Edward Williams


May 2008


I was out in the front yard and took a series of photos of the garden, and the street. Then, with a sense of accomplishment, like I had captured the beautiful day itself, I headed back into the house. Right by my shoulder as I came up the porch steps, this was the world that I was leaving behind, floating inside the house, in the black mirror of the window.


50) Shadows


——All we have is a few buildings, and the wind whipping around an empty corner lot. Where is everything that happened? Once upon a time . . . Things come into the world and then they disappear, and this is not the world passing, but only those things. The world is a few buildings, and a sunset, and the spaces in the twilight. Peoples faces show up, gleaming, and disappear like the Cheshire cat, my pretty. Between two arbitrary markers, and we call that time? What a patch.
——What a patch! I say, the quantity of data in reality that is physical, say tangible, compared to that which is mental, say untouchable, is minuscule. By far! And if one reverses the reliances, so to speak, one sees that physical is supportable by analogy to but a tiny portion of what exists, or has ever reportedly existed. It is a dusty laboratory, really. But, just take what is known as mental, and look for a physical manifestation of it. Alarmingly, one can see it overlaps only a tiny portion of reality. And, hysterically, does not even need that tiny analogous portion to function, for the most part, within it’s own context. There really is no need to debate physical science in terms of its status as, say, a majority reality; it is poverty stricken, has a paucity of data it can rally for . . . world-building. Yes, I think, and have often said, but not so clearly as I am saying it now, science should be challenged in terms of its claimed status as representing a majority of phenomena. Preponderance, it has not.
——I am considering the years of someone’s life, it is hammering on me. Where is 1956? Not only does the year not exist, but the attachment to the data in the person’s memory of that year, to that year, is not secure. A rearrangement is threatened, a different chronology, and if that took place then the assumed year itself would really not exist, and would be taken away from its assumed existence as a place holder of what happened there. A place holder, like a cardboard coaster holds your drink, that’s what I mean. Where is 1983? Don’t knock over the glass, dearie. Is it as serious as that, my pretty one? I think by and large the world is of a preponderance of invisible material. All we have here, is here. I rest my case. Laugh out loud, and it rings all the way to Saturn, I am sure. All the grooves of the record contain all the sound of the voices and the instruments, that were so real when they were. . . real–in Studio 66, dismantled now and all its fixtures used in some other cameo. And when was that? When was any of it? The past is entirely immaterial. Now they are vibrations, he said, and danced his fingers in the air. I got this thought, the amplification of the thought I was already onto, really, as I was listening to Chris C. say this about vibrations, to Andy. And then he said, “this is like talking the way people talk after smoking pot for two hours”.
——I could see he had a vision, but wasn’t going there now. Not into that troubled land. The hardly defined, but livable, world is in a slow conflagration, consuming itself, called into being by the mind, and returning to an atmosphere stranger still. That headset you wear, that is what I mean by: the mind. Where the preponderance of facts can be found, or lost.
——I came upstairs into the hallway and I noticed that someone had left the record player on, it was just spinning with nothing on, nothing to play, like that end scene in the movie On the Beach. I recall that movie, incredibly, every once in while in support of this exact line of thinking, which I return to more and more, lately. Like I do these lines: Time is a description, the moral of which is: everything happens for a second time, the second time received. Time is the return of the truth the mind.” Nobody even has these old manual record players anymore, with the bulky speakers. Who even sells the needles? They are freaking antiques. People think like if they had lived back then, like when it was happening they might have found like . . . Christianity appealing. For heaven’s sake. That’s a good one, alright. Did the French Revolution actually happen, in any sense I can grasp while placing a penny on the dusty arm of the record player to keep this song I am about to play from skipping? Time was more exciting in the past, no doubt, when people didn’t have great gaps in their consciousness. Once upon a time, when we weren’t burdened by this depressing reliance on facts, things were organized into a fable. It was fabulous. I am going to play the 45 of Come on Down to My Boat, Baby. By the band called “Every Mother’s Son.” Whatever happened to them!
——For you see, the facts are too spaced out, really. They don’t fill outer space, and this gives me nightmares! The material universe is just paltry. Compare it to those ones in mythology. Science is supposed to have the facts on its side, but just using the name of science, when you haven’t even noticed how the world is disappearing, object by object, person by person, doesn’t give you the facts. Jesus! Science can lay no claim to anything that happened; oh no, most of reality is no longer visible, it is gone and therefore has violated . . . the laws of gravity. Do not tell me that memories are findable, in those floating dust mites . . .

