Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms Who and What You See Before You Die"

I've never seen a person die and so death is a stage of life that I am unfamiliar with. Maybe this is the reason I'm so curious about it. How does it happen? What are the stages of death? When do we accept?  Do we go terrified?  And how does one prepare for death?

Since it is impossible to ask anyone about the experience of death--I read about death from books. This book presents a series of stories of folks who die--but who experience some sort of encounter with a shining being before death. The being tends to be a mother or a dead relative or can even be a crowd of dead.

This frankly creeps me out rather than reassures me that life is the last bit of punishment a human being will endure --maybe the torture continues on after life.  But what science is there in all of this?  No one will talk about it--and those that do --ask for their names to be withheld.  Most folks do not want to be accused of psychotic tendencies and our society's view of visions--at any stage of life---is limited and derogatory.

But what if?  What if --these stories are true?  What if at the end of life--just as at the beginning of life you are taken into the arms of love?  What if the stories that show the dying person reaching out to be drawn into invisible arms--what if the conversations the dead have with empty rooms are true?  How are we to interpret these stories? 

Frankly,  I don't know.  All I know is that I am getting to the end of the game and I would sure like it if someone is there to haul me through the tunnel of darkness.  It certainly cheers me up that I won't have to make the trip alone. The worst part of dying is the fact of it being just you there --alone--caught in the void.  I would accept these stories as fairy tales except for one problem--they all involve specific details--that are all universal.  They all have family members in them, they all have dead family members listed, they all have the same sort of shape and sound and feel and texture to them. How can so many folks have the same death vision?

I mean all psychotic patients do not have the same psychotic visions--so if these dying folks were having visions--we would expect them to have  a range and variety that would be variable and this is not the situation at all. They are having a single vision--with many specific details --that are unique to each person's life.  This is very interesting.

It might mean that these visions are therefore authentic. But whether there is more than the visions --well--that's the rub.  We can't say just because everyone has the same vision--they are all going to heaven. It needs proof.  And we can't get this proof.

So what does this book give you? Some interesting stories --which if you believe in a religion --is very comforting and even if you do not believe in a religion--still offers some comfort that dying itself --won't be  a lonely process--but an accompanied one.

More than this --it encourages us to not be afraid of either life or death.  Fear is the real problem of our lives and if we refuse fear---and its pernicious effects--why death is a minor hiccup in the life cycle.  Interesting book.

"ON READING A POEM WRITTEN IN ADOLESCENCE" from "Time Capsule"

I've just started this book by this poet that I do not know but the lines are not unclean, they are sharp and stare direct. I don't have any squirming in me to be away. I like the lines.

Couldn't write then maybe
but how I could love--
When I said "Tree"
my skin grew rough as bark.
I almost remember how all the leaves
rushed shouting shimmering
out of my veins.

**
And this is what I mean by feelings--pushing out of the poet--the unvarnished soul put out in bread for the reader to gnaw on. In this first stanza, she does little. She show herself--bark, leaves, shimmering out of blood vessels to make a tree --as an adolescent.

The second stanza recalls the adolescent--now --much later--the feeling of freedom--as "how many hands I had /  hooked in the sky"--is remembered.

Even now
I can almost remember
how many hands I had
hooked in the sky.
**

I don't want to speak of the poet at all. I want to see the earlier girl --ribbing the sky with her vivacious energy.  I don't want to speak of the way a female poet has to guard herself from being open and expressive in this way to conform to the true religion of poetry--which is --at least to me--rather cold blooded and ferociously detached.  I don't want to write poetry that is ice.  I would rather have the gentle cadences of this poet's poems--the soft leaves rustling on adolescent branches. She--seems to want it as well--for she says she "can almost remember" how it was.

Unless It Moves the Human Heart The Craft and Art of Writing


I’ve read quickly through the book –“Unless It Moves the Human Heart The Craft and the Art of Writing”—and it had confirmations of a great many odd thoughts I’d had –from writing madly--over the past five years –that I’ve spent mangling language.

Most of what it covers is dotted like butter over a turkey and  it is best you consult the book yourself.  What I really wanted from the book was reassurance—a great nipple to suck on and I got it.  I wanted to find confirmation of the primary role of the human heart-- in a body of words.

I’ve always wondered why when I read a piece of writing—why one piece of writing rivets me—in place—and expects me to finish it –and I do –and yet, another piece of writing –equally “good” –perhaps even artistically innovative and fresh, daring, charming etc, etc, bores me to tears. Why does one piece get me and not the other?

When I read children’s books—this getting me factor--I call it simply the soul of the writer—expressed clearly in the story—seducing me—and that is that.  Soul. It is not a fashionable way---or a very clinical way-- to describe how a book does its business well –but that is the way I was able to distinguish a child's book that was excellent from those that were lesser creatures. 

But could I use such namby pamby criteria to distinguish excellent adult writing?  I felt I couldn’t really—that I had to use critical thinking skills to showcase the piece—but unfortunately --I lack these critical skills and so I can’t explain why a piece of adult writing –i.e. writing  for adults—why it gets me.

How could I use the same factory to produce the same armaments for the battle of fighting adult text?  Really –there was no reason why I could not say that it was the soul of the writer in the piece of writing that seduced me—that moved my heart--it was just that I was too cowardly to say it.  But now -- I simply can say it is the soul of the writer in the adult piece of writing that makes it great. That this soul is necessary to "move the human heart" and that kills the reader.

For --as the poet A.D. Hope confesses--"Nothing you write will matter unless it moves the human heart."  And what is necessary to move this immobile heart--is a great soul.  In fact, I can now say that it is the soul in any piece of writing that determines its usefulness to a reader –that gets it read –that gets it incorporated into the mental DNA and effect an alteration in the Reader brain, heart and soul.  I can now say this bit of non-critical thinking about writing that gets me---- simply because—Mr.  Rosenblatt says the same thing in this book. It is always easier to say a namby pamby thing ---if someone with clout says it.

Although there were interesting tidbits on the story, the essay, the beginning, the end, the matter of reading and how it is necessary to become a good writer (in what way –I still haven’t determined –since like Mr. Rosenblatt –I can’t figure out where reading impregnates my writing)—despite all these preliminary odds and ends of useful reassurance—it was really only the letter at the end of the book that fertilized the mental ova with a squirt of ejaculate and made zygotes for me—and that got me to blog on the book. 

What was this letter about?  You guessed it—the soul.  I will give snippets of the initial sections of the book but if you want a complete dissection –you will have to do it yourself.  I did not want to wander about the tissues and histology of the text-- for I did not want to have full blown theory---I wanted noncritical thinking—intuitive thinking that would confirm my own non-scientific feelings about what constitutes good writing.  

