Here comes Detritus Om, quite at home in Finnegans Wake, expanding and floating like a pufferfish while dreaming of The Book of Kells.
He farts out beads of quicksilver, both big as ostrich eggs and small as peas and pinheads; then slowly wheeling around, he catches them back up, sucking them down gullets twisting into a crazy-straw network for both digestion and recycling, the remainder spat up, pooling and rolling in pearly globs across the continual shifting parts of his body, pulling thin in some areas, looping and tying into knots like fishing gut around joints to turn them into lures, in other areas becoming hard as bone and sharp as spears which pierce him quite through, a crucifixion not redeeming but only serving to hold him together.
He shambles along like a net so impressively thick with knots and tangles that at a glance one might think he was once a glorious and dazzling God’s eye. When he senses your eyes on him, however, he cannot help but foil such speculation by reacting as if he just closed in on an octopus and deliberately provoked it, only so as to emerge from the cloud of its discharged ink with all his cracks stained darker and dirtier for a more emphatic mooning of you.
“Hail Mary, full of grease, the Lard is with thee.”
* * * * * * *
Oh Detritus Om, pulled high into the sky by a hose through which you suck in dark matter, compacting and contracting into a wrecking ball, why have you let yourself go, you dirty bastard, dropping and crashing through my artful expressions and careful constructs of thought, and in the trail of wreckage, bobbing to the surface, spread like a diaper rash and morphed into a mimicry of an antique penny arcade machine?
Stray wheels have rolled in, madly spinning, stirring up muck and silt and twisting everything near them out of shape before grinding to a halt; and in a hollowed out belly shadowy within, which is also a slack-jawed mouth pinned opened wide at the jowls like a toad undergoing dissection, one two-bit or slug of a word after another rotates into view, each more downer and drag than the last: Abhorrent, disgusting, pathetic… Words that act as lead weights to hidden pulleys which have erected “Sacred” to the most prominent place, only for the chaotic jumble completely to overwhelm it, continually disrupting and cutting it off, making damn sure it never has enough space to come together and spread its wings.
Stumbling along sad and dejected one late afternoon into early evening, the sky above purplish blue but down by the horizon turning the orangish red of rust, I veered onto a clover and ivy fringed path which snaked its way between old oak trees and moss-covered rock formations, and before I knew it I found myself in an enclosure surrounded by tall cypress trees.
On one side of the enclosure a rock face rose up, as variegated and full of character as any grizzled and wizened elder’s face, with dark, moody hollows around which spread lichens like age spots, deep cracks lining its craggy brow, and twisted and tangled vines hanging like hair down the sides. Flowing between dense thickets of bushes and wild grasses at the top, a narrow stream of water trickled down, collecting into a pool at the bottom. The ground beneath me was moist. It seemed everywhere I looked growth appeared which wasn’t there before.
A distant voice then spoke to me which also was so close and familiar. It seemed to whisper from within me and simultaneously to call out from the essence of things, no matter where I turned, making me feel some secret was about to be disclosed to me.
A diminutive man in size between a field mouse and a cane toad, gnomish but not a gnome, crawled out from under the broad-domed cap of a large mushroom, stood up and bowed to an audience of gently shaking daffodils and blue bells which only then I realized were behind me. He then looked up at me towering above him, his eyes wide and clear, a subtle grin on his face, and slowly turning and lifting his arms, he allowed me to study his appearance. He was a cross between a muppet and a Tiki doll come to life, having thin, arching eyebrows, human ears, full cheeks, a wide mouth, and a flat, upturned nose somewhat like a pig’s but with nostrils as delicately small as a salamander’s. His skin chameleon-like was the color and tone of my own, but it changed before my eyes, a golden light coming from within him, suffusing his entire being and making him glow pleasantly where his skin was thinnest, reminding me of the soft illumination of a chinese paper lantern. He wore on his head an acorn shell lined and shaped neatly in front with the hair-thin white parachute-seed filaments of dandelions mashed down and mixed with nectar, was barefoot and had on no shirt, a physique surprisingly developed and toned, and pulled halfway to his armpits was a kind of centurion skirt which also seemed like a diaper. I wanted to laugh and with a wave of my hand dismiss him, but I couldn’t because – I don’t know how – I felt he knew me intimately. Something in his bearing compelled me to regard him seriously.
He pulled himself atop the broad-domed cap of the large mushroom, pulling himself into the lotus position, and without moving his lips announced in a voice resembling my own: “I’m a homunculus. From alchemy within you successfully performed I was created. I sprang to life not out of any single part of you, but have arisen out of the essence of your wholeness, squeezed out of the apex of your totality. Out of the Heaven within you I dropped into this crude world. I’m the gold of your quintessence.”
Brushing himself off, removing the acorn shell from his head, shaking out his soft and frizzy chestnut-colored hair and then placing the acorn shell back on his head, he begged my pardon for how he was dressed. He told me he has better outfits. “In fact,” he said, “My entire appearance here is only an illusion suited to you presently. You should be grateful I’ve come to you in this form. If I arose before you in my full intensity and power you’d be blinded and knocked over, perhaps shattered into pieces. You couldn’t endure it. Your mortality is much too small and fragile a container. Believe me, it can get quite stuffy in there. For some time I’ve lived inside you, practicing incredible restraint not only to go unnoticed by you but to prevent hurting you. Often I’ve slipped out for some much needed fresh air and to stretch out my limbs.”
