Life in Hypertext
Performance and Freedom:
by Jammin Fulltime
unpolitical essays from the state of living
The Liberty Tree
Today, at my old homestead, thinning the
apples on the Liberty tree, then typing about it while standing at my
old workbench in the woodshed--trying to get my fingers around or through
the squeezed chiclet keys on my new
p.d.a.--I pondered: is the medium
really the message? The trees do need pruning, but do I opt for one
or two fruits per spur? So many decisions...meanwhile there's this elusive
colon, comma or mark of apostrophe to hunt down, every couple of words;
and too many branches are competing for leaders. Does it even bear saying
that all life is here? While freedom becomes choked in chaos and confusion,
performance cuts through in selective motion.
If all life is here then can I stand in
front of a microphone in a public room among men to say that I cried
for my father, then drive home smiling to my new wife? Can I throw in
the bit about my boyhood baseball heroes, or the current rank growth
of weeds in the orchard? Are there parallels and insights, observations
of birds or other technical specifications, that would serve better
to drive this tub of wild-eyed, tender-hearted adventurers we call "the
group" to share our feelings on the subject and so add to the general
level of interest? Is
anybody dancing? That's what I
call the relevant question.
Stage or campfire,
tipi or outhouse, I dare to call it performance of the soul.
If I am to write or sing or play
or jump in the river, it might be a little risky, even uncalled for,
but isn't it true that as among friends we are all equals, siblings
to the cause of harmonious
Leadership, stepping out, even speaking takes a choice to move. It means
being willing to cut a path
through the uncaring tangle, because not to do so is to turn to compost,
or grow only snarled up in the vines. Performing freely, in any sport
of life, means being ruthless, even with oneself. It's the path
of quick decisions, with the longer view in mind.
Napoleon himself couldn't have smiled more
napoleonic than my personal healer, who brought me laughing to my father.
Dad like Nap killed kairserlings by the score, or was it only industrial
targets? Whatever the objective it seems to me that the man game has
it this way: it's the bucking up to the task that counts, and the getting
support from the other guys in the process. In the locker room, the
board room, the frat house and hunting party, the blues jam and dugout, we find the huddle of men conferring, and in
the sweat the voice comes out in a low timbre, only now:
"Men, this is my feeling."
Performance: Dad $ Co.
"First of all, this is what happened
with me. I needed to get to the bottom of all the feelings of frustration,
and need, that I had in relation to my father. Going there was torture:
I didn't want to go. I went kicking and screaming--like I used to
do when they wanted to give me shots, or take me away to school. I
yelled at the singer on the tape, yelled at my father till I laughed.
"There I did contact our laughter
together: one of the more positive parts of our relationship. It was
a deep, rollicking, cackling laughter. It satisfied and released that
deepest, malest part of me: joyous in our dark unbounded nature.
"I found through the rage and laughter,
that my feelings of need unfulfilled by my father were as deep in
me as the infant needs I found before in relation to my mother, after
a premature birth.
"This was the other half, the missing
"I had thought I was doing fine,
having gone through that earliest level of grief, and surviving. But
I learned and experienced this emotional path only with women--a woman
counselor, and women partners--and I forgot about the other half.
"Now with men, when I am sharing
these emotions, this pain and release and discovery, openly, deeply,
to the bottom, I am grateful. I am aware, in this process, of coming
to see the male energy at its source, and to feel its power in me,
regardless of the role modeling, the absence or the presence of a
father as I was growing up.
"There's no beginning to that pain,
that energy, when the blocks that hide it finally break apart, and
such clear light comes through--the black and blinding energy of the
universe itself. And when I open my eyes, and come back to the group
of men around me, of equals, feeling the power we have, of this creative
energy, I'm glad to be a part of you. I'm glad to share with you;
I'm glad to feel the fatherhood of all of you for me, and me for all
of you, a kind of co-fatherhood, call it Dad & Co."
The Message of the Medium: Freedom
This performance is about life, and I don't
like playing oldies. Let's be real about today. Choosing the typeface
or dressing for the weather, it's all about being part of the flow,
and what's more, diving into it.
The deeper you go, the broader it gets.
No more boundaries.
It's all connected.
It all, as good friend Ezra said, "coheres."
The Net is the path it moves on now. We
move on, connected link by link. Our brain is the computer brain is
the program brain is the media brain is the global brain. We concoct
here in our multi-brained mastery of the malleable form, books,
and directories of myriad
selections, file associations, also unlogged but faint-traced memory
lapses and random sparkings of creative
serendipity, yes and a few good steady citizens among the mix. Once
inside, really inside, there is no more substance called "skin,"
really--but a field of osmosis...discharge...exploration...contact.
The news is in the making. Your making,
my making, our making together.
The browser window is a perfect metaphor for what we face, in the moment.
