Date: April 23, 2003 2:57am
Subject: on the road again...
How many of these travelogues must start with personal astonishment?
Today, I left Berkeley. The feeling of pain, almost pain, of separation
from what is familiar, what has become comfortable, has become somewhat
of a narcotic, addictive pain. But pain nonetheless. It hurts
to think that I won't be returning to Berkeley for a month. But
its comforting to know I will return. And familiarity will
be there when I do return. However, it will be 5pm, my storage unit
will almost be closed, and I may not be able to get to my tent; I left
my sleeping bag stashed in the woods, but who's to say it will still be
there? And my site still unoccupied? Contingency plans.
I have several friends in Berkeley now who may be gracious and house me
in exchange for news of the Beyond. Travelers of all ages have used
this medium of exchange. Stories of the world outside provincial
life in exchange for shelter and food within...
Now I sit in the downstairs lounge car; the one table on the entire train
that provides a public outlet (besides the restrooms). On the entire
Amtrak train there is precisely one seat where one can sit, write, have
outlet for thoughts. The bottle of Hawk Crest wine I brought is
nearly finished. I shared with those down here when I arrived, but
then hid behind my headphones from the banal conversation.
I had/ve work to do. My schedule for Seattle is filling up.
Friday, four/three days from now I hope to meet with Jayme's professor,
an expert on the Abhidhamma. Thus, with motivation, I have dug into
the Abhidhammatha Sangaha. She may have read the original pali texts.
This is a rare and powerful moment, with introduction and all that that
implies, to meet a true scholar, who will have god-knows-what preconceptions
of me. What has Jayme said?
Meanwhile, I recieved a call today from Casey, the organizer of the Slideluck
Potshows in Seattle. He wanted to know if I was free for a photo
shoot. Months and lifetimes ago he photographed me doing a handstand
at a tennis tournament (my first and only) and one of his clients saw
those photos, liked them, and wants me to model for 'something'.
I said, like, sure. I may even get paid. That may actually
make me a professional model. Which would be hi-larious. Here
I sit. Abiding in the perfection of what?
WiL has reserved my sunday night for an 'erotic magic show'. I'm
fond all the sudden of the 'single quotes'. Listening to Autechre
as I write this, as I travel down the train tracks which will inevitably
terminate in Seattle. In motion I feel so much peace, yet tribulation
on conceptual levels of what have I left behind and what awaits ahead.
Yet the fatalism of the moment, the now is key. Its a beautiful
feeling to be in the hands of another, powerless, impotent to affect one's
own destiny within the larger system of the moving train. I am now
'somewhere' in Northern California, bearing down on Mount Shasta, that
beautiful beautiful summit. And we should be there shortly after
sunrise, due to our delays. We are a couple of hours behind schedule
at this point. Amtrak is not run by the Japanese.
And my thoughts are wandering, for I just made it through the introduction
to the Abhidhammatha Sangaha. I've already read one translation,
at least the first several chapters. I learned that what was omitted
from the previous version I read was the errata to the text. The
essential points were covered, but without Bikkhu Bodhi's amazing scholastic
insight. I swear he lives up to his nomiker. Autechre's "Outpt"
saranades me. Today I shopped for a blouse to accompany a sari.
Today I broke camp in the woods behind campus in Berkeley. Today
I said goodby to Elodie. Today is yesterday. Today I wandered
around Emeryville, I dismantled and boxed my bike after riding with fifty
pounds of possessions, including the bike-box, from Berkeley to Emryville...
Today which is yesterday. So much happens in my life. Free
from attachments does that I guess though its becoming second nature to
be free. I don't understand the counterexample anymore.
Tiredness is starting to set in. The wine I brought with was an excellent-ish
2000 Cab Sav, from the makers of Stag's Leap. I remember buying
a 75 dollar bottle from my restaurant and drinking it from the bottle
in a Tenderloin apartment with Josh and David back in the day. I
remember watching transvestites from the fire escape and hearing gunshots
ring in the night. I remember Alpine and Himalayan peaks.
I remember many things, not the least of which are the memories I'm awakening
to of my childhood. Its sad but Most of my life has faded already
into a mythic blur; a blur over which I am the least reliable authority.
So I add Aphex Twin to the mix. Today I read beth's Ronald Reagan
Mint, in both it's Now.doc and merger.doc formats. Two alternating
versions of essentially the same material. Not unlike all the other
shit I've been going through. I read three versions of Saussure's General
Course on Linguistics, and innumerable versions of restatement of the
Abhidhamma in introductions, primary, secondary, and tertiary texts, and
now, I sit as the train rocks and "maphive 6.1" plays on me
Today is a very big day. Its 3:32 am as if that means anything
other than... And today I will wake up or be otherwise in Seattle?
And what then? Where am is I? Do we bowl here/now? Do
I still have keys to anything? Is there a here or there when one
defines oneself as living "in transit" or "in transition?"
Which is what this whole page reduces to. I am a creature of transition.
day=day, place=place, and only by contrast with myselves do we find definition.
I drink fine wine from the bottle. let that Be my epitaph.
He drank the nectar straight from the bottle. Or rather, lets not
write an epitaph. Lets not ever die. Or at least not so that we've
left a corpse. Somehow I always figured I'd be food for carrion
animals, not worms per se. I'd rather be found as a bleached boned
skeleton, having gone so far that none could see my remains until they
were clean, bones licked by the four winds.
