Thursday, August 21, 2008
in the city of wonder
He found her in the pre-dawn light sitting at the edge of the cliff. He was frightened at first, but then noticed she was weeping.
"What's up?" he said gently.
"Too raw, too much, too late," she said. "We finally get here, arrive at the place it began, and all I can think is, what drew them all here so long ago? What madness?"
"Probably the same kind they all get into sooner or later. They're built for it. There must be mystery or they start killing each other."
"They do that anyway," she said. "The mystery is just a fuse."
"Well, that, yeah," he said. They were silent for a while then.
She looked down and over the lake. There were swans now, she could see, and smoke rising from a handful of chimneys in the village below. Her heart was breaking. "I can't get that damn Rihanna song out of my head," she said.
"Good girl gone bad," he said, stroking her wings. "What're ya gonna do?" But it wasn't a question.
"I'm chasing myself down an endless echo," she said. "I feel like a monster." She noticed the iPod in his hand and said "So what have you been up to?"
"I was watching The Departed," he said. "What a great movie. Don't know how I missed it."
"There's so much to miss," she said. Then, "I bet you liked the part where he pulled her pants off, didn't you? Shades of the W. You're so predictable."
"I was getting flashbacks, yeah," he said. "Something about that Vera Farmiga."
"Well, you picked a good place for it," she said sweeping a wing up across the peaks above them. "Monte Verità." The sun was just rising. "Lux at Veritas," she said. He could hear the initial caps.
"Harvard," he said. "I wonder if they all read Emerson's Divinity School address."
"Most likely," she said. "Those fucking Protestants really stick together."
"Those fucking Catholics too," he said. "In the movie they were all fucking Catholics."
"Sex and death," she said. "Salt and pepper."
"Speaking of which," he said, "I'm hungry. Let's walk into town and find someplace to eat."
"Sure," she said, wiping her eyes and getting up. "Why not? In for a penny, in for a pound."
"I could eat a pound of bacon," he said. "Schweinefleisch, yum!"
"That shit'll kill you," she said as they started down.
"Will not," he said. "We're immortal, remember?"
"Oh right, I almost forgot." She said it sulkily, but she was feeling better now, warming in the morning light. Maybe they'd been onto something with the whole sun worship thing. "I wonder," she said aloud, "if maybe they weren't onto something with the whole sun worship thing."
"Come on," he said, "they were fucking nudists. Repressed Protestants horny for any flash of T&A."
"Theosophy and Anthroposophy," she said. "Maybe you've got a point there."
"You know that's not what I meant," he said. "But Steiner was here, wasn't he?"
"So I understand," she said. "I think the Madame missed it, though. She croaked off in London in 1891. What she gets for messing about in India all those years."
"Yeah," he said. "Who knew that her Aryans were right here all along!"
"The sixth root race," she said. "I guess that leaves you out."
"Story of my life," he chuckled. "But notice they can't let go of me either -- the Devil, the Shadow..."
"That was later, with Jung," she said, "when they started up the Eranos conferences here in 1933."
"That was where Campbell got his start, wasn't it?"
"That and James Joyce," she said. "And with Steinbeck at Big Sur or thereabouts."
"Fucking Catholics again. They're all nuts. You know what that asshole told Moyers?"
"Lots of things," she said. "About MYTH and SPIRIT and THE SOUL."
"Like he would know, right?"
"He played a good game," she said.
"That's the part I was thinking of," he said. "He told Moyers that those Aztec basketball players, or whatever they were, were competing for who'd have the honor of being sacrificed right there on the court."
"They offed the winners, right? Yeah, I read that on the Internet."
"I'm sure you did," he said, "along with every flako 'Seeker' with a copy of the I Ching and a couple hits of mediocre acid. Except it's bullshit. They killed the losers."
"How modern of them," she said. She was laughing now, her sadness fled wherever it went when it did that.
The path took a bend just as they were getting close to town. In a stone wall they spotted a hidden door. Over it, partially obscured by vines and creepers, was a sign reading
FOR MADMEN ONLY
"This must be the place," she said.
"Oh yeah?" he said. "Do madmen eat bacon?"
They ducked through the gate and entered a tiny courtyard. "Looks like they're serving," she said.
"Non serviam," he said.
"Yeah, yeah," she said, "James Joyce. But the movie's over now, Bucko. It's time to eat."
"All right then, why don't we join that repressed proto-Buddhist looking guy over there," he said, gesturing.
"Good call!" she cried, clapping her hands. She went over and sat down close beside the man. She said, "How's it hanging, Hermann?"
The man looked up, clearly perplexed, annoyance warring with amazement. The wings often did that.
Gesturing to her companion, she said, "Allow me to introduce my own personal steppenwolf."
"Born to be wild," the black man said amicably, by way of greeting. Then lifting the menu, "How's the schweinefleisch in these parts?"
Herr Hesse looked even more confused now. It was a little scary to watch. She bent closer, looked into his eyes and said "Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum... ring a bell?"
"What's wrong with me?" Hesse said, as if to himself. "Why do I feel like this?"
"I know what you mean," she said. "No more gas in the rig, huh?"
Until a minute ago, I had no photos. I still have no photos to speak of.
I don't even have a camera. But all these people were linking to "my photos."
It was embarassing. It's still embarassing. But I'm used to that.