—as a genuine question, not a covert rebuke or even congratulation—he’d say what I more or less just said—that growing up he’d always been away that to always be in nature is to be made aware, if you’re not already, of the equation between nature and time, the measure of change, and in this case, the inexorable arc from birth, as things chip away at you little by little, to death. He said he was always aware of nature. And stress that he had always been contemptuous of the multiple Jesus-saves signs in town that suggested you could avoid your fate. How could you not be aware that you’re part of the nature all around too? he’d always said. What was happening as he lay dying on his hospital bed was that he was only continuing to put into practice an attitude that was familiar to him, and his own, as far back as he could recall. Though he probably didn’t think of it this way, Jamie was my teacher now—the last of the three teachers that have given me whatever’s important in my life.
My teacher Jamie. I didn’t or don’t just love him, you know—I respected him as my teacher. I honored him that way. This book is a tribute to him for what he taught me. How many teachers are you given during your lifetime? Jamie probably didn’t think of what he was doing as teaching—but it was, just the same. This teaching was a freely given gift.
He became a prey to death and perished–just as I will. I can really say that I still love him. And if what you fall to after death has nothing to do with selves, because you are now, the both of you, nondiscriminating mind—what I said about love remains, only not discriminated from this or that—but just what it is.
this remains just the same, what I just said. And now that I’m the prey lifted by the raptor flying overhead to be torn apart and myself become what Jamie did—do you think whatever ability—if any—I might have developed to come to terms with the death that won’t be long in coming to be—don’t you think whatever strengths I might have in this way owe far more to Jamie than whatever I taught him did for him during our life together and at his own end? and time is disappearance, loss of existence—for any being—including. Was it the same imprint of nature that only a sense of things that had been with him throughout life. His acceptance of death was the result of the same imprint that brought him an almost zen-like acceptance now as it had earlier: being part of the swaying pines, that one day will tumble, the toxic and slithery desert creatures as much as the more florid but innocuous desert beings—the birds and spring flowers of exquisite coloring that, like us ourselves, would themselves exist only a moment in time before pitching downward to their black end. There in the desert life and death always seemed so intertwined, twins, two sides of the same coin for him—and why in the hospital now, dying of lung cancer, he thought—should it be different for me? The boundary that at least affectively and probably intellectually seems to separate us humans from the rest of life—that boundry-line was eroded, worn away with constant experience, and in the end had, to take him at his word then as we walked in the hospital, formed his vision of his own death, his ending, into something less than—or maybe I should say more than—something either strange or unrelated to the rest of the world of frightening. It would turn out to be what carried him through at the end as it had in all the other demanding or excruciating experiences of his life. ones who’d seem bewildered at his acceptance, calm, lack of any apparent fear. When he was in his dying, people used to ask how he could be so accepting of this– death—and that was the answer he gave. Will I be like Jamie when it comes my time to go—and I hope be with him…? An open question..
f, I think nature mysticism’s just love. In its many forms. Is that why it’s been an important metaphor for most all religions, spiritualties and such? Well if so, there’s a question I have to ask—this time to me alone, not to me and him together, a couple, though we still are all the same aren’t we? We had this 100% love, committed, totally there and for all time and looking to have it somehow go on beyond that—beyond time I mean. And of course love has been the main metaphor for spiritual life in who knows but maybe all religions and spiritualties. Powerful stuff. Could Jamie’s love for me and mine for him—truly, honestly 100 per cent—have been as much the mainstay of his ability to accept his own death completely cheerfully, as much as, say, nature mysticism—and are the two different? If you sit someplace in nature—take the desert for instance—long enough my hunch is it’ll get to be throbbing with love, searing love, but love, beautiful love. Then it’s mysticism. Mysticism isn’t just people in their monk and nun clothes sitting, like in Zen, on a pillow all day. A tree with many branches.
