“The crystal trees among them were hung with glass-like trellises of moss. The air was markedly cooler, as if everything was sheathed in ice, but a ceaseless play of light poured through the canopy overhead. The process of crystallization was more advanced. The fences along the road were so encrusted that they formed a continuous palisade, a white frost at least six inches thick on either side of the palings. The few houses between the trees glistened like wedding cakes, white roofs and chimneys transformed into exotic miniarets and baroque domes. On a law of green glass spurs, a child’s tricycle gleamed like a Faberge gem, the wheels starred into brilliant jasper crowns.”
― J.G. Ballard, The Crystal World
“ Give up all hope, all illusion, all desire..I’ve tried. I’ve tried and still I desire, I still desire not to desire and hope to be without hope and have the illusion I can be without illusions..Give up, I say. Give up everything, including the desire to be saved.”
― Luke Rhinehart, The Dice Man
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora
This is the time of year in Dallas where the days are awfully hot – but the nights are still bearable. As you walk the cool, humid air wafts by – but if you cross a patch of concrete you feel the ghost of the day’s heat still radiating upward. I feel guilty interrupting its voyage back into space.
“Everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is. And you should know what your myth is because it might be a tragedy and maybe you dont want it to be.”
Almost every important thought – definitely every decision I make – takes the form of a conversation. I’ve been paying attention – this is really true. But if it is a conversation, which person is me?
And if I can figure that out – who is the other guy?
Jung said that science is nested in a dream. The dream is that if we investigated the structures of material reality with sufficient attention and truth, that we could then learn enough about material reality to then alleviate suffering: To produce the philosopher’s stone – to make everybody wealthy, to make everybody healthy, to make everyone live as long as they wanted to live or perhaps forever. That’s the goal – to alleviate the catastrophe of existence. The idea that the solutions to the mysteries of life that enable us to develop such a substance, or multitude of substances, provided the motive force for the development of science. Jung traced that development of the motive force to over the period of 1,000 years. Jung went back into alchemical texts and interpreted them as if they were the dream upon which science was founded.
I don’t usually remember my dreams. I know I have had them, I can feel them silvering away, sliding into forgetfulness. I’m left with vague feelings of fear and dread – so maybe it’s best that I don’t remember.
But sometimes I do. The other night I clearly remember one – or at least a good part of it. I go on these photowalks when I can manage it, and one was scheduled for Friday night down in the arts district. I’ve been thinking about this walk – working on a way to carry a tripod (it will fit in a gym bag I have – barely) and planning on doing some long exposures in the dark – working with blur and such.
In my dream I was doing my photowalk and taking a lot of pictures. Suddenly, a scene opened up in front of me, something of indescribably beauty and interest. It must have been indescribable because I don’t remember what it was. But it was something that I absolutely had to take a photo of.
When I pushed the shutter nothing happened. I discovered that my memory card was full.
Frantically, I lowered my camera and began deleting photos I had taken, trying to free up space for this amazing something right in front of my eyes. But I was too slow, and missed the photo of a lifetime.
I wondered what this dream meant and resolved to take a lot of photos – maybe even fill the card up.
When Friday arrived I carefully packed my bag with my camera, full battery, extra lens, tripod, and cable release. At the appropriate time after work I lugged the pack down to the LBJ/Central DART train station to ride downtown for the photowalk. Once the train began to move I decided to check everything one more time. It was all in the bag… then I pulled out my camera. Checking the battery once more, I saw the dreaded warning, “NO SD CARD INSERTED.”
My card was, of course, still on my desk at home stuck in my laptop where I had transferred the data from my last photoshoot. I didn’t panic – but was pretty upset at my idiocy. I began to think, “This is a huge city, where can I buy an SD card?” I didn’t have much time,
I don’t like to be late to group things.
I knew there was a 7/11 convenience store downtown, right at my last train stop. It’s major purpose is to sell cheap wine to the homeless, but it might have digital cards – for tourists and stuff. I pulled out my phone, did a search and found a page that listed items that 7/11 stores carried. I typed in “Dallas” and was presented with odd results – then I realized it was a dot.au site and I was searching Australian convenience stores – not much help.
Time was slipping away – the train was hurtling toward a digital-less downtown. So I pulled up Google Maps on my phone, watching the blue dot of my train going down the tracks. Looking ahead – I noticed that there was an office supply store right next to the Lover’s Lane train stop.
I was able to find a 16 gig card in the clearance rack. The whole store had a sad feel to it, Amazon is grinding office supply stores to dust.
Walked back to the train stop, caught the next train, and made it right on time. The day was too hot and I had trouble getting enthused – though I heard a really good Texas ambient band, This Will Destroy You, at the Nasher and am now a bit of a fan. I did figure out how to handle the tripod, camera, and cable release – will work on my technique for the future.
And pay more attention to my dreams.
“That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. There’s no part in it, no shape in it, that is not out of someone’s mind […] I’ve noticed that people who have never worked with steel have trouble seeing this—that the motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon. They associate metal with given shapes—pipes, rods, girders, tools, parts—all of them fixed and inviolable., and think of it as primarily physical. But a person who does machining or foundry work or forger work or welding sees “steel” as having no shape at all. Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough, and any shape but the one you want if you are not. Shapes, like this tappet, are what you arrive at, what you give to the steel. Steel has no more shape than this old pile of dirt on the engine here. These shapes are all of someone’s mind. That’s important to see. The steel? Hell, even the steel is out of someone’s mind. There’s no steel in nature. Anyone from the Bronze Age could have told you that. All nature has is a potential for steel. There’s nothing else there.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
—-The Beatles, Blackbird
A lot of people wax enthusiastic about Buc-ee’s. These are giant, giant convenience stores, now mostly set along Interstate Highways in Texas as immense gas stations.
Most people rave about their clean bathrooms. In 2012 the New Braunfels Buc-ee’s won the Cintas Best Restroom Contest. When I was in college, a long, long, time ago, I ran a gas station in the middle of nowhere (sadly, it’s long closed now) during the summers and vacations. I would open up the small bathrooms ’round back at closing and hose them down good. That seems enough for me.
A typical Buc-ee’s has 60 gas pumps, 80 soda fountains, and 31 cash registers. You order your food from tablet-equipped kiosks and your selection is cooked (probably microwaved) to order. When I worked at that gas station in the 70’s I had two pop machines and a couple of shelving units full of candy, but … well, I mostly sold a lot (and I mean a lot) of cold beer.
There was one guy that would stop by every day, purchase a longneck bottle of Dr. Pepper out of the machine and a small bag of beer nuts. He would pour the sugar-coated nuts into the bottle of Dr. Pepper – some would always foam out. After selling him these for a few years I decided to try the concoction myself.
It wasn’t as good as I had hoped.
So, finally, after hearing so much about Buc-ee’s and seeing the beaver shirts – even eating a bag of beaver nuggets that someone gave me, I decided to stop at a Buc-ee’s and see what the hoopla was about. I don’t remember where I was coming from but I pulled off the interstate and parked along the grassy border (full of people letting their dogs shit) and walked in.
I was not impressed. It was huge… but simply more of the same. The restrooms were clean, I’ll give them that. I bought a fountain drink, and the ice was cold – so no complaints there. But it seemed to be so big and so tacky that it went beyond amusing to obnoxious. Actually, it was worse than that – it was boring.
When I walked out to my car the villainous bird in the photo was giving me the evil eye. He was hopping around looking for dropped Beaver Nuggets or any other misplaced sugary snack.
He gave me the creeps.