Scribbling Again

Month: April, 2015

Tom Robbins: “I am in a state of grace”

“From Whitman to Steinbeck to Kerouac, and beyond to the restless brood of the seventies, the American road has represented choice, escape, opportunity, a way to somewhere else. However illusionary, the road was freedom, and the freest way to ride the road was hitchhiking. By the seventies, so many young Americans were on the road that hitchhiking did take on, Julian to the contrary, characteristics of sport…’When I was younger, before this layoff that has nearly finished me, I hitchhiked one hundred and twenty-seven hours without stopping, without food or sleep, crossed the continent twice in six days, cooled my thumbs in both oceans and caught rides after midnight on unlighted highways, such was my skill, persuasion, rhythm. I set records and immediately cracked them; went farther, faster than any hitchhiker before or since. As I developed, however, I grew more concerned with subtleties and nuances of style. Time in terms of m.p.h. no longer interested me. I began to hitchhike in something akin to geological time: slow, ancient, vast. Daylight, I would sleep in ditches and under bushes, crawling out in the afternoon like the first fish crawling from the sea, stopping car after car and often as not refusing their lift, or riding only a mile and starting over again. I removed the freeway from its temporal context. Overpasses, cloverleafs, exit ramps took on the personality of Mayan ruins for me. Without destination, without cessation, my run was often silent and empty; there were no increments, no arbitrary graduations reducing time to functional units. I abstracted and purified. Then I began to juxtapose slow, extended runs with short, furiously fast ones — until I could compose melodies, concerti, entire symphonies of hitch. When poor Jack Kerouac heard about this, he got drunk for a week. I added dimensions to hitchhiking that others could not even understand. In the Age of the Automobile — and nothing shaped our culture like the motor car — there have been many great drivers but only one great passenger. I have hitched and hiked over every state and half the nations, through blizzards and under rainbows, in deserts and in cities, backward and sideways, upstairs, downstairs and in my lady’s chamber. There is no road that did not expect me. Fields of daisies bowed and gas pumps gurgled when I passed by. Every moo cow dipped toward me her full udder. With me, something different and deep, in bright focus and pointing the way, arrived in the practice of hitchhiking. I am the spirit and the heart of hitchhiking, I am its cortex and its medulla, I am its foundation and its culmination, I am the jewel in its lotus. And when I am really moving, stopping car after car after car, moving so freely, so clearly, so delicately that even the sex maniacs and the cops can only blink and let me pass, then I embody the rhythms of the universe, I feel what it is like to be the universe, I am in a state of grace.” (45-7)

From Tom Robbins’ Pynchon approved novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

Earl Sinclair Performs Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”

Some Quotes from “The Art of Flight” by Sergio Pitol

“Memory works with the same oblique and rebellious logic as dreams. It rummages in dark holes and extracts visions that, unlike those of dreams, are almost always pleasant. Memory can, at the discretion of whoever possesses it, be colored by nostalgia, and nostalgia produces monsters only by exception. Nostalgia lives off the trappings of a past that confronts a present devoid of attraction. Its ideal device is the oxymoron: it summons contradictory incidents, intermingles them, causes them to merge, and brings order in a disorderly way to chaos.” (63)

“Now, more than forty years after that incident, he’s content with merely acknowledging the event. He tries to examine the circumstances, to elaborate a few hypotheses. Why was that rite of initiation bathed in horror? Did it have something to do with a late detachment of his umbilical cord, a bloody separation of his body from those around him? He arrives at the conclusion that the exercise is becoming a pointless guessing game, that to continue it would send him into a labyrinth of astonishment. He would become lost in marshes without ever touching solid ground.

Perhaps he owes to that experience his inability to write at home, as if it were an activity to be avoided at all costs. Writing in the same space where he lives was for much of his life equivalent to committing and obscene act in a holy place. But that’s anecdotal. What is certain is that his fall into uncleanness that characterized, at the end if his adolescence, his confrontation with the word, his printed word, has conditioned his most personal, most secret, most unwitting manner of writing, and has transformed the exercise into a joyful game of concealment, an approach to the art of flight.” (84)

“Without an affirmation of his language, the traveler loses the capacity to aspire to translate the universe; he will become a mere interpreter on the level of a tour guide” (120)

“The mere existence of a great creator erases many of his contemporaries and multitudes of predecessors whose mediocrity only becomes obvious after the appearance of a greater figure” (176)

The Art of Flighttranslated by George Henson, is out now from Deep Vellum Publishing.

Georges de la Tour: St. Francis in Extasy/The Praying Monk beside the Dying Monk

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The Church of El Topo (a still from El Topo)

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Book Acquisitions 4/1/15

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