Sunday, December 1, 2013

A shadow falls


You know, it seems colder than before, the Seasons took all that they came for. 
Now Winter dances here, and it seems so fitting, don't you think, for the Earth to dress in white and grey.
So.
When I was four years old, I was outside playing on a cloudy June afternoon, and was struck by lightning.
Boom.
Just like that.
I was not expected to live, and as I lie in a coma for seven months, my little cranium was pieced together like a tiny jigsaw puzzle.
My ears don't exactly line up, go ahead and look now if you like.
The earliest memory I have was that day, the soft cool rain and my bare feet on the slightly wet ground, then suddenly a feeling of my hair being lifted up and an awful impact.
I certainly then remember being somewhere else, with someone else, a place that I still try to paint images of to this very day.
I only brought back one thing, and one thing for certain, our concept of Good and Evil as being absolute opposites is fucked up. You see, it all depends on where you are standing in the room, you know?
I remember the quiet. the quiet like when I saw my first snowfall. No sound. Nothing but the white. The same white we dream of on a sweltering summer day.
Ah, but we can hear them as well, in the quiet of a warm bed, the whisper of a shade, they come, taking us dream by dream. Asking us "Where is home?" Every time we dream of home, we wake up alone. We shouldn't listen.
But we listen to them don't we?

You will be like us, think like us, worship like us, laugh like us, live like us.
You will know this to be wrong, but you will notice that the days are waning when support exists for the individual and for deviation. That was a luxury of richer times, and it is none too surprising that in the days when such support existed, deviation was the norm, and all other thought was suspect. So much for tolerance.
And  some people prefer to be sheep. Some people prefer to be led. And that is why we're back. Because you're tired. Because you're weary. Because you stopped wearing those pants with the subtle paisley pattern you bought in the thrift shop for $1.99 because they were so retro-60s, and although you were born in the 60s, you are too young to remember it but wanted to believe it was a time of respect for deviance and the individual.
And, anyway, whoever led you to believe that paisley was so altogether all-fired deviant and individualistic? Hell, that particular pattern on your pants came from a tapestry made for an ancient Persian despot who had his subjects beheaded regularly for forgetting which way to face.
We think about that while we watch "The View" and spoon that bran over our cereal.
You will never be anything real in this lifetime. You cannot make your own reality. Not anymore. You have forgotten who you wanted to be. That isn't surprising. It's in the design.
What do disaffected people do when they get old? Does the sulking ever stop? You've made an art form out of sulking, and wishing you were at least French as a means for justification of your existential angst. Oh. But we were Goths weren't we? And oh Yes, Punks in the late 1970's... what were we screaming "Anarchy!" about again? Hmm Yes, the glut of too many choices at the mall?
There are other ways to live.
In books, in movies, bleak landscapes of dystopian worlds have been conjured, playgrounds for the disaffected and disenfranchised. You wonder how close that reality could be. You have, with your misbegotten aspirations, become unsuccessful in your lifetime. You will never afford to have all the things you need. You live an unfulfilled existence, and dream no American dream.
You can imagine living where people will fight to survive among the ruins of a corrupt technological-rich, spiritually-bereft world. It wouldn't take much lurching forward to come to that. Science fiction authors you've read and digested -- you pull their thoughts to your chest and ruminate. Here, on the landscape, one foot in the pretend veneer of a 50s family portrait created before our time and the other in a wasteland predicted by cynical visionaries. Thrust into an accelerated world with not enough of the technological advances that were actually possible because we, the corrupt, keep progress profitable only for our kind.
Your rejection of us is your own doom. You make your bed and lie in it. We short-sheet your linens. It's for your own good. Wake up. Sad thing, you can't can you? The world is hopelessly lost, burgeoning at the seams with stuff, and yet so little has come to pass. Humanity sits on its ass. It's big fat supersized ass...As you are doing. You are not poor, yet your biggest act of biggest charity was giving that Bum, (Hobo? Homeless?) $7.43 in spare cash and change this morning,
 (You counted) Usually, you never do. You are asked at least three times a day for money, and you don't have enough money for twenty one or so people per week. So, you simply stopped, but feel guilty nonetheless because it's not the ideal.
But the one this morning popped out of nowhere in the fog, appeared at the intersection as you waited for the light to change on your way to the airport, it was the "Confederate soldier".
He'd come from the direction of the overpass. The dirt and grime layered on him suggested that he might have spent the night there. Again.
How many Summer days had you seen him there before? He had disappeared for a while, other corners, other blocks, but today he wrapped his arms around his thin body and shivered.
You remember thinking how young, strikingly handsome he appeared and that he had a look about him that you see in 19th century photographs, eyes the color of blue you usually only see on men that spend their lives at sea.
How odd that seemed.
You gave him what was in your wallet, a whopping 7 bucks and some change from the car console.
He smiled, held your hand with both of his for a second too long, just long enough to feel what hunger and cold does to the hands, and said thank you and embarrassedly yet almost conversationally, looking past you, added, "Isn't the weather painful?"
Later you take a long thoughtful sip of your four dollar Venti as you sit in the requisite café wishing that there was someway for the homeless to accept MasterCard. Fourth world problems.
How's YOUR life?
Your blood work came back perfectly normal that afternoon, you are healthy as the proverbial horse. Oh goody.
You take a sip of beer at a bar. Your bills are paid..
Someone really sexy texts you and wants to fuck. You pop another Xanax.
This is what being an adult is about, isn't it? But you wanted to have a life like a Work of Art didn't you?
This isn't art. No one will buy your art, anyway.
Will they?
You *fill in the blank* artists (or whatever label we'll exploit you by) distrust the powers-that-be. You might even complain that corporations have taken over the arts and make it near to impossible to achieve a dream, to be redeemed as an artist. Redemption? We will sell you indulgences, and nothing more.
Then, another voice:
I will only tell you this once and never again -- art doesn't lie in the money, in the bottom line, it lies in the souls of all humans, and anyone can access it regardless what they try to tell you.
Art is magick, magick is art, and it doesn't need to be dispensed by some Hierophant in a pin-striped suit. It just is. Perhaps those little squiggles drawn on newsprint and tacked up on the refrigerator are intrinsically as beautiful as Guernica. Just more people have seen and will see Guernica, and they bring their collective experience to it, worship it, lay their experiences before it. Picasso may have painted it, but thousands of others have shaped that painting since. It is owned by all of us, anyone who cares to find their own soul in it. That is what art is, it is a reaching out to others and giving them a place to put their own souls in.
And, sure, it makes money. Anything that sustains makes money. But art that doesn't make money is still art. Artists who never make money are still artists. The money thing is parallel, but not intrinsic, to the art.
In fact, if artists didn't need to eat and live and consume, the money thing might not matter at all. But they do. That is the most unfortunate thing.
 
