125. THE SAME AS NOT
The therapeutic value of therapy,
I'm told, has never been proven.
I never knew if any of that was true,
even though I've written a bunch of
it down. The treacle of a like town.
One that everyone likes. I don't
know if that holds up, actually.
It's more like a therapy colony.
If you drive up to the bottom
end of Morristown, there's a
place called Mt. Tabor. It's
another one of those crazed and
leftover religious communities,
once, from the American era
of the Second Great Awakening.
A like-minded group of crazed
zealots, a community founded,
back then, atop a great rounded
little hill - right to the sky and
Jesus coming every other minute.
Tiny, twisted homes woven into
rock, large and rambling homes,
towering into one another, crags,
little vistas, green-grass, a park,
a commons area, an old water-works,
houses leaning and crazily painted,
tight, intense. A grand assembly
hall, concert venue, preacher's
platform, and more. They just
don't make them like that anymore.
This place was all pre-auto; it
was designed for horses. Wagons,
maybe, carrying supplies. You
could see right into the next
house, from nearly every angle.
Not too many people had curtains -
it was all supposed to be communal
happiness, a oneness of a somehow
joy that 'invited' neighbors in, for
God and Jesus, not kept them out by
curtains and locks. Holy ground. I
don't even know if the people HAD
sex, let alone were conscious if it;
all those open, uncurtained windows
and no air conditioning. I guess,
with all the bare, open windows,
and nightclothes and stuff, there
was either NO sex, as I said, or
plenty of it. Never found out.
I got stuck there one night, it
was a zillion degrees out all night,
I was dead-bleary tired, hot and
bothered, asthmatic at that time,
and got stuffed in a thousand-degree
attic dormer corner where I was
expected to sleep. Sleep, mind
you! More like to the death of
Jesus and his men. Absolute
worse night of my life, all
because of a friend I tried
to be nice, but really just
wished to burst out of there,
screaming, and go sleep on
the park lawn. You know, this
was abut 1982, and people were
still pretty ugly. If I had found a
pretty girl, I'd have climbed in
her Great Awakening open
window and slept the sleep of
the Gods with her, just to be
comfortable. I awoke the next
morning, and made it downstairs
to where everyone (there were
about 7 people, all British), were
having their 'breakfast' of tea,
with hot tomatoes slathered
on toast. That might not have
been a great awakening, but it
was sure an eye-opener for me.
The point I was after here, when
I started, was the idea of a shared
zealotry of 'rightness'. Princeton
had/has all that exact bearing, in a
perfectly secular sense. Stripped
ad drained of all religious content -
even though they, or some, may
'proclaim' it - they go about the
selfsame deeds as the folks of Mt.
Tabor - though with expensive
draperies and locked windows.
They are beladen with their raft-load
of preachers and university psychos
talking God, religious aspects of this
and that, and parading all their
goon symptoms around - but it's
a farce. The place is as secular as
your big toe. It's the same as with
NYC - General Theological
Seminary or one at Stuyvesant
Park -- real big-goon liberational
religionistas, but without a smidgeon
of right-sense, or reality, within.
Everything is by program and by
rote, and always without context.
God has a number, and God has a
verse. You can do that for a while,
but eventually it fails. Princeton's
idea of religion is a class-act Thursday
farmer's market. God is good garlic,
fresh basil; some token, uplifting
Yoga spiel. The detachment of
wanting nothing while grabbing
for it all.
Before he died, the poet C. K. Williams
used to begrudgingly sit in Small World
sometimes too. To be factual, it was
more like he needed a spitoon and
a barber's chair. Just glaring out in
a strange silence. We got to know
each other just ever so much to say
hi and exchange a word or two. He'd
come into the bookstore as well.
Probably 15 or 20 years my senior,
I think it was fair to say he hated
everyone. Didn't have much a
good thing, for sure to say about
youth - real youth, like the university
age kids he'd have to deal with; all
that burping and spitting-up must
surely have driven him crazy. He once
said to me, 'the trouble with the world
is that's it's the world.' I let it be,
mostly surmising that he probably
hated me too. Sometimes he'd just
sit there reading. That was OK. He
was a big guy, wearing a lot of
corduroy. I was sorry when he
died. I'd heard-tell he'd taken real
sick, but it took about a year for
him to die, in a neighboring town,
called Hopewell, where he lived.
Which, by the end of his sickness,
became a really ironic name for a
place to die in.
Speaking of irony - I had a Biker
gang, outlaw-guy, friend, went
by the name 'Pancho'. He was
tough and mean and as violent
as they come One time he and I
were talking - about the place
at the base of Mt. Tabor where
my friend's car died, and why
we were stranded there for that
night, in his British friend's
family home. I explained the
place, and the location to him.
All the religious stuff and the
historical association - he piped
up, this Mr. 1%'er, outlaw biker,
'Oh yeah, I know the place well.
first job was up at Mt Tabor.
Worked there for years.'
That's that as far as story-lines go.
Mt. Tabor and Princeton, from
two different directions, one
somewhat enobled and one
crass and mercenary but with a
well-kept-up veneer, in their own
way, both doing the very same things.
way, both doing the very same things.
Attracting opposites, and saving souls.
The same as not, anyway.