These are the thoughts of the hudson in transit. A dozen times
I've surely heard these tracks, but I can't whistle Autechre. That's
the charm. These are not tunes that get stuck in one's head.
Or woe be the head that they do! But how many times have I ridden
these rails? How many times have I travelled to Seattle from San
Francisco Bay? Where does this go if not to more [to-mor-row] questions?
And I find that the thing that attracted me to Abhidhamma is in fact
external to the system. Implicit within, but still a more recent
invention. Creepily contemporary with the evolving tantric tradition?
Thought-moments appearing after Patanjali? Oh god I want to scream.
I want to break something. But I will type out my frustration instead.
Its more permanent angst. "Zeiss Contarex." The
deeper you go, the broader it gets. Something very very very fucking
intense was going on in India from 600 AD to 1200 AD. How easy it
is to toss around a couple hundred years give or take. But something
very fucking intense was happening. What a renaissance! Then
the Muslim invasion, the British invasion. Now what do we have in
India. Bedlam. Lights flash outside the window as the train moves
steadily toward Seattle. I obscess over the spelling of obsess,
firmly convinced that language is a speech act, and the convention of
writing an abomination of language. I spell horrifically, phonetically,
vicariously, laxidazically, Yet, the more it goes on, the more intensely
I focus on the phonemes themeselves. What does a or e sound like
in certain contexts? Why do we restrict the flow of language?
What are the ramifications of the social institution of language once
it is formulated and restricted from natural evolution? And...
Aphex Twin, "Weathered Stone" and my best friend practices
stage magic. Lindy explores polyamorousness. Sam's self-deprication,
Carman's passive-aggressive behavior. I see. I feel her palpable
suffering. Why does the suffering necessarily increase with intellegence?
One would think... but aye, there's the rub. One does think.
And the conflicts are self-evident.
Let me break it down, as one who does little BUT think anymore.
Where is the efficacy in thought? So what if I become a preeminent
scholar of some shit or another. Where do words lead if not to other
words. But as Chairman Mao said, "What is a problem? A problem
is a contradiction in a thing. Where one has an unresolved contradiction,
there one has a problem..."
So what is my biggest gripe? it has to be the notion of Self-Interest.
Which leads to self-lessness which leads to altruism, which questions
the larger portion of my behavior. If someone needs assistence,
I am always the boyscout. Always aspiring to be the night in rusty
armour, the Don Quixote to the rescue, tilting at giants none but I can
see. And where does that get us?
...to somewhere in northern californina, beyond Sacremento, at the nether
end of a bottle of wine at four am. Enroute to his sister's wedding,
with stops in between. Seeing so much unfold that it hurts to contemplate.
I can't hold my own thought process in my head at the same time.
By the time I have hold of the head, the tail is redefining the terms...
I am so intrigued by what lies ahead. I think I have to go smoke
a cigarette and contemplate contemplete, completeate Seattle. I
have to smoke an illicit cigarette from an illegally opened window...
I'll sneak a drag or two. I will get told "don't do that"
or potentially kicked off the train. But I will do it nonetheless,
the risk is worth the reward of a story to tell, no,, wait, worth the
reward of a cigarette smoked... I think that's the long story short.
I am so freaked about life. It keeps going, getting deeper, like
a ravine in a typhoon. And seattle lies just ahaed with a life full
of people whom I know well enough for them all to hate me, each in their
own special way. God I did such a good job burning bridges.
I walk in to town I feel I have to beg forgiveness. Sorry guys!
I know I was an ass. But, well, look at yourselves... Was I supposed
to say nothing?
Alas, yes. So from now on I say nothing until my life is impecable.
I wonder if this sentence will every be read. If you read this sentence
and copy and paste it into an email and send it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I will mail you via post a special reward from whereever I happen to be.
When I get to this point in rant I assume no one is listening. Its
liberating, in its own way...
But I'm going to be done with this segment. I don't think it got
anywhere. Like this train, which just stopped mid-track. Its
time for that cigarette.
Date: 24th... Day two
Subject: will it never end?
This has become the train ride from hell. I didn't realize how
ominously appropriate that last line was. We have spent more time
stopped, sidetracked, or otherwise immobilized than we have in motion
at this point. We are currently something like 14 hours behind schedule.
"viva Seattle-Tacoma, viva viva Sea-Tac. And the space needle
points to the sky..." Someday we may see it again.
The people are starting to freak out. They already bribed us with
free subway sandwiches. But that was just to make up for putting
us NINE hours behind schedule. We are about to get lapped by the
next train north. But I guess we have to make way for the
Freight trains, the pecking order on the rails.
Well it all started when we were an hour and a half late leaving Emeryville.
Then we were an hour later in Sacremento. Then. Then we hit a construction
crane outside of Dunnesmuir, CA. Like physically hit a crane.
They replaced the engine, and moved the luggage car (where my poor bike
rests in pieces...), we all got pizza (at our own expense) and then a
few hours later were on the rails again. Then we were sidetracked
for an hour or more in Klamath Falls, and now, points in between, its
looking doubtful that we'll ever make it to Seattle!
I really can't care THAT much. I have nothing to do until May,
and I've added in plenty of extra days to account for these kinds of
contingencies. And I've brought plenty of work with me. The
laptop definitely helps. Writing for the web, listening to Ziggy
Patiently abiding; maybe, someday, I'll see Seattle again? but
until then, I read the Abhidhammatha
Sangaha. "He was the naz, with god-given ass!"