Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spelunking With Papa Bear

"You’ve got to hi de hi, you’ve got to ho de ho, you’ve got to he de he de he, to get along with me!" The old man in the mountain, he wants one thing and the little lady she wants another, but the old man always gets his way because he’s bigger and his beard is longer. He just slaps his big feet around on the cave floor and asks: ”Whatcha gonna do now?" And in a lilting voice she wiggles her hips and says: "I’m gonna do the best I can."
So he chases her round and around through the twinning tunnels that twist through the mountains guts. They run over little bridges that hang over dark abysses, and down paths that grow narrower and narrower and sometimes disappear under pools where pale frogs croak and swim after glow-in-the-dark minnows. They run through hallways were fungi grow on the walls and turn their caps in their direction as they fly past. Just rubbing up against this fungal federation is enough to send the body into shock, it has so much to say in the language of light and so few people come down into the dark to rub it and lick it and listen to its incredible story.
The old man and the little woman squeeze their arms close to their bodies and rush by so that they won’t be drawn into a conversation that could take an eternity and change the course of evolution forever. Whoosh, they whiz through tunnels like hamsters scurrying through plastic tubes. She is always just a step or two ahead, barely defending her lead, and his big hand reaches out, groping the space between them, waiting for the moment to come when she will fall back into his hands.
On they go, deeper and deeper, down staircases that spiral into the earth’s core like a corkscrew. They swing over pits of molten lava and disappear down ramps of bright red adobe. Lucifer is pitching a shovel full of coal into the fire, his tail a-twitching. As they pass, he waves courteously, and grinning, he puts his back into it, heave ho, in goes coal and the flames dance up higher than ever, wiggling their indistinct hips and bosoms.
The heat is intense, and the old man is slowed down just a little bit more than the young woman, so she manages to put a few extra feet between them, but the sweat is running into her eyes and making her hair and dress cling to her body. Squish, with every step the perspiration that has pooled down in their socks is squeezed out under the pressure of a foot to leave little wet prints.
The heat slowly diminishes as they journey through a corridor that slopes steeply uphill. Neither can run at this point, both parties walk huffing and puffing, grabbing onto little roots that protrude from the dirt walls to prevent themselves from loosing their footing and tumbling backwards into the broiling flames behind them. Wheezing and hanging their heads between their legs, they catch their breath when the ground levels out and a colony of little brown rabbits hops by on its way to the surface, brushing up against their ankles as they go, strong bucks, plump does and downy soft little youngster all wrinkling their noses and twitching their ears.
The little woman doesn’t know it, but these rabbits work for the old man, so when she coos, "Oh how cute!”, and reaches down to pet them, they hold perfectly still and act as if they enjoy it, staring up with dewy little eyes that glisten in the darkness. Then, whoosh, the old man leaps forward and catches her by the hair. Still holding on tight, he uses his other hand to pull bunches of baby carrots from his bearskin smock and rewards the bunnies for a job well done. They giggle gleefully and hip hop away.
"Ooooh!" the little lady exclaims in an endearingly angry little voice, sweet on the surface, smoldering at the core. The old man drags her the rest of the way home, singing, "You’ve got to hi de hi, you’ve got to ho de ho, you’ve got to he de he de he, to get along with me!"

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Layers of Cake

Enough time passes and the slate is wiped clean.
All things are forgotten in time.
Small crimes disappear, larger infractions get smudged, blurred like a poorly developed photograph until no one can remember what happened clearly, and those on one side of the event will have a vague feeling of displeasure that signifies that some overly intense feeling of rage or sorrow or jealously has been buried under the sands of the hour glass whilst those on the other side may forget entirely, and eventually both parties will be sent to lay six feet below the green grass, and the timid wild flowers that are considered by trained gardeners to be weeds, and their flesh will rot and peel away from their bones and it will be consumed by worms, some of whom will suffer some slight indigestion due to the overly spicy emotion that had boiled down into sleepy forgetfulness like a film on top of hot soup whilst the most potent component separated and drifted to the bottom of the pot, the innermost chamber of the heart accessible only by the aorta, but then that worm will burp and feel much better until the gardener cuts him in half with a spade whilst uprooting one of those blossoming weeds.
Eventually the world will be covered in ash and the cemetery will be forgotten when there is no one left but roving bands of mutated cannibals with eyeballs blinking from their shoulders, the survivors of a nuclear holocaust, whose ancestors, like that potent feeling, drifted to the bottom of the pot and wallowed in the darkness of underground shelters and ate glowing green roots to sustain themselves and died by age 12 of cancer but not before producing some deformed offspring to ensure the survival of the species, although the species now is nothing like it used to be, and plenty of those early survivors of the apocalypse saw all of this coming and gunned down their entire family and swallowed a bullet to save themselves from the horror of days to come, but by the time those marauding bands of cannibals traipse over a desert that was once a cemetery, they will not have an inkling that the world was ever otherwise and no more dream that anything secret lies buried beneath their feet than you now suspect some lost civilization might be buried deep beneath your laundry room or the local mall. Like you, they will not spend much time imagining the strange life forms that they may have evolved from, they will do this no more than you fantasize about your beginning as a humble single celled amoebae drifting aimlessly through the hot seas.
The slate gets wiped clean, and whoever is has always been and will always be, until the slate gets wiped clean again, and again, and again, so that ages of strange dreams are layered one on top of the next like the steppes of an enormous wedding cake or the steps of one of those pyramids that once stood in the wet jungles beneath the equator with blood flowing down their grandiose stairs. Those that are now, they walk over the ghosts of those that were, and beneath them, the ghosts of what will be completely unsuspecting of the fact that they may be under the influence of these worlds imperceptible to them.
Dogs, no doubt, do not think that they don’t know. Like you and I, what they are seems to them worthy of perpetuation into infinity, so they hump in the streets and dig in garbage bins and evade the dog catcher with as much zest for life as you or I would have if we were in their shoes (if dogs had shoes.)
The confines of the animal mind are so safe and self assured, why ever would we dare to dream that something lies beyond the border of our own encapsulated consciousness. That would only lead to a headache of enormous proportions, to the splitting of ones self into pieces so that the insides flow out like melting jello to rejoin the jello of the universe beyond animal confines. There is something outside of our perception, distilling at the bottom of the cauldron while we bubble dreamily at the surface before bursting into oblivion.
We, as we are familiar with ourselves, will not remain. We will be forgotten, while, meanwhile, some thing rattles down in the bottom of the kettle informing the next set of bubbles on the surface of the particular shapes it might take based on where they stand in the pyramids construction. We are churned from the cream skimmed off of the top.
If the milk is sour, then so will the butter be sour, and if it is sweet, then sweet, but whether we are sweet dreams or sour, we will frost the layers of cake and be forgotten.
All things are forgotten in time

