FROM THE BOQ: LOVE & SEX #22

Another question from Gregory Stock’s book is this:

How much of falling in love is illusion and how much is real chemistry?

Of course I don’t know the answer to this question–no one does.  I suspect that most of falling in love is illusion, and that very little of it is real chemistry.  But I don’t know.

What puzzles me more than the question itself is why I’m so drawn to it–why I feel so compelled to address this question before I can move on to another one in the book.

MORE FROM PAUL HARVEY #4

And here’s another timeless item from Paul Harvey’s For What It’s Worth:

Our For What It’s Worth Department understands that Police Chief Clifton Sullivan–Russell Springs, Kentucky–got a call from a lady who wanted her bachelor neighbor arrested for indecent exposure.

The Chief went to her house and witnessed for himself . . .

The fact that the man next door was in his bathroom shaving.

But, the Chief said, “With the bottom part of the man’s bathroom window covered as it is, I cannot tell whether the bottom part of the man is wearing anything or not.”

But, the woman said, “Well . . . you just stand on this chair and stand on your tiptoes and you’ll see!”

December 6, 1978

THE DIE-HARD: A PARALLEL-PROPHETIC STORY

The following story is from 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories, an out-of-print book edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander.  Even when I first read it, decades ago, I could identify so well with the protagonist–but even moreso now, as the society in which I live continues to become more inhuman, by the day (though by a different means than the author envisioned).

THE DIE-HARD

by Alfred Bester

“In the old days,” the Old One said, “there was the United States and Russia and England and Russia and Spain and England and the United States.  Countries.  Sovereign States.  Nations.  Peoples of the world.”

“Today there are peoples of the world, Old One.”

“Who are you?” the Old One asked suddenly.

“I’m Tom.”

“Tom?”

“No, Old One.  Tom.”

“I said Tom.”

“You did not pronounce it properly, Old One.  You spoke the name of another Tom.”

“You are all Tom,” the Old One said sullenly.  “Everyone is Tom, Dick or Harry.”

He sat, shaking in the sunshine, and hating the pleasant young man.  They were on the broad veranda outside his hospital room.  The street before them was packed with attractive men and women, all waiting expectantly.  Somewhere in the white city there was a heavy cheering, a thrilling turmoil that slowly approached.

“Look at them.”  The Old One shook his cane at the street.  “All Tom, Dick and Harry.  All Daisy, Anne and Mary.”

“No, Old One,” Tom smiled.  “We use other names as well.”

“I’ve had a hundred Toms sitting with me,” the Old One snarled.

“We often use the same name, Old One, but we pronounce it differently.  I’m not Tom or Tom or Tom.  I’m Tom.  Do you hear it?”

“What’s that noise?” the Old One asked.

“It’s the Galactic Envoy,” Tom explained again.  “The Envoy from Sirius, the star in Orion.  He’s touring the city.  This is the first time a being from other worlds has ever visited the earth.  There’s great excitement.”

“In the old days,” the Old One said, “we had real envoys.  Men from Paris and Rome and Berlin and London and Paris and–they came with pomp and circumstance.  They made war.  They made peace.  Uniforms and guns and ceremonies.  Brave times!  Exciting times!”

“We have brave, exciting times today, Old One.”

“You do not,” the Old One snarled.  He thumped his cane feebly.  “There is no passion, no love, no fear, no death.  There is no hot blood coursing through veins.  You’re all logic.  All calm thought.  All Tom, Dick and Harry.”

“No, Old One.  We love.  We have passions.  We fear many things.  What you miss is the evil we have destroyed in ourselves.”

“You have destroyed everything!  You have destroyed man!” the Old One cried.  He pointed a shaking finger at Tom.  “You!  How much blood have you in your veins?”

“None at all, Old One.  I have Tamar’s Solution in my veins.  Blood cannot withstand radiation and I do research in the Fission Piles.”

“No blood,” the Old One cackled.  “And no bones either.”

“Not all have been replaced, Old One.”

“And no nerve tissue, heh?”

“Not all has been replaced, Old One.”

