» » I hesitate to use the term "solitary" to describe the time I spent in jail .. because I did such a short span. (Four days. Friday to Tuesday.) In other words, I dont want to insult the man who has done decades. (Yes, decades.)
.. to fill in my thoughts and observations under that very heading ..
And also because you might consider life aboard a nuclear submarine anything but private. Anything but solitary. With 150 dudes .. up close & personal. So that represents the expanse of my experience. My range. Respectable, no?
So I feel like I can provide nicely nuanced perspectives. Either way, I am stoked about it.
Oh, this is an interesting development.
Yes, I was alone during my most recent visit, but I would call that 'isolated,' not alone. Yet I specifically tried to monitor myself .. to observe how the isolation was affecting me ..
.. to be aware, conscious, whatever term you care to call it when you are checking up to see whether you are freaking out ..
.. especially after what that dude told me about his experience.
"When They Opened the Door, I Exploded Out & Started Crying"
So let me tell you about the dude I met during my first time. To be honest, I forget his name. He had been in before, and he was sorta showing me the ropes, which is nice. Cuz he was good at it.
Tho he snored like a volcano for 20 hours a day. And when my coffee headache came, it was not pretty. Not in that concrete-n-stainless echo chamber. Not hardly.
If a representative from the Guinness Book of Records had been walking by our cell during that time, I am confident that he would have felt compelled to award us some certificate-of-achievement.
He told me how he had previously done six days in solitary and he was so freaked out by the experience that when they finally let him out .. he "exploded" out and started crying. Like it fucked him up.
That's seems to conflict with the notion of inmate isolation, no? I mean, I can't imagine many inmates calling their isolation a gift. Can you?
Kafka's Yoga Quote & Jesus' Prayer Closet
There is also a passage here, where Jesus tells his disciples to go into their 'closet and shut the door' to pray. He didnt specifically say to go in there alone, but that is the inference that I get.
The Perpetual 'Dialectic' of Isolated Consciousness
(Gateway to his later masterpieces, beginning with Crime & Punishment and ending with The Brothers Karamazov.)
Notice how Richard Pevear puts quotes around the word dialectic .. because the term normally applies to two or more people holding a conversation or a debate, which they use as a vehicle to try to arrive at the truth.
"Go fuck yourself."
"No, you first. I insist."
I jest, sure. But that's the basic format. "Why do you want me to go fuck myself?" And on we go.
But here with our Underground Man, there is only one (s.o.l.i.t.a.r.y) person .. talking to himself. Like crazy people sometimes do. Hence the quote-marks around the cool word.
Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Dialectical Materialism & Intelligent Sex
It has nothing to do with today's entry (.. that I am aware of, anyway) .. but every time I search for and find the link to the term » dialectics .. I always see the links nearby for the term » dialectical materialism.
If nothing else, being able to discuss the nuances dialectical materialism at a party is probably enough to get you laid. Yes, I am being funny. But only because of the kernel of truth it contains.
I have trouble believing this. I want to stand right in front of him, and watch his eyes carefully and say, "Dude, you read all three volumes? What? A thousand pages? On a train? In the original German?"
Karl Marx was a comtemporary of Dostoevsky. By that I mean he was born a few years before Dostoevsky was born, and he died a few years after Dostoevsky died. He's definitely huge. Historically. Socially. Economically. By any number of metrics.
Pascal Sits Quietly Alone
See here for the quote. Our subject is » solitary. Severe aloneness. Fuck-your-head-up aloneness. Pascal's quote is germane, no? Tho I am fairly certain that he did not mean for decades.
I am going to make this quote #9, by the way, whenever I get around to it.
Sophy Walks Naked at the Edge of a Lunar Landscape » Wanna Watch?
Lastly we have an entire chapter from her book on writers and writing, which Sophy has titled » Aloneness .. which happens to come just-after the chapter on Audience and just-before the one on Money. I'm sure there's a reason for that particular sequence.
This is one of the shortest chapters in the book, after the one titled The Gift. Only a few pages. She offers five quotes, such as this one by Natalie Goldberg, who says » "Anything we fully do is an alone journey."
Here is a little snippet from Sophy herself, taken from this chapter »
"In writing—in creating any art—you are doing one of two things. Either you are walking naked at the edge of a lunar landscape; small and lonely against the far-off stars, or else you're following pitifully in someone else's tracks. Not exploring. Not hurting. Not creating something never done before."
I am not yet sure how I will play her chapter. But I can say that most interesting is how the notion of freedom plays off of solitude.
Especially when you consider how the context of this theme (of solitary-ness) is the polar opposite of what anybody would call freedom. I'm talking about solitary confinement .. just to be mercilessly obvious.
Speaking of mercilessly obvious ..
Did you see the Frontline special on the Vatican? (Released Feb 25. Two weeks ago.)
Oh. My. Gawd. I was raised Catholic and I never knew this stuff.
