Thursday, June 20, 2019


This close to the 49th parallel this time of year at four o'clock AM, the eastern sky pales.  The oldest cat moves from my feet up to my side just under my arm and purrs.  Her plan is to wake me up gently so I'll get up and open a can of cat food so she will be prepared to go out and hunt birds or tomcats.  When I've done that, the next two generations of cats (only 3) will also eat breakfast and come to doze under the hanging lamp beside me.  Outside the bird noises are beginning.  A semi-truck fires up and leaves, the sound of it continuous and abrasive.  Pickups thread through town and leave for jobs in other towns, often as cooks in cafés.  The semi driver will probably breakfast in East Glacier and still cross Marias Pass early enough to see bears or moose.  This is all predictable, insuppressible, and the reason I want to live here.  I know where I am.

I won't stay up because I need more sleep and I was up until near midnight watching television on the computer.  Last night it was PBS: "Mrs. Wilson". a story about the actress Ruth Wilson's grandmother, who married a shape-shifting double agent during WWII.  https:/   I've admired this actress since she played a stalking not-quite-transparent woman obsessed by "Luther  The dance-away Mr. Wilson is played by Iain Glen, another favorite of mineThe result of watching such serious movies and taking them seriously is that it means a night of dreaming of such plots and reactions in my own life.

After all, my college years were dominated by the study of Method Acting in which one learns to search for the seeds of the possible others one never was but could have been.  My retirement, which was really the opposite, has expanded my inner life to the point of understanding my body as a community of adapted eukaryotes, each in an assigned and cooperative role, which are managed by a ball of connecting circuits balanced on top of me in a rounded bone chamber.  When taking this point of view, one avoids all the dilemmas of the proud individual who tries to present a unified front.

Because I also took as many college study-of-religion courses as I could on the way out of obedient Presbyterianism, I also accept the contemporary idea of life and time being a constructed hallucination, a guide to the-best-I-can-do that might not have room for any others.  Only if they are especially meaningful.  My companions are these generations of feral cats, not at all what I intended.

In spite of being rooted here for the past twenty years in a known place with tightly conventional parameters, I discover gradually that most of the dwellers have what might be called secret lives.  Love, drugs, and ordinary cheating or misrepresentation underlie the stories of supposedly conscientious pasts.  Some have come in from California or Texas to evade the inescapable records of their lives.  Gradually some of the population has realized that the history of the country that so values innocent white picket fenced cottages after a world war to save them from Naziism is built on the destruction of a whole pre-existing culture that had been here for millennia.

Now the daily revelations of political corruption rip away our clearly hallucinated idea of a dependable, honorable world where intact families support hard-working and maybe inspired members.  Now the truck drivers and the cooks serve a people focused on using credit to furnish houses they don't own and rarely occupy.

It is necessary to remember that the culture we eliminated when we took away their food, shelter and hallucinations (myths) simply reconfigured and made common cause with other indigenous people so that there were substitutions and dumb-headed adaptations around their relationships with each other and the land until now it is beginning to work again.  It only takes a few centuries.  I'll just steal a phrase:  "The Cosmic Now," the title of another of our pretentious but useful cyber incarnations.

When we look at the past now, we see corrupt behavior.  Even if it is sort of harmless -- JFK nude after a swimming session, snapping the bare bottoms of his female companions as they run down the hall -- or maybe just quiet, like Eisenhower's driver-with-benefits while his wife hallucinated at home.  Last night I watched Rosenstein explain the integrity of the FBI by claiming that various ambitious people could be shaped into an arm of justice through allegiance to the Rule of Law and the Chain of Command.  He didn't mention J. Edgar Hoover or Wounded Knee.  

Each of us has a handful of cards already on the table when we are born, and then more new cards come down as time and the dice roll on.  It's a temptation to stick to games of Old Maid and Parcheesi while the real action is international three dimensional chess if we're Ivy League or maybe just a local poker game.  

The woman who grew up across the street from me supplied me with many valued hand-me-downs (She was dark, half-Filipino, and her mom and her mom's partner (a woman) bought vividly colored clothes for her.)  She was born outside wedlock but knew who her father was (a famous expert on mental health, married) and was cherished by her wealthy Caucasian grandparents who bought her an elegant sports car and a fine education.  

In old age she lived in a subsidized apartment in the black part of town.  She explained to me that she sustained her poker habit all night with Scotch in milk.  In our childhood we lay on the lawn in the shade listening to "Bulldog Drummond" on a radio with tubes and a long extension cord.  We half-dozen kids plus the dog also liked "Inner Sanctum" and imitated the creaking door opening at the beginning.  I still like to make that sound.

Kenner's question is "What does it mean?"  I don't know.  But I'm interested.  I'm sort of relieved that it's all hallucination and that what I think of as myself is really a community of tiny entities cooperating -- for now. 

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