Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fragments From A Dark Night

I don't know what's been in the water these last six months but I feel contaminated by ill omens. I feel like I've been stuffed with graveyard well water. I'm not sick at all and presumably healthy, despite my nerves but life has a way of veiling itself in the most alienating of unrealities.

Which is funny because, when not busy with the dogged errands of living I myself deal in unreality, in fiction, in the poetic, the vague, suggestive and liminal, in the linguistic pyrotechnics of a feverish imagination which is my solely defining function. I believe in the power of its uselessness. I'm old enough to call it my only sustained faith. Yet I know that I am reverent of other functions too: sleeping, eating, loving and taking care of the bills and my loved ones, sometimes in the same hurried breath.

But the ravens are thick in the trees, familiars of a season that adheres to no timetable.

Based on my friend's experiences I don't think I'm alone. On the surface life couldn't be better and this colorful, teeming city I've called home for many years now is as loud and vibrant as ever.

What amazed me the other night were the ramshackle markets in the bad part of the Mission where the Chinese checkout women speak to their male underlings in an exhilarating mix of Mandarin, English and Spanish. I feel cursed for not needing to achieve that kind of necessity. It was musical and necessary. I guess I'm tired of what I want and more interested in what I need, insofar as said needs are directly piped into the needs of a burgeoning, liberated culture. A culture I create in my own fictional unrealities, that I idealize through words, thus cursing its potential to ever be real .

I'm afraid of our serfdom to the Internet. Our allegiance to the virtual, the instantaneous, the layered. I see beauty everywhere but it ceases often to serve a purpose. The ugliness, when I see it, is more utilitarian, forward-thinking and radical. The walls of my cheap temple quake.

We will, with the persistence of hypertrophied data, forsake the material that is the bones and enzymes of culture. I don't kowtow to words like civilization because there are plenty of those in existence where real life has been replaced by brute survival. No, a people is defined by what they express, what costume they wear when they go into battle. A people is also defined by their sufferings yes but more the songs they make in the midst of such.

I have now cultivated what an idealism of necessity might look like. I pay it lip service. I sign up for the classes and get the necessary books. The tools look good on my mantle. In keeping with my nature, I dream big dreams about it. We will all garden and have easy access to salads at a moment's notice. We will speak a pidgin of mixed dialects. Our art will be made and shown spontaneously without concern for money or advancement. The good guys will be the ones who, vigilante style, go and arrest the crooked bankers, the insurance company CEO's, the military mercenaries, the corporate whores, the sexists, the would-be rapists and the earth-cursing fundamentalists of any creed or currency.

What gives me hope is the pure noise of children in the playground, of cats roaming the streets at night. Of forgotten books revealed. Of accidental feasts entered into. Of schoolchildren taking to the street, as they did today, to protest their impoverished educational opportunities.

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