Saturday January 26, 2019

I miss living in neighborhoods where people sit around together outdoors talking and listening to music. It happens sometimes — but so much of the current era’s technology is too small for sound to be shared by random parties, large gatherings, our bodies all wiggling on the dance floor to the same felt vibrations. What this allows, however, is silent, adoring contemplation of the magical languages of birds. A wonderful loud one with a high-pitched cry in a branch a mere few feet above me. The hippie modernists tried to communicate to us, in however fragmentary a way, a genuinely new, experimental, loving way of being, each psychedelic head of the General Intellect projecting in works of art back to others diamond-dimensioned reflections of the total picture. Classrooms should be spaces where we learn to hang out with others. Announce straightforwardly that we’re sifting through the artifactual rubble of the last period of revolution in American history, looking for keys to unlock the Age of Aquarius. (For those who wish to enlist in this cause, check out Vera W. Reid’s Towards Aquarius. Weird, interesting mythological thinking, at the very least. But also quite possibly a clue. Then again, maybe just New Age fantasy. My sense is that the astrology is gibberish, meant only as a means of transmitting a poetic sentiment: humanity’s great wish, the wish for a New Age.) Was there not always some revolutionary promise there? For those of us born after the 1960s, in the age of postmodernity, ours has been “a time when faith in modern science’s founding sacraments — its claims to unimpeachable objectivity, axiomatic certitude, and autonomy from the prejudices of power — is rapidly disintegrating,” as Andrew Ross notes, “under the pressure not only of demythologizing critics and activists within the priesthood, but also from the thoroughgoing historical critiques of scientism waged by feminists and ecologists with one foot in the door, and from public disaffection with science’s starring role in the grisly drama of global degradation” (Strange Weather, p. 22). I am an Acid Communist, a Dharma Revolutionary. I subscribe to a cosmology in which consciousness interacts with what appears to consciousness: a 3-D immersive parallelogram of dynamic bodies, forces, and energies. And consciousness is no fixed vantage-point, no mere camera-eye; like the world it reflects, it’s always growing and changing. I’m willing to organize around whatever helps us go on ahead.

Why is so much of the Nuggets anthology mired in thwarted romance, love unrequited? What role did that trope occupy in the 60s zeitgeist? Garage rockers were teens on hormonal and drug-induced bad trips, not yet woke to psychedelic love. The group situated on the precipice of these two modes was The Chocolate Watchband, particularly on their classic, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else.”

Dudes who elsewhere in their discography display the genre’s signature: an unhealthy relationship to booze, to women, and to sexuality, away from which the band retreats into beautiful reverb- and distortion-drenched sonic floating zendos like their glorious track, “Dark Side of the Mushroom.”

What we find throughout the era of hippie modernism are works that cultivate a keen sense of group identity — youth as members of a shared Age. Take the collective “we” in the following timeline of the Beat Generation as proposed by Allen Ginsberg: “We’d already had, by ’48,” he told an interviewer, “some sort of alteration of our own private consciousness; by ’55 we had made some kind of public articulation of it; by ’58 it had spread sufficiently so that the mass media were coming around for information.” And as Leerom Medovoi notes, the Beats utilized this attention from the mass media “to wage an impressively successful campaign affirming their own version of what a ‘beat generation’ of young Americans meant” — the group thus building for itself “a reputation as the legitimate representatives of the young” (Rebels, p. 221).

Thursday April 26, 2018

Preface: in which a moth flies past my head, and in so doing, shocks me out of self-recognition, as terrified of me as I’d be of it, I imagine, were I suddenly to find myself in the presence of an unknown superior power. The Homeostat finds its way back to a sense of comfort, of course — but not unchanged, consciousness adjusted now to accept a fuller sample of its environment. One returns equipped with what alleges to be a means of Summoning Lesser Demons. One adds after the briefest pause that one intends by that, as did Maxwell, the mediating, rather than malevolent, connotation of the word.

Body: Tsembla’s “Gravitating Bones” accompanies me on an afternoon stroll to a park, clouds parted finally to reveal the sun after a heavy morning rain. Birds sing rounds from the upper branches of adjoining rows of trees.

Postscript: “all this represents a body of incommunicable knowledge. Transposed into any human language, the values and meanings involved [in the psychedelic experience] lose all substance; they cannot be brought intact through the barrier” (Lem, Solaris, p. 172).

Sunday April 8, 2018

The occupant returns from work, sets down bags, books, papers, markers, pens, receipts, loose change, settles back into experience of itself as a person, puts on its head, sighs, stretches its limbs, sings to itself, stimulates its accessory nerve, or what it imagines to be its accessory nerve, some nameless patch of being, some spatiotemporal pattern that when massaged releases tension from the trapezius. Conditions met, the person arrives into the dream state. A towhee sings to us — you and I — while perched on a branch of wisteria. We lower our eyes toward the street, whereupon we spy a plump little robin. Satisfied by our attention, the robin flutters its wings and bathes in a puddle of rain. “We’re never going to bed again!” shout the children as they assume collective control of their homes. What “school” might have to do with this, I can’t say.

Friday April 6, 2018

Scratches, marks, grids painted over to form a black and purple twilight. Contemplate the addition of fireworks. Half past. Articulated into body and religion, given outfits, gear, we become something we are not. 18,000 feet, naked. The voices we hear belong to many: snippets, phonemes, syntagma, broadcasts, transmissions. Magnetoreception kicks in; we possess cryptochrome eyes. Then we return again to our walking bodies. A mockingbird flies past and lands itself atop ground cover at the base of a neighbor’s lawn. After flying a figure-eight formation, bluebirds in a pair come to rest in a blooming dogwood. All of this by way of the day’s migration. I amble about in a magical space-time: pure sensation, innocent of any distinction between reward and punishment.

Sunday April 1, 2018

Drums played aloud outdoors in a land officiated by bells and chimes becomes for the allegorical imagination shorthand for assertion of religious difference, assertion of an alternative path to ekstasis or peak-experience. Language is already present in nature’s abstraction of itself through song. Rhythm and bass evoke embodiment, as melody and tone evoke transcendence. Neon flashes hover as after-images against the backs of my eyelids. Overhead I spy a woodpecker — a Northern Flicker, perhaps. Moments later, a plane with red wings. The Deep Listening Band adds to, overlays atop the experience a work recorded in Oregon’s Fort Warden Cistern called “The Ready Made Boomerang.”

The sound’s vastness inevitably suggests mystery. Remind others of this. Echo it. Alter aural perspective. Induce awe through cavernous resonance.

Friday March 30, 2018

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.

Wednesday March 28, 2018

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.