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).

Friday July 28, 2017

A breeze kicks up in the hour or so after noon. It offers a sound that sucks me into the depths of my lawn chair, which, in its recliner position, allows me to float at near parallel to the horizontal plane. I picture an animated diagram of air masses circulating, their representations occupying different positions in space from one moment to the next. The world advances and retracts as a visual surface along an x-axis. I set loose my lugubrious retention circuit and begin to melt. Moving from a beginning, which is a “becoming,” we arrive at being. We are. But we also hold it. We put it away for safekeeping. Can I imagine saying “no” to writing, so as to just be? Let thought off its echo-chambered leash. Can you do that for me, reader? Plants are little alien lifeforms, stretching their many arms toward the sun. I can turn these arms to make them reach toward absorption of me, but only temporarily, against the plant’s own tendencies. I guess I feel both loved and unloved simultaneously. Like I’ve neglected the full use of my body. Go out, I tell myself. Consort with wizards and witches, slay dragons, journey. Or am I more of a static, long-take kind of guy? Frame the shot and then study it as life unfolds. Obviously the latter, no? As for the country and mode of production in which I reside, I regard these as sinking ships. I genuinely can’t picture any fix for the mess we’re in — at least, not within the relevant span, which is the lifetime of this guy right here (points downward), Mr. #1. Personal salvation, or at least the fantasy thereof, through the Zig Zag Zen of potsmoking and spiritual writing, is all I’ve got. I confess to suffering full-blown Left melancholia, and I feel guilty about it. I fear a cyberleft superego will come bullying me the moment I go public. Bathing me in insults. I’m embarrassed with myself, but it’s who I am — and so, on a deeper and more lasting level, I have to embrace it and perhaps even find a way to love it. A person’s chance at happiness is found here or not at all. I close my eyes and see Pepe the Frog and the spinning hand of a clock in the pulsing black-and-white face of a Hypno Disk. The enemy’s hypno-propaganda arrives like junkmail each day in my subliminal sense-perceptual inbox. My hatred of the Right, in all its manifestations, makes my blood boil. I’ll never reconcile with those fuckers. I’ll never come in from the cold. Yet even on the Left, I have no true friends obsessed enough with me, attracted enough, to want to read me like a book. I wanna feel as if, through my writing, I’m turning others on. In that sense, I “identify” with what I’m doing. I wish to share that which to me is of value, in the hope that others will find value in it as well. Speaking of which, I find value, too, in following the trail of clues that reality brings my way, like Inter-Dimensional Music by a New Age artist named Iasos.

Try listening to “Rainbow Canyon” while reading quatrains from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Reality can feel that good, assuming one has the right strain of pot. I can dictate suggested activities for readers and thus DJ or curate spans of experience. But wouldn’t that be a kind of fiction expressed as algorithmic essence? Command lines tell, they don’t show. And of course there’s still that suspicion, that worry of ours, that the world’s fate hangs by our concentration. We have to make our readers believe us. We have to show them that we are the kind of being that needs to be rubbed to be released from its bottle. I mean handled properly, we’re able to grant wishes. An observing goddess, turning and throwing her hands up in exasperation, says, “There he goes, off on another delusion of grandeur.” Jaw out, I reply, “I insist that I be allowed to realize my dream.” And with that, the dream unfolds. Perhaps what I lack is gumption. Pirsig calls it “psychic gasoline.” He writes in the character-ized voice of his reader’s always-still-absent Father. And as for you, the one reading this, go do yourself a favor and listen to Jacques Dutronc’s Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi, France’s reply to Dylan. And for good measure, throw in The Leaves’ version of “Hey Joe”: flower punk boiled down to its essence. Keep in mind, though, that flower punk as a genre can stretch even as far as the ethnomusicological exotica of Sun City Girls’s Torch of the Mystics, particularly their track “The Shining Path.”