“Nonsense!” I exclaimed angrily, finding this hard to take from such a ludicrous looking little man. “I must be losing my mind. You’re only a figment of my imagination. I don’t believe in alchemy.”
“Ah,” he countered, springing to his feet and jumping down from the cap of the mushroom. “Remember what Marcel Duchamp of whom I know you’re quite fond once said: ‘If I have ever practiced alchemy, it was in the only way it can be done now, that is to say, without knowing it.’ Likewise, if you don’t believe in alchemy, that doesn’t mean you haven’t tapped into its sublime processes and operations. Presto! Here I stand: I can do no other. What more proof do you need? But I still don’t have a name, ” he said smirking. “Maybe you could help me. I was thinking how amusing it would be if you called me Junk Nugget.”
Unable to take anymore of this insolence and mockery, I lunged at him. I wanted to catch him and crush him between the palms of my hands. But when I swiped at him, Poof! He disappeared and I fell on my face. I pounded my fist on the ground and cursed so violently my face turned red. As I got back to my feet he reappeared behind me shaking his head, still grinning and calm, and pointed to an unusually grotesque mushroom which had just sprouted up where I pounded the ground. “A creation out of the energy of your rage,” he said. “And wouldn’t you know it? It’s poisonous too.” I stumbled back in shocked amazement at the sight, struggling to comprehend what was going on, when I tripped and fell into a pricker bush, which cut and scratched me all over. He told me the pricker bush sprang up behind me at the very moment I lost my temper and began cursing so violently. He told me it served me right I was the one who had tripped and fallen into it.
“Now are you beginning to understand?” he asked warmly. His demeanor toward me had suddenly turned gracious and sympathetic. “Look around you. From within you I’ve been directing your energies, materializing them, narrowing and pulling them like colored threads through dark openings, drawing them up into the sky and back down again, reconverting them to energy and light; but without you I wouldn’t exist, and needless to say neither would this enclosure and all that’s in it. Your guts and bowels have combined through me and come out as the soil beneath us. Your heart pumps and circulates sap in these plants and trees. Here in this enclosure when you have a beautiful thought, a flower blossoms. Your bones and whatever else hard and callous, melded in accumulation with even older things in you petrified and ancient, is the rock face, rising up and casting this shadow. And lastly your subconsciousness is the stream of water trickling over the rock face, fluid, always in motion, which collected into the pool at the bottom, deep and clear and with a surface like a mirror, carries in its reflection the truth of your reality.”
I stood knotted up with tension and unable to move, staring at the shimmering surface of the pool of water. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is this some hallucinated variant of the mythical story of Echo and Narcissus I’ve been trapped into enacting?”
I asked him why he appeared to me now and not at some other time, and he replied: “I’ve stood by long enough watching you knock up against the bounds of language, straining for purity and perfection even as the worm turns in you. Once upon a time your stem dried up, snapped, and you fell from the Tree of Life, rolling and bouncing out of the Garden of Paradise, bruising badly along the way and splitting your face open against a rock. You’ve healed on the outside, but inwardly, deeper down, you remain damaged and suffer memory loss. Ever since you’ve been striving to return to that Original State, punishing yourself for your inability to do so and trying to forget by doing things too embarrassing to admit, from pathetic to desperate, silly to perverse. Rejecting organized religion and anything involving a monotheistic God who tyrannizes over humanity, you’ve been driven into the shadows and there have tried to achieve unity and transcendence through the occult and mystical, but in your honesty have never been able to believe in those abstruse and esoteric signs and symbols either which promise so much but yield so little; so now you pursue what you feel may make you whole again in what’s even more rare and strange, digging into yourself, heading further into obscurity, really only becoming more profoundly and immaculately empty. It’s sad to see how fixed in thought you’ve become, so narrowly self-determined, lacking that spark and thrill of spontaneity and risk which really breathes life into matter and animates it. You’ve become like an hourglass, each word you express like a grain of sand falling through your center. You sidle like a crab toward oblivion. I’ve been moved by your isolated attempts through art to create beyond yourself something durable and lasting, even despite the fact you’ll never escape your own mortality and the law of compensation.”
He didn’t really answer my question, but what he did say so struck me by its verity I was shaken to my core. Still I didn’t trust him enough to reveal what I was feeling. I tried to maintain my composure, but when I squeezed my eyelids shut to keep my tears from falling, the stream of water outside me swelled and surged over the rock face, cascading down, mist filling the air and wetting my face. I held onto my emotions for dear life as they rose up and swirled around inside me, gathering force as against a dam, until I couldn’t hold them in any longer; and when finally my eyelids were forced open and tears gushed out, streaming down my face, the water which had been roaring outside me gradually calmed and narrowed back down into a trickling stream. It was magic to me. Never before had I felt such a strong and direct connection with nature. I had achieved a state of equilibrium, a balance between inner and outer, a living and breathing harmony. I was so relieved and filled with joy I began to glow as the golden light from within him dimmed and flickered, traces of silver appearing at the corners of his eyes and around his mouth.