This book--- might be useful to you in a general introductory way –to give you some ideas of what goes on in a writing class----but I was merely interested in the wisdom this writer had to offer. For example I wanted to know what he did in his class with his students that he found valuable for them to learn rather than learning about aspects of a story that I can pick up from any textbook.  I found a few of these experiential gems. For example--  I did like the fact that he writes everything in his class—and that the class he teaches is called “Writing Everything”.   I think this would be a neat class to attend--but I have already been doing this class at home for the last five years.  Why do I write everything?  I think it is a way into fluency—a way into good writing habits—and a way to find out if you are willing to tolerate the job of being a writer. 

Being  a writer isn’t like any other job I have ever done and so you need to learn how you will do it.  By writing everything--every form of writing that you can----you learn how you –personally will do this work.  First—let me say why I think it is useful to write everything—every genre, every type of writing, every fracture of language that you can try—I think this is useful because you gain experience at failing at writing. If you fail enough at writing—you will eventually learn that if you want to stop failing you will have to work pretty damn hard in order to stop sucking. This is a valuable lesson that my sons have still yet to learn—but will learn–once they have found something they love to do---and do not want to suck at doing.

Once you write everything—and by this ---I literally mean every type of writing you can conceive of—from financial blog posts, to attempts at poetry, to small essays—to letters to MLAs, to personal narratives, to journal blocks—you won’t be afraid to tackle a new piece –ever. You get the wisdom that writing is all failure and that you had best just sit in a room and do failure continually –because it is rare that you will encounter the blue butterfly of your desire that you can net and name after yourself. And you learn that the only way to arrive at the butterfly—any butterfly in the net—is by sitting in the writing place with the net extended ---always.

Once you have this experience—either with a warm and funny teacher such as Mr.  Rosenblatt—or with your less warm and funny self—you will be able to keep going. Work----hard work---tends to teach you to keep going, and --it is only through ---perseverance --that you can get any better at writing.

The book confirmed  that you can write like Jesus—spoke—but it won’t be worth beans until you speak as you are inside you.  I think this is very important.  I read a lot and sometimes it begins to all sound the same and really, this isn’t surprising since most people also speak the same. It is rare that someone is willing to stick out from the blur of the crowd and impress their own fingerprint at the scene of a crime.  Most folks are willing only to risk commonalities and trite meaningless chatter.  Thus their writing won’t be “sprung”.  It is only when the writer is willing to unbolt from the railings of the railway line that crosses the country of the crowd—and go off the rails –so to speak and run her own train in the foreign and lonely country of the self—well—then it gets interesting.  And god knows how you do this--in full expression mode.  Tentative expression happens very slowly---but I find you get better at doing this matter of risking self-exposure ----the more you force yourself to do it.

Mr. Rosenblatt explains it as being “individual to themselves as writers”—i.e. showing what was inside the soul—to the exterior –to make the writing live. He gives several ways he coaxed it out of students and these prompts may work for you.  But really who the hell really knows how it happens? It seems to be some sort of collapsing of the bullshit exterior and some yielding into the interior defenceless creature who is willing to be vulnerable and honest and spat upon.   He coaches it in more mystical terms –speaking of the beginnings of a piece as something that arrives and goes splat on the brain surfaces:

Page 31

   I forage for another quotation, from Kafka: “You do not need to leave your room.  Remain sitting at your table and listen.  Do not even listen, simply wait.  Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.  The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

**
Now this may have happened to Kafka but it hasn’t happened to me—the bit about the world  quivering “in ecstasy at your feet”—I’ve had it arrive –the beginning –the start—the hook—of  the writing----but it has never to my knowledge gone about----- in such a shameless manner -----about my body.  What Mr. Rosenblatt is speaking about here—is how exactly the words arrive –and I think Kafka is partly right—the words arrive when you are willing to endure prolonged stasis—that suspension in the room’s fluid –like some sort of amoebic form—in pond water—waiting for the prey.  It comes, you engulf it. You put it in a vacuole. This begins digestion—to make sustenance--to make writing. 

Then you keep going to the end. Sometimes –as he says the ending informs the beginning and you find out what the hell you were going on for pages and pages.  Most of what you write is rubbish, but it is necessary to do this rubbish every day. He says not to force it.  I tend to agree with him that it is best to encourage yourself to write and not push--but ---I force myself anyway. If I did not force myself to write—I would never write anything –and banal writing for me is better than no writing at all for at least it proves that I am not as lazy as a suspended Paramecium in pond puddle---but I am ----a slightly more elevated life form—say a water strider and capable of locomotive procurement of prey.

I like how he is honest about the way composition actually happens—like some evacuation of innards that occurs out of the cracked shell of a crab—the shell of the crab being the writer herself—and the innards being the words that flush forward to make—the piece of writing. He says it in a nicer way:

Page 39

   “So that original, mystical inspiration is misleading?” Robert asks.
    “No, Robert.  It actually shows itself to be more mysterious than you thought.  What you understand of it at the outset is simply different from what you understand of it in the end.”
*
In other words, you start a piece with an idea –and end up with something that is utterly alien to you.  I often do this in a poem and feel slightly sickened by the monster I produce and it isn’t always due to the fact that the poem is full of crappy writing.—It is also a fact that the subject –just mutates—it shows up in a different place than originally you had thought it would arrive at--- and you don’t know yourself ---anymore. It’s wicked----in an unnerving fashion and eventually -----you realize that you are a closet full of horrible people that you never knew you kept. A polymorphic entity of sorts.

Basically---- I now write---understanding that I don’t have a clue what the hell I am doing—and hope to god that I make it to the end without falling flat on my face—and losing more neurons along the way.

It is as if the mind is shielded for most of the day and it only when we sit down to write, that we find out who we are. It’s creepy. I’ve discovered I’m a horrible person and there isn’t much I can do about it unless I stop writing and go back to being oblivious again and I don’t want to do this.  Mr. Rosenblatt isn’t horrible and doesn’t think writing is traumatic and simply says that not only do you not find out what you are going to say until you say it—there is an additional mutation that occurs in the brain that” You find that you don’t know what you think until you write it, too”.

The only positive aspect of this finding out truthfully what we think and truthfully saying what we say—is that we might be of use to others when we stop bullshitting and say our true thoughts and also it helps us to be clean in this way.  He says that “Writing is the cure for the disease of living”—and I would go further than this and say that writing helps us to cure the slide to a living death.  This slide happens because we are forced to live in the false worlds we all occupy---- in the work and social worlds.   Falseness of any sort leads to dissonance and how are we to combat the unhappiness with this dissonance other than expressing our discomfort to our loved ones and to a piece of paper that will forgive us our sins? Writing enables us to tolerate dissonance and perhaps one day, overcome the dissonance in our other worlds. 