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Black Feather

This story happened before we had methods of recording stories so, just like many others before us, you must remember, in any way that you can manage to remember, and you must tell the story once again, for all stories are one story and what I tell you now will surely happen again, to you and to others and then to others once again, and if you don’t remember, and if you don’t tell it, then the story will never change.
In those days, the people traveled in a long slow caravan of wooden carriages and black metal carts, and their movement was heavy and full of foreboding, for they traveled through rough dead lands full of mystery and danger. It was a time of endless nights and savage storms and reckless lightning, a time of great fear and great sadness. The people had grown old and ugly and hateful and they had lost all hope for there was no hope to be found in the endless repetition of short gloomy days and long frightful nights drenched in wind and sand and chaos.
One night, Mother, who rested alone within one of the great metal carts, was visited by the White Birds, and they were made of shining glory that sparkled as they flew and, as they gracefully came towards her, they spread their vast wings all over the black sky and made the stars themselves sparkle with color. Mother heard them coming and she sat up and stared at them with big, round eyes, unable to comprehend their nature, but they would never stay long enough for her to ask a question and so she simply stared. They lovingly came down upon her and they gave to her what she most had wanted, a tiny helpless creature who would finally recognize in her what she truly was and what she had always been. In return, she would see in their gift what she had always refused to acknowledge, what she had most feared in her lonely nights inside the metal cart.
As he came, naked and wet, from the great Void, from which everything emerges and to which everything eventually returns, he was gentle and soft and devoid of any concepts or arrangements. In his tiny new eyes there were no conditions or assumptions. He knew nothing and he wanted nothing. He was open to the world, as dark as it could be right then, or as light as it may become in the future. There were no further questions brewing within him, and no further answers were forthcoming, not then and not for the first months of hidden existence within the bosom of Mother’s warm furry darkness, the welcoming living sanctuary that protected the little creature from what waited outside. Mother looked at her brown new little gift and she called him Son, in honor of his blazing creation and of his subtle gleaming promise of new shining light.

* * *

But it came to pass that the people became aware of the little Son and they did recognize something within him that was unlike them. And they couldn’t understand what it was that they saw, and they couldn’t recognize the dance of fire behind his tiny eyes, as it was too small and it was too fleeting and they didn’t have the patience to search. But, unwilling to search, they were still eager to find something, and so they did. It became clear to them what it was that made Son obviously different from them, and in this they found what they needed. Having been brought by The White Birds, Son had sprouted gray wings of his own right away, but they were unlike wings as the people knew them and they were more like giant ears as they knew them, giant ears that flapped all around him and made it difficult for him to walk. Seeing this, the people grabbed onto his giant ears and they pulled on them and they stepped on them and they kicked at them and they laughed at Son for he didn’t know where to go or what to do or how to defend himself. They persisted in their attacks for so long that they brought little Son to tears, and the thick tears dripped down his furry face like oil and they mixed with his sweat and with the dirt at his feet and, seeing this, the people laughed even harder, for nothing was funnier to the people than to watch the pain in another’s eyes. Son, staring with eyes now as wide as Mother’s at the people that laughed all around him, regretted ever having come into this strange place, where people step on your ears and then laugh when they see that it hurts you. Little Son, being so hurt and afraid, even blamed Mother for having arranged his arrival. Maybe if she hadn’t been so eager to stare into the unknown and find confirmations, maybe then he would have remained where he had been originally, even though now he could not remember at all what this place had been and he couldn’t even point in that direction.
Mother was furious at this development, for now her only prize had been taken away from her and her one hope of true happiness was sinking into a pool of sadness, heavy as lead and deep as the deepest well in the southern lands. She turned on the laughing people, and she attacked them in a great blaze of fury, hoping to show them their wrongdoing, hoping to show them how it felt to be hurt. But the people were many, and, all together, they were much stronger than she was, and they grabbed her and chained her and they took her away to a place where she would never be able to hurt any of the people ever again. There she died soon after, drowning in her own tears that would never stop coming. Son was left behind, alone, afraid and sadder than ever, wondering what he would do now that his one and only fountain of love and safety was gone.

