Sunday, December 20, 2015

7610. BELOW THE WATER LINE, (pt. 109)

(pt. 109)
Avenel was never any hotbed of intellectualism, but
you could learn a lot nonetheless. As all of Nature
was being felled around us, we watched. You could
see decay and ruination, and learn from that then if
you had to. It was sort of like Science itself. You had
to decide if it was in any part 'magical', all this stuff,
or just the routine service-ways of automatic Science.
The numbers and facts, as taught, that just inevitably
make this stuff happen. No one tells you, you just have
to figure it out for yourself. Many 'right' things are
simply stated wrongly, and they get, thereby, ruined.
Like a movie star or something, whose career gets
sidetracked because she or he was found out to be
sleeping with an agent, or some fop. Like Fatty
Arbuckle of old, whose career was blown to
smithereens when a girl he was screwing around
with died at a party or something  - mostly after it
was found out that he'd been screwing her, at the
moment, with the neck of a Coke bottle. Later it 
was changed, the story, to a long piece of ice, and 
still later just to the idea that he was melting ice over
her aching abdomen. Hardly mattered at that point. 
Horrid, crazy-ass shit like that just stops everything 
dead. That's like Science, with all its rationality.
My friends and I never got to make much sense
out of what was running down around us; we were
too busy just keeping busy. Behind the scrim,
however, I always sensed there was more at work
than just what we were seeing. Like Magic. Or, even,
like the Automat, from last chapter. You see, all those
little windows were supposed to present to you, for your
nickel, the little plate of whatever food it was that
you were eating, as if by magic  -  conjured and
prepared and delivered. Yet, if you really looked in,
through the glass, you could see it all was nothing
really but a big, crazy, hopping kitchen, with all these
ladies in aprons and mesh hats running hither and yon,
to and from, these huge stoves and ovens. Each person
different tasks : mixing, setting up, cooking, frying,
tending the ovens. Making the plates up, putting them
on carts to bring to the 'servers', who really only 'served'
the back ends of the glassed areas you'd see  -  making
sure each little plate went into each little window properly.
And then they probably had others who took care of the
change -  all those dimes and nickels piling up. The little
slot-tills had to be emptied and counted and collected; and
I guess it all had to balance out just right  -  a flow, a rhythm,
a process. Whatever magic there may have been, it was 
illusion? All illusion? In 'reality' this too was just a 
food-service sweatshop? Just as Avenel's transformation from
 swamp-field to home was just the drudgery of money, work, 
and business? When you lose magic, I'm thinking, you're fucked. 
Life goes pretty much dead at that point. Which probably 
accounts for all those Sunday people at churches everywhere, 
and all those ridiculous crowds at the Vatican and such, oohing 
and aahing this tiny little Papal figure in a big, overdone window 
on high. There's always plenty of weirdness around, differences 
behind what you only 'think' you're really seeing : "functional 
explanations behind supernatural assertions: with many 
apparently fantastic tales and inexplicable rituals reflecting either 
rational understandings of the world or naturalistic causes that can 
be corroborated by modern science....wondering if the 'fruit of the 
tree of knowledge' consumed by Adam and Eve might refer to 
a mind-altering substance like LSD. From a rabbi we learn that 
the word 'fruit' could connote 'fruit of the earth' or vegetables, 
opening the possibility that the legendary apple was actually 
a mind-blowing mushroom." With stuff like that flying around, 
what's a poor Avenel boy to do? Myth and magic, yeah, they 
always get pushed aside when rational 'Science' steps in. 
And who's to know? The winners get to write History, and 
Science long ago won.
How different, anyway, I used to think was that Automat wall
from 'theology', as it was  -  the organized, Paternalistic, Rational,
Law-Giving Theology we were all supposed to worship and 
represent. As Humans, we only get to see what's presented to
us in that open glass view that we get, and behind the scenes of
that view are all the maintenance and constructed works of what
goes into making it all up. Who are those workers? Angels?
Archangels? Interceders for us? Defenders? The very Gods 
themselves or their secondary yet still transcendent stand-ins,
alike to a Jesus figure anywhere? Every culture and people
had their own set of make-up myths and creation rules, and
in the end, it all came down to the same : you live, you die.
Things continue, your ripple is over. Perhaps any good or bad
you've done lives on, stays awhile and lingers. A name, a 
memory. Graveyards are full of that. There is no magic? Life
is drudgery? Work? Return? Repetition? We make our own 