I also like his thoughts on how to write well---which are almost mine. He likes a pared down language --as I do.   I don’t like excess. I often like to read writers of excess--in the same way that I like steak once in a while but not every day.  And for my own writing—especially in poetry—I favor a single pruned apple tree rather than the overgrown jungle canopy.

This is how he states it:

Page 62

I believe in spare writing.  Precise and restrained writing. I like short sentences.  Fragmented sentences, sometimes.  I enjoy dropping in exotic words from time to time. 
**
That seems like solid, succinct directions that would healthy ----a whole pile of bloated language bodies ---now in existence.

More of such information scattered in the book and you would do well to peruse the book.  I like such books because they seem to tell me that I am on the writing track in close proximity ---to big game –of course –the book won’t make me a successful hunter –but it tells me I am in the right territory.

The letter. The letter that got me to blog on the book. Why did I want to write about the letter?  Well just a day ago, I wrote to ask someone why he liked the poets he did and why he considered them to be good poets. I don’t have a great deal of experience in judging if a poet is good or not but I do know what I like and what I do not like. I can say clearly that I find a great deal of modern poetry to be horrible.  It is boring as hell. I know why it is boring as hell and it has nothing to do with my lack of education in liberal arts.  It has nothing to do with my intelligence or lack thereof. The matter of a poem being sucky is that it is sucky. End of the deal.  And I’m not going to pretend that I think it has something to do with personal preference or taste or whatever personal bullshit the Reader needs to manure herself in to pass the forced favorable compliment on the poem.  I won’t do that. 

A poem sucks because it is composed of words that form lines that mean nothing.  A poem sucks because there is nothing fresh or original about the poem.  A poem sucks because it offers me nothing---that I as a Reader—am dying for.  This is the reason a poem sucks.  Now for the poetry powers that be—the poem may be god’s gift to the literary world and I am happy for them. But I won’t read it and I doubt that many ordinary non-literary critic poetry readers will read it either.  In fact, if the poets that produce such crap continue to produce such crap –then the stacks at the public library –will continue to carry poetry books that are as brand new today----as the day they were brought by the library—because there isn’t a single one of them being touched by any reader.  If you do not offer something to the reader other than fine words that are critically acclaimed—well, then—you may be a fine poet in the high esteem of god knows who in higher poetry circles –but you are not being read by common folks and maybe that is the whole problem with modern  poetry.  The poetry is too damn soulless and doesn't touch the heart of the ordinary reader and thus, it's not worth a damn to us. And we won't read stuff that won't "move the human heart."

And if you are not being read—you are dead in the stacks. You are dead in the book store. You are dead among readers. 

So back to the letter. To get read—as a poet—or as a writer—means you have to do what this letter advises which is basically take a saw –cut into your sternum—rip out your heart, and with the heart—take your soul and brain as well—and hand it over to me.  I want all of the writer –in the book—not the dull little bits of his toenails, his circumcision foreskin, his clip of first baby locks, his scar tissues, his mumblings in dreams—they won’t do.  But most of all I want the writer’s soul. And this is where Mr. Rosenblatt is absolutely right when he puts the soul as primary necessity in the great offering of print that each writer makes:

Page 153

    It is your soul I am talking about, I’ll say it again.  And if, upon examination, you find your soul inadequate to the task of great writing, them improve it, or borrow someone else’s.
**
This is where reading comes in to its great role for a writer. See Mr. Nabokov?  That’s a good soul for me to purloin.  The problem is that it is also a difficult soul to steal and I have to approach him with a caution and an intelligence----that I entirely lack.  So there’s the sorrow. So there's the problem.

Mr. Rosenblatt doesn’t think this is a problem:

Page 153

 Dissatisfied with the makeup of your old soul?  Trade it in.  But always trade up, and make the new one a great soul, capacious, kind, and rational, for only a soul of such quality and magnitude will produce the work you aspire to.
**
This can be done. I started out as a small soul and gradually life smoothed me out –all the bumps and curves and jutting edges and I am pearling into shine. One day---- I will robe down from the boulder I was –into granules of silvery dust. Then I can become nothing.  The soul –at its most beautiful---is fairy dust—is invisible gossamer---is trickles of grit in the eyes that leak tears at every fresh scene of loveliness.  The soul that produces the writing that awes me—is wide enough to be spread out over the universe—almost impossible to grasp in the writing—for it is intangible stuff----but like the universe---is magnificently there.  I don’t know how the writer transforms a dinky soul to a great soul —but I do know when it is present.  When it is present, the writing is as useful, as satisfying and as nourishing as the closest relationship I have in my life with my spouse. This is the test of great writing.  It has a great soul  holding me –in it. It has a great soul that gets me to cry, that gets me to feel bad, that gets me to empathize, that gets me grieve, that gets me to love --and feel--and be moved and makes me wider as a human being. A great soul in writing --makes the Reader soul expand--by moving her heart.

A good book.  I would recommend it if you are looking for a teat to suck on or even  a thumb to stick in your mouth as you write crappy poems----over and over again—for this writer is incredibly good at being kind—at telling all of us wannabe poets and wannabe writers out in the endless fields of desire--“your life matters”.  It does matter.  You don't have to be a great soul---yet--you can start small--and with the help of writers who are great souls--you can slowly expand your circumference.   Now write it out. What is in you-that is.    And please –god—take his advice at the end because this too, is true:


Page 154

     You must write as if your reader needed you desperately, because he does.   If, as Kafka said, a book is an ax for the frozen sea within us, then write with that frozen sea in mind and in view.   See your reader, who has fallen through the ice of his own manufacture.  You can just make him out, as he flails in slow motion, palms pressed upward under the ice.  Here’s your ax.  Now, chop away and lift him up by the shoulders.  And what do you get out of this act of rescue?  You save two people: your reader and yourself.

***

For really all that is missing from modern poetry today—is the willingness of a poet to take the ax in his hands and chop at the ice surface that separates him from the Reader, and then discarding the ax, to reach in –risking his own life—and soul—to save the Reader.  This is all that separates the poet –also from his poem.  Once the ice is gone---modern poetry –might indeed, be read again. For the ice is all that separates the soul from exposure and recognition. And it is the soul that will reach out to another soul--and in so doing--move both of their hearts towards a wider circumference.

During the summer

During the summer months, I prefer not to do anything organized with the boys. They get to be part of my regular day's routine. Today I took them to Superstore, and got them to pick groceries. Mind you most of the groceries they picked tended to be in the fast food category but they got to pick stuff at a store.  Then we lumbered home, they made their own sandwiches for lunch, crashed a bit and we went to the  library.