Nature’s such a large category, literally, you have to learn to stop saying this and that, or here and there and—lucky you!—me and not-me. Freudians think mysticism is just “primary narcissism” meaning it replicates and returns you to that state—the state of the womb. Maybe—but not literally. It’s hard to keep poetry out of mysticism, it just naturally belongs when everything is always turning into something else, or everything else in fact. Han Solo into Princess Leia and back again. How do we know a superstition (so-called) isn’t mysticism too, I mean like: just another branch of it? Even though people for some reason always consider the famous mysticisms (St. John of the Cross, my teacher Nissan, his teacher Suzuki-Rosh, Rumi, Hacking) to somehow be “above” plain old insights that come and go in people that when their power goes, or is lost, people dismiss then as just superstition. And finally how do we know my mysticism is the same as yours. How many times does someone have to yell that in your ear before you listen: there is no ranking, no hierarchies, nothing’s better than something else. Is nature mysticism ever different, in terms of some map-making you might want to do, a taxonomy—from love? Just love?
Think about it. Two examples were given to me recently. Ms. X is one. Flying from here (San Francisco) to there (San Diego) to see the family she looks out the window—only to see the most beautiful veil of mist and gold, the gold shining thru all the little drops to unify you would think but no, with a message: to tell her her father is dying, right now. She’s startled. Next about to land the plane descends more more—all this green—without limits she wonders? The plane lands and she sees her family. Her father has just died. When? The time she was looking out the window at the shining light mist.
One other one, and that’ll be it for now. My friend Y is in Paris and wants to see cemeteries. Either he doesn’t want to do Pere Lachaise or he’s already done it: I forget which. By the way, what exactly is the name of that other, not-Pere-Lachaise Paris cemetery? Who cares. I’m going to move on in the story. He comes to Baudelaire’s grave in this other non-Pere-Lachaise cemetery. What chagrin boils up inside my friend. Because guess what. They buried France’s greatest poet between his mother-in-law Mrs. Aupic and her proto-fascist asshole husband General Aupic (As in “Mon General” to you) on the otherside—and there he is Baudelaire, sandwiched inbetween the two. My friend’s sense of outrage is almost matched by my own as I watch his face go pale with anger and I start getting all discombobulated too: THIS is how you treat France’s greatest poet of all (maybe I mean just maybe: excluding Rimbaud)? But all this is only the preliminaries for the illustration of mysticism or superstition, whatever you want to call it, which is to come.
What happens next is this. Looking up at this hideous wedding cake made of three stacked dead people—two non-entities or worse, sandwiching our own Charles Baudelaire between them in the set-piece grave monument, lo, raising his eyes what’s this? thinks my friend. How come? Well because right at that moment this ominous looking black bird of some kind or other, a big crow or something, waddles over right in front of him and looks at him directly in the eyes and—drops dead. Yup. On the spot. Coincidence? Or message from heaven? An O-M-E-N! A genuine omen of something unknown yet to come, ladies and gentlemen. And to come to my friend. He’s freaked. Wouldn’t you be? My friend says he knows this is an omen or prognostication. And as my friend, with a friend of his own in two beside him, starts to walk out of the cemetery guess what. A very evil-looking black cat watches them feet planted on the ground and standing stark still—but with its EYES, yes its EYES follow carefully each step as our friend begins to wend his way to the cemetery exit. Wouldn’t you freak too?
Omen? Prognostication? Who could possibly think that vulgar superstition, much less the higher forms of spirituality like enlightenment, could literally be understood as world-connecting events. Affect kickstarts thinking: there’s no reason to think, or reason, or even rationale if no interest, such as an affect, compels it. My friend is highly intelligent—a bright intellectual. Is it possible to rule out his “intuition” that these two events occurring in quick succession were intended as messages from another or other worlds, or from the future or past to our era. Why would he take this seriously? Not reason but affect will start of chain of mental argumentation that later will seem quite reasonable. Or—not seem—but actually be—reflections of a reality that ordinarily doesn’t reach us. Unlike other eras, like the Roman, as represented by the brightest such as Cicero or much earlier Heraklitus, the educated and intelligent of our era deny what they believe are really messages and continue to distance themselves from lines of thinking that are stamped as superstitious.