* * *

Mouse was a tiny creature that had lived much longer than any of the people that lived around him. Being very small, he managed to live from the scraps that the other people left behind and he managed to remain hidden among the half broken carts that formed the rear of the caravan. One day, it came to pass that Mouse saw Son alone, crying and shivering, hopelessly looking up at the sky and wishing for a sudden end to his great troubles. Mouse took pity on him and came towards him slowly and Mouse smiled at him and ran his little hand over his furry giant ears. Son saw him and loved him immediately with a fury that can only be borne of true hopelessness, when all appearances have fallen and there is only the heart left behind. Mouse recognized this fury and gave his own love back in the same way for, due to his age and his cunning, Mouse had learned to do such things when he really wanted.
Having become Son’s true friend, Mouse then took it upon himself to show Son the ways of the world of the people. He showed him when to avoid the big congregations, for they were dangerous and unpredictable. He showed Son how to be helpful to the people without raising their concern. He showed Son how to step out of the way of the giant powerful guards that roamed up and down the great caravan dressed in shining black metal armor. He showed him then how to return to his little chores without causing a wave of undue suspicion among the few people that even knew that they were there. Most of all, Mouse showed him how to pull his giant ears back and tie them behind his head, so they wouldn’t be in his way when he walked, and so they wouldn’t attract undue attention. Son followed all of Mouse’s instructions, and even though he still missed Mother, he learned to make his way in the world. And the storms continued and the nights were just as frightening and the lightning was still as reckless as it ever was.

* * *

One day it came to pass that a big man came to talk to Son. The man wore a large top hat and he had a long moustache that fell in curls over both sides of his mouth, and the moustache bounced up and down each time he talked. The man sat beside Son and looked at him sternly. Son simply stared back at him, afraid of what this strange man might have to say.
“It is time for you to earn your share of food and your living quarters,” the man said, “you cannot continue to live here and expect us to carry you as dead weight.”
Son nodded and agreed with what seemed like sensible words, even though he couldn’t really understand them, and he couldn’t really know what was reasonable to expect since he knew no other world and he had come into this one without expectations.
“I have discussed this with my councilors and we have decided to offer you a position, and I do encourage you to immediately accept it,” the man said and he smiled at Son with his eyes twinkling and his long curly moustache bouncing up and down.
Again Son could find no fault in what the man was saying, even though he didn’t understand what a position was or what would happen once he did accept it.
“We will make you a Purveyor of Laughter, since that is the one job that you have done well in your short life,” and the man made a quick gesture with his arm and, at once, two little men ran towards him, and they carried with them two big leather bags. They placed them on the ground, close to where Son still was sitting, nodding and staring at the strange man with the large top hat. The two little men opened the leather bags and took out many containers of paint and they took out several large brushes. “I assume that your silence is to be understood as acceptance?” the man asked Son and Son nodded slowly, unable to find within himself any reason to deny the man’s proposal. The two little men then went to work on Son’s face and body and soon he was so covered in paint of many colors that even Mother would have had trouble recognizing him. Son didn’t find this completely unpleasant and he even smiled when they lead him to the head of the caravan, a place where he had never been before.
At the very front of the caravan, as it laid resting like a large old snake draped across the surface of the land, there was a wide circle of torches, and there were many guards in full black metal armor riding on strong black horses and these guards looked over a large restless crowd that was formed around the circle of dancing light. In the middle of the circle, there were little women jumping and dancing, and there were men gyrating and singing, and there were other people jumping over blazing fire and rolling in the ground, wincing with pain as they fell. All of it, but specially the last, scared Son intensely and then he wished to go back to where he had come from, but it was much too late. By the time he thought of turning back, he was suddenly pushed into the middle of the circle and he found himself in right in the center of an ocean of demanding eyes and the eyes stared at him with something akin to hunger. As soon as he looked at them, with his big ears pulled back against his trembling body and the bright paint reflecting the shifting light of the many torches, they started to laugh, and they laughed loud and long and hard, and they kept on laughing for what seemed like forever. Then a man came and pulled Son up and forced him to jump through a ring of fire and then he forced him to jump into several great wooden barrels full of water that broke when he landed inside of them. With every painful stunt, the people laughed and laughed and laughed, and Son knew loneliness once again and, once again, he wished he was back in a place that he couldn’t even remember, a place before Mother and the caravan and the vast hostile land. Whatever this place had been, it must have been better than this.
His suffering seemed endless, but, like all sufferings, it did eventually come to an end and he was brought back to his little corner of the caravan, back among the restless people that laughed but not quite so loudly and the dirty little people that ran under the carts to make sure that the wheels were still held tight. Mouse came towards him when he saw him and Mouse felt a great pity for him, for Son was burned by the fires, and bruised by the many falls, and the paint had fallen in places and it had remained in others, so that Son looked completely broken and lacking in any hope. Mouse ran his hand over the fur of his giant ears and tried to make him feel better, but it only made Son feel worse, and so they simply cried together, knowing that some calamities are simply beyond the reach of any cure.

