We settled in.
Except for Isadora, who was off for a brief tour.
And Narpa, who was off lecturing.
“I didn’t know you could take the train.”
Take THE RAMBLER – AND DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE.
Wycliffe examined his notes: “The worm-tongued liar pursues his trade / And the toil of Time doth he neglect / While the weight of his words be disconnect / The ruin of his speech is ne’ertheless made.”
Had no idea if it was original or just copied.
Coitus of the mouth?
Truth, on the other hand? He hoped that was what was occupying their time.
Bosch was learning about cameras. Cinema cameras. As well as sets and costumes.
Homer and Virgil tried arranging financing. Such classic wheelers and dealers.
“George’s problem is he’s too affectionate, he expresses himself,” we overheard in the café.
Just down the street, a sign on a lawn: “Let dogs beware: rat poison planted in this library.”
It was a fine collection for such a small city. Who knows about the rats? Kastoria seemed to have a fine collection there, too.
Midday, the street lights were on. I kept trying to write while my savings ran out. Pinky’s Big Bundle Launderama was barely paying for itself. At least until the loan was paid off.
“Apartment rents here will skyrocket next year, when the subway line opens.”
“Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself. The personalized small-scale mass-transit rail.”
“To where? The nearest state college?”
There were plans. And plans for plans.
Devices! The cat lady and their house. The point is, that nothing is happening. Nothing at all.
“We could consider Subway Riding in the Andes.”
And then my research was put on hold for the duration. If all went well, we would film after the wheat harvest, which came before the corn and soybeans. Then there would be the editing and distribution.
Isadora made a host of new contacts before returning. She was a triumph and radiant.
Narpa made a host of new contacts before returning. He was enterprising and angelic.
I learned that Wycliffe was running a Bible factory. “How do you make money printing Bibles?” I asked. “Isn’t there a lot of competition?” Then he showed me Bosch’s illustrations, which seemed to be influenced by Narpa. “These are fabulous. They don’t resemble anything I remember from Sunday school.”
And they didn’t.
For us, Thanksgiving would be a pumpkin opening into Advent.
The flying saucer squash, as an offering for Narpa.
Kastoria was a boom town now gone bust. Back in the oil days. The black gold drained off. The remainder, too sulfurous for exploitation.
“The American heartland is a lost place,” I wrote. “Human potential dimmed by television and a repressive religion. So much for experience and free inquiry.”
The television sets in Pinky’s Big Bundle Launderama were no exception.
“Whoopie!” Isadora roared. “Another letter from Kim the Kat!”
“Where have you been?”
“To the zoo. It’s all a zoo out there!”
“Here, too. Of pigs and cattle.”
All while Narpa envisioned a yak, auodad, and tahr going to the opera in the open aihr.
Discipline? Discipline! The unread magazine pile. Poetry? Bosch’s studio was a mess. Another nervous week. Crazy, from A to . . . the long green meteorite. Opera! Intertwine one!
Narpa checked his machine. Had a message at 12.03: “You are weird. You are really weird.”
Another at 12.27: “You must be gay.”
He thought about coming down from the mountains, just to discharge: prairie and sky (no forests, no deer) and then to discover deer in the cornfields, well fed, finished flesh. Deer tracks in our gardens, now frozen.
Sunday night a drunken driver yelled at Narpa: “Hey, chief! Get a job!” Angered by his headband, the driver chopped his way to significance by condemning appearances.
“I have a job, at 5 a.m., doing a college man’s work!”
So did Narpa. Meditating. “Mani padme.” And then “Peace!”
“Take a bath!” the dunken driver yelled back.
Fresh from swimming at the Y and a shower, Narpa walked on. “I’d never asked him to invade my person,” Narpa explained to his audience. “His dead spirit and dirty soul were an affront to my shell. He, American Legionnaire, was upset that I resembled an Indian – not the colorful circus chief, but a man of the plains and forests. What strange guilt moves him? Most of his forefathers wore beards, no doubt.”
Well, maybe not as straggly as Narpa’s, but there was a point all the same.
The holiday season, even here, was General Confusion. Could use a bank robbery or something seamy. Remained a major lapse of ongoing time.
At least there was the haven of our meals at the café. A stranger at the next table told us, “Nobody knows I’m here.” We neglected to ask his name. Or where he came from.
“Christmas stamps reinforce people’s sentimental stereotypes,” Wycliffe muttered. “And the Fundamentalists who scream about keeping Christ in Christmas are complaining about this year’s Nativity stamp, it’s too Catholic. Maybe we need another King Solomon, to slice the child in half.”
“You mean there are two prostitute mothers?”
Was she really a virgin?
Wycliffe shrugged. “The Greek means ‘corruption’ so ‘maiden’ is not ‘virgin’ (source lost). More likely meant she was ‘pure.’ Add to that modern science. Haploid or diploid, Jesus would have been female.”
“To negate the negative.”
And then CHRISTMAS EVE: Here’s your hat. What’s your rush? And the café closed early.
It was an Imbroglio for Mary. And for us.
Isadora, meanwhile, underwent another round of her “uglies.” Nothing was going right. Hated everything. Everyone.
Wycliffe spoke of the necessity of a “magnetic center” like fine arts or sports, the discipline and desire to build on. And Bosch’s cat, despite his allergies.
