All that we are is the result of what we have thought. Oklahoma, nineteen miles from Arkansas border, early afternoon, October 25, 1979. It is founded on our thoughts. Rest area. It is made up of our thoughts. Cement picnic table, sun baking author’s back. “Edward?” – next table – “That’s one way o’ gettin’ lead outta yer butt, ain’t it?” If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.
White mobile home, dark yellow stripe running the length of it, bordered, above and below, by lighter yellow stripe, moped strapped to the front of the vehicle. Bronze Chevrolet, old-fashioned outboard cruiser in tow. U-Haul truck, orange stripe on side, white mandala emblem within it. Red Mazda pickup, yellow line running through middle of bed. White RV, partly obscured by willow. Couple arrives, brown sedan, green E-Z Haul trailer. Out of car, seat themselves under tree on grass sere from drought; tether golden retriever. Woman puts down yellow dog dish; man picks up thermos. Dog circles tree twice, chaining himself to it; woman, yellow dish in hand, off in search of water. Dog inquiringly looks at man, who, through apricot-tinted aviator glasses, gazes in woman’s direction.
Okie couple, next table, continues raucous talk. “So what!” – mother to eight-year-old. Father, cowboy boot on bench, throws out water onto concrete slab; hawks; spits.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. Arkansas, ten miles from Little Rock, late afternoon, October 25. It is founded on our thoughts. Rest area. It is made up of our thoughts. Escarpment, overlooking I-40. Air scented with forest-fire smoke, visible on horizon. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. Bank of recently mown grass separating westbound/eastbound lanes. Highway a tiny strip in immensity of cultivated nature.
Full-throated melody of vehicle flow: blather of Bloedel Containers rig; guttural AMC windjammer; puttery, ancient VW (robin’s egg blue, overlaid with dust). Hiatus. Oil coats near lane, sporadically patterns outer lane. Hatch-backed (ochre) economy car; 24-foot U-Haul (white); immense “Aquaglas” van (aqua). Silver sedan, blue towel arranged in side window against the southern sun. Pickup with heavy-duty hitch, pulling catamaran. Older sedan passing newer sedan.
Seated next to author: open Safeway Nu-Made water jar.
“He abused me.” Forrest, Arkansas. “He beat me.” Texas Courts Motel. “He defeated me.” Pre-dawn. “He robbed me.” October 26, 1979. In those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease. Carpet: pattern of blurred green/brown, impossible to tell if the ground is brown or green. Woodwork painted brown, chips revealing earlier coat of white. Ceiling in brownish white acoustical tile, single 100-watt bulb.
Curtains floral squared, representations of antique Americana: Currier & Ives locomotive, a sailing ship plus ship’s wheel, a coach; rifle and drum, The Liberty Bell, “The Swan.” Bed in two-tone muddy maroon/dirty grey; ocher bottom sheet, white top sheet, latter thin from many washings. Bedspread reek of smoke and disinfectant. Seated on stool: black TV (out of order). Crank windows painted shut.
“He abused me.” Memphis. “He beat me.” Tennessee. “He defeated me.” Eastern bank of Mississippi River. “He robbed me.” 8:00 o’clock, October 26, 1979. In those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease. A silver-streak jet silently – now faintly audible – passes from West to East. Cars in the distance cross the elegant bridge, its arches a sweet off-green. Two construction cranes on island recommence motion. To the south a railroad bridge, freight train inching westward. Four enormous barges – 200 yards offshore, the front three bearing oil, the fourth, containerized cargo. Sun glistens off tug, churning to hold the barges at standstill. Light morning breeze ripples surface of water. Meanwhile, on western bank a thin antenna, alternate bands of red and white, fades into smoky horizon.
For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Jackson, Tennessee, Waffle House. Hatred ceases by love. 10:45 am, October 26. “Let us add Pecans to your Waffle.” Coffee in white glass cup, “s”’s in light brown surrounding the rim. Plastic water tumbler, irregular chunks of ice. Miniature orange juice glass, brimful. Beaded glass syrup pitcher, off-red plastic top, metal open-close bar. “Cup o’ Gold Whipped Margarine, Shedd’s Food Products Div. of Beatrice Food Co., Detroit, Michigan 48238.” Waffle on plate with “Waffle House” in “waffled” lettering.
Two waitresses, brunette, blonde, orange smock-tops, yellow necklines, white collars; both in early middle age, upper arms filling out. Blonde – Joanne – with gold necklace tight about her neck; from it dangles quarter-inch-high brown hearts, streaked with yellow. Waitress smocks have hole at hem big enough for two pencils. Both waitresses in wedding bands, engagement rings with diamonds. Jeannie – brunette – pats eggs in pan with fork.
The world does not know that we must all come to an end here. Crossville, Tennessee, Mountin’ Mint Market (#4). But those who know it. Late afternoon, October 26. Their quarrels cease at once. Frito-Lay truck arrival, deliveryman pointing through windshield at girl behind counter. Parked Para-Chem rig and trailer reflected in clean Frito-Lay side. Motor running, blinker on; white body, sweep of red/blue stripe to rear; double CB antennas. Out-front scene: smallish Amoco torch sign. Large portable sign, red arrow, flashing white bulbs; slumping frog atop it looking goofily at viewer, protruded middle-aged belly, green body, black spots. Self-service island, pumps of two truncated pyramids set base to base. Atlas “See Safely” window-wash kit. Para-Chem driver returning; mounts cab, maneuvers out; on into Crossville. White GMC pickup, pulling up, parks by Frito-Lay truck. Products Transport Chemical truck, pulling into station; black driver descends. White tourist, blue sedan parks behind Frito-Lay. Black PTC driver back in rig, proceeding Crossville. White pickup driver exits, opposite direction. Blue sedan departure. Frito-Lay truck alone remains, “FL Frito-Lay FL”; over its large square windshield reflection: sky, trees, pole; beneath it: gas pumps, concrete driveway.
Black Mountain, North Carolina, Reed’s Motel. Cable TV. 8:30 pm, October 26. This month’s rainfall: .25 in. Wind: SE, 0 mph. Time: 8:33. Remember: TV Cable Payments due the first of the month.
He who lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Immoderate in his food. Glandon Road. Idle and weak. l:30 pm. Mara the tempter will certainly overthrow him as the wind throws down a weak tree. October 28, 1979. A leaf falls at a distance. Another, closer by. The second from a nearby oak, the farther of two, ivy on both, nourishing, sending out shoots. Thirty feet above, a squirrel sits on the first branch. Persistent chirps; a bee buzzes by author’s ear; a background of high-pitched fluting. He who lives without looking for pleasures. Two joggers mount Glandon, one in yellow shorts, no shirt, one in white. His senses well controlled. A black-and-white cat leaps in author’s lap, making writing difficult. Moderate in his food. Author dumps her out. Faithful and strong. She persists, scratching her nose on notebook. Him Mara will certainly not overthrow. On adjacent stone, random selection of leaves: green oak; russet elm, light-colored pebble atop it; indeterminate red leaf with yellow flecking. Any more than the wind throws down a rocky mountain. Five pine needles; a scuff-mark; imprint of an earlier leaf.
He who wishes to put on the yellow dress. Glandon and Evergreen. Without having first cleansed himself. 2:30. The sun not high but very bright. Of sin. Author confronts it. Who disregards also temperance. The sun flashes out. And truth. Glints off metal band of hoe, blade – seen straight-on – registering as smudge of light. Is unworthy of the yellow dress. He peeks at the sun again, not so boldly this time, its warmth on his jacket. Behind author leaves rustle like water. But he who has cleansed himself from sin. Light strikes irregular shoots of privet in alleyway off Evergreen. Blue-clad jogger descends Glandon. Is well grounded in all virtues. Hovering yellow-jacket tries to alight on pen. And endowed also with temperance. Sun, raking across the page, turns green hues iridescent, reveals texture of cheap pulp. And truth. Leaf caught in spider web hangs, rotates. Two birds chirp at stereo positions. A white awning floods the foliage around it, radiating blue light. He indeed is worthy of the yellow dress. A Chinese pagoda (pathway lamp), sun converting its black roof white. Awning catches a falling sprig of red leaves.
Chapel Hill. They who imagine truth in untruth. 9:00 am. And see untruth in truth. October 29. Never arrive at truth. “Parallel Parking Policies.” But follow vain desires. “The University is systematically depriving students and faculty of parking near campus.” Easy chair area, Undergraduate Library. “While evidence of a conspiracy is lacking, the fact remains that space within walking distance of classrooms is at an unprecedented premium.” “Clean Air Floor”: purolator, indirect lighting. Acedia. “Surely this is no recent development, but the closing of 600 spaces in the now-defunct Carolina Union lot has given the parking situation renewed and perhaps unparalleled prominence.” Co-ed, ample hips, beltless green corduroy pants, Hawaiian shirt riding up; large nose, pallid skin. Shelf behind her: Baseball Encyclopedia, The Golf Swing, Football Today. “And even though the newly constructed lot on Manning Drive – complete with its own bus service – actually gained more spaces than were lost.” Depressing male student sits on edge of chair; plaid shirt, hushpuppies, jeans; freshly shampooed, blow-dried hair. “Few would argue that parking near US 15 Bypass is more expedient than the Union lot.” On table before him: UNC notebook; purple felt-tip pen; David Herlihy, ed., Medieval Culture and Society, Pirenne, Medieval Cities. “There are, however, certain advantages in shifting parking to the campus periphery.” Student flips through Western Civilization: People and Progress; paperclips pages together; gathers notebook, books, pen; arises to head toward class. Chair vacant; underneath it, a penny.
“It effectively moves traffic congestion to the outskirts.” Cross-campus route. “Encourages use of the bus system.” 9:25 am. “And makes room for the new central library.” Girl, in open-toed sandals, army slacks, Oxford-cloth striped button-down, to co-ed with boyfriend: “An oral book report!” Boyfriend (gum-soled moccasins, beige slacks, yellow sweater): “You gotta say it?” Girlfriend (dark blue tassel loafers, skirt, cowled cardigan): “I just said it, to the teacher.” They who know truth in truth. Passing co-ed, dowdy sweatshirt, sorority letters. And untruth in untruth. Two black girls, one to the other: “He’s got 26 per cent!” Arrive at truth. Unemptied trash receptacle, stuffed with Coke cans, syrupy cups, aswarm with yellow-jackets. And follow true desires. “Take a Look at Yourself, Carolina. The Yackity Yack.”
“But strangely enough the Town Council sees other priorities for remedying Chapel Hill’s parking ills.” W. Franklin St. As rain breaks through an ill-thatched house. 9:52 am. So passion will break through an unreflecting mind. “The Council says more parking should be made available in the downtown area and has taken steps accordingly.” Stereo Sound, Athletic Attic, Ye Olde Waffle Shop; The Fireside, Wachovia Bank & Trust, Wentworth & Sloan; Chapel Hill Cleaners/Laundry, Milton’s Clothing Cupboard, Audio Works; Rathshead Pizza/Rare Roast Beef, A & C Outlet, Lacock’s. As rain does not break through a well-thatched house, so passion will not break through a well-reflected mind. “On the Nov. 6 ballot voters will find a $2.6 million parking facility referendum.” Communist Party poster, half ripped off: “Assist in Spreading, Deepening and Intensifying the Work!” “Such action runs counter to the aims of the University in relocating parking – away from the campus and thus away from the business district.” “A message from Bob Arakian” – pictured in corduroy tam, leather jacket, grey-flecked goatee.
“No doubt the town and the University have different viewpoints concerning the allocation of the community’s parking resources.” Thirty-year-old student, work shirt, heavy ribbed pullover, jeans (frayed at ankles), pauses for commerce with layabout, who turns to greet another seated on bench – “Hello, Lorenzo,” languid patronizing voice. Lorenzo, silently departing, leaves behind Raleigh News and Observer. “But inasmuch as both are committed to a more or less peaceful coexistence.” Co-ed, red sweater, white canvas book bag, bright blue pants, emerges Wachovia B. & T., sealed envelope in hand; crosses Franklin to campus. “A coherent policy, designed to suit the parking needs of each, would seem to be in order." Black girl, black blouse, bright red slacks, puts black/white Chapstick in teeth to free hands for difficult extraction of Durham Morning Herald/Durham Sun from orange rack (white letters).
The evil-doer mourns in this world. Henderson St. (east end of block). And he mourns in the next. 10:15 am. He mourns and suffers when he sees the evil result of his work. United States Post Office / Franklin St. Station / 27514. “Classical” facade: three square columns, architrave, circle inscribed in tympanum. Overhead: “colonial” turret. Doors in bright maroon, “No Dogs Allowed” (black on yellow). Woman pauses for light, looks at author writing, turns head to study subject. “Employment Security Commission of North Carolina.”
The virtuous man. Walking westward. Delights in this world. Bank of newspaper vending machines. Greensboro Daily News: “PROTEST DOESN’T HAMPER MARKET” (green); Winston-Salem Journal: “KOREA BEGINS JOB OF PICKING LEADER” (blue); The Village Advocate (red vending boxes). And he delights in the next. The North Carolina Anvil: “ANVIL BUILDING SAVED FROM FIRE.” Delights in both. The Chapel Hill Newspaper: “SHELTERED CHAPEL HILL SUFFERED LESS FROM ’29 CRASH.” He delights and rejoices. Continuing westward. When he sees the purity of his own work.
Four Corners Restaurant, line of single globes/line of grouped globes, seen through black-tinted window, whose arched form completes arch of door. The Fireside: “Welcome UNC Students”; “30% Off”; “Small Group of Fall Dresses” (stenciled, orange on black, leaves added, yellow and green). Display window: blue carpet, rail fence, on which a patterned silk, long-sleeved blouse with lightweight brown wool skirt, brown leather handbag in lighter brown atop it. A white openwork metal jewelry box with pearl earrings. A tall glass, two long-stemmed artificial roses (blue, yellow), an off-white carnation. An imitation old-fashioned telephone.
Westward: “Chapel Hill 1-day cleaners” (“day” and “cleaners” inside the gigantic “1”). On side of machine, shadow of letters “AUNDR”; on floor, “LEANER” and part of the “S.” Wentworth & Sloan central display: highly-colored bead necklace, within it a silver chain; pins, watches, a single plate; a box with gemmed college/fraternity rings: “Tri-Delt”: (gold in black stone setting). Two silver foxhounds, mounted on polished stone. A bunny rabbit plate with bunny rabbit bowl and cup. A cute little schoolboy made of ceramic surrounded by seated ceramic figures from Winnie the Pooh. A ballerina almost holding her skirt, face in sublime upward gaze. Two miniature diamond earrings. A star of David in 14-karat gold.
Westward: Wachovia Bank & Trust, white recessed facade, black-metal-trimmed, tinted windows. Clients approaching Teller 11 transact business by inserting card, punching buttons. Sloped reddish tiles form entrance. Westward: “milton’s clothing cupboard” (Old English letters). The evil-doer suffers in this world. Grey plaid suit (“Wool Blend Donegal – vested / By Etienne Caron / European Fit”), reduced from $200 to $99.90. And he suffers in the next. “Worsted Wool Chalk Stripe Suit – vested / Three-button Classic Traditional Model – Finely Tailored – By College Hall”; $139.90. He suffers in both. “Wool Blend Donegal Sport Coat – Can Double as a Car Coat”; flecked-in-white double-breasted jacket. Over its shoulder a magenta tie with gold tubas, played by grey mice in green sweaters. He suffers when he considers the evil he has done. A wrought-iron “stairway,” a shirt on each step, a tie across each shirt: “Pierre CARDIN / Paris . . . New York.” He suffers more on the evil path. A “Wardrobe Striped Wool Blend Shetland Crew Neck / washable”; reduced from $30 to $14.90. Pretty, slight salesgirl steps to other side of window, mouthing words, "What are you doing?” The virtuous man. “Writing.” Is happy in this world. Author replies. He is happy in the next. Reflections in the glass of passersby behind him. Behind passersby, reflections of cars, church, university buildings. Behind all, reflections of foliage. And he is happy when he thinks of the good he has done.
