Round and round the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot see the falconer. . .
William Butler Yeats
He lights up a joint, steps in close to the canvas, fills his eyes with stark white, inhales a harsh cloud and holds it in his lungs until he can feel the first electric tingles of an on-coming obsession. The rectangle of nothingness is a head taller than he is and twice as wide. The music is loud, a force in the room. Nugentâ€™s guitar screams Stranglehold, blasts of power cords pound out of the speakers. The bass shakes the dining room table and sends minute waves quivering across the top of a glass of water . . . the disturbance draws him into a circular universe of trembling water, then through the clear glass to a wooden pallet filled with glistening dollops of paint -- red, yellow, black, white . . . cerulean blue fascinates him.
He pushes the soft white bristles of a brush into a droplet of night; steps back and slashes darkness across white canvas. The stroke is unthinking, half-surprises him. A paranoid voice in his mind tells him: â€˜Way to go, David, youâ€™ve already fucked up the painting.â€™
The canvas is filled with a pencil drawing, two purple giraffes wearing monocle sitting in yellow wing chairs in. a clearing in a dense jungle, their heads seemingly bent down to fit on the canvas as they poke silver tipped canes at a line of small pink pigs marching by in full nazi regalia. He takes blue onto his brush, roughs out tropical plants receding from the extreme foreground into the horizon, smears canary yellow into the blue to create leaves. His field of vision fills with a yellow-green line running through shining black. The contrast of colors reminds him of abstract letters in an ornate bible, a history class on a monastic period . . . He tries to think of which monks embellished the text that he's thinking of? Bits of history lectures fill his mind. None have the words that heâ€™s looking for.
â€œI concede. Iâ€™m not sure of the name of the isolated rock that contained whichever religiosity addled monks who spent their lives creating art in these bibles. And further more, the only reason I would ever care to know that would be to impress other people, or make my words seem to have more weight than whoever I am speaking to wishes to give them -- a sincere waste of the facts. The scientific method is the best way to find truth . . . A real pope, people actually getting orders from the mysteries of the universe on how to proceed with their lives.â€� He imagines himself draped in a scratchy wool cowl, feet and fingers chilled by a draft flowing through a castle tower, writing with a feather pen in the half-light of a flickering candle. He assumes that he would be an ecstatic sort of monk. "Expelling my passions into a bible, inscribing words in what might as well have been stone. Words that the people â€“ and more importantly, me -- thought were coming directly from god. I would have believed that I was conduit for the truth."
Images subsume the castle scenario in bits of a history lecture on Irish monks hiding out on a barren rock in the sea, remnants of the rules of St. Benedict, a haunted faced Christ staring down from a bloody crucifix in an elaborate cathedral, pages of well organized notes on the middle ages.
A gray tiger cat leaps up from the floor, appears on the edge of the table, green eyes locked on the moving brush as he strains up into the air and his tail whips back and forth
â€œMr. Buk, pray-tell, I hope that you will see fit to repress your primal impulse to attack. No! â€œ
Buk jumps off the table.
â€œOne healthy dose of cultural conditioning and there you are, cringing off away from me. Donâ€™t look at me like this is some pleasure that Iâ€™m denying you. This isnâ€™t like going outside, or getting laid -- Iâ€™m sparing you a bath in paint thinner. Iâ€™m glad that youâ€™ve come to chat, though, because Iâ€™ve been meaning to inform you that Monks were, and most likely still are, trapped in church stories. Word mazes with no exits. Without someone coming along and writing Atheist tracts, I wouldnâ€™t have access to anything except church stories, as well. Essentially, I would be inside the maze with no idea that an outside world even existed. I want to write words that we can use to talk ourselves out of the mazes and into mindscapes that donâ€™t originate with our physical geographies dominant myths - be it church, politics, use of war, nationalism or any of the other oh-so-banal, petty delusion . . . yet, here I am, trapped in Saint Augustineâ€™s Ass --as he loathing called anything associated with his bodies urges -- hormonally/genetically/culturally vacillating on whether there is even any way out the maze. I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™m effecting consciousness, or merely entertaining a narcissistic delusion? I canâ€™t even find my own path out. I eat, breath, and think lies; like a fish swimming uncertainly through in a vast ocean of dark black. Monks didnâ€™t worry about how to get a message across, or what to say. They had the truth like I will never know a truth, not in the age of coming up in front of a box that tells beautiful lies. Monks had words of clear glass; their tales were open windows on scenes of suffering and redemption, forgiveness and rejoicing -- the unraveling ball of yarn of it all. They could count on their readers to understand their references. Thatâ€™s not possible now. Everyone has a different story now.â€�
â€œ Buk, please donâ€™t interrupt . . . yes, I am stating the obvious, but sometimes one must do so to track down a bigger thought. Now, as I was saying, until someone came along and wrote the text -- a room of words for our consciousness to enter, if you will - we couldnâ€™t even conceive of anything other than a religious explanation. The same thing happens in all sorts of areas - itâ€™s easiest to see in some of the places where we seem to have progressed the most, like on the idea of humans enslaving one another on a regular basis, which was originally sanctioned by the bible. The anti-slavery textâ€™s that now exist between humans and that kind of behavior dissuades all but the most heartless . . . though once, a few hundred years ago, those same humans would have been vessels of pure and sanctioned racism. Yes, I am stating the obvious, but sometimes .... but sometimes that's what it takes to track down the truth.
------------------------------------------------all work here is the sole property of John Scott Ridgway, Chicago Illinois, host of the elves attic reading, every Friday night at the Big Star Cafe.