Posts Tagged ‘The Machine’

How much electronic pain must be suffered at the delighted hands of masochistic fairy muses, who flit about teasing the writer with half-formed ideas?   All day long this one has been continually dive-bombed by brilliant sparkling thoughts, only to see them fade away as soon as the mental hand reaches out to grasp.

At the heart of the exercise is the certainty that such grasping is not in vain.  The hope stretches beyond wishing, to the point of clarity:  gems are meant to be mined, not left in the walls of rock, forever ignored, forgotten.

The analogy searches beyond the immediate:  while the gem is the goal, it goes beyond just writing, or just ideas.  The gem reflects the natural light of value, inherent in those lights who have perceived it.  The woman whose flashing eyes reveal far more spirit turmoil and joy than most in her company.  Hidden to most, she is accessible to the seeker who somehow just can’t stop perceiving.   Like the ephemeral muse, her quick quirks of dangerous laughter upsets the apple cart of decency and “the norm”.  The writer understands and yet knows that he doesn’t get it all.   His self-awareness understands the depths of his own ignorance, and the intrigue tickles his mental taste buds.  A flavour, filling the mouth with ambiguous fire.

It’s not often this happens – this departure from every day mundane musings, and when it does, it’s certainly welcome.  I was reading “Jitterbug Perfume” (once again, probably for the tenth time, but who knows – and more importantly who’s counting?), when a new pre-ordered book slipped into the e-bookshelf of my iPad Kindle application.   The dangerous world of espionage had always intrigued me, and so I flipped over from “Jitterbug” to read the first chapter.   In normal mundane times, I would start such a book but wouldn’t stop until it was finished.  My appetite for reading has always been like that:  voracious and hungry, and unable to stop until full.  I’ve missed meetings and have been late for doctors’ appointments because of it.  There’s no shame there, really.  I revel in the fact that brilliant ideas, written painstakingly by good authors are so greatly appreciated on this side of the internet.

Yet, this time, I only made it to the first couple of paragraphs before the compulsion to jump back to “Jitterbug” irritated me mercilessly.  I knew why, too.   Robbins’ writing – at least in this work – does not lend itself to distraction.   Literary vortexes are like that.   This one is anyway.  It tends to consume concentration, with the promise of reward.  His dark maelström of lightening beneath bitter clouds floods the consciousness with meaning and soulish rapture.  It instigates and enables so many epiphanic ideas and thoughts.   I suppose it’s why I read the book so many times.   There’s an old commercial about the snack food “Bits and Bites” – where the cartoon narrator reaches into a box and pulls out some content while saying “something different in every handful”.   “Jitterbug Perfume” is just like that, with every reading.

It’s an unceasing drill sergeant too, demanding, obstinate and blunt.   The bright thoughts demand action and reaction, and doesn’t seem to know what “tolerate” means.  I suppose the contrast becomes too apparent:   the world “Machine” wants everyone to take a seat and settle down.  We are cajoled and advised to be content, to watch our favourite TV programs, to eat our fatty foods and be quiet.  To be precise:  the Machine would rather we shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and don’t stir up any shit.

Following that advise is what gets you old.  It’s an intricate preparation for disease and death.  Many of us are cool with that, and plan accordingly.   When we question that direction, and ask why it is, the only response is “well it’s complicated”.   Truth-speak for “not only wouldn’t you understand – we don’t want you to get it.”

The Machine keeps stepping on my chi, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had enough of it.  The best defence is a good offence, and the best offence is to be offensive.  Challenging my own direction is scary and a little invigorating.  It pleases me to be displeasing to conventional wisdom.

One has to suppose that the grown adult’s self-imposed rut comes from a lifetime of digging and creating a nest.  Even the most creative of us gets used to the idea of comfort wherever we can find it, or create it.  Stability is the goal, and at least for me, stagnation is the result.  So there’s a trade-off isn’t there?   If you want security, be prepared to be bored.   If you want excitement, know that your life won’t be all that stable, and it certainly won’t be predictable.

Deep in historical awareness – the same awareness that exists within our DNA – is the exhilarating knowledge that steps into uncertainty and risk have their own reward.  Joy, excitement, and even a measure of a type of security.  It knows that the plush fruit of its acts will shine attractively to those who don’t yet have it.

Ever wonder about the state of the economy and where it will all end?  I have.   Some things seem certain:  those who invest themselves in artistic directions always have willing buyers.  People who – like me for so long in my life – have become art voyeurs, the Hansel and Gretel of life’s forest, excited by the new trail, but lulled to a certain undignified grave.