He is still more happy when treading the good path. Westward. Stereo Store, advertisement on plastic imitation wood, plastic letters in white: “System $569 / Technics SA 20 / Advent speakers / Sango TP-1010. Financing – $25 mo.” System assembled on battleship grey carpet, cactus to one side, succulent to other. Graduate student behind author, black corduroy stovepipe pants, stops another, Indian-weave sweater; speaks of a lecture he’s given. The thoughtless man, even if he can recite the law, but is not a doer of it, he has no share in the priesthood, and is but a cowherd counting the cows of others. Girl (red turtle-neck) buttonholes artist (paint-spattered jeans): “Have you seen Jeff yet?” “Yeah, he just came down from Durham.” Conversation continues, bicycle passing in background.
Sutton’s Drug Store paperbacks: Eve, by Angela Taylor Ames; Marie, by Margot Arnold; Leigh Nichols’ The Key to Midnight, The Total Dog Book; The Memoirs of Richard Nixon; Six of One, by Rita Mae Brown. Westward. Ledbetter Pichard Stationers. Funky map of Chapel Hill, signs for sale in the window: “Load Limit: One Fifth.” The follower of the law. “No Turkeys Allowed” – circle with bar over cartoon turkey. Even if he can recite only a portion of the law. “Bust Stop”; “Make Pass With Care.” But, having forsaken passion. “U Turn Me On.” Hatred and foolishness. Cartoon of Tarheel sledge-hammering dog in “State” tee shirt. Possesses true knowledge. “Carolina” cap, pale blue/white, white pom atop it; “Tar Heels” pillow; “UNC” eyeshade. And serenity of mind. “Carolina” shot glass; “Carolina” cocktail napkins; “Carolina” playing cards. He, caring for nothing in this world. “I L[red heart]VE Carolina” tee shirt. Or that to come. “Tarheels” plaque. Has indeed a share in the priesthood. Headless manikin, UNC Tarheels cap on truncated neck, white beltless tennis shorts, ample bust (no shirt).
Westward: The Shrunken Head Boutique, more paraphernalia; The Winning Tradition: Pictorial History of Carolina Basketball.
Westward: Oasis Restaurant, “Natural Vitamin Supplements,” “Roast Duckling – $12.50.”
Westward: McGinty’s, The Sport Shop, Inc. (“It Pays to Play”); running shoes, yellow tennis balls, a black-and-white volley ball; Master Charge, Visa.
Westward: Aric’s Hallmark Shop. I’m Not That Kind of Girl, by Susan Polis Shutz; her Yours If You Ask; her I Want to Laugh, I Want to Cry (“Poems on Women’s Feelings”); her Someone Else to Love (“the feelings of the author, before, during, and after pregnancy”).
ABC Off-On Restaurant, Buckingham, Virginia.
By earnestness did Maghavan (Indra) rise to the lordship of the gods. Basement apartment, Charlottesville, Virginia; entranceway, graduate student digs. 3:00 pm, October 31. Icebox, incredibly loud condenser; washer, dryer; electric stove. Floor in mauve/pink tiles, cracking at doorway, “gold” inlay. Living room ceiling: acoustic squares, two leak-stained, sagging. Citron-painted cinderblock, tiny western window (chicken-wire enmeshed), sunlight affronting its dirty surface. “Chippendale” sofa, leatherette recliner; classroom chair, extended writing arm, typewriter uncomfortably perched atop it. Child’s maple desk: note card case; note cards; Beaujolais bottle, red candle in it. Bedroom: light dim (northern window), bed unmade; open suitcase, dirty laundry in it. Bedside table: empty Dorito pack; Holy Bible, Dorito atop it; library books on traditions of interpretation.
Charlottesville, 10:45 am, November 1. The White Spot. A bhikshu (mendicant), delighting in earnestness. ‘Sandwiches: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Gusburger, Steak.” Who looks with fear on thoughtlessness. “Tuna Salad, Chicken Salad, Grilled Cheese, Ham.” Moves about them like fire, burning all his fetters. “Hash Browns, French Fries, Onion Rings.” Large or small. “Pepsi, 20 & 45; Milk, 55 & 80.” A bhikshu who delights in reflection. “Breakfast: Sausage & Eggs, Eggs & Bacon, Two Eggs / Toast.” Who looks with fear on thoughtlessness. “Cheese Omelet.” Cannot fall away from his perfect state. “Today’s Special: BBQ /Slaw /Fries.” He then is close upon Nirvana. “Enjoy Coca-Cola.”
Earnestness is the path of immortality. UVA, “The Rotunda.” Thoughtlessness is the path of death. 11:00 am, November 2, 1979. “The original dome” – guide, passing – “was planned as a planetarium.” Those in earnest do not die. “Mr. Jefferson was a real idealist.” Those who are thoughtless are dead already. “Today it’s a banquet hall.” Tour of undergraduates. “And it costs 25 bucks to rent it out.” Having understood this clearly. Light, on Corinthian columns, two by two. Those who are advanced. Intermittently modulated by cloud conditions. Delight in earnestness. Reflecting off bookcase panes. They rejoice in the knowledge of the elect. Alcove a dull, almost olive green; modern dirty olive chair, original table. Two women pause to examine eighteenth-century map over fireplace; pause again to read “Heat Conservation and the Setting of Thermostats.” Departing heels scrape original floor, irregular widths of plank. Locked in cases under glass: Thackeray’s novels; A.L. Tennyson (I-XII); The Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Stillness, muted light; cloud passes; light rayed through dome.
Ground floor: “Oval Room,” videotape, Sony rattle. “Mr. Jefferson called the central window overhead ‘the oculus.’ The dome room, now restored, is used for many purposes. Here [Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip] royalty is fêted [close-up: Corinthian capitals].” Girl enters oval room in floral-patterned dress, begins photographing photograph display; clogs, black tights, hair pulled back. Middle-aged tourist couple seated before Sony, dirty olive chairs [close-up of wood grain, dome flooring]. Two college students tentatively enter, one with red Frisbee, the other with moustache. These wise people. “Mr. Jefferson’s buildings were designed to be pleasant for working and living.” Meditative, steady. Clock strikes 12:00, overruling soundtrack [camera scanning “Lawn”]. Always possessed of strong powers. Photographing girl departs; videotape ends; middle-aged couple stands up. Attain to Nirvana. “Produced at the University of Virginia”; clunk-clank, video-tape recycle. The highest happiness. Woman in shawl, rat-type hairdo, looks in, saccharine smile; little boy (her son) looks in too. If an earnest person has roused himself. Atop Sony, cutaway rotunda model. If he is not forgetful. Zzzz: Sony goes haywire; cuts off. If his deeds are pure. Two young tourists walk about looking at photos. If he acts with consideration. Pink-sweatered college student enters. If he restrains himself. Tries to fix Sony. And lives according to the law. Closes cabinet doors instead. Then his glory will increase.
Oval Room in imitation period furniture, “practical” multi-colored rug. Photographing girl sits on painted bench in hallway, electric “candelabra” diffusing it with institutional light. Girl photographs tourists, one of whom enters Oval Room, touching base of rotunda maquette. Photographic display with information labels: “Mr. Jefferson spent the last years of his life establishing the University of Virginia. So great did he view the accomplishment that he included it in what he considered his ‘three services to mankind.’” By rousing himself, by earnestness, by restraint, the wise man makes for himself an island that no flood can overwhelm. Clock continues to tick but seems to be stuck at 12:00.
Fools follow after vanity. Conversation between two co-eds, one sharp-nosed, sporting engagement ring: “How about your honey?”
“He was supposed to come down this weekend, but he didn’t.” 12:30 pm. Steps of Alderman.
Two rich girls in ski vests (green, white) mount stairs conversing, mid-day light “blinding.” But the wise man keeps earnestness as his best jewel. Pretty girl on crutches, one foot in moccasin, other foot in sock. Girl in purple blouse seated on ledge, Renoir Venus rotundity. Pleasant sorority girl gives author decorous glance, mounts stair, holds door open. Male student exits past her; encounters purple-bloused girl; engages her in conversation. “See you later,” he quietly concludes, re-ascending stair. Follow not after vanity. Two nine-year-olds at football, quilted jackets tossed on grass. “One to one,” says one. Nor after enjoyment of love lust! Irish setter saunters by; sniffs jackets; lopes off. Male friend of girl-in-purple-blouse reemerges, proposes lunch date. Friend of girl appears. Introduced to male friend, she reaches to shake hands, still holding car keys. Keys fall to sidewalk. Laughter, heads almost hitting. He who is earnest obtains ample joy.
Charlottesville: Monticello entrance hall. 3:00 pm, November 3. Languishing marble; mastodon jawbone; D.A.R tour guide. When the learned man drives away vanity by earnestness. Oily hair; plastic name tag pinned middle of sweater. He, the wise, climbing the terraced heights of wisdom. Through the door: two beautiful blondes, one with boyfriend. Looks down upon the fools. D.A.R. in black pumps, dark corduroy A-skirt. Himself free from sorrow, he looks down upon the sorrowing crowd. Nuclear family, ten-year-old son, gorgeous fourteen-year-old daughter. As one standing on a mountain looks down upon those in the plain. Mustachioed single Easterner, blazer, expensive blue-striped shirt.
“And if you’ll come this way we’ll look at Jefferson’s library.” Histoire Naturelle, Système de la Nation, Campbell’s Lives of the Admirals. “Here is a table which he used for reading large books.” Emporium of Arts and Sciences. Sitting side of bedroom, chaise longue, one volume open, emerald lawn visible over J.’s left shoulder. Earnest among the thoughtless. Skylight in formal part of bedroom. Awake among the sleepers. “Jefferson died in this room on the same day that John Adams died.” The wise man advances like a racer. Salomé with head of John the Baptist. Leaving behind the hack. Fourteen-year-old daughter looks at author, brown pool-deep eyes, golden ear loops. Opens mouth, revealing braces.
“Now, do you have any questions?” Dark D.A.R. look, as scribbling author brings up rear. “Yes” – fourteen-year-old’s father – “How long did it take him to get from Monticello to Washington?” Answer: “Three days.” “See” – father wagging finger – “they had a different way of life then.” Nasal woman: “How much is this all worth?” “Well, given its historical value, a great deal. [Pause.] Considering the Albemarle real estate mafia, very much indeed!” Out into lawn, light dazzling.
Basement storage room, off graduate student digs, Charlottesville, 8:00 am, November 4. William G. Moffatt, George W. Pearsall and John Wulf, The Structure and Properties of Materials (dust-covered cardboard box of books). Chapter One: “Electrons and Bonding.” General Electric oil furnace: large grey mass (modified cylinder), held intact by two metal bands; set on square three-inch concrete block. “Atoms are arranged according to the strength and directionality of the inter-atomic bonds.” Copper lines leading in; silver leading out. “Knowledge of the energies and the locations of the bonding electrons help us understand why an atomic bond is strong or weak.” Maternal hum. Hot water heater adjacent to furnace, can of “3-in-1” oil atop it; dust-covered instructions for installation/operation. “A pronounced lowering of electron energy results in a strong or primary bond.” An inch of grey insulation off a piece of electrical wire; plumber’s filings; a wrench.
“There are three limiting cases of primary bonding: (1) covalent, (2) metallic, and (3) ionic.” Cinderblocks painted “white” (three unaccountably left unpainted). “The limiting cases of secondary bonding may be viewed in terms of weak dipole attractions.” Nail in wall supports “wisp” model Spaulding badminton racquet; a second nail, red-plaid plastic golf bag (four irons, four woods showing). “Since electrons obey the laws of quantum mechanics, we must understand these laws.” Southern wall: open shelves.
“1. Its principal feature is the quantization of energy.” Something covered in greenish-white plastic. “Electrons, that is, may have only certain energy levels and nothing between those levels.” Battens of knitting in various colors. “If the electron changes its level, it must make a quantum leap.” Christmas tree ornaments. “It may jump to a higher level, by absorbing radiant energy, or fall to a lower level, by emitting radiant energy.” A box of Tinsel Garland (upside down), atop another box of Tinsel Garland. “The frequency (v) of the energy is given by the Einstein equation:
ΔE = E2 – E1 = hv
where h is Planck’s constant, E2 is the energy after the leap, and E1 is the energy before the leap; a negative ΔE means that energy is emitted.
“2. A second feature of quantum mechanics, the Pauli Exclusion principle, states that no more than two electrons can occupy the same energy level and that these two must have opposite spins.” Second shelf: red and black Chun King Chow Mein noodles box, brand name also in Chinese characters. “Therefore, for any atom larger than helium, all the electrons cannot have the same low energy.” Two shoe boxes, “Betsy Ross” (yellow), “Bass” (blue), first atop second. “As will be shown in the next sections, the quantization of electron energies (together with the Exclusion Principle) is responsible for the different bonding tendencies.
“3. The Uncertainty Principle.” Third shelf: two cylindrical light fixtures, wooden stand, electrical wires running out of them. “Initially formulated by Heisenberg, this principle states that we cannot measure the motion of a particle with unlimited precision.” Another lamp atop a record album, it in turn atop two pieces of wood, one bound with electrical tape. “For the case of momentum and position, the limitation is of the form:
Δpx Δx ≥ h / 2π
for each of the Cartesian coordinates, where Δpx is the uncertainty momentum, Δx is the uncertainty in position, and h is Planck’s constant.” A pressure cooker; in front of it, two jars, one with a top, one without. “For the case of energy and time, the limitation is
ΔE Δt ≥ h / 2π
Fourth shelf (moving eastward): half-gallon bottle, Taylor bourbon; a slender-necked bottle with adhesive-tape label: “PRUNELLE 1968”; a large copper basin with feet. “It is because Planck’s constant is so small (6.63 x 10-27 erg-sec) that these uncertainties place severe restrictions on what we can know about small particles, without at the same time limiting our observations of larger objects.” A box of women’s wear; a large wood and plastic “Roll Around” (“Made in Sweden”); a Chinese checkers board; a rattan doorway filler; a briefcase with red-skirted, white-sweatered cheerleader (black-and-white saddle shoes), depicted on its side, above her a pennant reading “Ponytail.” A large, zinc-coated bucket; a wicker basket, another wicker basket inside it; a red wooden box held shut with a rubber band; a large copper pot. “As the Uncertainty Principle suggests.” A picture turned to face the wall. “Even when we find an equation.” A box labeled “Personal Supplies.” “Describing the behavior of electrons.” A rack of women’s clothes: polka-dotted blouses; coral beads; long skirts with ruffed hems. “We cannot interpret the solution in as much detail as is possible for a larger object.” A 1000-piece puzzle of house on lake; two large rugs rolled up, only the rubber backing visible; a saddle on a saddle horse. “Like a billiard ball, for example.” Three copies of Life magazine: “A Year in Pictures” (Winter 1975); “John F. Kennedy” (November 29, 1963); “Leaving for the Moon” (July 25, 1969). “Or a planet.”
New York City. As a fletcher makes straight his arrow. Broadway. A wise man makes straight his trembling, unsteady thought. South of Houston St. Which is difficult to guard, difficult to hold back. 4:30 pm. As a fish taken from his watery home, so our thought trembles to escape the dominion of Mara (the tempter). November 5, 1979.
Light blue sky, palish, whited. Light, brilliant on facade, a block away, yellow-pink light. Yellow-pink-blue through windshield of blue Ford pickup, yellow NY commercial plates ahead of author. Parked outside 519 Broadway, illegally. It is good to tame the mind, which is difficult to hold in, flighty, rushing wherever it listeth. Black woman crosses between author’s car and pickup. A tamed mind brings happiness. Rabbinical figure, east side of street, glimpsed between two cars, circumcised by passing yellow cab. Hispanic woman in chic jeans, yellowish coat, among a group of 20 or 25 Hispanics, mostly women, all walking north (uptown), one in white pants, yellow knee-length cardigan. Three black women, two in front, one behind. Hispanic girl walking south (downtown); bright navy jeans, red parka, white stripe – six inches wide – across her back.
A white girl with a flute case, attired in various whites, off-whites, beiges: tortoise-shell glasses. An old Jewish man walking north, east side of street. Half-Hispanic, half-black walking north, enormous radio under his arm – zither-like. Let the wise man guard his thoughts, for they are difficult to perceive, artful, and rush wherever they list. Thoughts well-guarded bring happiness.
To the East: Renella Trading Corp., manufacturers of Ladies Sportswear, words in dark blue, yellow ground, red letters beneath. Lights in skyscraper visible now farther downtown. Red light turns to green, seen through windshield of pickup. Slender Italian man, blue shirt, butcher’s apron, strides uptown on west side of street. To the West: K. Trimming Co.: bobbins, tassels, breeds; “K. Button Co.” on uptown panel. Green light goes yellow, red. Those who bridle their mind, which travels far, moves about alone, is without a body, and hides in the chamber of the heart, they will be free from the bonds of Mara.
