Cougar WebWorks Publications



A Life in Hypertext

Performance and Freedom:
unpolitical essays from the state of living

by Jammin Fulltime Now

The Liberty Tree

Today, at my old homestead, thinning the apples on the Liberty tree, then typing about it while standing at my old workbench in the woodshed--trying to get my fingers around or through the squeezed chiclet keys on my new p.d.a.--I pondered: is the medium really the message? The trees do need pruning, but do I opt for one or two fruits per spur? So many decisions...meanwhile there's this elusive colon, comma or mark of apostrophe to hunt down, every couple of words; and too many branches are competing for leaders. Does it even bear saying that all life is here? While freedom becomes choked in chaos and confusion, performance cuts through in selective motion.

If all life is here then can I stand in front of a microphone in a public room among men to say that I cried for my father, then drive home smiling to my new wife? Can I throw in the bit about my boyhood baseball heroes, or the current rank growth of weeds in the orchard? Are there parallels and insights, observations of birds or other technical specifications, that would serve better to drive this tub of wild-eyed, tender-hearted adventurers we call "the group" to share our feelings on the subject and so add to the general level of interest? Is anybody dancing? That's what I call the relevant question.

Stage or campfire, tipi or outhouse, I dare to call it performance of the soul. If I am to write or sing or play or jump in the river, it might be a little risky, even uncalled for, but isn't it true that as among friends we are all equals, siblings to the cause of harmonious vibration?

Leadership, stepping out, even speaking takes a choice to move. It means being
willing to cut a path through the uncaring tangle, because not to do so is to turn to compost, or grow only snarled up in the vines. Performing freely, in any sport of life, means being ruthless, even with oneself. It's the path of quick decisions, with the longer view in mind.

Napoleon himself couldn't have smiled more napoleonic than my personal healer, who brought me laughing to my father. Dad like Nap killed kairserlings by the score, or was it only industrial targets? Whatever the objective it seems to me that the man game has it this way: it's the bucking up to the task that counts, and the getting support from the other guys in the process. In the locker room, the board room, the frat house and hunting party, the blues jam and dugout, we find the huddle of men conferring, and in the sweat the voice comes out in a low timbre, only now:
"Men, this is my feeling."

Performance: Dad $ Co.

"First of all, this is what happened with me. I needed to get to the bottom of all the feelings of frustration, and need, that I had in relation to my father. Going there was torture: I didn't want to go. I went kicking and screaming--like I used to do when they wanted to give me shots, or take me away to school. I yelled at the singer on the tape, yelled at my father till I laughed.

"There I did contact our laughter together: one of the more positive parts of our relationship. It was a deep, rollicking, cackling laughter. It satisfied and released that deepest, malest part of me: joyous in our dark unbounded nature.

"I found through the rage and laughter, that my feelings of need unfulfilled by my father were as deep in me as the infant needs I found before in relation to my mother, after a premature birth.

"This was the other half, the missing half.

"I had thought I was doing fine, having gone through that earliest level of grief, and surviving. But I learned and experienced this emotional path only with women--a woman counselor, and women partners--and I forgot about the other half.

"Now with men, when I am sharing these emotions, this pain and release and discovery, openly, deeply, to the bottom, I am grateful. I am aware, in this process, of coming to see the male energy at its source, and to feel its power in me, regardless of the role modeling, the absence or the presence of a father as I was growing up.

"There's no beginning to that pain, that energy, when the blocks that hide it finally break apart, and such clear light comes through--the black and blinding energy of the universe itself. And when I open my eyes, and come back to the group of men around me, of equals, feeling the power we have, of this creative energy, I'm glad to be a part of you. I'm glad to share with you; I'm glad to feel the fatherhood of all of you for me, and me for all of you, a kind of co-fatherhood, call it Dad & Co."

The Message of the Medium: Freedom

This performance is about life, and I don't like playing oldies. Let's be real about today. Choosing the typeface or dressing for the weather, it's all about being part of the flow, and what's more, diving into it.

The deeper you go, the broader it gets.

No more boundaries.

It's all connected.

It all, as good friend Ezra said, "coheres."

The Net is the path it moves on now. We move on, connected link by link. Our brain is the computer brain is the program brain is the media brain is the global brain. We concoct here in our multi-brained mastery of the malleable form, books, lyrics, menus and directories of myriad selections, file associations, also unlogged but faint-traced memory lapses and random sparkings of creative serendipity, yes and a few good steady citizens among the mix. Once inside, really inside, there is no more substance called "skin," really--but a field of osmosis...discharge...exploration...contact.

The news is in the making. Your making, my making, our making together.

The browser window is a perfect metaphor for what we face, in the moment. A record of past effort, a list of options to jump to. The pixels as they are. Each link represents a dozen or a hundred others, on the first level. Like network marketers the page of words builds residual income from its vast and endless web of associations, pyramiding outward forever, circling back on itself, feeding on the energy of circulation. Like a one-pointed drain to the collective garbage dump of all creation past, the moment empties at full speed everything we stop seeing, and everything we're seeing now. It is frozen there in archival view forever: or until the next universe hires new umpires or changes the rules. Meanwhile a future swirls through the numberless galaxies of space which is to say
time, where present light is our vision of the past, and we are the future.