The choice becomes simple.  On one hand, we can concentrate on consuming (and become consumed), and on the other we can concentrate on creating, bringing new life and enlarging our perceived horizon, constantly growing and finding room for more growth.

Voyeur or voyager.

The average looking girl, with her dirty blond hair in ponytail and harried face slips into the subway car and into her seat without anyone giving her notice.  She’s not participating in the collective consciousness of the riders.  She may as well not even be there.

At the next stop, a guy walks in, clad in jeans and ripped t-shirt.  The terrestrial horror of his multitude of pimples war with the rings in his nose and upper lip in their dance of pain, and it’s all the passengers can do not to stare.  His belligerent look causes them to look away, as his questing gaze scans the car.

His swiveled gaze stops once he sees the girl.


The girl looks up, her frown disappearing.   A shine glows in her eyes, as she erupts into a wide open smile and hops off her seat, to grab him in a hug.  For his part, the belligerence is gone and he grins down at her.

For a brief moment, the busy riders forget about their pressing appointments, their bills, the stressful presentations they have to give, and what they’re going to tell their wives about why they couldn’t go on holidays this year.  Instead, they see a couple living in a moment, unaware of the past or future, or troubles.   The display admonishes them about misplaced priorities. 

It is to be expected that, not long after the couple leave the car, those priorities and issues will come crashing back.  Some will pop anti-stress pills, otherwise will drown themselves in coffee, and still others will eat more fat-enhancing food, all in an effort to avoid feeling bad. 

The observant soul will notice that this scenario happens more often than not.  It is only evident to those who are aware and watchful.

One artist saw an abandoned house down in New Orleans and decided to experiment.  She took a piece of chalk and in bold letters wrote “BEFORE I DIE”.   And then she scratched out a whole wall of empty lines with the words “Before I die, I want to……..”.   Then she sat back and waited to see what people would do.

The artist’s instinct was dead-on.  Give people an open and unjudging chance to talk about themselves, and they’ll gladly oblige.  Some, even joyfully.

Many wrote jokes.  Most took the exercise seriously though.

Frankly, I was a little surprised to see one particular wish stated over and over.

“Before I die, I want to live”.

That wish makes me almost speechless.  An explosion of thoughts careen around, begging for release.

Why would they say that?  What’s stopping them?  Do they feel they’re not living now?  If so, why is that?

The persistent grinding poverty of desire and passion seems overwhelming.  People (including this writer) talk about The Machine as if it’s a sentient, purposeful, sadistic thing.  The Machine swallows dreamers whole, and spits out robotic uninterested (and therefore uninteresting) sheep who do their Master’s bidding.   The question comes up:  is it possible to dream and still be part of the system?

There aren’t any perfect answers to that one.  The dream is not the achievement is it?   Dreamers are often considered whiners, not content to appreciate what they have.  To a certain degree, that’s true of many of us.   Yet, those who dream often provoke change.  

You have to consider: maybe advancement isn’t possible without dreamers who consider what yet isn’t, and should be.

I dreamt of changes.  After years of playing the living martyr, content to put up with angst and depression until I died, confident that the hereafter would be my reward, I elected, finally, to escape the grind.   There was a severe financial and living conditions price to pay, which I thought about carefully before making my choice.   You know – the notion that I had a choice at all was pretty compelling.   After closing my eyes and pinching my nose shut, I jumped.

It was very hard, at first.   After a few years of plodding with mud-covered boots through a miasma of difficulties and obstacles, the dream stayed in front, smiling and encouraging.  Eventually, there was a point where the mud sloughed away, and the difficulties stayed behind.

Without The Dream, none of that would have happened.

Then I read a book.  And after reading it, another dream took shape.

This new dream  provoked even more change.   Travelling and sky-diving and acting the fool on a stage in a theatre and in a few bars happened.   Years of stress, and of biting my tongue, went away.  In their place came the smiles of youth.   My God this was good.

“Before I die, I want to live”

Amazing.   It’s personally frustrating to know that so many don’t feel they have options and choices, and that they must put up with *this* before they die.   The question for those who say they want to live is this:   “how long do you plan to wait before making that happen?”

Someone else wrote “Before I die, I want to be published”

Yeah, that’s my current dream.

But the dream that intrigues me most, the one that was written on the wall, without explanation, was this one:

“Before I die, I want to evaporate into the light.”