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A Life in Hypertext


In which the magnus opus begins, perhaps, or it doesn't matter: but that this is a point of entry, a secret or not tunnel into that underworld in which all the writings, files are one, all connected as the organ-chambers, the circulatory system or nerve-network of the life this Life, whether daily journal, reading or writing journal, spiritual journal or treeplanting log . . .

This file or entry being the key: just another key, that is, on the infinite chain of being. And the plot skein unraveling or raveling as you will from this point, namely the search and finding of organization or purpose or motivating center, the basic raison d'etre for the telling of story: dramatic tension being the somewhat romantically ironic search for decisionary teeth in this project, this direction or life-core, the search for meaning and personal validity, in that sense universal, and in my case applied to this vain or not pursuit of a pattern, a way to tell, a voice, an identity, a soul, a friend, a long or short-distance listener in a time of lying (fiction) or truth.

And all the journals, all the logs and diaries, all the troughs and crests and forced entries and exuberant overspillings are pieces of it; all tell of the struggle, which is that (or like that) of life, or Life.

All the fictions, dreams, though some might be actual-born and have their own lives as well. Here I might at least tell about them, whether contained herein or born free of this work to live independent lives. I the hunter, the collector of works written and unwritten, the confessor of words both bright and serious, which is, Henry, the attitude toward life which is complete and true for me. Both self-absorbed and self-effacing. All things to all men. Not that all will appreciate--it's a personal taste thing. Of course and all right. But to proceed. There is a certain level of confidence attained, a threshold of battery-charge to set the pistons thumping, sparking. Then we're on our way.


The plot sequence winding, unwinding, from any point forward or back. To ramble along the way with digressive loops, embellishments of the organic rhythm machine, and to come back to the tale--composed of loops too and wondering where the thread is--dangerous waters there--where is this madman taking us in his little boat, his finger on the button . . .

But we trust him. Wherever he's going--perhaps that's the mystery, the divine mystery. The I Ching principle of randomomeny applied to plot construction, character development, theme-choice and word-inspiration. Mood swings, triggered by association. Beware. Yet . . .

To coddle the madness of digression, humoring it. My mad friends. Worthy human beings, with stories to tell. The sane listener, nodding, enjoying. This is real life, value there, here. The yowling cat, crunching its jaws as Sonia on the phone complains about her just-severed boyfriend slurping hot soup too noisily. "And what will we do with all our funky leather things?"

Bury, burn, black market? She raids the dollar-a-pound ragshops and resells the designer outfits to consignment stores for a cool few hundred a month. Dreams of creating more funky leather fashions for the burgeoning Boston S & M trade. Trips to Thailand and Java for fabric imports. To Turkey for cheap thrills . . .

Hide nothing. Is sex the necessary thread? Yes and no. The but not the only. This or that, as a principle of order.

The quest for art: the coherence of parts, in scale. The natural lumping of paragraphs, akin to universal creation. Matter congealing, planets, molecules, life . . .

Orderly systems evolving: seeking the great beauty which reveals itself in the perhaps inconsequentially random spilling out of order . . . that Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, for instance, all have a part in the whole, a band in the rainbow of Sun. A magnus opus of a different order, part of a greater unwritten galaxy, too far as yet for such detailed contemplative appreciation except as distant whirling arms of white light. Too far, that is, Until the inner or outer telescope reaches there. And then . . .

More worlds to explore. The science of fiction.

This is lit crit, autobiography, essay, journal, spiritual exercise, home-wiring for the literate contemporary reader. A little bit of English for the third world child in all of us. A primer in the modality of it all. A holographic survey of an articulated experience unfolding. A time travel in human terms. Forward, back . . . flexible to the organic truth-holding of it all. The spherical shaping of the skein. Ball to thread, thread to ball, winding, unwinding. Umbilical cord, death-shroud, cat-toy, home wiring . . .

And in this search, if I postulate Search as being the prime modality, I stand to lose said thread. What then?

More's the drama, as I seek to find it again. And research its secret adventures, in the byways of the larger heart which is the chamber of the world. The red thread, beating, pulsing with the greater pulse, the throb of being.

Again the question of fiction/nonfiction is gone beyond as all boundaries are herein/therein transcended. Transcended as in the saying of herein/therein, because even as I say here it becomes there. I become he, an other. Father-Mother-other to my self-child. This the birthing, the unwinding of thread from my heart, the ball of my string my life being my time my exploration in this cave of life. Unwinding, to find my way forward and back.

To depart sometimes into the lives of my alterego children still lying in fetal chambers within, sleeping, kicking, gestating.

He said this, thought that, moved a knee . . . Or she . . .

The spark of life already, now ignited. Not to turn back until it (he-she) this child, is delivered into the world. Unraveling into hearts of others, winding around those organs beating, carrying messages child-telephone-toy style into those nervous systems, pulsing other blood systems into this frequency as by drum group or radio, harmonics twinkling on the strings.

Jangling, wailing, echoing through the fuzz-box of the brain, wagging in the wah-wah of the tongue, the hungry baby all of us any is. The thread of milk, squeezing sucked out of the breast, nourishing, sweet and fresh blue-white, silken in its fineness, warm to the touch.

Polished later, as in photographic art or sculpture, memorialized. Bronzed for the ages. Yet pulsing, within. Leaving some discord for the tension of irresolution, the blues chords crying.

