I know it is a week later but it must really be Good Friday, someone must have bumped the 2020 Calendar so that it was a week off. Last Friday, for me, wasn't all that great with everybody hiding in their houses and whining about toilet paper and politicians.
This morning, however, I woke up to the sound of the mail carrier pulling away after putting my state tax return check in the mailbox. Getting that check allowed me to send my daughter some money, a thing I've been wanted to do for a while.
As I typed her a message, a big fat blue bird landed on a branch outside the window. It was like a message from the Universe saying, "So you're locked down at home dude, drinking coffee, and sending your daughter some money; try doing that shit while laying in gutter wearing piss soaked undies and holding up a cardboard sign that says, 'wil werk 4 fude.' Cheer the fuck up dude, you troubles ain't that real."
I was reading some more Tropic of Cancer and thinking about Henry Miller. His writings were banned in this country for a long while for the sin of being too openly honest about the fact that mankind's two greatest motivations in life were eating and screwing. Yet, the same people who fought for him then would probably now take his writings out of context and try to shame people for his treatment of women.
I say out of context because you have to be very narrow minded to miss the fact that Miller's perspective writing about the human condition has always been from the bottom of the basement stairs. He writes about prostitutes, alcoholics, and two-legged weasels, but just like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, you could feel the pages bursting with love for life with all of its warts, blemishes, deformities and foul odors.
Unlike the Russians though, Henry Miller smiles as he kisses a ancient, wrinkled, garlic breathed whore full on the lips with as much passion as he could muster up on an empty stomach. He's going to smile about it, but unlike a lot of authors, he's not going to leave out the part about the garlic, the wrinkles or the fact that she's a whore.
Miller describes his own friends in the novels as flea and lice infected vermin; most of them come across like skids marks on the underwear of humanity. Yet, you can always tell that he loves them and, more importantly, he learns from them and sees their worth in spite of the fact that it's nearly always invisible to the untrained eye.
I was stunned by some of the passages. He talks about bleak things with such beautiful phrasing, it's impossible not to see the beauty in the darkness. Take this quote about how the importance of art to human existence, "The monstrous thing is not that men have created roses out of this dung heap, but that, for some reason or other, they should want roses. For some reason or other man looks for the miracle, and to accomplish it he will wade through blood. He will debauch himself with ideas, he will reduce himself to a shadow if for only one second of his life he can close his eyes to the hideousness of reality. Everything is endured- disgrace, humiliation, poverty, war, crime, ennui- in the belief that overnight something will occur, a miracle, which will render life tolerable. And all the while a meter is running inside and there is no hand that can reach in there and shut it off.”
This passage makes it all too evident that Miller willfully climbed down into the swamp mud, so many others only look down at the world from a upright position. Miller recognizes that tremendous amount of beauty and wonder exists beneath the shadows of our noses and looking at it from ground level is the only way to squeeze out every tiny particle of beauty out of human existence. There are lots of writers who will hand you bouquets and spray cologne in order to distract you from the knowledge of the grave, not Henry, he'll point out the beauty all right, but never at the price of losing sight of the truth.
And that was just the beginning of the day. Later, I rediscovered the works of Los Angeles poet named Charles Bukowski. I watched a couple of podcasts about him including one where he talked about dying and writing. His advice was good. He basically said don't take forever to get to the point; every line needs to loaded down with the juice. He said that it is the boring writers who try to build the anticipation for the passages with the juice.
There are a several lists of his quotes. These are a few that caught my eye.
The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubt, while the stupid people are full of confidence.
We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.
If you are losing your soul and you know it, you still got some soul left to lose.
We don't even ask for happiness, just a little less pain.
The day still wasn't finished. I also listened to some podcasts about two musicians who were destroyed by their LSD use. The stories about Craig Smith/Maitreya Kali and Skip Spence were quite interesting. Both went completely off the rails after over indulging in LSD and other drugs, and both released some interesting music after having their personalities wrecked.
Spence, who was one of the founding members of both the Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape, released his only solo effort Oar after writing the songs while locked up in a mental institution for taking a fire ax to hotel room door and trying to stab a record executive.
This is the song All Come to Meet Her from the album Oar.
Craig Smith was a successful folky and songwriter before he decided to take a trip across Asia to India. He went crazy in a market place in Kandahar and locked up for several months. He was never the same and eventually tried to kill his mother before dying homeless on the streets of LA. Before dying, he recorded two albums in a limited self-release that are now worth thousands of dollars to collectors.
This is the strange and etheral song Sam Pan Boat off of his very rare album Inca.
I believe that any day you can see a bluebird outside your window, help your daughter out, and learn something new is a great day. So, all in all, April 17, 2020 was a very Good Friday.