Sunday, October 22, 2023


Every Single Thing I Know and Remember

Is assumed to reside in some form or other in my brain, physically, just as the following few examples also reside in a server somewhere, physically, by virtue of the fact that I have typed them using this application, even if we may characterize them as residing in the amorphous "cloud:"

  • The surprising clarity and purity of the water inside the "tar bubbles" that I used to pierce with my friend Johnny Mackey in the gutter, on Cottage Park Road in Winthrop.
  • The call of a mourning dove.
  • How long to cook spaghetti.
  • What a flying instructor means when he says "more back pressure!"
  • The difference between the "hard sign" and the "soft sign" in Cyrillic.
  • The tidal range in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
  • The theme song of "Bonanza."
  • The taste of sea water.
  • The prescribed viscosity for the engine oil of a Subaru BRZ.
  • The difference between a double paradiddle and a paradiddlediddle.
  • How long it takes by train to go from Dublin to Galway City.
  • Whether a straight flush beats a full house.
  • What part of the eyeball is pierced when an eye doctor pierces the eyeball with a needle to resolve a hemorrhage.
  • Which side of a horse is the mounting and dismounting side.
We say with confidence that these factoids reside in my brain, physically, because how could it not be so?  Where else could they be?

But this implies, of course, that within a week or so of my demise, when my brain turns to mush, all of this information will be gone, from me at least if not from the cloud.  Before this happens, it is said that the pineal gland will release a strong dose of the powerful mind-altering substance DMT, to ease my transition to ... what exactly?  Nothing?  What could be the evolutionary purpose of such a psychic blitzkrieg when one takes into account that I most assuredly won't be producing any offspring after it kicks in?

Or is this whole model just incorrect in some fundamental way?  

The world waits for an answer.

Friday, October 20, 2023


A Shared Heartsickness

That is all that someone like I can contribute.  Even entering a house of worship for a vigil feels wrong, when it seems clear that God has chosen, once again, to turn His back on His People.

Sunday, October 8, 2023


The Recurring Furball Dream

My sister gave me a dream interpretation guide, which I keep in my library.  It has no explanation for the recurring furball dream.

Have you ever dreamt that there was a large furball attached to the surface of your tongue?  Because it inhibits your speech in an embarrassing way, you are desperate to remove it.  But the only way to do that is to reach into your mouth with thumb and forefinger and tear it off your tongue.  This leaves you with a large, wet furball in the palm of your right hand.

You are in a formal public space, perhaps in the lobby of a hotel where a Fidelity-sponsored tax conference is in progress.  You seek out the coffee station supporting the conference, hoping that there you will be able to discreetly toss the furball into a trash receptacle and wipe your palm with a paper cocktail napkin.  But just then an important client strides towards you and aggressively reaches for your hand.  You withdraw it rather than offering it, and turn your back on the man.  This offers no respite, however, because the coffee station is dense with people, and you happen to walk into a circle of businesswomen, most of them known to you, and all of them carrying a certain appeal for you.  You would date any one of them if you could.

A couple of them whom you consider particular friends then reach out to hug you.  This you can't do because you would be placing the wet furball against a woman's back, on the surface of her most stylish navy jacket.

All of these women now look mildly distressed.  They are concerned that there is something very wrong with you, because there is.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Watch Out, Kids, But Above All Watch!

Last week I stumbled on a very fine, a very deep movie.  Nominated for an Oscar in 2016, "Embrace of the Serpent" is loosely based on the actual life of an Amazonian shaman who, on two occasions forty years apart, led single Western scientists up the great river in search of a powerfully healing and exceedingly rare medicinal plant.  The movie is able somehow to place a modern Western viewer into a mindspace where the native culture of the shaman is natural and real, the culture of the scientist hostile and destructive, without being anti-colonialist in a conventional way, without romanticizing the indigenous peoples that it portrays.  On the little screen, thanks to our anonymous bureaucrats, it carries the usual insipid warning against being viewed by children, because it portrays "alcohol use" and "smoking."  Nothing is said on the other hand about cannibalism.

Rather late in the film, the shaman and the second scientist paddle their dug-out canoe to the shore at a forbidding settlement which, it turns out, has become a colony of native worshippers of "The Messiah," who is another Westerner gone half mad.  When the shaman cures his young bride of a usually-fatal skin disease, the Messiah decides that the two newcomers are two of the three Magi, come from the East to celebrate his presence in the world.

We then discover along with the intruders that when the Messiah gets angry, he does not kill any of his misbehaving flock, but rather condemns them to a suicide ritual that leaves them equally dead but lets him evade responsibility.  This so infuriates the shaman that he tricks the Messiah and all of his remaining disciples into drinking a potion that may be a poison, or may be a very strong hallucinogen like ayahuasca.  The Messiah goes completely mad.  He screams at his flock "This is my body!  Eat me! ... Eat me! ... Eat me!"  And indeed they proceed to eat him alive, off camera of course.  This brave perversion of the Eucharist is perhaps the most chilling scene I have watched (or rather heard) on film since, in a tale rolled out in the 1930's, Dr. Moreau, played by Charles Laughton, is carved to pieces by the monstrous hybrids he himself has created by means of vivisection, on the island that gives us the movie's name.

The shaman and the scientist escape the mad colony.  They have not become friends, rather men from disparate cultures thrown together by fate, bound together by magic.  The shaman's magic empowers him to conjure the real, live spirits of the jaguar and the serpent.  The scientist's magic is enclosed in a wooden box that has come along for the ride -- an old gramophone and a single recording, a recording of Haydn's ode to God's powers of creation.  The scientist avers to the shaman, bitterly, that he does not believe in God's powers of creation.  Just like the scientists of today, he is impervious to magic and to myth.  But the shaman knows better.