* * *

After much crying, Mouse finally had an idea and he quickly shared it with his sad and shivering friend.
“I have traveled with this caravan for much longer than I can remember. I know their patterns and I know the places that they visit and I know how long they stay in each place. They will stay here for many months, I know, and I also know that this place is the same as the one that we visited many, many years ago. I believe I know that a place is nearby where we can find something special."
Son stared at his friend in wonder, and his words were full of such mystery and strangeness that he forgot all about his sadness and simply listened, intently trying to understand the deepest meaning that hid within his tale.
“We will travel for a day in that direction,” Mouse said as he pointed to the East, “and then we will turn and travel for another day, and then we will come to the foot of the mountains, to the land of the gray rocks. There we will find the cave that I faintly remember and, within it, we will find what we seek.”
Mouse never said what it was that they would find there but Son felt something strange that seemed somehow familiar, something that told him that he didn’t need to ask for reasons at all, something that told him that all questions that he could come up with would be superfluous. They both started walking right away, without any need for further explanation.
They walked in silence for a day, and then they turned, and then they walked in silence for another day, until they came to a region that was full of large gray rocks and narrow little passageways. Mouse then pointed to the rocks and said, “This is where the mountains begin. Somewhere among all these gray rocks, there is a cave Son. Help me find it.”
Son walked slowly around the many rocks, calling back to Mouse every so often to make sure he wouldn’t lose him. When Mouse would hear him calling, he would call back saying, “I am here Son. Don’t worry. Just keep on looking.” And they moved far away from each other, but still Son called to him in a way that Mouse could hear and then Mouse would call back to him in the same way. And the meaning of their calling was always the same: “I am still here. I am still searching.”
After much searching and much calling, Son came upon a rock that was larger than all the others. In the middle of the large rock, there was a hole big enough for the two of them to walk through. Inside the hole, Son could only see sand and darkness. Son called to Mouse once more and he said, “Mouse, I believe I have found it!” and right away Mouse came running, already sure that Son was right because he could hear it in his voice, and as soon as he saw the cave, he smiled in recognition and he pointed to the darkness.
“This is it! You have indeed found it! Let’s go right in. We have no time to waste!”
As they walked into the darkness, Son was trying to restrain his fear because Mouse showed no fear at all, and he was his friend and he knew what he was doing. After a short walk, Mouse dropped to his knees and started to crawl around and whisper, “Somewhere around here… somewhere… around… here…” and Son grew restless because he didn’t know what Mouse was looking for. But, as restless as he was, he waited quietly out of the simple trust that was borne of his love for Mouse.
After some time of whispering and crawling around on the sand, Mouse suddenly said, “Here! There are many here! More than enough for the two of us!” Son heard some more movement and then Mouse moved towards him in the darkness. “I will give you something,” Mouse said, “and I want you to eat it.” Son this time couldn’t resist his initial impulse and he had to ask, “What is it?”
Mouse answered in his sweetest voice, which seemed even sweeter to Son in the darkness of the cave, “I don’t know what it is. I only know what it does. “
That answer satisfied Son and he extended his hand and Mouse placed something in it and said, one more time, “Eat it.”
Son brought the strange soft thing to his lips and dropped it onto his tongue. It tasted like sand and dirt and he felt an urge to spit it out right away, but Mouse, sensing what Son was about to do, quickly said to him, “Chew it. Eat it.” And Son did as Mouse said.
Soon the darkness of the cave was no longer empty, and soon Mouse was no longer small, and soon there were lights all around them, and there were great circles of fire, much greater than the circle that Son had seen at the head of the caravan, and Son wondered how this could all fit within the cave, but it didn’t matter, because there were stars falling upon them in great spirals, through the roof of the cave which seemed to be moving like water. Son suddenly knew that he was where had always been, and he knew then that he had never left his place of origin and that, in fact, he would never leave it, for he was the one who was the light in the darkness, and the light that now surrounded him in great and intricate webs of flashing colors, it was all within him, it sprouted from the core of his being. He was Son and his friend was Mouse, but they were as if not unlike each other, and in a way that he would never be able to explain but that he knew beyond question, they were one and the same, and it had always been so.
The many colored lights grew ever brighter and they circled all around them in greater and greater speed, and great thick tears poured down Son’s face, but they were no longer tears of sadness but of something else that he couldn’t understand but which he welcomed. Suddenly Son reached behind himself, laughing as he had never laughed before, and he released his big ears from the knots that held them tightly behind his head. Then he said to Mouse, “Jump up onto my back my friend, just as you had a great gift for me, I now have a great gift for you,” and his voice was unlike his voice as Mouse knew it, for it was stronger and thicker and it resonated strangely within the small confines of the cave. Mouse was suddenly afraid of this unexpected development, but he quickly set his fear aside, for his love for Son was greater than any fear that could come upon him, and then Mouse jumped up on Son’s back and Son ran towards the mouth of the cave. It was then that the great ears which were truly wings finally flapped up and down as they had always been meant to do and, together, they emerged from the hole in the big rock and they rose up over the mountains, and they flew with great abandon, and they danced together among the clouds, and they flew so high that they could even see the caravan in the distance, many miles below them and then they flew towards it, still laughing and making playful pirouettes in the night sky. Mouse laughed as he had never laughed, and Son laughed as he had never laughed, and the colored lights were like stars, and the stars were like colored lights and there were great sounds that ran through their bodies like thunder, and the sounds seemed to come from both near and far and it all became so bright that it was too much to contain within their bodies and their laughter grew and grew until it became the great laughter that made the world itself dance and swim in the great dark waves of the vast ocean of stars.

