We are going through a major reorganization. Navigation may disappear, categories will merge and split, strange new names will appear and vanish.
It may be happening real-time, right in front of your eyes.
I’m having tea on the roof imagining the city burn. I’m enraged about how the younger generation can’t see the stranded Junk until it’s pointed out; how the generation beyond that can’t see it even then.
Then it hits me, a memory of a conversation I once had. Someone telling me that the young just haven’t had time to remember who they are yet.
It rattles me. I can’t place that memory. I don’t know who was talking. But it feels real enough. I think she had a point there. We have to grow into the memory of our surroundings.
There are those that say the world has always been like this. They say there has always been ancient ships stranded in the middle of cities. That ash has always fallen from the sky. They claim we have always been on the verge of population collapse. I know they’re wrong.
I know they’re wrong because there was a time before I became the Maintainer. A time in which I would have never taken such liberties at my job. A time in which the only sound to keep me company through harsh days wasn’t the beating of my own heart.
I know they’re wrong because I care for historical documents and none of them mention stranded ships, or ash filled skies. But they are full of stories of vast populated cities, of people, of lives, and struggles for meaning.
There was a time that when flipping bits I wouldn’t have substituted my own for those that refused to come back to life. A time in which I shouldn’t have snuck out box after box of absurdist documents for which to build a fortress against isolation. A time in which I would never have considered fighting with ancient disease rattled technology as an escapist adventure.
There’s a sand dune in the middle of the largest habitable environ of an urban area. A desolate Chinese Junk is stranded on the dune. If you watch it long enough you can tell that the Junk lists and sways. I’ve been watching it for years, and for years I’ve expected that any day now it would tip over and spill its secrets. I like to imagine I’ll bear witness to the secrets as they tumble and roll. Late last century I started making annual pilgrimages to the dune, but I never make headway. It seems to always sit on the horizon no matter how hard I pedal. It constantly remains just out of reach.
The wind, though, sends out bits of treasure from the Junk’s hold. If you’re vigilant and if you train yourself to expect it, you can stumble across strange and fascinating bits of ephemera—rabbit shaped rings, and bits of metal shaped by fire and wind.
I have a friend that takes these odd bits and fashions them into the bowls and ferrules of pipes. My favorite is made from the driftwood that I discovered on one of my pilgrimages. It was late one fall as the weather was cooling down enough to attempt another trip. Somewhere between Oak Cliff and the dune is a dead zone of dry rot and rock. I might not have noticed the pile of driftwood had I not face-planted when a hidden branch lodged between the spokes of my front wheel.
I dug around and found a good-sized piece and jammed it into my pack. I had to turn back, the dune was no closer and with a bent front wheel it would have been impossible. Danny fashioned his Flaming Dragon pipe with the driftwood and the remains of a warrior madden’s bracelet that I had gathered on a previous journey. It’s a hefty oom paul design. The steam makes an elegant s curve into the bowl which suddenly flares out and intersects itself in licks of stylized flame. Diminishing scales are crawl up from the bottom of the bowl. The ferrule is wrapped with the golden bracelet which is inlaid with a black ball bearing.
The wind delivers treasure. If you look.
The Maintainer’s dad walked out and I hastily explained that I was wrapped up in thought and that I couldn’t parse more than one information stream of the same modality at once. He looks at me suspiciously—I recognize that look, it was that boy, I’m concerned that you’re on drugs look.
I speed up and ask if he doesn’t think in words. It’s like reading two books at the same time. Have you ever tried to read two books at once? What happens?
“You get confused.”
“Exactly, that’s why I can’t tell you how dreadful the weather is.”
“Well…you’re betwixt and between realities, and I just came out here to see if you wanted oatmeal.”
I think it would be a good
idea to learn how to turn
off a gas heater so we
could avoid filling
the house with gas.
You will not experience
or exhibit that emotion.
EpigraphYeah, yeah! Give it up for the last poet.
The line that stood out most to these European ears was “Kill Whitey.”
Yeah, sometimes I want to kill Whitey too.
That motherfucker was never a true friend to the Beav.