I don't enroll them in any library program --I just tell them to get books, magazines, print. I don't care what it is so long as it has letters.  Usually what this means is that older boy picks magazines with body building men on the covers and younger boy gets a few story books and the rest are comics.  I don't fret. It is going to be an almost daily business. We will sit there --in the muddle of ten thousand children and harassed parents--every day.  It will usually last for half an hour before they are fed up and then we head home. I don't care if they don't get through all the books/ paper. I want them to be in the vicinity of books and in the presence of people who love books, who are reading books and who seem to enjoy the whole business.

Before we got the T.V. and the X-box--which were obtained two years ago--I would take the boys to my parents' house in Lac la Biche and take books from the library there and read to them --in between taking them to the lake.  Dad retired, the boys wanted to go to Jasper and the long reads got lost.  Now I'm trying to reinstall reading into the head--by short daily trips to the library. It may never happen that they pick up on reading voraciously --as I do --but I don't care. I've inoculated them--they are immune temporarily to the vacuous mental state of some kids I see who do not have books in their houses --who do not go to the library and who only engage in ---active or passive acts --of a non-print variety.  I don't want the boys clean of print.  I want them soaked in print.  So even if they sit in the library ---bored--I don't care.  It's exposure. They're building up immunity to a  brain-dead existence.

During the summer, besides print --my husband and I will load the boys into the aging minivan and go to the mountains. They will whine all the way there. They will arrive and be hot, bitten and dirty. They will walk up mountains. They will eat hotdogs. They will drink juice. They will want to go home. They will whine some more. But we forbid ourselves the luxury of staying home. We are exposing them to print in the form of real immersions in nature. This type of nature language--they could get from a book--but it is best they get it from tenting, hiking and accidents--and then reading about it afterwards.  Real life is the scaffolding upon which books are stacked best.

During the summer the boys are outside. Younger boy plays with his motley gang of gangly, spidery boys that use water guns, that throw water balloons, that go to the PetroCanada nearby to buy pop and chips, that run around until they are black with dirt and hardened men --in the pitiless sun and desert dryness. Then, he comes home, with the parched look of a traveler, who has experience. Then he has a bath, eats, and is amenable to the cushion behind his head, the book being rolled out like a red carpet before him, his mother coaching him in the magic of story. Then he begins the alphabet of the heart, the boast of childhood, that is never forgotten --even if the experiences of later life clobber and deform and destroy. A good childhood. During the summer, I am laying the brickwork of a powerful memory trail --I am putting down the saplings that will canopy my sons--that will forest them through the rest of their lives--during the summer.

"Poem 308" from "The Poems of Emily Dickinson"


Starting the morning with Emily is the best.  I have both the boys in bed. The sun is beating the body of land outside with hot spikes of heat and a hard sun mallet. The meat will be tenderized soon enough. The wind is tousling the heads of the flamboyant pink Oriental poppies. All the bedroom curtains are shut tight against their seduction--and that of the world--- and a walk will only happen once I have made my way through reading.  So let me get into this poem.  I can't make sense of it unless I think of splitting it into two parts. Emily is so abbreviated--that you really have to go back to high school shorthand lessons and think of speakers--and their conversations.  I think in this one--there are two (in general Emily has a "thing" about chatting with God)--and I suppose she is the one dead in the poem, and God is the one doing his surgical and cellular investigations to determine her status ("touch the Pantomime - Himself"). 

First stanza remarks on how Emily was alive for a bit -then kicks the bucket --and is of course "removed from Air -" as will we all be.  

I breathed enough to take the Trick –
And now, removed from Air
I simulate the Breath, so well –
That One, to be quite sure –
**

She says here--- that she fakes being alive --"I simulate the Breath, so well" --that God ---has to go check on her play. Now I'm not quite sure how she could pretend to breathe. But she does indicate that it is a "Trick" and that she "breathed enough" to do this trick. So she saying that the shallow breathing before death--is her Pantomime of life?  So let me go to the next stanza to see if she explains this.

The Lungs are stirless – must descend
Among the cunning cells –
And touch the Pantomime – Himself,
How numb, the Bellows feels!
**

In this part she says "That One,"--God--isn't sure about her death--even though "The Lungs are stirless,"  as she is pretending --or taking part in "the Pantomime" of sorts.  So God is required to go down and check further than the motionless lungs --"among the cunning cells" to check on her death.  Hmm... this is creepy Emily. 

But the last bit--"How numb, the Bellows feels!" --seems to indicate that Emily is there as well, feeling her own lungs and how dead they are.  

Emily is such a hypersensitive creature that I am sure that she spent a great deal of life watching her body entering death and planning its decline. This seems to be the way with poets--they imagine life vividly; they imagine death just as vividly. Here Emily is doing the death imagining and it takes her to the cellular level. Rehearsals of this sort prepare you --I suppose--- for the great pretender--Death--that comes marching in to take you to the Pantomime --of Life--that is Death----and that says itself by no direct communication ---by no words--but by gestures of body or rather absence of such gestures.  

 Are we to suppose that death--at least this part of Emily's death in this poem --then ---is a form of pretend-life--without sounds and words? That it is a Pantomime designed to fool God? And so--- "That One, to be quite sure -" must see that  “The Lungs are stirless” --- and  must investigate deeper---“Among the cunning cells -" to know the simulation of the breath? This certainly seems like what Emily is saying here. Her Pantomime of shallow breath---won’t last once the numbness of the  “Bellows” --- is detected. The surface gestures won't fool the Maker who "must descend" to find the real facts of death.


pan·to·mime  (phttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/abreve.gifnhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/prime.gifthttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/schwa.gif-mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/imacr.gifmhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/lprime.gif
n.
1. Communication by means of gesture and facial expression: Some tourists make themselves understood abroad by pantomime.
2.
a. The telling of a story without words, by means of bodily movements, gestures, and facial expressions.
b. A play, dance, or other theatrical performance characterized by such wordless storytelling.
c. An ancient Roman theatrical performance in which one actor played all the parts by means of gesture and movement, accompanied by a narrative chorus.
d. A player in such a performance.
3. A traditional British Christmas entertainment for children, usually based on nursery tales and featuring stock characters in costume who sing, dance, and perform skits.
v. pan·to·mimed, pan·to·mim·ing, pan·to·mimes
v.tr.
To represent or express by pantomime: pantomine a story on the stage; pantomimed "baby" by cradling an imaginary infant.
v.intr.
To express oneself in pantomime.

[Latin pantomhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/imacr.gifmus, a pantomimic actor, from Greek pantomhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/imacr.gifmos : panto-, all (from phttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/amacr.gifs, pant-; see pan-) + mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/imacr.gifmos, mime.]


