Lost Cat Scratch Records

bleached lost notebookclosed lost notebook
lost notebook
tattered lost notebook flyingShelves and time and maybe a cat had pulled on Billie Holiday. The poor, young handsome Glenn Gould, too. All these great geniuses, not the minor kind. The kind that shoot across the nighttime sky, the horizon of time itself, once in a thousand years. My records inside their sleeves, inside their thin cardboard covers, they were mostly good. Maybe the White Album was a little trashed. Everybody’s White Album should be a little trashed, its middle fold holding a little spent shake even after all these years from someone rolling weed. So many of the records, LP’s as they get called now to distinguish them from something else quite meaningless in comparison to them (IRS records, medical records, police records, etc.), and from other media (downloads, mp3s, CD’s, etc.), but I myself never called records anything but records—they’ve gone the way of basement floods, the whirlwinds of Sandy’s destruction, and just the progressive whim of moving on to the next big thing . . .

Once I had had a party, and it was quite mad, and so was I, and I had all my records playing laid out flat on their covers on their sleeves on the floor. And after everybody was gone I couldn’t find Blood On The Tracks—only just the black record itself—to put it back. It was just gone. That was twenty years ago and when I went to confirm with a friend the other day which album Bob Dylan had sung his line about keeping on keeping on in, to end the curiosity that had popped up in the middle of our conversation, we pulled out my copy of Blood On The Tracks to see the record inside it was gone. Shelves and time and maybe a cat. Robert Frost might say, these had not done it, exactly, but something wild and bombastic and crazy once upon a summer’s eve had. After turning down a $15 vinyl copy of it at the flea market the other day, and even when the vendor had offered he could do it for me for ten (because I had wanted just another five dollar copy of it), I said no, but I appreciated it. Charlie tapped me on the shoulder a little later on from behind and gave me the CD  for nothing. That was sweet. “Another guy here just gave it to me, and I’ve already got one, here,” he had said, pulling the $8 sticker off the plastic case. Next week when I was making my rounds, I gave him a sack of vegetables—chard, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers—grown from my backyard vegetable garden. “I like vegetables, thanks,” Charlie said, and I wandered back off into the market and town again.

Diana ‘Toy’ Film Camera

diana

The poet Marianne Moore defined poetry as an imaginary garden with real toads in it. I’d like to propose something similar here. That if we have a technical garden, there can be real things growing in it. It is not only possible, it was inevitable. The horizon was scanned and there was stuff in it. Moreover, it was possible to put our own stuff in it, stuff that belonged indeed to the technical age right before our own. And that can be very new and fun to do.

So, imagine Perseus without the help of a mirror to ‘not-see’ Medusa. Had he looked at this snake-ridden monster directly, rather than a reflection of her on the back of his shiny shield, then death was instant. Like others before him without the helping hand of technology (not to mention sandals that helped him fly about nimbly, as well as a cap that made him invisible!), another stone statue.

Picture not what we will imagine—regardless of any efforts to squelch or suffocate it or mute it—to be a snake-headed monster, something to fear and loathe and conquer, but something else. Picture it to be not baneful, but perhaps beneficial. I cannot myself yet imagine it. But I do know that it is inescapable because we humans are both biological and technical animals. And at times, if we welcome them, though it is rumored they have fled, we may receive the helping hand of the gods. The news is very old.

Down By The River

country river

Warning against the virtues of the perceived authentic life in the country, Schiller—the wordsmith behind Beethoven’s ever popular, much loved Ode to Joy music in his 9th Symphony—directs people to “submit to all [the] evils of civilization with a free resignation.” This was in 1795. The worst thing one could do, in other words, was to dupe oneself into believing a life in the country could ever still amount to anything, and not to waste it there. So, the only thing to do was to take in the fullness that modern life in the city offered. Again, this was in 1795. Under completely dissimilar circumstances, actor Joseph C. Phillips condemns the now beleaguered American comic Bill Cosby in 2015 for his predatory philandering by urging him, in a publicly released article to “Please, go live a quiet country life.” In other words, to vanish, to disappear, to fritter away his days to nothing. Get out of the city! Get out of New York! Get out of LA! Get out of Berlin! Get out of Leipzig! Get out of Jakarta! Get out of Barcelona! Get out of the public eye! Get out of business! Get out of the world!

But with the hyperconnectivity of our Internet entwined globe, this trope of the Country Mouse and the Town Mouse—the quiet and the busy, the ignorant and the urbane—is not valid anymore. While the superfluities of Jonathan Franzen’s words litter columns of myriad subjects enmeshed within Wikipedia articles, he will likely be recalled by his own confession as dictum that in order to write, he has to turn off his Wi-Fi. This is completely the opposite of Susan Sontag’s fantastic declaration much earlier in time that she has a multiple-attention-to-everything disorder, or Camille Paglia’s hefty boast in the 80’s to having to have her Walkman playing music on loud while writing to write. Surely, as Steve Martin has amused us all, whether in a shack in the country, or a teensy-weensy studio in the city, or some shanty in obscurity, the women rule here.

The Myth Of Neither Hansel Nor Gretel

vienna 2

It isn’t Mesopotamia. And it wasn’t quite Berlin. Nobody could claim Los Angeles or Dubai. But as the shift went from their being a slow cartwheel sort of animal keeping somewhat apace with technological progress—having begun with fire, flint, and the club—it was a long time a-comin’ before the wheel itself ‘outstripped’, ‘outran’, outdid human biology. But even back then in the latter part of the twentieth century of their Common Era, it was hard to say who were the people the proprietor had had in mind. Nobody could have imagined. Nobody could have foreseen it. The idea of suspending Prometheus’ stolen flame a-high in a store window for all to see like this as though held up magically, supernaturally (balanced on a clear, plastic stand one stood there believing one did not ‘see’) was radical, and shocking if not comic. But like the Ghosts of Christmas, pieces of the manikins of tomorrow had come many decades back, a good two hundred years more behind when the limbs & eyes of the window-shoppers’ curiosity, need, desire and wonder along with the shopkeepers themselves had later been replaced by the gears & shafts of the future’s perfectly machined selves now viewing perhaps through another ‘window’ of some kind their own evolutionary updates, or reverse-engineered replacements.

It Was A Sky Blue Sky

mediterranean machinery

The preservation of most private moments is lost. These could be decades ago or they could be tomorrow. Gone is the fingered picking through a crate of manila folders, the little creases they get from being pulled out and pushed back in. Gone is the eye standing above, looking below. The quiet blue Mediterranean blue sea was there. And so was that other self deciding ‘whether or not’—whether to take a picture or not, whether to let the shutter fall or not, whether to set the aperture’s opening even smaller, and to take the light in there—or not. The abolishment of this, when “1” now equals “0”—mere placemarkers, not just photography is abolished but it abolishes time itself. Synchronic memory is gone. When a small sector of the world is scanned, forgotten now is the stillness in time, and one’s very place in it—in that—is altogether completely gone. Though one can pick up, pick through, pull out a true photograph from those former times when one was truly alive, and remember the once living self that almost innocently decided to trespass upon daily quietness and take that picture, a remnant of another age, now gone, now held, now remembered itself as ‘artifact’, as fossil, as archeology, as one’s own passing anthropology, and so long as hands can hold it, a 3”X 5” or 4”X6”, a very old picture is so beautiful to behold.