HEART OF IMAGINATION i hear african birds in the sweet afternoon excess….they remind me of many things, most of them way too ludicrous to discuss here….one that i’ll talk about happened to me when i was with tom peters. we were in north dakota, driving east, from montana to minnesota. the only way to get there is through north dakota. north dakota was one of my least memorable experiences. the only reason i bring it up now to comment on its utter lack of things to say about it. i think brenda lee is from there. brenda lee. — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com
Y’know what I think? Man, you DON’T wanna know….I got a head fulla ideas that, if I told ya, well, they’d bust yer brain. And you don’t want that to happen. This friend of mine, Fat Louie, busted his brain one time on account of having too much – way, WAY too much – information about a situation that he was – or wasn’t – depending upon your perspective, which I’ve heard – and – don’t get me wrong, friend – this is just hearsay – kind of HEARD IT THROUGHT THE GRAPEVINE stuff, y’know? Anyway, back to Fat Louie. We all got a friend like Fat Louie. Well, not EXACTLY like Louie, but somebody who is our friend but can’t be trusted completely, no, not really. He’s always late or owes you money that he’s always promising you he’s gonna pay back, but that day never seems to roll around. He’s always hanging out in the coffee shop I go to, doing nothing, really, just sitting on his fat ass and doing nothing, making small talk with no meaning or purpose, just a run-on sentence in pants. I always sorta wanna read him the riot act – tell him TO GET IT TOGETHER, thinking that being harsh with the dude’d somehow set him straight, but on second thought, knowing that no matter how severe I get with him, it’s not gonna really matter, that it’d be like hitting a dead dog with a stick. I feel sorry for Fat Louie. I really do. Never made anything of himself. Just sits around in his track suit and says to anybody who’ll listen HOW YA DOIN? All day long. That’s his gig! And when the place closes, hell if I know what he does. At least when he was a kid, he could hang out with his friends, who’re all probably losers like him. In fact I KNOW they are. They hang out at the coffee shop too. Shorts in the summer, wool hat in the winter. Like I’m any different. Like I’m any better. I put my pants on one leg at a time. I wonder who invented this saying? It’s thoughts like this that make me feel like I have too many ideas. I honor this feeling. I wonder what it’s like NOT to honor your feelings. Are there people that do this? Imagine your self-esteem being so low that you can’t muster the energy to even honor your feelings. Your energy level must be pretty low. In fact, maybe you have NO energy. But if you had no energy, how could you be alive? You’d be a zombie, like those guys in THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Fat Louie is pretty close to these guys, energy-wise. I hate to admit this, on account of him being my friend. Like I said, I feel sorry for him, Hell, I feel bad about a lotta stuff besides Louie. Don’t get me started.
They say the truth shall set you free, but sometimes I wonder. I’m not saying I think this is wrong, just that I PONDER its truth. Uncertainty. What a waste of energy. If this, that the truth will set you free, is wrong, then the fact that the truth will enslave you MUST be the case. Don’t we all feel like this sometimes – that honesty is the WORST policy. Sometimes, being honest doesn’t get you anywhere except the emergency room with a broken jaw, your mouth wired shut, drinking pureed food out of a straw. Me and my big mouth. My mouth ain’t so big now now that it’s wired shut. This is the way it is sometimes. Nobody said it’d be fair. Sometimes the joke is that there ISN’T one, and to find THAT funny, well, that takes some fortitude. Life is full of unfunny jokes, each one with humor that is bleaker than the next. It upsets me that this is the way it is, I mean this is the way it is FOR ME, but the way we feel about stuff IS subjective, and despite our knowledge that the universe doesn’t revolve around us, the fact is that it DOES. Now I don’t pretend to understand the false logic here – hell, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Someone reading this is probably disgusted by this crap, disgusted by the fact that this is how I spend my time now. I don’t blame them – it disgusts me, too. But disgusting stuff is part of life, and it seems that there’s a lot more unpleasant and monotonous stuff out there than cool stuff. This just seems the way it is. Hell, I didn’t make the rules. Hell, I can’t even BREAK the rules. The sun goes down. The sun comes up. Repeat as needed. Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it? The doctor will be in in a minute, and, if your vital signs are as good as they were yesterday, you can leave the hospital. And I see no reason why this won’t be the case. You’ve been a good boy. You’ve followed his instructions. You’ve followed all the rules. And you shall be rewarded for your diligence. I’m thinking about promoting you. Yes, you’ll be given more responsibility. Yes, you’ll have to work harder. But you’ll get a significant pay raise, and the perks that come with this promotion, well, let’s just say that there’re a lot of people out there that’d give their eye teeth to be in your shoes. And some day, who knows? You might be made a partner – a managing partner – imagine that? Won’t that make your folks proud? Wouldn’t that make all the sweat worth it? This – success – is, after all, what it’s all about. Winning. Just rewards. The good life. Easy Street. Money in the bank, the best schools for your kids, the right clubs, the right clothes. First class. Nothing’s too good for my boy. Always knows the right thing to say. Always buys the perfect gift. Never forgets his anniversary. Perfect manners. A perfect gentleman. A GREAT dinner guest. A great dancer. Know how to hold his liquor. Never speaks out of turn. Always a kind word. Considerate. Generous. Goes to church every Sunday. Always does the right thing. Very fair. Plays hard, but clean. Takes his punishment like a man. Lives to fight another day. Gets back on the horse. A good neighbor. Always on time for work. — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com
