Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Plumb Line—Part 1

It was not yet 12:00 pm, but the temperature in the city had already reached 91 degrees, accompanied by an excessive humidity. I was already in a weakened condition, as I suffered from a certain type of toxemia that had resulted from exposure to poisonous chemicals a few years earlier. The addition of the overpowering heat had rendered me passive and utterly susceptible to any outside influence—I had no will of my own—I was a spoor, floating mindlessly, born aloft by breezes and the mysterious, undefinable currents of the city.

The day was so oppressive that I had already abandoned any attempts at coherent, linear thought or of trying to accomplish anything whatsoever, as I slowly walked uptown towards the arbitrary destination of Union Square.
Whatever happened to come into my field of vision—whatever was before me—held me mesmerized and transfixed: a sign or a billboard might have the weight and gravity of a commandment from the Old Testament; a pan-handler might appear as the prophet Elijah.

People pushing towards me through the unbreathable atmosphere seemingly had the bulk and strength of elephants, as they charged determinedly and forcefully through the confines of the day. They all had missions and destinations—you could see it in their faces and bodies. By contrast, I was a mere cipher, waiting to be given an identity by any passing stranger who might happen to speak to me, and perhaps breathe some life into me.
As the temperature climbed, a feverish, spectral city rose out of the haze of heat and toxins. An exhausted physics and geometry had loosened their hold on the city, and as I moved slowly up through the corridor of University Place, I had the peculiar notion that it was the buildings themselves that were moving—engineered by some unfathomably intricate mechanism that calculated your every step and produced a corresponding movement in the buildings, producing the illusion that you were the one who was actually moving. This illusion had been burned away by the sun and the corrosive effects of the toxins, and the underlying armature was revealed: I was now allowed a glimpse of the hidden mechanisms and skeletal, inner workings of the city whose name had become uncertain.
As Union Square slowly moved towards me in a haze of pollen and particulates, it projected a vision of a swollen and lethargic park—the creation of a fatigued and passive God, given over to indolence and apathy.

As I approached the great pulsing artery of 14th Street, I found that it presented an impenetrable barrier—I couldn’t navigate the swirling flow of shapes coming at me from all directions—I couldn’t decipher their movements. All of my instincts were wrong: I would see a fleeting narrow pass-way in the wall of flesh and metal bearing down on me, and I would alter my course to take advantage of it, only to realize that I had miscalculated, and was met with frowns of disapproval, and unpleasant sounds. I was actually disrupting and impeding the flowing, bubbling arabesques of the ever-morphing form of the crowd—I was an anomaly, a discordant note, a danger to myself and others. I was out of step, un-synchronized and unwanted in this frenetic flow of disturbed molecules. Frustration and anger boiled up in me at this failure to blend in with the rhythms of the city.
Upon reaching the semi-circle of the plaza, I was immediately overcome by multiple versions of Union Square: memories of the old park collided with the extant one, threatening to cancel each other out. The long-ago demolished S. Klein on the Square department store rose up again, gigantic, like some Roman amphitheater, a vengeful gray and blue ghost that roamed the square, accusing the usurpers that had taken its rightful place. Its absence seemed more solid and substantial than the bricks of the hideous new complex of structures that had taken its place.
The carnage extended all along 14th Street, as one architectural horror after another shouted at and insulted me. There was no refuge in this cursed park—it had none of the stability or welcoming qualities of Washington Square, for instance, and always seemed to bring out the worst in people. It had been wrong from its inception: it was a pot that boiled over, squeezed and tormented between three of the busiest streets in the city, and fed by multiple subway entrances which afforded every criminal and miscreant in the five boroughs easy access and convenient routes of escape.
I still possessed enough of a reasoning facility to recognize that I was in such a frail and pathetic state that it might easily be visible to any lurking predator who might be trolling for victims—it was never a good idea to project any kind of weakness or vulnerability in this savage environment. I needed to get off these throbbing and melting streets.

Mechanically, and with a feeble, puppet-like gait, I descended the steps into the south-west entrance of the Union Square subway station, with no clear idea of where I intended to go other than to escape the fiery torments of the surface.

Ill, overheated, and tottering around in the suffocating depths of that swarming hive of a station, I impulsively began to silently recite several lines that I had recently recorded in my journals—odd words and phrases that had stayed with me for some reason—and when I intoned the particular phrase: “Soundings at unknown depths”, it triggered something deep inside me, setting something in motion. I felt myself begin to dissolve in the heat of the station, tears welled up in me and I shivered, despite the heat, and began to hyperventilate. Having had a similar experience several years earlier, I knew immediately what it was: the stirrings of that force that is a potential in every human—encoded in the blueprint for that great metamorphosis.

