Sunday, March 30, 2014

Militant Vegan

While recounting an old story to a new lady in my life, I stumbled upon a new realization.

The story was; when I was 20 and living near the intersection of Buena Ave and Broadway in Chicago, I was on my way home from class one evening and almost suffered an attack to my head.

It was 6ish or 7ish and it was dark out because it was winter. A well dressed black man was walking up the sidewalk from the opposite direction. He slowed up, looking at me, like he recognized me. I slowed too thinking I might try and recognize him in return. He kept looking at me, then said "I should fucking kill you right now!" He next swung what looked like a metal faucet piece. I ducked just in time, the whoosh was a loud one. Relief was a loud one too; it didn't connect with my skull. I ran away from him shouting every single curse word I could think of until I got into the foyer of my building and rushed up to my apartment. 

When my breathing calmed, I called the police because I remember thinking, if I wind up dead I want them to have a suspect. Two police officers came, we filled out a police report. They told me to not take it personally, that there was a mental health facility nearby that was pretty come-and-go, some of their folks wandered around the neighborhood. I didn't so much take it personally, I didn't think that was the point.

Many months later I think I did see that guy again. I was waiting for a southbound Redline train, and I could see him across the tracks waiting for a northbound. I looked at him but he didn't look at me. I doubted that he remembered doing it, but I kept on looking, curious if there would be any sign of remembrance. Or guilt.

The new realization was this: at the time of the attempted assault, I was carrying home some food from the KFC around the corner. Something I had never considered before was that he could very well be a militant vegan sticking up for animal rights. Maybe it was personal. Maybe he was trying to permanently end my semi regular diet of meat. If this was it, then he would cease to be a bad guy in my book. I really like animals but don't have the courage to resist the barking of my taste buds. Perhaps I should listen the echoes of the past and their what-ifs. But I'm still just about to head off to the grocery store to pick up some meat to pan fry later this evening.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I've been a bit absent from here, but I also had a bit of a derecho in my life at the end of 2013. I'm glad to see the year has turned to a new one. I'm making a toast that bad karma has been drained, and good stuff will rush in as nice surprises. 

The Thursday before Christmas I came down with a flu that turned into a bad cough, one I thought was bronchitis as my live-in girlfriend at the time had bronchitis, and from what I understood of it, bronchitis is caused by a virus, rendering antibiotics useless. In fact I read many bulletins online urging doctors not to prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis as to not unnecessarily fan on antibiotic resistance. So assumed I needed rest. I avoided going to the doctor because dragging myself there and back just seemed like it'd be painful. I did drag myself to Michigan to visit my family for the holiday. Hitching a ride with my brother passing through town, we hit snow and some slow roads. We arrived at my mom's at 5:30 am. I was unable to sleep in the back of the car. This didn't help the immune system's fight. Despite a lot of rest over the course of a week I wasn't getting better. I wasn't really sleeping even with NyQuil. I'd lay in bed and just couldn't get comfortable. I'd have these half dreams where I'd hallucinate things happening in the room. 

Finally when I arrived back in Chicago, way out of breath walking up the steps of Union Station, coughing my brains out, I decided to see a doctor. 

I actually went to the Target Clinic down the street from my apartment because it was closer than my usual doctor. They clipped things on my fingertips to measure my oxygen levels and listened to my lungs with a stethoscope. They were pretty sure I had pneumonia but sent me to an Immediate Care facility for a chest x-ray so we could get a full diagnosis. I went, waited two hours, they didn't even do a chest x-ray, just did the same tests as Target, and wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine. At first they didn't send the cough syrup prescription to the pharmacy next door, and so I pretended like maybe I misheard, because my ex-girlfriend had some left over cough syrup with codeine from her bout with bronchitis, so I was thinking, hey maybe I can save 10 bucks. But then the prescription arrived, a little late and separate from the antibiotic order. And then I thought it would be shady if I said, "I don't really need it, I have some already!"