My day began with a feeling that today would NOT be the best of all possible worlds. F. Scott Fitzgerald said THERE ARE NO SECOND ACTS IN AMERICA, but his statement is widely misunderstood. Most people – including me, up til today, when I read an article about him – thinks this means that our brilliance is followed by eternal darkness. This is not what he was saying at all. What he DID mean relates to the idea of the classic three-act dramatic arc, specifically pertaining to tragedies, in that the second act sets up a conflict which results in the tragic results which are portrayed in the third act. What Fitzgerald was saying is that in America there IS no second act – we traverse from our lives as we wish them to be to our lives a utter catastrophe with no transition – with no mitigation. My day began in blissful ignorance of his sentiment. Camus said that YOU WILL NEVER BE HAPPY IF YOU CONTINUE TO SEARCH FOR WHAT HAPPINESS CONSISTS OF. YOU WILL NEVER LIVE IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE MEANING OF LIFE. Like he knew what he was talking about. I mean the guy just sat on his ass in some cafe in Paris smoking cigarettes in that snobby way that the French have of holding their cigarettes, wearing a beret and acting like he was better than everybody else. He had a superiority complex, him and Sartre and all those other damned French existentialist intellectuals, riding around on bicycles and carrying baguettes and smoking Galouises and carrying on endlessly, spouting bon mot after bon mot, hangers-on fascinated – just FASCINATED – by their intellectual tidbits and breadcrumbs, just damn pontificating their moral superiority and the wisdom of their insights. Camus. Makes me sick. Ever read THE PLAGUE? Bunch of nonsense if you ask me. BUT WHO’S ASKING ME? It doesn’t matter, cos I’m writing this drivel, and you’re dumb enough to read it. I’m sorry – did I insult you just now? I beg your forgiveness. Can we get closure here? Can I get a witness? I think I’m getting off the subject. This is a constant here, so I guess I’M STICKING TO THE SUBJECT JUST FINE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Did you ever see ANIMAL HOUSE? I ask that for no particular reason. The world is divided into two camps – those that’ve seen ANIMAL HOUSE and those that haven’t. For those that’ve seen ANIMAL HOUSE, the world is divided into two further camps – those that liked it and those that didn’t. ANIMAL HOUSE is like a night where you close your windows and the sky becomes a crystal house where the windows glow and the moon shines through them, through the whole house and a single star beams down on a crystal cable and draws a line through the earth.
The talk we had between us is etched upon my brain. Conversing is like horse-shoes played while waiting for a bus, say in southeastern Oklahoma or time spent watching paint dry or visiting Algiers. Fine. I’ll take my boots and latch on to a new idea, one that clouds my room. Ramma-lamma-ding-dong. Anyway, the truth is, you tear me up with laughter. I laugh until I get it right. The door stretches out forever, as we’ll be gone into the ovoid horizon with Agonistes. Can you blame me? I started out at the end. But don’t get me wrong, my friend, no, I blame you not at all. For I am an old, disheveled crustacean, and my days are ordered and posted in effigy. For if not you, the chances are that I would take a powder and wind up like the devil or Dr. Frankenstein, planning for the end of days and thinking, Ain’t that fine? Dig that sonic asylum, that newfangling death star, that acrimonious battey on yon senses, yonder lies the mizzenmast of cornucopia, of Fellini excess and antipodean profundity. But you and I, we’ve been through that and know it isn’t true. Yes, we’re like a tenor solo that makes me think of Oklahoma.
“Ahhh…those memories of Sonny Liston,”, I thought, as I slid on my crankcase-soaked jeans on the linoleum once again and, getting up, stammered to my kitchen to fix coffee. The journey would be a hard one – yes, many hard miles, on hard gravel roads. Of course, I hyperbolize. The journey to my kitchen was much shorter in reality. I had conjectured that the state of my life was as it really existed but it appeared not so as I imagined that its wider definition which really included everything that had been and was currently whether or not I observed it or comprehended it was a still further definition which included everything I’d thought existed or every would and any philosopher or mathematician that I ran into who had dimbly and atavistically chanelled Aristotle or Plato or Wittgenstein could’ve made a distinction between thought corresponding to my reality and my coherent abstraction (thoughts of things that are imaginable but not real) and what I could ever rationally think. Sonny Liston, my memories of him, had become a kind of shibboleth. Yes, yes – I know – shibboleth is not the right word. Mantra. Are you happy now? Can I now use shibboleth, and you and I now know that it’s not the right term, but can we use it as a kind of password for mantra?