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?
“Yes, yes – I think I understand,” I said, but I really didn’t, really, my mind clogged ambiguously and cogged jaggedly and intermittently and haphazardly – yes, haphazardly, the onlookers reported to the authorities later, when they, the authorities, were taking their statements in the sadistic dusk, that growing darkness of the gathering madness, the spectacle too much for words, yes too much, too much. There was this one spectator, a pig-faced man, overweight, with circular sunglasses, sweating profusely even though it was quite cool, who gaggled verbosely to all in earshot, drawing grotesque analogies and gesticulating in a way most repulsive and repugnant, as if he and he alone were fit to characterize the happening as if it were his own little private fiefdom, like some petty despot Leopold in his nauseating Congo, enslaving and torturing the natives, squeezing rubber trees shamelessly and avidly like some gluttonous drunk, visioning his bureaucratic hell like it was a charm that could be controlled by he and he alone. The truth is, I had no motivation to understand all this jabbering gibberish – no more than a turkey is motivated to understand why his head is about to be chopped off. OK, I’ll admit this analogy is a bit severe. Bur decapitation *is *severe in its finality, in its *closure*, in its zero-sumness. I don’t thing *zero-sum* makes a whole heap of sense here, but you get my meaning, my* gestalt*. I am irritated to the point of criticality at pettiness, especially when it comes to the kind of burgeois bureaucracy that we’re subjected too much too often in our over-regulated, dumbed-down society, a society where pablummy infotainment passes for culture, where *American Idol* has replaced Dostoevsky. You get my point. Where can I get some napalm?
It happened before I knew what hit me. I was on the outskirts of town, the sun dying in late afternoon, the sky a gray-purple. It happened so very suddenly, with such gale force, with such ferocity and velocity and, well, with such cataclysm, such momentum, with such vituperation, with such lightning-like alacrity, with such mongoose-quick whipsnap teleology, with such endemic force, with such pedantic voltage that it pooled the blood suddenly into my hypothalamus with such acceleration, with such gathering intensity, that a feeling of dread was not even a possibility. But dread is a waste of time; dread is for fools. But we cannot afford to be foolish. I knew someone who tried being a professional fool, and all it got him was an MBA from Harvard Business School. Now he’s the CEO of IBM, and is he *happy*? For what, after all, *is* happiness? Can it be measured, like angels dancing on the head of a pin? I say it can, and this is proven by research, published in the finest of peer-reviewd scientific journals, the type read by guys smoking briar pipes at their Mensa meetings. They say that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. They say all things shall pass. They say time heals. They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. They say patience is a virtue. They say a lot of things. But who *are *they? I think they are aliens, or holograms of ourselves minus our souls, our spirits – that which makes us human and humane, not mewling, vengeful beasts who spend *way *too much time in the house of pain, being wantonly vivisected by Dr, Moreau when he’s not playing pinochle or skeeball or some other game that nobody plays anymore. My reaction was more an atavistic reflex than some emotional reaction. It reminded me of the time when I was in California when the Arab hit me with an umbrella. “You are just like my wife!” he hissed, as he whacked me over the head. It reminded me of the time I broke his finger when I punched David Nussbaum. It reminded me of when they told me to be quiet and I wouldn’t shut up. This was back in ’62, the summer that Marilyn Monroe killed herself. It reminded me of many things, most of them ugly and visceral and all too palpable. I recalled people that were dead now, Jim and Hunter and Richard and Ellie and Santo and Irwin and my father and Jane Winsor. You see, my memories of Dr. Moreau caused my hindbrain to do back-flips and loop-de-loops, and pinballed into a seemingly endless cascade of distorted, fun-house visions of *Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein*. Hell, I can’t explain why this was. Perhaps my analyst can. But he’s on sabbatical in Iceland – or so he says. You see, Dr. Praetorius can’t be trusted. He is shamelessly unethical and disingenuous. Of course he is – would I be treated by any other kind of shrink? He practices a particular dark type of voodoo that he learned in Sierra Leone when he was a war correspondent for the peace corps. Then I looked down at the sidewalk and up at a hawk chasing pigeons.