Why would the pope embrace a known pedophile? That's exactly the question I had myself. Watch the video, yourself. I dare you. I double-dog dare you.
This gives new meaning to the phrase » the system is about the money. I did not think that the sentiment in my earlier entry could get any uglier. I was wrong.
And all this has an interwoven narrative that involves the new pope. The job .. is to put the child-abuse scandal behind. But old ways are entrenched. It is really a battle of epic proportions.
And the side of good has been getting its ass kicked for one decade after another. And this last pope, the one who quit (.. Benedict, real name » Joseph Ratzinger, a German) something that hadnt happened in 600 years .. it was *his* job the bury that thing.
And he failed.
This is why I feel that such a radically different pope was chosen. The first-ever Jesuit. The first non-European pope in many centuries.
It is as tho the Catholic church is saying, "We're willing to try pretty much anything right now. Cuz we been getting our ass kicked by this child abuse sex scandal for so long."
When I heard what the new pope said about gays .. it made me think about what Peter said here.
That is, of course, assuming that your intention is to bring people closer to God .. and not drive them further away.
But I can't. Because he's dead.
Oh, look. This says that Obama is going to the Vatican to meet with the Pope and that he used to attend a Catholic school named » St Francis Asisi .. the new pope's taken name. Interesting coincidence?
And Jesus himself specifically selected Peter as the person to "care for my sheep." A pastor cares for the sheep, no?
So, if Peter is the pattern, how do you get to unmarried? See how that might eliminate a lot of your problems as a haven that appears to attract pedophiles ..
.. for reasons now painfully obvious? It would send a message that you are breaking with the past in a big way.
One of the main reasons I feel that this particular MAN was selected as pope .. and you can probably tell I have been thinking about this stuff ..
.. is because » he has seen how truly nasty and ugly people can be. And how deluded. Self-deluded.
He comes from Argentina. You dont have to research very much about the recent history of Argentina .. to realize that this man has seen some shit.
It almost seems unfortunate that this is what is needed. But desperate situations call for for extraordinary solutions.
Because, if this man can't do it, then who can? Is he not walking on water? .. figuratively speaking.
Cuz to be honest, I kinda feel that Irish people .. for whatever the reason, or perhaps my experiential bias .. I feel Irish folk are more generally genetically disposed to show compassion and express the values we normally associate with christianity (scriptural christianity).
Which I would very much enjoy discussing .. tho now is not that time.
But I can see why a thinking person would choose him.
He has an impossible job.
He is old. Old people tire more easily than young people. But like most of the world, so far, I am impressed. Very. Definitely encouraging.
Okay, update. Looks like the pope is doing » this. What do you think? Chance of success high or low?
I remember when I was very small .. maybe 3 or 4. No more than 5. And a priest CAME TO THE HOUSE .. to bless the eggs at Easter.
I remember liking him .. that there was something about him that a little guy wanted to be around. But he didnt stay for very long and I never had that same feeling for or about any other priest we got. He had a light about him. The others were all dull and muted by comparison.
So I was disappointed in everybody after my first experience. Don't think I didnt keep looking for that same light. Well, for a while, anyway.
.. a Catholic News weekly with international readership [ .. in other words, this is » what he does ] ..
.. hear this very same Robert Mickens say » "Why didnt he [ Pope John Paul II ] just banish him [ Marcial Maciel the pedophile ] ? Why? Because the Legionaries of Christ is a large and very wealthy order and puts LOTS of money into the Vatican coffers."
[ The Legionaries of Christ was founded in '41 by Marcial himself. My intuition tells me that the Christ does not appreciate it when pedophiles use his name as a respectable front to molest young boys. Not at all. ]
Does it not appear that Pope John Paul II was saying (to paraphrase his actions) » "Marcial, long as you keep writing those fat checks, I don't have a problem with you fucking young boys up the ass. Come here and give me a hug, you beautiful coffer-filling boy-fucker."
Welcome to the » Digital Age
Now you might think me silly for even saying such a thing. A no-brainer, this new rule, right?
But you would think wrong. Because the sad thing is » it's not silly. Obviously not.
[ I totally feel like I'm vibing off of Dostoevsky right now. It seems to happen on its own .. as tho I have no control over it. Or maybe it is situational. i am just thinking out loud. About how to get back here on demand. if such a thing is possible. ]
I will tell you a secret. Bad as this child abuse sex scandal is .. and yes, it is very bad .. this is not the thing that turned me away from the Catholic church. No, sir.
Rather, the thing that turned me away from the Catholic church was » my parents. "If this is what it means to be a Catholic, then this isnt for me. I might not know what the answer is .. but I sure as hell know what it isnt."
Dude, I must say .. when I read verses of scripture that talk about » a church "in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle, or any such thing..." .. and then I look at that picture of John Paul II embracing Marcial ..
.. uh, I am not feeling it .. at least, not in a Catholic sort of way. (Or maybe there is a reason .. that Catholics are famous for their guilt.)