How nice. That was like a commercial wasn't it? Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
And bloody little good that does you, does it? You can sigh, think that no one understands, yet everyone has it as bad as you, if not worse. You sip your whisky and ginger ale and wonder. Wonder about the life you aspired to have as a child: money, influence, the ability to give your money to those who needed it -- which you thought you might have through art. Oh, you. You will cave in. You will soon be like us, think like us, worship like us, laugh like us, live like us.
Otherwise, you are the needy, not that needy, perhaps, but notice how you've never been able to do anything but tread water ever since you first were thrust into this go-to-work-pay-the-bills world. All of life seems dismal and indulgent, hurtful and strung out.

You walked into a bar tonight, unabashed. Tonight is the night that you feel reproached, maybe it's because you didn't make the proper observances on the Equinox. You and your bloody ancient neo-religions. You're just trying to be weird, aren't you? We know that game. Catholicism got your tongue?
Someone kisses the back of your neck, someone kisses your lips, but the next week, it's time to start all over again. It's too easy to use sex as an addiction. The supply is even more abundant than a good old-fashioned drug high, which is wrong anyway on this day, although in your formative years, it was so much the norm, and you don't understand how it suddenly became wrong.
This has become one of those nights, starting off alone, knowing somehow the person you wish to see won't appear. There was no reason to be moving through the club, waiting, hoping, just hanging around waiting for the big fake love scene to manifest. There won't be any love scene.
Wake up.
You could go up to someone, say "wanna fuck?" and they might take you up on it, and it might be fun, but your viscera will gnaw at you, say to wait, find someone you can hold an entire conversation with before or after, although you feel hopeless and at the mercy of your stupid brain.
Why do you bother? Why do you choose someone and attempt pursuit?
You don't want to cage them, you don't want to have them. You want to love them, but it seems such an imposition to love people. They are forever disappearing. In one way or another.
It's so nice when we dress up for the dead. "All you need these days is a perfectly fitting black suit."
Now, wouldn't it be better to do it our way? We have the programs and pamphlets telling just how it can be done. Just follow us, the chance to start again in a brand new world of limited opportunity and candy coated numbness is waiting just for you!
There is no accounting for humans. They spend their whole lives reaching for something. The slope of your neck, and the insecurity because you are not, you are not anything, and those you try to touch go running.
Why do you want to touch the ones in motion?

After I missed my 5th birthday because I was in a coma, I had an "Un-Birthday" party every month until I was 12.
I look at a photo they took of me in the hospital. The lightning made marks- like tree branches down my small still body- or maybe they look like roots. In one photo, my arms are crossed as if I were cold.
I was cold. I am cold. It's colder than before.
 I look at these photos again and think "Isn't the weather painful?"