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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

THANK YOU FOR THIS DAY

 
raoul dufy

Day 4 of blogathon, the prompt is lists of future artistic goals over the next five years. First thing to mind was McKenzie Wren's opening to Day 2, the chorus from David Bowie's song from the early 1970s, "We've got five years." The other association that popped into mind almost simultaneously was the Soviet Five Year Plans. Through the 1950s and 60s, American propaganda was fixed on evil Communist Russia such that it became reality: Communism = Evil, Five Year Plans are stupid. It's what Communists do. You have to be of a certain age to remember that time, like in my generation you had to be of a certain age to remember the Depression. Nobody bothered to notice what the Soviets were doing was not Communism, but that was neither here nor there. Actuality has no role in propaganda. Calling orange juice ketchup doesn't make it anything but orange juice. This is where a five year plan takes my head. It doesn't mean I agree that five year plans are stupid or Communism is evil, only these are my associations. The language of propaganda. It's not that I mean it really is, only that it's my historical association. It's a bundle of personal and historical associations that makes it an unreality for me to say I want to make the world a better place or I want to spread joy or I want to be an ambassador for good, whatever that is. It doesn't even mean I disagree with people who see the good as something laudable. This is illusion, good is not always "good." Uplifting is not always elevating. I'm getting into splitting hairs territory; it's time to abandon that line of thinking. It leads ultimately to the brain is a universe of atoms floating in spirals through nothingness, which leads to looking out the window at the snowbirds hopping about in the snow the other side of the glass picking up their daily seeds. Caterpillar just now appealed to me for attention, Mao. Took a moment to rub the top of her head and her neck, tell her I love her from the heart. I took the moment to bring my own head back to the world of perception where seeing is believing, leaving off that believing doesn't have much to do with reality, and reality is different from individual to individual. I mean the reality we collectively agree upon, like gravity keeps footprints off the ceiling.
 
raoul dufy
 
My entire childhood was spent in a church where I was told several times a week that I might not be alive tomorrow. Any moment may be my last. It stuck. I've never been able to imagine a future for myself. I've seen too many variables flying about every situation and have lived long enough to see that even Noam Chomsky doesn't know the future. One unforeseeable moment can change everything. Like the assassination of Archduke (?) Franz Ferdinand with an improvised explosive device set Europe into a "World War."  The rings that go out from this one splash in time will continue to the horizon. I have a really strong feeling such an unforeseeable moment is around a nearby corner. 911 was not it, because it was foreseeable and seen coming. "We didn't have any intelligence." Duh. A child raised believing the Truth in the likelihood of not waking up in the morning, plus we might get nuked any day, I've lived with "no hope of tomorrow" as evidence of the importance of living my life today. I've also lived long enough to notice that it aint necessarily so. I woke up a lot of mornings. The last thing I had to say to that argument was to an old preacher's wife, one of the really old-fashioned kind, of which we have many today, a haughty old thing pretending humility, the worst gossip in the church and kept a smokescreen of piety about herself obscuring the inner bitch, the self her husband and kids knew well. She was on the verge of feeble when, going out the church-house door, I assisted her descent of the four steps. She thanked me. I said, "See you next time." She said, "We have no guarantee of that." I thought, Lord have mercy, don't I know it,  and said, "I'll pretend I do, and if I don't it won't matter." She didn't even give my clever young frivolity an harrumph. It was the last time I saw her. She wasn't able to leave home soon after, then hospital and nursing home. She was steeped in a lifetime of old Calvinist, Puritan mind of post-medieval northern Europe and Britain, like her husband and her daddy, believed anything fun was the devil himself, the kind of thinking that pushed me toward atheism. The moment with her on the church-house steps was after my awakening. I don't mean awakening here to mean enlightenment, only the kick-start of awareness. The awakening turned me away from heavy serious thinking to a more light-hearted attitude toward experience. I don't mean Boca Raton Barbie, nor do I mean System Of A Down.
 