I would not characterize this type of behavior as » holding childhood in reverence, no.
Rather, this type of behavior seems to be saying (by the very highest levels) » money is more important than kids. Far more.
Am I saying anything that is not already intuitively obvious? .. to even the most casual of observers.
I dont know how much money Marcial gave you, but I somehow sense that in the long-run it will cost you more than you got. (Much more.)
Not unlike the way Business in the United States has persuaded our politicians » "If you let me fuck and abuse the labor market, I will give you a record-breaking stock market. Here's another campaign contribution."
Because I can see the photo of Pope Francis above .. and then I see the picture of John Paul II where Pope Francis is standing with the microphone ..
.. and the words change to » "If a man is gay and searches for young boys to molest and he gives me lots of money .. who I am to judge?"
» Shouldnt Be That Hard to Figure Out
My mother would stand there, looking at the report card and say » "This is a good report card, honey. The only thing they say is that you dont work up to your ability."
And I would say, "What does that mean?"
And she said, "They don't think you try very hard."
And I would say, "I don't. It's not very hard."
But this here what I'm writing about today .. the way that the Catholic church has handled it .. you would think that it's harder than Chinese arithmetic, no?
In other words .. if you give me a challenge that inspires me .. then I will be able to work up to my ability .. speaking of which...
Values Warped & Seared by the Great Depression
In a way, this is completely understandable.
But it is almost as tho they somehow feel that the only thing that measures your value as a human being are the numbers on the statement from your bank account ..
.. and maybe (by extension) » what you can do for me.
When I took my 89-year old friend for a walk, who was born in '22, and who died a week before his 90th birthday .. when I took him for this walk at the Newport Back Bay .. he told me the story of how his family lost their house during the Depression ..
.. and how they had to move .. to a cramped, little place. In other words, eight decades later, the experience was seared so deeply into his consciousness that when I said, "Tell me something about yourself that I dont know," .. this is what came to mind.
The Writer Behind the Writer
But he pays me no mind and remains focused. But he smiles. Because he finds it encouraging.
"I hope you dont think anybody is taking this seriously," I call out, teasingly.
No response. Laser beam focus.
And I say, "Time for what?"
And he stands up and says, "Time to get this party started."
On the Trail of » Dostoevsky
Speaking of Dostoevsky .. I have been on his trail for quite some time now .. but I have not yet caught up with him. Like Stanley chasing Livingstone thru the heart of Africa.
But I have indeed found signs that he has been this way. Yes, sir.
Let me tell you what I've found. More than just broken branches and footprints.
For me, the most meaningful thing about Dostoevsky can be found on the inside flap of the Everyman copy of The Brothers Karamazov .. which begins
"Dostoevsky's towering reputation as one of a handful of thinkers who forged the modern sensibility .. [ and ends like this » ] .. told with hair-raising intellectual clarity and a feeling for the human condition unsurpassed in world literature."
In particular, note where he says » an unsurpassed feeling for the human condition. I would contend here that you cannot write with a feeling for the human condition if you do not HAVE ONE. (And a very good one at that.)
The fourth paragraph of the [ 16-page ] introduction to this book talks about how one of the more remarkable things about this book is that it speaks fresh to each succeeding generation. .. "like that famous portrait whose eyes seem to follow you around the room."
Yes, I most certainly concur. It feels (somehow) like the book was written JUST TO ME. How can this be? A book written in 1879 and 1880. [ 135 years ago. ]
The novel's introduction [ written by Malcolm V Jones of England, not Pevear the translator ] begins by looking at what makes the Brothers such a classic. He says a lot of shit, of course, but none more awe-inspiring than this »
What are the most ancient paradoxes and preoccupations of humanity? Whatever they are .. they seem to be calling me. Ancient things are very powerful. They must be .. in order to endure so long. This seems to induce a sense of reverence.
Well, here is my take. The reason that it speaks fresh to each succeeding generation is because .. each generation must confront some the same challenges. To a certain degree, the song remains the same ..
.. at least until we get it right.
It was originally published in 1846. That means 168 years later, it still resonates.
Where he says that the principal distinguishing feature of Dostoevsky's major novels (.. this sounds to me like » the thing that makes Dostoevsky Dostoevsky) and the Brothers Karamazov in particular ..
.. which Bakhtin says never happened before Dostoevsky .. is that Dostoevsky gives all of his characters their own voice .. whereas all other writers (merely) give their characters a voice that is subbordinate to that of the author himself.
So it seems that Bakhtin is saying that Dostoevsky says to his characters » "Go do your own thing, and let me know when you're done, and I'll turn loose the next character."
Along these lines I find interesting what Frank says here.
Brunelleschi Puts the Dome On .. Where Other Have Failed
On the subject of working up to one's ability .. let's look at Brunelleschi. Fillipo Brunelleschi (1377-1446). He's the dude who did what no one could do .. at least not for 140 years. No one.
