Saturday, January 28, 2017


Parts and points of
my life have always
kept me enthralled
-  that's probably
pretty ordinary and
I guess I never met
anyone who wasn't,
at some level,
enthralled with
their own life.
Except for a few
suicides. I've known
those too. A weird
thing once was,
upon the suicide
of an acquaintance
common to each
of us, this friend
of mine turns to
me and says,
bafflingly, to me,
'I always thought
it would be you,
first.' How do you
respond to something
like that? I said
something back like,
'No, I want to see
how this thing ends
up.' I've read, and
heard, others say
there's nothing
more vain and
egotistical than
taking your own
life. I suppose I
could argue with
that, I mean for
the sake of argument,
as a debating point,
but perhaps it is
true. But it is our
life, after all.
Should we not
have the final say
over our own
destiny? That's
the trouble
with 'argument.'
I could probably,
and dumbly enough,
argue for either side.
Around abut 1957,
in my own family,
and in my own
sphere of interest
and experience,
(this is all going
to be pretty
difficult to
expound or get
down correctly
here  -  mainly
because it's not
'about' anything
or any person or
something that
occurred. It's
more just an
example of a
crazy kid's head
and the kind of
ringing thoughts
that have always
run around in it) -
The subject is
'space,' I guess,
not like moon-shot
space and the stars
and all  - although
that's in it too  -
but the physical
thing we as humans
call 'space'. That
'things' are in,
what they take
up. Well, I'll try.
OK, starters, (or,
as they say in
some Greek
mythology to
a roomful of
lecherous beings,
'OK, satyrs') go
like this : I used
to stand at the
top of my driveway,
in the dark of night.
I could look up
(there were still
a decent enough
amount of night-sky
stars then) and
see the two dippers,
big and little.
Each night they
were pretty much
aligned together,
much the same
positioning, etc.
I would just stare,
looking up, and
wonder. They were
the only thing in
the sky I recognized
-  all those other
figures and shapes
and forms I'd 'see'
diagrammed, from
the ancients, never
made any sense
to me. Some
sixty years later
now, at least,
I can position
myself here,
now, in the
same orientation
and surprise
myself by seeing,
in fact, almost the
same thing. Fewer
overall stars, but
the same positioning.
My mind said 'that'
was one kind of
'space.' Two towns
over, abut 8 miles
away, my aunt
and uncle had just
bought a house;
larger than ours,
10 years more
advanced in style
and layout. I used
to go there, spend
the day. The visit,
and the house
would baffle me;
the concept behind
it would baffle me;
the way in which
'Man the Builder'
had begun to think
about 'space' and
things, would
baffle me. It
was called,
then, a 'split level.'
They used to build
them by the ton
back then; now
that style is quite
passe, doesn't age
well, comes off
bulky and boxy,
plain and boring.
Over in Colonia,
along Starlight
Drive and all
those other
streets, there
must be four
hundred of these,
taking up 12 or
so winding blocks.
It all looks crummy
now, really so.
Some of them
have really fallen
off, aged and
weathered, badly.
A few others,
having been
'modernized' have
done away with
the original look
totally. Whatever.
The idea was  -  and
what used to baffle
me so  -  almost
cerebral in its
wanton achievement
of created 'space'.
What the builders
had done, quite
literally, was 'split'
the levels of the
house. It was an
illusion, but a
reality too at the
same time. It used
to amaze me. I
found no words
for it and as a
young kid hadn't
been aware that
men were actually
working on things
in this manner. It
seemed quite
to me. Yet, no
one mentioned a
thing, You'd enter
the house, ground
floor, entry doorway.
There'd be a flat
floor, a room off
to the left, and
a small guest
or visitor bathroom
to the right, and
then, through,
if you did, was
another large
rear room, the
steps to the
'basement' were
on the right
(but only maybe
six steps, it not
going deep down
at all), and, way
off to the left,
the doorway
that went into
the car-garage.
Back at the front
doorway, by that
bathroom, at
the right was
a set of steps,
maybe six,
which went up
to what amounted
to a 'half' (split)
level  -  which
held the 'main'
sitting room
(more formal
than below)
another social
room, and a
kitchen and
dining area. It
was not a 'floor'
by itself, only,
instead, a half
floor, of these
rooms. Spinning
around, another
six steps up
(another 'half-floor'
riser) brought
you up, another
half-floor, to a
few bedrooms,
a partial connecting
hallway, and
another bathroom,
large, with tub
and shower and
all that, with
space. So what
had been done,
breaking the
volumes up,
messing with the
space, by hanging
'half' of it right,
and left, was
essentially three
levels in the space
of two. In no way,
shape, or form
were these three-story
homes; they defied
those sorts of
categories. They
were, as was said,
'split-levels.' They
were 'making' space
where none had
existed, by suspending
a fiction, though real
of 'space' between
two others. Suspended
space between two
others to make a
third. (The key was
the short-steps, 5 or
6 each, that brought
you to the half-level).