What moves me to write this blog? I like to tell myself that it will be seen as something like a new genre blurring the diaristic with the philosophic, and soteriological as well. In fact the writing of my blog provides me with something like solace, helps comfort me in the face of the event that has, since April 8, 1008, appeared to me as by far the most important event of my life—and that event, as I’m sure you’ll have guessed, is the death of my long-time lover and mate. Though as I say I like to THINK I’m writing this blog primarily as a contribution to—what? writing? the understanding of the role of affect or emotion as compelling what we, disingenuously, continue to think of as Cartesian or dualistic though, considered as if it were autonomous.
Put it another way. It’s not the cortex that gets the amygdala and hippocampus going but the converse: the two glands, part of the lymph system, generate neural transactions that, through exchange of chemicals at the end of the finger-ish extensions are the sparks that set off message transmission from one neuron to another—throughout billions of billions of them—the neurons.
Back to my friend. He still seems, in our conversation at the Modern Museum here in San Francisco, to be both fearful somehow in discussing all this, as well as a bit confused, or distracted. I would be the same, I’m sure.
And Julius Caesar? What about him? And why are superstition in latin, “superstition,” and ecstasy, exstatio, so closely connected in their etymology. Would the affect content of “superstition” pushed far enough, or somehow made important enough—as for instance is was for me in my novitiate days when receiving communion—somehow act as a transponder sending “back” to some other place, or to the same place considered from other viewpoints, be a primary way of the micro-systems or macrosystems “talking” to each other. In superstition and in the much “higher” non-rationalities that emotion or affect don as a mask in order to accomplish certain tasks, like communication—does the universe, as Philip K. Dick (or Heraklitus) thought, become simply a set of sentences, a vast conversation?
Going to bed a few nights ago I once again looked at one of my favorite pictures of Jamie and, inevitably, broke into tears. Here is a response that instead of being celebrated as one of the most important, as a key intensity in emotion, of all human means of communication to human or non-human—is instead downplayed as the weakness of a man who, after the death one and a half years earlier, of a partner—has not yet learned to “control” his emotions about this event. In fact of all the ways of trying to summon a sense of the presence of my friend and mate, of all these, crying or weeping hysterically, seems to be the most effective of all in being able to make him much more present than a hologram could do. So I cry for Jamie. And, not literally but just as really in terms of how my mind “perceives” his presence.
Something happens very early in the west. Despite warnings of three different kinds according to the historian Suetonius—including the dream-warning of his wife Calpurnia—Caesar dismisses these as superstitions instead of as sources of information and goes to his fate in the Senate.
Today we listen to our superstitions—when we do—clandestinely, shamefully, secretively. A change has occurred. Before modernism who wouldn’t believe in the touch of the king as a means of curing a disease? Earlier still, even Cicero and Octavian, seeing some ominous bird like a large crow grew fearful—that is, in effect recognized the reality quotient accessed by this prodigy—and so took steps to avoid whatever presumable disaster awaited them. We repress out superstitions far deeper into the unconscious. We eat meet and yet are ashamed to deny that this horrifies us. Hence the import of a new coinage in the last century: the slaughter-house, rich in purple tones of murder, is effaced and in its place we construct new—not buildings or techniques—but vocables: what formerly was called by the name slaughterhouse has become the bland, sanitary thing called a meat-packing plant.
Odd, isn’t it? Hulot, author of La mystique sauvage (I’d like to translate the word sauvage as natural or original or primary, in terms of the mysticism of which M. Hulot sees a subset of the general notion called mysticism (la mystique). The book shows essentially the primacy of affective over “rational.” Rational, rationalize. You can think of the varieties of mystical experience—in which I include without distinction the high mysticism of Meister Eckhart and throwing salt over your shoulder, a “superstition”—as simply intensifications of a cosmic conversation going on all along, but with greater or lesser acknowledgement of this by the single human cerebellum. Or at other orders—communications of the future universe with the past (note the new theory that there are circle-like traces of a universe or universes before the Big Bang in our own universe of a previous universe, singular, or singular universes, plural. Not to speak of many other possibilities—the possibility of many universes far outside ours and so on. And if there is any connection it is certainly not on a rational plane. Just as the continuity in a single being still in the womb experiences no distinction that would separate it from a hypothetical non-it, we can say the same of other universes—beyond the reach of science.
