Friday, March 12, 2021

Is There Time Enough?

I drank my third of, was it?, $150 of fine wine. I drank it together with friends and really bad Chinese food. As usual, I didn't sleep but this time awakened to piss that smelled as bad as that old cat piss smell that I discovered in the bathroom in my new apartment when I put a heater in that corner. What did I eat? What did I drink?

I am disturbed this morning that the precisely described repair kit for the perfectly balanced (and therefore rare and irreplaceable) moka pot which I depend on for my morning coffee each day arrived other than as described. The pot had cost less than the repair kit. The repair kit was precisely what I needed and wanted, but it was too big. Damn!

The Subaru dealer that I'd already decided to like twice now, put in the headlight bulb wrong twice. I paid the price of nearly a bottle of the fine wine my rich friend bought just to avoid the tortuous process of fitting in a new bulb myself. Wrong means no light, but I'm not about to take it back there again after two strikes. And I still doubt that I could ever spend over $50 on any bottle of wine.

I wander inside the discount houses sometimes looking for things not there which are only available on Amazon. Our retail infrastructure is a shambles and the number of boarded up restaurants and bars is distressing. 

Perhaps my malaise is the result of my recent vaccination, for which I feel so lucky. Are things looking up? It cost me nothing, so far as I can tell.

I have demurred for my entire life in making firm commitments to anything in particular, which is surely the greatest sin that there is. Maybe not so bad as the sin of the Republicans, committed as they are to nihilistic nobodaddy, but I am definitely nearing my end before I've even started.

What good has economiseriing ever done me? I should have committed and I should be living the good life.

But at least I know how to fix the system. If someone in authority makes claims about things that they are no authority on, then they should be ipso facto disqualified from office. Done. Fixed. That's all it would take. It's how we operate in all realms except the political and the religious. Done and done.

These thoughts are provoked by random contact with a former colleague and near friend who filled his life with commitment, even to the extent of reading his poetry at St. Marks in the Bowery, where I once had the bizarre chance to witness Patti Smith recite a tone poem in cowboy boots spray painted silver before anyone did such things. No brag, just fact.

My colleague put me in mind of our mutual teacher Stephen Owen, who is at least the most brilliant mind that I have ever encountered. His life's work now has built to the extent of rational impossibility. As in life could never be long enough to be that productive. The trick is to define and limit your scope, but he sure did choose a large scope.

I am in awe, as I ever have been, and I am afraid for his life as he grows older. (Because I want his recognition, oh ambiguous English?) So I gather together what few of his incredibly expensive, because, I suppose, so seldom read, books from my collection. One newly purchased for the cost of a Subaru headlight replacement, seriously! One borrowed from my fine wine affording friend, several from my own shelves which have also gained in value. Can I read them now? Have they aged well? Have I?

I would, of course, like to think that I have deferred my life's work for all the right reasons. My project is, after all, so huge that I knew all along that I could not allow myself to be sidetracked along ways that led to a different end. But now I find mind's degeneration, if not from drink, then surely from age. Frommage, wine, minds, all age differently depending on what goes in. I have some yoghurt fermenting. Bread rising. I fart a lot.

(My favorite memory of any Chinese lit class was one sidetracked on the 'pneumatic theory of Chinese poetics')

Now indulging a non-nomadic life, I blow up like my bread in the oven. It's gross.

I believe that Stephen Owen and I share a pedigree of sorts. His father, as I recall, was a professor of physics at Johns Hopkins. Owen was better briefed on the life of the mind. He had a running start.

I had only my various girlfriends' parents and a towering uncle in his field of electrical engineering as example. So my own background is more compressed. I wanted to study physics, but discovered early on that to squeeze out emotion from the cosmos for the sake of objectivity could only be a destructive project. A viral load of subatomic grey-goo, ultimately signifying nothing.

So, of course, I went over to Chinese poetics, which among other things is at least as concerned about the emotive valence of cosmos as physics is professionally disinterested.

So what is is that I have always intended to do with my life, be it ever so brief? 

Why start a new religion, of course. What else could be worthy of so many promising ways forgone? Byways, highways, pathways I might have taken. I have felt myself a lazy lout. And yet. 

I do continue to fill in so much of the ignorance of my long departed youth when I might very well have blown it all for the sake of a startup if startups had been a thing. Then my life could have been as meaningless as Zuck's life is. No, worse. As destructive. I have only ever destroyed small matters. I have been indiscreet, is all. Why consign oneself to meaninglessness? For the sake of money? Why dost thou forsake me, money, honey?