One of the greatest engineering feats of all time.
He lived for another 10 years after he finished the job. So he was able to enjoy the fruit of his labor .. unlike many other artists.
Nearly seven centuries later people are still trying to figure out how he did it. In this video you can hear master craftsmen say, "I've been laying brick for twenty years and I've never seen shit like this."
Botticelli was born (1445) the YEAR BEFORE Brunelleschi died.
Michelangelo (1475-1564) - was born 29 years after Brunelleschi died. He was born 39 years after Brunelleschi finished putting the dome on and Florence strutted about the world stage.
Guttenberg (1395-1468) had invented the printing press (movable type) in 1440-ish .. a few years after Brunelleschi finished the dome. The printing press has many parallels with the Internet, and especially with the Web. It is one of the main things (if not THE thing) that brought about the Renaissance (.. Rinascimento in Italian, rebirth).
With the Catholic church, does it not seem like the problem remains the same? In Martin Luther's day, they were selling Get-Out-of-Jail-Free cards, signed by God himself (forgeries) ..
.. upon which Martin called 'bullshit'. And during more recent decades they've been selling other things .. things much worse.
Along the lines of "putting the dome on" .. remind me to tell you how I sometimes feel how I have been able to put on the dome .. where Dostevsky could not (.. who died 135 years ago, coincidentally). Because of censors and society and the culture of the day.
I know this is a ballsy statement. Sometimes the size of my cojones surprises even me. But the artist must push on .. cojones and all.
But I feel as tho I have evidence to back-up my admittedly, seemingly outrageous claim. Seeing that Dostoevsky has been called » "one of a handful of thinkers who have forged the modern sensibility."
What does that even mean? How do you help forge the modern, contemporary sensibility? How muscular does your arm need to be? What tests and trials are involved?
Tho I will probably conveniently forget to return and complete my boast .. leaving you wondering what it might have been. Then, when you least expect it, I will throw-down in some future post.
» More Sex With Powerful Women
I think it was the latter portion .. but which included the scene from the trailer ..
.. where the dude runs and jumps off the cliff .. descending like a falcon in freefall. You know the scene. The one where you can almost hear him thinking » "Your ass is mine, bitch."
At the turn of the next century, Film buffs will look back on that as one of the greatest cinematic scenes ever to grace a screen. Right up there with » "Say hello to my little friend."
I love shit like that. But I also saw the scene where the Spartan Numero Uno Stud goes for a ride to the Bad Girl's barge. They play. Wow. Tho the woman is left unsatisfied.
In the very next scene, she systematically demonlishes his entire fleet .. nearly single-handedly. Which was about the time I had to go (.. MM was starting).
As I walked out, I thought » "they got that shit right." [ « Frustrated woman singlehandedly wrecks death and destruction far as the eye can see. "I will light this bitch up." ]
I thought that the encounter at the barge was strong .. if not downright surprising. I just want to mention it here because I may have some more thoughts to share on the subject.
Who'd-a ever thunk that such a pretty little girl might enjoy getting thrown around a room.
Okay, you went thru seven proxies (proxy servers). To be honest, I did not even know that you could go thru more than one proxy. That is so cool. Wow.
My afterthought from his talk left me feeling like the government tried to fuck up the internet ..
.. and we said, "No, no. Don't touch. Or we will be all up in your shit. Would you care for a free, complimentary sample demonstration? We got this digital twenty-first century shit going on, dawg. Connectivity and friends. Don't you have anywhere better to bring your world-famous dysfunction?"
Oh, dude. I just saw this » TED. Is that for real? The video was posted two days after SXSW ended. "From an undisclosed location .. somewhere in Russia."
I am going to tell you about my connection to Texas. It is based on the time I spent (4 years) stationed aboard a nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (.. which you probably shaved with this morning).
There are TWO CREWS for an operating FBM (Fleet Ballistic Missile) submarine. And the people who STAFF these 150-man crews .. I do not know anything about them, no.
But I *do* know a thing or two about » staffing. And basically, of course, after competence, you want people who can work together.
And my crew, the GOLD crew (of course) .. especially in the tightly-knit engineering spaces .. consisted very much of New England boys .. New York (especially Long Island) and Jersey (like the Dog) and Massachusetts. Being from Connecticut .. I got these guys. I understood where they were coming from.
Yes, they were all impressively smart and capable, but on a social level, I got them.
Then Washington cuts a deal with Moscow to limit nuclear weapons (sounds like a good thing, no?) .. and we have to take off our missiles .. and in the process the two crews become one (.. called 'crew consolidation')
And they ask you,"Dude, do you want to stay here or do you want to go to another boomer?"
And I say, "Fuck, I only have another two years. I guess I'll just stay. This way I wont have to requalify at a new boat. I already know this one."
But the other crew is all southern boys. And many from Texas. All of them saying » "When I get out I'm using my GI-Bill and I'm going to the University of Texas at Austin. That is the best school in Texas."