———- Forwarded message ———- From: Jon Sarkin <email@example.com> Date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014 at 9:18 PM Subject: To: michael digregorio <firstname.lastname@example.org> The door flew open to the sound of a boot breaking wood and glass. I knew immediately that this was not a good way to start my day. The intruder, I deduced, was not the bearer of good tidings. As I prepared for the sound of the boot breaking my jaw, a very specific thought, I recall, ran through my brain. It was like a cataclysmically spiking fever in its suddenness and relentlessness, and, although its imperation was admixed with the kind of noisy urgency that’s found in folks who’ve nothing better to do than plead with people to follow them on social media: e-mail me @ email@example.com! follow me on twiiter @ #getalife! instagram me! pinterest me! etsy me! listen to me on i-tunes! call me on your i-phone! text me! be my friend on facebook! my space me! see my website! see my vine! i don’t know why this flashed in my mind as i awaited the boot to strike my face. it didn’t really seem to matter. at this point, i was gone, really gone, what with the harrowing, nightmarish week i spent in Elko still acid-etched on my head like a rabid wolverine lunging wildly at anything that moves. Does an animal in that state have any neuron that is not on adrenaline-stun, driven, riven haywire like the smell of burning hair or machinery overcranked, smoking a bluegray smoke that spells impending disaster and cacophonic, atavistic disaster. What the hell am I talking about, just stringing together babbling gibberish so that I don’t have to face my bleak future, writing this crap in an obsessive-compulsive jag, waiting for my boot-heels to be following. Yes, friends, the smoke-rings of my embered brain leave a smoking crater of macerated ideas, withered (and withering) concepts, disjointed prophesy, decayed innuendo, deconstructed meanings, lost chords, meaningless syntax, functionless workings, meandering arguments, losing debates, short-end-of-the-stick logic, irrational paradigms, elliptical patterns, and a sort the tie-dyed, patchouli-oily, earth-shoed Aquarian insanity that one might see at Dead concerts circa 1970. Ha-ha, kids! The dream is over! It seems like a dream that we *even* had some sort of dream in the first place. What were we thinking. Because of the dream’s nature, I fear we had no bloody idea. But now we must face *reality*, whatever the hell that is. Me, I’d rather fight than switch. Again, I digress. How many more times? But back to the boot about to crush my mouth. I think I know what this was all about. I knew it was a bad idea to deal with Savage Henry, but I really had no choice. I was out on parole from Chino, and my prospects were limited, dead end. I knew Henry from the old days, and habits like stealing cars die hard. A friend of Henry’s Diamond Dave, was doing a dime at Chino at the same time I was there, so like a fool I looked them both up when I was in Elko. OK, I traveled to Elko for the expressed puropose of hooking up with them. Like I said, I knew the idea of working with them was foul, but my better judgment went out the window, disappearing with the west wind like so many geese. Jesus, did I just say that? Or did I just *think* I did? Flashbacks are impossible to lose – I guess that’s why there called flashbacks, They’re always gnawing at your sinews. Just when you think they’re gone forever, the remissions erupts into a fulminating wart of psychic queasiness. — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com
———- Forwarded message ———- From: Jon Sarkin <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 8:37 PM Subject: To: michael digregorio <email@example.com> as i arrived at my studio, i saw cefalo standing in front of the caffe. a pleasantly unpleasant fellow, possibly unpleasantly pleasant. is there a difference? do i have to choose? is this what it’s come down to? cefalo would never understand this semantic hairsplitting. or perhaps he would. the more atavistic one is, it seems, the more proclivity he has for nuanced wordplay. for example, i forgot my keys, and when i went back into the house, i saw my turtle reading “war and peace.” i can’t say i was all that surprised, but what *did *was that he was wearing my wife’s reading glasses. how did he put them on? — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com