It was all the 'level of
of concept, and it was,
or seemed almost
meticulously miraculous.
I could not grasp it.
My form of thinking
did not encompass
these aspects of the
technical reality
by which these
nearly illusionary
tricks were played
-  and though they
were acceptable,
none of them fit
within my box
of thinking. I
didn't want it
to, and it never
did. I fought it
all my life. You
cannot make
physical 'space'
between space.
If you could,
then anything
was possible.
Perhaps that
was to be considered
to the good. The
funniest thing is,
as an artist, I
'make' space,
now, wherever
I please, and
would never have
thought I'd be in
the same sort
of situation.
Compounding matters 
further, not so long 
after, in learning-time 
anyway, perhaps a 
year or a little more, 
I found out some 
information about 
Thomas Edison 
that also twisted 
my mind. Routine 
stuff, just reading 
things about him. 
They always tried 
to make a normal 
guy out of Edison, 
but he was a bit 
of a whack. (There 
will be more on this 
upcoming; his rants 
with Tesla, and all 
that competition). 
But for now, this story
stays here. It always 
started with that 
sentimental tale of 
the 18-year old 
Edison saving a 
little deaf boy 
who didn't hear 
the train coming, 
along some rugged 
Ohio prairie or 
something, and 
yanked him heroically 
from the tracks, just 
in time. I always 
found that odd, in
 that the idea of 
'deafness' was aptly 
worked into the story 
about Edison, who'd 
invented 'sound' 
devices, phonographs 
and talking dolls and 
all that. It sounded 
like a plant, an 
insertion to make 
the Edison story 
work  -  in the same 
way that the story 
of Jesus, the kid, 
teaching the synagogue
elders who were 'amazed,' 
also always sounded 
to me. Part of his 
crazy plan, about 
1889, was to have 
the Statue of Liberty 
'talk' to the incoming 
harbor ship, 'welcoming' 
them in. Bizarre. 
Anyway, at that time 
Western Union had 
hit it big, there were 
telegraph lines 
everywhere, and 
the stereotypical 
telegraph guy (always 
men, at first) was 
a surly, tobacco-chewing, 
curse-prone character, 
(for business purposes, 
Western Union later 
changed all that, 
and brought in 
women too  -  a la 
'telephone operators 
and switchboard girls' 
which would also 
come to be in a 
few year's time). 
Western Union, getting 
wind of what things 
Edison was up to, 
gave him a big, 
steady contract, 
lots of money (thus, 
Menlo Park, his research 
village, etc), to do 
whatever he chose, 
and keep doing it, 
inventing  -  for 
them. Stock ticker-tape 
machine improvements, 
sound (audio) devices 
(as building rose higher 
in the cities, the need 
for messengers and 
elevators constantly 
running up and 
down with new info 
had become a nuisance. 
Eventually, communication 
lines were installed, 
and no more such 
messengers needed), 
the replacement of 
dangerous arc-lighting 
with 'cleaner' electric 
lights, etc.  Lots of 
things. What bugged 
Edison was that, at 
first, only one 
message at a time 
could be sent on a 
telegraph wire. 
(That's basic, makes 
sense to me). He 
wanted a way where 
two messages could 
be going, concurrently, 
and then, it went to 
four, back and forth, 
etc.  -  and he 
developed all that 
(somehow) expanded 
electric impulse stuff, 
within telegraph 
wires, to the 
point where lots 
of messages were 
always flowing. 
That's where I stopped 
dead. That word 
again BAFFLED! 
Just as split-level 
homes had messed 
with my concepts 
of space and presence 
and location, so too 
this entire wire and 
multi-message thing. 
I could not conceive 
of the idea, still don't. 
I simply cannot think 
in those criteria, or 
terms, of what's 
sent down. 
New York City 
was the capital of 
all this stuff  -  
buildings, words, 
letters, money, info, 
flying around 
everywhere. I'd 
walk in  a daze,
through this crazy,
sideways, Tower of
I sometimes felt 
like Lenny Bruce, 
who was a 1950's 
and 60's comedian 
who was always in 
trouble, for obscenity, 
foul routines, taking 
on revered characters, 
etc. Arrested, jailed, 
etc., numerous times. 
New York, San 
Francisco, and 
more. By the end 
he had become a 
one-note comedian, 
using his legal troubles, 
on stage, as his material, 
for drug and alcohol-fueled 
rants and routines that 
were no longer much 
funny and that people
didn't want to much 
hear of. I felt like that  
-  couldn't get off 
the subject of this 
stuff, it was withering. 
And here I am going 
on about it again : 
space; illusion; 

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