Since the personal is no longer imprisoned behind boundaries of leaders, line-judges, formulae and books of rules, there is a vast increase in the amount of energy exchanged. Personal webpages connect to the world's biggest bookstores, both ways. Visions and dreams and self-published revelations are the fare of the day now, not consigned to midnight, moonlight hours or closet journals. Our faces are not necessarily displayed wearing only one team hat: we are traded, if fate wills it, several times in a season. Demoted, given a place in the Hall of Fame, whatever. It doesn't much matter, to the scorekeeper in the toll-booth, does it?

Where is the university when we need it, to decide for us where to go and what to do? The publishing house, with its armed guard of business-school editors? The army itself, to take us away (Shhhh! Not too loud; they might get ideas!)

Cheap Tricks and Other Oldies

Anyone not comfortable with this section needn't feel obliged to follow. There can be any number of links to depart from, advance booking not necessary, and some return flights allowed if desired.

Cut to STAGE, where COMIC stands sans ms, AUDIENCE laughing like packs of drugged hyenas, COMIC says crack about how his life is just so busy, and as soon as he gets a break to relax a little, some relative ups and dies and he's got a funeral to go to. AUDIENCE hesitates just a half a moment, then resumes hyenic laughing. COMIC flicks cigarette ash, gives Jack Benny smirk, and says, as if to Rochester, "They're laughing."
OFFSTAGE we hear clatter of hardware; then two German WWII SOLDIERS enter with machine gun on tripod. They set up CENTER STAGE and point it at the AUDIENCE. AUDIENCE is no longer laughing. Some have already made their move toward the exits. One dies choking on popcorn. One reports on laptop, the result of which you now see before you...UH--

Links--a non-commercial commercial

Back in the Running

You see, there's no turning back, once you jump in. It's like the computer revolution. You think we're gonna throw them out the window and go back to rubbing sticks? Think again. Maybe for boat anchors when the next generation of processors comes out. Then, only one way to go: Upgrade.

The critics with pencils die slow, peaceful deaths on country estates.

Me, I like to play it both ways--just to be safe.

My budget report, by the way, consists of the following statement: I have money to live on, and more coming in. Don't we all find this true? It's all a matter of degree. But working for a living: now there's a constant rub. What fire leaps up in these sticks of bones, this fat to burn?

Professionalism is perhaps the issue. There is also the matter of lost links, threads to continue, associations to reinvest in. A steady beat? Try the rainbow tribe, past midnight. It could be...unpredictable.

No leaders...not even band leaders? Now that can get dangerous. It sounds an awful lot like anarchy. Or isn't there another ancient practice known as democracy? In a quaint and faraway land...

Back to business. There is a season underway, and every game counts. What I was trying to say, all along, was this: This is the game. It doesn't end after nine innings, or at 12:00, or when somebody hits a home run. It doesn't end with a wild pitch or a squeeze play. It ends when we end, individually or in teams, as it happens. Meanwhile there's batting practice every day, and laps to run; team meetings, hotels to check into, meals to eat, trainers to see, videos to study, charts to remember. Notes and observations to share about the other players. Time to make a big impression--to please the crowd.

Time to Focus

This lonesome reporter on the farm scene can only document one bushleague-soulful game. The point of contact is always in motion: sometimes frozen, sometimes anticipated, but these by turns only elements of a longer rhythm. It's a 24-hour drum jam, with interludes of nighttime tapping, or breaks outside to hear the ravens do their part. There is always fresh material to report, and it comes from anywhere at all. The funnel of the world comes pouring through in thin stream of text or color, to be swirled gently or briskly as the case may be, and sent, transformed, on its way back out the way it came. The funnel without and the funnel within, that we connect with the tunnel of thought and vision, we access as through a shaft into a mine, to bring out the riches of what our inner earth has worked for us.

The Darker Side (slight return)

Deeper and darker inside is beyond wealthy, beyond alternative: it's where the gold turns to shit, and jeweled fruits return to compost. Where carriages become pumpkins, and leaders monkeys--or worse, monsters. What is the value in this? Look deeper still.

Dreams, these can be helpers or demons.

Bring them to the light.

Or like the legendary murderer-turned-monk Milarepa, invite the demons into your cave for tea.

Summer 1999

© Nowick Gray

Prefaces and Introductions Without End
- By Nowick Gray

Fiction and Nonfiction
Performance and Freedom
On Autobiography
Keyword Matrix
The Program
Public and Private
Willingness: A Life Aesthetic
Invocation: The Hunt
Yet Another Preface
Wordwebs: Core Topics
Story of My Life

Visit author website: nowickgray.com

Follow Nowick Gray on Facebook

Cougar WebWorks Publications