“No blood, no bones, no guts, no heart.  And no private parts.  What do you do with a woman?  How much of you is mechanical?”

“Not more than 60 per cent, Old One,” Tom laughed.  “I have children.”

“And the other Toms and Dicks and Harrys?”

“Anywhere from 30 to 70 per cent, Old One.  They have children, too.  What the men of your time did to teeth, we do with all the body.  There is no harm.”

“You are not men!  You’re machines!” the Old One cried.  “Robots!  Monsters!  You have destroyed man.”

Tom smiled.  “In truth, Old One, there is so much mingling of man in machine and machine in man that the distinction is hard to make.  We no longer make it.  We are content to live happily and work happily.  We are adjusted.”

“In the old days,” the Old One said, “we all had real bodies.  Blood and bones and nerves and guts.  Like me.  We worked and sweated and loved and fought and killed and lived.  You do not live . . . you adjusted supermen . . . machine-men . . . half-bred bastards of acid and sperm.  Nowhere have I seen a blow struck, a kiss taken, the clash of conflict, life.  How I yearn to see real life again . . . not your machine imitation.”

“That’s the ancient sickness, Old One,” Tom said seriously.  “Why don’t you let us reconstruct you and heal you?  If you would let us replace your ductless glands, recondition your reflexes, and–”

“No!  No!  No!” the Old One cried in a high passion.  “I will not become another Tom.”  He lurched up from his chair and beat at the pleasant young man with his cane.  The blow broke the skin on the young man’s face and was so unexpected that he cried out in astonishment.  Another pleasant young man ran out on the veranda, seized the Old One and reseated him in his chair.  Then he turned to Tom who was dabbing at the frosty liquid that oozed from the cut in his face.

“All right, Tom?”

“No great harm done.”  Tom looked at the Old One with awe.  “Do you know, I believe he actually wanted to hurt me.”

“Of course he did.  This is your first time with him, isn’t it?  You ought to see him curse and carry on.  What an old unreconstructed rebel he is.  We’re rather proud of the old boy.  He’s unique.  A museum of pathology.”  The second young man sat down alongside the Old One.  “I’ll take him for a while.  You go watch for the Envoy.”

The Old One was shaking and weeping.  “In the old days,” he quavered, “there was courage and bravery and spirit and strength and red blood and courage and bravery and–”

“Now then, now then, Old One,” his new companion interrupted briskly, “we have them too.  When we reconstruct a man we don’t take anything away from him but the rot in his mind and body.”

“Who are you?” the Old One asked.

“I’m Tom.”

“Tom?”

“No.  Tom.  Not Tom.  Tom.”

“You’ve changed.”

“I’m not the same Tom that was here before.”

“You’re all Toms,” the Old One cried pietously.  “You’re all the same God-forsaken Toms.”

“No, Old One.  We’re all different.  You just can’t see it.”

The turmoil and the cheering came closer.  Out in the street before the hospital, the crowd began shouting in excited anticipation.  A lane cleared.  Far down the street there was a glitter of brass and the first pulse of the approaching music.  Tom took the Old One under the arm and raised him from his chair.

“Come to the railing, Old One,” he said excitedly.  “Come and watch the Envoy.  This is a great day for Mother Earth.  We’ve made contact with the stars at last.  It’s a new era beginning.”

“It’s too late,” the Old One muttered.  “Too late.”

“What do you mean, Old One?”

“We should have found them, not them us.  We should have been first.  In the old days we would have been first.  In the old days there was courage and daring.  We fought and endured. . . .”

“There he is,” Tom shouted, pointing down the street.  “He’s stopped at the Institute. . . . Now he’s coming out. . . . He’s coming closer. . . . No.  Wait!  He’s stopped again. . . . At the Center.  What a magnificent gesture.  This isn’t just a token tour.  He’s inspecting everything.”

“In the old days,” the Old One mumbled, “we would have come with fire and storm.  We would have marched down strange streets with weapons on our hips and defiance in our eyes.  Or if they came first we would have met them with strength and defiance.  But not you . . . machine half-breeds . . . laboratory supermen . . . adjusted . . . reconstructed . . . worthless . . .”