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Poem 304" from "The Poems of Emily Dickinson"

As usual ---I am playing with Emily's threads late at night when I am sure to get them all in a tangle and make a mess of the embroidery but the day vanishes so fast that I never get through all I want to get through in a day and so here I am, opening the sewing box to pick the colors.


The nearest Dream recedesunrealized
The Heaven we chase –
Like the June Bee – before the School Boy
Invites the Race
Stoops – to an easy Clover –
Dips –evades – teases – deploys
Then – to the Royal Clouds
Lifts his light Pinnace
Heedless of the Boy  -
Staring – bewildered – at the mocking sky –

Homesick for steadfast Honey
Ah – the Bee flies not
That brews that rare variety!

**
The poem seems straight forward. But since my mind can't seem to grasp it clearly let me go through it in segments --taking small bites so I don't choke.

What is Emily abbreviating in her shorthand here?  She compares the closest Dream we have—that flees us—“recedes-unrealized –“ to a bee in June fleeing from a boy who is running after it.

The bee –like our aghast dream—flirts and shows its allure –but refuses capture. It “Invites the Race –“ for it  and seems achievable.  The bee-dream poses on the “easy Clover” it marches off and “deploys” its sting—and after showing us its moves—“Dips-evades- teases-“ –it scatters its small boat--to the skies—leaving us like the boy –“bewildered” at how it never came to be. I had to look up the word Pinnace--which I've settled at the end of the post.

Such a bee-dream unfortunately –Emily says—doesn’t exist—“the Bee flies not / That brews that rare variety!” but instead sticks close to home ---for it is “Homesick for steadfast Honey –“.  

It does feel like this on most days, that I’m running after an elusive bee and getting stung nine times out of ten and perhaps the bee that I’m after –is all sting and no honey!


 
pin·nace  (pns)
n.
1. A light boat propelled by sails or oars, formerly used as a tender for merchant and war vessels.
2. Any of various kinds of ship's boats.

[French pinace, from Old French, probably from Old Spanish pinaza, from pino, pine tree, boat, from Latin pnus; see pei- in Indo-European roots.]

After the storm

These are the days of rain and flood. The wrecking ball of water has broken the buildings of heat that sun had erected all day and now fetid sweaty steam rises out of the punctured skin of the garden. At the bottom of the slope near the back fence, a pool of groping wet hands struggle out of the gravel spread out on the land.  All the plants sing out their heat and there is no more droop and dimness. Everything is fresh as if it were morning –early with the first dew dress.

These are the days of wet and stinging needles of cold. When the rain comes down it cleaves into you and bathes you in frost wash.  Fragments of clouds seem to fall off in broad swathes of water and drench you in their flow. Coming home in the van from picking up older boy from swimming we were floating on a road made river. The boat of us made it home rocking from side to side as the waves parted for us.  Miracles of the evening.

The park perennials that flag down in such rotund heated days—I no longer have to water since the skies are sending down showers regularly from the sprout of that is everlasting.  Fallen glances of the night envelope the garden as if a mouth were gulping down solid and liquid mush simultaneously.  There is no moon.  How does an ocean vanish?  

Some summer days are riven into light and dark.  Others are broken into dark and water. Today began with the drumming heat against the skin—small hammers of hot that felt painful and pinks rose on the face –but now there is naught but cool fresh air strumming lightest of wires to music forth calm.  It is deliciously cool.  A light plaster of soothing ointment over everything. It is as if a burn inflicted inadvertently all day is being healed now. The collapsing weight of heat, the prick of rain needles, the flipping hair wind—it is all about –it is perfect for reading and perfect for writing—some sort of collusion of weather to promote the giddy transfer back and forth across a tennis court of language and both sides are winners.

I've started reading to younger boy today and I know it is because it is the cooling of the heat that let us both meander through a horror book. If it had been that aching heat of the morning, we would have relinquished the reading time without regret.  Tomorrow we head to the library to pick up some books he wants me to read to him. Hopefully, they will not all be ghostly, monster filled novelties but something less terrifying.  After the storm of  rain and the storm of school, it is good to simply sit with a book, together and let words bind us tight.

"OR ALL THE SEAS WITH OYSTERS" From "The Avram Davidson Treasury"


I liked this story! It has all the wackiness I could want. It has an ending---- that is sure to be mine--one day--some sort of degeneration of all the normal mental control processes to sink into the abyss of terror and madness. It involves fantastical elements ----that might possibly –in the mind of a schizophrenic’s---- be normal (or for that matter--such elements might flock happily-- in a poet’s mind). It uses humor and ...oh, let me just get on with it.  Why bother to seduce you in this long winded fashion? I don't care if you adore this writer or not. I love him.

So here is this unpromising story. The characters are Laurel and Hardy.  Sort of.  They own a bike  shop.  One of the owners--- is an extrovert and woman –crazy –while the other is a muted fellow-- with a taste for reading. I perk up.  But the sensitive soul ends up badly I'm afraid.  In contrast, the non-reader flourishes.  Why is it that creatures that read --tend to come to a bad end? But they all do.  Maybe it is the filling up of the neurons with bulging portfolios of stocks and bonds in language?  Now don't get distracted now Julie--just get on with it.

Now this is an odd couple since I can’t for the life of me imagine how they came together, one a roughneck –the other a nebbish creature –but Mr. Davidson liked these types of melancholy mixtures and just decided to stir the soup pot with these bones in it.  Will he get a flavorful broth? You decide for yourself but I am smitten. 

There aren’t many perfect books in the world but there can be such a thing as a perfect short story.  I have a feeling that Mr. Davidson wrote many of them.  This story isn’t perfect but it is satisfying. 

What happens in the story that gets it to be satisfying? Well, part of the fun of this story--is the contrast between the woman-mad Oscar and the woman-averse Ferd.  Then there is the tension between the insensitive, manly character of Oscar and the skinny, sparrowish Ferd. 

Oscar is always off doing whatever the hell--- he wants to do ---which seems to be running after women. Meanwhile Ferd has to be the good guy all the time, do the work that Oscar shuns and he has to hold down the fort. Of course, he feels resentful and miserable.   

Now I knew nothing good would come out of this marriage of one long suffering partner and the other utterly selfish, insensitive partner. I feel Ferd should have realized how imposed on he felt and just done what Oscar did—which is to have a gay old time. Oscar even encourages him to do this at the end of the story –but by then Ferd had gone round the bend. It is unfortunate that characters just won't be frisky early on in a story so that they waste their lives and end up as bitter creatures prone to unhealthy fantasies while the selfish character is morbidly normal and survives what kills the lesser, better character. It is really just too unfair, but stories like life--aren't fair. They are meant to be the writer's play and this writer isn't the sort to just let his characters do what they naturally would do--but he has to insert all sorts of biological practices and malpractices to confound them and drive them batty. No wonder poor Ferd came to bad end.