The antibiotics were a huge help. Made a difference in just a few days at least terms of getting my mind back. I'll still be getting stuff up and out of the lungs for a little while longer and am slowly getting my strength back. I am on the mend. My voice is shot. I might start a Tom Waits cover band. Pneumonia is a beast. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I'm glad I'm fairly young and in decent health, because I can see how it can turn deadly for some. I'd describe it as it's like your lungs are hungover, borderline alcohol poisoning hungover, but instead of vomiting, you're hacking up lung butter. And you have that poison feeling, as your lungs are fucking infected.

The other bad thing that happened was: You'll notice I referred to an ex-girlfriend and "live-in girlfriend at the time." Yes, that happened. I got my heart broken by someone I spent 5 years building a life with. I'm not bitter, it was amicable.  Though it's a tough pill to swallow. But that's all I'm going to say about that. I suppose I have some personal shit to deal with that maybe shouldn't be on public display. 

I will not be putting a Christmas 2013 ball ornament on a tree.

Moving on to exciting things. I've had a couple of short stories published! 

"Never Chewed Gum Before" over at Metazen

"The Blood Pressure of a Scuba Diver" over at Literary Orphans

Please read them! I may be biased but I'm really really proud of them.

On my way home from work the other day the Blue Line train arrived, and more people exited the train than were in line to board, yet suddenly there wasn't enough room for all of us to get on. This didn't make sense to me, other than people are pretty selfish about their personal space on public transit. I was angry in my head, and as the train pulled away I found myself wishing that someone in that car shits their pants and makes it repulsive and stinky for the people that decided not to make room for others. I allowed myself some measure of vindictiveness that day.

I also allowed myself the treat of stopping off at PopEye's for dinner. I lost 20 pounds it seems while being sick and feel I should put on a little fat to keep me warm this winter. While eating, there was a woman a few tables down having a conversation with herself. But she also looked so happy, the happiest, friendliest schizophrenic I've ever seen. It was like she had a great companionship going with the unseen persona. This reminded me that happiness is possible in fucked up circumstances. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New micro fiction called Puppet Barf

New micro short of mine published over at the Other Otter, a piece called:

Puppet Barf

I read it the other night at our Pungent Parlour reading series and felt good that people thought it was funny, I thought they'd be like "what the fuck was that shit." Glad it's got a home now. Some slight bathroom humor going in it, so it's not safe for reading during a meal, or as everyone is saying now, NSFRDM.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Two Dollar Radio & Film Moves

One of my favorite small presses, Two Dollar Radio, is preparing to make some films. Two years ago I read The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich and it helped change the way I think about literature. Not right away. My first read of it, though charged with some enjoyment, felt like work, and at the time I wasn't in the frame of mind where I necessarily appreciated hard work in my reading life. That changed after I finished the book, a few months passed where it somehow was still digesting and decompressing in my subconscious. The desire turned up to revisit it. And looking at myself as a writer at the time I felt like a fraud. For a long time I was focused on telling clever stories. Whereas there isn't anything wrong with a fun yarn and a clever twist, I wasn't exploring and challenging myself with the fresh palette of the page. I was bound by old expectations of what I thought good novels should be. I wasn't handling language as a fine craft. Reading the book again moved me to reinvent myself as a writer, to explore personal landscapes and handle language with a finer point of respect and reverence and reshaping. So I credit this book as an important one in my development as a reader and a writer.

Then this past summer I read Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan and I had to do a double take because I didn't know sentences could be so lean and efficient yet saturated with personality. 

I have some other Two Dollar Radio books on my shelf queued up and am already counting potential Christmas money I haven't received yet to load up on some of their newer titles that have intrigued me, like Jeff Jackson's debut novel Mira Corpora. 

As the books of theirs I've read have been like the introduction of strange delicacies I never knew existed, I'm excited to see what they do with the medium of film. They already have an enviable handle on narrative and voice. In the age where Syd Field formulas have rusted many movies, and people's expectations of how a movie should be paced, I welcome and anticipate what they may be projecting in the realm of digital cinema, and how it may change us as movie viewers.

For anyone that stumbles on my little blog here in the next couple of days, consider tipping them in advance at their indiegogo campaign so they can make the first round. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What Rips, Bangs, and Burns?

