Parting WordsContinued

And how about that word reality used in so many different ways: from "get real, Buster!" back in the "good old days" when the little lady wanted something so bad that in her mind she already owned it, to evangelical jelly notions and narrow-minded explanation of this world. In the latter case, reality means that this world is the only world and shut up if you suspect otherwise. Richard Feynman? A doodler of dumb diagrams and childish pictograms? Sub-atomic? Quantum ironic! Quark, shark; bark, narc; dark night of moon matter. A lunatic talking about "alternate histories" and other nonsense! Imagine how that would effect bank accounts and credit reports. Perhaps, for the public good, an alternate history can be arranged for him and his type.

And what about attachments? Are we not attached to almost everything in the world and willing to risk nuclear annihilation to retain our junk? Do a little introspection and you will realize that it is never the principle, always the money.

But there is a category of attachments that deserves special mention these days. These are the machines, the gadgets, the gizmos, that came after the automobile. These are the computers, the hand-held devices—the iThises and the iThats in pink and green and blue and always smiling money—and the Internet, the social media ... While once intriguing and even useful, and the fruit of many years of scientific labor, they have become leisure devices, addictive and a distraction from human life, personal interaction, and meaning. From the solid science of Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, we have given into the marketing hype of master thief Steven Jobs and the me-, my-, mine-personality cult of facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, the essence of yelp and the disfunctional, family-of-man, social gillnet network. And the microsystem of Sun has been consumed by an evil Oracle named Larry. Like that mass murderer the automobile, electronic gadgets have taken on a life of their own, while their real purpose has been forgotten, and are now more an expression of style, attitude, and economic class: Witness the many young men and women talking, texting, sexting, erecting, cuming  in the car, in the subway, on the train, in the plane, at lunch, during brunch, in the park, dark hair on bark, cunt juice on leaves, blood in mud, sirens scream; and on the toilet, oil and toil, toil and oil ... while oblivious to everything around them. It is like joy-riding in a convertible—no longer about transportation and getting from point A to point B, more about "cool" and "awesome" in the back seat of Kienholz' Dodge and "Eat your heart out Barb ..." as Deb says while being poked in the rear by a well-hung hunk, the American Dream.

And what about a state of the media where no critical writing matters? The blog of a mad dog has the bite and bark of a bone fide article in the New York Times; truth is mauled by a pitbull called big-money-talks. And what about a state of the media where one reads only what one wants and filters out everything one doesn't? "Cognitive dissonance" is eliminated; perfect harmony of individual mind and media is achieved. A new scale, with no sharps and flats, rules out modulation or even playing the blues. Forget atonality and Schoenberg. Pierrot Lunaire? De Niro's hair. Stravinsky? Bradinsky. Screw the little Russian Jew. The Rite of Spring? The Left of Dung. Culture is a vulture. Kill the fetid cow! Big Brother is now self-inflicted by citizen little brother. Orwell would not be pleased by the transformation.

But love may be the most misunderstood word ever used in this world. Does not "I love you" often mean "I'll kill you if you don't do what I want?" That's tough love for you. There are so many variations to "love" that I don't want to get into it. It's a word best avoided. Why not just say what you mean, not "if you only loved me ..." And if you hate someone, tell them so. At least they will take it for honesty—maybe even "love" you for it!

And when men or women says, "I love god," they declare themselves not only hypocrites but liars. There is no god:  Why the rattlesnake, why the scorpion ... sweet Lord? And they love only themselves.

And does the earth abide forever, as it says in Ecclesiastes? Not likely once the universe starts to collapse, as cosmologists tell us it surely will. So why go around saying it does? Life will end, the universe will be destroyed, and nothingness will prevail in the "end" if there is such a thing as time and the end of it. If you want to "get real," tell it like it is.

You cherish your models of reality but what are they but a guess about how things are or will be? The truth is: NO ONE KNOWS. Get used to that!

The body is fragile, the mind even more so. Don't deny it.

And fear dominates the thinking of most people: fear of death; pain; unmet "needs" that really may not be needs at all; the loss of love, even if love is one of the most deceptive words ever used. But we can't face the obvious, can we? We have to constantly invent some new story to bring us comfort and good cheer. 'tis the Season all year long on Storyville earth!

Reason is a weapon, a tool in its most benign form. Emotion is the motivation, the "reason," for any underlying action. Selfishness is the key to everything: The reason for the reason, the motivation behind all emotion. In its current manifestation, mankind is hopeless. Deny it and show complete ignorance. Do I hear silence? Then you deny none of the above!

And what about consciousness? Another baffling word but it may be all we have. Decartes may have been right after all. But have you noticed that it is not a popular word with financial institutions or the universities? Why? Because it can't be captured and bought and sold on the open market. It cannot be enslaved, so why bother with it? Why study it? The brain, however, is another matter; it's a money-maker and a grant-generator. Banks and universities love the brain. It can be bought and sold. And the pharmaceutical companies adore it.

And what about ghosts like me? Block them out of your mind, bar them from consciousness—or maybe I had better say brain. As useless as the spirit—unless you watch someone you "love" die and you are stuck in this world without them. But what is that kind of love, where you actually care for another person, worth in this world? About the same as offal in fishwrap.

3—Moving On

But despite all this, There lives the dearest freshness deep down things. In one in a thousand—no, one in ten thousand—there is love, honor, goodness, and respect. Hopkins and Solomon were right. And Nothing is so beautiful as Spring ...

But it is also true, as Hawking says, that life is both sweet and cruel, and that man should know.

Am I bitter? A bit, but only medicinally so, like Campari on a solemn safari in the jungle of the mind of man.

I will be reviled for writing this. But the usual topics of poetry—youthful love observed ironically from a distance of years; sex and food; exotic images of rainbows, cocoons, chrysalises, butterfly wings, and bursting bubbles ... —no longer appeal to me. And I have no desire to be clever or amusing. The muse does not amuse me; your laugh only makes me cry. The darker truths draw me toward them, the superficial repels me. Who other than Qoheleth, Solomon, or the young Eliot ever wrote on any serious topic?

But I'm feeling faint now. A new light-heartedness is coming over me. And I feel a new current of energy passing nearby. I better get in its stream. Odysseus, my hero, I will meet you not in Ithaca but somewhere in Omega Centuri. We will even the score with the Sirens of Titan.  And Prufrock old pal, we will find the perfect elixir and regain the vigor of our youth. Those girls on the beach will pester us for love favors from morning to midnight. La la oo! Einstein, the brilliant one, we will go on a ride, stretching ourselves across the universe and approaching the speed of light. We will be as immortal as the gods of old. And friend Feynman, we will make ourselves exceedingly small and be everywhere all at once. We will have the perfect alibi: While we are seen on video robbing Wells Fargo Bank downtown, we can also be seen having cappuccinos at Caffe Puccini in North Beach and praying the rosary at Saint Mary's on the hill. What fun we will have!

Nice chatting with you. Hope I was helpful. I'm outta here. Bye ...
—Louis Martin