I could hardly believe my good fortune. It seemed that I had accidently dropped a kind of plumb line—a sounding—and it had touched bottom, and in doing so, had aroused the great sleeper who resides at the base of the spine. It must have been a combination of all the various elements: the toxic effects of my illness, the heat, humidity, the hellish suffocating environment of the station, and the overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair that often overtakes me on these numberless days that don't appear on any calendar.


 /// S. Klein on the Square /// Kundalini /// Union Square Park /// 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Sun Temple—Part 4

As the days of June follow one another and we move into the Solstice—the birthday of that Invincible Star—I foolishly continue to seek relief in the Indica (that drug for sorrow), each time hoping that it will somehow be different, but in fact, the ill effects seem to grow worse with each attempt, as an accumulation of toxins have their way with me. The effects of the three tributaries: the fever, the heat, and the tainted sacrament, all conspire to torment and confound my senses as I once again set out to track the great disc all the way down to the forgotten altar. His mighty presence causes me to turn right on Houston—through the dark and moldering underpass—then left on West Street, as I am reunited with the Hudson in a stolen euphoria. As I move along that carefully prescribed path, the Solar Indica softens the black resinous tar beneath the wheel and I see that the river has turned the color of Shiva's blue skin.

Then once again there rears up a great and mournful theater, and once again I gain admittance. I can see the final tourist boat of the day rocking crazily out in the boiling water of the Ambrose Channel, taking the last group of visitors away and I find myself alone with the absurd and ego-centric notion that I am somehow "the soul of the park".

I have the nagging sense that we are living in a debased culture—a culture of amnesia—stripped and severed from all ritual and magic, and no longer connected to the great armature that turns slowly and ponderously beneath our feet. I have the strong desire to penetrate beneath this veneer—this shabby illusion, this cheap stage-play.  There must be a deeper layer of existence beneath this de-natured present that we are forced to live in, as we seek the ancient names of deities in vain. The impression on my mind was that the park had already been degraded for centuries—we modern people wander lost amid the psychic ruins, no longer able to decipher the hieroglyphs or discern the functions of the shrines and monuments.
Without a compass or clue, I have tried to create a path…a ritual. I create my own hedge-maze or labyrinth. But perhaps others have already penetrated to a more fundamental and exalted strata: they know how to live. It is only I, with my absurdly inflated sense of myself as spiritual seeker that might be the most shallow, the most deluded of men—the most hopelessly lost.
*   *   *
Steadfast in my conviction that "the true living Dionysus is hiding in the hemp plant, not the wine bottle," I once again seek guidance from the religious properties of the flowers.

                                                     *   *   *

I count the revolutions around an uncaring sun as I sit, despondent, at the base of the Night-Shade Monument, a decrepit and forgotten altar with its allegorical figure that is meant to represent Unease, and hopelessly faces the setting sun. Arising, I move languidly through this gold-colored equation as if following the dictates of an ancient mind, undoubtedly presenting a most strange appearance and perhaps causing the people to ask, "Is he among the prophets?" 

The charred remains of the Kannabos Temple appear before me once again, while the water finds its way in—gurgling and splashing—through a million cracks in the psyche. The headless Ambrose monument stares sightlessly out into the channel that bears his name, and inscribed in the base is the ancient Chinese ideogram for Cannabis (that disreputable intoxicant drug of the East).

                                                  * * *

The great phantom park hovers over my days and nights as I continue to embellish the nocturnal accident. My mind (which survives in fragments) continues to weave embroideries that are sewn into the fabric  of that damp and brooding ghost, when a troubling thought occurs to me: I realize that I have consciously and relentlessly de-populated the park—I have to the best of my ability rid the Battery of the tyranny of the human form. It seems that they only get in the way—and the true purpose of the park can only be realized in their absence. It is the inanimate objects—the monuments, sculptures, and deserted walkways that are my true companions. This deplorable fact is a reflection of my psychological flight from my fellow beings—my retreat into a hidden sphere that renders normal human interaction all but impossible. I inhabit the interstices, the spaces between real thoughts and emotions—I can only truly live in the absence of other people. I can know and love them only in the abstract—I commune with the ghosts of others.
I have made the park a temple to my estrangement—a model that perfectly illustrates my flight from humanity.
What kind of spirituality could it be that ruthlessly excludes all of my fellow beings and souls?

