Caught up on witches, let us sit with creatures and plot reading lists, end of schoolyear approaching. When time allows, we’ll plant our garden. Up onto the turntable I place an album from the 1960s folk revival, rescued from a bin at Goodwill: Mark Spoelstra’s Five & Twenty Questions.
Liner notes by counterculture folksinger and novelist Richard Fariña. The latter died tragically on April 30, 1966 in a freak motorcycle accident, two days after the publication of his novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me. Fariña is the writer to whom Thomas Pynchon dedicates Gravity’s Rainbow. Pynchon had been best man at Fariña’s wedding to Joan Baez’s sister Mimi in spring of 1962. Along with the title track, other highlights on the Spoelstra album include “On the Road Again” and “My Love is Like a Dewdrop.”
I found some hollowed-out nutshells the other day in the hollowed-out trunk of a tree. I interpreted these shells (because why not?) as a sign that I should dine at Five Guys. Is it wrongheaded to equate mental space or consciousness with something more fully social (or so I presume) like language or discourse? “All we have to do,” I’m told, “is speak our minds.” Singer-songwriters channel generic personal language from the muses. The cosmic babble that results achieves meaning only upon contact with Robbie Basho’s “Variations on Claire De Lune.”
Join that with Popol Vuh’s “Ah!” and you have my weekend. This soundtrack to the first stage of my new journey culminates, by the way, with the nature-worship of Bridget St. John’s “Ask Me No Questions.”
What can I say? My psychedelic war-chest skews toward the folksy. I become absorbed as I listen, my eye wrapping around my fingers as I wrap around my fingers the string from my hoodie. Trust me when I say, it’s a glimpse of the earthly divine. The inexplicable mystery of Being. And we can run with that directly into Asa-Chang & Junray’s “Hana.”
As Henri Lefebvre said of space, “our senses and our thoughts apprehend nothing else” (The Production of Space, p. 12). Lefebvre’s is a Marxism that can accommodate the satisfaction that results from tending to what psychologist Abraham Maslow called “metaneeds,” including the drive to know and experience truth, beauty, and goodness. Lefebvre’s writing also implies an everyday practice (or so I imagine) in line with the teachings of Anthony Storr’s Solitude: A Return to the Self. Make sure to parse all of this, though, via Nietzsche’s theory of the psyche as constituted by multidimensional layers and possessing an unfathomable complexity. Down we go, stricken with both terror and delight, into the depths of an unmapped maze. Fireworks in the space behind the back of one’s head: lean into them and absorb them as spasms shivering up one’s abdomen. “Get a load of the pull on that one!” shouts a young dwarven-shaped thing, afterwards becoming angered by the genocide that its country committed, the alternative lineages of consciousness extinguished. History has deprived us of whole peoples and whole ways of being. Get a load of the way this next part is spoken: I’m not here to virtue-signal. I’m here to touch the void.