Building with high Venetian arches, three or four down, takes light subtly. “Premier Textile Co.” in large serif letters. Above, four windows. each with “ELECTRONICS,” elongated letters; three of windows with air-conditioners. Blue police three-wheeled cycle, white top, ticketing vehicles on west. Declining light peaking; rose accents. If a man’s faith is unsteady, if he does not know the true law, if his peace of mind is troubled, his knowledge will never be perfect. The blocks grow progressively richer as Broadway goes South.
West side: Allegro Fabrics, Inc., green and red standpipes. Large patterned fabrics: overlapping pastel squares; stripes; herringbones: lemon, mauve, pink, carmine. Two Caucasians head uptown on west side, both in expensive parkas. A uniformed black man, 50ish, brown paper sack held by strings, white paper sack with blue flecks pressed to his chest. The light is beginning to go. Rear lights of cars, taxis, vans blush as they pause, jockey, stop for light. Man holds guitar by neck, its face the same color as the jacket he wears.
Two Hispanic girls with identical hairdos passing downtown. A mother and her daughter walking uptown. Jewish man, orange-headed wife park cream-colored Ford in front of author’s VW. Police bike passes again. Man and wife have mild scene, he sending her into K. Trimming/buttons unhappy. Paces toward his cream-colored Ford (brown vinyl roof), then toward K. Trimming/Buttons. Blue gabardine slacks droop beneath drooping trench coat. Turns squarely in doorway to face author: a puzzled look. Author looks again, catches him in profile. He turns again to gaze deep into K. Trimming/Buttons, blond saleslady, orange-patterned smock, forcing her overweight body to lean over. Streetlight, west side of street, has come on, creating a John Sloan aura. If a man’s thoughts are not dissipated. Orange-headed wife emerges, brown handbag. If his mind is not perplexed. Husband and wife enter car. If he has ceased to think of good or evil. Its back lights blink. Then there is no fear for him. Off; on; car departs.
Red-bearded man in blue fedora, blue shirt, blue pants scratches his beard, looks tentatively at author. Beautiful, long-haired Hispanic girl in white pants, red parka, catches me as I study her; continues conversation with two older black women. Negroes, ethnic whites, Hispanics stream uptown. A black girl in a bright pink blazer. An Hispanic girl in a turquoise shirt, light purple jacket. Broadway/South Ferry bus heads south, revving, moaning, intoning brakes. A van, follows in its wake. People stream uptown, jaywalk. Hispanic girl in elegantly-braided pigtail pauses by right side of VW, as she and girlfriend wait for opening to cross. Lights in all the bigger buildings now, varied in intensity.
Tailor in apron, yarmulke, emerges from K. Trimming/Buttons, accompanied by younger man, also in yarmulke. Street emptying; pedestrians thinning; several cars have left. Studious, suited Caucasian, glasses perched on nose, forces his 30-year-old frame uptown, tie loosened. Man returns to car with friend, finds ticket on windshield; remonstrates. Two green lights at cross street discernible, yellow/red of sign beyond. Black man with bottle in paper sack walks uptown. Artificial light strong on recto page of notebook, as author writes on verso. Stop the stream valiantly, drive away the desires, O Brahmana! Interior of car becoming cooler. When you have understood the destruction of all that was made, then will you understand that which was not made.
Woman starts up Ford station wagon, muffler deficient. White station wagon farther down the block blinks emergency lights. Polish-looking pair of 23-year-old men walks north, one in black rain-coat, one plaid-jacketed, white tube of bottled-up something over right shoulder. Unger Stationery van pulls in; pulls out. Man in yarmulke exits Premier Textile, folded fabrics in plastic bags; opens rear of back-light-flashing white station wagon; closes it; returns into store. Man in yarmulke to station wagon, laden with garments again. Again Man in Blue Hat, Blue Pants walks by. Walks by again in opposite direction; pauses, enters L.M. Industries Co. Red-helmeted Honda operator mounts sidewalk, continues on bike for 50 feet. Older Chevrolet windowed van pulls alongside; with difficulty parks in front of author. Two Orientals (Japanese) pass between us. Younger man in yarmulke enters K. Trimming/Buttons, reemerges speaking Yiddish; is met by father, who helps him load dark blue, white-topped Chevy van. Caucasian woman in fur coat pauses, crosses west to east.
New York City. Knowing that his body. Central Park West. Is fragile like a jar. And 78th St. Making his thought firm like a fortress. State Memorial to Theodore Roosevelt: “A Great Leader of the Youth of America.” One should attack Mara with the weapon of knowledge. “In Energy and Fortitude; In the Faith of Our Fathers; In Defense of the Rights of the People.” One should watch him when conquered. “In the Love and Conservation of Nature.” One should never rest. “Of the Best in Life and Man.” Boone TRUTH Audubon KNOWLEDGE Clark VISION Lewis. Museum of Natural History.
Three o’clock, November 6, 1979. People arriving for Gold of El Dorado show [correction: show doesn’t begin till November 13]. Before long, alas! Gold trim of special awning (“Gold of El Dorado”). “Ranchman, Scholar, Explorer; Conservationist, Naturalist, Scientist.” The body will lie on the earth despised. “Statesman, Author, Historian.” Without understanding. “Humanitarian, Soldier, Patriot.” “Now, Air Canada from both JFK and LaGuardia.” Mothers with children, parents with children, grannies with children. Bison, elk, antelope (limestone). White-jacketed hot dog vendor, blue and yellow umbrella. Grey skies; 50 degrees. Father with seven-year-old, seated on wall, west edge of Park. Wipes mustard from her mouth with napkin; spaced-out black gays promenading between us: shades, tams, earrings. Male Japanese tourist exits museum, pauses to sight it in camera; decides not to take the picture. Cabs passing; medium-priced American cars. An Indian woman, breeze-light saffron sari, flowing tresses, accompanies aged parent. A girl in large grey glasses, having finished sketch of the park, rises to depart.
Interior. 3:25 pm. Video monitors inform spectators of Gallery Talks, Films, Slide Lectures. Whatever a hater may do to a hater. “Manhood.” A wrongly-directed mind will do him greater mischief. “A man’s usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals.” Woman behind desk asks if she can help. “Insofar as he can.”
Oceanic birds. “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” Birds of the Pacific: Ship Followers; Birds of Samoa; Birds of the Galapagos. Birds of Paradise (Rifle-birds), enclosed in circular form, lit from above. Bird-like people studying the birds of Fiji, of Tuamota, of the Marquesas. A large, lugubrious New Zealand ostrich.
African mammals. “All daring and courage.” Family of blacks emerging. “All endurance of misfortune.” Caucasian and his daughter. “Make a finer, nobler type of manhood.” Darkened hall, water hole: giraffes, antelopes, brown zebras. Two extravagantly beautiful Hispanic girls, seated before the central pride of elephants; white girl, seated atop a copy of the Sunday New York Times, sketching them (the elephants). A buffalo (“Gift of George Eastman”). A field, luminous with flowers; a big bug, saliva dripping from corners of its mouth. The Lion. Little boy to momma: “They’re the king of the jungle.” Giant Eland; Greater Koodoo; Forest Hog glaring dully at Bongo, as he grazes on bamboo shoots, both bathed in yellow-filtered sunlight.
The Giant Sable. Large black woman studies scientific notes on the Gemsbok, one of which examines her with limpid eyes. Nuclear Caucasian family (daughter in leotard, swingy skirt), arrested before pink sands of the Libyan desert, confronting striped-legged Okapi. German tourist, his back to “Environment of Mountain Gorilla Group,” beats breast with fist, murmuring to his woman, “Er ist grosser, ja?” Not a mother, not a father, will do so much, nor any other relatives. Evening Lecture Scenes. A well-directed mind will do us greater service. “Central Park: New York’s Remarkable Back Yard”; “Insects: The Earth’s Most Successful Animals”; “Manhattan Building Stones: A Treasure Trove” [illustrations of marble, limestone, granite; onyx, conglomerate, serpentine].
Asiatic mammals. “Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die.” Leopard, having done in a peacock, in process of being sketched by perfumed, red-shirted male artist. Bunting; Sumatran Rhinoceros; Water Buffalo. Mother with two young children before display of savagery: “Those wild dogs look scary; but they’re pretty smart, ’cuz they all travel together.” Black Buck; Chincara; Spotted Chevrotain. Indian Lions: “Very pretty, aren’t they?” – very pretty mommy (chic fitted jacket, suede skirt, high-heeled boots). Chital (Axis Deer); two enormous Saurs. “How’d you like to meet one of those on a dark night?” – mommy, who turns to author, enquires how to pronounce their name. Daughter: “The mother has to protect the baby animals.” Slote Bear; Hog Deer; Indian Wild Boar. “None are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life.” Mommy explaining the mystery of ant-eating bears. “Mom, mom!” – little boy standing in front of Tiger. Couple necking on bench, as tiger drinks from pool of dirty water.
North American mammals. Who will conquer the world and the world of the gods? “Extinct Mammals of the Ice Age” (mostly mastodons). Who will conquer the world of Yama? Little French girl, with mommy. The world of death and pain? Asks for caramel; mommy rummaging through purse. Together they stand before enormous panorama; intrepid Bighorn Sheep/Alaska Moose in combat. Passing African tourists pause in awe before Pronghorn, Bison. Little French girl nagging. Who will find the Dhammapada? “Je ne sais pas” – mommy – “Je sais pas!”Grizzlies; jaguars. A man seeking flowers. Alaska Brown Bears. Finds the most beautiful. The Mountain Lion.
Small mammals of North America. It is the wise student who will conquer the world. Eight-year-old in Smurf top, corduroy jeans: “Hey, what’re these little things?” Black-footed ferrets; baby armadillos. White canvas shoes, padded terry ankles, pastel rainbow slashes. Kitfoxes; kangaroo rats. It is the wise student who will conquer the world of the gods. Eskimos; Northwest Indians. But who will conquer the world of Yama? Education Hall. Who will conquer the world of death and pain? Vestibule, commemorating life of John Burroughs, poet/naturalist [picture of his friend, Walt Whitman]. It is the wise student who will find the Dhammapada. “Ahead to Mollusks/mankind.” The path of perfection.
“Biology of Man.” Two little girls – nine and seven. “The Eskimo Body Build / The Dinka Body Build.” Staring at obscure male genitals. “Hey, look” – long-haired boy to girlfriend – “this is pretty funny.” A man seeking flowers finds the most beautiful. Reproduction; Skeleton; Endocrine Regulation. Plastic human form on pedestal. Neural Function; Consumption; Excretion. Red arteries, blue veins; toneless voice pronouncing from overhead speaker. He who knows that the body is the crest of a wave. Three three-year-olds. The falling of a petal. One in red, one in yellow, one in blue. The shadow of a shadow. Dancing. He breaks the pointed barbs of Mara. All three sit down on author’s bench, one on either side of him, one behind. Concealed in the flowers of sensuous passion. Giggle; pat each other; squeal. Unseen by the king of death. Big black nurse arrives on scene, lips protruding, mad at having conversation interrupted. He goes on. Slaps the one (in yellow) who had been the most entertaining. He follows the path.
Gems, minerals, meteorites. But Death carries off the man who is gathering flowers. Beryl, Garnet, Tourmaline. Whose mind is distracted. Spectators equally beautiful. European woman in shantung silk chemise, precious tiny buttons; American father, blond daughter – jade-colored crêpe de chine blouse, detachable floppy bow. As a flood carries off a sleeping village. Objects d’art: fluorite, chalcedony, malachite. So death subdues the man who is gathering flowers. Gorgeous teenage upper Westside Jewish girl, satin green “active pants,” yellow piping; olive-skinned girlfriend, amethyst shirt, matching headband; braided forehead strand, flood of chestnut hair to waist. Whose mind is distracted. Touching each other, whispering. “Like kindness, it is soft, smooth, shining.” Examine jade together. “Like intelligence, it is hard, fine, strong.” Long fingernails on glass. “Like justice, its edges seem sharp but do not cut.” Self-effacing titters; fingers brushing hair back. “Like humility, it hangs down to the ground.” “Closing please” – guard in African accent. Before he is satiated in his pleasures.
Outdoor emergence. As the bee collects nectar and departs. View overwhelming. Without injuring the flower. Aligned sandstone, granite apartments in perspective; sky clearing (pristine blue, pink-tinged grey). Drifts, billows, wisps, skeins. Its scent or its color. Street fresh-washed from recent cloudburst. So let a sage dwell in his village. Museum itself gargantuan: pink limestone, tin roof, green corroded gutter. Exiting onto honeycomb tiles: red-haired boy/blond girlfriend; Oriental couple; two black nurses with three-year-olds; girl with sketch-pad, Sunday Times.
6:30 pm, November 6. Single room, New Milburn Hotel. Not the perversities of others, not their sins, but his own misdeeds should a sage take notice of. Two windows, Venetian blinds; radiator with perforated baffle. Like a beautiful flower, full of color. Over-painting so heavy that all but larger holes are filled. And yet without scent are the fine but fruitless words of him who does not act accordingly. Double lights on wall; naked, paint-splotched bulbs. But like a beautiful flower, full of color and full of scent are the fine and fruitful words of him who acts accordingly. Radiator hood once covered in plastic, or oilcloth; painted over, paint chipped away by nervous fingernails in proximity. As from a large bed of flowers many wreaths may be wrought, so by a mortal in this life is there much good work to be done. Cut-off rug section, central blotch in red, surrounded by variable white/cream/beige; black suture form; sunburst in yellow with green borders; quadrate black sections holding arrow forms. Even as on a garbage heap a lotus may grow. All enclosed in blood red box, back-ground of clubs and trefoils, intercalated with lunate, solar, floreate forms.
Long is the night to who is awake. New York City. Long is a mile to him who is tired. Washington Square. Long is life to the foolish who do not know the true law. 10:35 am, November 7, 1979. Base graffiti: “Photo-overlays / Positive proof”; “Luko / Real Kid”; five pillars marked with spray paint: “F” “E” “L” “I” “X.” Tragic Caucasian walks through arch, negotiating cobblestones in filthy bare feet, soot-covered pants, hip-length sweater. “You know goddam well the police is black and white. Fuzz!” If a traveler does not meet with his better or his equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary way, for there is no companionship with a fool. Bacon Cut Ribbon Company truck (red), jogger (yellow pants, white top) disappearing behind it. Habers Syrups Crushed Fruits truck, driver smoking a cigarillo. “These sons belong to me.” Black woman of 30, spun polyester shift under mid-calf camel’s hair coat, sits down six feet off, opens stylishly printed NYU brochure. “And this wealth belongs to me.” Through the arch: a cottonwood, yellowed above, still green below – though foliage is thin. With such thoughts a fool is tormented. To the east: Henry James row houses, gutter between the first two encumbered with ivy. For he himself does not belong to himself. Two telephone repairmen, under “Washington Sq/5th Ave” sign, stand looking at one another. How much less then sons and wealth? Blue hard hats, matching blue van, whose back doors stand open.
To the left of east pillar, the Empire State Building, seated securely/blandly in cloud. The fool who knows his foolishness is wise at least so far. At western base of arch:
|ZIONISM IS FASCISM [brown]||ME 62 TR [aqua]|
|IS COOL [dark blue]||THE EGOS (TEXAS) [burnt sienna]|
White girl, black, heavy-ribbed corduroy coat, gives author somewhat friendly look, takes seat. Elaborately-dressed black man, yellow boots, meets her; sits, lights cigarette, facing author. Black of lesser repute approaches, questions girl (“Hey, where’s my friend?” – indicating which friend by holding out hand, palm down, nose level). First black looks on with patience. Police car pulls up on sidewalk by fountain; nurse, pale green coat, pushes elderly man past in wheelchair; someone, in operatic voice, sings a note or two behind us. Police car, slowly cruising on, pauses as it reaches arch. “LET US RAISE A STANDARD TO WHICH THE WISE AND THE HONEST CAN REPAIR.” White top, light blue body, white horizontal stripe. “THE EVENT IS IN THE HAND OF GOD * WASHINGTON.” Double red lights encased in plastic cylinders; double yellow lights on inside of these; loudspeakers facing front and back. Arch graffiti over exiting car: “Dusty Love /Lead Guitar ’79”; “YIPACRITS”; a large number 8, encircled. But a fool who thinks himself wise, he is called a fool indeed. Corbusier/Matisse-like outlined figures.
