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Reflections at night when the dark is good and we see further. A short meditation.
"A silent conjunction between what one thinks and what has been thought."



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Brief Tales on a Whim.
There is nothing more pitiful than the storyteller without his stories.



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Meditations on the 60th Anniversary of Hiroshima What would the end of the world entail? Do we boast that we can imagine such a thing?


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In the apprenticeship period hopes are high.
"But then, who will save us from our own crimes?"


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THE POET OF MY DREAMS

The old wise guy kept telling me, "Separate what is mainly political from what is mainly artistic in your own efforts." That got me thinking about history and what, if anything, it contained. It can jump up and snag you in listless days because an act that is committed in the present day that we think is so great always has a complement act in some previous time and when a man sees that; that is, nothing can occur without its past and future being known at the same moment the act occurs, he is no longer the same. It's left to clever people to go around and discover common connections that become grains in the belly of what-goes-on. Tragedies happen but only against a larger circle of farce. They want to go forward, to discover, to make way as the future chokes in the absurd.

"Oh, the boy has challenged all his assumptions," the wise guy would taunt me. He knew what I was thinking and knew I thought I was a pretty clever guy.

We were not born there but pulled ourselves up like a guy who is asked to climb up a knotted rope and touch an ibeam in a gym filled with sweat and young women. "come on, don't be a day late, dollar shot," the coach shouted.

We were expected to fight for survival and if we lost, ah well, that was life and nature. What did we know? This was in many way contradicted by the wonderful idiocy Berkeley was at the time. It rationally fashioned a pyramid as the model for the larger culture and then abruptly turned it up side down with a laughing gesture like a college prank by drunken students.

My first impression of the place was as a kid when my dad took my brothers and I too the great old stadium to watch the University play football games. What an adventure! Always the long, deliberate walk from the car to the vast arches of the stadium, the fraternities partying along Piedmont Avenue, crowds of people, frat boys throwing footballs in the autumn morning, black boys selling programs, beautiful coeds everywhere, there was little conversation as we headed for the stadium and the anticipation of games.

And when the crowds gathered even a little boy knew an event was happening. It was the sense of an event taking place that brought up the sense of something important going on .

In the same streets I had seen the riots. Those too, events of high intention but always destined, like the football team, to lose and be decimated by the cops; the superior team in this case.

"Beautiful, lovely town full of reds and old rich people."

When I came there to live the riots were over and little attention was paid to the sports scene. A vast depression swept through the city, a deflation as though a rubber band has snapped and shriveled to nothing.

Bums were the heroes and pissed all over everything. The only energy came from a clot of nerds who were into computers and such, They kept raving about the future and, in retrospect, one can see they were right but at the time one dismissed them as stoned out nerds wanting to destroy the reality they had to deal with for something much more accommodating.

So I was wandering the streets like a lost, stray dog as the times passed; the only times for youth in that brief moment when the young around the world are connected and know they will succeed to power and remake everything in their image.

It was a dirty city and didn't seem to mind. Paper flurries were an on-going thing. Garbage was heaped in piles.

Old clothes were put in boxes and deposited in one of the many parks. Old, dried pizza's were spattered on the sidewalks. Dog shit was everywhere. It was one of those periods of time when it was hip to be barbaric. To be civilized was not looked upon kindly. It was seen as a mask for slave owners and killers of other people in wars no one benefited from.

Perhaps the secret to Berkeley was that it believed that "madness was the 13th Muse." There were more than a few Andre Breton's in Berkeley, certainly Artuad's. They were not idealists. The idealists, suprisingly, existed in that technical/nerd community that had the grand idea of putting computing power in small, accessible boxes.

This group was infamous for their naivete. And yet they brought something Berkeley was void of which was practical sense.

Berkeley was like a body with the lower parts down in the flats, the belly and chest in the student area and the head up in the hills. Assuming the head was the stabilizing aspect of the body at least people stayed around in the hills. In the hills and down below in the flats people took root. In the middle their was constant movement in and out of streets, cars, apartments, and houses.

Berkeley was infected with that kind of European intellectual flavor that is so suave in its nihilism. A brain that thinks is as apt to try and revenge itself on the world as a person who is abused. And if no one thinks and one group thinks then what is a young person to do?

There were excellent questions raised at that time and when questions appear, when cracks open up from the way in which one has always viewed the world, when the establishment is no longer the fount of authority, then all kinds of things come rushing into play. That moment is a crucial one as the writer wrestles with these questions, more questions, all questions, no questions just the putrid universe and its odd creatures. It was no mystery why science fiction was the genre of choice in those days.

Berkeley always denied the massification of the larger world. That was its essential charm. Every individual would count in Berkeley. A kind of perfect democracy would exist. And at times it approached that point. It had a very salutary effect on people who were used to "just living" and not worrying about these things. Not worrying about how the world takes for granted the integrity of self and democracy. On either side of this were cults and political ideology. It was, in some sense, a testing ground for the American soul.

There was not a part of Berkeley that I did not know fairly well. I lived in the Rockridge area, west Berkeley, up on Oxford Street, on Telegraph Avenue. I loved College Avenue, Solano, and Shattuck. Parts of Telegraph still retained the aura it had in the 60's but by the time I moved there it had decayed quite a bit.

Go to the From the Start: The Poet of My Dreams

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