“Corny Stuff”

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.

It goes:


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.

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I wonder…

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Did she get the experimental 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 smiled and why?

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speaking of favourites…

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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
starts.
but in supermarkets
laundromats
cafes
street corners
bus stops
eating places
drug stores
I can look at their bodies
and their faces
and their clothing—
watch the way they walk
or stand
or what they are doing.
I’m like an x-ray machine
I like them like that:
on view.
I imagine the best things
about them.
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
all
caught alive together
and awkward in that way.

there’s nothing better than the joke
of us
the seriousness of us
the dullness of us
buying stockings and carrots and gum
and magazines
buying birth control
candy
hair spray
and toilet paper.

we should build a great bonfire
we should congratulate ourselves on our
endurance

we stand in long lines
we walk about
we wait.

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
seriously
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
bag

that’s lightning enough

the generals and the doctors may kill us
but we have
won.

59 Cents a Pound

2020 The Perfect Storm

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so here we are many of us clearheaded and confident with a common sense finding the whole thing absurd with some of us articulating it to ourselves and others while the lunacy keeps escalating—and it doesn’t matter how eloquent and conversant we wax things do not seem to improve much—our collective consciousness is just too neurotic and dim to break into a smile unmasked and enlighten—intelligent speech alters not a dot in the course of governments have the final say no matter how ludicrous the measures they mandate and impose on their own substrate the citizens

but in a way this is the perfect storm—when all the control freaks come out the woodwork and all them fear-stricken righteous drones who borrow their spine and their marrow from rules and regulations and institutions of government get all exposed—as only the soul-deficient guilt-ridden lemmings feel the need to virtue signal and holier than thou their willfully blind way through the china shop of other people’s conscience

this is the real plague we are up against—a spiritual disease—it is we who’ve been the problem all along—not a nasty little beastie but we—we who want ourselves be shepherded and protected from the latest iteration and incarnation of some trumped up obnoxious phantom—we who let ourselves be discouraged from being simply honest and true and relying on our common sense and intuition—and embrace our inevitable and ineluctable lot—of exposure to Transience and Contingency

and so here we are in the rumbling belly of 2020—with the emerging phase shift where invited we are to lighten up and realize who we actually are and what we actually stand for—as we no longer want to continue to stand for hypocrisy and pretense and be the victim of our fears

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nothing out of the ordinary this—no—we grow—our humanity evolves—and while in the past it used to take the form of wars now it takes the form of a global hoax

this is the way it always goes: on the eve of a new spurt of growth we contract—for who knows how long—hopefully not beyond our lifetime though

Attention Quarantined

You become what you agree to attend to.

And your freedom turns on it.

Literally.

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Effort of attention is … the essential phenomenon of will.

William James

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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.

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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.

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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

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Which reminds me of a profound poem by A. R. Ammons—which arrested my attention the very first time I read it:

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ATTENTION

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Down by the bay I

kept in mind

at once

the tips of all the rushleaves

and so

came to know

balance’s cost and true:

somewhere though in the whole field

is the one

tip

I will someday lose out of mind

and fall through.

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Remember

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

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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

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those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

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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
seeks average

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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

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like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

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their finest art

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Charles Bukowski

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People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

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If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

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If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

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The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

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Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

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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.

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People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

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What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

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People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

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Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

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Kent M. Keith

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