Snobs in the Future

In the future everybody is entitled to a gush of nutritive slurry that comes over the basic pipe, and those who make valuable contributions to society are allowed to feed off of elite pipes that provide elite food with shapes and colors. These snobs are known as High Pipe Feeders, and they compete for status amongst themselves by consuming only certain high status foods that come flying out of their high status pipes and blasting into their waiting mouths: truffles, pate, duck a l’orange. Recently a prophet arose amongst the High Pipe Feeders who said — you know, the nutritive slurry is not so bad. Rather than bragging about what kind of marbled steaks and pheasants and stimulatingly exotic curry sauces we consume from the high pipe, we should actually just suck off the free Low Pipe like just plain folk.

This suggestion earned him a lot of status. His jealous rivals think he sucked it on the sly from some secret, fancy Mind Food Pipe.


The Foolish Poetic Mind

My friend Alexa left her family for a short fling with a contractor who she hired to do the tile in, ironically, the family room, and lost everything. I was talking to her about why she did and she told me that one morning she saw John straight and yet supple in the light of the early morning and she just couldn’t will herself to say no. For a moment his beauty transfigured everything, made any risk worth taking, made her life seem not just worth it, but blessed. “Me and my stupid poetic mind.” she said to me.

And honestly it made me wonder. Like many people who have been hurt she yearned for a life without emotion, not noticing, or maybe deliberately ignoring the obvious counterpoint, to wit, that yearning is an emotion. But what about her feeling about her foolish poetic mind?

I remember thinking, when I was wondering about war, whether the old writers in the 50s were right to say that there was something uniquely horrible about the threat of nuclear annihilation: are they right? Because you’d read that, in a writer like E B White, that it’s particularly terrible that New York City could be destroyed by a single flight of airplanes (no bigger than a flock of geese wrote White) carrying a single bomb. But I thought — so what? Am I any less dead if I am killed by a conventional bomb? Or have my head hacked off with a sword, as in the Rape of Nanjing? Isn’t EB White giving in to his “foolish poetic mind” imagining that the poetry of the death — a whole city killed by a single bomb! — trumps the prose of it — dead is dead? Isn’t EB making the same mistake as my friend Alexa, who gives up growing old as a beloved Grandma, for a moment of sweetness, and light?

Or is it just as poetic to think that a human being alive is any different than a human being dead? It’s all just modifications in the quantum field, isn’t it, whether the head is on the neck, or some distance away? And isn’t the quantum field itself the beautiful thing, the Light, behind all our colorful stained glass, the white paper underneath our smudgy pictograms?

Or is that another illusion that Light is beautiful? Light is beautiful if it shines upon something beautiful, perhaps, and if we imagine it showing us something not so beautiful, then perhaps, not so much?

I asked the Tarot deck whether I should even ask the internet (wordpress blogging site) to publish these thoughts, or whether they were better left unexpressed, or better yet, forgotten? And I drew the Fool once, and then again, and then a third time.


Easy Does It?

My cousin Ruth used to say “Don’t talk to me about beautiful words. Because beautiful words can describe ugly things.”

My cousin Ellen used to say “Beautiful words can make me have ugly thoughts . Ugly words can make me have beautiful thoughts. “

My cousin Jessica used to say “I’m not interested in words or thoughts, because they are both just rocks that impede the flow of human life.”

My Aunt Felicia said “I prefer the answer of your cousin Jessica, because it includes the other two.”


“Are You Sure?”

You said you were trying to put on a production of Tennesee Williams’s “Sweet Bird of Youth” , but given that instead of a script of that play you in fact had in hand a collection of your old grocery lists, and instead of casting actors you employed three grains of dust dancing in a sunbeam, ten miles of interstate highway and a gourd, and rather than putting on a performance in front of an audience you simply removed a bone from a throat of a dog, shouldn’t we ask if you’re sure that that’s actually a correct description of what you were trying to do?

To be honest, mister? I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.


What Kind of Sense Do We Want Stories to Make? or What if We Fixed Kafka?

I’m thinking about our attraction (or my attraction) to stories that don’t quite make sense. Take for example, Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”. Gregor lives with his family and one night, during uneasy dreams, becomes transformed into a gigantic scarab, or dung beetle. His family treats him with contempt, and as he spends more time hiding in his room out of deference to his family’s feelings, his thoughts become more and more insect-like. One night he is drawn out by the family’s informal musicale. His father becomes angry, forces him back into his room, and throws a hard apple at poor Gregor which lodges in his chitin, causing him eventually to sicken and die. The cleaning woman who lives with them cheerfully announces that she swept that thing out with the trash, and the family, relieved, goes and has a picnic.

It’s a good story but it’s missing a piece. Why does Gregor transform into a beetle? That doesn’t happen in real life. People don’t become insects and if they did it would be for a reason.

What if we fixed it?

What if halfway through the story someone brought in a doctor and the doctor said that Gregor while he was out selling brushes to make extra money for his mother’s foot surgery offended a scientist who injected him with a drug? Another scientist informs the family that they can cure Gregor f one of them is willing to be a dung beetle for one second. One by one they all refuse. And Gregor dies, as in Kafka’s original story.

Worse, right? But why?

Why is Kafka’s story with a piece of sense missing better than my “fixed” version? I think my story carries some of the pathos of the original — Gregor after all became a beetle because he was trying to do something nice for his family, and as in Kafka his family is extremely horrible to him. But mine is worse, because it provides an answer where Kafka’s provides none.

Wallace Stevens once said that a poem should resist the intelligence, almost successfully. And maybe something like that is operating here. Because another version of Kafka’s story where at the end his sister gets transformed into a piano, and the apartment where they are living sprouts feet like Baba Yaga’s hut and runs off to Mongolia to do battle with the similarly be-footed palace of the Great Khan, would also be worse than Kafka’s, in an opposite direction. It would make too little sense. So is Wallace Stevens’ principle (like Aristotle’s, like Goldilocks’) the correct one, that Kafka’s story is good because it is just mysterious enough?

No, that is idiotic (and a cop-out) because we don’t have in our heads some sort of balance-detecting organ that responds to too much mystery, not enough mystery, and just the right amount of mystery.

Maybe my restating of Stevens’ principle misses what is good about his formulation. He doesn’t say a poem should be “almost unintelligible but not quite”. He says a poem should resist the intelligence. In other words it should be active. It should push back.

I think Kafka’s story works, unlike either of my fixes, because it pushes back against us as we try to imbibe its telling. It flirts, teases, and fights us.

I think we like that. Or I do.


Tititi Wam-mwam, an Elixirious Spirit

Tititi Wam-mwam is an elixirious spirit who provides the effervescence to the space right after this moment, but before the next moment has coalesced, and is basically the form and formula of the sss-spritz! of a can of Pepsi Cola that has just been opened, or if you prefer…CHAMPAGNE!

If you want to invoke the blessings of this elixirious spirit, shave off the exhiliration of the first drink you take of alcohol, and holding it lightly but firmly in mind, deposit it upon a moment of genuine boredom, or what you might prefer to call: DEEPEST PEACE.

Deepest peace coupled with the extravagant effervescent effluvia of drunkenness, like the spritz of ideas leaving the carbonated brain, hold each other, hand in hand, hand about waist and DANCE DANCE DANCE!


I’m dizzy, mother! I’m dizzy, father! I’m dizzy Aunt Bessie! And mother says: dance with them; and father says: dance with them; and Aunt Bessie says: whoa whoa! woo! woo! Somebody’s knocking at the door and I find my feet are doing the proverbial huchi-kuchi.

Who’s at the door? Open it and see. But I think you know his name….