And I am going to tell you about this big black guy .. who I became close with .. we shared the same watch-section (6 on, 12 off, repeat. For months.)
Southern blacks are different from northern blacks .. at least that is my experience. Just as southern whites can be different from northern whites. I am not going to get far into this, but it definitely helps set context and tone.
So I am basically one of the few Gold crew members who came over to their ship. That's kinda the way it worked out. Which gave me the advantage of seeing how BOTH crews ran things. Whereas they never got the chance to see how the Gold crew ran things.
If I had an advantage over them, that was it. Far as disadvantages go, I was a 'yankee' among an overwhelming number of Texans. Open season.
It was their ship, their crew, their captain, their XO, their engineer. Their everything. And me. Yankee boy.
[ Goldies had better ORSE scores than the Bluies, which would represent an unbiased opinion. ]
So I learned a lot about southern boys. They are much smarter than they sound, sometimes. In ways I never would have imagined.
Now I very much enjoy learning shit about people .. yes, even if I have to take a beating to do it. I can handle myself in a wide variety of hostile environments. If necessary.
So I remembered how these guys would gang up on me about being a yankee and shit like that. Playful sure, but this yankee "is gonna hear another side of the story" (.. which is similar to what Bob Marley said).
For me, all I knew about the south was that they lost the war a long-ass time ago .. before my grandparents ever sailed here from "the old country". And I watched a little Beverly Hillbillies on TV. That was all I knew.
Oh, these southern boys educated me right proper. We're talking months and even years together. They were smart, capable guys. And I guess the short version is » they earned my respect. And gave me an appreciation for southern boys that I did not have before. Certainly for Texans.
You do a lot of dreaming during your last dwindling months of enlistment. And the experience leaves you with the feeling that you can handle pretty much anything that comes down the pike.
But before I get to far down that road .. let me say that I heard » Tim Berners-Lee was there at SXSW for the Snowden broadcast. And that TB-L was actually able to ASK Snowden a question. Live!
That is the thing that made me think » it's a new world, dawg.
SXSW basically costs a thousand bucks .. for the whole dealy-o .. if you buy your ticket early. $1,700 gets you everything, everywhere at the last minute.
So I feel like my shipmates from Texas said to Snowden, "You're cool with us."
I read that last year, it was estimated that SXSW brought in a few hundred million dollars to the area. That makes SXSW a player.
Dude, did you go to the Olympics? Incognito? They were looking for you. The News people. Trying to see if they could spot you.
Did you see the closing ceremonies where they paid tribute to the Russian writers? That was my favorite part of the whole deal. I was spellbound. They have so many kick-ass writers. Giants in the land. And the way they did it. I'm still not sure how they did it.
Regarding the time when I arrived at the submarine in Hawaii .. I will just say this .. I was very immature when I arrived at the ship. At the "boat" as we called it.
I had just turned 21 a week before I landed in Honolulu. It would be an exaggeration to say that you had a punk running a reactor on a nuclear submarine .. but you catch my drift.
I stepped ONTO the plane in the middle of a blizzard (mid-January) in Connecticut .. and stepped OFF the next day (after a rather uncomfortable sleepover in the San Francisco terminal) .. in Hololulu, 73 degrees ..
.. palm trees swaying gently in the balmy ocean breeze .. sunshine casting minimal shadows.
"What just happened? Let's go to the beach! Yesterday I was freezing my ass off in arctic temps. I could totally get used to this shit.
They said my sportster is here already. Wanna go down to the warehouse with me and pick it up tomorrow? This is Sportster country if ever I done laid eyes on such a thing. Do you ride?"
Anyway, this big black dude from Texas and I would always walk forward (.. to go eat) after getting relieved by the on-coming watch station. If he got relieved early, he would wait for me. If I were relived first, I would wait for him. But usually we got off at the same time.
[ This guy was 300 pounds of solid muscle. You should see him in the gym, "Help me put about plate on here, will ya?" I've seen him bench 350#. Legs like tree trunks. ]
And he would die laughing whenever I did my black shuck-n-jive walk. "Let me show you how the bro's walk up north."
He would collapse against the wall (the "bulkhead") .. because he was laughing so hard. It didnt matter how many times I did it. It would crack him up every time. And then HE would try it. (No, I'm not gonna tell you his name.)
So we got to be friends. Because he and I were scheduled to get out of the Navy at about the same time. And we were the same age.
The Wise Old Texan
But even more than these shipmates, perhaps, there was my old Texan friend from the coffee shop there in Laguna. (At Main Beach. The gang. All smart guys. Professionals.) I actually wrote a little about him » here.
That was one the most difficult things I have ever wrote. I think because of the implications. I was shaking. Tho I wasnt exactly sure why.
It felt like I had a window-of-opportunity that I could take advantage of, but for which another would be most unlikely, because of its nature. (Far fucking out.)