Black-coated girl continues talk with yellow-booted black. Filthy, bare-foot addict approaches them, asks for cigarette; black man opens flat pack, gold-foil interior. If a fool be associated with a wise man, even all his life. Police car returned. He will as soon perceive the truth. Two teenage girls talk cop into getting out of car. As a spoon perceives the taste of soup. So they can film it empty. White pigeon walks past; wanders off. Cop steps to one side. If the intelligent man be associated with a wise man for one minute. Girl filming police car from rear. Then he will perceive the truth. Yellow-booted man departs. As the tongue perceives the taste of soup. Black-coated woman approached by another black man, blue French jacket, champagne turtleneck. Fools of poor understanding have themselves for their greatest enemies. Monologues on “woman” who has “fucked up” his life. For they do evil deeds. “Accused me of be-in’ with some otha bitch.” Which bear bitter fruits. “Had the nerve to ax me to go on down with her to West Virginia.” Turns jacket-back to author: eighteen-inch apple, bite taken out of it, “EATEN” written down it vertically. That deed is not well done of which a man must repent. One-armed 31-year-old Caucasian passing in periphery of author’s vision. The reward of which he receives with a tearful face. Western sky clouded over, eastern sky filled with handful-sized cotton puffs. Cop, reseated in cop car, exhales lungful of smoke out open window. Teenage movie maker, actress assistant, prepare another shot. Temperature has fallen ten degrees Fahrenheit in last half hour. Exhausted jogger, bare midriff, walks past, earphones on his ears. No, that deed is well done of which a man does not repent. Three boys (white, Puerto Rican, black). The reward of which he cheerfully receives. Puerto Rican to white: “Boy, I like to watch when them chicks jog.” As long as the evil deed does not bear fruit. Professional Frisbee artists perform across fountain. The fool thinks that it is honey. To rock ’n’ roll radio/cassette deck. But when it ripens, then the fool suffers grief. Arch graffiti close-ups: “Dead or Dieing / They Keep Trying.” “Peace Baby, Jesus Loves You” – depicted baby, “Schizo” in balloon excreted from rear end.
If you see a man who shows you what to avoid. Converging lines. Who administers reproofs. Sprinkler pipes, cornices, bezelled wainscoting. And seems to be intelligent. A sharp retinal image: single neon tube lighting framed-in entranceway. Follow that man. Designer-carpenter, red tee shirt, at work in dusty light. As you would a man who tells of hidden treasure. Behind him a grey door. It will be better, not worse, to follow him. Eyes still imaged, author looks up, talks to one of artist-workers. Designer-carpenter puts index finger, right hand, underneath nose, disappears through grey door. Let him admonish. Reemerges. Let him teach. Summons carpenter-artist. Let him forbid what is improper. Who crosses vast space for consultation. He will be beloved of the good. Quiet conversation ensues. By the bad will he be hated.
Forty feet from divider wall, against which author sits, light on ceiling shifts, growing brighter under influence of neon bulb. Have not evil-doers for friends. Bulb again leaves retinal image. Have not low people. Two carpenter-artists hammer together. Have instead virtuous people. Only as the room approaches the street does the light from its ten-foot windows illuminate the ceiling. Have for friends the best of men. And then only for fifteen feet. For he who drinks in the law. Black worker, hand-held sandwich, walks past in obscurity. Lives happily. Enters work space behind divider; reappears. The sage rejoices in the law, as preached by the elect. Three blacks stand momentarily together. Well-makers lead the water wherever they like; fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend the log. Designer, crouching, talks on phone. Wise people fashion themselves.
New York City. Black embossed ceiling, white light reflections. SoHo continuation. One o’clock, November 7, 1979. White walls; “tick, tick . . . tick tick tick” (sound of electric typewriter). Six 7-foot welded forms. Author on vinyl-covered cube. Pseudo-sophisticated glance-pause-glance (secretary) out through office door. A man should hasten toward the good, he should keep his thought away from evil. “From TZAR to LENIN” – Festival of Trotskyism. If a man does what is good slothfully, his mind delights in evil. “Tax Religion.”
1:25 pm. Louis K. Meisel speaking from gallery office, 141 Prince St. If a man commit a sin: let him not do it again. Artist entrance (paint-spattered shoes). “Speak of the Devil.” Let him not delight in sin. Attractive girl entrance, rings on second/third fingers, left hand; artist engages her in unspoken by-play. The accumulation of evil is painful. Stamos display: simulated chamois, European abstraction. If a man does what is good, let him do it again. Large black, stitched brown suit, enters, receives wordless greeting from gallery attendant; takes out slides from briefcase; hands plastic holder to attendant, who lifts it up to window. Let him delight in it. Scans images in fifteen seconds; dismisses artist with generalizations, patronizing advice (“I know SoHo pretty well”; “spend a year looking about, then pick a gallery”; “or go about religiously”). The accumulation of good is delightful. Two women enter conversing; furtively glance at work; one pokes head in office door, other looking at photos on hallway wall.
West Broadway Gallery, 2:05 pm. Grey embossed ceiling, white walls, brick. “Mixed media” – photographs and quotations. Even though a speech be a thousand words, but senseless, one word of sense is better, which, if a man hears it, he become quiet. “If something is absurd, it’s much more absurd if it’s repeated.” Followed/preceded by photos of twins sucking mother’s breasts. Followed/preceded by successive footprints of infant child. Even though a Gatha (poem) be a thousand words, but senseless, one word of another is better, which, if a man hears it, he become quiet. “Shit” – from inner office. “Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over” (Beauvoir). “If something is absurd, it’s much more absurd, if it’s repeated” (Eva Hesse).
Street: Puerto Rican nurse holds five-year-old, large shaggy dog, in tow, latter straining at stool. Cleans up with pooper-scooper, eighteen-year-old black tourist holding notebook to face, affecting abhorrence. Tourists passing uptown/downtown, richly doo-dadded French women, trench coated men, flare pants, shiny shoes. Temperature warming, sky darkening. Gallery door:
Entrance pillar graffito: “ART JIVE.” Cloud movement, sudden burst of light.
2:32 pm. Nancy Hoffman. “WATCH YOUR STEP” – 3 x 5 card attached to column. “The floor is uneven, due to warpage.” Let no man think lightly of evil, saying in his heart, “It will not come nigh unto me.” Five women, seated on single bench, being lectured to by green coated guide. As, even by the falling of water-drops, a water-pot is filled. “You are seeing an approach to space that’s very closed.” So the fool is filled with evil. “You remember the de Koonings we’ve seen? They’re very open. These are much tighter.” Even if he gather it little by little. Women exit en masse. Silence. Steps overhead: creak, creak. (Dangerous warpage.)
2:55 pm. Gallery entrance graffito: “Is this necessary?” But likewise let no man think lightly of good, saying in his heart, “It will not come nigh unto me.” SUNY College at Purchase bus (a “Blue Bird”), parked outside gallery; driver (“Operator 41A”) resting. Observes author writing; stands, descends; enquires: “Is anything wrong?” As, even by the falling of water-drops, a water-pot is filled. Initiates discourse, explaining how every day he drives “to the city”: Museum of Natural History; Galleries; Met; Frick (“You know the Frick Museum? Those guards look at you as though you’ve stole something”). So the wise man is filled with good. Notes author’s “pointed boots.” Even if he gather it little by little.
Edward Thorp Gallery, 3:22 pm. White ceiling, white walls; warmer than other galleries. Therefore, let a man avoid evil deeds. Josef Gallery. Silk screens on Masonite: Blackwell, Goings, Yao, Flack. White ceiling (last painted, 1967); white walls. Doors with large, chest-high handles. As a merchant, if he has few companions. Guided tour of ladies pausing at Broadway and Spring. And carries much wealth. O.K. Harris/Susan Caldwell, group of florid Germans exiting, 3:39 pm. As a man who loves life avoids poison. Black ceiling (O.K.H.), white cord running from ceiling fixture down to second outlet; dividing there into three strands (one black, two grey); leading thence to video monitor, which robotically scans room. He who has no wound on his hand, he may touch poison. Work in each of three rooms mannered, cute, “original.” If a man offend a harmless person, the evil falls back upon that fool, like dust thrown against the wind.
Bulletin Board, O.K.H., 4:10 pm: “WATCH OUT FOR LOFTLORD LIPKIS!” All men tremble at punishment. “Almost all lofts are illegal.” All men fear death. “But some landlords are more illegal than others.” Remember you are like unto them. “And Lipkis is one of the worst. Don’t even consider renting at 47-49 Walker St., 48-50 Walker St., 55 Walker St., or 471 Broadway.” And do not kill, or cause slaughter. “Call 344-8866 for further information.” All men tremble at punishment. “Do you have extra working space?” All men love life. “Call Sue, at 729-5138.”
Second floor (Susan Caldwell). “Joanna Pousette-Dart / November 3-24.” Register, 11/3. He who. Leona Belford, Ralph and Vera Denzer, Kate Carlson. Seeking his own happiness. Eileen Ahern. Punishes or kills beings who also long for happiness. Deborah Geoffray, Hirschhorn Museum, 7th and Independence, Washington, DC. Will not find happiness. Bart Farmer, Art Dept, Edinboro State College (“Please put on Mailing List”). After death. White ceiling (last painted, 1973); white walls. He who seeking his own happiness. Nine floodlights, three panels. Does not punish beings who also long for happiness. Red, silver, black. He will find happiness after death. Central panel higher.
Neil Gallery. 5:15 pm. “Michael Stolbach, Paintings /John Van Alstine, Sculpture.” Pindar Gallery, flag (red circle, blue ground), visible through large marred doors, silver alarm system bands. Club-shaped window, culminating in heart; through it, a red van. Do not speak harshly to anyone. Spotlight on floor, deep green, magnificent space, the painter seated behind office counter. Author moves into spotlight, leans against supporting pillar. Those who are spoken to will answer thee the same way. A diptych: unstretched canvases side by side, nine sheets of paper attached to each. Angry speech is painful. Woman in black parka, frizzy red hair, walks past, checks out author. Sheets of paper painted upon, then torn at edges. Blows for blows will touch thee. Acrylic wash applied with a brush, patterns superimposed in chalk. Left side of the diptych the more somber: right the more gestural, its palette cleaner: blue; red; green; yellow. After the chalk-work another wash applied. If, like a shattered metal plate, thou utter nothing, then thou hast reached Nirvana.
Artist, 24 perhaps, in quiescent discourse with “dominant” 40-year-old dealer, red-mustachioed. Anger is not known to thee. Second canvas: horizontal format, 15 sheets (three horizontal lines). As a cowherd with his staff drives cows into the stable. Neutral grey in first row (first, third, fourth sheets), corresponds to neutral grey in bottom row (last three). So do Age and Death drive the life of men. Third canvas livelier, more ambitious: three rows of eight. Not nakedness. First row: second, seventh sheets related. Not plaited hair, nor dirt. Second row: second and third sheets. Nor fasting. Related/not related. Nor lying on the earth. Bottom row. Not rubbing with dust. First, seventh related. Nor sitting motionless. Horizontal relationships of considerable complexity. Can purify a mortal who has not overcome desires. Fourth and fifth canvases: 3 x 5, 5 x 5 formats, sheets of latter flecked by scraping.
Phone call. Last two canvases the most ambitious. “I think what you should do is not commit yourself. Go see the place.” Both, in format, 4 x 7 (calendrical?). “I wouldn’t say he’s not a legitimate publisher, I just don’t know.” Sheets like pages, work suggesting display of damaged papyrus or manuscript leaves. “Well, you can feel him out; you can ask for some guarantee.” Range of palette: purple to aqua, preponderance of violets, livid greens. “I mean it’s been done all different ways.”
Door opening, artist in off street, apparently with introduction. Hangs fire, as dealer concludes conversation: “Right. See what he has to offer. [Pause.] OK Jack; bye-bye.” Artist offers card; submits self to scrutiny, politely remaining silent. Dealer: “Well, are you going to talk to me?” Artist, softly, “Here?” “Yes” – dealer, emphatically. Ensuing conversation obliterated by simultaneous entrance of half a dozen people. Artist nervous, visibly upset by gist. “I’m sorry” – dealer – “to have got you all the way down here.” Is there in this world any man so restrained by shame he does not provoke reproof, as a noble horse the whip? Artist, in final gesture, proffers cassette. “What’s this?” – dealer. “It’s sort of a record book.” Nod of acknowledgment, dealer distracted by friend of exhibited painter briskly entering gallery. He who exercises tranquility. Beckoned by painter not to say what she is just about to blurt out. He who is quiet, subdued, has ceased to find fault with other beings. Dealer harries departing artist with history of seasons here. He indeed is the Brahmana.
Great Jones yellow brick, Romanesque brownstone arches; huge cornice (triple-tiered); row of double boxed-off windows; fire-escape floorwise descent; arched windows descending through two more floors (fifth floor across-street perspective); lights already on in mezzanine. 7:00 am. Sound of subway. November 8, 1979. NoHo loft. Faint rumble (interior): gas space-heater cooling off. Sound of individual cars speeding down Great Jones. Fluff (gas igniting); ticking; faster, faster; fan whirs on. How can there be laughter when the world is burning? When you are in darkness, will you not ask for light?
Loft interior. The body is decaying; regard the grey-white flesh. Bed author sits on; desk top with Dopp Kit, screwdriver (paint encrusted). Who would feel joy to look at it? View of wall beyond: red overhead exit bulb. A house of bones this body, covered with flesh and blood. On bedside chair: The Village Voice (November 7). Pride and hypocrisy live in this house; old age and death as well. Events: Concert, Gamelan Son of Lion, Downtown Whitney Museum. The chariots of kings run down; the body wears out. Talk, Joseph Lynaugh, “Health Care Policy for the ’80s,” NYU’s Meyer Hall. The body grows old. Discussion, Judge Margaret Taylor, “Teenage Prostitution.” But the virtue of the good man never grows old. Folk Concert, Nightsong, Derby Room, Eagle Tavern. Thus they are able to teach the good. “Cold Type and the Typesetting Industry,” NY Marxist School. To those who are good.
Leaning against wall: various lengths of wood. Men who have no riches. Iron rods; mailing tubes; a measuring stick. They who live on recognized food. Dance concert, Susan Rethorst, Collective for Living Cinema. They who have perceived the void. Gas line, leading to grey meter box (pink sticker attached; white inspection tag above it). They who have perceived Nirvana. Poetry reading, Sandy Esteves, Carolyn Baxter, Independent School for Marxist Education. Their path is hard to understand. Jazz concert, Jazzmania. Like that of birds in air.
Two pipes (horizontal), out of one another (vertical). He whose appetites are stilled. Greenish cabinet, aluminum tubular fittings atop it. Who is not absorbed in enjoyment. Pipe entering though series of right-hand turns. Who has perceived the void, the unconditioned freedom. Electrical connection entering, through curved metal tubing. His path is hard to understand. Long ventilation duct (chimney), leading up wall to exit point, ductwork coated with dust from table saw. Like that of birds in air. Fan on floor.
He who always greets and constantly reveres the aged. Two slabs, cast concrete, leaned against wall. Four things will increase to him. A large piece of construction paper, covered with dust. Life. Thursday (November 8). Talk, Robert Pincus-Witten, “Post-Minimalism and Post-Modernism.” Beauty. Talk, William Attwood, “What Makes a Newspaper Successful?” Sound of something rattling in apartment overhead. Happiness. A workbench, 30 feet down from author. Power. Talk, James Scott, “Billy Budd and the Homosexual Element in Melville’s Work.” A large, plaster-cast “box” (minimal sculpture); inside, stored materials: stanchions, cabinets, things in vinyl sacks.