48) Art Zone


——Sometimes I think I must be the nicest person who ever lived, as I watch myself in situations, conversations mostly, and see to what extremes I go, to help other people prop themselves up. Though I barely have time to stand back–it is an ongoing assignment I guess I feel I have been given, like from on high, to talk to other people, like wherever they are–well, not only just talk to them, but sometimes just sit with them and console with occasional looks. I am incredibly thoughtful, all situations hum like with potential for either the application of special kindness, or quick rescue, right around me. Whether I am talking to somebody in earnest about the their most immediate crisis in their personal life, or some guy at the bar who in twenty minutes I have inspired to talk in depth about his race car, I go from one person to another, and I juggle their problems and puff up their triumphs, one and all, I care about them all, I don’t want anybody to suffer the slightest impingement of their own self image, doubt themselves or begin to doubt the world–but I want everyone to be a hero.
——I don’t know how I can convey, really, this sense I have of myself, or rather the importance of this sense I have, that I am such an absolutely nice person–for you see, it is partly by maintaining the superior view of myself, that I empower myself to be superior–and that can only sound like I have some problem myself! In truth, I am sure, only people who have been subject to my ministrations (let’s call them that, for now) get to know how infinitely nice I am. For of course only firsthand are these miracles enacted. All I can do, though as I just said I don’t have time to just revel in my accomplishments, is marvel at the variety of situations, changing, unpredictable, requiring alertness and fast action, or deep consideration and precise tinkering, where I acrobatically display this inveterate quality of being nice to other people. I watch myself in action–I have to watch myself, for I learn from myself; and I am continually amazed at the way I act with other people; what a pulling and clinging effect they have on me, how quickly they can sort of hire me as their new best friend.
——In order to be such a nice person one cannot in fact get a reputation for such, so that others point to you and refer to you as “just the nicest guy” or something. And indeed I don’t, I have a reputation as someone who is all involved in their own ambition. Ha! This is the perfect cloak. A reputation would impede me, in the constant mission. For it would cause people to expect something different, a generic or already accepted niceness, so to speak. As opposed to what one who has a genius for being nice, like myself, can especially provide. I am not regarded as even normally considerate, much less an overt flatterer, by anyone except by those who have received my close assistance, and my building-up affections. For, such is the necessary irony–eh, the martyrdom I face, even they are caused to credit themselves with having created the good feelings that result while in my presence. For you will learn it, my students of humanity, the final nicest thing one can do is leave people with the impression that they have been generous to you. And then that spreads further, I believe, if you have found just the right, universal chord.
——On certain days opportunities flood in, all around me; it’s like there are people waiting in line. Of course I have this strong interest in helping people talk, in becoming articulate, flexing their vocal chords, brandishing words. More than half the time, really most of the time, to begin with people splutter half-baked opinions, pitiful narrations, descriptions you can’t make head or tail of, so very unadept is your average Joe, at making anything clear. Indeed they don’t expect much from the others they are hanging out with, either. So look out, here I come. In order to get interested (and like I said, I can’t stand confusion and vagueness– and take it as my personal duty to make everyone look sharp, and make sense); in order to clue into what this average Joe is saying, say, about his plans to go to the Burning Man festival, or his endless, but also current, job dilemma, I always have to express tremendous, fake interest, and tell them to back up. Say that again! I say. And then I have to quickly display expert understanding, about this niche activity, or that unfettered obsession. Like that guy who is going down to Watkins Glen with his souped up BMW, after I sacrificed forty-five minutes listening to his fundamentally boring and impenetrable obscurities . . . then, sure, he was ready to philosophise. Which you have to be ready for. People are pretty impaled on the big questions, if you can get their confidence; don’t I know that! It is probably my