* * *

Son woke up precariously perched on a thick branch of a very tall tree. Mouse was cradled in another branch just a few feet away from him. Son looked at his friend and he wondered how they had gotten up here and Mouse opened his eyes and looked at him, still ablaze with wonder.
“How did we get up here, Mouse?” Son asked in the soft voice that Mouse knew so well.
Mouse looked at him and he realized that his friend couldn’t remember anything that had happened, and he looked down and determined that he would have to remind his friend how they had gotten up here if they had any hope of getting down.
“We flew,” Mouse said, in a voice so soft as to be almost silent, for Mouse himself couldn’t quite believe it and he felt that the words themselves could banish the memory from the place where it rested behind his eyes.
Son shook his big head and noticed for the first time that his big ears were loose and they were once again flapping wildly around him as they used to. He was then afraid that he would lose his balance and he looked down towards the ground below with fear and he reached out quickly to the thick branch on where he lay, holding it very tightly. Sweat formed around his brow, for it was now clear to him that he was in terrible danger.
“What do you mean, Mouse?” he said as he trembled with the fear of falling over.
Mouse realized then that this would be much more difficult than he had originally thought. He looked around him then and he saw three Black Birds perched on some branches above them. Mouse called to them in their secret language and the Black Birds came towards the two of them, cackling in the way that Black Birds do.
“What do you want of us?” the leader of the Black Birds said to Mouse.
“Did you see us arrive here? Did you see how we came to be here?” Mouse asked him and the Black Bird nodded, “yes, we did. You were both quite a sight!”
Mouse then stared at the Black Bird in the way that only a Black Bird would recognize and then he said, “But do you know how we got here? Do you know exactly HOW it happened?”
The great Black Bird smiled in the mocking way that Black Birds have of smiling and he nodded his long black head. Then, without a second thought, he grabbed a black feather that was resting on one of the leaves of the great tree, ready to dance on the wind, and he raised it high above his head.
“It was this feather… the black feather that your friend here held in his mouth.”
Son stared at the Black Bird and shook his head, unbelieving. The Black Bird then flew toward Son and, without shame or hesitation, placed it between his lips.
“See? Now with the black feather in your mouth, you can fly!”
The Black Bird then pushed Son effortlessly off the branch, without any further explanation. Son at first panicked and, full of the weight of fear, he started to fall. But soon his great ears, which were really wings, started to flap, and he floated in midair as effortlessly as the Black Birds did.
“See?” the Black Bird said, “I would not tell you a lie. Not unless I had to!” and at that, all the other Black Birds cackled and the leader cackled as well.
“You can keep that feather, my friend, in case you want to fly again!”
Mouse then jumped on Son’s back and they flew back towards their home in the caravan, the black feather held tightly in Son’s little mouth.

* * *

The next time that the man with the big hat came for him, Son was ready. Right away, he showed the man what he could do, by lifting himself high above the man and then circling around him in midair like a giant moth. The man stared at Son in wonder as his great ears flapped up and down and as he flew all around him and as he flew over the caravan, and as he flew far towards the clouds and then back again. The man immediately recognized his great luck and he made the proper arrangements to put on the greatest show he had ever been able to organize.
Son was still painted up, but he was now painted in different colors and the crowds that came to see him didn’t laugh any more. Instead, they stared at him in wonder and they pointed at him as he flew higher than they had ever seen a bird fly. Son was happy then and he was very thankful that the Black Birds had given him his feather. If it hadn’t been for the Black Birds, he would still be sad and lonely, and the people would not stare at him in wonder and the man with the big hat would not smile when he approached.
His only concern now was ever losing his black feather, so he held onto it tightly, and he never let it out of his sight. Sometimes, at night, he would wake up trembling, afraid that the feather had been taken away, afraid that he would then have to return to being the Purveyor of Laughter, the heart of a circle of mockery, painted in bright colors, sad and bruised and burned. He would then look for his little black feather, and when he found it, he would then calm down and go back to sleep, knowing that his feather was there, and so his place in the world was safe as well.

