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 /// 

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