raoul dufy
 
In the past I attempted to make some plans, but didn't believe them. In late-Twenties I bought a two-volume set of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, to save it for old age. It was something I wanted to read in my later years. I have two sets of the two volumes. I've never opened any of them. They are preserved on my bookshelf. In the mid-1980s I discovered Australian writer, Patrick White and read him, one after the other. Came a day I did not want to read everything yet and be done with him. I wanted to save the rest for my later years for something I know I will enjoy to the max. Neither White nor Proust appeal to me now as something I want to read. I want to finish a couple books by Chris Hedges I'd begun at the same time. I want to finish a history of China that calls to me. I want to find a good history of the Persian Empire. I'd also like to find a history of Kazakhstan before it was broken up into the -stans. I have a wonderful history of the Ottoman Empire that I want to read again. I'd like to reread Diana Eck's beautiful book, Banaras City of Light. And there are so many I want to read again. I want to read more poems by John Berryman. I want to finish the four volumes of Andre Gide's Journals. I want to read more in the discourses of Upasni Maharaj. I want to reread some plays by Harold Pinter. I don't have time for Proust. He's too far down the list. There's no way this body will hold out that long. A few days ago I was thinking I want to take Julio Cortazar's novel, 62: A Model Kit, off the shelf, not to read all of it, unless I choose to, but to read a few pages at a time randomly. The novel itself is in 62 sections or chapters to be read in any order the reader chooses. Thought I might read a few, I love his writing, for the joy of reading his sentences. I went to the shelf and took it down. It's nice to see it again. Too many years have gone by without reading him. It may end up in a stack on the floor, but it was a good feeling to touch its cover and flip the pages. I don't dare say I will indeed read in it. Tomorrow I may say tomorrow. And I may take it as soon as I'm finished writing to the reading chair, put on the reading glasses, have a cup of hot chocolate, feet up off the floor, and read for an hour in bliss with sunlight to read by.
 
raoul dufy
 
As you have accurately guessed by now, this mind doesn't do well with goals. I could plan a goal today and next week it will be something that was important a week ago. For appointments I write in black or red on a wall calendar with inch and a half by inch and three quarters rectangles for each number. If an appointment doesn't get written there, it's forgotten. I've never taken to goals, goals being a sort of plan, the carrot on the stick to keep the donkey going. I can't even conceive imagining one goal, certainly not five, and then five more goals for this year, in addition. It makes my psychic bodies explode. Goals are motivated by desire for success. I'm recalling in ninth grade running around the football field track at a tournament chasing the guy running in front of me I had to beat to win. I never liked that feeling, having to beat somebody to win. It didn't feel right then, doesn't feel right now. It's the winning I have no desire for. I don't want to win a lottery because I don't want the trauma of overnight unlimited wealth and every snake on earth having a bead on me. I like my life on Waterfall Road where I have a hard time finding the money every year to pay property taxes you'd laugh at in awe for being so little. I never wanted to climb the ladder of success. Soon after high school I tried to go against that thinking by reading Atlas Shrugged and Think and Grow√§ Rich. It all made me gag. What do I give a shit about a bunch of rich people needing to live underground because they hate everybody else. I'd rather read Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums. At least reading Dharma Bums made me feel cool. Think and Grow Rich made me feel poor and worthless. I could not give my mind to continuous meditation on money and/or success. Robert Lowell was an uber-successful American poet with plenty of money, his name in perpetuity on his chair in the inner sanctum of American Poetry, and he went *pop* that's it cat shit. It evidently didn't mean all that much to him. John Berryman too. Randall Jarrell jumped in front of a car on the interstate at night. They had caught the carrots on the stick they started out wanting, fame, to be well thought of, and in some cases money. Like, Wow. I don't want to find my life so regrettable I need to bail out and see if I can finish saying Geronimo. I'll just take it a day at a time and play like I'm doing something spiritual.   
 
raoul dufy
 
 
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