What Influences You?
Come, Let Me
By Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles
September 29, 2002, at 0700 hours PDT.
Rachel, Nevada, USA
The price of solitude is seventy dollars a day, purchased dutifully from the Master. He issues credit to legitimate accounts. The illegitimate he sends to the devil.
You can pay more than seventy. Much more. You can pay less, but not much less. When the day is done, you must pay.
The price of loneliness is too high to bear, incalculable, the trigger of identity's implosion.
Solitude is chosen, not borne. Loneliness is imposed, by and by. The one gives rise to a redeemer, the other to the redeemed.
An Imperceptible Power.
Each of us is swayed by influences: an encounter in the temporal stream of now, a remembrance as an image from the yesteryear, a relationship sought and won, the imperceptible power of unknown forces.
A person moves into her space, close enough to matter, and drops a hint into her purse. Is she susceptible to an idea? Is she hungry to be changed?
At a crossroads he hesitates, knowing the choice is at hand. In an unexpected surge from the long ago, a shadowy face reappears to deliver a snippet from the infinite homily: The past is nothing but guilt. The future is nothing but fear. Act now and remain.
Come, Let Me Define You.
Has anyone defined her as a work in progress? Definitions are plentiful enough. Does she allow the definition to stand? Come, the descriptor whispers, let me affirm you. Let me take you to secret places behind the counting house door.
How naked will she allow the impostor to strip her in the quest for a higher position? How much of her essence will she show in the musky glow? How proud can he be when he sees her falling, sees her drop to her knees on the glistening floor before him?
This is not about her, but rather otherwise for all time about you. Not about him, but rather about the ruthless everyman whose wealth is an eruption and whose ability serves the travesty of base seduction. He has his ways, has his way with you, his dirty smelly ways. How foul is the odor that moves you to sink into the strange places?
Tricks and Mind Melds.
Behind you in the leaning shadows is the hypnotist's incredible collection of tricks and mind melds. You are soon to be thoroughly modified, but will never know it, never understand why you lurch into the desert and howl at the cloud-veiled moon, why you swim the midnight currents of the sea in a blind libidinous fervor, why you drink from the cauldron of the witch.
The gentleman of prestige wants her to walk with him upon the magma, barefoot and insane. He asks her to wear chiffon and lace, assures her of outward protection from the damnable heat. She lays down a counter offer: Swim with me in the fossilized remains of unwitting beasts. Gird your loins in leather. Anoint your hair with the oil of olives. There's oxygen enough to go round. Together they arrive at an informal coital compromise, and fly into the unforgiving heavenlies, and wonder how they might become one with the stars. She'd like to think so, think so. He lets go.
Who bought the ticket, who paid the price? Who assumes ownership of the debt? Can anyone expect a return upon an investment so ill defined?
In a Million Ways the Same.
"I remember you." Imagine the rhythm, the melody of a song. The singers can sing it forever in a million ways the same, but never shall it become the cliché — not even with the attachment of the occasional plaintive refrain, "Will you remember me?"
Can you imagine a fatherless child, then imagine the child becoming a motherless child, then speculate on what went wrong?
How troubled is the world? The one you live in.
In his isolation, he expected them to flourish, to leap and growl with joy, but who gave him the right of expectation? How can he presume from such a far place to command even the simplest act of obedience?
Best Wishes, Not Expectations.
He is convicted of the sin, casts off all presumptions of fealty on their part, and wishes them well, wishes that they may flourish and leap, wishes them moments of fulfillment and unison, happiness and joy in the gathering autumn. It could be any season and the metaphor would retain its meaning. He simply picked the one most handy, the one that could not lie.
If he is lonely, it is only because he yearns to be a part of something hidden from him.
Someone at the wet bar discomposingly told him that the wires for the moving of words had fallen into obsolescence, but he assured the teller, a babbling anarchist, that words would figure out other ways to move. He did agree with the anarchist's slathering condemnation of the nouveau wealth of information, agreed that data streams and server farms would never be enough to feed the people, who cannot live on words alone. He nodded yes, yes, then he sent the anarchist on his staggering way.
An Examination of Memories.
Alone now and unencumbered by mighty labours, he examines with the usual cold eye certain memories. Once he worked hard in a physical way, long day piled upon long day, hour after hour of lifting and shoving, squeezing and grasping. He would groan and ache in the aftermath, which demanded a quickness of recovery too great for him. He watched his sweat make pools in the dust of walnuts and maples, watched little streams of blood drip upon the hard steel. He gained no more for it than the easy money he could garner on a whim, so he gave it up and fled into exile. What cost the badge of honest labour? Fingers severed, intimacy crushed, backs broken, and pleasure postponed. By the time the make-up date comes round, the outcome no longer matters.
What is the object of the inquiry? In the Star Chamber of Failures, no one but the accuser shall know. The accused remain illegitimate, the judge a raging Fury.
What you must know, hear: The Others want you to follow the rules for the mere sake of following. Their need for minions has no end; their demand for conformity crosses all lines of discipline and endeavour. For instance, if you start with an I, then shift to a she — if you change roles, or genders, or the voice of the persona, then you become the lawbreaker.
Value the burden, especially when it's not entirely your own to bear.
Appreciate the quality of light.
"I wouldn't have missed a minute of it," Ted Brautigan said. "Not for all the world."
Stand Mute and Conform.
It doesn't matter that you're understood, that you clarify and amplify with smooth modulation. It doesn't matter that you plow fresh ground, plant and nurture the crop, yield good fruit. It matters that you stand before the council of the Sadducee and conform.
Do you realize how many of the Sadducees are slain by the audacious rebels? Can you count how many of the earnest nomenklatura yearn to take the vacant seat? Listen! Hear them muttering, "It's all for the best."
Let's choose then, under penalty of banishment, to switch voices and replace the anonymous he with the lean and naked I.
I stand in solitude, formally charged with trespass into restricted zones beyond the valley of the pale. I offer no plea because I have none. None is necessary to a man on the run. Catch me. Catch me if you can.
WATCH FOR MISSIVE SEVENTY-FIVE
Once I wrote
according to a formal deadline.
It worked well enough.
Now I glide in presumptuous luxury,
awaiting communion with a Muse.
She has a name and I know it.
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| ©2002 by David Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles |
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