Leading us elsewhere.
Omens were a core experience for Romans–so is it so strange my vacation with Jamie to Rome should have some remnants of this too? Hint: first there’s a bridge experience I’m going to tell you about, then there’s the umbrella trees stuff you have yet to know about.
Example. Recalcitrant Caesar who’s been given warning omens, about the dangers of the next day in the Senate, if he decided to go despite the warning. What this illustrates as you’ll soon see: that their sense of what superstitious means is a bit or even a whole lot different from ours. Theirs was a message from the beyond and the trick with the beyond was—it was dicey, and the square pegs (messages to us) they were trying to fit into round holes in the integument separating out two worlds, theirs and ours, was so dicey as to be probably deforming or at least, as in the Delphi oracle, ambiguous in the extreme. Round holes should match square pegs, no?.
When the integument separating our two worlds, like at solstice time, thins, your omen’s going to be more, not less likely to make sense, be legible, have a real bearing on your life: the forces of beyond have obviously found certain ways to FORCE square pegs into round holes, huh? But—and here I almost throw up my hands in frustration if not capitulation—aren’t mistakes, yes you heard that right, I said mistakes—aren’t they just..what’s the right word—RIFE in the realm of spiritology (that’s not a word but I’m making it one because it just makes sense to me). But spirit messages are always and by definition affect messages, not rational ones, and as such liable to a great deal of screwy-ness, getting things a bit “off” you might say. But hey! the following is important: the more important the information, the more likely too it is to be a little “off,” or screwed up or deformed—you name it. Hey hey hey: the heart has its reasons doesn’t it not that reason knows not. (OK I can’t help but show off a little here, though 3/4 of normally educated people also can quote this: le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas. I used to think that instead of the word pas, not, he, Pascal I mean, should have written the word plus. So the so-called original Pascal sentence would read, The heart has its reasons that reason knows not where as the UR or primal sentence there originally but changed by puzzled editors probably meant that originally reason used to be able to make use of some of the paranormal and mystical and intuitive powers that now only the heart knows. Would that have been a much more acceptable state of affairs? In other words in the beginning the lymphic system and the cerebellum were one thing, leaning one way at one end (brain stem and glands) and the other way at the other (the brain core—but alas readers that’s only speculative and I’m the first to acknowledge this).
Well-bred and educated (=rich) Romans thought they were way way above any superstitions. Period. But as I would have said to them: define superstition. And I would ask them this: you think the discovery of a three-headed calf signals clearly some great but still coming event. And, Romans, I will give you this. Third millennium people (us) believe ourselves to be superstition-free but this clearly is rationalization. Mother says “Oh honey I’m calling to tell you NOT to take that flight out of Logan, or JFK or whatever, because I have this really strong sense you’ll regret it: it’ll crash.” So in respect to mom’s intuitions (and your own by the way) you don’t get on that plane. But guess what. The plane, in 99 times out of 100 DOESN’T crash. This doesn’t mean her intuition was worthless but just that, as at Delphi, you have to know how to interpret—the oracle, mom’s intuitions, your own. Whatever. And all of the above paragraph is only about the BAD sense of superstition but clearly I’m trying to make a case that there’s a GOOD one that’s at least as important if not more.
If there is why don’t we recognize this? Intellectuals used to after all. Cicero for instance. Read the letters. Or all the Roman people. There was an eagle over the Capitolium that they saw first proudly sited at the top of the roof and then begin to wobble—and most horrible of all—then fell. Obviously “eagle” = fate of Roman republic. And if it falls, you are in deep dodo, as Pres. Bush the first used to say. But if you are a normal intellectual today and therefore if not a Buddhist at least someone who just assumes, hardly even thinking about it, that all things are connected. If this is true, it also was true. Hence the crowd that gasped as the eagle above the capitolium started to fall down dead were right after all weren’t they? Maybe not if they thought if meant the Roman res publica was in trouble but in some yet-to-be-determined way, right?