Surprisingly he was delighted by this transference of energy to me and the change it precipitated. “As you can see,” he said, “the law of compensation isn’t just a theory or an abstract notion. It operates in other areas of your life too, rippling throughout and returning to you in unforeseen ways, but don’t let it go to your head. You can no more control it with your conscious mind than the sail and rudder of a boat can control the larger overall direction of the wind and the heaving of the sea.”
As he spoke he continued to flicker, more silver breaking out like a rash around his ears and on his forehead. When he looked down and saw copper flecks appear like freckles on his belly, and he lifted his arms and saw them there too, he broke into a hearty chuckle. “Silence is golden,” he told me. “If Silence is like the sea, then in its depths are where the treasure is hidden. The breakers on the surface are but chatter. In the beginning wasn’t the Word or even the primal scream. Before the creation of the world was Silence, and after the world dies out or is destroyed, should that happen sooner or later, there will be Silence again.” As he pondered aloud, searching for the right combination of words to unlock the meaning he had in mind, I could tell he wasn’t satisfied. He turned away lost in thought, continuing to search, a couple times muttering, “No, that’s not it”, before giving up and letting out a sigh. “Out of the Word or the so-called Logos,” he finally said, “which in this crude world can no more be sustained in sublime elevation than a person literally leap from cloud to cloud, could only come words of increasingly diminishing value, like a river flowing from the sea, branches off inland and narrows into streams, most of which either dry up or form into stagnant, muddy pools. Words definitely lose their stature and power, their deep and abiding mystery and rich and illuminating aura, the further they stray from their origin. Speech is of Time, and Silence is of Eternity. If I opened my mouth and just let words pour out as any mortal might do, wagging my tongue, it wouldn’t be long before I turned as cold and hard as iron.”
He then closed his eyes, seeming to project his mind beyond time and space, and meditated, Silence filling him up from head to toe, the traces of silver and copper flecks on his skin becoming absorbed, until his body returned all over to a golden glow. I was amazed by his ability to regenerate, and I felt he didn’t do it at my expense. As the surge of energy which so brought me to a peak of exhilaration reversed its direction, slowly drained from my body and was absorbed back into his own, I no longer felt in danger of losing myself but that I was a participant in an ebb and flow of energy whose waves began far outside my field of vision, perhaps generated out of the harmony of the spheres, and concentrated in Silence were somehow narrowed down by him and woven out into this living tapestry around me which also acted as a cocoon.
At the moment I had this realization he opened his eyes wide, his face now positively radiant. He then snapped his fingers and a big soap bubble which would delight any child floated over the rock face and drifted down into the enclosure. It nearly touched the shimmering surface of the pool of water before catching a breeze and floating back up in the air, swirling around, softly illuminated by the rays of the setting sun now caught and reflected back by the rising moon, filling me with such peace and wonder I felt I was dreaming; and when seemingly guided by his own will the soap bubble floated back down and gently touched the palms of his outstretched hands, it instantly turned into a crystal ball the size of a marble.
He breathed on the little crystal ball, rubbed it with his little hands, then held it up. It gleamed and shone with a power and meaning only he seemed to comprehend, and to understand it I knew I’d need him to translate it into human terms. As he made clear to me, however, the time for words had passed. Smiling and staring wide-eyed in a kind of trance, he lowered the little crystal ball to the ground, sitting down, pulling his legs in and nestling it between the arches of his feet; then mysteriously pointing skyward with one index finger and touching the top of the little crystal ball with the other, he bowed his head deeply, his face no longer visible to me, and for some time he remained fixed in that position. I couldn’t take my eyes off him as the energy slowly drained from his body and was absorbed by the little crystal ball, while in turn I felt a new kind of energy enter my body. I gasped and nearly fainted when he finally looked up and I saw his face had turned into my own. He quickly looked away when I tried to make eye contact with him. Panicking I reached up and touched my face, dreading it had turned into his own. ”What’s going on here!” I cried. As I frantically felt around my face for recognizable features I noticed my hands had shrunken too. I then looked down and saw to my horror that my whole body was transforming and I was turning into him. I fell to my knees and crawled toward the pool of water, desperate now to see my own reflection, but before I could reach the edge, he stood up behind me, towering over me as I had towered over him before, and picking the little crystal ball out of the palm of his hand, pinching it between his thumb and index finger, he threw it over my head and it splashed into the pool of water.
As the little crystal ball slowly sank, the stream of water trickling over the rock face stopped, and I felt a strong tug on my insides as if from behind me he had yanked on an invisible cord. I was literally lifted off my hands and knees into the air, my limbs flailing every which way like a rag doll as I flew backwards several feet and dropped onto my backside, which really hurt but maybe was for my own good; for just as I landed the little crystal ball hit the very bottom of the pool of water, and – remarkably without an explosion – a tremendous flash of light lit up the entire enclosure. I was blinded, but the flash without in any way being destructive was so powerful and penetrating that it warmed and opened my heart and turned my otherwise murky and confused mind as clear as crystal. O sublime seed of alchemy which upon being planted at the right time and place instantly springs up and blossoms! I felt incredibly alive, as magnificent as a god, all my senses heightened; I no longer cared what form I had taken. When my eyesight returned, gradually fading back in, I was so happy I rolled over and jumped to my feet, did a cartwheel and the acorn shell fell off my head. When I looked down and saw it I laughed and clapped my hands, and picked it up and placed it back on my head. I then turned around and stepped back toward the pool of water, entranced by the golden glow which now emanated from it. Calm and still, its surface had become as shiny as glass, as rich as a jewel, a magic mirror, the warm golden glow carried within it softly illuminating the rock face and all the plants, trees and flowers around me, and even the unusually grotesque mushroom and pricker bush I had created. I was now proud of these personal reminders and the lesson they held, finding understanding and acceptance and patience and many other valuable faculties and attributes in the blossoming of my new-found creative mind. Looking down and seeing I had the same warm golden glow as emanated from the pool of water, I felt then, if I wanted to, I could with a wave of my hand shrink the moon into a cue ball for use in a game of pool, or snatch a rainbow out of the sky, reduce it in size, and make a jump-rope out of it. I could push a dream over the edge into nightmare, then turn the nightmare inside out and, elevating it, set it back free into dream. I could even change my own shape.