But it was not fear so much as ambition which has held me back. Go big or stay home, as we say here in my little home in Buffalo roam to which I have returned in splendid defeat. Dreaming of grandchildren. I still live off my whiteness. Duh, doughboy.

The cosmos has always been invested with emotion. That's what we mean by "God" in our fumbling English. In China they still have actual poetics which do religion one better at least. Do they? Now they have a bigger navy. Ahoy!

God is, of course, more an author than a creator, which would have to mean that He Himself was authored somehow else, and anon. There are no spaceships nor time travel to take us there. What we may discover by our physics is just about that parochial. Limited but to this small corner of cosmic all.

Asking whether there remains world enough and time for myself is identical to asking it for the planet. Looking at those store shelves and at the highways and at the mayhem in our capitals makes it clear that we are already too late. The memes have engulfed the mind. 

We are collectively far later than I am with at least as much time in my fullness now as I had before I thought I knew something at my beginnings. By the age of 27 or 28. My younger daughter just turned thirty. How may I honor her?

God is not, of course, engendered and to make God so - to make God a "him" or a "her" is abomination full stop. Authored authorial autonomous author? Nobodaddy by any other Name.

Let’s be real. I don’t have time or life enough even to give thoughtful reads to Stephen Owen’s published production. I made that bed decades ago. But I shall try. I'm very trying, Ouch.

And now my apartment is furnished by the bits and pieces of my life as though I planned it that way across the years. Saving this and discarding that. The things I miss disturb me less than that infernal headlight or the cost of another book I might well not read. 

So, onward, then, onward. As a different former colleague (we were both already old) said when we both were gawking at a blond driving a red corvette, “ you ain’t dead yet!”

(I am no more politically incorrect than Owen is; he married a much younger woman, or so my Chinese informant tells me. It was big news in China.)

Did I say start a religion? Bah! We already have a good one in Christ. Too bad that in this world overrun by destroyers, nano and mega, ready to be deployed in an instant and to replicate faster than even a Trump meme, we have destroyed Christ in the Name of Christ.

I mean aren't you as amazed that I am that the Christians have become the fascist racist haters? Isn't that a bit of a stretch?

The message is simple. Honor the least of us. Clawing your way to the top shall destroy your eternity. He couldn't possibly remember it, but I was pulled aside once after class by Stephen Owen back when we weren't so far apart in age (ha!) if already in stature. I had been indiscreet, I guess, in providing a revision to his read of a poem. I had good evidence. He needed to tell me that 'it would never happen again.' 

Of course I doubted very much that it would, nor certainly could, ever happen again. And I am certain that he didn't mean it as a threat. A useful observation for my benefit, to keep me humble. I suppose that's what Andrew Cuomo meant when he complimented those young women. So he thought, when really he simply couldn't help himself. The sin he committed and can't apologize for was to treat colleagues as something other than colleagues because they were nubile women. String him up!

No, Christ has been overrun by viral memes which turn him into a deadly avatar for hate. While we celebrate the viral startup upstarts still, as though they ever had merit.

You know, after my recent re-read of Thomas F. Torrance' Space, Time and Incarnation, I have become Christian again. I always knew I would. I've kept a life-long bet with God that involved a lot of swearing and challenging and still more outright denial. 

I have made a cursory study of physics and Chinese poetics and sociology and plenty more. I have repaired things better than my betters, and in the end all the rational pursuit amnog knowers in the known cosmos works in denial of Christ's basic message of love. More basic even than subatomic, so-called, particles.

The Christians are the worst. They deny Him in His Name. My Christ is nothing if not ironic. You cannot know me by your ways. You cannot find me by your rocketry. You can only destroy yourself along the way. Otherworldy and everpresent all the same is  life elsewhere.

Other life in the cosmos is always present. 

So yeah, I watched the final installment of the HBO series called "Succession" last night. Brilliant! The old man cons his son into being as ruthless as he was. The son destroys the father and thereby ensures his empire's persistence beyond even his own death. I'd thought it might be allusive of, say, Rupert Murdoch, or the Bush Dynasty. But no, it's about papal lineage or Falwells or Robertses or any other power mongering structures. Supreme court injustices.

No wait! There's the Oprah interview. God save the Queen bee

Be I ever so humble, it would never have been enough. And yet I persist, in all humility, as though I had something to say. How rude!

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