Pastoral Genocide


Fiestas Aren’t My Strong Suit
January 20, 2009, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Writing | Tags:

hope

The bluff we sit upon is towering with potency: across the water and through the trees, we see glimpses of an only partially realized salvation. I want more because there is more. Somewhere between autobiography and geologic process, Malcom Lowry wrote that “equilibrium is all, precarious – balancing, teetering over the awful unbridgeable void, the all but untraceable path of God’s lightning back to God.” But equilibrium is nothing. Balance is meaningless and Lowry’s God was either drunkard or a fraud or both. There is only tomorrow.

*****

I have had three dreams in my life that I have remembered. In all of them, I have woken up scared, relived by my own deliverance from the salt plain. I have tried, unsuccessfully so, to encrypt the world I traverse when I sleep. I have relinquished that thought, however. Warm showers and the metallic taste of fast food coffee always, always, always remind me that there is the here and the now and that the means to my end is only the end.

*****

The second time, reconstruction of post war Germany mirrored our own, save one thing: where we had hope, they had abandonment. Carpet bags and suitcases are not the same thing. The impossible reality of hoping for a better future means that your immediate being – the individualized being, the pedestrian being, the malformed being – is only slightly attached to the immediacy of the past. Transience almost always reinvigorates. But maybe, we have overlooked geography. America is an enormous place; Germany is not. The north, the west, the great beyond. Hope. The new world, the line of demarcation, the old world. The simple comfort offered by the dusty traditions of an imagined heritage. The way things used to be is the way things should be.

*****

The powers that be have constructed a digital spectrum that is satiated only by the competition for innovation. Self efficacy is a debate, perhaps the only debate that really matters. The world changes, the world re-arranges itself under the shadow of minutia. The world, old man, is a world that you no longer recognize. It is my world and I am I am I am (!) young and I am strong and I will destroy the old way because I can.

*****

Camus’s Plague was painted against the salty blue backdrop of the Mediterranean sea. In it, the morning would give way to the heat of day and everything, literally everything, was blanketed with unimaginable sadness. Father, mother. Child. Colonial architecture befitted by funerals stacked upon funerals until funerals ceased to become reasonable. In the haunting desperation of an unhindered and invisible enemy, though, smugglers found happiness. To wit: human suffering is overstated. We can always separate ourselves from it and hope upon hope upon hope that there is more time. That’s all we need, really. More time. Repentance, in the foggy distance, isn’t a terrible thing.

*****

Magic Johnson wore his brilliant talent like a fur coat. I can remember a story I once read about him: in it, his devotion to the game of basketball was so great that he would practice incessantly. Magic Johnson grew up in Lansing, Michigan; a place that I, too, have had the unfortunate experience of knowing intimately. In Magic Johnson’s story (which, at first, seems to be a small story when it is, in reality, a much bigger story) he is poor and young and has a dream that he can taste. He plays basketball, by himself, on a morning so cold that his basketball shatters against a frozen tundra of asphalt.

*****

San Diego California is a warm place, a dry place. At night, with irregularity, you can smell a distinct sweetness in the air, a smell that rises from the dirt into the darkness. This city has the most charming topography of any place I have ever been. The Pacific Ocean moves me in vivid ways. Its subtle proximity, sometimes, is enough.

*****

My brother had a friend who I didn’t know very well. His name was Mark and, once, I swam in his pool. In high school, somewhere between the beginning and the end, Mark killed himself. For some reason, I always had a mental image that he did so in his pool – that he drowned himself and that the paramedics found him floating facedown and unencumbered by either physics or spirituality. If I had a pool and the inclination to kill myself, that’s how I would do it. But Mark didn’t see things that way. He killed himself with a gun and his mother found him slumped in his room. What a horrible thing.

*****

The poor are the great voyagers. There are always new businesses, new jobs, new places to live, new expectations evolving into old familiar failures.” But, give me your tired, your poor.

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