I really want to get this going....

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Friday, January 18, 2008


196. THE WALTER DEMICK STORY (nyc, 1968):

I used to think about things just crazy things as I walked these streets I used to find places to stay whenever I could if it was warm out and I'd not have to go back to any other place - many were the warm nights I spent on the piers or in alleys or little alcoves which could be found between buildings and there were untold numbers of curious unoccupied spots where no one ever bothered me - the crazy-quilt overlay and the very pastiche of what makes up all the buildings and streets of Manhattan (especially older Manhattan) never fit very well together and because of that left many odd places : corners and alleys (as I said) and small units where things didn't quite fit together correctly and I'd see how everything offered opportunity : the crazy-quilt of ancient bookstores which once lined the areas around old Stuyvesant Square and the avenues thereabouts - enormous dark places with century old bathrooms and sagging wooden shelves and supports and columns and with lamps and desks with the only people present being old proprietors who simply went about their business and (besides the occasional browser) nothing but eccentric drifters ideological 'searchers' and intense students of 'the book' and literature fiends of all sorts and it was TO BE SURE an amazing array of fringe characters and a Runyonesque panoply of old and dark New York and Manhattanites of the sort not since seen (at least publicly) and these are the sorts of people who eventually probably died off in their small studio apartments or rooms and hovels - the sort you read about when they're found by neighbors five days later because of the 'odd odor coming from Mr. Santaliage's room' when the landlord checks in on him - nothing ever public nothing ever in the light and yet LIKE ME they lived these lives quietly and obscurely but filled with a strange sense of riches hard to describe or locate - it was all other-worldly and distant in essence and really not much of this Earth at all for we lived in mental categories of our own devising with concepts and values completely unknown to others or at least seldom heard - these are the types too who'd regale you on a dime's notice with elaborate theories and strategies of life based on their eccentric knowledge of CONCEPTS more than things - if you could get them to talk - like some DeLillo reverie out of Great Jones Street itself (again) : 'a runaway contingent whose specialty is violence MINDLESS violence ! they talk about it all the time and when they're not talking about it they're doing it....they need money to keep going and their dope needs money and their search for whatever drives them into MINDLESSNESS needs it too - it's all expensive and at the expense of their soul and I wonder how they keep doing it and what keeps them going MINDLESS violence look at it it's all over these streets now ! it defines itself and mindless violence is the only true philosophical violence and they're scrupulous about avoiding any other philosophical implications political and otherwise and they have no program nor rationale beyond that beyond just the doing and the continuing of it all and in fact in some odd way it's how they maintain their privacy' and that was the sort of conversation you'd get from these people if you'd call that conversation at all instead of a crazed crusty monologue of conclusion and rant amidst words made for other uses but there they were and I'd find them always - the staggering men the men with fired eyes who sleepwalking merely pretended at life the wet men the crooked and the sloppy the ones with chin drool and whisker-spots they'd forgotten about the warts and carbuncles of mis-shapen faces the lean-to bodies favoring one side or the other as they walked the shots and the twisted legs of the lame the ones who lived in newspapers and pencils with bags of paper at their side the scribblers and those who sang the nearly blind the deaf men with hearing aids the size of transistor radios strapped to their chests and each of these men meant something they ALWAYS meant something but had never correctly articulated the WHAT of what it was they meant - and I hadn't yet even reached the Bowery (for this was 1967 remember and things were so greatly different that definitions in existence today had not yet been even developed) BUT I'D LISTEN and I'd hear from Fred Chess and Dr. Pepper and Eddie Montaldo and a guy who called himself merely Dunner and Turner Bakey and Ross Holroyd too 'look at post-card manufacturers they take a sleazy tourist trap lake and try to make it into the canoeing grounds of the gods but they do such a slick glossy job that you glance at the post-card and you know at once this is a shit-filled lake and all the tourists here are either war criminals or people who spit when they laugh - not that there isn't beauty in such places and that's just it the whole world is turning into Lafayette Street the most ugly-beautiful street in New York City and in a way it's nice to get what you expect as though places as though places could be passive like people - they just sprawl out with their cathedrals and deserts and such passivity is beautiful too and you take what they give you these days and if everything's getting ugly the only thing you can do is try to teach yourself it's beautiful' and it all went on EVERYWHERE it went in a reverie of sound and real thought and idea that I'd learned to love living with and I wanted to be nowhere else back then just there and nowhere else.
One time one of these fellows a guy named Walter Demick told me he could explain consciousness and then he proceeded to try without stopping or missing a beat (too much pathos makes my hands go numb) by dismissing the abysmal intellectual standards by which an idea of consciousness conceptual thought and the self that no one can deny without raising questions about their sanity is in fact denied but he said that the only plausible explanation for the existence of these concepts is a 'Transcendent Mind' - the very concept of something higher that all these people would deny - and if it is brought up it is merely for them to say that it is never satisfactory how or why the existence of such a mind constitutes an explanation - which these people do not deny - and then Demick said that one of these 'new atheists' he'd heard driven to explain the origin of consciousness by just saying everything once was 'and then a miracle happened' - to which he laughed and scoffed and ridiculed - pointing out that 'if we are centers of consciousness and thought who are able to know and love intend and execute (which we are) and which these people do not deny - then it is inconceivable that such centers could emerge from something that is itself incapable of all these activities' and the 'world of living conscious thinking beings has to originate in a living Source a Mind that is itself creative and conscious.' - which was okay enough as a mirror-image explanation for a concept of a Superior and at the same time a Working God but one who - to my mind - had stopped working some time ago and that was what bothered me the most : this idea of a start/stop God who would seemingly of a long sudden abscond with his responsibilities and leave a sullen mess such as all this behind THAT is where I always got hung up.


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