Rejoicing I snapped my fingers, and as if time stood still, reversed its direction and, hiccuping, overlapped itself, returning to the present, concentric ripples reappeared moving in reverse on the surface of the pool of water, and one soap bubble after another emerged where before the little crystal ball had splashed in, rising out of the vortex and pulling free, all of them floating around wondrously, marvelously swirling around, some expanding too much and bursting, some bumping into each other and merging like lovers, several of the more oddly shaped ones wandering off solitary, each in its own direction. One particularly inviting soap bubble, perfectly spherical and just the right size, drifted down so close to me that on a whim I leapt on top of it, realizing I could make myself as light as a human breath, and immediately appearing in the golden glow softly illuminating the enclosure, in accommodation of my desire, was a breeze in the form of a lovely woman, ethereal, the flowing of her long translucent gown generated from within, and moving beneath me, just as she began to fade back into invisibility, she gave the soap bubble I was straddling a gentle push. I floated up over the pool of water, giddy and delighted, tipping the acorn shell on my head to each soap bubble I passed as I ascended, until finally rising above the tops of the tall cypress trees surrounding the enclosure I saw out to the horizon – the moonlight glistening on the sea, the stars twinkling high above – and I felt the majesty and grandeur of nature.
Shining brighter than ever, rays of light escaping my body, close to bursting into a microcosmic sun, the soap bubble on which I was floating, like the one before it but this time unexpectedly to me, turned into a little crystal ball. I fell with it out of the sky, grabbing hold of it, the acorn shell flying off my head and catching on fire, which just as quickly went out in a curl of smoke. I pulled the little crystal ball into my chest, hugging it on my way down as it pulsated with all the colors of the spectrum; then intensifying into the purest white light, I merged with it in a fantastic blur and splashed into the pool of water. The concentric waves which rippled out from my point of entry, instead of hitting the surrounding edge of the pool of water and rebounding back, lifted off shimmering into the air, one after another, and formed into rings which undulated all around me. More and more lifted off and joined the others, whirling around, and formed into a funnel, into whose spinning walls all the light in the enclosure was absorbed, separating out into luminous white around the top where it opened to the night sky, all the colors of the spectrum in between, and glowing gold where it narrowed down below, swirling and glimmering around a black hole which pulled me in.
As I fell headlong into the black hole, an accretion of gold gleaming along its inner edge, as if lying in wait for me, twisted into a cord which looped around my ankle, tightening as I plummeted into dark space. As the golden cord uncoiled, spiraling behind me – the mouth of the black hole gradually widening – hidden stitches splitting – the funnel lost hold of its center, wobbling as it loosened, finally lifting off and dissipating, the entire enclosure above following, coming apart at the seams, all the frayed edges catching on fire, everything going up in smoke.
Energy surged down the golden cord, passing through my body and back out into space, vibrantly glowing concentric waves gathering and merging below me, and turned into a gold ring, which after I fell through it dissolved, fading into darkness. Lessening in intensity the energy continued to flow through my body and back out into space, concentric waves again gathering and merging below me, still lit up from within but now flickering, and turned into a silver ring, which after I fell through it also dissolved, fading into darkness. The same happened with copper and bronze, each ring manifesting below me significantly larger than the one above it, each one after I fell through it dissolving, fading into darkness, feeling myself all along the way growing larger and heavier, until finally, returned to human form with the cord spiraling behind me turning to a stream of water, I fell through the last and largest ring of all, that of cold, hard iron, having come full circle dropping out of Heaven and back into this crude world.
Drink in the lotus, Yodapillar. Breathe in its purity. Out of a mudhole it has grown. Now it floats, gently bobbing on the surface. “Mudhole? Slimy? My home this is!” Soon you will yourself blossom, emerging from a chrysalis, perhaps no longer in physical form. “Luminous beings are we… not this crude matter.” Eating the blossom, chewing on its petals, might speed up your transformation, temporarily boosting your power and expanding your vision, but after nibbling on the edge of the leaf you rear back, looking up while clasping the stem, and in reverence remember: Tat Tvam Asi.