Eighth St. BMT Station. If a man hold himself dear, let him watch himself carefully. 2:15 pm, November 8, 1979. During one at least of the three watches, a wise man should be watchful. Lamentation, elderly Jewish man, brown suit, young Jewish man, grey suit. Let each man direct himself first to what is proper. Topic: new water heater. Then let him teach others. “So I tell him, I’m not sixteen, I don’t have to take cold showas anymore.” Train arrives, mouth, hands continuing, words inaudible. Thus a wise man will not suffer. Younger man apparently offers counter-argument, to which older man: “But they should have replaced the thermostat for free!” Embarkation, author to seat, notebook at ready; older man to seat next him, younger man hanging from strap. “So I say, ‘Look, forget it.’” Train jolt, departure. If a man make himself as he teaches other to be. Whine, grind, slowdown station approach. Then – squeal – being himself well subdued. “I just got the bill.” He may subdue others. "Fowa hundred and fowaty-five dollars – to put in a heata.” Old man stands for 23rd St. exit. Ssss: doors th-thwump open. For one’s own self is difficult to subdue. Enter white Chinese girl (delicately powdered skin); white sweater, red brocade pull-on pants, black silk slippers. Blond girl, woven polyester georgette, pensive look. Older Italian woman, bulky black coat (black fur collar), squeezes into space next to author, takes out typed letter. First phrase, top of page two: “I’m afraid.” Self is the lord of self. Flinches at author intrusion. Who else could be the lord? Author takes second peek. With self well subdued. “I’m afraid the sexual element is wiped out.” A man finds a lord such as few can find.
2:55 pm. Double blue glare-light, aimed at entrance, Metropolitan Museum; single light in yellow-brown. Red traffic light (green) at 82nd and Madison. “The Big Number for News / All-news 88”; red, blue, yellow letters, side of white sedan. Fifth Avenue turquoise mansard squeezed between grey co-ops. Clientele up steps: Vassar girl, slack jaw, belted corduroy coat, square-toe buckle flats. Japanese woman, piled tresses, exits yellow cab. Brazilian tourist, large-brim gangster hat, brown shirt, yellow tie; mistress in white jacket, five-inch trim at cuffs, stiletto black slings, silver toenails.
Interior. The evil done by one’s self. 3:15. Self-forgotten. Second floor. Self-bred. Massive dome. Crushes the foolish. Children’s art class sketching it. As a diamond breaks even a precious stone. Eight-year-old boys and girls; lanky instructor, violet smock, rust-purple plaid skirt. “I’m finished, I think” – dishwater blonde, wide-striped pastel sweater; intent look at author, gentle hands unconsciously face down on drawing. “Oh no,” she says, turning over charcoal palms. “The hardest things to draw are these columns over here” – instructor leaning in between two nine-year-old boys, working apart at painful studies. Twenty-year-old Hispanic, Che Guevara cap, independently sketching children. At opposite end of concourse man in blue jacket, red pants, white shirt, arms folded, turns head toward author in suspicious contrapposto Within dome oculus, four spotlights, two lit, two out. Behind children, marble group, “Ugolino and His Sons” – “Executed in Paris after model completed in Rome” (Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux).
He whose wickedness is very great. First floor. Brings himself down to that state. 3:30. Where his enemy wishes him to be. Mastaba section, Tomb of Penerti. As a creeper does. Bas reliefs in limestone. With the trees which it surrounds. Red pigment applied with brush. Yellow light pouring down, marble, glass, bronze reflections. An eye without a pupil Bad deeds. A girl in a white sweater, gold script initial charm (“C”). Deeds hurtful to ourselves. Elegant figure picks up two fluttering geese. They are easy to do. Holds her glasses by both stems; closes her eyes, rubs them. Three rows of figures bring offerings to Pharoah. Good deeds. Hair pulled back. Deeds beneficial to others. Opens eyes, smiles at author. They are very difficult to do. Boyfriend joins her; takes her off.
English scholar enters inner sanctuary (Artemidora, Roman Period), glances at author, turns to wife: “I just want to get the feel of this thing.” Pauses; blinks; leaves. “The mummies in this exhibit exemplify the assimilation of Greeks in Egypt.” Mummy stares at ceiling. “Her name is Greek.” Eyes filled with tears. “She is represented with jewelry of the Hellenistic type.” One hand is brown, one salmon-colored. Beside her, another funerary mask, that of her daughter, chic pink bands on breast, beak of falcon-headed god.
Roman gallery: green baize carpet; sheltered spots, multiple shadows: cooler. Single black guard, rocking back and forth; arms folded, eyes glazed over. Smoking fat girl sits by railing; bulbous slacks; sweater swelled over love-handles; pudgy arms, pendulous at elbows. Finishes cigarette. The foolish man who scorns the rule of the Arhat, who scorns the rule of the virtuous. Cleopatra II. Who scorns the elect, who follows a false doctrine. Bearing cornucopia. He bears fruit to his own destruction. Papyrus motif. Like the fruits of the Katthaka reed.
Tall, dark-haired, 28-year-old; black dress, bateau neckline, slightly padded shoulders; moon-colored hose; glossy high-heels. Writing in pearl notebook. Closes it as author writes “notebook.” Ibis; Coffin for Sacred Cat; Thoth the God of Knowledge (Ptolemaic Period). Picks up coat off bench, silk-lined Saks Fifth Avenue, midnight blue. “Sometimes the moon god Thoth is represented as Ibis-headed.” Places notebook in leather purse. “Here he is represented as the heavy-maned baboon.” Exits past author. “Hands on his knees.” Chanel fragrance, dove-grey eyes. “Above his head, the lunar crescent and sun disk.”
Canopic Gods & Anubis. By one’s self is the evil done. Osiris (painted wood). By one’s self one suffers. A scarab rolling the sun before him. Four-foot Hispanic guard; purple-suited blonde making demonstrative inquiry. Horus protecting a king. By one’s self evil is left undone. Color photos of the Temple of Dendur (in situ). By one’s self is one purified. A single white-capped figure strolling the banks of the Nile. “These views, taken in 1851 and 1885, show the conversion of the temple into a Christian church.” By themselves the pure and the impure stand and fall. Black and white photos. No one can purify another. An ankh.
The Temple Itself. Lights come on. Girl in white parka, white pants touches the temple; guard approaches. Author stands, sloped glass above him, temple behind, Manhattan before. Let no one forgot his own duty. Shadow registering on granite floor. For the sake of another’s. Lights appear in apartments, children continuing to play in park. A car passes. Stone of temple flaked, cut, brutalized; graffito in Demotic. However great. Sarcophagus of Ureshnofer, lit by tiny yellow flares, bringing figure of Anubis into delicate relief. “The scenes here deal with the sun god’s voyage.” Let a man. “In his barque.” After he has discerned. “Above and below, the beings who dwell in the twelve hours.” His own duty. River with serpents. Be always attentive to his duty. Thoth taming them. Bell rings for closing.
November 9. New York City. Darkness. 5:45 pm. Wisps; vague areas of cloud, only indication of lingering light. Pink neon; red. W. 72nd St. Push-out of store-lights onto sidewalk. “Bazaar Hair Design,” pair of hair dressers looking at author incredulously, as he glances up from notebook. Light on black plastic sacks; streaks of white, red blobs, yellow glaze. “Horse of Another Color,” initial “H” in the form of a horse. Blind woman, white stick. Broadway, 6:05. “Why Squares Have More Fun” (Cheri magazine). Looming figures rising from IRT. “Buffy insists that when she’s earned enough from her leather work.” Dancing Negro boy prances across avenue. “She’s going to take her stallion, Hero, and hi-tail it to the city.” On down into subway, author almost gagging on up-rush of fetid air. Landing: old woman, dyed white hair, black roots, facing wall. “Reservation life, she complains, is just not for her.” Uptown train arriving, opposite side of platform. Raindrops on track, odor of urine. Hardee’s cup (crushed). Yellow slip of paper, face down. “She can’t even sit in her own teepee and sew without hassles from tribal elders.” “Be Fearless / Go Jeanless.” “(About the light-skinned leather trader who drops in once a week.)” No train. Black man in bright yellow running shoes, brown pants, holding his nose. Green-jacketed, toothless woman checks payphone change return. Train approaches, station shaking. “‘Look,’ she admits, ‘there was a time when we traded more than leather.’” Middle-aged woman almost takes seat by author; decides against it. Girl, 21, takes it instead, junior work pants. Blue-suited businessman takes seat opposite, shined penny loafers. Times Square. Change.
Fourteenth St. Blue columns, touched up in darker blue. Across-track section ceramic tile, Puerto Rican graffiti. “But those days are over now.” Train-arriving clatter. “‘When I first began my work I couldn’t afford materials.’” Girl in yellow turtleneck to girl in baby blue parka: “We’ve gotta get off here.” “‘So instead of sitting and arguing price, I used my natural charms and literally fucked him out of his skins.’” Thirty-year-old woman alone in car with author: spike heels, black and magenta; magenta tights; black baseball jacket, open several buttons. “‘Not a bad trade-off, was it?’” Exit (Houston St.). “‘His skin for mine.’” Man in green cashmere sweater, World Trade center above him. Two male Caucasians crouching to read menu. Prince Street. Chuck Close, stopping to let his dog pee.
Chinese Automatic Laundry, dingy interior. Spring St. Ceiling in brown plasterboard, yellow grease-and-lint-covered walls. l:30, November 10. Difficult to obtain is the conception of men and women. Red, green plastic baskets. Difficult the life of mortals. Handles broken off them. Clock without numbers. Difficult the birth of the Buddha. Seven Instructions. Do not commit any sin. “Put in clothes”; “Select temperature”; “Insert coins.” Do good. “Add 1/3 cup, low suds detergent.” Purify the mind. “Red light indicates machine’s on”; “Amber light indicates ‘wash’ cycle”; “White light indicates last rinse.” That is the teaching of the Buddha. “Do not open door until the lights are out!” Author waiting for white light. The Awakened call patience the highest penance. Two loads, one machine. Suffering the highest Nirvana. Empty machine next to it “being saved for a friend.” He is not an anchorite who strikes others, he is not an ascetic who insults others.
Commotion across street (asphalt park). Author to scene. People standing above fallen wino, medical student pushing through, diagnosing: “He’s got fluid in his lungs.” Wino in process of cardiac arrest; sprawled writhing on pavement. Lady: “It’s a sin.” Not to blame, not to strike, to live restrained. Author returns to put clothes in dryer. To be moderate in eating, to sleep and sit alone. Kid on phone to hospital, summoning ambulance:
“Yeah I already called.”
“Yeah, but there’s no ambulance.”
“It’s 41 Spring Street?”
“It’s in the park, so’s I give ya da address across a street.” Pause.
“Yeah.” Long pause.
“Jerk-off!” To dwell on the highest thoughts. Slams phone. That is the teaching of the Buddha. No dryers.
Wino pukes, chokes, convulses, med student looking on. “Keep him on his side.” Phone-call kid stands nearby, black chinos, black sweater, black shoes. For there is no satisfying lust. Icy chill descending. “Don’t nobody have a blanket?” – kid to crowd from laundry. Even with a shower of gold. Lady comes forward, offers light green bedspread. He who know that lust causes pain, he is wise. Kid looks at med student, covers wino himself. Even in heavenly pleasures he finds no satisfaction. No sign of ambulance. The fully-awakened disciple delights only in the destruction of all desire. “Not even the cops came” – golf-capped, swarthy Italian. Men, driven by fear, go to many a refuge. “Ambulance supposed to be onna way” – kid. Loud “wah! wah! wah! wah!” “Here comesa police” – woman in brown. Blue and white arrival. To mountains and forests. “They said they was gonna send a ambulance in five minutes!” – kid shaking head. To groves and sacred trees.
Cops remain in cop car. But that is not a safe refuge. “Open your eyes, pop” – medical student. That is not the best refuge. “Hope I don’t die onna street” – 45ish woman. A man is not delivered from pains at that refuge. “They put ya on a waitin’ list” – golf-capped Italian, laundry bag at feet. Cops emerging from car, slowly. Red-haired Irish policeman stoops over wino, clipboard in hand. No sign of ambulance. Author returns to check for dryers.
Ambulance arriving. Rear door: “Ambulance / Keep Back”; “New York Emergency Medical Service.” Door opens. Green-suited Hispanic, yellow stripe down leg, Italian with hair in face, emerge. Lift out stretcher; fumble with bars, adjusting height; roll it across sidewalk. Policeman still writing. Strapped-in wino vomits again – straight up. Italian attendant kicks empty whiskey bottle aside, wheels wino to curb. “Boop-beep; a-a-wow,” red lights of ambulance flash off-on alternately. Second cop leaning, arm on open cop car door.
He who takes refuge with the Buddha. Blarney Stone. He who. Lexington and 23rd. With clear understanding. 3:15 pm, November 10, 1979. Sees the four holy truths. Irish, blacks, one Puerto Rican. Black bar-top, black vinyl stools. Black raincoats, black shoes. Pain. Slope-shouldered 55-year-old, Russian hunting cap, baggy checked pants. The Origin of Pain. Crag-face creased with tension. Irish salesman, loud, wide-plaid jacket, tie. Italian super, Puerto Rican bus driver. Fifty-year-old woman, red polyester leisure suit, red tam, red leather-look vinyl shoes; frizzy blond hair. The Destruction of Pain. 90 Proof Dry Gin; 90 Proof Blended Whiskey; Ambassador 12; Bell’s 8; Imported Dewars; Old Smuggler; Myer’s Rum; Bacardi. The Eightfold Way to the Quieting of Pain. “Monday Night Football Pool.” That is the safe refuge. “It’s Syracuse 17, Navy nothing.” That is the best refuge. Color TV at maximum saturation. Having gone to that refuge a man is delivered from all pain.
New York City Transit, “57th Ave. Am.” Lights on, wipers on (drizzle). Hot seat, back of bus. 4:35 pm, November 11, 1979. Caucasians in majority for Upper West Side run. View of Park, turning corner. A supernatural person is not easily found. Poignantly downed yellow foliage, tree tops naked. He is not born everywhere. Jamaican elegance enters, fiery green bandana, gold ear loops, white salmon-polka-dotted scarf; cloissonné bracelets in various pastels. Wherever such a sage is born, that race prospers. Lincoln Center Chagalls from a distance.
New York City. Happy the Awakened. Mt. Sinai Hospital. Happy the teaching of the True Law. Madison at 100th. Happy is peace in the church. Noon, November 11, 1979. Happy the devotion of those at peace. Old black man, glucose intravenous tubes in wrist. He who pays homage to those deserving homage. Black woman – black hat, purple sweater, black slacks – feeding him pieces of bread. Whether the awakened or their disciples. Nurse arrives to cheer him up, doesn’t succeed. Those who have overcome the host of evils. Spittle drooling down his chin. Who have crossed the flood of sorrow. Scarcely able to talk; moaning instructions to women. He who pays homage to those who have found deliverance. Three other patients, beds separated by curtains; eleven visitors. Lunch on plastic tray: white mat, blue border (Hebrew inscription), Mount Sinai emblem. He who knows no fear. Woman takes out Swipe from package, wipes his chin. He holds up hand, indicating pain. That man’s merit cannot be measured. Coughs, mutters, closes his eyes.
Yale. We live happily indeed. Bingham Hall (freshman dorm). Not hating those who hate us! New Haven, Connecticut. Seven gothic archways. 10:35 am, November 12, 1979. Open door under stair, room number 1088; Japanese student seated on bed. Among men who hate us. Loud music issuing. We dwell free from hatred. Eight-point star, center of entrance floor. Free from ailments. Old Campus exterior: Old Yale Fence (newly installed); Skull and Bones down sidewalk. Among those who are ailing. Statue of Nathan Hale. Let us dwell free from ailment. A true Yalie: poised, alert, casual (“Class of 1773”). “In the first week I was here I bought a whole lot of food” – passing red-haired freshman, blue parka, yellow L.L. Bean knapsack. Harkness Tower through black elm boughs. We live happily indeed. Red passage of ivy, Dwight Chapel facade, student giving directions. Free from greed. “That’s Mr. Dwight right in front of it.” Among the greedy! Cold; drizzle impending. Entrance to Yale Station (basement mail boxes). African Studies Festival: “WHITE MAN’S COUNTRY and MAU MAU,” Wednesday, Nov. 15. Among men who are greedy. “Free Study Break Breakfast.” Let us dwell free from greed! Berkeley Coffeehouse, Tuesday, Nov. 13. Three Oriental women, one after another. Gritty floor, strewn with paper. “A Campaign for Literacy,” Jonathan Kozol, Harkness Hall, Monday, 7:30 pm.
Corner, Elm and High Streets. We live happily indeed. Two students, middle-European, converse in German (“Polizei . . .”). Although we call nothing our own. Trumbull College behind them, heavy grey sky. Trees all but leafless; ivy still verdant. Another Oriental girl, green tunic sweater, passes hand through hair as she looks at author. We shall be like the bright gods. “A Whiffenpoof Jamboree.” Feeding on happiness! “Football Concert: YALE [blue] HARVARD [red] Glee Clubs [black].” “You must be exceptionally gifted” – traditional Yalie, hopsack blazer, to dark, petite co-ed, pullover top in acrylic fleece.