Now of course, he may not have gone round the bend. I mean he may have been normal--but may have simply stumbled onto a secret matter that resulted in him being done in.  What secret matter?  Oh, a matter of –aliens arriving in one form ---and changing into another form--- in the commonsensical way he explicates to Oscar—in this story.  He says that these life-forms were prone to mimicking objects so they can hide themselves from people. Then--- when they went through their growth cycles--- these thing would go from smaller to larger objects. They even had the ability--- if they got broken---to regenerate themselves.

Pretty wacky –right?  But I loved it. This theory of Ferd’s would explain so many troubling aspects of my life. For example---just the other day I put a baby the size of the yellow pages book down in a crib—now the same infant (older boy) towers over me and has dangly, furry arms that resemble a gorilla’s.  This would also explain why the boys –who once snuggled up to me while I read book after book (while we were T.V.-less and X-box-less)---why these same boys are mimicking electronic devices and cannot be readily distinguishable from the machinery in our house. 

Such a theory would inform me about missing socks that possibly become extra sets of shoes; it would explain all the missing summer hats that have turned into winter gear; and how all the money I had in my purse in small dollar amounts—have become coins of lesser value and greater weight. It is startling to think of the implications of such a theory.  Could the toaster  be a long lost relative that has decided to evade our boring conversations and become static (but useful) bread charring machinery?  Could this be the reason why both my parents have become slug-like and move from one part of their house to another at the velocity of paper being made from logs?  Who knows?  I am sure you all have examples of how this alien theory of Ferd’s may have some relevance in your own lives.  Jot these examples down and we will send the list to Mr. Harper of Conservative Party leadership fame. I am sure he is not doing anything useful with his time ---and would be delighted to deal --with our moribund findings. 

But let me not transgress on your patience. The story. Let me tell you about Oscar and Ferd and their characterization by Mr. Davidson –who cannot be said to be obtuse in his sketches of these men. Oh, he was a fine writer. A fine writer.  Here are some lines about good old Oscar—which contrast --in a dismaying fashion with the line about Ferd.

Page 82

Ferd like books, long-playing records and high-level conversation.  Oscar liked beer, bowling and women.  Any women. Any time.
    **
Such a clear demarcation between Oscar and Ferd that you have to wonder how they became the odd couple in business - that they became.  Oscar was prone to riding off on a bike with any woman that happened at the F&O Bike Shop.   He wasn’t picky –“If a woman was barely old enough to be called a woman, and not quite old enough to be called an old woman, or if she was anywhere in between, and if she was alone,” –well she was fair game.  This type of broad search parameters allowed for a generous supply of females for Oscar who is kept busy in this way while Ferd fumes at the store.

Page 83
   
   “Leaving me all alone all that time,” Ferd grumbled.
   And Oscar usually flared up.  “Okay, then, next time you go and leave me stay here. See if I begrudge you a little fun.”  But he knew, of course, that Ferd----tall, thin, pop-eyed Ferd—would never go.  “Do you good,” Oscar said, slapping his sternum. “Put hair on your chest.”
**
Ferd is the sensitive type. He’s one for fretting over everyone and everything, worrying a non-loose baby tooth out before it needs to be out and simply stewing ---instead of changing course or taking decisive action. These types of folks get high blood pressure or die of coronary infarcts. Better to have a blow up and get it out of the system than to sink into the acid of it all. 

But Ferd was constitutionally unable to have any sort of fun.  He was  worrier.  He wondered how folks could be deliberately cruel. I’ve wondered about it myself but what can you do about such nitwits? I tend to think that they punish themselves or get punished eventually and it is best to just shrug and say –This too will pass; and what they do to others will --be given back to them in life.  Life has a way of evening out injustices.   

Ferd is not so accepting about the unkindness of folks.  Ferd –broods.  He fixates on stupid things even.  He says all manner of nonsense about “other people’s minor concerns.”  Even the missing diaper pin on a passing couple’s baby diaper fretted him to bits.  What couple's baby diaper?  This couple with a baby come to the bike shop--and  when they came to the store---they needed to change the baby's diaper--- and of course,  they lacked a safety pin with which to secure the cloth diaper.    

Why is this incident even in here? I wondered when I read it.  A freaking safety pin. But as it turns out the wily Mr. Davidson will make mischief even with a safety pin. And of course, Ferd is going to make a federal issue out of the scarcity of safety pins.

Some writers are given a world of events and mess it up so the reader gets unsatisfying mush.  Some writers have a safety pin to brood upon and with their vivid, amusing minds--they can create devastating amusements for a reader.  Yes, I have a crush on this writer. He’s pretty darn neat.

So what does the safety pin have to do with anything? Remember the safety pin—it is significant.  As another--- unproductive aside--I have to tell you all that I also understand that woman’s frustration as she looks for a safety pin. God knows--- I’ve needed a safety pin many times and never found one. Why do you need a safety pin?  Well, if you are a mother, safety pins are important items for they hold together fragmenting bits  of chaos that constitute most mothers' daily life.  Ever heard of that saga--for the want of a nail...blah, blah..blah.  Well, for the want of  a safety pin --an entire garment's use can be lost.  A safety pin for example—can temporarily repair--- a broken zipper --- so your skirt doesn’t collapse at your feet---or it can shut a gaping cleavage ---that refuses to close for lack of a missing button—and thereby preserve your ladylike modesty---or yes, it can indeed be used for those cloth diapers that thankfully I did not use for more than a millisecond after discovering that they were soggy, yucky and stinky covers of baby bottoms--- and then--had to be washed instead of being dumped like any sane bit of clothing that holds baby poop.

The safety pin consumes Ferd’s attention. I utterly understand why.

Page 83-84
 
   “But... you know ...it’s true..there’s never any safety pins when you look.”
     Oscar uncapped his beer, rinsed the first mouthful around.”Aha! Always plenty of clothes hangers,though.  Throw ‘em out every month, next month same closet’s full of ‘m again.  Now whatcha wanna do in your spare time, you invent a device which it’ll make safety pins outa clothes hangers.”
**
Now we leave safety pins and move onto wilder utensils and scarier territory.   Clothes hangers. I have to admit Oscar has a point. They do proliferate and fill up the closet. You send them off for recycling and the next time you look in the closet, there are even more of them. How does this happen?  Could it be that some sort of malicious force is everywhere around us—multiplying hangers --like bacteria in blood culture---and eliminating safety pins? Could there be a sort of cycling between the two forms of metal—like in the water cycle—where water transforms to gas and later to--- solid ice?  Could evil forces be effecting such object transformations--secretly---- as we blithely go about chucking out our surfeit of hangers and searching desperately for a safety pin to hold up our sagging jeans? The world is a mysterious place.  Who knows what is about us? 