Words don’t come easily to me. If only they flowed through me like a river from the ocean, but for long stretches I turn so dry and barren I become mute. Out of ruins and rubble I push each rough and irregular sentence like a boulder up a hill, exhausting myself trying in a clearing at the top to create my own place of worship, my own Stonehenge. There’s not so much freedom in words as we’d like to believe. I feel crushed under the weight of all their possible combinations and meanings. So many words tumble forth out of the confusion of ideas and make sense only loosely or by chance. Commonly used phrases are pushed around like the upside-down cups in a shell game still played after the ball has been lost. Insignificant words multiply and thicken around more substantial words, creeping like vines, proliferating like kudzu. One must hack through a jungle of cliches. I doubt any word exists undiluted and in its original power. Not one word exists so absolute that it never comes down and gets itself mixed up in the crazy affairs of human beings, including the word “God”.
Her nest is in the Void, which she leaves to practice black magic in the world, sniffing out base matter in those who are vulnerable and in emotional need. She lies through her teeth that what is most shameful and degraded in human nature she can transmute into gold, but of course she never fulfills her promise. She’s a daughter of the Father of Lies. Love forever eludes her, the procreative power, the life-giving light. She practices her craft rather with what has been cast off, percolated into poison, hate and anger the demonic spirits animating her concoctions. Shadows obey her and follow her around, conforming to her every move. They wrap like a cloak around her; the same shadows form into wings when she needs to fly. In shadows she obscures herself when she espies one who grovels and wallows in secrecy and isolation and who she knows couldn’t resist the medicine she has to offer and, after a taste, would bow down and worship her. But she’s patient and careful in her approach. She quietly circles around her prey from a distance and lingers; then so unassumingly that nothing seems out of the ordinary she emerges slowly into the dim, reflected light, a seductress mysterious and enchanting, and like a nightclub stripper rattles her bottles together.
The sound of the rattling summons a hissing snake from the depths of the Void. Transfixed the prey suddenly feels a tug from within, followed by a sharp sting, afterward being suffused with a tingly warmth. Pain is numbed, anxiety is neutralized, fear is left behind. But there’s a deceptive tradeoff, an infernal contract being entered into for this temporary release. The snake as if calling to the blood winds its way around bones, enters the ribcage, wraps itself around the heart, before slithering back down into the pelvis, throughout its slippery movements sapping and draining willpower and replacing natural desire with the monomaniacal fervor which possessed Ahab in his pursuit of the White Whale. The same is in the Inebriate’s pursuit of the ever elusive Golden Moment of Intoxication which through constantly repeated attempts to achieve it destroys both body and soul, which delights the Muse and sometimes sexually excites her. On her belly a round portal opens down into her womb and passes through to her backside, a portal revealing the Void, and out of it slithers the snake, its head curving upward, threateningly hovering, as the tail extending out of the front of the Muse stands wickedly erect. When the Muse raises her fiery glass in a toast, shuddering with pleasure, her pet companion loosens and slithers its tail gracefully around the Initiate’s shoulders like the arm of a sympathetic friend and treats him to some of the finest venom. The Muse can’t wait to see how he behaves under its influence. On the stage of humanity she hopes it inspires from him one of his greatest performances, operatic in scope, containing episodes of both tragedy and comedy, laden with drooling sentimentality and capitulating to drama punctuated by misguided and out of control fireworks.
To the sober this Muse is a femme fatale and a harpy, a dangerous chimera, but to those who fall under her spell she’s a saving grace, a Goddess like no other. With absolute contempt for moderation she goes to extremes with ease, appearing to thrive and grow strong on coarseness and vulgarity, insults, cruelty, lust and jealousy, and outbursts of violence. She drinks in all she can of the hate and anger in the world and stores the infusion for future use when she returns to work in her distillery, spitting fire into her furnace and coughing up spices to enrich her concoctions. She’s a genius at luring into her sphere of seduction those who thirst for the infinite and for oblivion and who stop at nothing to achieve the mystical union. She rewards with stronger doses those who go to hell in themselves and don’t give a damn about dragging others down with them. To one who has reached for the heights and fallen into the gutter, broken and having lost everything, she remains as relentless as ever, offering her hand and promising a return to glory. “I have a new drink for you, better than all those which brought you to your present condition. I have one which will heal you and make you whole again. I’ll lift you to the stars.” She destroys her victims coldly and methodically, in cycles which begin loose and casual but with each relapse becoming like a noose tightening around the neck. She regards each blackout she causes as her pride and joy, as a squeezed out basilisk egg to be hatched later, or all the blackouts together as the rarest of jewels, black pearls, which one by one she plucks out of each passed out and hardly breathing body and smuggles back to her nest in the Void. Her ultimate goal is to destroy and kill through slow poisoning as many as she can, and she likes to experiment with combinations. She doesn’t care about anyone you love, your friends, your family, children, your brothers and sisters, cousins, your Mom or Dad. She’d poison one and all. If she could she’d drown the whole world in alcohol.
In ancient times the human ideal was animated by Divinity whose breaths fanned the creative fire and kept its flames alive, dancing. That ideal, through the collective confluence of psychic energy which in its surfeit grew splendid, rose like a radiant sun at the dawn of civilization, emanating a light both natural and spectral through the clouds and smoke which highlighted any number of clear, noble forms. A goddess would appear tossing handfuls of seed over her shoulder onto fertile soil and soon a virgin forest sprang up. But those times of living myth have vanished. The uplifting power and grace is gone.