Right. Superstition, as concept, is rich in its spectra of meanings. That we can now agree on. Can’t we? Because I’m taking it for granted you’re fucked up if you don’t agree with that. And you don’t understand the underlying interconnection of the world. And lest that sound too sectarianly Buddhist, think about it: China’s industrial waste in wind-form drifts slowly over to the US of A and dumps its load. Oh but you know all this already, almost all of you I’m sure. We “co-produce” each other. As sentient beings. Or as anything that exists in the universe even just once of those tiny micro-particles that they produce only in labs and come into existence from nothing and then are gone in a nano-nano-nano-second. Do you call THAT superstition? You should or you won’t understand anything.
Now if someone if you’re offended, I say talk turkey. If you put it nicely and with reasonable clarity to readers and they don’t want to make the effort to understand, then kick their frickin asses! That’s a thing of last resort of course. But nothing can be 100% ruled out can’t it? Even kicking readerly asses? Why do you think in the zen tradition for hundreds of years the master would walk around with a big stick and whack! you painfully hard, on your shoulders, if for instance you were dozing off instead of making the effort to concentrate yourself in single-pointed attention. So, if you think there’s danger of readers getting even a LEETLE bit lazy during important teaching, kick their freakin asses. I say this as a writer of course. Since in real life as you know I”d never dream of attempting such violent action. But in writing—YES! .
Superstition.Can we just look at the word, the word itself I mean this time, just for a minute or two?
Superstition, in latin, “superstitio”, or “I stand above.” (related to Greek “sto” I stand). OK. But—amazing!—there’s also a latin word for trance, exstatis, meaning “I am outside myself” or “I am beside myself.” In other words crazy or mystical. They didn’t always distinguish. (You know those babes the Pythias? According to our world-traveler Pausanias they were chosen in part because of not being very bright bulbs….Think about it.) So both words have “I stand” in them. But one has “above myself” while the other has outside or beside myself. Is there only chance? Or does etymology provide a clue? Can even the superstition (such as just above everything in non-Roman or foreign religions) that Romans put down, as opposed to the kind they actually practiced (that eagle falling off the capitolium would have appalled even, no especially, intellectuals like Cicero, or Seneca, or whoever)—no, wait. Change that. Not “Can even…” but “Did even” not just the people but the high intellectuals see a relation existing between bad superstition, like say the religion of stupid Scythians—boy oh boy are they stupid barbarians and SO unlike us cultivated Greek-like Romans!—and the kind of possession (being out of your mind, beside yourself, alongside yourself, in other words in a mystical trance, like Socrates was when he stopped along the road back to Athens and stayed standing stock-still all night while his students went back to their comfy upper-class beds—while Socrates was undoubtedly doing some very high class thought-non/thought that was WAY beyond his students. What’s the point? Let me repeat it, students. The Dao te Ching says it best: The way that can be said is not the way. You cannot reach any high level of truth or better, you cannot reach truth, period, through concepts. Hence the apparent etymological praise of crazy people and superstition even in the bad sense I’ve just cited.
Superstition is just possession, as is all mysticism. Let me unfold that for you. There exists a membrane line-of-demarcation between the two worlds, our world of discontinuities and the other one which is continuous—and so might appear as emptiness or even nothingness, though looking at the word carefully you can see that this is not so. At certain times like solstice the membrane thins and permits easier penetration from one side to the other. But I call it possession because it always starts from the gods or daemons, in other words, from the other and continuous world, which is actually just the flip side of our discontinuous world—though what is in question in both cases is the same, the same simply looked at from two differing points of view. Got that? But remember square pegs, round holes? Also distance or non-distance. Things can get mucked up, that is deformed on their way from the divine world to the human one, from the other world to our world. (Just strike divine if you don’t like the word, call it the invisible world, the spirit world, the world of emptiness, or world of nothingness and you’ll still be on track and we can continue to walk together on this, ok?).
