Tonight I hear sirens. I don’ t know if it’s cops, fire or ambulance — or if war has finally reached our Western home. There is no explanation for these sounds. Like the night Russia invaded Ukraine and I woke from a dead sleep to the deafening thunder of a massive explosion. There was a huge flash of light glowing through the window off over the hills. It was like a black star imploding. Immediately I thought it was an airliner shot down. No other explanation. I panicked. I wanted to go help. I felt shock. Then it was quiet for a long time. I listened intently, hardly breathing. There were no sirens there or helicopters or rushing traffic that I expected. At last I fell back to sleep content that somebody else would handle it. After all, it hadn’t fallen on my house.
The next morning I expected the television news to be full of it. “AIRLINE DISASTER, DAY ONE!” But there was nothing. Just the usual morning chatter, laughing and being covert over coffee as if they were your best friends come to sit in your breakfast nook – even though they were not and in fact were violently over-paid, multimillionaire actors paid to dup you and besides, you had no breakfast nook. To tranquilize you into belief. A placebo against the airliner crash in the night that no one heard, that was not reported, that was a secret except to the poor souls that went down with it. What a shock it must have been to them. There is blood in the living. It is hard.
I am trying to decide if I should write at all. There are already too many hidden words and if I make a mistake…if I do…well, there’s just no telling. Hidden words. I wonder how many geniuses are out there treading water in the ether with so much to say and no one to listen. Or does it define a genius if one can write like James Patterson, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Phillip K. Dick or Joan Didion? I saw an ad in the New York Times Book Review demanding that such and such a novel be considered right alongside Ovid, Chaucer, Shakespeare…and I can’t remember who all else. Demanding! That is really lazy copywriting, but it did get my attention – of course I would never crack that book because of the sheer pretentiousness of it. Who cares if it’s like Chaucer or Shakespeare or Sydney Sheldon or Hunter S. Thompson? They’re all dead. Ashes. The future is what counts. That’s the real deal. And it’s Jake with me.
I have a longing and an urgency I haven’t felt for a long time. As if the Russian invaders were coming across the border in their snap-drawn helmets and gators buckled up against the rumble of war. The tumbling, bullet riddled shards of buildings that lay across the ground like so much confetti after the Republican convention has left town. The Hun hurrying across the landscape with dreams of manifest destiny mingled with sublimated visions of the master race he dare not mention again in this new century. Shock and awe! I hear him coming so I am filled with the rushing spirits of creation desperately seeking an outlet before it’s too late. Will I be carried away or simply swallowed up like carrion in winter’s path? But then exorcising demons isn’t the point; creation is a definite thing, a design that is invented and not the spilling of so much internal garbage. Perhaps that’s the key to the hidden words. Perhaps in earlier generations…but now the flood of words comes so deafeningly, like the airliner going down in the dead of night, and dulled our collective sensitivity to language. Perhaps it’s the thought that there really is no salvation to be had there as once was taught of fine literature, that truths are not available to mortal men and certainly not in books, of all things, that are filled with words, just like the words that run all over the internet in a thousand different languages saying the same things we’ve all been hearing all our lives. And we’re screaming inside: “We’ve been fooled! There is no truth!” And so the words have lost their significance and we turned to mathematics and science and social apps and hero soldiers and firemen and policemen and extreme cage fighters to be our guides through this maze we call home. This interminable universe. This house we live in. This room. This thought. This word.
I’ve wondered if you have to be dead to write literature. If you aspire to greater heights when you are alive, then it’s just pretentiousness…but if you are dead then it’s OK to aspire to greater heights. All the hidden words. It just makes me reflect on if I should write again and add to the collective pile of words that increase exponentially every instant as all the under 30 geniuses on the planet pound out their pearls in great resounding cacophonies, in rushes and surges, in cosmic events and tidal waves and supernovas of brilliance – clogging all available media outlets with the splendor. Brighter that a billion suns. Brighter than God.
But here’s the rub, nothing changes. The internet billionaires predict to eager ears. The economist propounds upon society and explains it all with the alacrity and effervescent jet wash of the quick and the aloof saying he could have done it right if only he’d of been in charge; he would never have sold them out, because he knew the secret lore and it was gold and bitter upon his tongue in the aftermath. The doctors sing out the cure. The politicians outlining the errors of others and point the way to glory. The diplomats explaining failures as the inflexible opposition’s fault. The strong men winnow in the fields gnashed under the oppression of economic slavery when once they stood like shining glass. Everyone knows the answers. History brings magic visions. But nothing changes. Nothing changes despite the words. The question is, when will most of the people realize that they’ve been suckered in; sold out like arbitrage in the money markets taking from one fool selling to another. It’s little wonder there is no faith in words anymore. All the hidden words.
Books can be made one-off. Put it online and you don’t even need paper. Get a program that tells you how to write, what to write, where to write, and when to write. Let automation spell and grammar check it. If no one likes it, self-publish. Digital imprint it. Put it on the internet. Give it away. Flood the universe with words with no arbitrator of what is good and true and what is not. We live in a mind without borders and the sewage crosses over along with the wine … no longer being any conduits to define these things. It is the breakdown of these borders that epitomizes the freedom of this coming age. It is the cauldron of free speech we are all tumbling into like it or not.
The final arbitrator then is oneself. Self as censor. Self as analyzer. Self as editor. Self as a conduit in a world where there is no other defined path. You will be washed and beat upon as the tide upon the shore, upon the rocks and shoals and razored cliffs hewn by the sea’s hand and the wind’s fury. The place of change is not in the streets of men or the parliaments of men or the churches of men or the homes of men, it is in the souls of men.
Each life a light. A beacon. A conduit of truth.