My mind races off in multiple directions from one line of lyric to the next while listening to A. Savage’s “Indian Style.”
I feel dizzy at times, mind plucked from gravity. Christopher Hills’s theory of the “rainbow body” helps explain self-other differentiation. We are all light, we possessors of consciousness, divided in our impact with matter. Gravity’s Rainbow names one such cosmology. But why experience the world — what, even, is meant by that phrase, what are its bounds — once there is the possibility, even if only in capitalist fantasy, of VR devices and social media avatars for all? The self trains to become legion. Upon remembrance of death, I look around me, painfully aware of stones, moss, the sidewalk on which I stand, cars racing past. Airplanes draw lines across the sky as Sarah recalls for me the character of Ruddymane from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. Is the beauty of a flower its complexity? Petals radiate around a point of focus, a depth, an interior. Spring weather, temperature in the 70s. I spend time after an early dinner reclining in a chair on the porch behind my house, listening to wind chimes and birdsong, observing the passage of clouds. I wish I possessed knowledge enough to identify types of birds by song. Church bells sound to announce a religious holiday as neighbors converse across the street. Events often occur this way: several parts arriving into sense simultaneously in proximity to a subject.
A voice above my shoulder relocates and begins tapping out messages on my larynx. Pause, it says, give attention to the author of all things: death stars, restaurants, worlds within worlds. One observes oneself by becoming another. Keys tapping in sync on both ends of a piano accompany a shapeshifting woodwind. Christopher Hills announces, “The purpose of life is to evolve consciousness until it becomes one with the light which created it.” These trance-scripts operate from the premise that, held at gunpoint by police in the streets of Chicago, American heads have found themselves corralled ever since in a single, unchanging present. History’s locomotive slowed to a halt between 1968 and 1973, says the theory; and we’ve been perched here, in what Fugazi dubbed the “waiting room,” playing culture wars ever since.
Eve Essex interrupts to announce that she accepts my “satisfaction theories.”
According to these theories, power is to be sought not to acquire wealth or to gain dominion over others, but to manifest the unknown and to gather meaning. It is the duty of the humanities to cultivate and preserve this power. Sarah recounted on our walk yesterday a dream she’d had the night prior involving a grape gazpacho. Nature in this way calls to humanity, beckons, as with bulbs beset with the breaking virus during Tulip Mania, history’s first speculative bubble, in the midst of the Dutch Golden Age. These calls upon us have been growing louder lately. Through a pair of binoculars I observe what appears to be either a Brown Thrasher or a Wood Thrush arriving with a great flutter of wings to scavenge beneath a bird feeder in my yard. For these appearances I am grateful.
In need of silliness to preserve my sanity, I clown about, I launch a study of Operation Mindfuck, a Discordian reality-hacking practice that entered counterculture consciousness in the 1970s via Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy. I refuse to grant more than a bare minimum of attention to burdens and distractions, interference with my pursuit of peak-experiences. Walking beneath cherry blossoms, for instance, head tilted back to observe petals in popcorn profusion aglow with sunlight. Peaks of this sort give way eventually to what Abraham Maslow called the “plateau-experience”: “a serene, cognitive blissfulness which can, however, have a quality of casualness and of lounging about” (Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences, pp. xiv-xv). A voice recommends The Rock Warrior’s Way. In it, I find a sequel of sorts to René Daumal’s Mount Analogue, but with all of the chewy metaphysical implications drained away, leaving a miserable earning regimen measured out in increments of exertion, irritated into being by promised pearls. Let us instead coast blissfully, attention unleashed to happen where it may.
Reality expands, splits along a seam, opening a path, a trail for bikes and pedestrians beside a downtown railway, linking formerly disparate parts of the totality. Cells and cell-clusters travel through veins beside arteries. The name of an appearing and disappearing cat scrolls across a screen. One can imagine universes suffused with entities of this sort, on whom one may call through performance of ritual, as in The Teachings of Don Juan. Among incalculable potential pathways through life’s labyrinth, I’ve wound up here, eyes scanning across rows of books. Let us make of our path a joyful journey. Planes streak the sky at twilight as I listen to Brett Naucke’s “The Vanishing.” Ignore the monorail and advance toward the glowing pyramid.
Sarah and I listened to Ought’s “Beautiful Blue Sky” off their album Sun Coming Down while driving to see Godspeed You Black Emperor the other night, the last moments of sunlight shining through the rear window, warming the backs of our necks. Standing at the show afterwards, I wondered: “Who today are my countrymen? Who today stand opposed both to machines and to those who make them?” Recalling these thoughts now, I wonder: is the true power of witchcraft and sorcery their ability to provoke consciousness-alteration in oneself and in others? Those affected vape and dance despite their dehumanizing professions, as nonhuman nature finds its springtime groove. A television in the corner of a Chinese takeout disturbs my peace of mind with an infomercial hawking beauty products: some sort of ‘Cindy Crawford’-sponsored age-defying skin treatment super-serum. The ex-‘global supermodel’ collects a tax, even if just as burdensome interruption of one’s soundscape and field of vision. I’d rather lie around all day in a state of jouissance. Kicking up dust, reading old reports, watching The Godz, a short work by psychedelic filmmaker Jud Yalkut.
I busy myself with psychedelic reassembly of cultural memory. Reshuffle the game-pieces and remember differently. The Rajneesh community, occluded for so long, re-enters political consciousness. Our society, drenched in capitalist realism, has no way to conceive utopian aspirations these days beyond “getting from day job to dream job,” as reads the text on a billboard in my neighborhood. This is the great virtue of the Netflix series Wild Wild Country: it reminds us not just to dream big again, but to demand everything.