A man’s stupid wife (Calpurnia is stupid for the Romans only because following the thought of the Greeks all women are stupid) gives you this hysterical warning, Caesar, honey, oh please don’t go to the Senate house today or you’ll be murdered! You smile condescendingly: women! can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em! and throw up your hands). This obviously lower-class (and hence also stupid) human being by the side of the road to the Senate hands you a message, according to Suetonius at least, that gives you the same warning. Ignore it. The common people are ignorant and stupid. So he ignores it. We know what happened. “You too, my child?!” bleats Caesar to Brutus (that’s Suetonius, I don’t know where in the world Shakespeare got it wrong so it now says Et tu, Brute, and you as well Brutus? Mistakes happen.
Omens counted back then—why not now?
I mean if at least you live in a big city or along one of the two coasts you’ll probably understand at least that throughout most of history omens have counted. (Mrs. Reagan in the White House consulted that astrologer, what’s her name—and Mrs. Reason isn’t much more of an intellectual than her husband, Doofus). If you can take omens seriously though not vulgarly, not the way they might first appear to you, knowing you will have to work on an omen with at least the energy it takes to work on a koan, then you’re half-way home. You recognize a) there is another world and b) it can and does communicate with us under certain conditions (the separation layer thinning at the solstices). And c) in terms of communication, the other world does communicate without, only not necessarily, as the example of Caesar shows, in the ways that you expect. There is a reasonable expectation that Jacob will have to wrestle with angles. That enigmas like oracles and such will have to be figured out and transcribed. Etc.
As I already told you when Jamie first read the Dao te Ching that I”d given him, he exclaimed with joy—why don’t they teach this in the schools, this is real!
I personally happen to think that the meaning itself, of omens, can change. They might mean one thing at one time or place and another at another and so on. Why not? Especially given transiency or impermanence. Things are always changing. Jamie’s dad had taught him that when the scat in the path lies in this configuration it meant the mountain lion went that-a-way. But once Jamie delayed too long. No, his daddy told him, it means it went THAT-a-way, meaning 180 degrees opposite. How could that little amount of time have made that difference? Things are always changing. The Romans recognized that. Two very important books are called Metamorphoses. One is the tale of a man turned into a donkey but saved at the end by Isis—and in gratitude becomes her monk. That’s the later one. The earlier one is Ovid, interesting connections being made that were never made before between and among the various mythic stories that his poetry tells us about. Does the word metamorphosis, change of form, literally, mean the same in both books? In one it means a man becomes a donkey who becomes a man again. Kind of simple of a meaning. In the other it means there are some very sophisticated connections being made between and, as I say, among, myths that never were made before. All this presupposes things are changing in language and writing too. I have one meaning that I think people will get from this blog or book and yet when it gets out there published people I will be appalled at what reviewers say this means. And if I could look through the window like Tom Sawyer at my dead self, when I’m dead, and the book this dead self wrote—I will go berserk. Change. Transiency. This world is always changing. The other one remains the same void it has never begun being and will never end being but still is, all the same.
Heraklitus! you who said that a person does not step into the same river twice. That’s change or impermanence. But who also said at what most scholars figure is the beginning of this book put together from fragments of it found (“apud”) from among a whole bunch of other books—who also began his book in praise of the logos which is define as conversation. The world is structured as a set of conversations, as language going back and forth among a group of people (all the people that were or are or will be)—and that is interconnection. This can get you off-base because at first glance but first glance only, you might be disturbed by the passing thought that—aren’t impermanence and interconnection necessarily self-contradictory phenomena? Think a little. They are not. For what goes out of existence or is not yet in existence also helps co-produce what happens now to be in existence. Just think….Think. This is true, but hard and you will have to squint your eyes and frown a lot trying to get why. Look hard and you will see that Heraklitus was a Buddhist. For sure. Hella buddhist. No shit.