Trumbull College courtyard. Large metal sculpture, circular planes. Leaves raked, unbagged; more fallen, falling. Victory breeds hatred. Potty Court. Potty man (painted limestone), dark red knee socks. For the conquered is unhappy. Elaborate doors to entryways, different designs. Electrician at work, 1170-1177. He who has given up. Asks what author is doing. Both victory and defeat. Long conversation: maintenance of buildings; budgetary problems; Yale as employer (“fair”). He the contented is happy.
Altar (circulation desk), Sterling Library: retable with Sophia, orb in left hand, open book in right, blue and red bands of Hebrew characters. Overhead: Mayan, Chinese, Greek inscriptions; Cuneiform, Arabic, Hieroglyphic. Girl in blue-and-white polyester top, boat neckline asks if author is waiting for phone. Three large Xerox machines in a tier. Display case: the papers of John F. Weir, “First Dean, School of Fine Arts.” Yalies mild, dour, down-at-heel; smell of sweat pervading the nave. Outdoor steps: seated Yalie, steel-rim glasses, mustard sleeveless parka, stretch corduroy jeans, reading Yale Daily.
Onward: the utterly undistinguished Beinecke, grim Woolsey Hall. “In Memory of the Men of Yale: Cambrai, Argonne, Somme; Château Thierry; Ypres, St. Mihiel, Marne.” Calder mobile-stabile squeaking in the wind. Students on way to class brisk, confident. Girl and boyfriend, the smell of strong soap, matching burgundy loden coats. Venetian mausoleum crypt, unknown secret society; Yale School of Music; Naples Pizza and Restaurant. Intelligent glance from co-ed, boxed blazer, worsted skirt, knee socks. Glimpse of new gold sheath, downtown building. Canary Renault “Le Car” (Oregon plates). Yellow, russet leaves. Red Volvo (New Jersey plates).
“SHAH ALL IRAN GO HOME” (white spray-paint on dark college building). There is no fire like passion. High St. and Chapel: Romanesque ramparts, Old Art Museum. There is no losing throw like hatred. New Center for British Art (“Closed”), expensive stores housed on ground floor. There is no pain like this body. “They are Dying Out,” by Peter Handke, Yale Repertory Theater. “I was unbalanced till I lost 18.8 million kilowatts, by A. Bartlett Giamatti.” There is no happiness higher than rest. York and Chapel: Schiavone Restoration Project, brick house, deep blue bays, windows covered in white paste. Enormous black-windowed bus turns corner as author steps into York.
Hunger is the worst of diseases. The Copper Kitchen. Waitress with heavy accent (nationality indiscernible), three swarthy men behind counter working beside her. The elements of the body the greatest evil. Beef stew arrival, ungainly portion, $2.15. If one know this truly. Professor seated to right finishes his, departs. That is the highest happiness. “Allerdings gut?” – cook to waitress. Second waitress (daughter) appears, gold cross on freckled breast. Health is the greatest of gifts. Four-shelf counter case: salads; pies; mugs (“Tom,” “Jim,” “Pete,” Old English lettering, each with nineteenth-century scene – cathedral, man with hoe, steam harvester). Truth is the best of relationships. Top shelf, two ceramic figures: goofy professor; slender Athena, helmet, shield, serpent. But Nirvana – that is the highest happiness. Clientele mostly academic. Alone, beside author, rain coated, hunched, balding professor. He who has tested the sweetness of solitude. Blond daughter-waitress passing on his order: “Cheeseburger! Fries! Sprite!” Parked at curb, a blue sedan, distorted by grease window splotches. He who is free from sin and fear. Puddle of eggs on grill, onion rings, a huge mound of hash browns. He shall taste the sweetness of drinking in the law. Man, white cap, opens door, blue sedan.
He who walks with a fool has a long journey. The Choate School. To be with a fool is to be with an enemy. Wallingford, Connecticut. To be with a wise man is to be with a kinsman. 1:15 pm, November 12, 1979. If you find such a man, follow him, as the moon follows the path of the stars. Main Hall, couches in front of fireplace, over which “Quaesivi Bona Tibi” (school seal). Rosemary Hall girls outnumber Choate boys: both pimply. Passing Oriental boy expresses mild curiosity about author’s activity. Single students’ faces a little sad or blank. He who does what he should not and fails to do what he should. Students in conversation bright, cheery. He who forgets the true aim of life, sinking into transient pleasures. Junior high school ambiance. He will one day envy the man of high contemplation.
Reverse shot, steps of main building: Let a man be free from pleasure. Chapel, walkways. Let a man be free from pain. Headmaster’s house. For not to have pleasure is sorrow. Tennis courts in green asphalt; lawn firmly green. But to have pain is also sorrow. Two fourth-formers chasing one another about a green car. Therefore be not bound to pleasure. Master, joined by girl student. For the loss of pleasure is pain. Walks off with her in direction of chapel. The man beyond pain and pleasure has no fetters. Girl in distance running after Frisbee, head of hair shaking. From pleasure arises sorrow. Sky still grey. From pleasure arises fear. Light spots intermittent. Above author, gigantic American flag. If a man is free from pleasure. Its action spilling small stones from gutter onto steps. He is free from sorrow and fear. A tree in the near distance, leaves dancing in the wind.
From lust comes grief. Boston. From lust comes fear. Riverside D, “Brookline Village to Gov’t Center.” He who is free from lust. 8:45 am, November 13, 1979. He knows neither grief nor fear. Grafflti-less, clean, cream-colored cars, 100% Caucasian. Woman next to author reading letter, philanthropic organization. Bloated, middle-class clientele, beige rainwear, bland looks. Girls like pictures of girls. Woman across from author, straight hair, tweed jacket, half-inch wedding band, gets off Boylston. Girl in trench coat, chewing gum, takes her place; pulls out checkbook, starts to balance it.
Greenline (Park St.). From love comes grief. 9:00 am. “Brookline Village, Longwood, Fenway Park; Kenmore, Auditorium, Copley.” From love comes fear. “Arlington, Boylston, Park Street; Government Center, Haymarket, North Station.” He who is free from love. Negro in plaid tam, two Caucasian roustabouts observe author writing. He knows neither grief nor fear. B’town subway map, Harvard [red]/Brookline [green]. Blue line crosses orange at Boston Massacre Site [photo]. Old-style trolley [pseudo-drawing], white on blue. Red tiles, yellow pillars.
From greed comes grief. Lexington Aerial Workers trim trees, Boston Common, black-jacketed black man, swarthy white in cowboy hat. Liberty Mall (“To Our Soldiers and Sailors in the Great War”). Single graffito on post: “Jimi Hendrix lives.” Sullen sky, golden Bullfinch dome. Bench graffito: “NO NUKES.” Yellow/red (simultaneous) streetlight. Cornering Chevy pickup, plastic plaster buckets in bed, worker in Archie Bunker hat. From greed comes fear. Robert Gould Shaw in bronze at author’s back, his bell-cheeked Negro infantry no longer so bell-shaped; faces a little blacker. He who is free from greed. Capitol approaches: young Caucasian women, multicolored parkas. He knows neither grief nor fear. Middle-aged Caucasian males, briefcased, suited, umbrella-ed.
The man whose mind, determined, longs for Nirvana, who is free of desire, is called uddham-soto (he who battles upstream). Goodspeed’s Bookshop, stock-broker atmosphere. He faces the current of passions, headed for infinite joy. Black man, leather pants, passes Hi Spot Deli sign, melodious suitcase-size radio. King’s Chapel Commercial Assurance Companies, fine drizzle commencing. White girl jumps on curb, yellow parka, red/white stripe. “Parker House” in elaborate Tolkien letters. State Street, 9:26, 43 degrees. “I’d rather be skiing” front license plate.
The North End. As the man who has long been away. View from beneath elevated highway, blocked now by Detroit Strip Division truck. Is welcomed with joy. Truck moves. On his safe return. Gloria Food Center / The King of Cold Cuts. By his relatives and friends. Car stops, blinker blinking, Di Matteo Produce (“Fresh Rosebud Vegetables”). Likewise do a man’s good works in this life. Modern Pastry Shop. Welcome him to another. “It’s Exciting to be Polish” front license plate.
Let a man leave anger. Giuffre Fish Market. Let him forsake pride. 50 Salem St. Let him overcome all bondage. Periwinkles, Crabs, Rizzi Sea Eggs; Mussels, Octopus Polpi, Fresh Scup. The man who is unattached to name and form suffers not. Cuttlefish Seppie, Smelts, Bluefish; Mullets. Fresh Merluzzi, Live Lobsters. He who calls nothing his own. Fillet of Haddock, Fresh Trout, Sardines; Striped Bass, Fillet of Sole, Butterfish. He who, like a reining charioteer, holds back rising anger. Fresh Shrimp ($5.50 lb.), Jumbo Shrimp ($8.50 lb.). He is the true driver. Scallops, Fresh Scrod, Calamari Squid. Other people. Quahogs, Salt Cod, Little Neck Clams. They but hold the reins.
Let a man by love overcome anger. Self-Serve Vegetables. By good overcome evil. Red Delicious, Cortland, McIntosh. By liberality overcome greed. Tangelos, Grapefruits, Sunkist Oranges; D’Anjou Pears, Persimmons. By truth overcome falsehood. Russet Potatoes, Spanish Onions, Fava Beans. Speak the truth; do not yield to anger. Boston Lettuce, Brussels Sprouts, Italian Eggplant. The good man, asked for little, gives. Chicory, Romaine, Escarole. By these three steps does he approach the gods.
There is an old proverb. Ancient graffito: “RED SOX.” “They blame him who is silent. House with lintel-stone: “1884.” “They blame him who speaks too much.” The Old North Church. “They blame him who speaks too little.” Door into sanctuary reflects street behind. In this world no one escapes blame. “FOOD.” There never was. “DRINK.” There never will be. “PICTURE TAKING.” Nor is there now. “PROHIBITED.” A man they always blame. “Steeple restored by descendants of Paul Revere.” Nor a man they always praise. Author takes seat in Arthur Savage’s pew, group of ladies entering. But who would dare blame him whom the wise praise. Two red prayer books; two black hymnals. His person is luminous. Altar, Christ alone at His Last Supper. Virtuous and wise. Brass cross, white candles. He who is pure as the Jambu River. Minister pokes head through chancel door. Even the gods praise him. Disappears. Even Brahma. Sound of ladies’ heels exiting, of a ticking clock. Even the lord above. Pulpit, “IHS” curlicues hanging down from lectern.
“The First King’s Chapel” (narthex plaque) “being inadequate for the needs of the people, subscriptions were obtained in 1722 for a church at the North End.” The tree of your life covered in yellow leaves. “This the most ancient house of worship in Boston.” Death’s messengers are waiting. “Designed after the manner of Christopher Wren.” You are about to travel far. Recent visitors. Have you made provisions? “Very impressive”; “real nice”; “a fun place to visit.” Free from the dust of impurity. Outward view from narthex: Free from sin. “Do Not Enter Salem St.” Are you ready for that glorious land? Yimma’s Sub Shop.
Cucina Italiana. Make thyself an island. Eggplant Parmigiana. Work hard, be wise. “You wanna wine, beer or tonic?” Free from impurity. Blue-shirted fourteen-year-old, Italian, checks out juke box. Free from guilt. Behind him, John Travolta poster (“Grease”). You will reenter into birth and decay. View out window: St. Leonard’s Peace Garden. There let a wise man: “PACE E BENE.” Remove his impurity. Christ in limestone, arms raised. As a smith removes the dross from silver. Photo of Teddy Kennedy riding by in limo. Little by time. Ad for the Harptones. From time to time. “VIVA IL PAPA” replaced by side of double-parking truck: “The Butcher’s Block.”
North Canopy, Market Street. There is no celestial path; there is only the inner path. “Last Health Food Before Expressway.” The world loves pleasure, but this is all obstacle. The Juicerie; The Candlewick; Ecuadorian Bread Dough Figures. The Tatha-gatas (thus gone) have crossed the river of time. Boston T. Baggs: Beth, Brian, Danielle; Kelly, Kenny, Karen; Mari, Natalie, Paradise. Have overcome the world. Magic Pan Crêperie, woman, purple beret, photographing ten-year-old seated in director’s chair, “ORIENT” stenciled across his back in “bamboo” letters. Produce House Flowers: daisies, poms; carnation bunches; mixed bouquets; lovely girl in worn jeans, plaid flannel shirt making arrangement.
There is no celestial path. The Raw Bar (Oysters, Shrimp, Clams). Only the inner path. Waiters behind counter in “EAT IT RAW” tee shirts. The Yoghurt Shop, The Nutcracker, Belgian Fudge; Ming Tree, Aegean Fare, The Cookbook Store. All things pass. Black Forest Delicatessen, “Spezialitäten aus Deutschland”: Tongue Loaf, Nussschinken, Westphalian. Only the Buddha is forever in eternity. Bob-cut mommy, denim jumper (embroidered pockets), two-year-old in tow; junior executive with ice-cream cone, round plastic glasses, chalk-stripe suit; legal secretary, asymmetrical waist-dress, stack-heel slings, jewel-tone detail.
“Faces,” Boston MFA at Faneuil Hall. A man does not follow righteousness because he talks much learned talk. “Outer form totally shaped by an inner emotion” (slide show), attractive girl next to author listening attentively. Images of the Buddha (next room) in state of Nirvana. “Iconographic features were developed in India to symbolize his status.” Not by tonsure does a man become a monk (samana). Head of the Buddha, stone (China, T’ang dynasty). “Among these distinguishing marks is the dot between the brows (urna) which, according to legend, is a white lock curling toward the right, out of which emanates the light of wisdom that illuminates the universe.” Head of the Buddha. lacquered stone (Thailand, 9th century). “Another mark is the radiating crown (usnisa).” Head of the Buddha, black basalt (Central Java, late 8th century) “A cranial protuberance, sometimes topped by a flame.” Head of the Buddha, red sandstone (India, Gupta 5th century AD). “It symbolizes enlightenment and wisdom.” Head of the Buddha, miraceous slate (India, Ghandara, 3rd century AD). Epicene, maternal, severe. Light deflected off Plexiglas box illuminating floor.
The public Garden. A Bramin is pure from sin. Down central esplanade, leaving Washington behind; the Prudential in fog; Hamilton framed in depleted beeches. Even had he killed his father and mother. Short cavalier man, bearing chrysanthemums. Even had he murdered two noble kings. “John Glover of Marblehead, Soldier of the Revolution,” his cheeks covered with blue-green erosion, as if in preparation for shaving. Even had he ravaged a kingdom and its people. Woman in plaid hat, clear plastic raincoat looks suspiciously at author. “Patrick Andrew Colms, A Talented, Honest, Serviceable Man,” bare tree limbs sprouting from his cranium. Even had he murdered the best of men. William Lloyd Garrison, green face, green hands, one holding a crumpled piece of yellow paper; figures surrounded by leaves, asphalt.
Copley Square. The followers of Buddha Gotama awake and watch forever. Public Library, City of Boston. Ever by night and day do they recall their master. “Dedicated to Learning, Wisdom and Painting.” Main Reading Room. Ever by night and day they recall the Truth of the Law. Do Not Leave Personal Property Unattended.” Even by night and day they recall the holy brotherhood. Jared Sparks [eyeless], (1789-). Even by night and day they recall the mystery of the body. Light barely sufficient for reading, lamps hiding the eyes of others at table. Ever by night and day do they find joy in the love of all beings. Clocks at either end of room gone dead; college girl opposite, blouse in tartan plaid, tiers, yokes, plackets, studying elementary geometry. Ever by night and day do they find you in supreme contemplation. Middle aged woman next to author, full-figure top, ruffled stand-up collar; bites hangnail, sneezes. Useless balcony, “HOMER” in gold.