The human ideal, old and wrinkled, is now stretched out on a gurney and hooked up to machines. Its identity has been stolen. Against its will its image, emptied of content and falsified, is transmitted to screens worldwide, and kept “updated” or forever young as a nostalgia-filled simulation animated by a trick of manipulated perception projected into a collectively shared virtual space. As the human ideal withers behind a curtain, its life draining away, signs and symptoms of its deterioration spread and manifest.
The central figure in this image is buried just below to where the ribcage would be, protruding from the ground like a ruin or a remnant of the past. What spirit if any has taken over and now inhabits and rules this assemblage of both organic and inorganic parts, all stitched and tied together like a puppet, seems to mock us from beyond the grave.
It’s difficult to tell if this figure is alive or really human. The eyes appear glazed over but still to see. The upper lip is worn away. Blood and bodily fluids mingle behind the skin of the face, seep down over the gums and flow between the teeth, in a mouth which seems to smile, but it’s difficult to tell if the facial expression is fixed that way only because rigor mortis has set in. From one nostril a string of mucous flows, and from the other nostril another follows; while out of the top of the head, skin worn through and peeling away, an alien begins to emerge, an otherworldly parasite which has always lurked in the dark cosmic spaces of the human imagination.
At one time this alien may have been only mite-sized; but from its dwindling fear of being annihilated by the rays of the human ideal, it has taken hold in the cold and moist darkness, eating its way through the heart and up into the brain, engorging itself, and has grown large through the process of bodily inhabitation.
The alien however hesitates to push and squirm out of the top of the head when it espies a flying pest, a miniature dragon-queen, with a fluttering veil approaching like a toreador, giddy because high on the stench of rot and decomposition and playful because she may recognize her old friend.
A couple of loosely rolled up herald’s scrolls frame the central figure’s head and neck like some fancy dress shirt collar. Directly below, out of this grotesque figure’s chest by its own glove – a glove either empty and moved as a lever or perhaps animated by who knows what smaller creatures writhing and wiggling inside – a drawer is pulled open, and out flies winged letters, several swirling up toward the flying dragon-queen’s fluttering veil. They follow her around as if she wants them to spell out something, while the rest stay behind, densely packed into the drawer’s cavity and jostling for position with each nonetheless making a sound particular to its shape. Only by chance might some of these winged letters take off and land side by side away from the morass, spelling out a word. Far less often might a bunch of them be so positioned that they seem to spell out a phrase or a sentence, before the next moment one of them, then a few, followed by the rest are swept back up into the pandemonium.
. . . . . . .
After I completed this image, having had time to reflect on where it might have come from, though summoned and developed subconsciously, I can’t help but to think of Percy Shelley’s short poem Ozymandias, Matthias Grunewald’s black chalk drawing entitled “Head of a shouting man”, Frankenstein the monster, and Alfred Kubin’s ink drawing “The Good Lord”.
Where is your Spermatozoon? Where is the Fabulous Being who carries the rare possibility of your fertilization?
To reach you that Spermatozoon, flagellating its tail, must not only fight through others like itself, but unlike those others it must have wings to flap free of mortal spunk. It would have to be exceptional, a never before seen deviation, the seed of a god. But even then it may never reach you. Without clouds for cover and protection in the sky, it would likely dry up the closer it flew to you, eventually catch fire, then smoking fall spiraling back to earth.
Down below, sweat and dewdrops trickle down to the nesty brow of a swollen Bulb-Head about to split open. This Bulb-Head’s dome where a crack opens and begins to reveal its tender parts is aligned with the Sun Egg hanging above in the distant backround and with the Mystic Disc lodged below in the near foreground. The moon like a holy host swallowed remains whole and still glows within.
Hey, Diddle, Diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow and the little dog have vanished. A sheep dissolves, its innards pulled through its mouth, out across the Mystic Disc, lunar-surfaced vomit petrified to bone.
. . . . . . .
Bound to the landscape are two male figures, primal and general and of similar proportions, perhaps twin brothers. It’s a mystery how they came to be there. It could be that deeper underground they are conjoined. They could be the result of an alchemy experiment gone wrong.
Legend has it that their father, a demigod obsessed with his own image, grandiosely deluded himself into believing he was the Chosen One who could bring about the fertilization of the Sun Egg. High above the clouds, arriving after the long journey, he envisioned himself being caressed and stimulated by the wavy rays of fiery heat, pulled into an ecstatic swoon, dissolving in sweet oblivion. He envisioned a goddess beautiful and glorious, arrayed in gold and with the Sun Egg pulsating within her, appearing for him alone, smiling down on him, and waiting for him with open arms and longing in her eyes.
He couldn’t wait to be with her. Running as fast as he could, off a steep cliff he dove, catching his fall by unfurling and flapping his wings. After hovering and looking around, he took off on his long flight up to his beloved. For hours he flew, fluttering through pockets of still air, pushing through turbulence. Up and up he flew, until his wings began to tire and his limbs became heavy. But still he pushed on, never losing heart, doing everything he could to conserve energy. When the wind blew strong and steady, he held open his wings and glided upward in a spiral. He rode the currents. He was reinvigorated when he approached a group of fluffy white clouds, because they appeared to promise a place to catch his breath. But when he entered those clouds he immediately realized that such a promise was an illusion. Yet still he pushed on, never giving up, huffing and puffing as he flapped his wings, in not unlike the heave-ho rhythm of a sailor pulling a rope to hoist up an anchor.