In my misguided attempts to reach a deeper level, I have merely deepened my own estrangement from my companions and from life. I have chosen a left-handed path, a degenerate cult… and I wander lost, in this mournful theater that I have conjured up and created from my own inner poverty and weakness. Even worse, I may have unwittingly conjured up an occult altar, and in my vast ignorance I perform occult rituals—all by accident! I am reminded that “all material things and creatures exist simultaneously in spirit form. These spirit forms include the double…of each person, living, dead and unborn…” (Flattery and Schwartz, 1989)

But I rally to my own defense: I have been called by the Sun and the Moon! And by a savage and ancient fever, and lastly by that unknown poison, all of which combine to lead me into this great cinema—this damp and limitless park at night.

Foolishly, I play with arcane symbols as a young child might play with matches. All occult and alchemical symbols, incantations and formulas must be carefully avoided by he who is ignorant of their meaning and function. Who knows what demons or devils will spring into being as they are unwittingly summoned by the fool who ignorantly shuffles the Tarot deck? What homunculus grows in the charged air above my bed at night as I am summoned once again to the great brooding confines of the park?

I may have become mislead and am now trapped in this great ante-chamber—one of the outer rings of hell—manipulated by evil entities that are always with us, hovering around our beds at night, invading our dreams as we sleep, vulnerable and inviting to all the nocturnal predators. Once led into these spiritual hells, there may be no escaping…I may be led into a mental and spiritual illness that will destroy me. Or I may simply be a deluded dreamer—an anti-social loner who lives in the interior of his own imploded psyche. Clinical terms abound for such conditions as the degenerate priests of our modern “religions” delight in coining. They label the astral flights and phantom theaters of the dreamers as mere pathologies, to be “treated” by their various state-sponsored poisons—their official and debased sacraments. Visions are for the priests only, as we cannot afford to over-populate the upper atmospheres!

But this phantom park that I had created was nonetheless a most commendable achievement—a jewel—a legend that hovered uncertainly at the bottom of a fugitive dream, unreachable except through unconventional methods. 

                                    TO BE CONTINUED                                    /// Battery Park /// Cannabis /// Sun Cult ///

Monday, June 10, 2013

In the Chalk Circle—Part 4

aturday, March 19, 2010
10:08—In the Giant Bagel
I had a singular dream last night: I was given two small diagrams of Washington Square Park: one of the old park, and one of the new park (after the dreaded renovation). They were only about 2 or 3 inches long, almost like oversized postage stamps, with an antique brownish color. I was fascinated by them and I don’t know if I dreamed the following or if it was a conscious embellishment: using the maps as a guide, I secured the end of a rope to the exact center of where the old fountain had existed, and affixed a piece of chalk to the other end, and traced the circumference of the fountain’s original location on the flagstones! Marvellous! A thing of beauty!

Wednesday, March 23, 2010

8:29—Giant Bagel
I have an appt. with the WTC Bellevue Group on Monday at 8:30—scheduled for a chest X-Ray, blood test, and a pulmonary function test. It’ll take 4 1/2 hours! It ain’t gonna be fun, but I’ll go through it just to qualify for any possible benefits/compensation/treatments, etc. I was 2 blocks from Ground Zero and I got that f*cking dust in my lungs and around my heart! A God-damned time bomb! Christ.

11:25—On a Q-Train heading to 14th Street
Oh, no—wait a minute! I’m on a f*cking B-Train! Christ! Where should I get off?

1:21—WSQ—On a narcoleptoid bench
Skittish, irritable, and paranoid. It’s just a bit too chilly out here and I may have to relocate to the Albatross.

What am I gonna do? A job would solve most of my problems—but are there any such things as jobs anymore?
I should try to convince X to apply for WTC benefits also. Too cold out here—I gotta duck inside somewhere—perhaps the Temple over on Thompson...

Debt collectors calling, calling, calling...vultures circling everywhere in the Poison City. 
Trying to conjure the Springtime into existence. Park cooling off as the sun goes down one more time. Phantoms pass by, sit for awhile, and then move on into the oblivion of the late afternoon. Fear is ascendent! I am afraid all of the time now—it must be a result of weakened kidneys. Maybe I do need some kind of medication—nah!—that stuff never worked for me. Heading to Barnes & Noble...

