I really want to get this going....

Each day's listing is an excerpted edit from my work. These are numbered and sub-headed for ease of read and isolation from full body of continued text. Each small excerpt is a single-themed piece culled from a much larger whole. Please follow the heading numbers down to #1, or click on 'archive'. The highest numbers are most recently posted, obviously. If so interested, for follow-up, you may contact via e-mail shown - perhaps for discussion or annotation needed.

Thursday, August 31, 2006



"Freedom accomplishes extraordinary things - though you’re never sure what they are" the man said quickly turning around to watch the passing crowd behind us "and oftentimes when you later come back to look at it difficulties still arise in determining what happened" and although I knew what he was saying it still seemed strange to hear it in this location - along 59th Street next to Park Avenue in the middle of all that wealth (for I thought of it as incongruous to be hearing lessons of the ‘good life’ from someone who was probably born into it) and a moment later as we turned into Argosy Books I overheard quite nearby a young couple discoursing as the male of the two examined the many one-dollar books on display in the outdoor alcove area "I want to buy a whole bunch of these I want to fill up those shelves in the living room" and I watched her (his companion) scrunch her face up in some sort of anguished disbelief at his saying that - in addition she was aware of my overhearing and I thought perhaps her reaction was because of a twinge of embarrassment at what had just been said – but the two of them managed to stay there while he perused what were basically hundreds of non-descript perhaps generic ‘books’ as decoration - strange old tomes of errant history or medical reference books and the sorts of things you find at leftover estate sales and the like - books which perhaps were once important to someone in a long-other day but books which – at the same time – held little fascination or meaning for the present day and which concurrent with that held no expectation of reaching ‘antique’ value in any way ‘PURELY DECORATIVE VALUE’ perhaps would have suited the scene as a posted sign (if there had been one) or from another extreme a useful tool in learning English (perhaps) as a second language (although I certainly saw no lines of immigrants landing here) and anyway we entered the store itself whereupon two clerks looked up from their perch near the doorway as they were sitting at the area from which one would purchase ‘antique signatures’ or whatever the trade would call them - meaning old documents and letters signed by the likes of Neils Bohr Ulysses S. Grant Albert Einstein Bette Davis Maurice Ravel Dwight Eisenhower and countless others (where they acquired their retail ‘value’ and on what scale that value was ladled out was beyond me but in any case various and myriad levels of celebrity and reputation were represented) "you know" he went on "I was in the Middle East for quite a few years back about a decade or so ago and acquired a bit of learning and a fascination for the way in which our simple term ‘freedom’ is relegated to really a term of retribution there where actually one is free to do nothing more than torture or punish others for family tribal or supposed slights and betrayals and that to them is the real meaning of ‘freedom’ – which of course to us is abhorrent and means something quite other – perhaps what we call revenge or vengeful murder or what have you but in any case by such terms they have entire governments and enclaves set up and ruled and adjudicated so that people actually DIE a quite fearsome physical death which is ladled out as ‘freedom’ to these poor people so one ought to be very careful in describing terms and meanings to simple mannerisms we are almost serenely bored of in our daily lives here" and we had by this time gotten to the rear of the first floor where the displays were of rich-looking bindings and gold-gilt covers and spines of hundred year old books behind glass and the unusual assortment of classic titles and odd titles coexisted quietly as if there was never to be any difference between them and in addition to the perfectly pristine new versions of these fine leather volumes there were shown old tattered faded and beat-up bindings of the very same books from entirely other ages - books which once graced the townhouses and mansions of great tycoons and masters of industry some long long time ago (I imagined the great lives and fortunes which probably once went with these titles and the grand drawing rooms wherein they were displayed) and I thought to myself at the same time that if I was nothing more than a scene-decorator for some movie-producer/director this would be a field day indeed for selecting props and background effects for varied scenes of wonder and richness in some mannered comedy or tragic-drama on the big screen (or these days small screen too) and so I imagined myself a location scout for all the same reasons "you know there’s really no adventure in being free if there’s no real value given to it now is there?" and I nodded back ‘yes’ as he continued "so I wonder often why we’ve so devalued both ourselves and our nation’s ‘core beliefs’ by so mucking up this entire society as we’ve done and sometimes I swear it actually pains me to be here yet here nonetheless I am" and hearing that my attention was caught by paintings which lined the balcony and the stairway leading to it - bucolic snow scenes of a much earlier America and portraits of strange and odd-looking matrons millionaires and military men who once (somewhere) held regal court in their own expansive manors and I thought once again of the vast crowd of ‘decoration’ which dwelt within this space - part bookstore part antiquarian storehouse part collector’s horde of nothingness held at bay without meaning - and I watched the quite businesslike woman at the rear table cataloguing or maintaining order slips and reference cards as she worked steadily with one eye always on the lookout for customers and their questions and interests and her swarthy looks belied a small generosity which seemed almost sweetened by the location she worked in as it all enticed me greatly - this general and genteel interest in books and in all things old being amassed in some great malformed clutter of generosity and knowledge and interest and learning and I almost wanted to ask her something just to hear her voice but I did not and instead found myself listening again to my companion's voice "it wasn’t so very long ago that all things held different meanings so much so that were someone from 175 years ago to come back now there’s be I daresay a great difference and barrier between them and us - in concepts words ideas and deeds - and it would be hard indeed to find us sharing ideas completely enough to even understand each other and all of that MAYBE gives this place part of its charm (for if they were to come here and meet us we’d perhaps have a better chance of coming to terms over things) but old is always old and even us as we move about and age we either alter our concepts or fade away and live solitary lives amidst the rational fusions of all our old ideas and these are things anyway that for myself I find to be a lot more comfortable that is trying to fit in and merge with today’s dastardly horde and all their equipment and needs and concepts and sounds and all that but anyway that’s the life we lead and perhaps we only lead the life we love in the long run (take it from me – the cemeteries are filled with people like me) but no matter you should remember too that a thousand years and more ago people much like us perhaps burned the grand library at Alexandria out of spite and pique and that kind of lingering anger and hatred still smothers us today so that even as we – the two of us – try to cover over these lapses with our supposed grandness and wisdoms we fall short by the largest degree possible in making the world any better or any different on the outside and it’s all about the inside work we do THAT’S where achievements are and the real key is in both managing them and at the same time communicating them to fellow men which is probably impossible and nearly unthinkable in the long run for society is nothing but an anarchy of great means held at bay by fear of death of sickness and of hunger - all three things together composing what we know of and call ‘outlook’ and I’ve seen ‘outlook’ from many different angles and to everyone involved in their own angles that ‘outlook’ looks perfectly natural and manageable and – in the midst of their own societies – it’s WE who look like the fools and the strangers and that unbridgeable gap is what language tries to connect but it only ends up widening the gulf and then we all fight over that widening (not even the gulf itself)."


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