Painful it is to leave the world. Dartmouth St. Painful to be in the world. Awaiting Riverside D subway train. Painful to be alone amongst the many. Interracial dowdiness: 20-year-old, skirt in acrylic twill, taps feet nervously; large red sideburns on other side of her, brushed denim pants, sand suede tie-ups; black woman, looking fearful, two-pocket patterned pant top. The long road of transmigration. “DON’T BE IN THE DARK ABOUT.” Hispanic girl, side-snap pants in cotton/poly, stands in author’s way. Moves. “THE BEST BANKING SERVICE.” That is the road of Pain. Takes seat. Let the Buddha rest by the road. Copley boarding (no seats). Let the Buddha be free. Thirtyish woman, pewter earth shoes, rimless glasses, takes out book. Removes glasses, takes out pencil. The good shine from afar. Frowns over text. As the Himalayas shine. Chin drops to chest. But the wicked are in darkness. Eyes shut. Like arrows shot in the night. Subway emerging into grey.
The thirst of a thoughtless man grows like a creeper. Harvard. He runs from life to life. November 14, 1979. Like a monkey seeking fruit in the forest. Widener men’s room graffito. Whomsoever this fierce poisonous thirst overcomes. 9:35 am:
In this world his sufferings increase like the abundant Birana grass. Main Floor dioramas. I. “Harvard University, 1677.” But from him who overcomes this fierce thirst. Rainbow sent from God (Europe?). Difficult to be conquered in this world. Cross atop Beacon Hill. Sufferings fall off. Matchbox houses of Cambridge tinderescent. Like water-drops-from a lotus leaf. Harvard Hall under construction (“in 1677 the turret fell down; by 1696 the hall had decayed completely”). Dust in the airtight chamber (“the building burned in the fire of 1764”). Fingerprints on glass (“It was replaced in the following year by the present Harvard Hall”). God’s green earth corrupted in Cambridge.
II. “Harvard University, Fall, 1775.” This salutary word I tell you. Harvard Square, two trees and a pump. “Do ye, as many as are here assembled, dig up the root of thirst.” Ships landing at the foot of Boylston Street. As he who wants the sweet-scented Usira root. Farmland, order, sanity. He must uproot the Birana. Coach departing Harvard Square. So that Mara (his tempter) may not crush him again.
III. “Harvard University, 1936 (Tercentenary Year).” As the flowing stream crushes the reeds. Widener megalith, Ruskinian Mem. Hall, Eliot House, Lowell, Adams, in neo-colonial. As a tree, though it has been cut down, is firm. The auto, the trolley. So long as the root is safe. Grime, dust, soot, dirt. Then it grows again. Smoke over Boston, shells on the gritty surface of the Charles. Therefore, unless the feeders of thirst be destroyed. Catholic church tower. The pain of life. Glass flowers, empty tennis courts. This suffering will return.
View from Widener steps: mighty Sever Hall. He whose thirty-six streams. Tiles wet in drizzle. Are strongly coursing the channels of pleasure. Undulant bays. The waves (desires set on passion) will carry away that misguided man. Chapel, wooden Egyptianized columns. For the channels run everywhere. Facade of white; neo-eighteenth-century spareness. The creeper of passion stands sprouting. Steeple (spire suppressed). If you see the creeper springing up. Gold extension: cross on weathervane. Cut its root. Silver 707, rising above it. By knowledge. Scholars opening and shutting umbrellas. (Thirst.) Bareheaded students radiating in eight directions.
Bulletin Board, Sever entrance. Presenting: The Harvard Jazz Band. The creature’s pleasures. K’LAL ISRAEL. Are extravagant. “Sad Song of Yellow Skin.” “Waiting for Fidel,” “Solzhenitsyn’s Children.” Luxurious (A film diary: Vietnam, Cuba, Land of the Philosophers.) Given up to pleasure. Women in Industry. Deriving happiness. Site visit, Boston Edison. Again and again. Prayer for the Starving. Men must undergo it. “Women Sculptors.” Birth. $1.00 movie. Death. The Renato Poggioli Memorial Lecture on European Literature, by Robert Escarpit. Rebirth. “Ourselves and Our Children.”
Emerson Hall: “What is Man That Thou Art Mindful of Him?” Beset with lust. Monarch Institutional Food Distributors, white truck, blue/red stripes. Men run about like a snared hare. Harvard professor in dark cape. Held in bonds and fetters. “Dial 911.” They undergo pain for a long time. “Wow-wow” of ambulance, enters underpass (“wah-wah”), reemerging (“wow-wow”). Again and again. Enormous Bertrand Russell photo-blowup, glimpsed on office wall.
Science Hall. Beset with lust. “A. Einstein Centennial Exhibition.” Men run about like a snared hare. Students passing on way to class. Let therefore the mendicant drive out thirst. One pretty girl, scattering of science majors. Strive after absence of passion. Another Radcliffe undergrad, Mandarin quilted jacket, looks at author. He who, having reached Nirvana. Harvard man, army fatigues, red parka, blue/white running shoes. Having rid himself of the forest of lust. Looks at author. Gives himself over to forest-life. Sallow faced roué in French beret, striding to make class on time. Who, when free from the forest. Girl in white sweater, bare midriff showing, glances at author, pant boots in camel lustres. Runs to the forest again. Boy grabs girl from behind as she walks alone down hallway; girl cries out. Look at that man! Friend of boy, noting author reaction: “Jesus, Bill.” Boy holds on to girl. Southeast Asian, lemon aerobic top, black skirt, orange tights, high heel mahogany boots. Though free, he runs into bondage. Professor, late to class, hurries past, greenish out-of-shape tweed jacket, tropical worsted slacks. Wise people do not call a strong fetter that which is made of hemp. “You can call me Ray” – japing undergraduate. Passionate is the care for precious stones and rings. Secretary, pink sweater, clackity high heels, hot white cup of coffee, clutched by fingernails. Passionate the care for wife and sons.
Science Meetings: Biology. That fetter which drags down. “Embryonic Development of Identified Neurons.” Wise people call strong. “Social Biology Then.” It Yields. “Sociobiology Now.” Yet is difficult to undo. “Dopamine: A Retinal Neurotransmitter.” Having cut this at last. “snRNP: A New Class of RNA-Protein Complex.” People leave the world. “A Developmental Switch in Yeast.” Physics. Free from cares. “Muon Experiments at CERN.” And leaving the pleasures of love behind. History of Science. Those who are slaves to passion. Mathematics. Run down the stream of desire. “Asymptotic Path Space Integrals.” Like the spider down the web. Astronomy. “Universe: Open or Closed?” Which he has made himself. “The Lunar Samples – What Did They Turn Out to Be?”; “The Rainbow: What You See Is What You Get, Or Is It?” When at last they have cut this. Chemistry: Organic Seminar Schedule. Wise people. Joint Inorganic-Organic Colloquia. Go onward. Geological Sciences, Medical Sciences. Free from cares. Population Studies. Leaving all pain behind.
Return to Harvard Yard. Give up that which is before. Emerald grass. Give up that which is behind. Two denuded trees. Give up that which is between. Trees half full of leaves. For when thou goest. Black windows of Boylston Hall. To the other shore of existence. “Department of Comparative Literature.” If the mind is altogether free. Author’s car parked across Mass. Ave. Thou will never again enter birth and decay. Blocked by All White Potato Truck. Uneven red brick sidewalk: Schoenhof’s Foreign Books; Pangloss Book Shop; Bob Slate Stationer. Grotesquely overweight cab driver standing beside his cab, yellow crane jutting out of Harvard Square.
If a man is tossed about by doubts. The Wursthaus. Full of strong passions. Gutes Essen. And yearns for what is delightful. Campari, Rose’s Lime Juice, Gamay Beaujolais. His thirst will grow stronger. Blaufränkisch Spätlese, Valpolicella Ruffino. He will indeed make his fetters strong. Burrough’s English Vodka. If, however, that same man delights in quieting doubts. “Twilight Time” (The Platters). If he dwells on what is not delightful. “Von Rhein Zum Main.” Always reflecting. “Das Macht I”; “Das Macht II”; “A Woman Needs Love.” Then he will certainly remove. “So Leben Wir II.” Nay, he will cut the fetters of Mara. “So Leben Wir I.” Seeburg 100 Wall-o-Matic:
A B C D E F G H J K
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Crew-cut man, down-bar: “You can call me Ray, or you can call me Eddy.”
Mt. Auburn St. Therefore, he who has reached the consummation. J. Press (“San Francisco * New Haven * Cambridge *New York”). He who no longer trembles. Plaid wool slacks, turtleneck; fifties herringbone jacket. “The Coffee Connection” (converted garage reflection). He who is without thirst. Plaque. Dunster St. side of store: He who is without sin.
the First Church in Cambridge
Built in 1632
Center of the Civic and Religious Life
That man has broken the thorns of life
A Peerless Leader of New England Thought
And this will be his last body
Motel room décor, Ashton Rhode Island, November 15, 1979. He who is without thirst. 7:35 am. Samoan landscape (3 x 4-foot color photo), atoll, sun above (photographer’s mid-day outing). Palm branches (at left) waving into picture frame; a tiny tip (at center); four branches (at right) connected to svelte trunk. Sea deep blue on horizon, spotted with turquoise, sun breaking through clouds. Closer to viewer the water lightens; sumptuous foreground foliage: green, red, orange; climax in yellow burst. He without affection. Light also entering, motel window, supplemented by mild glow of bedside “lantern” (imitation oil lamp, key appended as switch). He who knows and understands the words. Light, open door, striking tree trunk, obliterates image. He who has studied their interpretation. Strikes two pillows, piled together, far side of bed. He who knows the order of letters. Light from door casts shadow of lamp, wood paneling. Those which are before. Revealing cracked surface. And those which are after.
Notice, Mural TV: “Set installed with TELESOUND ALARM, Fadco Security Systems, Fullerton, CA.” He has received his last body. Pale green curtain, semi-stiff fabric, pleated at top, hemmed at bottom; Venetian blinds, white pull-cord. Room door overpainting alligatored out. Storm door beaded with shower condensation. He is called the great sage. Large irregular section (top of door), free of water; mass of beads (lower down); rivulets, streams, drops (at bottom); puddle on floor. The great man. A key in the door, plastic handle in double trapezoid, its metal shaft agleam.
Stonington Boat Works, 1:45 pm, Stonington, Connecticut. November 15, 1979. To the end of the dock: author scares off gulls, they reluctant to move. “For I have conquered all.” Gulls hovering, strong incoming wind; veer, one settling on nearby pier. “And I know all.” Sun bellowing straight at author, who holds down page against wind, hair aflap in his face. “In all conditions of life.” Blinding sun-glint off water, wave following wave. “And am free from taint.” Chicly black-hulled, solitary dinghy, red water-line, white mast. “Have left all.” Single feather on dock, stuck in gull excrement. “And through the destruction of thirst am free.” Wind continues to blow, hard.
I Scream Parlor. “Having learnt myself, whom should I then indicate as the teacher?” La Grua’s Stonington Market; Goldblatt Inc.; Keane’s News Office. Metropolitan Opera Star Gilda Cruz-Romo, Guest Artist (“For the Benefit of St. Michael’s Building Fund, Pawcatuck, Connecticut”). Village Variety: red geraniums (2:01:45). The Stonington Players (“Tickets Here”) Present a Play of Suspense (Lucille Fletcher’s Night Watch).
The gift of the law exceeds all other gifts. Cold, windy; bright sun little assistance. The sweetness of the law exceeds all other sweetnesses. Chilled author seeking shelter, United Church of Stonington (“All are Welcome Here”). The delight in the law exceeds all other delights. Church door locked. Onward. Crystalline clapboard houses, off-white, white, red, beige; white bluish in half-shadow. Stone house, trimmed in robin’s-egg blue, eaves in white, the shadow from a birch tree asway on its wall; a second tree asway, reddish seeds at branch tips. The extinction of thirst. St. Mary’s Church approach. Overcomes all pain. Its door ajar.
“Come Holy Spirit.” Three workmen working. Riches destroy the foolish. One on scaffolding, legs dangling. If they look not for the other shore. Painting window. “Stephen,” he says, “would it be better if you hit the corner, or did the middle now, and got the corner later?” The foolish, by his thirst for riches, destroys himself. No reply from Stephen, he along with third man contemplating problem of altar wall, its broad-planked ceiling sloping to 20 feet. As if destroying others. White wall, modernistic arches, surrounds crucifix (wooden beams, plaster-cast body). “He is Risen,” “Feed My Sheep” – window quotations – “They Were Filled With the Holy Ghost.” The fields damaged by weeds. “God Is With Me”; “I Will Make You Fishers of Men”; “Into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit.” “That’s a big operation” – Stephen’s companion from top of ladder. Mankind damaged by passion. Hymns: 19/78/81. Therefore a gift bestowed on the passionless brings great reward. Mary with halo, risen Christ with cross. Double pulpit, two microphones, one attached, one free standing.
Three painters loafing, conversing, planning. The fields are damaged by weeds. Stations of the Cross in wood. Elder of three (white cap, sweatshirt, pants, Portuguese accent): “He’s six foot, you’re six foot; so you got a six-foot reach.” Mankind is damaged by vanity. How to reach the utmost peak that transcends the reach of the ladder. “You never want a wooden one, that’s too heavy to handle.” (Older painter to middle-aged man, as he hands keys to younger painter, blue overalls.) A gift bestowed on those free from vanity brings great reward. Younger painter returns with cord, ties ladders together. A gift to those who are free from lust brings great reward.
Starlight Motel, Faith for Today, Streetsboro. TV8. Ohio. WJKW in Cleveland. 6:00 am. CBS News presents. November 18, 1979. For Our Times. John Knox. “The Hercules beetle is one insect that carries a lot of weight.” Owner’s garage: Cape Cod shingles, window with shutters. “Born in Paddington, in sight of St. Mary’s [etching of its steeple].” Both flaking paint. “Under no circumstances should the Hercules beetle be confused with Hercules.” Two pine trees, an elm. “Reformers seized the town [fields of grain; pulpits].” The owner’s house (two-bedroom). “Then French soldiers were brought in [architectural detail, ecclesiastical].” “Roman soldiers wore scarabs into battle on their shields.” Behind house, a large five-pronged antenna. “His compelling sermons [Edinburgh buildings].” [Illustrations of the Sisyphus beetle.] Three back-yard picnic benches. “The return to Scotland came at a critical moment [cars; tourists].” Large trash receptacle.
“Only to have it roll back each time.” The Starlight Lounge. “With Mary about to ascend the throne.” “Lynn Kellogg [long forearms, long blond hair].” Driveway to motel separating lounge and house (rocky, uneven gravel). [Red guitar; facial close-up; mid-shot (white dress); extreme close-up (lip tremble)]. “Was he too hard on the young queen [mid-shot of shoes]?” “The Beetle – in art.” Green ’69 Volkswagen bug. “The Beetle – in History.” OK inspection sticker, “4.” “Fortunately Mary’s reign was brief [flowers].” Slight frost on roof, dent in left front fender. “We’ll return after these messages.” Blue/Red I-80 emblem; Ohio shield. “Many of the priests” – Scottish accent – “were illiterate and dissolute.” Action figures sold separately [R2-D2; C-3PO]. “Now back to Animals Animals.” Author turns off sound [gospel choir in unison].
“Main Street of the Midwest” (Indiana Toll Road), Noon, November 18, 1979. Freshly-cut grass, still green, “They musta brought this weather up from Columbus, South Carolina” – Hoosier gas attendant, copying author’s license number onto back of traveler’s check. Sunday morning traffic: New York, Iowa, California plates; white collar criminals; college student, Honda Accord filled with plants. “Please Do Not Walk Pets Here / Use Pet Exercise Area.” Buffeteria: small bowl of spaghetti (“meat” sauce); 8-oz. orange juice; 16-oz. chocolate milk: $3.38. Tables of nuclear families: Mommy with natural frizz, ruby hipjacket shirt, maroon tuxedo pants, quarter-hip pockets; Daddy in cranberry rain parka, green poly/cotton jeans, executive mod-shag. Exercising at table, as Mommy, androgynous daughter, finish their macaroni, latter’s canvas tote bag resting against chair, her ten-year-old feet – cinnamon/brown running shoes – barely reaching the ground.
“20 oz. Iced Tea – the BIG bargain.” “The Wonderful World of Candy” display. Large wood space divider, panels crossed with fake timbers. Shiny tabletops (polyurethane), glass ashtrays turned down. Through window: parking spaces all full, expensive American cars. Next table: “He’s so full of bullshit” – aging Chicago hippie girl, chirpy voice, hooded grey sweat top. “David Freeman, David Collins” – second 30-year-old, listing people. “David Freeman?” – first girl. Rustling of crackers, figures hid by large, orange vinyl divider. Levi-suited 45-year-old, Sebago docksides, sneers at author gratuitously; turns up Babcock Lowfat Milk container to catch last drop, glancing at “Mommy”’s ass as she passes.