So in a way, I felt like I wasnt ready.
Anyway, beyond the writing itself, I have always appreciated the things that old man shared with me .. from the negative side, sorta. What *not* to do. (If you dont want live your remaining years as a bitter old men.)
To be honest, I'm not even sure if that is the way he meant it .. or if he were just venting family frustrations. But I definitely got the message.
He had a script for legal, medical cannabis. He would take a hit to help him fall asleep at night.
Did I say that I appreciate this man? This Texan. The wise, old, experienced, well-travelled Texan. Because I do.
Going to Talk to the Commodore (The Wizard)
Heck, I might even tell you the story about the time that I had to go talk to the Commodore. Dude, a commodore is the guy in charge of a bunch of Captains .. who are guys in charge of an entire warship. (And everybody on it.)
Admirals are in charge of whole fleets (.. such as the Atlantic fleet or the Pacific fleet). A commodore is in charge of a part of that fleet.
Do you know that scene in the Wizard of Oz .. where Dorothy and her three friends walk down that long hallway to go see the wizard?
Well, that is pretty close to what is was like for me the time that I had to go talk to the Commodore. Because his office was at the end of a very long hallway. And I was shaking like the tinman.
Not really, but I was definitely on high-alert. I think it was better the way that the Master Chief did it. He just came and got me and said, "Come on, let's go."
And he sounded so nonchalant about it. If I had to think about it for very long, I would probably be freaking out.
Because the Captain had kicked me off the boat. After 4 years assigned to this thing .. he is the third Captain I have had. (I felt like I'd seen it all.)
This was at the submarine base there in Washington state.
You likely want to hear the story about what it was that got me kicked off the ship right near the very end of my enlistment .. which could have ended in tragedy for me .. from a future-employment perspective. So it's not like the stakes werent huge. El supremo.
And one day, about a month or two after I got kicked off the boat, the Squadron Master Chief, who I was working for, came and got me and said, "Come on, we're going to talk to the Commodore. Just tell him what happened. Just like you talk to me."
Basically it was immaturity and a short-timers attitude that got me kicked off the boat .. but that is not what I can tell the Commodore .. cuz that is not what the report says.
Anyway .. after walking down that hallway for about what seemed hours .. we arrived at his office. The freaking Commodore's office.
And the lights are dimmed. Very peaceful feeling in there. He is the only one, besides us. The Commondore was sitting behind a big desk straight ahead.
I remember really liking that the lights were subdued, tho I had never recalled another office lit like that. Ever. I wondered, "Does he always keep his office lit like this? Or did he dim the lights just for me?
Which was right about the time that the Commodore says to the Master Chief, "Master Chief, what can you tell me about this petty officer?"
You could tell that this guy was very smart. You could hear it in his voice and see it in his eye. Competence.
You could also tell that he knew what he was going to do before I ever set foot in his office.
Master Chief says, "Sir, this petty officer has been working for me since such-n-such a date. [A few months.] I find him to be a fine sailor. He does everything I ask him to and he does it well. Outstanding in many respects. He runs a crew of guys for me."
The Commodore looks at me says, "Well, I would feel pretty good if the Master Chief would ever say something so nice about me" .. which made me smile.
The Commodore and the Master Chief obviously had a close rapport, tho they tried to hide it.
Then he said, "Why dont you tell me what happened .. in your own words."
I will tell you the story, but basically, the very next week I was getting out. EAOS = End of Active Obligated Service (6 years).
The rest of the story might get a little involved, so first let me say a little something about the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
But just so your imagination doesnt run too wild, let me say simply that .. you do not confront a Commanding Officer in public. Not with other people present.
You can go privately to his stateroom, if you have disagreements with him. But if you confront him publically, you almost force him to take action.
I *told* you I was immature, didnt i? Because I would never do such a thing now. But perhaps you can see how much of my success in the commercial nuclear industry involved developing the ability to bite my tongue. (Know thyself, oh callous-tongued one.)
If perchance I get distracted in the coming sections (.. you know how I am. Be honest.) .. uh, and I dont get back to this story .. then I should probably tell you the valuable lesson that I learned from this experience.
This will no doubt earn me mega nuclear-grade karma points.
And here is it » Even if the Captain says, "You suk," it doesnt really matter very much .. long as the Commodore says » "You're cool."
I must admit .. that was a good feeling .. walking out of there. It made me feel good to know that the squadron was in good hands.
Tho today, from a perspective of the maturity that I have gleaned along the way (.. much of it the hard way, yes) .. I can't help but look back and think, "Dude, you were outta control."
Speaking of which...
Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)
Beyond the grief that comes from the loss of anyone at such a young age (46, my mom was 47) and a father with such young children at home .. in which the word 'tragedy' always comes ..
It seems somewhat ironic that I see similarities between the him and the Dog .. which I will detail shortly. (Both NYC boys.)
