The pool’s not been what I’d hoped. This is one of the ways that Mercury Retrograde has manifested locally of late, prompting in me a sense of frustration and postponement, despite my knowing that we’ve performed our planting ritual, seeds and seedlings are in the ground, things are growing. Similar processes are afoot intellectually as I continue my wanderings. In my readings, I’ve been moving crabwise among many books at once. Robin D.G. Kelley keeps it surreal with his book Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination. Thelonious Monk appears near the book’s finale. Kelley went on to write a book on Monk. Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. Thumbing through the latter book’s index, I land upon “Monk, Thelonious: drugs taken by,” hoping to encounter word of Monk’s relationship to psychedelics, as he’s known to have done mushrooms with Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary. Monk came to the psychedelic sacrament a seasoned pro. Reports suggest he was unimpressed. Monk had been arrested years prior for marijuana possession. Police rolled up on him after a Sunday night gig in June 1948. He liked to smoke reefer when he played, and other players in his groups relied on drugs and alcohol to keep up. The meeting with Leary occurred in January 1961. Three years later, Monk appeared on the cover of the February 28, 1964 edition of Time magazine. The cover story’s author Barry Farrell wrote, “Every day is a brand-new pharmaceutical event for Monk: alcohol, Dexedrine, sleeping potions, whatever is at hand, charge through his bloodstream in baffling combinations.”
The gardener in me wants to cook — so why don’t I? And why am I erupting with anger here at the end of another round of grading? I should be pleased and gracious. Instead I behave poorly, in ways that I regret. Sarah and I haven’t had time to communicate much of late. Her parents have come to visit. They’re helping with Frankie as we complete projects around the house. Some of my anger is admittedly distant in origin: anger, for instance, over the Israeli settler-state’s murderous deployment of military and mob violence against the people of Gaza. And of course, anger over the usual ideological bullshit: conservative narratives spewing forth from talking heads, speech-bubbles of blah spreading via News app and word of mouth. Anger about traffic and construction; anger about time-poverty. Hunger for “reality” — as opposed to this dreaded “normal” to which some wish to return. But much of what I’m feeling here — my “negative affect,” as the APA would say — is of a more proximate sort: oikos-derived, interpersonal in nature, inspired by the terms by which I live. Therein lies the dilemma: for what am I to do?
A car alarm on a feisty BMW temporarily disturbs the peace as I sip a lager at a pub a few blocks from Marble Arch, near a flat I rented the last time I lived in London. Sarah sits across from me reading a story by Helen Oyeyemi. It takes everything I possess to keep myself from throwing an ashtray through the car’s windshield. When the alarm goes off a second time, we take the hint. “Enough of this outrageous fortune,” I mutter to myself. “Time to cut and run.” But the car proves to be one of several environmental irritants encountered throughout the day. To put it plainly: things don’t go as planned. The London to which I’ve grown accustomed feels as if it’s been hijacked for the day — booby-trapped, sabotaged, reprogrammed to include pranks, gags, obstacles churned up by a trickster demiurge. “Something needs to change,” I decide. “It’s time for another dramatic alteration of consciousness. My patience is wearing thin.”