* * *

In those days, many people wanted to talk to Son, and they came from all around and they would ask him to fly a little for them and he did, and when they saw the wonder of his flight, they applauded with admiration and they asked him many questions about things that Son knew nothing about. Son quickly learned to tell them what they wanted to hear, for what they wanted to hear was easily found within the question itself and it was only a matter of turning the words around and giving them back in a way that seemed pleasing. The visitors would then walk away, happy that they had received what they wanted and Son would be happy that he had been able to give them this gift. The truth was that Son had nothing to say and all he really wanted to do was fly some more, and dance in the great winds among the clouds.
In the midst of all these new people and all this fame and all this growing happiness, he forgot about his old friend who had found him alone and crying one day so long ago. Meanwhile, Mouse went back to his old life of hiding from the people’s sight, in the dirty outer reaches of the ancient caravan. Sometimes he would go to see the big show, only to see his old friend flying over the crowd with a little black feather tightly held between his lips. Mouse would then remember that first day when they flew together, and he would be a little sad because that day had been strange and scary and wild and it seemed to him that such a thing would never happen again. But he was also happy because his old friend was happy and strong and because the crowds were ever growing and that meant more food for him and more places to hide.

* * *

But all things that can happen do eventually happen. So one day, when Son was flying over the crowds of admirers, he opened his mouth to laugh with them, and he did it carelessly because he now felt invincible and he knew that nothing at all could possibly hurt him. As he opened his mouth, a great wind came upon him and the black feather flew away from his lips, much too fast for him to reach for it, and then the treasured black feather was lost in the shadows of the foggy night. Son suddenly knew the taste of fear once again, even as he thought that he had forgotten it. He was very high up above the crowd, in the midst of the empty night sky, and he had nothing to hold onto. He immediately felt himself growing heavy, and his ears didn’t flap as fast anymore, and they moved slower and slower until they didn’t flap at all, and then Son started to fall, like the big gray rocks that sometimes fall from the sky.
It was very lucky for everyone that Mouse happened to be in the middle of the crowd that day, for there would have been no hope at all if he hadn’t been there. Calling forth every bit of strength in his little body, he called to Son, in the same calm but forceful voice that he had used when they were hunting for the cave in the land of the gray rocks, and in the same way that he had done back then, he made his voice travel across a great distance so that Son would be sure to hear it.
“Son, you don’t need the feather, you never needed it at all! It was a lie all along! You flew because you could! You flew because it was your nature! You flew because of your wings that were always a part of you and always will be! You can fly now as much as you ever have! Fly! You don’t need the feather anymore! You never did!”
Son, who was now rapidly falling and could feel the hard ground approaching like a giant train reaching up into the sky, heard the voice of his friend as if in a dream, like a soft whispering next to his giant ears that now refused to flap. He was so afraid right then that it almost seemed to him that it couldn’t be true, but he suddenly found that he still had within him the love that he had once felt, and with that love came a deep trust that overcame all obstacles and all questions and all manner of doubts. He looked up towards the sky and to the stars and he once again saw the lights of many colors all around him, the same ones that he had seen on that fateful day. And then, right then and there, without any further effort, his great gray wings started to flap, as strong as ever and even stronger.

* * *

Very few people noticed what had happened and even fewer noticed any change, but Son was now surrounded by the lights of many colors and they were not going away. He now knew that they wouldn’t ever go away again.
Since that day, the shows at the head of the caravan came to an end, and there were no more crowds, for Son refused to show himself off in that manner. Instead, he simply flew so high as to seem like a tiny star in the horizon and the caravan followed him as they would follow a star. It was in this way that the caravan at last turned from its endless circles through the rough endless land and, by going in a direction that they had never before explored, the people found a land of rivers and forests and great fruits full of color and juice.
When Son saw this, he decided that the people no longer needed him and he left forever, flying towards the great darkness beyond the stars, with Mouse laughing on his back. The people soon forgot about the strange events that had occurred in the past and they simply blessed themselves as great travelers, for they had traveled through the wasteland and they had at last arrived at their true home.

* * *

This story happened before we had methods of recording stories so, just like many others before us, you must remember, in any way that you can manage to remember, and you must tell the story once again, for all stories are one story and what I tell you now will surely happen again, to you and to others and then to others once again, and if you don’t remember, and if you don’t tell it, then the story will never change.

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Friday, April 17, 2009


Nothing good will come of this, I warn you. You go around reading blogs written by other crazed machines, cyborgs whose dreams are wrought with longing and sorrow, and who sit in their pajamas all day long making pictures out of words or digital images or the ghosts of 1956, and you don’t know what might happen. What do you hope to gain coming round here, snooping around a blog like this? Are you looking for the truth? Or some helpful suggestions for improving your animatronic lifestyle? Maybe you are here looking for tips on how to work?
We haven’t got the truth here. I’m sorry, but there are two angels living under my skull, one who always lies and the other who always tells the truth, but I never know which one is which and they both insist that they are the angel that speaks only truth. I haven’t learned the trick for deciphering which one is which, so as far as truth is concerned, I can offer you no assistance on that account.
When it comes to tips for improving your animatronic existence, I am again of two minds. One mind says the best solution for the problems of life is not to live. If you want my advice, swallow a lead bullet, I know some people this has worked wonders for. My other mind suggests that you buy some Avon, work out, dress to the nines and find someone that makes you feel sexy.
I really am a bitter old goat when it comes to improving one’s life, I haven’t improved mine, I don’t think that life as a cyborg is really something that can be improved. It’s like buying designer brand curtains to hang in your house made of straw. I tell you love, there’s no point.
So you can see that if advice for good living is what you seek, you’ve come to the wrong fountain. I only know about bad living. Now, now then, if you are looking for a way to work, congratulations! You have figured out what robots were made to do. Good for you for wanting to be the best bot that you can be. I have something to say on this topic and in the end it will be up to you to decide whether I’m of a mind that others should partake of.
First, lets make it clear, there are two things that must happen for work to be work in the way that I mean when I say work:

1. You have to do something, engage in an actual activity of some kind. Things that will not qualify include: sleeping, dreaming, reading, talking, or thinking great thoughts.

