There is little in popular culture that attracts me. I do not know if it has to do with middle age or with growing spiritual awareness. I avoid it and mainstream media, because they upset my peace of mind, which I value highly.
I don’t watch television. Truthfully, I should say I watch it very rarely. I used to be allergic to it. I couldn’t sit still in front of the machine. Videos online used to have the same effect. They made me squirm uncontrollably. That changed. I can physically sit in front of the TV now and watch, but I honestly hate most of what I see. It’s garbage. Recently, I watched the short series Vicious starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi on PBS. I enjoyed that. It was well done. I have not seen anything else in many years, and in my opinion, I’m fine. I haven’t missed a thing.
I can’t read pop fiction. I like reading, and I spend a lot of time doing it. I read books that interest me. I recently finished Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon for the umpteenth time in the last thirty years. Seriously, I have read it too many times to count. It’s good. I recommend it. Right now, I’m reading two books about reaching the spirit world through ritual body postures. The books are fascinating. One is Ecstatic Body Postures by Belinda Gore, and the other is Where the Spirits Ride the Wind by Dr. Felicitas Goodman. I also read a lot about theatre, acting, and directing for the stage. I read good books. Please, don’t get me started on James Patterson.
I don’t watch the news from mainstream media. Yes, I am very much an American, but I get most of my news from BBC and The Guardian. I like the new news website Vox very much.
I never have the radio on in my car. I can’t tell you anything about pop music. I have wide-ranging tastes in music, but they tend toward lyrical and classical. I recently started listening to the British singer Sam Smith. He’s very good.
I like the artist Andy Warhol’s quote very much:
Once you ‘got’ Pop, you could never see a sign again the same way again. And once you thought Pop, you could never see America the same way again.
I love art, and I’ve seen some signs that were truly high art. There was one for a liquor store on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas, Texas, that was spectacular. It was like a space ship landed on the corner with lights blinking and exploding all over the place. It was gorgeous. Yes, I like the pop art of Andy Warhol. I’m contradictory. Forgive me.
I love America, too. It’s messy. Sometimes there are ugly bits that force their way into view, but on the whole, America is all right. I’m an optimist. Forgive me.
I’m thinking about me today. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have read Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon over the last thirty years or so too many times to count. Last night as I lay in bed drifting into sleep, I began to question why.
The book has been a companion to me. It’s been with me everywhere. I’ve read it in bed, in easy chairs, in trains and planes, and on the beach. It’s frustrated me and comforted me. It has assailed me with riddles, and it has spoken clear words of encouragement.
I’m rereading it now, and its message seems so distinctly simple.
Yes, there is a lot we don’t control about our world. Yes, there are powerful forces who exert control over vast amounts of energy, and They are not friendly. However, those elites do not hold quite as much control as They imagine. They are not omniscient.
Resistance is real, and it works. We can play the part of double agents, living in Their systems and simultaneously sabotaging them.
Connection is key. The elite divide us. We must come together. We can touch each other, and They can’t stop us. Through small acts, we can thwart Them, and we win when we do.
Their systems – the rocket – crave sacrifice. They destroy. But even that technology of death connects. The launcher and the dying are one in the flight of the rocket.
What can we preterite do in the face of such radical destruction? Look to our hero Slothrop. We can narrow our Delta-t band. Live as much now, leaving the past and the future to Them. Live! It’s the thing that scares Them most.
* * *
Why do I read Gravity’s Rainbow?
My relationship with the book is about my relationship with myself. I can see myself maturing as I have read it over and over. I discovered me in its pages.
I have read passages that utterly confused me. They were times I did not know my own way through the world. I have read dream sequences with tangled words, and I have felt peace. These were times I was grateful for the turmoil around me. I saw the path through the rubble of my life.
I have no illusions before me as I read it now. I am one with myself, and the pages dissolve as I turn them. The words register and leave their impressions, and I smile.
The book is complex, but so is the world They have made for us to pick our ways through. We must each bring our dead as we join the resistance, and we must touch each other. We must bare our skin and open to our lashes we lay on ourselves. We must own our selves. We must touch.