Sometimes I feel like money dwindling in my bank account is like some sort of a cancer, some abnormality draining cell counts, sucking, withering. Life force is bolstered by the cash stuff. 

Money feels like this burning acid that eats through my wallet and I’d like to think of it more like a soothing balm, something sticky, minty fresh that accumulates as a pungent whiff. I wonder if there's a simple approach to how one views money, eh? If it does feel like an acid, yes, it will eat away, but if one looks upon it as some sort of nice ointment, well there you go, it releases a sort of green endorphin that triggers the brain to make actions that result in sudden pulses of cash stuff. There are so many programs out there that teach you how to get rich, but the thought of sitting down and turning off thought in a sort of sickly gleeful worship of cash flow makes money all the more feel like a heap of dried, chunky vomit in one's pocket. There seems to be something skewed in these programs, because the practitioners are getting rich teaching people to be rich. What is the real cultural value? Maybe that's what turns me off, culture and substance have been flattened with cliches and over charged motivation. What goes up must come down, there's a cliche for you I know, but that's gravity. And that's what I've experienced from any Zig Ziglar dabble I've had in the past. You're pumped in the morning, by the end of the afternoon, a bitterness starts to rain down on your head.

I've begun reading this book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman and it examines the self help industry, and the often times reverse effects. For instance, statistically people who buy a self help book buy another one within 7 months. Did that first one even work? But the thing that resonates with me is the idea of embracing uncertainty, bathing in insecurity as a way to uncover actual growth as a human being. Stare your flaws and shortcomings in the face as a way to find a way around those obstacles. Learn from them. Sap power from anxiety by letting it rip through as obscene jitters. There's a tyranny in the self help world of THINK POSITIVE THINK POSITIVE THINK POSITIVE and if you don't do that constantly then you're a grump destining yourself for failure. But the world has harsh fluctuations, and I wonder how we can solve problems if we don't study them, dive into the darkest shit and to come back with scars and a thicker skin.

I'm excited by articles like this - Why Iceland Should be in the News but Is Not - where despite declaring bankruptcy are finding solid progress by shunning international banking and reforming their constitution through an all inclusive participatory democracy, making use of that there internet to engage input. Fascinating! That 1) the internet can be used for constructive discussion in politics instead of just pumping pundit badgering and goading. 2) Since money is made up to begin with, money doesn't stem as an actual resource from the Earth, we have a lot of freedom in terms of reconstructing economies. So perhaps this can save me time in considering whether I should think of cash as an acid or a soothing balm and focus on creating systems of thought. The exchange. That's what it boils down to. A fair and active system of exchange. Like positive thinking putting up a blinder to actual solutions to problems, thinking about money tapes gauze to your eyes and slices paper cuts and takes your time away from actually doing interesting things that might result in a fee for your service.

My blood work came back recently from my first doctors visit in years. I have high cholesterol and high triglycerides. I've started to eat oatmeal for breakfast and dessert almost every day until it’s all good. I remember my triglycerides riding “sky high” back when I was 16 and was on Accutane for bad acne. They had to take me off the medicine pretty soon into treatment due to how it was affecting my triglycerides. I didn't really care what triglycerides were back then, but now I surf articles and animations about their function. I've seen a variety of infomercials for class action lawsuits for other afflictions in Accutane users, things like inflammatory bowel disease. Not yet. 

But, I am well, for I am not the gentleman I saw right after his bike t-boned a car. The remainder of my ride was cautious. Like a granny spinning wheels enough to stay upright. Eyes open. Don’t touch me. I’ll break. Survival of the fittest machine.

There were two girls who stopped with me at the site of the crash. One had an accent. Her boyfriend, she says, doesn't wear a helmet. As we looked on the puddle of blood left by the fallen biker. A helmet-less force. Two other gentlemen stopped. We all talked while the fallen was loaded onto an ambulance, which to his luck, happened to be cruising by. The hitter looked distraught but stoic. He paced. Waiting for the police. The other bikers and I continued to chat. It was the most social I've felt in a long time. At the scene of accidental vehicular brutality.