 But Ferd--just at this moment--in the story has not developed his obsession with alternate life forms and so he isn’t--yet--- interested in the cycling of hangers into safety pins or vice versa. He is engaged in loftier ideals.  He is making a racer. He is studying nature. He spends valuable time explaining mimicry to Oscar who is disgusted by the idea of one creature imitating another creature in order to survive.

Page 84

   “Mimicry!” he cried to Oscar. “A wonderful thing!”
    Oscar looked up interestedly from the bowling scores in the paper. “I seen Edie Adams on TV the other night, doing her imitation of Marilyn Monroe.  Boy, oh, boy.”
**
The man is a dolt. How can he confuse Marilyn Monroe with “how insects and arachnids will mimic the shapes of leaves and twigs and so on, to escape being eaten by birds or other insects and arachnids”? 
  
So you understand that these two are not exactly on the same wavelength.   Ferd appears to be curious and sensitive.   Oscar is oblivious and tends to spend all his time drinking beer and chasing women.  So what do you suppose Mr. Davidson will do with these characters, the safety pin losses and the ubiquitous proliferating nature of clothes hangers?  He shakes the magic dice of words---and throws them on the table---- and we are confounded again. Now the missing safety pins are in excess. 

Page 84

    “What’s the matter?” Ferd asked.
     Oscar pointed to a drawer.  “Remember that time you claimed there were no safety pins here?  Look –whole gahdamn drawer is full of ‘em.”
**

I begin to wonder if Ferd is delusional. How can he have missed an entire drawer full of safety pins?  More to the point, why is Mr. Davidson having these characters going on about safety pins and clothes hangers?  Surely there are better ways they could be employed? They could be talking about profit margins and the stock they need to buy for their bike store and ways to get more customers. But no, they go on and on about safety pins and hangers.  Aren't these ordinary, pointless matters?

Not really. Not in this story.  A safety pin is not really a safety pin. A hanger is not really a hanger. And a bike is not really a bike –especially the French bike that Ferd is working on.

One day the racer is taken by Oscar as he bikes after a hottie on another racer. This is the last straw for Ferd who has a fit when Oscar returns from his bout with “ a rather massively built young woman, with muscular calves and a deep chest,” who he had kept up with--- thanks to the use of Ferd’s racer.  Ferd has a sort of nervous breakdown that requires that he take out his bottled rage against poor oblivious Oscar --on the racer. He shreds it to pieces. Well, better the bike be pulverized than Oscar who is frankly incredulous that Ferd would be upset to this extent.  Little does Oscar know that Ferd is more than upset--Ferd is tipping over the ledge of sanity.

Page 85

   “You crazy?” Oscar yelled. “You outa your mind?  Ferd, no, don’t Ferd---“
**
But these dissuading remarks do not stop the out of control Ferd who ribbons the bike and leaves it a wreck.  The bike becomes the symbol of the state of the union or rather disunion ---between the two chaps.

The bike remains behind the shop but one day, mysteriously, it seems to have restored itself to its former glory. Now I have to admit this is creepy. How does a broken bike become new? How does a bike that is bludgeoned with “the heaviest hammer” in the shop and warped “into shapelessness” restored to pristine without any human intervention? It must be a miracle.  It must be something disgusting and occult like that is occurring in the story now.  It must be at the very least something requiring further investigation.  Ferd has an explanation for the appearance of the new racer—which is certainly not one I would have imagined. I might have thought “substitution” but “regeneration”?  Never. 

Oscar being Oscar, has no biology to understand what Ferd is trying to tell him so poor Ferd goes into the vault of his slowly degenerating mind and pulls out more junk:

Page 86

  “Oscar.  You know what regeneration is?  No? Listen.  Some kinds of lizards, you grab them by the tail, the tail breaks off and they grow a new one. If a lobster loses a claw, it regenerates another one.  Some kinds of worms---and hydras and starfish ---you cut them into pieces, each piece will grow back the missing parts.  Salamanders can regenerate lost hands, and frogs can grow legs back.”


**

Mimicry.
Transformations.
Now regeneration.

All of biology is at Mr. Davidson’s disposal and his fertile imagination does the abracadabra business and we get delicious poutine out of plain chips, curds and hot salty gravy.

Is Oscar convinced that the bike is utilizing the biological tricks of living creatures?  Of course not. He knows a bike isn’t a living thing and god knows ---I hope I know this too. But I am beginning to be convinced by poor Ferd’s mad musings on the deal.  A cut-to-ribbons bike is absolutely not able to turn back to its original state.  A safety pin does not appear out of thin air.  A hanger does not multiply or appear from transformations of safety pins.  Or at least they don’t in the real world. But in Mr. Davidson’s world—heck—he is agape and so –increasingly –am I. Certainly Ferd is now ---over the ledge and in free fall –and all because of --- Mr. Davidson’s rotten trick with mirrors and biological processes.

Page 86

     Oscar shrugged.  “I don’t see what you’re getting at.  But anybody could of got in here and took the pins and left the hangers.  I could of—but I didn’t.  Or you could of. Maybe ---“ He narrowed his eyes. “Maybe you walked in your sleep and done it.  You better see a doctor. Jeez, you look rotten.”

**
It is clear that Ferd is out to lunch  and rambling by now. I don’t know if he is sane. He sounds off.

Page 86-87

“I’ll tell you. Like I explained before, about how things that live in wild places, they mimic other things there.  Twigs, leaves... toads that look like rocks. Well, suppose there are ...things...that live in people places.  Cities. Houses.  These things could imitate—well, other kinds of things you find in people places—“

**
And so the slow slide to madness.   But how do we explain the trashed bike becoming its former glorious self?

Is there any way to explain the fully resuscitated bike? What about the hangers?  What about the safety pins?  Could Ferd have unconsciously done all this?  Could he have hallucinated the absence of the safety pins?  

It is too strange. Somehow ---it seems so much easier--for me --- to believe that these events took place as the plot proposes and that strange things are normal and that the world is not as simple or innocuous a place----as I had originally thought. 

Just because we don’t expect inanimate things to mutate—doesn't mean that they can't.  What if it they could and did? What if our increasing confusion and tendency to lose keys, wallets, credit cards, our bus passes, the books we put down, every single fact of our early lives and even the solid forms of education we stuffed into our mental portals—suppose these were all partly due to the fact that inanimate objects in our environment were slowly and insidiously mutating and altering the landscape and thereby altering our conceptualization of reality and the very foundations of our thinking?  Can memory be that far behind in being lost once thinking is impaired? Maybe we don't get old and lose our minds--but simply our landscapes? 