best trait, and greatest of talents, facilitating the speech of these always very shy people (no matter what bluster they hide behind, or smarmy personalities they wear), these people who must be quite fortunate–and feel fortunate that they ran into me on the night, say, before they went to Watkins Glen, or the night when they are all whipped up about having taken their last class at Community College, and I actually ask them about it like I cared, because I do care, I care about them all; and then they find, like it were some coincidence, for I make it sound like a coincidence, the digression to what they really want to talk about, more abstract and serious and binding me to them for that conversation, so that I am their friend, they hail me in the street and come running up like to get some news. I remember with indelible associations the topics of importance to people. I store them up, ready for use, the topics I got an inkling of the last time I talked to them. I get to know people very quickly, and can practically establish good friend status in no time–not nice guy status, mind you, but status as someone whom they can talk to; and most everyone thinks most other people simply cannot be talked to. I venture to say, I am many many people’s favorite exception!
——How’s that? Well, when I was younger the imperative was more to lay it on others, what breakthrough I had made, what rough ideas I was peddling. Now it’s like I am a medic out on the field after the day of battle. There are wounded ones I have been formerly nice to, a pimply balding fellow who gets nothing but dirty looks, who I turned into a helpmate with just a couple self-deprecating remarks, so that he gazed upon me with pity–and it brought his haughtiness into relief. He became my sidekick and defender–sometimes this is exactly the trick, you have to become a kind of pet, a kind of project, for these guys who have learned only to be bullies in life. And then what I can do is wheedle my way into their good graces, and, knowing they are in fact total weaklings, start coaching them to improve their manners, like just for the sport of it. They go around being nice to people for the sport of it! This is all about the goal which is to ladle out niceness, to the needy and the proud, like at a soup kitchen. And the thing is, if I operate on this awareness of myself, what looks like this exaggerated portrait of myself, as the absolute nicest person you have ever met, it works to make me even nicer. Not more vain, self-aggrandising, pretentious, deluded . . . But I can say this awareness functions to spur me on to greater episodes and acts even more daring and invisible, propping up those who have, like spinning tops, begun to wobble.
——This is not the behavior of a saint, far from that explicit and most admirable and rare type of person. Nor are these just acts of kindness that I achieve this niceness with–see how awkwardly I put it now! What I am talking about is the rush to engage, whomever I am talking to, whomever I sense is even slightly stranded, tentative, even as I look at them. I have tremendous sympathy for everyone, just looking at them, and it puts in motion virtual schemes to flatter their being, encourage their self-image, make them aware of themselves as people of mystery, who do not know where they are going . . . People have hidden talents, if you make them part of a plot to find the truth. I think when I get this surge of comradery, I recognize it as unique, something I must be in charge of, my own gift. So it is on a par with other excellences I have charted and mined, out of genuine faith that I was a kind of knight-errant, during my ever so long life. When you get a line on something you can do, you want to step it up, put your foot on the pedal. Let me handle this, I want to say, and I step in like a referee, when I see someone is being shafted, or impinged upon–shall I go on? I am employed, full-time in this endeavor, for what I recognize is an enormous capacity, filled with a sense of possibility, and–I shall only say one more thing now–it is precisely by maintaining this absolute confidence, this standard, that one can in fact increase in one’s ability, to do the thing they have already declared themselves exceptional at.
——Oh my God! Then the mood changes and it seems there are a raft of people in sight, to whom he bears no responsibility at all. Nor is he inclined to seek the mere acquaintance of them, and their obviously futile and vain existences. Though, on balance . . . he feels he is basically a nice person.

46) Candyland

This is where we live, a candyland of tulips in the rain at present, including our front yard garden and the neighbors’, topped off by some lilacs blending into the grey mist of the street bending into the . . . future, I want to say, beyond.