A second bike accident occurred three days later. Well, Vespa accident. I rounded the corner from George St., about to pull onto Elston but I saw this Vespa guy coming so I stopped. Then as he was passing through the intersection a white beater of a car made a left turn and the Vespa guy t-boned the front, and he flipped up and over the hood somersault style and smacked his forehead on the pavement. There must have a delay of pain, nerve needles of the sharper kind, because he stood, then his legs buckled and he bowed to the ground, pressing his head down into his hands. He asked “am I bleeding?” I said no. He wasn't. A bunch of people were already to his aide. A woman who was walking her daughter to school helped him down the ground. A guy got out of his car to help call 9-1-1 but the operator of a storefront drape shop I think it was, was already on it. On it before I could even pull my leg off my bike and approach the fallen. Another biker in a fluorescent yellow spandex shirt caught up to the scene and mentioned to me that the Vespa guy was driving like an asshole, weaving in and out of cars. Vespa guy also didn’t wear a helmet. I later did some testing of physics with my own helmet, simulating impact points and noticed both riders, had they been wearing a helmet, would have protected their heads from immediate concrete smackery.

I stuck around for a few minutes but the guy was well tended to, one was asking him questions to test his alertness. “What’s your name?” Simon. “How old are you?” 33. “Where do you work?” Verizon. (I changed some details as not to call out clues to his identity). He was conversing, but out of it. A concussion most likely. The lady with the daughter kept snapping her fingers to keep him from nodding off because he wanted to close his eyes.

Helmets. I will sing their praises. I will champion their cause. Protect the damn noggin my fellow bikers.

So cycling back (pun intended) to how I started this post, in talking money worries, and working my way up to bike accidents, I'm thinking heavy on what really, actually rips, bangs and burns us people. And money just seems to be a pathetic weapon yet we fear it more than any object. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chef Worship

The early religions may have been an unguided confused experiment with personality. Did the earliest upright humans have personalities? How did these evolve? 

The natural world; geological, botanical, and animal perform unpredictable behaviors.  The observing man casts these things, based on his emotional reaction, onto people in his life. A dangerous man is like a wolf. The ill-tempered man is a volcano. The animal may trot with a certain tempo, may have a mouth curvature like a smile. Our minds fill in patterns, things are compared to things. 

We of course ate these animals.

Flavor can be used interchangeably with personality.

Plants may have distinct smells, infusing a set atmosphere on the senses.

Things geological, botanical, and animal could either support life, or take it away.

Flavors tasted and fears provoked churn a spectrum of feeling. Feeling works its way into expression. Into story. Into tapestries and mythology, fueling the feeling and regurgitating power into worship. 

Taste gives a distinct character to something life sustaining. This has a most powerful effect on endorphins compared to any character one may read in a story. 

Things that sustain life, they are divine, right?

Flash forward to our "rational"-esque culture. We like to think we're objective, we're not savages worshiping sun and thunder gods. We have refined tastes. We eat at nice restaurants. And we celebrate personality. 

The chef tends to have a large personality. As we see on TV shows. The chef, like a fine renaissance artist, cultivates flavor through concoctions of foodstuff, life sustaining foods, and when flickered as an image in fire, or the TV set, invoked is a tendency towards reverence. The burning bush. Moses may have snacked on the mountain. We poke our plates in front of these intense cooking competitions.

We don't fear the character of lightning anymore. Unless we're out swimming. We're too busy practicing chef worship to concern ourselves with the elements. We're inside, eating, mmm, fucking good.

The ancient Gods were full of personality. Yahweh, what a loose cannon. Chef Gordan Ramsey, boy can he rip into you.

God is more-so a little tepid and faceless now, to balance monotheism with a touch of scientific reasoning. But we're back to our roots. Like a religious ceremony, food brings people together. And that bad-ass chef is on a higher plane, a colorful human being that is more holy than average office man munching.

Celebrities that make damn good food; our new pantheon.

