“It’s strange how the simple things in life go on while we become difficult.” —Richard Brautigan
One of my favourite pieces of writing by Charles Bukowski comes from his correspondence with Sheri Martinelli.
It’s a short account of his haemorrhoidectomy and it’s quintessential Buk.
the month of March is over. I went into the hospital on the 2nd., was sliced on the 3rd., and there was a bit of horror and disbelief—locked in with the whining crowd. and their T.V. sets and many of them with imagined ills, only wanting the great Mother because society has cut their balls off and they have lost touch with the undiscovered and important gods. no souls—just mouths, bodies pewking the misery of the sell-out. the bit of pain from the knives was nothing compared to being locked-in with them! at least on the job, you know that in a dozen hours you will be walking down the street alone—4 a.m.—with the last of the moon sinking into your skin and bones, the quiet air giving you no con-game… you slowly fill again, you go home. the mirror is hell, but that’s where you came from. but there’s always that stirring inch LEFT! that something you held all the way through. a seed. a lucky charm. love. guts. spinach. you name it. you know it. but in a hospital—that’s it. they’ve got you—(the docs and the nurses and the patients)—to talk to, fondle, slice, arrg. but I found me a little Mexican mop-up girl—all eyes and sadness, we had some laughs, corny stuff, I’d say, “Hey sweetie, you come to mop my white socks again?” “do they need it?” “oh yeah, once lightly!” and the little wench mopped my socks again! laughing. I always seem to meet these little Mexican girls working at dirty jobs, for nothing. beautifully real and easy. “If I could get out of this bed I’d chase you all around the room!” “why don’t you try it, you might catch me!” silly stuff, I guess. she’s 25 years younger than I am. old horny goat, Buk. but a lift. sure. she brought me a new pair of stockings when I left, threw them on my chest. “here! for your big stinky feet!” I didn’t have the guts to ask for her whereabouts when she wasn’t working.
Note: the Mexican mop-up girl he talks about is around 75 years old today—if she is still around somewhere.
Did she get the COVID jab?
Where does she live?
Does she remember Buk?
Does she have kids?
What is her go to ice cream flavor?
When was the last time she laughed and about what?
speaking of favourites…
I like to prowl ordinary places
and taste the people—
from a distance.
I don’t want them too near
because that’s when attrition
but in supermarkets
I can look at their bodies
and their faces
and their clothing—
watch the way they walk
or what they are doing.
I’m like an x-ray machine
I like them like that:
I imagine the best things
I imagine them brave and crazy
I imagine them beautiful.
I like to prowl the ordinary places.
I feel sorry for us all or glad for us
caught alive together
and awkward in that way.
there’s nothing better than the joke
the seriousness of us
the dullness of us
buying stockings and carrots and gum
buying birth control
and toilet paper.
we should build a great bonfire
we should congratulate ourselves on our
we stand in long lines
we walk about
I like to prowl ordinary places
the people explain themselves to me
and I to them
a woman at 3:35pm
weighing purple grapes on a scale
looking at that scale very
she is dressed in a simple green dress
with a pattern of white flowers
she takes the grapes
puts them carefully into a white paper
that’s lightning enough
the generals and the doctors may kill us59 Cents a Pound
but we have
what’s more interesting than the polarization intensifying in the global culture right now is the fact that there seems to be two major types of humans—each with their strengths (virtues) and weaknesses (sins). while some of us lean more toward socialism others of us tend more toward individualism. apparently.
the problem with communism and socialism (as I see it) is that it is based on the dynamics of codependence: wherein the parties are at the mercy of those who become the dominant members of the group; and the problem with individualism is that it is based on the psychology of separation and distrust.
in codependence the parties can abuse each other to the extent they are reliant on one another. in independence the individual is left to their own limited devices and is exposed to the elements.
these are the psycho-energetic poles we are magnetized toward when operating from existential anxiety. we either seek solace in the crowd or in the illusion of control of a self-directed life.
. . .
polarity is not something to be resolved, though. polarity is a creative tension or force that drives development and growth.
in a way we were all waiting for the present stir of events. that’s why it’s here. and all that we can do is embrace for impact.
precisely what we are aching to do.
You become what you agree to attend to.
And your freedom turns on it.
Effort of attention is … the essential phenomenon of will.William James
The way Social Media can in effect anti-socialize us and Smart technologies dumb us down is the way that our capacity for discerning attention is under great threat in the Black Hole Glut of the Attention (=Distraction) Economy.
And it all happens when we have no distinct idea about who we actually are and what we actually stand for.
Absent clarity of intent and intuitive self-reliance we’re bound to forfeit our agency and to defer to what (ever) is being curated for us.
Free will then is not exempt from causes and conditions but is rather the flexible coordination of attention, intention and emotion in skillful action. That’s what it means to be free from a psychological and phenomenological perspective.Evan Thompson
Which reminds me of a profound poem by A. R. Ammons—which arrested my attention the very first time I read it:
Down by the bay I
kept in mind
the tips of all the rushleaves
came to know
balance’s cost and true:
somewhere though in the whole field
is the one
I will someday lose out of mind
and fall through.
“Honesty’s on short supply and we subsist on mendacities in times of grave crises. We cannot afford such luxuries as truth or common sense in drastic times.”Norman Spineles
they are worse than zombies. they are holier than thouing their willfully blind way through the china shop of your conscience.
The meek shall inherit the earth.
all that the meek can accomplish is be weak
and thus a vehicle for evil.
it’s only the little wild
open their heart a little wide.
“This is the battle against a veritable world sickness which threatens to infect the peoples, a plague that devastates whole peoples… an international pestilence.”
Guess who said this.
Hint: guy was a germaphobe who suffered from colitis—which steered him to adopt a “healthy” vegetrian diet toward the end of his life.
Meditation practice that doesn’t arise spontaneously (or comes to one organically) might only add to the stressload of everyday life.
Same goes, probably, for yoga and exercises of all sorts.
Which reminds me of good intentions—paving the road to the proverbial hell—and a great quote by Robert A. Heinlein:
“Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil.”
I’m not sure about the ‘always’ in that sentence but goodwill has indeed proven to be quite slippery a virtue over the last century.
What exactly is the connection there? Well, try and figure it out. The key word is spontaneous and organic . . . as opposed to programmatic.
I created a short flipbook that samples some of the koolest lines I’ve encountered in movies. If you’d like to flip through CLICK HERE!
there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day
and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace
those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love
beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect
like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
their finest art
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
.Kent M. Keith