Now I’m not saying I understood this at Rome—but in the bridge experience I came close anyway—but from a) impermanence and b) interconnection you will see that you can’t cling to things. You can’t flee them either—but that’s another story. The main thing is you can’t cling, obsess, let them rule you instead of the other way around.
So the other part of the reasons Jamie’s dad took Jamie out with him on those encampments in the desert was to firm him up (first, it’s scary there especially at night when big cats can come right past your sleeping bad, second there are often demands of heat of cold to overcome etc.: in other words get used to handling anything, boy). No more than Socrates, faced with the imminent arrival of the man carrying the cup of hemlock, could try to make progress on his musical education yet stay ever calm, tranquil and even funny, of mind. Part of going to Rome for me was to try to accustom myself to sudden changes of difference. And when the old intrudes upon the new, not to be frightened. This succeeded partly insofar for instance as after the rest of the group had gone from the bottom-most church to one of the two piled on two of it (I think this is the S. Francesco church if I recall rightly), I was having a lovely conversation with a woman who died two millennia ago but whose beautifully polished black hard stone (of some kind or other) tomb with its epigraphical inscription remained exactly, or so it seemed, as it had been, as if patiently waiting out the 2,000 years just for me. And given interconnection again—why shouldn’t that be the case? Unbeknownst to her family and to the authorities they were, without realizing it, only following the Other World’s instructions, so that finally after 20 or so centuries she and I could converse together in sometimes funny ways, sometimes serious and so on. Why not? Could the situation not be as just now described to you? Think. And thanks for thinking. It means a lot to me. To think you really are thinking about what I am saying.
In the desert Jamie notices things: maybe like Heraklitus and Hesiod did. They are the three models of my life. After that, only Socrates. After that, shit. I feel my life drifting up in smoke just like the zen found did when he found his vocation. Dogen’s mother had died when he was young, something like seven or eight maybe. At the ceremony with the cremated ashes in the wrapped vase on the altar he noticed that the smoke from the two incense sticks arose in a column (the opposite way from Vesuvius, which was going up at first, true, but then coming down—and so less spiritually) that like the top of the umbrella pine that Pliny compared the Vesuvius column to, it began to spread out but instead of inflicting devastation the twin incense columns that were guarding and honoring his mother’s ashes—they just went up and spread out and dispersed more and more until they were the nothing that they, and she, had come from. That all of us come from. Then and there, Dogen decided to become a monk. This is the only thing worth doing—confronting birth and death and how things appear out of nothing and go back to the same nothing. What else is there worth doing, he thought?
Until you are enlightened your mind will always be fragmented, just as mine is. And that too dictates this form—the form of fragmentation I am using to write this writing. It is because I am less than enlightened and cannot do otherwise. You must put up with me and bear with this or if there is anything worthwhile in this writing, it will never reach you. You must not cling to fragmentation but as it overtakes you from time to time you must not fearfully try to flee from it either. Between the two is the tranquility of mind that is or should be our aim. IF we have any sense.
So should you be frightened or scandalized if I tell you again and again I really believed Jamie and still believe him when he said (still says): Bruce when you are dead too, I will come and find you, even if I have to sniff you out. I really loved that way of putting it. His closeness to animals and mountains and desert all came out in that figure, the olfactory one—if….then I will sniff you out. It was as if he was so close to nature that just as the sense of smell is comparatively dominant there but no longer with us people, he had sensibly enough somewhere along the line thrown off his humanity for something much bigger, much larger, which the desert represents. The hugeness of that void where shadowy wet figures, dark and abandoned, seem to come to and fro to represent just the fact of the reality of the non-visible even among humans.