The old testament God may have been a little too pissy for many to swallow (If only he made food though, we could all still swallow his presence). But a raging restaurateur on Iron Chef or the like is one that we fear. The parade of Instagramed pics of complex cuisine is a sign of devoutness: A commemorative kaleidoscope of foodie photos is a digital crucifix dangling necklace or Jesus fish young adults can get behind. An icon they'd proudly hang in their living room and adopt into their newly reinvented heritage. 

The styles, airs, ambiances and renderings of ethnic cultures may be a bleed over, an aftertaste influenced by native spices and seasonings. The early cooks that collectively contributed to the Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine, Mexican, and other food styles we love, were they revered in their communities as so?

We are what we eat; goes deep into our blood.

A mad respect, yes, is deserved though by the chefs. They bust their asses and appease our taste buds. 

Recently I learned how to make a sushi roll. It was a sloppy attempt, tasty however, and I felt like a creator. I was high on my own power and feeling full (of it).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Biker, the Blood Spiker

I like to think of my legs as part machine. When they're pushing against the spin cycle that gets me around.

My Uncle John found an old bicycle in his garage, asked if I wanted it, I said yes, he fixed it up. I've had two fairly nice bicycles in the city that have been thieved from me. The more recent one, two years ago, I believe I spouted off about it here. So I've been avoiding. Yet wanting. Then avoiding, wondering if I should invest in such a vehicle, and if were to, I'd imagine the ways I can make it into a beater with duct tape and spray paint so it looks less desirable to the pro bike burglar to pawn off on the market for cheap bikes. I had often thought about going about buying a cheap bike, then wondering if I'd be inadvertently buying someone else's stolen bike, so it put the whole thing on hold.

But this opportunity, this garage bike, this ancient machine from my Uncle's college days, having spun him around Houghton, Michigan up there in the upper peninsula, yes back in the day, this is the beater. 

I've also been itching to ditch CTA for awhile. Sometimes you need a break from public transit.

I've been biking to work for a few weeks and though I look like a bike messenger these days with my pants rolled up and bike gloves wrapping my hands, there's a ton of positives about this. 

I feel more energized in the morning, more focused, ready to get down to work.

I feel less anxious in the morning. There's always this anxiety I seem to absorb when riding the subway, like everybody's stress and worries about the day are wafting up and I'm inhaling this and it makes for an odd and inexplicable nerve wracking first hour of the day. I don't have that with my bicycling. 

It's 4.2 miles to work. So each day, I'm getting 8.4 miles of spin cycle cardio.

My commute has gone from 45 minutes to 22 minutes. 

It's a lot of damn fun.

Doing errands after work is kind of easier, as you can propel yourself in and out of different neighborhoods more fluidly than with transferring buses and waiting and transferring. 

It's a healthy thing, because in running some recent blood pressure checks, my blood pressure is on the high side. Biking is an integrated way to make sure I'm getting some exercise in the day. And as mentioned, feeling more energized in the morning, is putting me in a position where I can feasibly ween myself off coffee. Cutting back the 5 or more cup a day habit is, I think, a big step in getting this beast of a blood pressure score down. I'm 30 now, so this is the kind of thing I'm supposed to worry about. It is time.

Let's spin things morbid for a second. I've been thinking a bit about my own mortality, especially while riding my bike. For all of it's pluses, taking a spill could very well end it all. Yet, I don't feel frightened by it. I'm putting myself out there, getting where I need to go in an efficient, enjoyable way, that's life, yes? In fact, part of my lessened anxiety may be due to the notion that in comparison to the dangers of the road, whatever professional challenges I come across in the day are puny. 

So while riding to work on Friday, I was thinking about spooky stuff since it was the 13th. I thought about what if I wiped out and became a ghost. I thought about a prank I'd love to pull if I had the chance. I'd hang out in the kitchen when someone was baking something in the oven. Then I'd turn it off while they walked away to do whatever they do in between. When they come back and wonder why it's still cold, they'll notice the oven isn't even on. Then they'll think they're losing their minds! When they turn it back on, I'll turn it off again. Until they catch on. This may sound mean, and I do have a bit of a latent mean streak, but it's also harmless, and I think, hilarious.

