Fiction could grant me in my role as author a means for the representation of a divided mind. The semester comes at me with advance laser fire, though, the moment in the break when I’m finally beginning again to think. I need to gear up to write a piece in the months ahead on psychedelic utopianism. What I like most about the two books I’ve most recently been reading, Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger and Aldous Huxley’s Island, is that they both document a movement from skepticism to joyous acceptance, or from cynicism to hope. Up next, a trivial but somehow endearing indie flick, Mr. Roosevelt.
“Let’s mourn a pet together!” sing the hipsters of gentrified Austin. A pleasant recreation in 2017 terms of the maya of Richard Linklater’s Slacker, strung along a storyline noncommittally indebted to reenactment of the life of Lena Dunham’s Girls character, Hannah Horvath. I despair of having to get back into character for another semester. That’s always the part of life that films of this ilk ignore. Symbol manipulators these days live in caves. They live without fresh forms of fun.
I will be owing money on loans I took out to finance my schooling for the remainder of my life, unless I write inspired by a true story, inspired by real events. “Be sure,” I instruct myself. I have power from this point hence to change the nature of my chains. Senses are but a portion, an iceberg-tip, of one’s soul. Tense and relax, inhale and exhale; liberate energy by communicating with feeling from one’s body. One shall think of events as little plays in which one is the leading character. Keep track of changes, mark victories. Take long, deep, slow, breaths. Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Exhale completely. Make one’s philosophy pragmatic and operational. Against all adversity, prevail.
There are no rules. Mind can go pretty much anywhere we let it, so long as we feed ourselves a steady supply of new semantic units with which to think. Badges, heralds, insignias, emblems, flash in vertical bars across a screen. This is easily interpretable, I tell myself, as an expression of anguish on the occasion of the Justice Department’s decision today to rescind its so-called “safe-harbor” policy with regard to federal marijuana law. American society is utterly contemptible. The discrepancy between is and ought has made of adulthood a dull dough. “Take a drag, pal,” I tell myself with a light pat on the back. Levitating drum kit taps out subliminal instructions. With Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi with Masahiko Satoh, I go crazy and come back again.
Lightning-fast information processing sounds to the censors like shrieking gibberish. Not for the many, these supreme outpourings of free music. I respond with similar passion and focus to Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon’s Leave No Trace: Live in St. Louis.
Unusual forces are afloat and at play, but the sun’s gonna shine in my backyard someday.
The film Violet’s use of its screen fully absorbs me for a time with its studied arrangement of long takes and sparse soundtrack — often just stray bits of ambient background noise. The cold night air steadies me as I await the start of another difficult semester. Consciousness drifts off at a slow, serpentine crawl through a Belgian cul-de-sac. I relent and treat myself to Klaatu’s 3:47 EST, from which I pivot to a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.” Pulses of energy rise from my head, transmitting information heavenward.
Houses, cars, restaurants: all are inhospitable and lined with icicles. Clad with love, though, one can despite it all still have it made. But lo and behold: what kind of fascism is it that parades the Rolling Stones in front of inert, stadium-sized masses in Hal Ashby’s 1983 rock-doc Let’s Spend the Night Together? The film is a cruel parody of rock’s once joyous, raucous, incendiary stirrings. No consciousness-expansion takes places there whatsoever. Arena-rock of that sort served in the fashion of an experimental prototype, a formalization of what has now become our permanent social relation. I admit moments of beauty, however, when the band slows down for “Beast of Burden.” If we try real hard, sings Mick a few songs later, we get what we need. Keith Richards, for his part, manages by way of drink and drugs a kind of sleepy-eyed authenticity in the film’s punked-up version of “Little T&A” — that, too, I admire. The film is ultimately about industrial workers doing what it takes to make it though their shifts as America becomes a bomb-dropping monstrosity. We witness this, for instance, in the haunting use of Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner” at the start of the film’s closing credits. Cinema enables and makes use of a variety of narrative models, meanwhile, in an unrelated 2013 Belgian film called Violet, producing fluctuations across several realities at once. Sonics and visuals reveal a multi-layered ontology: interiors and their external substitutes. Sound sculpted variously around a muted center, as in the song of that name by the band Deafheaven. Consciousness inhabiting different sound-worlds and temporalities. Every reflection also a distortion. As Robert Anton Wilson reminds us, one should always juggle several. Never commit to just one.
Our journey north having reached its conclusion, on the books as a two-week endurance test, a struggle, self-realization limited, Sarah and I head home to our southern clime, stopping off for the night in a filthy roadhouse inn. The world everywhere lonely and desolate. Trucks pull in their wake as they speed past a fearsome howling void, air torn apart from itself as podcasts blather on, chewing at one’s ears about some dismal bit of capitalist reality. Cops flash constantly in and out of view along the highway in this wretched country. As common a sight as birds along telephone wires. Cultivated heads, beware. I wish to assemble in place of this reality a world where strangers can live amiably with one another, going so far even as to tolerate hitchhiking without fear of harm. And there is in fact some leeway. One can always transform the world as one finds it through guerrilla ontology. Devise new games involving roles for oneself and for others, and voilà: one can see patterns where before there were walls.
Consciousness and material existence meet one another, with the former forced by the latter to squander itself in a labyrinthine game of defense. I find myself unable in these dark political times to muster much by way of public utterances. My days are spent skittishly contemplating a mute, dumb, unexplorable social universe. I have no time in my life for sustained projects of unstructured exploration and play — not to mention study. All is just dull daily labor for survival. I long to become flush with excitement and joy, life feeding me meaningful communication. Signals to amass and weigh. I long to find joy again in exertion. I wish to perform comfortably, admirably and with talent, filled with confidence regarding my power to triumph and profit enormously from my tremendous good fortune. Sing this aristocrat’s lullaby and thou shalt become one with the good son, the true man. Allegories whispered to us by ISAs during our childhood. The deep “truths,” expressed in mythic or religious language. The thou shalts. The commandments. What forms of parenting, what forms of education, exist without these? What can we do as communists to invent joy in this world? Heaven, now — beginning in the mirror stage, the astral plane. The self speaks to itself and is spoken to, after all, only ever through the mediation of its mirror.