So here is Ferd—and for all we know---his thinking may be spot on –and if so--no wonder he is terrified of what is going on.   Reality--this reality in this story--- is collapsing Ferd and when folks go kaput in this way –you know what happens next.  Is Ferd headed for a psychiatric ward?  I mean Oscar has already suggested he see a doctor. But what if he is right--and there are life forms out there--doing these wacky things?  Could it be that the mentally ill are not mentally ill but simply more sensitive to these sorts of transactions that we are oblivious to? This makes me wonder—maybe all these folks in our psychiatric wards—maybe –their strange psychotic visions--- are what is true and all us supposedly normal folks—perhaps we are oblivious to the slow cycling of dishes, the pencils, the storage bins and god knows what else. 

Because we are dense, unimaginative –we are normal.  We are able to endure these alien abductions and transformations and regenerations and still pretend we are sane, that the world is unchanging and that there is no reason to suspect the dryer of mutating our socks and undies.  I suppose there is this sad comfort to being sane. We don't have to suspect our dryers of nefarious acts.

Page 87

   He began to cry into his hands.  Oscar looked at him. He shook his head.
    After a minute, Ferd controlled himself somewhat. He snuffled.  “All these bicycles the cops find, and they hold them waiting for owners to show up, and then we buy them at the sale because no owners show up because there aren’t any, and the same with the ones the kids are always trying to sell us, and they say they just found them, and they really did because they were never made in a factory. They grew. They grow.  You smash them and throw them away, they regenerate.
     Oscar turned to someone who wasn’t there and waggled his head.  “Hoo, boy,” he said. Then to Ferd: “You mean one day there’s a safety pin and the next day instead there’s a coat hanger?”

**

Now I knew that this story would end in a bad way. After all the story begins with just Oscar. And being the unboisterous sensitive male character—it was plain to me that this poor guy was destined for destruction. And so it happened like I had predicted.

The chatter about regeneration and transformations got to the aliens and they got him. Well, something certainly got to him.  I personally suspect the aliens.   For Ferd knew what was going on. He told Oscar. He had heard them changing and multiplying –“All the little noises in the night-time”—were not the things that go bump in the night but the subtle acts of alteration, growth cycle stages and end points reached. 

This is all heady stuff. Why this might mean...that all these books around me that I keep losing track of –I am not really losing track of. They are changing forms and titles and contents.   Why that book of short stories that were written by Katherine Anne Porter –that I am absolutely sure I bought—could it have become the story “Sons and Lovers” by D.H. Lawrence that now sits balefully --staring at me ---in its place? Some of the Enid Blyton books that I am positive that I --- had full sequences of –that have mysteriously vanished—perhaps my husband is innocent of their forced eviction –and they just turned into the unwanted bags of linens that are destined for donation--that have repeatedly been given for donation-- but somehow keep replicating in the hallway closet so that I cannot ever be rid of a donation bag of their stuffs.  I must not bruit this noise about –or else the fate that met poor Ferd may yet be mine.

What did happen to Ferd? Well, most folks suppose that his mind fragmented and he did away with himself. But surely –doesn’t it seem strange that the mode of self-sacrifice that---he employed was so singular?  So vicious? 

But let me tell you what happened before the end so that I can use the word foreshadowing for once.  Prior to his unfortunate end he had an unruly episode with the regenerated racer. He said the bike “threw” him as if he had mounted a live animal.  Oscar tried to get him to see reason but at this peak of excitement it was futile:

Page 88
  
   “It threw me!” Ferd yelled.  “It tried to kill me!  Look –blood!”
    His partner said it was a bump that threw him—it was his own fear.  The blood?  A broken spoke.  Grazed his cheek.  And he insisted Ferd get on the bicycle again, to conquer his fear.
    But Ferd had grown hysterical.  He shouted that no man was safe—that mankind had to be warned.  It took Oscar a long time to pacify him and to get him to go home and into bed.

**
Of course you don’t think the aliens in the inanimate bike or the safety pins or the hangers are going to let their secrets ---of mimicry, transformation, growth stages, and regeneration---be revealed to the world---by Ferd ---do you? Ferd knew what he was talking about:

Page 87

   “Maybe they’re a different kind of life-form.  Maybe they get their nourishment out of the elements in the air.   You know what safety pins are—these other kinds of them?  Oscar, the safety pins are the pupa-forms and then they, like, hatch. Into the larval-forms.  Which look just like coat hangers.  They feel like them, even, but they’re not.  Oscar, they’re not, not really, not really, not....”
**

Now I have to admit this isn’t a very scientific or even rational theory--- for the matter of missing and appearing safety pins-----for the abundance of hangers in a closet or even for ----the regeneration of a destroyed racer. But what then—will be our explanation?  Mischief by Oscar? Insane acts by poor Ferd? But why?  Is Oscar trying to drive his partner crazy?  But again why?

And why did Oscar ----after the end of Ferd---- get rid of the French racer?  Did he finally believe the story that poor Ferd had given him for the repaired bike?  Could it be that Oscar finally understood that Ferd had found out something true -----about another life form---when he was discovered with a hanger about his neck?  Dead.

Or was Oscar being very superstitious and just thought the bike  bought bad luck? Look at how the man explains the bike’s disappearance to a customer:


Pages 88-89

    Oscar’s face twitched.   Then it grew bland and innocent and he leaned over and nudged his customer.  “Oh, that one.  Old Frenchy?  Why, I put him out to stud!”
     And they laughed and they laughed, and after they told a few more stories they concluded their sale, and they had a few beers and laughed some more.  And then they said what a shame it was about Ferd, poor old Ferd, who had been found in his own closet with an unraveled coat hanger coiled tightly around his neck.

**
Oscar might have got rid of the bike out of a healthy superstition after the death of his partner but I think he got rid of it ---because he finally believed Ferd’s theory.  I mean who is to say the world isn’t crazier than we think it is? Who isn’t to say that the molecules of one object –don’t simply give up their acts of forming a table and slip out into the night as a bicycle? Who is to say that the whole house doesn’t lift itself and run off as a monstrous moving RV?  Who is to say that we are simply content to keep our sanity and keep objects static and so ignore the evidence of our own senses ---imploring us to believe that a safety pin that held up our jeans is now that extra hanger on the floor of the mud room?  Who is to say that the hanger would not unravel and strangle us if we were but to say this theory?  Who it to say that Mr. Davidson—himself—did not pay for this story—in the same macabre way as poor Ferd? Who is to say we don't live in Henri Michaux's world after all?