Missive the Fifty-Ninth
What Great Work?
DATELINE: Saturday, February 24, 2001, at 0145 hours CDT.
Conway, Arkansas, USA
By D. Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles
CornDancer & Company
"Everybody looks for a magic wand when they should be picking up a ploughshare," Oksob de Opposite, permanent resident of the Opposite Loft, said during a hard rain some time ago. I found the scribbled quote on a crumpled fragment of parchment, stuffed rudely in one of Cricket Song's dusty vaults.
He was a sawmill man, tall and gentle. When I was a boy child, he liked to sit me on one of his knees and read me the funny papers. Grandfather Ebenezer's bones have rested at Macedonia cemetery outside the Holly Grove for thirty-four years now. A small granite stone marks the resting place. Inscribed on the stone are the words, E. B. Bowles, with the dates of his birth and death.
When I visited Grandfather Ebenezer's grave this morn, the fields of winter wheat on the horizon behind the buried bones were lushly green and thriving from so much recent rain. I remembered how his scratchy whiskers tickled my cheeks when he hugged me. In the cultivated bottomland of the felled grove, a quiet spirit of repose rode on the cold, vegetable wind and washed away the disappointment I had gathered up like thorns and splinters in River City the previous two days.
Mellowness, Aggression, Blues, Meditation.
Tonight I am lifted by a calm, mellowed moment of my passage through the Dissolution. Although I shall enjoy it while it lasts, the mellowness brings no more clarity than manic aggression, shadowy blues, or disciplined meditation. The tone is altered, but little else.
It doesn't take much for a tall and pudgy man to look thin when he's standing next to a shorter man of immense girth and world-class obesity.
Have you seen the photo of President-in-Exile William Jefferson Clinton standing beside his brother-in-law, the spectacularly fattened Hugh Rodham? Brother Hugh's is the fat of absolute corruption. He has licked thirteen too many ladles in the private dining room of his gluttony. (Click this sentence if you want to see the photo.)
Can We Separate
The Spirit from the Religion in Man?
Do you, those of you who believe in a god, the One God, and his influence on your passage through this veil of tears…. Do you think there's a difference between god's will and the free will of man?
Religious men, who refuse to act on the earnest words which fall like rain from their mouths, find momentary solace in a distant thing they call "the will of God." I draw a line of distinction between the religion in men and the spirit in men, although one man may cross lines in a blurred phase of indecision. The religious spirit in man justifies the timidity of his free will by placing his tentative nature on the spiritual shoulders of God.
God can handle it, sure — but should we ask him to do for us what we know we must do for ourselves? Don't you know, you know what I mean, you hear what I'm sayin'.... that one of God's answers to prayer and supplication is "No!"
Let His Will Be Done, I mutter when the first frame of a new house totters — but do I? No, I retract my acceptance of blame. An ample portion of God's will is given to me for my discernment; I quickly know its right and proper function. Unable to jump-start the stalled engine of another's free will, I slip mine into gear and surge ahead. Nor am I tempted to look into the rear-view mirror. No time to tarry in this camp.
It is not I, but them, and I attempt to cloak their failure in the disguise of the microcosm — when my will, mine…. hesitates…. to follow the forward path, the ancient routes, which are raised anew beneath the horny heels and sinew of our feet. It is not I, but them, but I am one of them. It is I.
They have found the First Dog in the Way-Back Machine.
On the Road to the Fall.
A civil society based on the dun of law can build broad highways and fine looking schools, fully equipped firehouses, spacious meeting halls and convention centers on the backs of failed gamblers. The shining public schoolrooms of red brick and smooth mortar are fine little dwarf stars, apologetic backdrops to the hot points of fire in the constellation of blazing casino resorts on the east bank of the great Mississippi River. The schools and exhibition halls, the fire stations and sleek public housing townhouses are strung out like diversionary lodestones on the edges of U.S. Highway 61 in the far northwest of Mississippi. They are justification for the fall. They signal with trumpet song the acceptance of the primacy of the ruling elite and their refusal to pay the civic tithe. Democracy dies in the full flowering of North America's aristocracy.
Do ya gotta, really gotta make a good impression? Do you gotta grab it all?
Over there, on the fence row beside the levee, behind the spoked wheel salvaged from the broken chariot, is a fresh target. Can you shoot an arrow through the spokes and strike the center?
How important is will to the action of man? What inspires the will to step beyond the mental playground and stride onto the battlefield of action? Is battlefield too strong the word? Tell me, then, what area of accomplishment exists between the playground and the battlefield?
We Saw an Archangel
In the Awesome Mirror
Of Promise and Realization.
From behind your well-polished mirror I emerge; you want to reach out and touch the other side, penetrate the strange barrier between men, and test the wellspring of life you see flowing there. Are the waters too tepid for you? Then enter so you might be able to light a fire. On the other side is a kingdom, an awesome place of promise and realization. You want to enter for the rest of time. I arise in the land behind the mirror as the archangel, seven feet tall, mysterious and bold and brimming with challenge. I am sent, so I come. My charge is to release you from material bondage and a generational legacy of imposed poverty.
"In every act of will there is a ruling thought," Nietzsche wrote, a straightforward statement of philosophical fact nestled in his thick forest of crafty digression, welled-up logic, and sublime arcana.
Should I impose my will on others were I able? Should I let the logjam gather more and more stranded pieces of tree? If I have a ruling thought, can I dare share it with the passive lion, who has none? How far can the shepherd drive his sheep when the wolves are baying o'er the nearby hill? Which hill? Which direction to flee? Is manna power not sufficient unto your journey?
Needles and Questions, White Stones and Burrs.
In the blue fog of the quenched quintessence, only the forest floor is apparent. It is cluttered with needles and questions, small white stones and sticky burrs. A path crosses through it. A point along the path is reached. Always. Answers are ahead, answers are behind, they are somewhere else, but answers are not here, not now, not in the corporeal moment of indecision.
In the middle of the alpha and the omega are a crossroads and choices. Back to the beginning? On to the end? Why not rest on the stone and think about it? Why not wait for God? Why not wait?
On the stone where he rests is a name, but I cannot name it. On the path are the thousands of answers, each available to all who walk there, at any moment self-evident and obvious, yet overlooked again and again. I walk this way. I know it is the way. Why isn't it the way when I walk it?
The Great Work began, didn't it?
WATCH FOR MISSIVE THE SIXTIETH
on Tuesday, February 27, 2001.
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