In the City

I just went over and got my hair cut, and Brad's little household has come back together again. Trish has moved in again, with all her anxieties such as, "Is this really how it all ends?"  And Tom is in the kitchen, having come out from behind the black wall where he sleeps in a hollowed, if not hallowed, space.  The dog shoves her nose against me to demand attention because she wants a Greenie treat.  And Brad describes in detail his problems until I call him on it “You’re becoming one of those old men who talks constantly about his symptoms. “

“Becoming? I am one already.”

It's life in the city and I am a bald headed man like my grandfather was.  I look a lot like my grandfather looked when I was a child.  I knew he was old.  It's in the face, and there may be a mask covering it most of the time, but that portrait of Dorian Gray tells the tale.  In the end one is left with one's face as a reflecting plate of the heart.  And here is a story that I repeat, old man style, so if you've heard it just roll your eyes.

Lincoln refused to promote an assistant secretary in line for a cabinet post, and promoted someone else into the post instead.  When asked why he had done that to the man he said, "I don't like his face."  The response was that the man can't help what his face looks like, to which Lincoln replied, "After age forty, every man is responsible for his own face."

It's undeniable that you have to feed it.  Just ask Eraserhead.  

Speaking of "Ask Eraserhead," I went to a meeting in my neighborhood last night, advertised as cognitive activism.  

If you think about it just means thinking and round we go.  So I figure this is just an invitation for people who like to think to talk about what they're thinking, and of course I was right.  There was a guy who got a degree in brain science and is going to the Integral Studies institute here in the city.  I liked him because he just said right out there that he just loves psychology and anything to do with discovering more about his possibilities.

Another guy wasn't so sure why he was there, and he talked all around a point that kept eluding him.  He moved here from New Jersey and is a first generation American, with the religious conflicts that can bring but also with the freedom it can bring.  When you come to America you can explore anything you want.  Thoughts are not forbidden to you and you can say what you please. He was there to find out what people are exploring.

Which brings me to the host, Darin. He was the one who was calling the meeting and who had something he wanted to run up the flagpole to see if anyone might salute. He mentioned (and I automatically separated it out from the background) that when he was a child he got a lot of presents at Christmas, which was his birthday as well as a Christian holiday.  He then emphasized that while he got a lot of presents, he got no presence, and he spelled it to make it clear. Then he began to talk about some extraordinary experiences he’s had.

I know he really had the experiences. I’ve had them, too. So have a lot of people who don’t talk about them, because they’re not part of the communal realm. On the other hand, in tribal cultures often a particularly luminous dream would be brought before the other tribesmen. If it had enough communal resonance it moved into the tribal mythology.

I listened to Darin’s talking about his experiences and I thought of Lawrence of Arabia, who wrote in Seven Pillars of WIsdom about the religions that come from the mystic experiences out on the Arabian sands. Most of them die at the edge of the desert, he wrote, but once in awhile, one catches on. I figured Darin was coming out of the desert with his vision. He was dealing with what on one day is a hero’s journey, and on the next is the fall.

Having been on a journey, and having come back and closed the door, like Bilbo, I recognize some of the battles in process.

For one thing, most men are not prepared for altered states of consciousness in which they absorb more knowledge in an hour or a day or a week than could be learned in a lifetime.   What they mean to say is that there is a place of silent knowledge and when you're in that space you are one with nature.  When you're not there, you're back in a state of consciousness in which most of that is filtered out and only what you need is given to you. Castaneda wrote about it really well.

When Carlos asked Don Juan if there was any evolutionary benefit to staying in the place of silent knowledge, Don Juan said, "If there was we'd all be there." He also said that it can take a lifetime to learn to put into words what you learn in the place of silent knowledge.

When I think about another intelligence working through a human, I can’t resist thinking that it might be a message for Rafael.  

That is not to say that some messenger of a new evolutionary leap is not slipping about in the shadows of our neighborhood; everything starts in San Francisco after all.  We launched our generation on this coast with the Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park.  We launched the beats and the hippies and the gay rights movement , which was part of a larger consciousness movement.  It all starts here because it's dynamic here, with people from all over the world mingling and exploring ideas introduced by other people, like Darin for example.

The other member of the group was an older Jewish woman who lost her husband after his having a prolonged illness.  She was anxious to get to what the intelligence not of this world had to say.  She was not happy with me when I said, "I don't follow from that point on."  It was the point at which he had been given the critical information where I felt I was being invited into a labyrinth.

When you are in the house of the witch and she says, "Tell me, did you start this journey voluntarily or involuntarily?" the answer is, "Shut the fuck up and fix my dinner.  I'm a hero on a journey."  There is a reason why the witch is represented by the labyrinth. She takes away decisiveness, inspires Hamlet. There is a reason why Daedalus was brought to Crete as a master builder and designer of the labyrinth, and why he constructed wings with which to fly to the mainland.  And there is a reason he cautioned Icarus about flying too close to the sun. It's a warning about ego inflation and the resulting deflation.

There is the sky and there is the sea, and to survive, the hero has to resist the fascination with the depths, where Proteus the shape shifter rules.   And he can't fly into the sun, which means he can’t expand his male ego without using up all the energy and deflating, back into the formless sea.  It's knowledge that's been around for a long time, and it's what the young men who want knowledge start out to acquire.  But the first thing they have to acquire is a guitar and the chords and lyrics to, "You Ain't Going Nowhere," by Bob Dylan.

Posted: Thu - November 13, 2008 at 06:44 PM