Jamie loved my smell. He’d say, I could smell you out anywhere, darlin’, even in a huge crowd of hundreds of thousands of people. Just like mountain lions and snakes do: all their movies are conditioned by their most perfect sense which is smell. This equates to the fact that anything mental begins in the body, that the intellectual is built upon the emotional, that the cerebrum is grounded on and hippocampus and other more far-sighted glands without which—or without an INTEREST of some kind—the process of thinking could never, never get going. Thinking can never arise by itself. The smell of the ugly-smelling greasewood bush in the desert must set it off. Or the incredibly unbelievable freshness of the desert after a spring rain. Oh! if you had been there when Jamie and his mom standing beside me on the front porch after the rain the previous night we first inhaled—and always feel in dizziness, in ecstasy, in trace from the single-pointed concentration of this childlike and innocent freshness. We gasped—almost in pain—from this.
Omens are important and necessary because of this. All omens are physical. And that is where we always start—and finish. Do not rely on the other—though use it. Dogen: the enlightenment IS the bodily position (the correct position you take to do zazen). You cannot be more physical than that. That is why the pope condemned zazen. He realized its truth. Omens share in this. If you reject omens and prodigies you are rejecting the beginning of the truth in the physical. You would be in delusion because you would be postulating a dualism, that there is on one hand mind, the other body. That is so dumb. It is so incredibly dumb.
An omen is a theophany. Yahweh appears in a burning bush. If you are frightened of black cats you are closer to the truth than philosophers are. Don’t say truth. It’s reality. Truth is a representation of reality. If it is.
when even before he knew he was dying he would tell me that when I That is where Jamie is now, dispersed into just emptiness and I will never see or reach him again. that everything changes. Mountains crumble. Sheep die of mange of something or else just get old and die or are killed for their meat: and what a change THAT is! Plants—the same. I could go on. But I assume you’re not stupid and have gotten the point. To really get the point is to get it affectively though, not intellectually. So being out in the desert, for Jamie, and doing zazen, for me, turn out to create this kind of identity bond where he both realize in the marrow of our bones that we’re (always) slipping away and turning into something else that at some point you have to say ISN’T ME any more. We had that in common. Ooops, almost said HAVE, present tense. But as I”ve said—I’m still grieving, you dopes. (Hey you’re not really dopes but I’m joking to try to put across an important point and maybe it’s even the most important of all. So don’t get offended please. Thank you.)
Superstition is a kind of knowledge that is a subset of affect, not knowledge. For all intents and purposes as far as I can see knowledge is useless for any of the wonderful things about human life. Example. Yesterday (it’s fall now) walking down 18th St. I came upon two –what can I call them but theophanies? Well whatever. The first was this sycamore (or plane try if you prefer) the beauty of whose reds russets golds browns and so on stopped me, with real tears, right in my tracks. If I was an animal being hunted by Jamie’s dad in the desert, I would have been a goner: because I just stood there for literally a couple of minutes looking, amazed at the wonder of this world’s particular phenomenon I was encountering. Is that epistemological knowledge or affect—or you might say esthetic knowledge, instead? You decide.
Does this apply to omens? You bet. Omens convey “knowledge” thru affect and not thru intellection. Things start at the brain stem, then go to the hippocampus and/or amygdala and besides constructing space and time also produce emotion, feeling, affect, whatever you call it.
And it doesn’t use logic, emotion I mean.
For instance it makes plenty of sense just not logical sense that during that hailstorm? the one with me and Jamie sitting and swinging together on the porch swing and watching it in the desert?—that we should feel incredibly close to each other—and that linked to this affect-knowledge should be a sensuality that in the mere holding of each other’s hands we got a little hard, I noticed. You know—we got woodies. See? Doesn’t that all make sense now?
Also please to remember my swimming pool experience, at my grandmother’s. Me being only three or four and the nympth-like voices of the deep end inviting me to walk down over my head and drown myself because I’d then be in such a groovy world. But that first I”d have to live my life and then toward the end they’d come to call to me again.
All this is theory, about omens, to prepare you for Rome.
And Rome will involve oceanic feelings as Freud called them, mysticism through even superstition, I guess. To illustrate this mysticism, I’ve placed, below, a picture
from his (soi-disant) “White Trash Series.” I, maybe, by proxy get a pass to use the first two words, just as Jamie certainly did. But you—no.