Friday, April 22, 2016


#31 EREWHON / 
When I was about 16, I used to  
walk the woods across the tracks
behind my house. General Dynamics, 
the company, was still functioning
there with their factory and land, 
and they had a service road for 
trucks and deliveries, which ran 
through these woods with a truck-
entrance on Rahway Avenue. The
woods were fine, and unbothered,
growing well, heavily tree'd, etc., 
and no one ever bothered me. Only 
occasionally would I see a security car
or some sort of personnel for security, 
around. Never any trouble. I'd walk
through those woods (they brought 
me out the other end, by Rahway 
Avenue and the prison), declaiming
aloud lines of Blake or Ginsberg
or Ferlinghetti. It was just something
I'd taken to doing  -  memorizing
things and orating aloud (habits
from the seminary days, when I'd
do the same thing in warming up
for the Oratorical Contests I was 
in, and stage lines for the Drama
Club stuff). Memorization is a 
really odd thing :  it's an old,
dated way of carrying and of
recalling the world, both at
the same time. In olden days,
it was all a distinct category
of remembrance, nowadays
forgotten. We have become
inured to things, visually and
aurally (hearing) and orally
(spoken) too. We have instant
images, instant recall and
recollections, and the means
to call forth History and the
past at any time, instantly. That
premise of our lives has now
permanently changed. My waltz
through these woods combined
my memorization of things,
and the performance aloud of
that. It was all based on an old
Greek guy, Demosthenes, I
believe it was, who started all
this, and from whose writings I
learned about putting pebbles in
one's mouth, a few, while practicing
an oration. After many repetitions,
and without the pebbles then, one's
words are clear and concise! It's
pretty amazing, and a grand way
of practicing for oratory,
You're probably wondering
what could possibly have
brought me to be including this
in one of these chapters. It all
began last chapter, when I was
was being critical of landscapers
and people of small intelligence,
in this case the marginal and
immigrant groups of probable
illegals anyway whom we allow
in to do these jobs. My thinking
was that they're dumb enough so
that people would call them
'flat-Earthers,' as in folks who
still think the world is flat. The
minute that idea hit me, I knew I
was in trouble  -  because that idea
all stems from William Blake,
1757-1827. Back when I actually
was 16, and studying Blake  -
all that material of 'Sunflower'
and 'Chimney-Sweep' and 'Los'
 and 'Enitharmon' and 'Urizen,'
and the Prophetic Books and
everything brought me to a
point where in Blake (with 
whom I felt a total and 
immersed kinship, from
the very first moment, 
sometimes as if I WAS 
him), some commentator or 
another made a remark about 
Wm. Blake still believing
in the theory of flat Earth. I
guess in our world that's 
outlandish. So I checked it 
out; and what I found astounded 
me, and still does, and perfectly
explains the concept. Which
concept, obviously, the
block-headed commentator
could not grasp-to-realize. In
his own terms. William Blake
really did believe the earth was
flat. And he said so. But he 
didn't mean hills and valleys 
and flatlands and plains, and 
all that. The format of this all,
which I totally shared, and 
understood and had experienced
myself as if it had been my own
idea, was that the 'world' is a
flat, planar sphere of interpretive
matter, which each individual
processes as 'Reality', all both
different and the same, together,
for each. The 'world' is flat,
it reaches straight out, a linear
plane open and unmarked, for
each. Communal and civilizational
and agreed-upon 'assumptions' 
about things make for society 
and place, the things we 
experience and inhabit. I was
right there with that, and it all
appeared real easy.
I used to go out into those woods
really early, often for Summer 
sun-ups, and Winter ones too  -  
but not as often because walking 
to school, on days I did, took 
another direction. Just as today,
when I can catch a sunrise from the
train station platform on the days
that I'm there, I had my very own
'almost-observatory'. Like a primitive
man far out of time, I had limbs and
branches and tree things through 
which and upon which I could gauge 
the sunrise, watch the ascent,
experience the brightening. As if
at my own particularized version
of Stonehenge, I could be vast and
ancient man, celestial man, grand
and cosmic Mankind, taking the 
world  -  flat or round, who cared  -
all in. I loved all that, and lived 
a solitary time.
That's all gone now, all of it, as 
am I. That particular version of 
me died a long, long time ago. 
The world around me is totally 
different, and we're not much on
speaking terms anyway. It's filled
with dread, and it's boring. Every
story and each fixation is a long
and drawn-out itinerary to nowhere.
Which, by the way, was an 1872
book, by one Samuel Butler,
published anonymously and 
meant to be read as 'Nowhere', 
a fictional country discovered 
by the protagonist. A satire of
Victorian, British society? A
lost word for a lost Utopia?
Well maybe, one, or both
or neither. Of such conundrums
are our lives all made. From here
to eternity, or here to Erewhon.
No difference at all.
The real point here, and one which
I've not clarified, was that the point of
William Blake  -  which the commentator
missed entirely, and which is echoed in 
our own literature by Thoreau's 'Most men
lead lives of quiet desperation'  -  was that
the world is FLAT for the mass of Mankind,
those who accept rational living and ideas,
who follow sequence, remain dull and
un-creative, who do not think or themselves;
those who live in Erewhon. For Blake  -  and
for myself as well, which I felt within me  -
the only goodness and holy presence
there is is in constantly dis-proving that
flat-Earth fallacy. (More next chapter). That
is why, for instance, Humankind has allowed
real sentiment to be overtaken by the false sham
of a sort of Hallmark Card sentiment, everywhere.
Avoiding all issues, in the hope of false harmony.

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