Point is, we're all just messing around. Bikes. Blood. Ghosts. People. Getting around and getting ahead.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Freak Show

In a  couple of days we perform what will be one of our last Wood Sugars live sketch shows. For awhile. We have plans for the future. One of our members is doing some travelling. Over the past few years we've been doing bits at various Chicago bar-prov-esque venues such as Fizz Bar, The Underground Lounge, The Upstairs Gallery, Mullens. Many others. Usually we get a 10-15 time slot to do a handful of our sketches in the guise of a travelling freak show. Donny would host as Bosco Dunwitty Radriguez and introduce the acts such as "Attack of the Groomzilla" and the "TMI IT guy." Various puns on weird behaviors. We've developed and tried out an alternating line-up of these. The culmination of our comedic experiments came in the form of our first real writers room to create new bits. And then an hour long sketch show with an actual arc, these freaks take flight. You come to love them. Poignant moments help build the tension, then we aim cut it with sharp wordplay. Hey, here's a plug. Step right up to see Wood Sugars Freak Show Featuring Regular Adults

Recently I dined at Riverview Tavern with some family that was in town. A sort of mural adorned one of the walls outlining the old Riverview Park, an amusement park that used to be situated along the river in Roscoe Village, long since shuttered and built over. With the freak show on my mind, I remembered hearing of this while working an event several years back with the photography company I used to work for. It was someone's anniversary party. The green screen back drop they requested was of a carnival-esque rendering of the old Riverview Park. I'm not sure how it related to this older couple, perhaps they had a date there. At one point, an older woman recounted how horrible the park was, that there was an actual freak show there, how horrid she cried. Her passionate scoff resonated in my memory and is prompting me to do some research, some historical scholarship into nasty freak shows of olde in the Chicago area. Shit, I even want to do some hardcore research, this curiosity pique on curiosities, perhaps even going to the library, tooling around on a microfiche, late nights til closing (what, 7pm in Chicago Public Libraries?) like a self serious scene right out of All The President's Men. 

The findings will be in a different post. The show is so close, and the research bug could cause me to stumble upon more weird intrigue. The loop that comes with research. And so I give myself an extension on that part. For now, I'd like to share this article from WBEZ. Apparently Riverview Park caused some racial tensions with their "Dunk the N***er" act. Sheesh. That's just fucking rude. The real freak is the segment of Chicago's population that ate that shit like it was an innocuous family pastime.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Closer. For Tech Startups.

Earlier this year I saw the culture site Brain Pickings feature the book Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents by Ellen Ullman. There was a line of her's they quoted that struck me like a captivating trance:

"Soon the beautiful crystal must be recut. This lovely edge and that one are gone. The whole graceful structure loses coherence. What began in a state of grace soon reveals itself to be a jumble. The human mind, as it turns out, is messy...The messiness cannot go into the program; it piles up around the programmer...Soon the programmer has no choice but to retreat into some private interior space, closer to the machine."

Something about this resonated as I've been dabbling in learning code here and there throughout the year. Indeed my thinking has gotten messier since taking on developing this new skill, but reading bits and passages from Close to the Machine seemed to instill courage to heap on the messiness. In fact life probably never gets less messy, so let's bring it on.

This book has been on my to-read list for sometime and I finally cracked into it later this week. The text channeled in through my eyes like the fluid compulsion a programmer must feel when connecting to solutions long strained for. Close to the Machine reads like a well crafted novel. The sentence is precise. Beyond being a book classified in Technology or Memoir, is something that rings of literature, with swell philosophies that don't feel prattled but earned.

"I imagined I would show him into this music, the slow movement's aching play of major against minor, the intense miracle of logic which somehow, with all its precision and balance still burst with passion. 'Here is how I know God is a passionate engineer.'"

An odyssey of sorts as Ellen Ullman progresses her career as a software engineer, but also examines her own ability to relate to the human experience. Here it takes on the feel of a love story stripped of cliches and mushiness. Yes, there are bits about her relationships with men, and women. And parents. But the thread of love gravitates toward a love of career, and takes it deeper than anything else that focuses on the story of one's occupation.

