Monuments of the Lower Mur

On those odd moments in the small hours when I haven’t been able to sleep I have been reading Robert Smithson interviews. When I was younger I did this with Carl Jung. Which led to interesting lucid dreaming experiences.

Earlier today I was wandering along the building work on the new hydroelectric facility on the River Mur, observing the earthworks and construction work, having a little internal conversation with Bob Smithson’s ghost as I walked.

He would have been an unusually informed walking partner: local geology, tectonic strata and the like would have punctuated the space (or non-site). His Monuments of Passaic is filled with these sorts of concerns about edgelands and new sorts of unregarded (sub)urban spaces. But we would have had common cause comparing notes on such matters as the use of river paths for local cyclists on Central Park and the Grand Union Canal. Their ideal and historical uses compared with contemporary deployment.

I crossed the river at the third completed hydroelectric dam down towards Feldkirchen, near the airport. Bob would have made a half-amused wince at Flughafen Graz, like you see on statues of saints, carrying the emblems of their martyrdom. His death in a helicopter accident almost fifty years ago still not quite comfortable. I’m unsure how he’d react to the Roman ruin on the landing strip; his concerns were usually more Mayan than European.

We could disagree on that at the Hells Angels bar just up the road over a quiet Puntigamer or two.

Morning Aphorisms

  • Appeals to human nature too often act as an affirmation of our limitations; a catalogue of what we don’t have. They represent a failure to step out into the dark, go down to the 24 hour garage, and bring back ice lollies and a packet of Rizlas for everyone.

  • Dirty Harry tells us that a man has to know his limitations. However when one’s limitations are the six chambers of one’s revolver, the inability to follow department procedure, and a disinclination to observe suspect’s rights, there is a deliberate arbitrariness in operation.

  • There are times that one must say to the human spirit, “dammit, Harry!” and demand its badge and gun, and tell it that it is off the case, and that’s final. There are times that the human spirit shd take the rest of the day off. Make it the rest of the week!

    (Yeah, I know I’ve elided human nature and the human spirit here, but bear with me, I got the district attorney on the line giving me hell over the handling of this case. He wants to see results. Yesterday.)

  • When the Buddha tells us that if they don’t have a choc ice at the garage he’s fine without; he totally expects us to go a mile further up the street to the Esso where they have a bigger range or frozen products. However, when the Buddha comes out of our bedroom, and our wife is in the bed wearing nothing but a cheeky grin; everything is exactly as it seems.

    These are the two types of truth and we can only know them through direct apprehension of the Buddha nature.

  • When the Lord said, “set aside yr ox and yr ass, leave yr home and family, even unto the third generation – no, you can’t quickly take a wee before we go – and come with me.” Turns out he was being a total dick because trains are only one an hour & we’d missed the previous one.

    (Final one is the variant on the previous one found in Gospel of Thomas from the Nag Hammadi fragments)

  • The Lord said, “leave yr ox and yr ass, yr father and mother, yr brothers and elders, and come with me. Oh, and bring yr sister and yr battery-powered bong, there’s a good lad!”

Pointillisme

Turned out that pointillisme wasn’t for me. Words suggest themselves to you to accept or reject. You put in the hours for a while. Am I a pointilliste? You make a thousand dots. A thousand more. Zali Krishna – pointilliste, is that a thing? You put it back down again. Why is there even that frenchified e at the end? It wasn’t you.

Avoids the obvious pun and moves on.

Other broader words assail you on yr way from place to place. Happiness. Freedom. Am I happy? You try on a smile and walk it around the place. Happy Krishna, is that what they’ll call me? It becomes a lot to live up to. I want to be free of that. Am I a free man? You become quite unhappy with the expectation of it.

Humming Me & Bobby McGee for a bit helps. At least you know y’re not Janis Joplin.

If you could become free of words that grasp, without that being a conceptual conceit in itself, well, y’know… that’d be alright, wouldn’t it?

Behind the Mask

I’m fairly convinced that my conscious and unconscious swapped over. Some time in the late 90s. It’s probably not such an uncommon occurrence. It’s less dramatic than it sounds: it was most likely just agreed that the unconscious was doing most of the driving in any case. I think I can even pinpoint the exact weekend when it happened. There’s not really space to go into the details here, and in practice it probably makes little difference, but it might explain why the nonexistence of the unconscious has recurred so much in my writing.

Sure, it looks pretty alarming in narrative terms: so what am I?

This creature from the psyche who ambushed a twentysomething Zali Krishna and ate him?

I mean for one thing that creature is also Zali Krishna, and for another it was over twenty years ago: you never met the guy! Because of course this is only a way of talking about the thing. For someone else with a different model of the self, they might describe it as the day they accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Whatever works really. No-one asks what happens to the unredeemed residue of christian.

I find it interesting that in German the word for “christian” is “Christ”. You literally become a Christ. A eschatological singularity, a noosphere, where at the End of Time everyone is Christ. In those terms it makes PKD’s little amphetamine cosmologies seems pretty tame.

To return to the original problem: if it’s about explaining what you are, this swapover between conscious and unconscious is a useful device.

Do I feel like an animal? No.
A machine? Not quite.
An angel? Not today.
The guy who crept out of my own head to fix stuff? That fits.

And what happened to Zali Krishna from the twentieth century who you replaced, you thieving bastard?

Uh, as far as I can make out, he’s eating crisps and reading magazines. Is there something he can help you with? He’s pretty busy at the moment.