4:50—Barnes & Noble—4th floor reading area—
I’m sitting in the 3rd row all the way on the right side with a view of Union Square West out of the front windows. It’s cloudy—a gray, swirling sky—overcast, spooky, funereal. I have a terribly creepy, paranoid sense of doom swirling around me. It must be the debilitating effects of the last poisoning coursing through my system. I wanted to take a walk down to Mosco Street, but it was too cold. Sinking into junk-food narcosis...

6:00—In the Phó Viêt Huong Restaurant on Mulberry Street
I haven’t been here in ages—one of my old haunts. The Temple has closed! Another one of my favorite places is gone forever! Dusk down in Chinatown—always a melancholy undertaking. A thousand memories down here.

Ancient insults torment me—why did I put up with them? Number 52: journal of a burnt-out, half-animate ghoul trying to hang on in the toxic soup.

Monday, March 15, 2010
7:13—In the Connecticut Muffin
My biological clock says that it is actually 6:13, because we are on Daylight Savings Time.
Dark and spooky out—rainy and overcast. Heading to Bellevue for a 5-hour physical.

8:45—In the wilds of Bellevue 
Waiting to be interviewed by the psychiatrist—the first stage of the WTC intake procedure. I hope that I am not delivering myself into the jaws of Moloch—after all, how trustworthy can they be?  Christ! Be alert!
Now I’m waiting to see Dr. Y—but she has disappeared somewhere and I’m stuck here in this hallway. Getting sleepy.

2:32—In the Goodburger on B’way & 16th, right on the north end of Union Square Park.
Came to $9.25, and now I’m broke.
Still reeling from my day at the WTC Clinic—I can’t even write about it yet—too much information to process.

5:33—In the back room of the Albatross

A strange clear light reflecting from the back courtyard and patch of sky. I guess I should amble down to the park again—no sense in returning to the hell-hole of my apartment too soon. Every hour I stay away from that place is an hour added to my life!

6:04—WSQ—on a non-committal bench—

The past flows and tugs all around me in the Cathedral Park. I am deeply saddened by the loss of the old park—all the magic has been drained out of it. There is almost nothing left of the old city... I move among its ruins... lost and mourning its demise.

I have devolved into a complete sputtering, useless idiot! Damn! I smell chemical toxins in the air—gotta move to another bench. Now the damn asphalt-cutter has resumed! Bastards!

7:27—Shuttling back & forth between B&N, WSQ, and the Albatross—

Lost on an unnumbered day. Ill from too much coffee.

#52: Book of Cliff’s Edge Prayers and Silent Screams.

Circumnavigation of the Fountain in a Season of Dread and Dislocation.

I just had an unbelievable encounter with a man on 14th street right across from Union Square: I’ve already forgotten his name, but he was a 911 first-responder: eleven months in the pit! Homeless, poisoned, ill, hallucinatory and reduced to begging for change on the street. He told me he periodically goes crazy from the poisons and hallucinates snakes and mice crawling on his skin, and he cuts himself with a knife to try and get rid of them! He is a slightly built man of indeterminate age—maybe 40?—his teeth are loosening and falling out as a result of the toxins and he sleeps on the street. He is enrolled in the Bellvue Hospital 911 Program and also went through the Bellevue intake process, but he says that they don’t help him—welfare gives him $60 a month and he is turned away from any further compensation! It was one of the saddest encounters I’ve ever had. He even asked me if I needed a roomate. I wish I could help him in some way, but aside from sweat-lodges and detox diets, there’s no way I can think of to help him except to give him $5.00 when I see him on Wednesday. He told me he used to own a gas station before he got sick—then his wife left him. He sleeps on the streets and eats out of garbage cans. The horror!

“The poison moves around—it goes up into my head and then I see the snakes and the mice on my skin and I have to try and get them out! When the poison takes over, that becomes the reality! The 911 system is no good—they won’t help you—you’ll see!” He told me he was from—where was it? Kashmir? I can’t remember. He actually has an e-mail address and he gave it to me. He seemed to know a lot of people on the street—he must have waved hello to a dozen people in about 15 minutes. I’ve already forgotten his name, but he gave me a card that says: NADIR PETROLUM with an e-mail address.

Is that his name—Nadir?

A strange and luminous evening as I exit the park..

                                    TO BE CONTINUED

///   Washington Square  ///  911  ///  NYC  ///