But basically it is his honest straighforwardness that makes me see the Dog in him. I am talking about interviews that people have done with him. Especially the one where they meet at 8AM.
So the fact that PSH is/was an ACTOR .. portraying masterfully something that he is not .. that seems to me to contain an interesting paradox.
Does not feel easy to put into words. I have been waiting for my thoughts on him to form. At first, there was just lots of emotion. Confusing emotions.
He died February 2nd. Groundhog day. (You gotta be kidding me.) Six weeks ago.
I was reluctant to start because I could see how it might be difficult to stop. But I could see that I would have no peace without addressing it.
Cuz that openness and honesty is the thing that I love about the Dog. His ability to give you a thoughtful, honest answer, to the best of his ability. And exceed your expectations doing it.
So how PSH manages to pull that off .. becoming another person. Is it all just an illusion?
Does he not seem like a great guy just to hang out with and talk about whatever crazy shit comes up? That's kinda how I feel about the Dog.
No matter how you look at it, it's a huge loss. Because did not his talent evoke a bit of awe? Like he was just visiting .. from another planet. That shit must be very inspiring for the actors of today and tomorrow.
Earlier today I was talking about the writer behind the writer. With PSH I feel like the actor behind the actor is not really an actor. He's a very real person.
I remember seeing Cate Blanchett saying in an interview (something like) » "I dont take it [ all the feelings associated with acting ]. Rather I give it TO THEM [ the audience ].
Which strikes me as curious .. cuz it sure does SEEM LIKE she is taking it on herself. But I also heard that PSH did not take his work home with him.
Along these lines, I heard that it was perhaps an inability to separate [ 'detach'? ] ..
.. but who I have heard the Dog mention .. more than once .. the drug-death usually being involved in the conversation in some way).
He was the older brother of Joaquin. Casey married into the family. And Casey is a New England boy. So is PSH. I feel like I 'get' most New England boys. (Cuz I are one.) I get them without even trying.
And then when I heard that the mother of PSH's children kicked him out of the house .. well, I felt like I could relate even better.
But if PSH was able to detach from his roles like a true pro .. what it is that killed him? By that I mean .. what was the pain that he was trying to escape from? .. knowing full-well that the drug might kill him. [ The needle and the damage done. ]
Must have been the rift with the mother of his children. That can definitely fuck you up.
Both the Dog and PSH, intererstingly enough, had come to a point in their lives, rather early on, where they each confronted the unfortunate predicament » sobriety or death.
And it seems like they both had a thing for injecting plant derivatives that make their awful pain go away .. for a while, anyway. Quite understandable, from a certain perspective.
Sometimes when I am writing and in the flow .. or maybe I am feeling strongly about a topic ..
.. and I feel like I am operating in a zone where I am performing at a level ABOVE which I am probably capable of .. if such a thing is possible ..
.. sometimes I write things .. things that come to me (.. who knows how?) .. things that surprise me .. in various sundry ways.
And sometimes when I want an image or a graphic that represents an idea or thing I am addressing in a large block of text ..
.. I will search Google images for the term(s). And the one of the tattoo on the girls butt (lower back?) was the image that spoke best to me. Why that is you can guess at.
Now you will not believe me but I am going to say it anyway. The fact that the notion of "embracing" as something a man might do to a woman's butt .. that did not occur to me until a month or two later.
At least not consciously. And there is a feeling that comes .. when you feel like somerthing is trying to write thru you .. something smarter than you. And stronger. And maybe even more virile.
Speaking of embracing duality .. remind me to tell you about the dream I had .. where I am standing on the top of a reactor vessel (which contains the core) ..
.. and I am a white angel standing and wrestling with a black angel. We each have hold of each other about the shoulders and upper arms. And we launch off the side and head down toward the concrete floor below.
Which is a long way .. a few stories maybe. And on the way down .. I am thinking to the black angel, "Dude, do you really wanna do this?"
And a second or two later there is a giant explosion .. in which I think I am going to die. But I come up out of the smoke and dust no problemo.
And my first thought is » "Wow, that was very cool. Can I do it again?"
I dated a girl once who had read a book on dreams. She had interesting interpretations (.. according to this book). Sometimes what she would say would be more interesting than the dream itself.
Anyway, back to embracing duality and this curious intuitive thing .. that is actually better demonstated than explained, perhaps.
I guess my point is that .. after a while you start to trust this intuitive thing .. strange as it might seem sometimes ..
.. cuz there definitely is a sense of awe and respect and reverence that comes .. yes.
And when I finally saw how the phrase 'embracing duality' could be construed sexually .. even tho that is definitely NOT the way I intended it .. I thought of that dream.
Something like that. Multi-dimensional. Throwing down artistic flair for points in authenticity. I am operating very much on intuitive feel right now. My inner-critic hates this shit.
Later, when I go back to edit and distill .. my inner-critic (editor) is going to say, "Dude, have you totally lost your mind? How am I supposed to edit this shit? Were you on acid? Does the word » coherence mean anything to you?"