Dairy Queen, 3:25 pm, Monticello, Illinois; State St. and Main, November 18, 1979. “DQ” (white letters, red ground), “Brazier Foods” (red/black letters, yellow ground). Teenies. “Well, why didn’t ya fuckin’ tell me, I woulda went down there?” – Budweiser karate shirt, red velour pullover, tied about waist; white tennis shoes, red stripe. Wind gust, yellow DQ French-fry container skipping by. Early sixties sedan, metallic beige, pulls in: nine-year-old, bill in hand, out to place order. Christmas decorations already up: green roping (18-inch plastic strips); tiny red plastic berries; white bells in Styrofoam. Working-class man, black vinyl bomber coat, leans against front fender, red Plymouth station wagon, awaiting return of wife (gunmetal stadium jacket), eight-year-old burr-cut son. Looks menacingly at author. Family back in car, man strokes beard roughly; glances again at author; drives off talking.
Vacated space quickly filled, Buick Electra convertible, mom, teenage daughter descending (matching slate zip-front cardigans, tan leather duck shoes, navy rubber soles). “We’ll have to hurry, ’cuz I didn’t park good.” Large, fluffy Big Bird doll, yellow beak, white head, sitting in back seat. Daughter returns, DQ cone (vanilla), right hand; unzips cardigan with left, revealing plain white tee shirt, rainbow suspenders. Mom returns, DQ cone (vanilla with chocolate glaze). Vacated space quickly filled, pimply nineteen-year-old boy. “Chevy” decal, side window: letters in fancy script. Slams car door; returns with drink, yellow DQ cup (black/red letters) held against pea-green high-bulk Orlon sweater. 3:59, changing to 4:00 (Washington St. Bank), 67 degrees; shadows deepening. Sun about to dip behind early forties storefront (deserted). Two teenage girls bicycle uphill past it. Twelve-year-old girl to window, pin-striped baseball jersey, long black sleeves, 14-K puffed gold heart on breast.
Quincy College Library, Quincy, Illinois, 9:05 am, November 19, 1979. Restraint in the eye is good. Men’s room graffiti: “The nigger is living proof the indian fucked the buffalo.” Good is restraint in the ear. Second hand: “And you are living proof that the best part of you ran down your old man’s leg when he was fucking a two week old corpse.” In the nose restraint is good. Third hand: “And your source of humor is sowhat dull – try again.” Good is restraint in the tongue. Fourth hand:
Main Hall courtyard: two prayer benches, one white, one blue (latter over brown). In the body restraint is good. Chestnut squirrel in prayer posture standing before St. Francis (limestone). Good is restraint in speech. Weather unseasonably warm; clouds quickly moving west to east. In thought restraint is good. Grass thick and chewy, lawn raked, sparse new sprinkling of leaves. Good is restraint in all things. Illinois school bus (“Community School Unit #3, Bus 22”) passing south to north. Light behind distant leaves afloat in air, small, yellow-white, like butterflies; light flooding cars in college parking lot. A red truck, “Diamond” in white, inside white diamond, cab door.
Streetsignless corner, Quincy, 9:23 am. Red light blinking at westbound traffic. yellow at northbound. Building in grey neo-Bauhaus. A Bhikshu. “Augustin Hall,” first of five identical structures, rusty maroon slabs descending from its roof. Restrained in all things. Second hall with slabs in cream; third, grey; fourth, dirty green; last not visible. Is free from all pain. St. Francis Church, double red-brick supporting columns, concrete caps; rough wooden sign:
Let Us Give
Monumental spire, enormous cloud mass scudding by; heavy warm/cool air. Gothicized red-brick facade, viewed from west, appears to be falling on viewer. Solanus School, angel with child, lintel inscription: “GOD’S WILL, THE END OF MAN.” Sisters convent starkly bare, sidewalk immaculate. Yellow diamond sign, “YIELD” in black. Cornerstone: AD 1910.
Corner, Oak and another street, rectangular ground of white tiles implanted in sidewalk, “ʞɐO” in blue tiles. Three tall red-brick houses, high double windows facing street. He who controls his hand. Spring and North 17th. He who controls his feet.
Painted horseshoes, left of “Downs.” He who controls his speech. Painted horse in Stetson right of “Downs,” whiskey bottle in hand (“xx” on label). He who is well controlled. Across street, in large maroon letters: “Mildendorf Bros. / Lumber Co.” on cream side of building. He who delights inwardly. Wooden, aluminum sashes (in store window). He who is collected. Green corrugated Fiberglas. Solitary, content. (Second window). Him they call Bhikshu.
Corner, Broadway/indeterminable cross street, 10:08 am, 68 degrees (19c); wind up, hair blowing in author’s face. The Bhikshu controls his speech. Hopperesque turret, southwest corner (“1900” on facing above cornice). It is calm and wise. “Rx DRUGS” (vertical), “Earl & Buss Prescriptions” (horizontal). Hair in author’s face again. (Cream background, black letters, thin red neon outline.) He teaches the law and its meaning. American flag flapping in breeze, turret above it, metallic tile-simulation roof, weathervane arrow pointing west (though wind is coming from the west). Intense red light in otherwise muted scene. His word is sweet. Turns green. 10:16 am, 69 degrees (20c).
Corner, Broadway/indeterminable cross street. He who dwells in the law, delights in the law, recollects the law, he will never fall away from the law. “Alcohol Counseling Services” (engraved in wood: “Western Illinois Council on Alcoholism”). “SLOW” (yellow diamond), “SENIOR CITIZEN CROSSING.” Let him not despise that which he has received. “No Parking / Any Time.” Nor ever envy others. High-rise apartments. A mendicant. Uniform, clean, depressing. Who envies others. Adams County Health Department. Does not obtain peace of mind.
Broadway and North 2nd, “Snow Emergency Route / Ordinance No. 628.” Deserted mill, “Pape and Loos Milling Co.,” black letters, remnant of white background. The Bhikshu who, though he receives little. “FLOUR /SEED /SALT.” Does not despise that which he has received. Wind off river picking up. If his life be pure. Sun too picking up (sky clearing). If he be not slothful. View past Quincy Sand Co. crane to Mississippi River: silver-painted bridge (“Burlington Northern”). Even the gods will praise him. Water, island, trees.
River, foot of Broadway, 10:33 am. He who with name and form does not identify himself. Author’s leg, foot, boot, toe extended over water (greenish-brown). Who does not grieve over what is no more. Water scalloping underfoot; ruffling six feet out, bubbles appearing on surface; waves erupting 20 feet from shore. He indeed is called a Bhikshu (mendicant). Forty feet out, occasional whitecaps, steady motion rolling upward (southwest wind). The Bhikshu who behaves with kindness. Author relaxes sole to water level. He who is happy in the doctrine. Island, 100 feet from shore, serene. He alone will reach that quiet place (Nirvana). Remnants of old pillars (bridge to island), island with lighthouse atop it. For him will happiness arise. White conical clapboard base. Owing to the cessation. Hemispherical shingled cap surmounting it. Of natural inclinations. Boot touches water.
“Minnie J” sand barge (“Port of St. Louis”), preparation for docking. O Bhikshu, empty this boat. Boy at bow, hawser in hand, second boy nearby (orange life preserver). Second boy walks to stern on smooth surface of sand. It will go quickly, if emptied. Takes up second hawser. High hum, motor reversal setting in. Cut off hatred and passion. Hawser secure, first boy jumps. Then wilt thou go to Nirvana.
Author to bridge. Cut off the five fetters. Silver, grey, white-winged birds, sailing overhead. Leave the five, rise above them. “Patterns / Central Patterns” – part of sign, eastern shore. Moving SOO Line “Railbox” cars, one with both doors open (see-through). “Southern Pacific tank car, “Burlington Route” caboose. A Bhikshu, escaped from the five fetters. Author heading west on bridge, “Missouri State Line.” He is called Oghatinna (saved from the flood). Grips notebook as monstrous truck thunders past. Left foot in Missouri, right in Illinois; head tilted eastward. Leaves float on river below, bridge network shadow.
Hotel Lincoln Douglas sign (Maine/North 4th), “HOTEL” (vertical) each letter emboxed, right half red, left half yellow; “Lincoln,” “Douglas” (horizontal) black neon script. Hotel vacant. Meditate, O Bhihshu. Washington Park. And be not heedless. 11:05 am, November 19, 1979. Bandstand, circular pool, stores in disrepair. Do not direct thy thought to what gives pleasure. Lincoln at Quincy: “We have in this nation an element of domestic slavery.” Riverboat whistle. That thou mayest not. “We think it a wrong.” For thy heedlessness. “Not confining itself merely to the persons or the states where it exists.” Have to swallow the iron ball. “But a wrong in its tendency, to say the least, that extends itself.” In hell. “To the existence of the whole nation.” That thou mayest not cry out when burning. White bums sit on bench; black man stands to talk to them. Douglas at Quincy: “I hold that the people of the slaveholding states.” “This is pain.” “Are civilized men as well as ourselves.” Without knowledge, there is no meditation. “That they have consciences as well as we.” Without meditation there is no knowledge. Truck revving, raising level of gear. “It is for them to decide therefore the moral and religious right of the slavery question for themselves, within their own limits. Leaves skittering by. Lincoln, green spectral nausea running down his throat. He who has knowledge. Knuckles on oratory stand. He who has meditation. Douglas seated, arms folded, leg crossed, shoe polished by wear of many hands. That man is near unto Nirvana.
“838 Club.” A Bhikshu. 838 Maine. Who has entered his empty house. Quincy, Illinois, 1:10 pm. “Hang Overs / Installed and Serviced.” Whose mind is tranquil. “Dallas vs. Eagles Pot: Ted Crawley 20, Karen Glover 21, Dick Wade 27.” He feels a more than human delight. “The difficulty lies not in the use of a Bad thing, but in the abuse of a Good thing – Abraham Lincoln.” When he sees the law clearly. “Starting Friday: Chicken Plates, Here or To Go, $3.25.” Turkey gobbler cut-out behind cash register, green italic stencil-letter “.70” on brand-new machine (“SWEDA”). As soon as he considers the origin and destruction. “No Smoking.” Of the elements of the body. “Anyone caught with tobacco on the premises will be hung by the toenails and pummeled into unconsciousness with an organic carrot.” He finds the happiness and joy. “Why don’t you take Dean’s money?” – wife of bartender, work jeans, round leather patch on rear pocket. That belong to those who know the immortal (Nirvana). Bartender in conversation, oblivious. Wife steps to register, looks it over. This is the beginning for the wise Bhikshu. Plaid shirt, tragic face, creases in cheek. Watchfulness over the senses. Punches a button. Contentedness. Another. Restraint under the law. Punches a third: drawer opening. “You don’t have any 50 centses in there do ya?”
Return to Quincy College. Keep noble friends. Women’s City Club (white captain’s house). Those whose life is pure. Quincy Art Center, 1515 Jersey (artily done-up watercolors of detritus). Those who are not slothful. Three-storey brick house, 1477 Maine, massiveness of Richardson without the gravity, exuberance, faith. Let him live in charity. Broadway: vintage white-frame houses. Be perfect in his duties. Once identical, now with three different porches, three different roofs: Then, in the fullness of delight. Black-painted tin. Will he make an end of suffering. Red, yellow-necked composition. As the Bassika plant sheds its withered flowers. Lavender. So should men shed passion and hatred.
Main Hall, 2:10 pm. He whose body, tongue and mind are quieted. Static of show tunes in background. Who is collected within himself. Organ music superimposed. He who has rejected the baits of the world. Passing faculty member greets student warmly: “Hi.” He is called quiet. “Hi,” student responds. “Education” display case. Rouse thyself. “Fading Footsteps into New Worlds” (stenciled letters). By thyself. “Music,” “Math,” “P. E.” Examine thyself. “Social Studies/Science” (overlapping placards). By thyself. “Reading,” “Art,” “Early Childhood.” Thus attentive. Case filled with tambourine, castanets. And self-protected. Calculator, books. Thou wilt live happily.
“SAA Presents” (aluminum-cased black felt board, white metal stick-on letters): For self is the lord of self! “Nov 12: Cultural Film Series / Through a Glass Darkly.” Self is the refuge of self! “Nov 19: Concert Divertissement, 800 pm Gym Annex.” Therefore curb thyself. “Nov 19: Cultural Film Series /Cria.” As the merchant curbs a noble horse. “Nov 21- 25: Thanksgiving Vacation.” The Bhikshu, full of delight. Workman to College administrator: “You know what it was in Western Nebraska this morning?” Who is happy in the doctrine of Buddha. “What?” Will reach the quiet place. “Zero.” He who, even as a young Bhikshu. “Confessions: Mon-Fri, 1130.” Applies himself. Poster. Brightens up the world. Loaf of bread. Like the moon. Glass of wine. Free of clouds.
Nelson Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri. The sun is bright by day. 3:30 pm, November 21. The moon shines by night. Porch from a Hindu temple. The warrior is bright in his armor. “South India, Early 17th Century, Carved Wood.” The Brahmana is bright in his meditation. “Let’s see if they have any stones” – 39-year-old woman, polyester crepe blouse, skirt in crystal pleats – “I haven’t seen any Egyptian things.” But Buddha, the Awakened. Elegant Shiva (“South India, Madras”). Is bright with splendor. Light baffled by surrounding frieze. “The Lord of the Dance represents the eternal cycle of life.” Day and night. “In continuing movement.” Body of Kali, turtle-like, beneath him. “Creation, preservation, destruction.” Because a man is rid of evil. Yellow light, tinged with rose, glancing off cheek, chest, forearm. “Followed by union with the deity.” Therefore is he called Brahmana. “Mother Goddess (Devi),” breast much-caressed. Because he walks quietly. Round, full, large. Therefore is he called Samana. Face full, compact; figure the complement of Shiva’s. (Because he has sent away impurities). Blond, 24-year-old, floral blouse in charmeuse, entering adjacent hallway. Therefore is he called Pravragita (the pilgrim). Bell rings irritatingly, as author touches Durga’s golden leggings (“Shiva’s destructive energy in combat with the forces of ignorance and illusion”). American couple enters, college-age male in red mesh football jersey (“84” in white), female in multicolored parka, jean overalls. “Each of the ceiling things is different,” she says. Museum bell rings again. Shiva dancing, light on thighs. “The Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin of the Southern Sea,” arm on knee, hand forcefully extended. “That wall is something” – 42-year-old in three quarter female ranch mink. “Paradise of the Tejaprahba Buddha, Kuang-sheng Temple, Shansi Province.” Coffered ceiling over white-haired 60-year-old woman, black/white tie-weave two-piece lounger, casual slides in black.
Him I call indeed a Brahmana. Oriental girl. Who knows the destruction. Seating herself, with guard’s permission, T’ang dynasty armchair. Who knows the return of beings. Aiming camera at entranceway “Guardian Chimera.” He who is free from bondage. Trigger slowly releasing. He who is full of charity (sugata). “Head of Lohan, Chin dynasty.” He who is awakened (buddha). “Shakyamumi, Northern Wei.” Girl conversing with white-haired guard. Him indeed I call Brahmana. Eavesdropping, author stands by second chimera. His path the spirits do not know. Discussion topic: photography. Nor those men whose passions are extinct. “No,” says guard, “I don’t use a flash.” Even the gods themselves do not know his path. Author moves to case with Chinese jade. For he is the Arhat.
Oriental girl, Japanese-American, faint moustache, turns, addresses room: “I’m looking for some decent T’ang dynasty pottery.” Him indeed I call a Brahmana. Author sidles over one more case. Who calls nothing his own. Examines T’ang pottery. Whether before, behind, or between. Yellow-brown saddled horse, green glaze. Who is poor. Riderless. Free from worldly love. Author looks at horse through eyes of girl. Him indeed I call Brahmana. Who, pencil in hair, inquires about Korean furniture. The conqueror, the indifferent, the awakened. Author offers directions. Who knows his former abodes. Girl departs. Who has reached the end of births. Author in awe before Avalokiteshvara (“most popular of all the Bodhisattvas”). Whose perfections are all perfect.
I-35, Emporia, Kansas, 6:00 pm, November 21.