“Oh, the most naughty–” and, in general, “tut-tut.” Doesn’t one want to be bad in some true, deep way sometimes? Like, without relativism’s usual buffer — as in, “without irony.” Women hold up half the sky, while I wander around in the equivalent of William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land. I like to think of myself as an eight-ball, or some other device of divination. Smoke me up and see what I say. Though I can also hear in the distance the roar of the cyberbullies from some other leg of the labyrinth. One must connect the surface of life with its greatest depth. Mind is to body, as vertical is to horizontal, as inner is to outer. Together they form a continuum. My sense of spirituality and its relation to nature is not unlike the sense articulated in Woolgathering, where Patti Smith writes, “I never had a sense that the ability to win came from me. I always felt it was in the object. Some piece of magic in everything, as if all things, all of nature bore the imprint of a jinn.” But what for her was “always felt” is for me a sensation that awakened or reawakened only recently. Smith calls this state “the mind of a child.” Look, the mushroom cloud! There (pointing it out for others): on yesterday’s horizon! The editing occurs this way, in the act of composition, or not at all. Drop your needle, I say, on Drew McDowall’s remix of Drab Majesty’s “Forget Tomorrow” (is that statue moving?), and then follow with Tangerine Dream’s “Ultima Thule, Pt. 2.”
The world, enlivened as by a breeze, sings to me. The poet A.R. Ammons applied (and thus, models a way for me
to apply) this sense to the practice of writing, which for him involved “not so much looking for the shape / as being available / to any shape that may be / summoning itself / through me / from the self not mine but ours.” I watch in first-person as my feet descend a realtime-3D videogame staircase, with no way to determine whether the feet are of my body or as seen on a screen. I enter a hypnoid state while making myself available to the slow fade of one layer of text atop another during the title sequence that opens 1956’s The Bad Seed
. In English, that means “by the light of the moon.” Despite its “crime-mustn’t-pay” ending, this movie deserves wider recognition today as a psycho-allegorical masterpiece. For those who haven’t seen it, let me add here that the acting is at all times mirror-worlded and deliberately Twilight Zone Freudian.
The Bad Seed (1956) Directed by Mervyn LeRoy Shown: Patty McCormack (as Rhoda), Nancy Kelly (as Christine Penmark)
Ideas of mine, a character tells me, are at all times associated with words and things. Any ideas that come to mind are thus associated ideas. The analyst / hypnotist who styles herself a grande dame enters from an upper level, slaps me gently on the wrist, and demands that I go on, no matter how silly. All of us, she reminds us, believe ourselves changelings and foundlings. And then in the night we shout, “I’m lost in the forest!” Fairy tales, I intuit through power of suggestion, allow our thoughts to wander off script of ego. In the darkness, we become aware of a pavilion that isn’t there — isn’t visibly present — in daylight. “A pavilion,” the film adds, “made of darkness, as if by magic.” In this final mode of appearance, the characters onscreen stand revealed at last as projections of the thinking self, frozen there in the midst of the drama (where home is synonymous with psyche) in contemplation of the other actors. Harps, swinging lockets, ringing bells: these are the sounds and visions that ease one’s reentry, until one’s home goes dark.