Thursday, May 5, 2016


'One hundred missteps make
the King's ransom.' Well, 
something of that sort. I used
to stay up late thinking things
up like that. Then I found
myself, about January, 1972,
holed away in that Pennsylvania
secret mousehole I've been writing
about, awakening once again into
a form of expanded and literary
life (before that, I'd been in what
essentially could be called a large
black-hole of a certain negativity
which, as black holes are wont 
to do, sucking in everything else 
with it). The thing was 'reset', as a
verb: I did so, resetting everything.
Raise a few pigs, handle 40 cows 
daily, become a country-boy hick
for a while, get unknown, let it
all drip down out of me, forget the
wicked and crazy past. Of course
it helped that no one knew where 
I was, what I'd done, and how my
present arrangements were set up.
I was about as far away from 509
east 11th Street as it was possbile 
to be. I didn't want to hear a thing.
Whatever that resounding knell was,
and if it was still tolling, it was not 
going to be for me  -  apologies to
John Donne on that one. The war
in Vietnam was still raging. I no 
longer cared. My safe-house 
apartment deal was over, the 
injured and the two dead from
it, wherever they were, found or
not found, solved or not solved, 
held nothing for me. If someone
had my name, I swore I'd change 
it. Nothing happened, some years
passed. I began to breath better
again. I'd here or there run into
some college types, Elmira or
wherever, still active and 
forthright in their opposing 
the Nixon Cambodia incursions, 
the Christmas Bombing, the 
entire Henry Kissinger war 
machine killfest, the Nixon 
smirk, and all the rest. I'd say,
'Give it up. You have no 
sense or idea what you're 
getting involved with. 
It's not worth a thing.'
I dedicated myself, secretly, and 
out of earshot and view of any of 
these moronic mountain locals  
-  to whom I'd actually taken 
a fancy and enjoyed being with 
 -  to revivify my own intellectual 
life. There were a few bookstores 
around, two colleges and a 
university. In those days, unlike 
today, security was non-existent. 
I came and went at will. I 
registered for Elmira College,
did my things as needed, and 
then took vast advantage of 
Cornell and even Ithaca
College  -  a mile or so up 
the street  -  at that time 
something of a joke, the 
small, sequestered school 
a real Baby Huey in the 
looming shadow of Cornell.
That I could do, in my own
energies and format. I'd 
become totally independent.
I found the trick was to lose 
all definitions, everything. I'd
found that, behind all things, all,
there is a lie. That realization
brought me to the point of a 
complete disgust, a disdain, for
everything of man. I detested
humanity. They falsely assumed
Reality, and took up every lie 
that went with it. Their tales and
stories were lies, their manipulative
assumptions, their business and 
credos and banking and religion 
and medical industry and their 
politics, certainly, were infested 
with death and lies. I was never 
able to get past that, and it
inhibited most all of what I 
did. I built my life around those 
realizations, and live it that 
way still. It's difficult, but
it's given me another, a new 
life to work. The people around
me, like people anywhere else,
were unified in their puffed-up
belief that they were alive now,
definitely alive, and partaking 
in good stead, of their 'God's' 
best graces, producing 'Life'
in the best manner prescribed 
by their dogmas and religions.
It was funny, none of the farmer 
guys  -  the rash, the gruff, the
strong  -  none of them had much
any to do with this. 'Too busy', 
they'd say. It was all wives and 
ladies there. In Columbia 
Crossroads and area, anyway, 
all this religion was certainly 
a gender thing too. Odd. None 
of that St. Andrew's Catholic 
stuff about the entire, upstanding, 
family worshipping together, 
Dads in suits and Moms in
Sunday dresses. I always found
that the people I'm talking about,
anywhere, held tight to the
irrefutable belief that they were
alive now, and not dead. Yet,
frankly, I could never see that.
It was all a mix-up. In greater
terms, as I'd seen it, a person 
was alive and dead at the same 
time. It was all jumbled together  -  
all these broad, excitedly creative
'Realities' going on together at 
once, 'Life' being only the portion 
of existence of which they were
presently aware. Nature, it seemed
to me, wastes nothing, and would
certainly not squander a universal
energy in sequential 'on-off' patterns
of alive/dead stuff. It's only the one
small pattern of what we 'think' we
experience that makes up what we
'think' in turn, is life. We are all 
here, and always, experiencing 
multifarious levels of a progressively
cosmic experience  -  the alive of it, 
and the dead of it too. Which 'Dead' 
you are just as much experiencing 
now as the 'Alive' that you think you
are and that you have convinced
yourself is all that there is.
Yeah, so try to explain that to Warren,
while squeezing cow-teats on a milking 
pail. Or try to broach the subject to that
Jennings guy, while he's cleaning his 
rifle. It's a difficult life, with such a
broad screen in front of it; but I had
to make it work. In the house I'd 
bought, off to the side, there was 
an attached room, one that had been 
transformed years back, into a tax-
collection office, one of those Justice
of the Peace type things I wrote of.
It has its own entrance, a few steps 
and a little landing and a light. It had
not been used for that for years. Two
really nice glass doors separated it
inside, from the living quarters. To
conserve both fuel and money, since 
we had neither, I'd turned off any
heat in there  -  so it was nasty cold
in the Winter months, and, because
of having lots of windows and looking
out over our ponds and stream, in the
Summer it got really hot. Even if you
opened windows and doors. The only 
thing in there was two pianos, oddly 
enough  -  they were there when I
arrived, one in much finer shape
than the other, which other was,
essentially unplayable with broken
keys and a broken pedal  -  a real 
mess, though it made sound. The 
other one, neglected and out of tune,
was playable and not really so bad,
especially since it was all I had. 
My job at the school got me the 
nice piano they kept on the 
stage/auditorium. There was a
2nd-grade teacher there, Sheri
Hafer, and she ran the music stuff.
I used to stand back there sometimes
and just watch her playing the 
accompaniments for the the kids'
sing-alongs: Stephen Foster, Santa
Lucia, and all that stuff. That was
when one of those things hit me
that answer so many questions. 
Playing a piano all those years,
people always ask for 'Can you 
play...whatever.' They always 
want to hear a song. Any song; 
but they never realize it's not 
that easy. The piano, in that
'song' sense, is not a lead 
instrument. The piano plays
backer chords and progressions
to the singer's voice, which 
carries the melody line and 
to which they respond. To
make them happy, the right 
hand has to pick out and 
struggle through the 'lead' line
music of the vocals. A different
deal entirely. Watching her play,
'behind' the kids' voices, I realized
she never played the lead line, just
the accompanying chords to the
kids' lead-line voices. Without the
voices, you wouldn't necessarily 
know what song she was playing.
Isn't that, really, a lot like life itself?

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