“He’s come out of the Center,” Tom exclaimed.  “He’s coming closer.  Look well, Old One.  Never forget this moment.  He–”  Tom stopped and took a shuddering breath.  “Old One,” he said.  “He’s going to stop at the hospital!”

The gleaming car stopped before the hospital.  The band marked time, still playing lustily, joyfully.  The crowd roared.  In the car the officials were smiling, pointing, explaining.  The Galactic Envoy arose to his full, fantastic height, stepped out of the car and strode toward the steps leading up to the veranda.  His escort followed.

“Here he comes!” Tom yelled, and began a confused roaring of his own.

Suddenly the Old One broke away from the railing.  He shoved past Tom and all the other Tom, and Dick and Harrys and Daisy, Anne and Marys crowding the veranda.  He beat his way through them with his feeble, wicked cane and came face to face with the Galactic Envoy at the head of the steps.  He stared at the Praying Mantis face with horror and revulsion for one instant, then he cried: “I greet you.  I alone can greet you.”

He raised his cane and smote the face with all his strength.

“I’m the last man on earth,” he cried.

HEATHER CROOK: MY TOP THREE FAVORITES

Of course if Heather Crook really were my girlfriend, and she were here to keep me warm on this cold April night in Climate-Change-Era Florida, I wouldn’t be posting these pictures now!  But alas, the lass is not!

HEATHER CROOKHEATHER CROOK 2HEATHER CROOK 3

NEED I SAY MORE?

The other day, as I was driving to Starbucks, I had to stop at a red light.  A truck pulled up beside my truck, in the lane beside me.  And a middle-aged lady motioned for me to roll down my window.  I figured I must have unintentionally violated her right-of-way, or that there was some damage to my tire.  But that wasn’t it at all.

“Where did you get those bumper stickers?” she asked.

She was referring to the “HANG UP AND DRIVE” bumper magnets on the back of my truck, but especially the much larger bumper stickers: two which read, “HANG UP AND DRIVE”, and one which read, “PUT IT DOWN, IT CAN WAIT.” 

The magnets I had gotten from Amazon.com, but the large stickers I had made on Zazzle.com.  So I gave her Zazzle’s website.

She nodded, in appreciation, then said, “My daughter was killed because of one of those things.”

All I could do was nod, in sympathy, as the light changed and we parted ways.

And I noticed a very large memorial decal on the cab of her truck which verified what she’d said.

WHY WAIT? WHY NOT WAIT?

I am especially drawn to story titles that are complete sentences.  At this moment, I have a book opened to a story with the most profound title I’ve ever read. 

GOD SEES THE TRUTH, BUT WAITS

This story was written by Leo Tolstoy.  I have actually, for the first time, scanned the story itself–considering whether to read it.  And frankly, I see no need.  The title itself says everything–Tolstoy really didn’t need to add a story to it.

GOD SEES THE TRUTH, BUT WAITS.

In other words, our Creator (God) is quite aware, not only of our existence, but of everything we do and everything that is done to us.  This means our Creator is quite aware of the suffering we humans have always endured, yet chooses not to get involved.  For every incidence of seeming divine intervention, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of incidences of obvious non-intervention. 

Why?

There is no evidence that our Creator is benevolent toward us.  And there is no evidence that our Creator is malevolent toward us.  If anything, all evidence suggests that our Creator is simply indifferent toward us.  But this seems illogical.  Why would our Creator, being fully aware of us, yet not malevolent toward us, be indifferent–since indifference itself is malevolent?

The only reasonable conclusion we can make is that our Creator chooses not to intervene in our lives–for a reason only our Creator knows.

In other words, God sees the truth, but waits.  And we don’t know why God waits–only God knows.

Yet I get the feeling that, because God waits, we must wait too.