Artists in Paradise would thrive on Divine Praise.
Isadora was in no mood to listen. Copied notes from the loneliness a new collage.
I worried this was turning into a Tibetan winter. Opened NOTES FOR A REVOLUTION, written in Tibetan script.
Tibet = Bod or even Bhot in Tbt.
Lhasa, capital = “the hermit people”
Cry err, dry and and cold. With sunny days that would fluctuate widely in temperature.
Sudden blizzards and snowstorms are common.
Swept by violent winds.
Much of the country has never been explored. 1,300,000 population? Seemed to be a lot like some Midwestern states.
The yak gives its black hair to be woven into yarn. Sour milk and small bits of cheese are staples in the diet. Ditto, rancid butter. Brick tea. Roasted barley.
A fifth of the populace were lamas (Buddhist monks).
Several men may marry the same wife: this gives women much power. [At the table, they all looked at me.]
Strangely, Narpa’s teaching came to mean so much to me that I could not write of it. Too sacred, too simple, too overwhelming.
The stranger returned. His name was Hitchhiker. Told me of his growth from linear, logical modes to intuitive, unlimited comprehension from high culture to backcountry. From empirical to mystical. From the practical to the possible. And new righteousness. With all his subtitled texts, I realized his story could be set as a newspaper having multiple chapters on each page, working down to conclusions. Wondered about selling it broadsheet fashion.
“We should begin in Lhasa, but it’s hard to talk about a place you’ve never been and people you’ve never met,” he said. “Unlike Narpa, who is already …”
Yes, we could see.
“A saga of late adolescence, birth and rebirth, innocence and loss, as revealed by Sanjaya, the blind seer and ancient sage. Who happens to be one and the same as my Aunt Berthanna. Something deep within the cells beckons us to push on. Beyond. Disturbs our peace, infects our wealth until, with some cosmic grace, we come to peace with ourselves, you know … the elements of Scripture and Blake become harmonic chords. Weather vanes in the circus of flames. See how Shiva dances! Krsna supports all this on a single breath!”
I wanted to ask, “So, just where have you been?”
On a pack trip through the Catskills. Not much room.
Or ANGER, as the meaning of life. Or even:
Fashion = Money.
“Also, see how much any involvement with a mate who desires the material world would enslave you. Traps? Better to bear the pain of separation than lose the birthright of freedom. Possessions crush.”
Still, in the aftermath of love, I felt intensely lonely, no longer in touch with anything. Thought life shouldn’t be like this.
Professional (as in JOB) = a prop, identity, PURPOSE.
At the edge of the city, the apartment complex was an island.
According to Isadora, whatever our field, we were expected to be “idiomatically correct.” That is, idiom was the measure of acceptability our “professionalism” as an artist.
“The current idiom is jerky, instant, and above all, violent. We excuse ourselves, This is a violent world, after all. This is a sick world. Our job is simply to mirror society.”
“As Believers, how do we cope with this?” Wycliffe challenged.
TAKE A KIND OF PRIMITIVE AWARENESS, VITALITY, SPIRITUALITY. NO GLOSS, NOH STORY: JUST JUICE.
Narpa had a point.
Two women at the next table talked heatedly about an announcement at work: “You are invited to participate in the Office Gift Fund,” it said. “Its purpose is to have ready monies for flowers, presents, etc., in case of sickness, weddings, and such things as farewell parties. It eliminates the nuisance of having someone take up a collection from time to time and removes the inequities in giving resulting from such collections. …”
It sounded less interesting than your headache type. That is. Keeping your headache diary. Or headache dry.
With Jupiter in Aquarius, the doing of what I could, from within, and then with Jupiter gone, the polishing of these with Saturn in my house of communication, and the LEARNING ordeal reworking (the forecast of yet further revisions in the light of time) now going six years in Scorpio, after the tentativeness of Libra (of which there is so much in my chart), the culmination of the Zodiac. Well, Narpa pointed to the power of career and pulling it together, the deep urge to be moving, working, the sense that something is indeed happening, that the voice is emerging, that the imagination can be tapped at last, that possibly the Hitchhiker may take me deeper (and that I may perhaps open that silent voice in him, the one that he cannot often reveal in our modern confusion.)
Wherever Hitchhiker had gone.
MANI means “jewel” and “phallus” as well!
AUM MANI PADME HUM!
Into the center! Om! Into the Void!
The first monastery in Tibet founded by Samyas 749 C.E. or by Indian Monk Santa Rakshita following on the work of Jnana Garbha and others.
Isadora no longer needed the big conception, long since thrown out for smaller, tighter pieces.
Bosch said the hardest part was naming the pieces for exhibition.
Or performance, in my case, Isadora corrected.
Or matting and mounting them. Depends, Bosch said.
Processing and printing are dull work, Wycliffe added.
But you can always find someone else for the matting, Bosch continued.
Then there was a requiem for Big Bad Ed and Brother Frank, who had owned the café. It wasn’t at the church on the corner, either.
All before the new liturgy of crocus in the morning sun.
And narcissus out of nowhere.
Drugs & dreams.
Turkish carpets. Persian blue, too.
BUILDING UP TO ALL THIS.
Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. And then fragile spring bloom fluffing trees of yellow green lint, final demise of winter.
To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.