Then the unexpected happened, so sudden that any shock was quickly absorbed by what was inevitable. Once he emerged and soared above the last and highest clouds, his wings burst into flames, and he tumbled out of the sky. He fell end over end, back down through each layer of clouds, leaving a corkscrew plume of smoke behind him. He whirled and spun with such violence and speed that he lost consciousness. He died as he fell, and when his burnt corpse finally hit the ground, charred beyond recognition, his guts splashed out of its smoking shell and his nuts split open, scattering seeds all around. Some of those seeds landed in moist cracks in the earth. Even of those seeds, most died. Of those that took root underground, embryos developed into fetuses, strange and hybrid, bound to the earth as they emerged human in form but not quite human in nature in the light of the Sun Egg they instinctively despise.
. . . . . . .
From the fallen demigod’s splattered remains, liquified guts flowed rippling with fire, a scorching stew which moved like lava and burned a crater in the earth. Pores opened and vital fluid was sucked underground not far from the catastrophe, most being diffused and cooled by surrounding dirt and rock while the remainder, still sizzling, oozed down into an enclosure not much larger than a heart, where it was contained, boiling and bubbling as if in a retort. Remarkably where this vital fluid began to distill was directly below where a couple of the scattered seeds had fallen next to each other and taken root.
From the build-up of intense pressure in the enclosure, new veins were forced into being, branching open in the lungs of the two growing figures, steam and vapor escaping through their nostrils and mouths, followed by smoke. For some time the figure on the left belched as much smoke into the air as his nearby brother.
But one day the smoke stopped coming for him and he was left exposed and vulnerable. The Sun Egg whose rays burned his skin and penetrated his flesh seemed about to set his bones on fire. As his skin loosened around his shoulders and chest, peeling away and revealing earth-blending layers, a sinewy and blood saturated cross-section, he feared at any moment he might collapse from within or catch fire and burn to ash. He thrashed around, but in vain because his body from the beginning had grown fused with the earth. When he inhaled deeply and then blew out to generate a protective cover of smoke overhead, he now only wheezed and coughed in sharp, angular bursts.
. . . . . . .
Moon white foam then began to bubble from his lips, which as it increased didn’t dribble off his chin, but as if in reverse slow-motion, it came out of his mouth in all directions, spreading with a life of its own over his face. When it soaked into his skin, absorbed into his bloodstream and reached his brain, it wasn’t long before he started to hallucinate.
Out of the shifting forms and colors that played on the back of his eyelids he saw himself of all things as a fat, warty toad, squatting on a flying saucer which flashed around in the sky and then settled, hovering, over a crowd of lesser toads hopping for cover below. He saw himself as their undisputed King, the fattest and therefore the grandest, with the most disgusting secretions, with tremendous bags under his eyes which had the irresistible pull of two black holes, and in his belly was a magnificent jewel.
He believed his vocal sac could inflate so large that when air-filled and he held his breath he could leap off the flying saucer, and safely float to the ground, or be carried up by the breezes. By pursing his lips and narrowing his croak’s vibrations he believed he could penetrate boulders and explode them, that if he so willed he could cause an earthquake, or by a single directed croak he could shatter the bones of an approaching enemy. On the creative side, by reducing its volume and subtly modulating its tone, bringing it down to an hypnotic drone, his croak he believed helped flowers to open, stimulated the roots of plants and trees, soothed and enhanced the well-being of all kinds of lifeforms, and if fully mastered could even cure diseases.
But the vapors of hallucination were soon exhausted by his brain, and in a sense – the vocal sac popping, the flying saucer evaporating – he fell back to earth like his father. Pale and sick, tumbling into sobriety without aid and transition, when he collided with reality he threw up, a narrow stream which at first could be mistaken for a darting out toad’s tongue. But the emission kept coming, hot and gooey, some spurting out of his nostrils and burning away his nose: It was the vital fluid which had been boiling and bubbling in the enclosure deep below, and though still burning with hidden fire it now forced its way up to fulfill its purpose, distilled and purified. When it landed on the surface and cooled it not only had the strength and elasticity of silk but also contained properties of a generative nature. It grew all around, fused with nerves and organically took shape, and thus became the Bulb-Head, which bears a resemblance to the demigod as he was before his downfall, a mocking reminder in retrograde form.
. . . . . . .
The son now resides in the mouth of his father whose substance, still throbbing with desire, strives to return him to the demigod he once was, fusing into an entity which one day may sprout new wings, pull free of the earth, so he can attempt again the long flight up to his beloved. But as yet the large glazed eyes which seem to stare up while also looking inward are the bulbous tips of antennae extended from the crown of the much smaller head within, transmitting data more by feel than by vision. The large fleshy ears serve also as an extension, amplifying sound by a kind of seashell resonance.
O Shroud of Turin, he doth protest from within that cave, grimly looking out, false messiah crowned by teeth, framed by hanging folds of skin-veil and flesh-curtains.
His brother back to the right may soon experience the same grueling process, fluid already like melted candle wax flowing from his mouth and down his neck. But for now, in a parody of his damned condition he protrudes from a chimney as from a stage-set volcano, his head cocked back, and since he has no fists to wave, black smoke spews out of his mouth, rising to soil the white clouds and to cover the Sun Egg in the Sky Womb.