A record of past effort, a list of options to jump to. The pixels as
they are. Each link represents a dozen or a hundred others, on the first
level. Like network marketers the page of words builds residual income
from its vast and endless web of associations, pyramiding outward forever,
circling back on itself, feeding on the energy of circulation. Like
a one-pointed drain to the collective garbage dump of all creation past,
the moment empties at full speed everything we stop seeing, and everything
we're seeing now. It is frozen there in archival view forever: or until
the next universe hires new umpires or changes the rules. Meanwhile
a future swirls through the numberless galaxies of space which is to
say time, where present light is our vision of the past, and we are
Since the personal is no longer imprisoned
behind boundaries of leaders, line-judges, formulae and books of rules,
there is a vast increase in the amount of energy exchanged. Personal
webpages connect to the world's biggest bookstores,
both ways. Visions and dreams and self-published
revelations are the fare of the
day now, not consigned to midnight, moonlight hours or closet journals.
Our faces are not necessarily
displayed wearing only one team hat: we are traded, if fate wills it,
several times in a season. Demoted, given a place in the Hall of Fame,
whatever. It doesn't much matter, to the scorekeeper in the toll-booth,
Where is the university when we need it, to decide for us where to go and what to
do? The publishing house, with its armed guard of business-school editors?
The army itself, to take us away (Shhhh! Not too loud; they might get
Cheap Tricks and Other
Anyone not comfortable with this section
needn't feel obliged to follow. There can be any number of links
to depart from, advance booking not necessary, and some return flights
allowed if desired.
Cut to STAGE, where
COMIC stands sans ms, AUDIENCE laughing like packs of drugged hyenas,
COMIC says crack about how his life is just so busy, and as soon as
he gets a break to relax a little, some relative ups and dies and
he's got a funeral to go to. AUDIENCE hesitates just a half a moment,
then resumes hyenic laughing. COMIC flicks cigarette ash, gives Jack
Benny smirk, and says, as if to Rochester, "They're laughing."
OFFSTAGE we hear clatter of hardware; then two German WWII SOLDIERS
enter with machine gun on tripod. They set up CENTER STAGE and point
it at the AUDIENCE. AUDIENCE is no longer laughing. Some have already
made their move toward the exits. One dies choking on popcorn. One
reports on laptop, the result of which you now see before you...UH--
Back in the Running
You see, there's no turning back, once you
jump in. It's like the computer revolution. You think we're gonna throw
them out the window and go back to rubbing sticks? Think again. Maybe
for boat anchors when the next generation of processors comes out. Then,
only one way to go: Upgrade.
with pencils die slow, peaceful deaths on country estates.
Me, I like to play it both ways--just to
My budget report, by the way, consists of
the following statement: I have money to live on, and more coming in.
Don't we all find this true? It's all a matter of degree. But working
for a living: now there's a constant rub. What fire leaps up in these
sticks of bones, this fat to burn?
Professionalism is perhaps the issue. There
is also the matter of lost links, threads to continue, associations
to reinvest in. A
steady beat? Try the rainbow tribe,
past midnight. It could be...unpredictable.
No leaders...not even band leaders? Now that
can get dangerous. It sounds an awful lot like anarchy. Or isn't there
another ancient practice known as democracy? In a quaint and faraway land...
Back to business. There is a season underway,
and every game counts. What I was trying to say, all along, was this:
This is the game. It doesn't end after nine innings, or at 12:00, or
when somebody hits a home run. It doesn't end with a wild pitch or a
squeeze play. It ends when we end, individually or in teams, as it happens.
Meanwhile there's batting practice every day, and laps to run; team
meetings, hotels to check into, meals to eat, trainers to see, videos
to study, charts to remember. Notes and observations to share about
the other players. Time to make a big impression--to please the crowd.
Time to Focus
This lonesome reporter on the farm scene
can only document one bushleague-soulful game. The point of contact
is always in motion: sometimes frozen, sometimes anticipated, but these
by turns only elements of a longer rhythm. It's a 24-hour
drum jam, with interludes of nighttime
tapping, or breaks outside to hear the ravens do their part. There is
always fresh material to report, and it comes from anywhere
at all. The funnel of the world comes pouring through in thin stream
of text or color, to be swirled gently or briskly as the case may be,
and sent, transformed, on its way back out the way it came. The funnel
without and the funnel within, that we connect with the tunnel of thought
and vision, we access as through a shaft into a mine, to bring out the
riches of what our inner earth has worked for us.
Deeper and darker inside is beyond wealthy,
it's where the gold turns to shit, and jeweled fruits return to compost.
Where carriages become pumpkins, and leaders monkeys--or worse, monsters.
What is the value in this? Look deeper still.
Dreams, these can be helpers or demons.
Bring them to the light.
Or like the legendary murderer-turned-monk
Milarepa, invite the demons into your cave for tea.
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