BAD NEWS BEARER OF BAD NEWS

Chulture-change-is-a-bear[1]

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.  What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?  One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.  The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.  The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.  All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.  All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  The thing that hath been,  it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.  Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.  There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.  I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.  And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.  That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.  I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.  And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.  For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

What a piece of work is a man!  how noble in reason!  how infinite in faculty!  in form and moving how express and admirable!  in action how like an angel!  in apprehension how like a god!  the beauty of the world!  the paragon of animals!  And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; while the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow creeps into this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.  Out, out, brief candle!  Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

(Ecclesiastes, Shakespeare)

A STORY FOR THE EVENING AFTER

After writing last night’s “drunken post”, I was reminded of the following gem from More of Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story, by Paul Aurandt:

The Woman in White

Folks in and about Amherst, Massachusetts, sometimes called her “the woman in white.” 

She was small “like a wren,” with large eyes and bold dark hair.  Her voice was soft, frightened, breathless, almost childlike.  And all her life she had lived in the big red brick house at 208 Main Street.

And she wore only white.

In fierce seclusion she drew the walls of her home around her like a coverlet.  Except for a few, her secret was safe.

Like many who purposely lead their lives away from the world, the woman in white had become a topic of neighborhood talk.

What did she do all day all alone in the big brick house on Main?

Truth is, her life was as uneventful as the speculation of her neighbors was pretentious.

She was the daughter of a prominent lawyer bound for the United States Congress.  Better educated than most young ladies of the nineteenth century, she was remembered by her schoolmates for her quick wit and her comic valentines.

By her mid-twenties most of her childhood friends had married and left town.  It was then that she drifted imperceptibly into a habit of seclusion.

Accompanied by her little dog, she often strolled at twilight in the garden in back of her parents’ home.  To those who watched at a distance this was apparently her greatest pleasure.  Flowers and sunsets and solitude, the gentle, quiet, inward existence of the woman in white.

With her father’s death and her mother’s prolonged illness her uneasiness with strangers became a fear and her fear, phobic.

Then her mother died and she was alone, left to her secret self.

The years passed; glimpses of her were fewer and further between.  In May of 1886 the woman in white followed her beloved parents into the hereafter.

No longer would schoolboys stop outside the big brick house on Main and dare each other to knock on the door; no more would the reclusive lady’s face be seen through the curtain lace, nor her silhouette in the garden at sundown.

Discovered among her personal effects and private papers were these handwritten words:

I’m Nobody!  Who are you?

Are you–Nobody–too?

But the woman in white, a nobody all her life long, would posthumously and forever be Somebody.  That is THE REST OF THE STORY.

Her private papers, written in the solitude of her room and guarded like a secret journal while she lived, comprised the myriad descriptions of life as she saw it:  the tiny ecstacies and candid intuitions, the speculations on the timeless mysteries of love and death.

With language stripped of superfluous words she wrote for her eyes only . . . poems.  One thousand seven hundred and seventy-five poems!

This was the secret joy of the woman in white, the young lady irresistibly drawn into her own cryptic self, whose entirely uneventful life was spent in seclusion . . . yet culminated in the immortal art . . . of Emily Dickinson.

DRUNKEN POST #37

“Will you respect me in the morning?”

or

“Will you still love me tomorrow?”

Gentlemen, have you ever been asked that?  Then consider yourself lucky–because I never have.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I don’t need your respect, and I don’t need your love.

I only need your appreciation.

Have you ever read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, by John Gray?  Then don’t.

It’s just a dumbed-down version of “Men, Women and Relationships”, by John Gray–which I highly suggest you read.  If you read this book, “Men, Women and Relationships”, you’ll understand why I need only your appreciation.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a “drunken post”.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to afford to eat dinner with others–thus a long time since I’ve had any alcohol.  For I only drink on these occasions. 

I would discard my goddamned psych meds, and drink alcohol every day–if I were certain I wouldn’t end up an honest-to-God alcoholic–which I define, not as someone who drinks at all, but only as someone who is truly addicted to alcohol.