We seek the groove, the unifying pulse. If only in the rhythm, the actual literal even bass beat of the music of the words themselves, lyrical word-meaning aside, the music in the beat, the flow, the rap a tap tap of the keys.

That tenor is not monotonous, but has melody too. These instruments can sing as well as dance. They can even speak, when they have a mind to. All of it, I say, is a song, or rather a collection of lines within songs within albums of experience, all here-collected, the output in one big bundle . . .

The photographic angle works simultaneously, appealing to the eye which perhaps is the majority sense touched in reading, as even Swinburne found out to the imagists' delight. Thus we see a mounting wave of vignettes, scene-setting, scriptwriting.

Dialog that's pithy, vernacular.
Snippets of thought--sketched for effect.
Frames of action.
Short sentences, descriptions of face and body, movement and background.
Sterile, unmoving, life on stage.
Stopped time.
Breaks in the music, like stop-action music videos.
The use of black and white stills in the fast moving slide show.


Glimpses of the band, the boys in the band backstage.
When the music's over, in the dark room.
Only candles burning, red lights on.
And the cool blue ones, for effect.
The planet of the blue sun, the hot red sun.
On the beach, at midnight.

What happens next, she asked?

I don't know. I honestly don't know. Will I go fishing, swimming, playing baseball like a kid? Go back to bed and f- or whatever the f- you say to use the word f- without sounding so f- coarse . . . go on to writing something serious and safe, a short or long programmed or formula ditty for the mass paperback trade? All of this says be unafraid.

But it's not the fear; it's just, doc, this chronic indecision. Y'see, I'm waiting for these books to arrive, how to be highly effective, how to make decisions, how to fly time's arrow backwards and so on, and in the meantime all my other Dr. Ching will tell me is be creative, after all these years he finally tells me what I want to hear, not once but twice in a row, see, for summer and for the whole forty-second year of this bleedin life, and I don't know what to do with it, know what I mean? I mean, and I have this fortune inherited, a guy calls up, my supervisor Brian, and says, what, Don't you want to go back to work, are you independently wealthy or something, and I say, well, yeah . . . and yet, what do I want with it? I don't know--there are so many, too many possibilities. I could, you know, travel--and there alone is a whole world of choices, I needn't even bother outlining here, just look in the atlas--and then there's retirement, staying here I mean not spending any more than necessary, so that I can write, say, about all the places I can imagine going to but don't have the time or money to visit all of, I mean really visit, you know, or live there--because I only have one life, and to spend more of it (it's the time, see, which is more the issue than the money) than I need to on any one activity, in any one country, on any one obsession--it's like the man who can't decide which woman he wants--or woman, or man who or woman who can't decide whether he or she wants to be a or be with a man or woman--or dog, or horse, or sheep, whatever.

Like the little Himalayan boy who in the bardo in the story book is given all these choices for the next existence.

It's like that every moment for me.

Who to be, where, doing what?

It could be anyone, anywhere, doing . . . whatever.

Let me count the ways I've tried. Just this month, for instance: treeplanting, fishing, swimming, drumming on the beach, jamming at the hall, writing, reading, making love, playing with my kid, playing computer games, gardening, cooking, washing dishes, cutting firewood, taking down the original homestead fence, dreaming, going to town, soaking in hotsprings, working at the hall, having a party, meditating, doing yoga, jogging, not yet hiking . . .

Repairing the washing machine, alternator and sliding screen door . . .

Losing and gaining hope, talking with old friends on the phone, and my dead parents' lawyer, and my sister and brother, scratching my cat . . .

A million things, to be honest, and for what?--this is the despairing mode. The exulting mode is to say, for this: the breathing, centering, gating, loving answer to every question, the this, the the. The genuine, so to say, article. The real f- thing.

But what is it? For anyone, anything. For me, this thing, this communication. Expression, impression, depression, lesson and lesion, legion and religion, reason and beleaguerin, needful and beautiful.

Harmony, dissonance.

The charm of periodic (never say ultimate, except in raptures of groundless faith) resolution. Ultimate all right in the sense of immediacy rooted in the eternal. The timelessness of the flower snapshot. The quickness of death, the quick beat of the pulse right now alive. Resolution even--and perhaps especially--in such vital basic terms, such elemental matters. Plot reduced to life and death struggle, not out there, no imagined mystery, but the universal mystery of life and death, its maintenance origin destiny and all manner of appreciation for it, its uniqueness in human or any other form, its to-be-savored beauty all of a piece, which is after all (or is it?) our projected sense of order and coherence and organic form: no, deeper, there I venture to say and is this human pride and arrogance or humble awed reverence to say that yes even without us there is order and harmony and beauty and nice coherence. It is a principle of nature, after all, and to savor is perhaps the one most uniquely human feature, to see and say wow, look at it. Listen. Isn't it wonderful? Not tritely, but truly . . .

Yet to portray and herein celebrate Life implicitly, can do more justice to its true appreciation than to attempt to say in greeting card fashion,

"Wow, isn't it wonderful?"

7:00 a.m. sharp. Begins a Sunday.
This my meditation, my bread and wine.

July 19, 1992 / May 16, 2000

© Nowick Gray


Prefaces and Introductions Without End
- By Nowick Gray

Fiction and Nonfiction
Performance and Freedom
On Autobiography
Keyword Matrix
The Program
Public and Private
Willingness: A Life Aesthetic
Invocation: The Hunt
Yet Another Preface
Wordwebs: Core Topics
Story of My Life

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