"In the middle of the demo, I realized how fortunate we were to be engineers. How lucky for us to be people who built things and took our satisfactions from humming machines and running programs. We certainly wouldn't mind if the company went public and we all got fabulously rich. But the important thing was right in front of us. We had started with some scratchings on a white board and built this: this operational program, this functioning thing."

I hope progressions in technology bring along parallels in her train of thought, and perhaps we roll into an age where career obsession revolves more around function, and operating in some way that works, versus the ladder of wealth that gets the attention as one considers success in spite of sometimes stomping on desirable actions. Enter refinement of logic. Ullman, an admitted ex-communist, may not have shed those leanings, but seems to have refracted bits of communism through the blend of logic, and morals. As she questions a wealthy friend: "These men you advise - what do you think drives them? It has to be more than money; they already have a lot of money. What is it - what is inside of them?" Sometimes behavior can be debugged too. Yes I zeroed in and dragged in some mentions of communism. Before you go calling me a communist, I'm not one yet. But perhaps as I gain more courage to sift through and write code, I may learn to have the courage to extract bits from theories for the sake of contributing a unique line to something that works for the big damn machine that is this world we live in.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Reflection on Terence McKenna's True Hallucations

Terence McKenna fascinates me. After hearing him speak in some various YouTube clips, I found him an infectious lecturer and was curious to check out his writing. Now, I consider myself a "pseudo-pschonaut" in that it's been many years since I dabbled in any hallucinogens. My tendency toward anxiety makes that a tricky pursuit. But I've long been interested in lucid dreaming and various topics in consciousness.

True Hallucinations reads like a mad scientist's journal, and for that I enjoyed it. It excites you. Running with ideas is fun. Though in some parts, hearing someone rant about a mushroom trip while you're not on mushrooms yourself can feel a little like being sober in a packed bar, for that it can also get a little exhausting. In the end curiosity in his point of view propelled me further.

I'm intrigued to check into The Invisible Landscape where the McKenna brothers seem to go deeper into the actual Time Wave Theory, whereas True Hallucinations is more so an account of their drug adventures. But an idea that resonates for further exploration is the notion that perhaps alien life has already colonized our planet in the form of certain plants and mushrooms. These mushrooms serve as a sort of star ship for voyages deep into the universe itself. Yeah it sounds a little crack-pottish, and McKenna is a crackpot, though he admits to it and has fun with it. If the book lacked his humor and self deprecation it would have been more difficult to humor back and go for the ride. The universe is crazy, so fuck it, let's explore the nooks and crannies. Ah, the fringe sciences.

Here's a quote to give you a sense of the sort of thinking, that whether you're into hearing about other people's drug stories and mind blowing stoner thoughts, well, the beautiful intricacy of the physical world deserves a little trance-like observation from time to time.

"[Sand dunes] bear a resemblance to the force that created them, wind. It is as if each grain of sand were a bit inside the memory of a natural computer. The wind is the input that arranges the grains of sand so that they beam a lower-dimensional template of a higher-dimensional phenomenon, in this case the wind. There is nothing magical about this, and it does not seem mysterious to us: wind, a pressure that is variable in space. In my thinking, the genes of organisms are grains of sand arranged by the ebb and flow of the winds of time. Naturally, then, organisms bear the imprint of the inherent variables in the temporal medium in which they arose. DNA is the blank slate upon which the changing temporal variables have had their sequin and relative differences recorded. Any technique that saw into the energetic relationships within a living organism, such as yoga or the use of psychedelic plants, would also give a deep insight concerning the variable nature of time." - Terence McKenna, True Hallucinations: Being An Account of The Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise.

I just finished this last night, so these are just some initial thoughts. As I digest, there may or may not be some more nuggets of brilliance or bullshit to sift through and write more about it. Even if there are more swells of bullshit, I have a lot of respect for Terence McKenna. He goes places and shares his experience, and I find nothing wrong with that. Mushrooms grow in shit and when life's circumstances or societal structures get to feeling like bullshit, hats off to someone who devours a delectable fungus and appreciates the show. Because what's behind the curtain may reveal some incredibly important cosmic knowledge we need someday to save humanity.