2. You have to do whatever you do with a great deal of finesse.

I know, number two seems a little silly to a robot. What’s the difference if I walk from stage left to stage right or skip from stage left to stage right whistling Sweet Adeline, so long as I get from stage left to stage right in the end? Well if you really just like to keep busy, there is always knitting with the old gals. Finesse is for cyborgs that are trying to do something special with themselves. Upon realizing that you were destined for the junk heap and that little feral cats would meow and crawl around in your rusted hulk long after the last electric impulse fired within your advanced operating system, you might have thrown your dirty fist up to the sky and cried:
“There must be something more! What is the meaning of this…this… this terrible joke!?”
Well, I don’t know the answer to that question, but one idea that has made an impression on me is that if we do something a little different upon the cosmic stage, employ some parts that don’t usually get employed during a normal mechanical life time, then perhaps the results of such a life will be different than the results of the usual tired song and dance. Maybe something can be born of the ashes, a phoenix gestated within the robot husk and nurtured with finesse.
Remember, nothing good will come of this.
Nothing good, nothing bad.
You have been warned.
You may not enjoy it if you try it.
You might get used to it with time.
You will still die.
But perhaps something else will come of it all. Something might happen that would not have happened if you had gone through the usual motions while thinking and dreaming of something else. I am not saying that this would benefit you, with your gears that need greasing and your rusty cogs grinding away. I am saying that perhaps in living and doing and dying with a little finesse, one might at least be of benefit to something else and do more than feed the heap with one’s carnage.
You go around writing blogs, a crazed machine, a cyborg whose dreams are wrought with longing and sorrow, and who sits in pajamas all day long making pictures out of words or digital images or the ghosts of 1956, and you don’t know what might happen.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eaters of Death

Today is Easter, time to celebrate our undead god and eat his flesh and drink his blood. We run through open green fields or across well manicured little plots of grass in gaily colored frocks in search of the unborn offspring of birds, reverting for this one day to one of our earliest scavenger instincts. This is how our pretty little walnut shaped brains got so meaty. We ate all those omega threes and got super wise, wise enough to figure that if we could eat the eggs they left behind, we could also murder the foul that laid them, causing that pulsing twitching organ under our skull cap to burst with profound insight and new wisdom about the fine art of killing and eating. This gave us time to grow philosophical, mystical. We imposed sexual metaphor over everything around us, father sky coming down to make life with mother earth. Soon we grew even wiser and learned that if death is what makes us so strong and makes our brains so big we would need to forget about mother earth and build the cult of father sky. Angry, jealous, vengeful. His son a radical mischief maker. Ah, ah, ah, but I skip way ahead, can you see the whole progression in your mind? We kill, we learn to stand upright, we advance just a little from early Cro-Magnon to present day Christian cannibal. We eat life, sucking it up wherever we go. Today we make our own eggs out of hard plastic and fill them with chocolate made with cocoa harvested by 8 year olds in underdeveloped countries. Some little brown kid is sipping down his morning cup of Java, the big meal of the day before he goes to work so that pure white people can feed the fruits of his brown labor wrapped in multicolored foil wrappers to their own pasty larvae. Shall we talk about fertility on this day, the way rabbits do it and do it until they overrun the hillside? Imagine rabbits with no natural enemies left to hunt them, cannibal rabbits that eat death and have cunning bulging brains, tearing the country hillsides to shreds to build their little warrens. That’s us. Or more austere, imagine one more ape, the son of jealous Jehovah bleeding on a cross and getting dried out by the sun like that ugly bug covered fish I saw in my neighbor’s kitchen yesterday. He finally dies and we lay him in a cave, but then he rises, up, up back to father sky. Did I mention that he took a last meal before he was convicted for his crimes, whatever they were. Gulp, gulp, chew, chew, and he communicated to his followers what they should do. Be good cannibals, eat life, be eaters of the living flesh of god, father sky. Yum yum. So we whirl around in our sun drenched warrens playing games and then we sit down to eat the remains of a big pig adorned with little yellow ringlets of pineapple. If we are extra good, we stop off at the temple first to take the last sacrament, to reenact the last meal with our cannibal prophet, the son of father sky. Take this body my body, this blood my blood, and go look for eggs in the grass. The omega trees that I mentioned earlier come from the grass. Hens eat grass and worms and other crawlies and that’s what makes their eggs so good for us. We can’t digest grass ourselves, we need the chicken to do that for us. We feed on her life process. The holy trinity, the grass, the chicken, and the egg. This gives life. Today is a good day for the eaters of death. Today it is time to celebrate our undead god and eat his flesh and drink his blood.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009


