“For my next act” I think as I stare at trees, their upper branches bathed in the orange light of the setting sun. I feel like a magician having built boxes, four wooden raised beds, conjured them in the midst of a field of clover here in the yard behind our home. In these beds, we’ll plant our garden. Yet the utopian in me (or the Faust in me? the Gnostic in me? the “slow sick sucking part of me”? same difference?) is already restless, ready to set sail (as per Wilde), ready to walk away (as per Le Guin), wishing for something other than what is here, wanting in its stead some other bower of bliss (this not that): a vertical garden, say, in the midst of a food forest.
We row-row-row our boats gently downstream into what Ursula K. Le Guin calls the ever-deepening mystery of the real. Little red cabooses, chug-chug-chugging. So goes the tune of our getting together amid friends and comrades in celebration of Beltane and May Day. Picture us there, rallying, glowing in each other’s presence, friends leading us in song with handmade songbooks. We clap, we stomp our feet. We cheer, we feel elated.
I imagine Sarah as Wonder Woman, jetting invisibly through the sky above Metropolis. We tour old neighborhoods with our nieces, sunlight flickering through the branches of an ancient tulip magnolia. Afterwards, I sit beside a staticky baby monitor, hypnotized by its bursts of low-volume noise, sensing in the experience some foretaste of life ahead. A portal opens, out of which emerge the drones, hisses, and pulses of The Von Einem Tapes. On the other end lies Robert Stillman’s Portals.
Dive into one of these, and George Orr and Dr. Haber, the characters in The Lathe of Heaven, appear as components of a single mind. The “improver,” animated by an ever-increasing will to power, enslaves the dreamer, turns the latter into an indentured Jinn.
I’m galloping along, clearing error code 4s, reminiscing about the past, contemplating workload, when out of nowhere bursts the opening notes to Lloyd Clifton Miller’s “Gol-e Gandom,” followed by a sequence of environmental sound: dog, blender, bird, down the block a team working at a downed tree with a chainsaw. “Jump to, take action!” And I’m up and about, anticipating future events. A muting occurs. Unscripted passage of time. In a moment of calm, I lose myself in flight between subjectively distinct galaxies. I advance in brief increments through Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, savoring each moment. The psychological establishment, like any establishment, corrupted by the Judeo-Christian Capitalist West’s False-Enlightenment Prometheanism, collapses into the state evoked by Sun Ra & His Arkestra’s “Lanquidity.”
Relax, drift free of the value-form, I tell myself. The reverb on my voice leads me into a trance. My face struggles to match my mood.
Passive Status’s “forest” uses sound to transport consciousness to an elsewhere. A murky cosmic dungeon.
The beam of the mind’s eye blanks in and out during vertical retrace, at the end of each scan of the proscenium and the great beyond. Aldous Huxley called this beyond a “luminous living geometry.” The self in its cat’s cradle, its Metatron’s Cube. The god-mind as it precipitates into objects. Forms appear as clear as daylight, awaiting incorporation into being. Bands, spectrums, vibrational fields. Clusters of energy. Patterns. Particles communicating across the Planck length. Seeds of life spinning into tube tori. “Mentation in s-sleep,” writes Ursula K. Le Guin in her novel The Lathe of Heaven, “is like an engine idling, a kind of steady muttering of images and thoughts. What we’re after are the vivid, emotion-laden, memorable dreams of the d-state.” What if, from this point forward, however, ancient rules of epic narration were to be faithfully observed? Answers would have to come with their own questions attached, with the whole designed to reveal reality for what it is: stroboscopic, multi-sensory class warfare.
Up step them, the members, and me, the leader of the Rubber Band. “We’re the members,” sing the members. “I’m the leader,” sings the leader. Why have I faltered (for there’s always a side door) when advised to read “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”? The sky darkens and teen culture mutates accordingly. Next door at the bar, my theologian friend recommends that I read Deleuzian theologian Daniel Colucciello Barber’s book, Deleuze and the Naming of God: Post-Secularism and the Future of Immanence. What do we think? Is our aim to evaluate? Do we wish to classify worlds, or aspects of worlds, in terms of good and bad? At some point, the bartender leans into the conversation. He, too, recommends a book I’ve never read: Daniel Quinn’s The Story of B. When I arrive home from the bar, I read the Le Guin story, in part because my mind is racing, and I don’t want to soil these recommendations with unnecessary comments and presuppositions. Of course, I would walk away. A grifter god who demands of us a theodicy in exchange for luxury communism in the hereafter is a pathetic god indeed. Or no god at all, really — for the being we’ve imagined remains placed amidst scarcity, and subservient to a logic of exchange. Nature as pointless engine — garbage in, garbage out. Even when this grand “system of systems” invents for consciousness an imaginary telos of the not-yet, it does so solely to prolong its own dumb metabolism, its balancing act atop scales of cosmic justice, with its components all still bound to their crosses in the name of some distant whole. God is only ever an invented persona anyway, a voice by which the self speaks to itself. God are you there? Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Like the Judy Blume novel. Except in this case, God replies, quite convincingly, with Meet the Residents.