Basic Cable Cataclysm
This is what I know. At this moment Los Angeles is closed until August. Prisoners are sewing cloth masks in shifts. My college expects a four-hundred million dollars deficit, but it may be more. It has rained for five days straight, and will rain for the next five. My brain chemistry was off one day this week. The highway bisects a Christmas-Day landscape of empty parking lots and locked storefronts. Armed protestors have blocked ambulances. Animal shelters are running out of puppies. Hairdressers will return at warp speed. I know all this from the network news. But nobody knows anything.
We can only wait to see which institutions, long held-over from the Industrial Revolution, sink through the cracks in their foundations and which settle. In the meantime I type prose or sketch. This is a season of substitutes and stand-ins when even books cast discouraging shadows. In Heaven and Hell Huxley writes about, “…the vast impersonal universe.” In Letters to a Young Poet Rilke warns, “We are unutterably alone, essentially, especially in the things most intimate and important to us.” Yes and. Yes and. Yes and.
The forest floor is never as fertile as after the fire. World War I ended Modernism, and made way for Lost Generation writers and Surrealism. Art is conceived in crisis. It is nurtured in the bodies of the dispossessed. It is only newborn after cataclysm. One reason I continue to chase lines that strike true is to take up the time between Before and After. Another is to avoid becoming the charcoal left behind.
Gil Scott-Heron recorded “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in 1970. Fifty years later ours is broadcast without pause, but no one watches basic cable. Until the seismic fracturing of The Before steadies to tremors I am keeping my idle hands busy. The waves of The After will touch the shore. I want to wade into them with a quiet mind. The only thing anyone knows for certain goes without saying; What we leave behind never returns the same.
Aldous Huxley interview from 1958 which remains contemporary.
“Letters to a Young Poet: Letter 4,” Ranier Maria Rilke