(1 of 1)
Habits. Mediocrity. Those ideas have a negative ring to me. There are good habits and bad habits, but I tend to think of all habits as bad because they seem lazy, complacent; and I think of mediocrity through the lens of art: my artistic taste is for the sublime, which I consider to mean something very far from mediocre. But habits and mediocrity are not just capable of serving art: they are even necessary for preserving life—and where would art be without life?
To fret about global warming or earthly climate change is to fret about the loss of mediocrity. If our planet maintained an everlasting “room temperature” – a NeverEnding SingleSeason SpringAutumn, fluctuating between 18°C and 22°C – Earth would enjoy a perfection of atmosphere (I speak as an human); all the food would no longer be poisoned, and everyone would have the job that they always dreamed of. But, best of all, nobody would be without kind friends and lovers. And each individual would be issued a baker’s dozen disciples (in case one goes bad).
So mediocrity is greatly sought after; and I myself occupy the front line of the phalanx of scientists roving the globe in search of it. For if our planet’s climate swings out of control—which is to say: if it turns sublime—it will ruin all the forms of life that depend upon the weather remaining humdrum. Yet it seems to me that life shall endure past even the worst of unpredictable circumstances (I believe that life survives black holes and wormholes or whatever you can throw at it; but I also believe that all things are, at some level, “alive”; so my opinions in this regard are fairly cheap); howbeit, as the chaos of the environment increases, the complexity of the life that persists decreases. Thus complexity exists in inverse proportion to chaos. That’s the rule for living beings, as it were. And I’m a fan of complexity in life, as I am a fan of sublimity in art. That’s why I want my external, physical environment to be boring, soft, reposeful, predictable, mediocre—this allows the life of my MIND to enjoy exuberance. It’s interesting to note that, say, bacteria can subsist on a planet that features nonstop lightning storms and lava explosions; but merely to stay alive should not be our goal:
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little…
We should aim not only to experience but to articulate adventures. (The above quote is from Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” by the way.) Or I’d even change articulate to EMBELLISH, because I’m a fan of good liars.
But there needs also to be a balance, even in daily physical existence, between mediocrity and sublimity. If one’s life is TOO mediocre, one becomes mushy, lumpy & lackluster. The digestive system welcomes a little roughage. If you don’t chew on a bone or on some tree bark, your fangs will grow until they curve back and pierce your own neck!
My father’s father used to sit on the davenport all day and just cuss and fuss and daydream about baseball. My own father used to sit on the front porch all day and half-listen to neoconservative talk radio. So I fear that I’ll continue this grand family tradition by reclining on my sofa all day and reading poetry. Therefore, today I changed my lazing-station: I moved downstairs — currently I’m writing this entry on my bed. It’s a strange feeling, writing in the bedroom: it’s totally sublime here, very dangerous and new. My repose has been broken, no more blessed mediocrity; no more bookcases to my right and to my left to keep me company, like oblong wooden cherubs guarding my paradise. Now I’m confronted with the sight of female undergarments strewn about the decor, and an old silver boombox.
But the real reason I had to move downstairs today, dear diary, is that the atmosphere in the upper level of our townhouse was foul and corrupted. Three things contributed to this disaster: (1) the lilac bush underneath the west-side window was gushing its scent more hotly than usual today; (2) the landscaping service was mowing the lawn, and there are weird weeds growing throughout the common lot of our complexes—weeds not yet discovered by Science—which give off a strong scent when they are cut: like sour chives, if you can imagine that; (3) the neighbor whose place is adjacent to ours (and who is a great guy, by the way—I say this in case he’s reading) was cleaning his grill by setting it ablaze and letting clouds of thick gray smoke follow the airstream straight through the screen of our sliding door. So when I woke and ascended the stairs, I could barely see anything through the smog. I’m surprised it didn’t set off the fire alarm. A thick foggy haze pervaded the entire living room and the whole top floor of our abode, like it was the first day of creation.
In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew… there went up a mist from the earth, and aggravated the whole face of the ground.
That’s from Genesis (2:4-6; although I changed the word “watered” to “aggravated,” just to be sinister): another bad habit I’ve acquired is quoting the Bible; and always the same few favored passages. I need to branch out, read more varied books… watch a sports game… I would start smoking a pipe, but I’ve heard that’s unhealthy; the last thing I want is to come down with some easily avoidable disease.
To die is to move from a complex state to a simpler one… Or is it? Maybe living as one particular human is like fixating on a pinpoint, just an atom of your super-dimensional being. But the immortality of God is also a bad habit, so it’s good that the Big Bang broke our deity down into less-complex pieces; for the flamboyance that we’re gaining by suffering though this topsy-turvy deathscape will really improve our disposition when Finnegan wakes.
The place where the rainbow ends: is it dust or treasure? Or is dust a hidden treasure, part of a cycle of ecstatic transformation?
I used the singular—now I see why Joyce chose the plural: it might be a call to us all: “Finnegans, wake!” That preserves the godhood of each of individual while allowing for the onward, outward increase of the world’s sum divinity. I’m now thinking about the mirror scene from Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai (1947)… But here’s an unrelated quote from an encyclopedia:
In this animated American television series, a team of astronauts pilot a giant Super Robot known as “Voltron: Defender of the Universe.”
By the way, I like to drink from the kind of glass that has thick sides, which magnify its contents: for I then believe that I’m getting more bang for my buck. A little psychological manipulation goes a long way with me. I’d be easy to hypnotize—either that or impossible. To compensate for my natural shyness and sensitivity, I yearn to be thought of as a man who eats BIG, drinks BIG, lives BIG… A consummate epicurean.
The “father of fornicationists,” a primordial man, has met the dust; but the rainbow, sign of the promise of his renewal, now emerges.
Those words are from page 33 of my copy of A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake by Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson. I was looking for a different quotation but couldn’t find it, and that one caught my eye, so it’ll have to do.
Finnegan. Albion. Adam Kadmon. THE KRAKEN. (I’m only free-associating here – it’s not my intention to imply that there’s any real connection between these ideas.) Metatron. Prometheus. Lucifer. Lilith. Yahweh.
Now I’m out of time, so I’ll end with a terrifying line from the coldhearted book of Revelation (11:7)…
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
No, on second thought, I’ll steal my own last line from the last line of another poem by Lord Tennyson. Here’s the end of “The Kraken”:
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
The reason I would make a bad chef is that, after using a knife to cut any food whatsoever, I could never resist the urge to lick the blade.