Agog agog


   It’s very hard not to church up oneself, to stay astonished. Agog. Or at least startled. Perpetually startled.

   One’s own churchy silt and tarnish are as insidious and pernicious as the monolith <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />fatherlode Church. Re-new, re-feel, raw it up. Put your finger in the socket of the universe. Sluff off your own hidebound tedious kneejerk views. Nail outraged theses on your own thick oak doors. Kick your own cult figures in the rump. Kiss the alabaster cheek of Liberace (or whomever you automatically disdain). Love – Gulp! – Karl Rove. (Only for 5 minutes! For the sake of raw and ringing truth + fairness. Then you can despise him with cleansed hate, polished loathing.)

   Our own Us + Themism is aegean-stablely silted up and encrusted with personally ancient ordure. Any wrath you righteously hurl at them ought boomerang fiercely against your own self-satisfied complacencies.

   Unbesmirch your own black kettle, to be honest and fair. We be so damn cool and they be so damn tepid + tedious. Look at the temple of your ipod. When was the last time you heard a pet song and ran screaming in pierced pain from the room? Is beauty still an icepick to the center of your brain or is it all become audio wallpaper, background musak? Dare we disdain their annoying or poisonous codifications oblivious or, worse, proud of our own? How overweened are we? that is a question.



Odd little proustian vignette from Vie de Moi. I have a little inner medicine pouch of  phrases and tidbits that have been leitmotifs along my life – little delights in the dedark. “Swear that life is good brother – it leaves more time to live” from Cary’s definitely icepick The Horse’s Mouth, a book every artist or desirer of the vivid ought read. “The benign indifference of the universe” from Camus’ The Stranger. “Unquenchable enthusiasm” from some story I read in high school. “Universe in a grain of sand” and “tyger tyger burning bright” from the divine Blake.  “[Properly perceived,] one leaf would suffice for eternity” from Camus. These dear fortune cookies are like Frodo’s vial of elf-light in the stenchy dark of Shelob’s den of dread.

   Over the years I wanted to find the exact place of  the quote from Camus. I knew it was when the protag was in his cell the dawn before his execution looking out the high small barred prison window at the last sere leaf hanging on a bare tree limb. As he is to die shortly, he realizes that properly perceived, “one leaf would suffice for eternity.” This was a secret hub of my whole electric perception wheel, the center of my life’s work to see and re-see and love it all unbearably. It was my mantra and my motto. I described to someone that scene of the prisoner looking out the window and realizing that “[properly perceived], one leaf would suffice for eternity” if not daily surely weekly for forty years.

   I rooted through the book in a few used bookstores along the way and even eventually did a Google book search for 'leaf.' Nada. Finally last weekend, I bought the familiar Gilbert translation of L’Etranger for two dollars & fifty cents and set out to read every word. I did. My “one leaf would suffice for eternity” isn’t there. To the very last page, it could have been there. Mais il n'était pas là. But it was not there.

   How did I latch on to something that wasn’t there? How did it drive my days for a lifetime? Why was I so sure of the whole scene, the whole meaning? The scene isn’t there either. The meaning of dawning coal-to-diamond intensity was lurking there, but not this one sere precious leaf igniting and accompanying a lonely eternity. The marrow devotion, the doggéd daily optimism, were not there. The knight for light under all circumstance wasn’t there.

   How much of the rest of my life didn’t happen?



Note: There are a number of cultures who don't do plurals or superlatives by adding an 's.' or an 'est.' They do the word twice — therefore agogagog. 


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3 thoughts on “Agog agog

  1. It must have been like discovering you were adopted by reading a letter poking out of a cubbyhole that you weren't meant to see. How very disconcerting. I'm glad for you that it was something deeply inspiring that you apparently invented without knowing it. Figuring out the mechanism of such an occurrence would drive me nuts too.

  2. That's the trouble with the 60's….
    It's one of those things though, I don't know how many times I'm sure there was a line in a play, movie, or book that never actually got said. My mind was editorializing the whole time and just stuck it in there. Supposedly, that's the way all memory works. You can't separate the viewer from the event, because the viewer can only record it in terms of what was going through his/her head at the time.
    I still like the leaf thing even if it wasn't in Camus.

  3. Shaman & cl — I did feel rather dislocated. And I never did that part of the 60s so the brain is otherwise addled. It was just so definite in its attribution, inner scene and all. So definite and so central. I could understand thinking I got it from “somewhere” but I was never in doubt about where it came from.
    I like it anyway too.

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