It's Bigger

Shuffle Play is pretty obviously a way to post when I don't have time or inclination to write. Today, for example, I am impaired. Do I care? No. And not caring is the worst possible state for consistent effort. So I take something related to the previous blog, say, a rat turd in tweezers, or a random memory, and present it to you as a gift.
When I was thirty a brass balled Jewish guy from New York and his girl Friday brought me a dish drainer I had earlier seen laying just off the road to my house. "This is for you," he said. "A housewarming gift."

It was on the south coast of Crete, as far south as you go on the european continent. I hear Joni Mitchell singing Carey, which speaks of this place: "Let's go down to the Mermaid Cafe and I'll buy you a bottle of wine." I am the fool at the Mermaid Cafe flirting with the waitress and unconscious of the fact that I am doing it. I am just being my father and me. This is a very conservative place.

I just flirted the way a dog hunts. It was instinct, and it was focused on reproduction of myself all over the world, like "Who is John Galt" and "Kilroy was here;" like a pod blowing through outer space looking for a place to land. My home was a cement bunker with a propane cooking stove. My former wife was with me but we were in a strained relationship, so when I remember it, I sort of move that over to the side, like something fragile. Those are the dead roads, the ones which lead to a certain place and then they come to an end. The energy wanders off into the woods, living on nuts and berries, going feral.

But sometimes we were happy. It was mostly when we were alone. When we were with other people we were mismatched. I was, as Linda points out, the boy who'd do anything. My wife was the person who preferred staying in the background. At the time I was like the fish unaware of the water, and thought there was no operational relationship between those two things.

At any rate we were on a cliff overlooking the sea between Crete and Africa, and there were spirits bringing boats to shore at momentous intersections of normally parallel universes. Dreams were vivid and there were signs that this place was a nodal point in my life. There was portent and there were visions.

But there's always the Shadow, lurking around the house. A parasite brings a piece of trash he picked up off the side of the road and offers it as a gift, and all that I can think of to say is, "Thank you."

They were heroin addicts, and they thought I was, too, because I used the phrase, "Hanging out on the line," as a reference to something and they became very collegial. In fact I had no idea what they were talking about until I figured it had to be a reference to getting clean of hard drugs for awhile, like an alcoholic drying out, knowing that if the past is any guide to the future, he'll do it again. I wouldn't take heroin because I knew that if you did it you wouldn't care. I tried to stay motivated. I had left publishing to just travel and do some writing and had to motivate myself.

Once you don't care, you become hard to motivate. On the other hand, if you care too much, you try too hard and you go into contraction and disappear. So it's someplace in between that's the sweet spot of living, I expect.

And I expect that I don't want to publish everything I'm doing in the draft work, but that I also don't have time to both write a book and do a blog, so the compromise is using just excerpts I like as blog material on days when I work on the novel. That has the added benefit of making me work on the novel so there' something to excerpt from.

The reason I started Ash Fork was that I have wanted to write a novel but my efforts have failed for the reason described by Garrison Keillor: "If you sit down to write the great American novel, you're in for a very long afternoon." This is how writers become deranged spooks. They are trying to escape the writing prison they have put themselves into.

"Your participle is dangling."

You know, one day, my-- my mother, she put me on her knee and she said to me, 'Gaston, my son, the world is a beautiful place. You must go into it and... love everyone, try to make everyone happy, and bring peace and contentment everywhere you go,' and so, I became a waiter. Well, it's-- it's not much of a philosophy, I know,... but, well,... fuck you. I can live my own life in my own way if I want to. Fuck off

Excuse me for the digression. When you dangle a participle there's no telling what's going to take the bait. I don't want to write the great American novel anymore. Too many impossibly long afternoons. I just want to enjoy the process, and part of the process is getting free of the feeling of isolation when I am writing, by writing in a public forum. I figure my unconscious knows what it's doing.

One of my favorite insights into the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious minds was told by Milton Erickson, the greatest medical hypnotist of his time. He had some problems when he was a child. He was color blind, tone deaf, dyslexic ... he'd had polio and was going to get it again ... and he couldn't get the concept of alphabetical order. So he was more or less left alone to be who he was in school. When he had to look something up, he'd begin at the front of the dictionary and work toward the back. And when he had learned it, the unconscious released what it had withheld, for its own reasons, and the concept was revealed as in a flash of light.

He had a superb vocabulary. He could not only see the unconscious at work, and play, he could charm it up into the realm of words. In Don Juan's terms, he could handle intent.

You never know what the unconscious is up to. It's bigger.


(From: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a conversation between a French restaurant owner and Donald Sutherland, a public health inspector. He has asked about one of the dishes on the counter):

It is cervelles en matelote.

In English, what would I be eating
if I ate that?

- Ah. Calves' brains in red wine.
- Red wine and what else?

Mais, c'est impossible. It's impossible.
It's a secret, Mr Bennell.

You don't have any secrets
from the Department of Health, Henri.

A good young Burgundy, brown stock,

thyme, parsley - just a sprig.

Capers,... a fresh bay leaf, and garlic.

- That's all?
- Oui. Yes.

- What is that?
- A caper.


Do you presume to tell us
what is in this stock?

- It's a rat turd.
- A what?

A rat turd.

- A caper!
- A rat turd.

A caper!

If it's a caper, eat it.

I'm gonna bring you up
for permit revocation, Henri.
You're charging way too much
to be serving crap like that in here.

Posted: Thu - February 22, 2007 at 01:32 PM