place, and whichever Reality then that goes with it? Everyone
sees differently while assuming it's all the same? How horrid 
is that? That's the 'regular' Heaven of the drone, droning on. I
much preferred the disordered chaos of the Dreamer, the crazy
Doer, in all things  -  magic, wonder, love, giving, hope, help,
and splendor. I'd rather kiss than curse. Let me take you in.
That's how I always viewed it  -  God help me.
When I was in Geology class back in Elmira College, one time
I asked the professor, after class, what he thought of Imanuel
Velikovsky, a sort of Russian-Israeli guy who wrote about 'worlds
in collision' and ancient astronauts, and all that, and then also 
what he thought about Eric Van Daniken, I think it was, who 
wrote 'Chariots of the Gods', another sort of the same theory. I 
read all that stuff, as well as even Carl Sagan and his Cosmos stuff 
 -  they all professed extra-terrestrial origins, passing starships, 
seeding of this planet from afar, interstellar space-travel, and all  
that stuff mixed into the mythology of our own Gods and religions. 
Along with the Seth Material and Jane Jacobs and all, I believed all 
that stuff. He bristled. He  harrumphed. As I figured  -  it displaced
 all his teaching and knowledge anyway, so why should he back it. He 
stated to me, in a nice manner, that those were all theories by people 
who had FIRST arrived at the conclusions they wanted, and then 
twisted and fixed and wrote up all the evidences they'd need to make
 their case. Well, that did nothing for me. I shot back that he had just
 precisely delineated every bit of western religion I'd ever heard of. 
First the 'conclusion', then all the goofy stories  -  if you want to put
 it that way. How was the Star of Bethlehem any different from an 
extra-terrestrial craft hovering over the location site of their latest 
Earth-person-plant? How could he not see Moses and the 
burning bush and the burn-scarred face and the smoke and all 
that as just a Human Selection for an audience with some 
nuclear-powered, idling, craft that he must not look at for
fear of burns and radiation scars, in the fiery weeds? How
could he not see the Tower of Babel as a rocket ship?
Ezekiel, Enoch, and Lazarus, etc., as spaceman miracles. 
Everything being equally outlandish, all of mankind was 
in a race to 'convince' itself of anything  -  eternal life, and
salvation, a crumbly fall, miracles and the rest. The fool then 
began AGREEING with me. Agreeing! I'm lucky he didn't
flunk me from that moment on. Funny thing is, he not so long
after that started to get very hip, at about age 40, changed a 
lot of his ways, greatly, and the next year just took off for his
 'new' life in Austin, Texas which -  back in that day ('75) was just 
getting about as momentarily hip as Seattle is now. Funny stuff. In 
Elmira he'd had a nice little house right at the entry gates to 
Woodlawn Cemetery by the Mark Twain gravesite. I'd pass it  
often and often enough see him there. Am I thinking then that I 
ruined everything for him (too)?
I believed far better in the magical  -  the everyday moments of
miracles which pierce through the soul and let light in. All those
queer little streets in Avenel, the funny people, the oldsters, the parents,
they were all caught up in something. Something that always crossed
itself up. Today's world is so maddeningly different. I don't wish to
dwell on lewd stuff, or go all evil on you, but here's an example of
the way we lived, and this is true : Avenel's paragon of virtue, Mrs.
Kuzmiak  -  she ran the little dry-goods store by the Mirkovich house
and the Shop-Rite. Starchy, upright, quaint little Catholic lady. At
the times when school let out (in those days the crossing guard 
lady was in that middle crossing, the wide walk between the two 
schools, and a million kids all at once would be swarming to and 
fro across Avenel street -  a nervous, noisy beehive of activity. 
Now they've put a light in, over by where the library was, at Park 
Ave., and the few kids who are loose and not helicoptered by their 
parents, cross there, with the guard and the light).  Anyway, when  
we boys were about 10, right there, in that mob of kids, some guy 
caught us and gave us about ten or fifteen cards  -  they looked like 
baseball cards or something. He took off, not staying, nor saying
 anything. When we got all huddled together, the three or four of 
us, to see what he'd given us (I'm trying to be nice here), we were 
flabbergasted! Talk about freaking magic and science. On each of 
these cards  -  something we'd never seen  -  there was a naked woman, 
kneeling or crouched down, and in her mouth, different on each card, 
was the naked guy's you know what. The most outlandish and 
accidental meeting of mind and matter we'd ever seen, and right 
in front of Mrs. Kuzmiak's place too! I don't remember rightly
 who got the cards or what happened to them, but we all 
quickly enough, took off, "a'fearin' fer our lives", as 
Mark Twain have would put it.

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