[ Can you now see why the artist needs to embrace duality? ]
Now I have had many cool dreams .. but none that evoke the idea of » "What the fuck does *that* mean?" .. as this one about the white angel wrestling with (embracing) the black angel.
And when I saw how "embracing duality" could be construed sexually, I (shortly thereafter) saw that the term "embracing duality" could be applied to my dream ..
.. of a white angel embracing a black angel. Tho here, the term 'embrace' is used differently than the way is which I use it to conceptualize yin-yang. Very differently.
Which makes me think of » pair-annihilation .. in radiation physics. No?
I mean, I had this dream » years ago. So it has had impressive staying power. What could such a dream mean?
I must admit. I like the idea that I am a white angel. If I were the black angel, that would suck. You know how dreams are. You can't really control them. Tho I knew this girl who claimed to be able to dream lucidly.
If any of this sounds "like so much horse shit" .. then I definitely would not feel bad. Because it sounds like so much horse shit to me, too, sometimes.
Now it might take a while, I admit, but sometimes you start to think » maybe it wasnt so much horse shit after all.
Sometimes when I am neck-deep in the flow .. trying to hold on (to it) for dear life .. the thought comes (paraphrase) » "Your ass aint bad enough to hold onto something like this for very long. So you must have been given a special pass. So try not to fuck it up."
This is probably the #1 way in which I differ from Hemingway. Dude, when I am in the love-groove .. I stay with it.
Sure, I may not be able to write (or even think very much) for a few days. [ That's the reason why Hem says you should quit while you're still good-to-go.]
With my technique, I can get to places that Hemingway can't. Much to say here for such an outrageous statement .. but I'll just leave it at that.
But my thoughts on this run parallel to the notion that writing should evoke a sense of the zeitgeist.
And you will notice that Hemingway is famous for making his appear » seamless. Of all one piece.
And none of his novels epitomize this all-one-pieceness more than » Old Man & the Sea.
Now I know a little about making shit seamless. And it is work. Focused concentration. Discipline. Wonderful work ethic for any writer.
But Hemingway wrote this book in '51. Dude, that's how life was back in the early 50's. The book was published in '52.
I read it sitting on Sidney's schooner (the Escape, now in France somewhere) .. while anchored at the isthmus at Catalina for the Fourth of July one year.
But our twenty-first society feels very fragmented, no? Which shows up politically, to a degree. Tho I am speaking about » culturally. Or is it just me?
I do try to channel some of the spirit of the age into my writing, yes, You want somebody from the next century to be able to get a feel what it is like to live when you lived. With just the right touch, a few small dabs on a canvas can evoke the atmosphere in a telling way.
Also note how Hemingway was thinking in terms of writing the novel, which is a long and often painful process. Whereas the twenty-first century writer can better adapt to the technology (and also with it).
Anyway, these are my thoughts on why I may differ with Hemingway in some respects .. who I normally find myself resonating with. So these areas of mismatching catch my attention.
It is sort of like comparing a long, slow weave with a focused throw-down right now » blammo! Hemingway is not a blammo type of guy. He's a long-distance runner.
By the way, what do you think of this Hemingway quote?
It can hard, difficult to stay is the juiciest-juice of a flow. It's like » this is what you train for. The Olympian trains for his few minutes in the pool, or on the balance beam. While the artist trains to be able to get into that creative flow .. and stay there long as possible. Like being in love. Pure heroin.
And sometimes you work very hard and shit doesnt come. And other times you seemingly FALL INTO a river. So you can feel pretty undeserving, at times, even tho maybe you have poured out your soul trying to get there.
And yes, part of you is saying, "Dude, try to remember how you got here .. so we can come back here after this rollercoaster ride is over."
But you are trying so completely to be and remain one with this flow .. like riding a tiger .. the bobsled of creativity. It is so good (for the artist) that you just want to stay there long as you can.
But the whole thing is, sure, you might be able to retrace your steps .. but that shit gets old.
[ I once asked an older co-worker what sex was like with his wife of many years. He said » "Just like brushing your teeth: same old thing."
I remember having sex with this girl and thinking, "This feels so new and fresh and different every time. How can that be? Is that me or is that her?" I never aked, tho.
It's sorta like every time you explore a new galaxy together.
I prefer the constellation of Pather, myself .. but am open to suggestions .. if you have other ideas. ]
But I can say that you have to leave logic behind. You operate more on 'feel'. Intuition. Degrees of variation more than on/off, yes/no, good/bad. (strict duality)
Here's my point » if the shit I write doesnt make sense .. give it a while.
By the way, the Bug is student-of-the-month. His picture is hanging in the main office.
I am so proud of him. You can't imagine how good that makes me feel. I said, "How does it feel?"
"It feels good," he said.
I told him that I was glad that other people were recognizing how cool he is .. something that I have known all along.
To be continued. Or maybe not.