And I’m not.  I am addicted to nicotine–and will be, the rest of my existence.  It’s a physical addiction.  Every day, I crave a cigarette at some point.  But I know if I start smoking again, I’ll start being violently awakened, every night, by a coughing fit that will make my head ache, and never seem to stop.  Some call it COPD–maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  But the last time I had a cigarette was September 4, 2007, and I haven’t had one since–for the same reason I quit the first time (in my twenties)–that horrible, agonizing, midnight cough–not the fear of cancer, not even the cost of cigarettes, but that damned cough.

If you smoke, and cannot quit, I completely understand.  And I cannot possibly judge you–for I know how difficult it is to quit.  It is now known that nicotine is more addictive than cocaine and heroin.

But if you’ve never smoked in your life–please, for your sake, never start.  Because if you become addicted, as most smokers do, you will be addicted the rest of your life.

No, I’m not addicted to alcohol.  Could I become so?  Of course.  This is why I only drink alcohol when eating dinner with others–and the same night, after I’ve already had alcohol.  In other words, I never drink alcohol if I’ve drank it the day or night before.  That’s how one becomes an alcoholic.

I am however, actively addicted to caffeine–which means I don’t resist my addiction to caffeine, but consume as much caffeine as I jolly well please (almost exclusively in the form of coffee) every day.  Caffeine is the only substance I truly abuse.  But that’s okay–because it replaces nicotine.  Caffeine gives me the same “high” that nicotine did.  If I had no coffee (or at least tea), I’d start smoking again.  Caffeine can be dangerous, especially if you have high blood pressure, as I do.  Yet my psychiatrist and psychologist both assure me there are far more dangerous things to be addicted to.

You may ask, “Why is he revealing all this personal stuff?”

Yet that’s the beauty of alcohol–it allows you to reveal whatever you jolly well please! 

And you can always delete it the next day–put the “drunken post” in the trash, and empty the trash.

Yet I probably won’t.

“A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool speaks because he has to say something.”

I love that!

And honestly–like everyone else perhaps–I am sometimes a wise person, and sometimes just a fool!

But that’s okay!

This is National Poetry Month.  I’d forgotten about that–and was just reminded of it a moment ago.  Last April, I posted every poem I’d ever written, as I recall. 

Yet I have no new poetry to post this time.  I’ve been writing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction since college.  In fact, I majored in English/creative writing. 

But I’m tired of it.  I’ve had very little of what I’ve written published.  If I ever have enough money, I’m going to self-publish everything I’ve ever written–then sell my publication(s) on Amazon.com, for a song.  Then I can move on, and write new poetry and prose. 

Till then, though, let me end this “drunken post” with the most beautiful poem I’ve ever read.  It was written by Jelaluddin Balkhi (now known as Rumi), a Persian poet born in the year 1207, in what is now Afghanistan. 

Rumi was–in my opinion–the greatest poet ever–even greater than Shakespeare.  I can never write poetry to equal that of Rumi–nor can anyone else.  There is no such thing as perfection, in poetry–or any other art, for that matter–but Rumi’s poetry is the closest to perfect poetry ever written. 

This is just one of his poems (translated by Coleman Barks)– discovered by me in the Poet Robert Bly’s self-help masterpiece, “Iron John: A Book about Men” (a life-changing book, required reading for every man, and suggested reading for every woman).  It is translated by Coleman Barks, and it’s just the tip of the most mind-expanding iceberg you’ll ever encounter.  For much more, I highly recommend “The Essential Rumi”, edited by Coleman Barks, and translated by Coleman Barks and others.

One word of warning for American men: Don’t use this as an icebreaker for meeting women.  I’ve used it numerous times, and it has always failed.  The reason it doesn’t work is that most American women in this goddamned Digital Age are just too goddamned stupid to understand it, let alone appreciate it (in fairness, most American men probably are too).  But enough ranting–here it is:

Come to the Garden in spring.

There is wine, and sweethearts in the pomegranate blossoms.

If you do not come, these do not matter.

If you do come, these do not matter.

ANGRY DOG

I KNOW HOW THINGS GOT THIS WAY.  BUT HOW IN THE HELL DID THINGS GET THIS WAY?



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers