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A Life in Hypertext


This is the night song, a dream-show, an interior monologue overheard to remind us all of what there is usually hidden or what we don't have time for, in the business of daily life. Oh, sure, I could go on to describe the day-lillies, waving soft weightless petals in the empty sunlight, streaming even now around my ears in inverse black backlight of my computer sun...and as you insist, now the reality appears: the miso tea with honey and ginger, in a bone pottery mug signed Bess, '60, hand-formed earthenware glazed in brown with vertical sky-striping; beside a bowl half eaten of walnut meats; under a circular cameo in shades of blue of full-mooned lake from the lookout, sky water and flats, tall firs in the foreground, hastening down the slope. On the windowsill: a greeting card print of a carved-wood Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai, wood with remains of color, lacquer, gilding, height 86 inches, Japanese, 12th century, Fujiwara period. A book on How to Make Drums, Tomtoms and Rattles--not to mention, in the process, the resulting or is it rather the causative concept of intertribal fusion--but to proceed: a catalogue of quality paperback books; a stringed pair of bears' gall-bladders: mother and cub, illegal but that's beside the point, who knows when I might get an offer? an unemployment check, paying me eight dollars an hour even as I speak; a receipt for a Chinese bamboo rolling shade; an unopened packet of electrical tape; an Inuit carved hawk, staring out over a cliff in backdrop overlooking lake again in silver full moonlight, a line fir scraggly on cliffedge, its dark brethren waiting below, half-submerged. Four assorted small stones. And, beside them all, waving to the crowd, tongue out in playful tease, sporting embroidered vest and guitar-strap, god Jimi. On other side, a three-foot frond of maple leaves, worked in metal, shining gold with silver edges. On the opposite side again, two photos and a stick-on magnet. The black and white shot, a full-moon tribal scene by firelight, savages athwart lines of loinclothed zealots with limbs outstretched, a head dancer thrusting loins to the fire, a drummer rapt with stick in hand, the women beside him watching gracefully, at languorous ease. Below that, in color, by sunset pastels, The Ainsworth hotsprings resort hotel, lighted heated pool in the foreground, half-naked swimmers smiling in the underwater light. And finally, a word in the shape of a telephone heralding toll-free service to Bronson Pharmaceuticals.

That said, does this scene somehow purport to represent the heralded "inward movement of our time"? Only, perhaps, insofar as "inward" can be taken to mean into the self, the subjective and personal world of one person unconnected to the mass. Is this evil, boring, self-indulgent?

Silence, critic. Let me get on with my work.

You call this work? Everyone, you see, needs a boss, even if it gets confused with the inner voice.

Is there no such thing, then, as that chimera that the working stiff dreams of, to be his own boss?

Ah, it is possible; but still, the Boss speaks in his own voice somewhat different from the playful child, the struggling adolescent, the confident but misdirected young man, the miserable middle-aged neurotic, the rambling old fool. And yet...

I am the critic, too, you see: you swallow me and you get it all. But, you the reader, you with the authentically other and therefore reliable voice ask, isn't that like having to eat the peel with the orange, the seed with the peach? Perhaps, perhaps. But this is new art, understand, going beyond: gate gate para gate para sam gate. If you want something that I can give different from the rest, this is part of the package. A circumspection. My daughter sez, that's not what it says, just read what it says, and I say, I can't help myself. Oh, I could, but its more fun this way, and don't you want to share my cosmic joke?

Now, granted, a constant stream of self-reflection would get boring after a while, an endless monologue from one of the list of bores above, the child to the fool, but here I am now, standing before you as I did embarrassed before the co-counseling class the other night, saying they want to be entertained, and I have nothing to say. Yet, here I am some several pages later--faking it, eating up space, churning up priceless trees or dirt-cheap pixels, wasting everyone's time and psychic bandwidth saying the same thing over and over and over and over/

--Cut, sez the critic.

New chapter: the promise of something new. What do I do best, but ramble on endlessly about rambling on endlessly about....hold on, there is a concept there...the concentric symphoney or somesuch...

But wait! sed critic sez. Nevertheless, there has to be some matter somewhere, some substance, not just hot air. Who's this hokey honky tryin to hooey? Look at Pynchon fr'instance, same rhetoric but characterized, set and described within a context, a history even, story maybe, but anyway not T.P. himself for godssake in some miserable London flat tapping away at some drudge of an illuminated typewriter...

And if the character is me, it should then be okay; I buy the convention FICTIONALIZED, so as to ascend my paltry self and give you the me-not-me the sturggling would-be author sturggling with his sturggling would-be self, sturggling...agggghhh!

Said self having an imperturbable time of it, babbling on like the babbling stream in Running Wolf Canyon, refuses to die...

So okay I say in a more benevolent mood, this is his vacation. He doesn't have to listen to his boss. Maybe this could be a chapter in his book, just for a little diversionary perspective. Maybe, say, the prelude...

Every day is a new beginning in this project called Life, my life. Every moment as good as another in which to begin it. Because if I wait for the perfect moment, that moment never arrives. But at some point, at the present moment, I realize that in the beginning, just as the life itself takes its cue to grow, and gestates through its first definable stage of preparation, so the life story must be conceived, and from its seed arrangement of genetic propensities, allowed to develop as it will.

And so I begin. In this case, however, I gather backward the story to me, my pictures and archives and memorabilia, my collected tales. If they are fictional, if some are fictional, if they only seem fictional, if they are confused with dreams or confused as dreams, daydreams or nightdreams, does it matter? I seek to achieve the distance from my past equivalent to my distance from any other human being--and in so doing to reclaim my intimacy with everyone.

"So much for prelude."

--A fond pronouncement, often to be repeated if only implicitly.

Hark back to the opening line, however, and be forewarned that the plot is spiral, holographic, fractal.

It's a new day.

And that I may not mislead, realize that the presumed linearity of the procession of one's days is so only in the most superficial accounting of the years. Even there, in a calendular sense, the linearity is not strictly linear, but of a spiral shape. The nature of the numbering of years decade by decade, the repeating of months or holidays, or days of the week, or hours of the day, puts life-time into a matrix which allows movement in any direction, not just forward with the so-called inexorable march of time. It's no railroad track we're on, but a star track emptying into space.

As we end, so we begin.

I was born, etc.

Any thought will do.

I'm in a hurry, you see, like the white rabbit going off to meet the Queen or engage in a mad tea party, and I haven't the patience, just now, to dally with specific plots or descriptions. I insist on rambling all day long, making polemic pudding out of empty words.

"This section might have been advisedly excised," sez critic-self, before the coming onslaught of more deliberate narration, as I attempt in other venues to climb the mountain stone by daily stone. But for now, I want to climb it immediately, and so simply settle for the touristic: the "grand, spectacular, sweeping vistas," etc. Enticing the reader to visit and attempting to sell the ticket, but really, intervening critic interjects, putting on a flim flam show and having no airlines to back it up, nothing hooked to the other end of this dummy computer. "All this is, perhaps at best, very engaging--but where does it lead?"

"Oh, but I have every intention . . ."

"The best of intentions," so the saying goes, but "no carry through." Just starting cold is all very fine provided one doesn't get cold feet the first half hour out from shore or camp or home. We need either a sustaining adventurous spirit to keep us going all night, or at least a couple of days running in the same direction...or a better route map to follow, some overall conception of our itinerary. One or the other.

--sez the critic.

Me, I just work here. Want directions? You can try the next stop down the line--even if it is yet another preface...

© 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

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