——I think what you come to want is a summary, at least a few summaries, maybe even a grand, relaxing, humor-filled summary of life. To match the mood, say, of the late afternoon stretching out. And you realise you can’t have it, because it is obvious there is no place for such a summary, except in the world of thought. But this is not the type of thought that can be located, traced anywhere, it is unaccountable, floating as if not even in your head–but, over there, identical to the late afternoon and the relapsing  twilight, and the calmness just noticed. Of this you would speak; you would make a reference to this mood, while you are in it, while it is out there; but you can’t have this, because it is not produced, certainly, but only an idea that has been caused by sheer accumulation. It is weariness, and it is exhilaration. Moods never strategized, or deliberately visited upon you, but produced out of nowhere, like apparitions that came and replaced the place you are standing. You have been whipped out of here and put back in an identical, but unreal duplicate setting, in the blink of an eye. Standing in your garden, as you bent down to brush the dirt from the bed of tulips, say that, just like that. And the threat is past, before you knew it, but the thought is there; what you have come to want is a summary, at least a few, maybe a grand outtake, on life.  And this is frightening to even consider, and you are not up to it–even though it has been there all the time, the clear desire, the option for a summary of life, a summary even of a day in your life, or some other way of organizing what happens, and how it links to what has happened. And most exhilarating of all, if it can be time for such thoughts!, what will happen.
——One gets into a habit of thought, in which they are engaging memories on the spot, because everything reminds them of something, like it is politely begging to be part of a greater reality; and it is entirely possible and it happens that one works on this reality, where are kept these summaries large and small. So increasingly it is a lure and an enticement, and in fact a newly discovered land, this building reality of thought upon experience and all the depths of experience that one has had before in a life that, really, has been endless. All of which leads to the issue, not squarely addressed, of the location of this type of thought, the location of these built up worlds that link you to your person, your past. There simply is no accounting, by any rational means, for the existence of these complex worlds of interacting experience and memory. They are not in your brain, how ridiculous is that? I will tell you it is more like your brain is within them.  In your case, your case especially!, you have a world of thoughts that are so obscurely tied to untrackable, ethereal, unresolved, fictional, shreds of memory and expectation, it is impossible to house them. To shelter them. And not because of the great number, but because of the type of content. There is a type of thought that is so exposed . . .
—–And you are, in these campfire moods, breaking out in such obscurity, and so much more aware of how inconclusive is the intricate linking of your life to the world. It is not so vast, but only a little hut, a refuge out beyond the horizon, that you have made without even good planning. You are without foundation in all your private thinking.  It has been as if you cannot find a place in your thoughts, where you can hide, and review what has happened. And what it has been like, for it is like something else, tugging at you. You should make provisions, which are summaries, really. And have conversations with the other parties in what seems like a very elementary group; or find some lazy  setting like at the end of the pier out on the beach, where the sun is nicely halted in it’s tracks, for once, or in the backyard by the conference of white wire chairs, or strolling through the streets where all the book vendors have set up, like in history, in London, like that day I recall . . . you can have that day for part of the setting if you wish. It is almost there, if you could turn the corner, but you can’t find the coefficient. The coefficient that is the neighborhood that has no physical twin, and has no location. This is the sequence of thought that is self-generating, and like concurring glimpses of heaven, and once glimpsed, well, heaven is  . . . relentless.
——This is the thought that can create, and I don’t mean just an annex, but material thought that creates the semblance of a physical world, where you are. Thought happens outside the mind and correlates back to it. Your body is an empty husk. This is, also, too much to bear! And it is not what you have achieved, only what you have held on to, and after a while, quietly decided to expand in its very nature. This is the picture of the future, and maybe you will watch it.  And whisper. I do not know, but I tell myself–that now you may expect with this discovery, this explicit labelling, from which there is no return, to promptly suffer a slow exchange,  great thirst and hunger, let’s say, a few dreaded ailments, and background exaltation.  It will be imperative you focus and resist the impression that you are slowly dying.  For nobody dies, if you think about it. You must drag down these angels, bring them to the campfires, and regain your strength.  For surely that will be needed–your strength, I would think. You will note that certain parts of the landscape are missing. And certain parts are lit up, and no camera crew anywhere to be found.

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