Someone had been left on a porch in a basket as an infant; the classic fairytale beginning. He must have been the illegitimate son of a king, or otherwise noble born, and abandoned to anonymity to spare his life. Or perhaps a prince from another world hidden in ours from his enemies. So he always held his head high, remembering that he had something in common with Moses. His son likewise turned his nose up just slightly and remembered that he was different from those around him, and so his son’s son as well.
They were clever men, intelligent, makers of things. The son built a big house with his own hands on the corner of a popular street and two more generations were born in that house. Eventually the grandson of that first abandoned prince journeyed across the seas in search of opportunity, bringing with him his wife and their own little son. That son grew up in the distant land upon which they landed and eventually had a child of his own, not a son, but a daughter.
She only once heard the story of the basket but she never forgot it. Even without having heard it, she knew already that she was somehow different, better than everyone around her. This special pride born of nothing more substantial than white skin and wit was tempered by a Christian upbringing, so that even as she was arrogant, she felt a twinge of guilt that she should be fortunate to be so perfect while others were, by no fault of their own, born into vulgar families. She sympathized with those that she thought lowlier than herself and rarely met someone that she would see as better than herself.
Brought up in a large house in the country, she was lavished with every possible trinket, a fabulous play house, marvelous pets, her own room with a king sized bed. A golden plaque, with the Lord’s Prayer inscribed upon it, was hung on the wall beside her bed.
In her most vulnerable years, pride kept her from harms way, pride made her selective of her company and her occupations. She liked to read and could read and speak better than most of those from the country town where she lived.
It was not long however before her pride had turned to arrogance and it left her isolated. Her sympathy went to the devil who seemed to have suffered an affliction similar to her own. She lived up to the adage, “Pride cometh before the fall.” Once that pride had been a thing that allowed her to do as others dared not, to be as others dared not, but now it held her like a reign. If she imagined that she had been offended, pride commanded some action, even if affection dictated another course.
Her circle of associates grew smaller and smaller until there was only one left, a person that she held in great esteem. She seldom left her house or spoke to anyone outside of this one companion. And then, again and again, one thing or another that he said or did injured her precious pride and, more than once, she thought that she would have to forsake his company as well, in order to preserve some of this imaginatively produced regal bearing.
With difficulty, she observed that the gift of her forefathers, which had born her far into this strange and mysterious world, now threatened to throw her into a lower realm than she had previously imagined. But like the princess that refused all suitors and insulted them, she too found herself in the hands of the one that could not be insulted, a king thrush beard. Like that princess, she was put to tasks which challenged her pride and wore it away as the wind and sea erode the sandy cliffs.
Someone had been left on a porch in a basket in the distant past. The classic fairy tale end must come to pass eventually, but our prideful girl has not yet had all of her pots broken in the market place, and there can be no fair prince until then.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now

I can see it now very clearly. Something inside me has shifted around making this view possible, and now it would be very difficult to reverse this particular perception. (Or would it?)
I look at the posters spread over the tile walls of the noisy cafeteria, gaze outward at the careful arrangement of certain products at the registers of the department store. My eyes take in the moving reminders of an impending holiday, blue rabbits in orange helicopters to remind me that I need to buy jelly beans, lots of multicolored jelly beans and little plastic eggs in neon colors to stuff them in. It all enters my system, impulses transmitted by my retina to my central nervous system to be processed by my brain with lightening speed and alarming simplicity of purpose.
I see all of the things that they want me to see. I want all of the things that they want me to want, but I can see them too, the master puppeteers behind the artificial need. The shelves of gum and three dollar toys and lip gloss and tissue and gift cards, all take on a sinister hue.
I recall a video preserved in the Prelinger Archives entitled Why We Respect The Law. It teaches that respect for the law is the foundation of democracy and freedom. That movie, like these carefully arranged dangling posters, are made to mold us into an obedient and easy to manipulate shape.
I can see THEM hunched around smoky tables, grinning through sharpened teeth, THEY make the laws, not for themselves, but for us. The laws are there so that they can break them and take whatever they want from us while we behave as we’ve been trained to behave. They pour a dose of “respect the law” and “be a good neighbor” and “upright citizen” down our throats so that they can take advantage of that conditioned response which they have cultivated in the consumer, in the good human being.
Everything that I am is as artificial as my beverage. The particular arrangement of the many programs my system runs may be slightly unique, as unique as the results of various tie died experiments, but despite the arrangement, the programs, the basic colors that make me, were made by others, inadvertently, others very intentionally.
So I sit and I sip and I know that everything that attracts me, everything that repels me, does so for superficial reasons. There are so many different “me's" forming unions and corporations to compete for dominance over my apparent form, and no one of these identities or coalitions of identities can claim that it is the one true “me”. Right and wrong, good and bad, what I want, what makes me happy, what I hate, what I love, these notions are all nothing, sawdust in the mouth, a sign that I am a marionette.
I see this and I ask, which one is the one that I want to make the center? Which “me” should be the ring leader, and how is it any less superficial than all the others? It is just another choice over which various impulses will negotiate and the most skillful negotiator will win.
Then I will say that there is a reason that I am what I am and do what I do, but all of these things are determined in the same way that it is determined which dog at the foot of the table will get the bone, and some nights one dog is hungrier and quicker than the rest and on other nights it’s a different dog. I see it and I finish my sweet syrupy beverage and go out into the cold windy afternoon, beyond the glass doors and theft detecting sensors and security guards dressed in authoritative navy blue.

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