Sunday, September 25, 2016


I've always been of mixed
parentage, thrown between
poles, as it were. What was
I, ever, but some sort of
misfit outcast. Sometimes
it seemed like every little
thing troubled me, and at
other times I felt as if I
could walk unaided
through some, any,
unknown jungle thicket
of feast and famine
together. The big 'Art'
problem in my head
too, about writing and
art, was always the
big split between the
two distant poles : Ezra
Pound proclaiming 'make
it new!', his famous boast
about what artists should
do; while on the other hand
I faced that more sour 
land-boast of T. S. Eliot as
outlined in his 'Tradition
and Individual Talent'
lectures  -  that everything
must have a referential
antecedent, the past must
be learned and respected,
that all 'new' work must in
some way refer back to its
lineage on the 'scroll' of
all the world's previous
work. That emoting and
personalizing, that the
self-psychic scream, were
all wrong. That was tough
stuff and a huge gulf to
gap. All my own life, I
cried for help. Nay,
screamed for it, if only
it could have been (be)
detected. All that doctored
up self-confidence stuff
was just a bad jig.
It was like walking 
down  the middle of 
a raging stream, 
against the current, 
where the center was 
just too strong to fight 
and one had to pick 
one side or the other, 
where the shallower 
and slightly calmer 
waters ran, walkable. 
Yet, having to choose 
made it difficult, plus
it belied what had 
always been one of 
those stupid and always
overdone catch-phrase 
things you end up being
taught as you grow :
'Still waters run deep.' 
Not exactly ever true.
The characteristics of 
this personal plight for
me was that the deep 
waters had a turmoil 
enough to push me 
back and weren't still 
at all, while the side 
waters, walkable and
shallow, also demanded
a side be taken.
I liked the long mornings 
at the seminary farm. We'd
awaken early  -  I forget how,
maybe a bell or a caller  -  
and were expected to get 
prepared, walk ourselves to
chapel, another morning 
mass and all, and then bring
the entire group to the 
Refectory for breakfast.
Some still just waking
up, a sort of sleepwalking 
was often observed. For
12 year old boys, coffee
was plentiful, it was 
everywhere at 6am in
metal coffee urns on 
each table. No one 
ever said a thing about 
it, just dove in and 
became coffee drinkers.
The cook and kitchen 
staff were on board, 
always at work; a swarthy
Spanish guy, about 40, was
in charge, and lived on the
ground in a pretty swanky, 
red-tile roof 1920's style
cottage, Texan or Mexican 
architecture. His cook staff
was mostly big, black ladies
and some helpers  -  I don't
know if they too lived there 
or not, or just went back 
home to somewhere in the
Pine Barrens nearby each day.
It was pretty strange. Most
of the food was southern 
food  -  scrapple, chitlins, 
oddball greens, flapjacks 
and syrup, corn poppers,
varied pieces and formats
of fried chicken and parts.
Interesting  -  coffee, as I 
said, and milk plentiful. If
one wanted to, you could
just keep on eating; no one
ever stopped you. Stuff was
brought to the tables and 
then taken away, or you 
could go get more at serving
windows, where some fat, 
smiley lady was always 
happy to throw some 
more of something on 
your plate. We ate on 
trays, with the dishes 
arranged. Had to have 
rolled cloth napkins on
our laps. Then, after 
eating, we'd have maybe
a half-hour of down-time
to do whatever we chose,
and then a day's classes 
began, until noon  -  food 
again  -  and the more
classes until like a five
o'clock church meet again, 
and then the evening meal.
Another hour off maybe. 
Then like 8-10, a study 
hall double period, back 
in the classrooms, for 
'homework' and reading.
Silence, and monitored.
Then when trouble always
broke out  -  no one really
wanted to just sit around, 
we were frazzled and
done by that time. There'd
always be someone, me
included, fooling around, 
disorderly, talking or 
something. Mostly you 
could get away with it, 
but sometimes culprits,
again me included, would
get caught, and chastised 
and punished  -  the monks 
and priests wore these
wide leather belts on their
cassocks, and from them 
hung these really big 
rosary beads things, to 
their knees. They use 
them like a whip, yes, 
and just start swatting 
you around. It was 
definitely not cool, and 
they were obviously
demented, but that's 
how it went. I took a 
few beatings myself, 
as my friend Kirk 
will attest.
So you learn to walk a 
straight line  -  let me
phrase that better, because
the exception is important
as a life-lesson everywhere:
you learn to BE SEEN 
walking a straight line. It
doesn't necessarily mean 
that's the line you always 
walk, and everyone knows 
what I mean. You learn to
say that 'Heck, if I'm being
watched I'll do what they
want. No sense in being 
seen to be out of order. I'm
not that stupid.' The name 
is Fakery  -  a huddled 
conspiracy. Everyone 
learns to play it, which 
is so why discipline 
and regulations are 
so dumb. All they
ever wind up doing 
is enforce infractions
Those long mornings, at
11 years old, and then 12, 
for me, are hard to imagine 
now. What the hell was I
being put through, how 
had I so arranged my 
own affairs to come 
to that point?  Four 
years previous to that
I'd been smacked around
by a train, awakened
months and months later
from a coma, had to re-live
and come to terms with all
this weird stuff about 
coming back to life not
fully knowing what all
had just happened to me, 
but knowing something
had, quite vivid and 
conscious, while my 
own body was simply
shut down. I had been
getting re-charged, 
given words and 
messages, lessons and 
actions presented to me, 
and an entire re-entry
into some other level 
of life given. Had I said 
a simple NO, or had
my greater oversoul 
declined for me, I
imagine I would just 
have become deceased. 
End of story, Bye, me.
My greater Spirit's hand 
had not been forced, no, 
but the whatever it was 
had taken and made the 
decision for me so that 
all channels were open. 
I was now a conduit. The 
messages were coming 
through and I had to get 
to work. Poste-haste, as 
they say. There could
be no reluctance, just 
do. I knew, from that 
day on, my work was 
cut out for me, and that
Blackwood  -  right 
where I was  -   was 
to be the locus for 
the start of all 
this new life.
So which side of that
river had I really chosen?
Neither. It had all been
selected for me. And in
a fashion I later called:
'Ready, set, go!'

No comments: