Except in the areas of civil rights and medical marijuana, the legacy of the sixties counterculture has been largely superficial. Still, though the light has dimmed and gone underground, something in me would like to think the sixties phenomenon was a dress rehearsal for a grander, wider leap in consciousness yet to come.
I've always assumed that every time a child is born, the divine reenters the world. Okay? That's the meaning of the christmas story. And every time that child's purity is corrupted by society, that's the meaning of the crucifixion story. Your man jesus stands for that child, that pure spirit, and as its surrogate, he's being born and put to death again and again, over and over, every time we inhale and exhale, not just at the vernal equinox and on the twenty-fifth of december.
Let us, rather, gather facts, all the facts, regardless of aesthetic appeal or theoretical social worth, and spread those facts before us not as the soothsayer spreads the innards of a turkey but as a newspaper spreads its columns. Let us be journalists, then. And like all good journalists, we shall present our facts in an order that will satisfy the famous five w's: wow, whoopee, wahoo, why-not and whew.
But say you've inflated your soul to the size of a beach ball and it's soaking into the mystery like wine into a mattress. What have you accomplished? Well, long term, you may have prepared yourself for a successful metamorphosis, an almost inconceivable transformation to be precipitated by your death or by some great worldwide eschatological whoopjamboreehoo. You may have. No one can say for sure.
I go into a gallery or museum, and i realize that i don't have to formulate any opinions if i don't want to. I don't have to think this thing through and write about it at any great length. I can think about it if i want to; if not, i can just walk out. So i can enjoy painting really a lot more than i could when i had that sort of pressure.
It is as if the soul of the continent is weeping. Why does it weep? It weeps for the bones of the buffalo. It weeps for magic that has been forgotten. It weeps for the decline of poets.It weepsfor the black people who think like white people.It weepsfor the indians who think like settlers.It weepsfor the children who think like adults.It weepsfor the free who think like prisoners.Most of all, it weepsfor the cowgirls who think like cowboys.
White folks have controlled new orleans with money and guns, black folks have controlled it with magic and music, and although there has been a steady undercurrent of mutual admiration, an intermingling of cultures unheard of in any other american city, south or north; although there has prevailed a most joyous and fascinating interface, black anger and white fear has persisted, providing the ongoing, ostensibly integrated fete champetre with volatile and sometimes violent idiosyncrasies.
What is politics, after all, but the compulsion to preside over property and make others people's decisions for them? Liberty, the very opposite of ownership and control, cannot, then, result from political action, either at the polls or at the barricades, but rather evolves out of attitude. If it results from anything, it must be levity.
Sometimes, though, i feel that pushing books is a whole lot like pushing medicine. Think of books as pills. I have pills that cure ignorance and pills that cure boredom. I have pills to elevate moods and pills to open people's eyes to the awful truth: uppers and downers as they were. I sell pills to help people find themselves and pills to help them lose themselves when they require escape from the pressures and anxieties of life in a complex society.
The illusion of the seventh veil was the illusion that you could get somebody else to do it for you. To think for you. To hang on your cross. The priest, the rabbi, the imam, the swami, the philosophical novelist were traffic cops, at best. They might direct you through a busy intersection, but they wouldn't follow you home and park your car.
That's the way the mind works: the brain is genetically disposed towards organization, yet if not controlled, will link even the most imagerial fragment to another on the flimsiest pretense and in the most freewheeling manner, as if it takes a kind of organic pleasure in creative association, without regards to logic or chronological sequence.
The pervasive brutality in current fiction - the death, disease, dysfunction, depression, dismemberment, drug addiction, dementia, and dreary little dramas of domestic discord - is an obvious example of how language in exploitative, cynical or simply neurotic hands can add to the weariness, the darkness in the world.