The Guardian by the altar steps, eyes displaced and in blindness seeming to see, is the hybrid spawn of Deities past, an amalgam outcast of earth, sea, and sky.
In what deceptively appears to be an Aztec warrior headdress, a poisonous stinger may be hidden, or maybe it lurks behind the Guardian’s back, the tail having pushed itself free from underground, coiling up, ready to unravel and strike any who without question tries to pass. Maybe that’s what the incarnate Whimsy full of mischief and fear who seems about to point is tip-toeing toward, and attempting either to sneak around or grab hold of in a bold effort to yank out the stinger for its collection of rare and strange things.*
The head of the Guardian acts as pivot and transition, upper body attached through it to the lower, the whole entity both parasite and host of itself like Ouroboros, the mouth at the intersection stretching and contorting, held together and blossoming through constriction into a new kind of mouth, as if mocking any ordinary mouth as unfit for expression. What the eye sees in this region cannot be adequately explained.
Out of a nest of hair which atop the Guardian’s head flickers like flames, a serpent’s body rises like a King Cobra from a basket, but it emerges tail first, a dragon shorn of wings and limbs but whose tail continues to be whipped around with uncanny control and precision.
Above the Guardian’s temples, the brow noble but honestly less so than that of Neptune or Jupiter, horns uncoil which actually are lively and muscular tentacles becoming long and slender at their ends, the thin and sharp tips surprisingly having feeling as fine and keen as nerve endings. When relaxed they undulate freely like streamers which flutter in the wind; but when willfully directed by the mind of the Guardian from whose head they come, they move in a mesmerizing rhythm around the serpent’s whipping tail, rising upward in a bizarre and ritualistic celebration and waving and whirling around like some primitive dancer in a trance doing crazy arabesques to the accompaniment of music never before heard.
Passing down through the mouth and seemingly emitted from it, the lower body of the Guardian resembles human form. The pelvis and legs, hidden from view, are planted firmly like the trunk of a tree. Since the stream winding into the distance has run dry but some water has been absorbed, on the torso fungus grows in places, little abnormal growths, while the skin in other places is worn quite through, revealing a tight network of veins and arteries which are more like the intricate roots of certain plants and herbs with magical properties but which in large doses are sickening and even fatal.
The Guardian holds and plays the word “ALIENATED” like an accordion, which when pushed closed seems like a breath drawn inward, and when pulled open arches like a bridge, an exhalation, the overall effect taunting and seductive.
In the foreground at the top of the altar steps, having just been buzzing all around, impudent and irritating, a Fly lands on the side of the altar itself, the slightly curved and elevated, sky-facing word “MIND”, while along the length of the altar’s curved top step, traveling from left to right, a Snail with horns extended, a kind of alien creature in its own right leaving behind a slimy mucous trail, creeps toward the edge barely faster than the hands on a clock face.
*A little backround story and description of the incarnate Whimsy tiptoeing in from the right side, sneaking around behind the Guardian: As an adult having evolved human features it bears some resemblance to “The Ghost of a Flea” which William Blake depicted in his marvelous miniature painting. In its first incarnation this Whimsy lived as a flea within the lines of the big spiral on the chest and belly of King Ubu. Nocturnal in habit, it spent much of its youth exploring the hills and valleys of King Ubu’s body, the funky nooks and crannies, often sliding down into the crack of his rump for fun; and as the sun rose it climbed back up to spend its days sleeping under a warm and sweaty roll of King Ubu’s fat or in the greasy depth of his bellybutton. One evening, so the tall tale goes, while itching and scratching himself and unable to find relief, King Ubu discovered down in the wild tangle of his pubic hair the young Whimsy lying on its back with one leg crossed over the other like some kind of poet looking up and contemplating the stars. This droll display of mimicry so infuriated King Ubu that he yanked out a clump of his own hair to get at the young Whimsy, which he then pinched up by its pollen-ball producing kilt and flicked like a booger into the world.
Since that time the Whimsy has survived in curious ways. It has learned to disguise itself in adaptation to the absurdity of existence on the shadowy margins. Tusks, or misplaced fangs, now extend out of its shoulders and curve up toward its head, the tips arching and pointing forward. In appearance now a gnomish nosferatu, its digits have grown long and slender with sharp little fingernails; and its face like a sarcastic joke in search of a punchline peers and sneers out from between parted layers of what appears to be a hollowed out onion worn like a cross between a bonnet and an old-fashioned aviator hat. Pointing upward from the top of that head-covering, stem-like and comprised of organic filaments with a string coiling around them, twisting and tightening them to a point, is some kind of horn, which provides direction and guidance to the Whimsy like some kind of pataphysical compass needle or divining rod.
Carried in the heart of the artist is a golden thread, vital and alive, which moves through one work after another, coiling and twisting like a snake, connecting spaces and bridging gaps in the weaving of an unseen but intuitively perceived tapestry. The golden thread seems at times to break off and be lost, but it’s there, often deep within and on the nether side of consciousness, burrowing and seeking its next looping and connecting link, which once found may swell into a leviathan swimming in the deep or flare up into a dragon flying in the air before narrowing back down to the thinness of a hair.