Friday, February 15, 2008
"Know thyself"--as a giddy bastard?
Not too long ago, on a strange misty night in Toronto's funky Queen Street West, I wandered the streets drunk, with a great, sprawling novel in my head.
The idea was to clear the logjam of ordinary teaching and writing, wash away all the floatsome and jetsam of ordinary reality and attain once more that sense of being able to see around corners, to stand under trees and smell the blossoms, to be--say it on!--young again and reach for the laurel leaves of the poet that I once imagined myself of being.
Acid? you might ask.
No, it was the way I was as a young man. Crazy. And the college was publishing all my poetry and the professors were jealous. "Take you out to the squash course and beat your ass."
So here I was, forty years later, stumbling along Philosopher's Walk, Trinity College, not quite an alma mater--I just had to take an extension course there to get my degree. But the philosophy had been interesting, who doesn't get intoxicated over old Play Dough and his underlying pictures of real stuff under all the B.S. we are shown by the Powers that Be. Myth of the Cave. Yes. We are shown one thing on TV and something totally different is really happening.
Ah, drunk, and thinking you can see around corners, while an old Greek, himself probably drunk, had it all taped
2,500 years ago.
Gnôthi Sauton. Know thyself.
Well, yes. Know thyself for a a randy, drunken fool.
I visit my editor in the course of my wandering.s "Man, are you spaced. This is a good time for you to write." John always had this knack for getting to the heart of the matter.
I was a firehose of words and someone had crimped the hose.
The crimp of ordinary reality that gets in the way of things you want to say.
Back in your Spadina Avenue loft now.
Bang-up against the publishing company that had rejected you.
Ah publishing for the college magazine was one thing.
But real publishing involved agents, government, maybe even the CIA.
Jerzy Kosinsky with his stunning "Painted Bird", so much like my own first novel, "The Black Icon."
Kosinsky knew how to play the game. He was also a CIA asset. Oh how naive we ae with our philosophy and our sophomoric intoxications.
Yet it was Jerzy who put the Winn-Dixie plastic bag over his own head and offed himself.
Or did some Russian get to him?
No matter. My imaginary rival was dead. I was alive.
Gnôthi Sauton. Know thyself.
Yes, yes, but knowing thyself is the most difficult thing of all.
We never really know ourselves.
The older I get the more I realize that I am no great shakes, one time leaving the scene of an accident without telling anybody, weasling my way out of complicated divorce procedures, stealing once, from my father.
Know thyself. Maybe as a weasel and toad-stabber! The self ain't always pretty.
Ah, but love, something I don't think Plato rally knew, though he wrote an entire Symposium about it.
Your lover tells you a story.
Once there was a man. He was very beautiful.
But he came across these five girls who were hitchhiking.
My lover then goes into great detail as to what the man did with the beautiful women and what the did to him.
She was inventing porn for me. Knew what I liked. Gauche, no?
WEll, that's true love. Whispering porn to your lover. Lol. Well, that's an experience I'm sure Plato never had.
Unlimited in ideas. Limited in sex.
I am wandering the streets of Toronto, my glorius, stunning novel still in my head.
Gotta get it out. Gotta get it out.
Maybe a little LSD would actually do it.
I whistle down a bottle of Scope.
Give myself not an anima, as Jung would say.
But an enema.
I had walked like a novelist. Nice feeling.
Ah, he laboured mightily.
And ended up pulling the Loo chain.
Nice reverie anyway.
Now it's back to the keyboard and actual work.
Of all things, this is the most difficult.