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Cow Liver Goddess Satori

I’m still wondering what I might write next. How about two hundred thousand words of kvetching about my life—not. The memoir plan, I dunno, it’s not gelling for me. It feels like work instead of like fun.

Today I’m leaning towards a simple and crystalline SF novel. Something light and irresponsible. How about a UFO novel in the Young Adult mode. I’m imagining a scene with a bad kid, call him Denny Allaway, frantically humping a chunk of cow liver, imagining that it’s Weena Wesson, the Hollywood love goddess. Cute Sue Pohler is laughing at Denny. Our hero, Tim Bruno, helps Denny out of the saucer, shielding him from Sue’s ridicule.

It’s like an after-school special. They learn that the President of the U. S. has sold us out. So they set out to kill him—but are spared the karmic onus of the assassination when Tim reforms the Prez by talking sense to him—that would be a very after-school-special touch. As if you could teach a President anything by talking to him. But in YA-land, you can!

Or a book where a kid goes to visit his dead father in Heaven. I remember a radio play—maybe it was by Norman Corwin, “The Odyssey of Runyon Jones”—about a kid who goes to look for his dead dog in “curgatory,” first broadcast in 1941, I might have heard it as a re-broadcast around 1954. It’s available as part of an out-of-print CD set called Thirteen By Corwin, I’d dig hearing that if I can find it for free online.

I’m really starting to feel like myself again. I keep saying that, and then a week later, I realize I was only kidding myself the week before. Maybe I’m still kidding myself. How can you really tell when you feel like yourself, after all? It’s so subjective.

Writing this particular paragraph that’s magpied into this blog post, I’m sitting on the deck outside Borders Books, one of my favorite spots in Los Gatos—although it’s slightly tainted by the infernal noise of ventilation fans. I have a great view from under a huge live oak of a high, virgin, wooded hill called perhaps Monte Sereno. The shapes of the trees and shrubs along the ridge-line always make me think of the border of a cubic Mandelbrot set.

In this connection, I think of a guy I met at the Almaden IBM research lab near San Jose, around 1988, and we’d been in his office talking, and then we walked outside together and were looking at a wooded ridge-line similar to this one, and he was telling me that the patterns were—I don’t remember exactly what—some manifestation of a type of fractal or Fourier series that he was studying. He thought everything in the world was a reflection of what he was doing in his lab. But he was thinking this with a complete lack of irony, which is dangerous. I wonder what ever became of him.

I gave a great Christmas talk on cellular automata at that same IBM lab, also around 1988. I’d just gotten a CAM-6 cellular automata accelerator card, and I shoe-horned it into an early IBM PC and connected it to this monster projector they had in the lab. Nobody had projectors like this back then, so it was incredibly exciting to be projecting the enormous images.

When I was in the choir at St. Francis in the Fields Church in Louisville, around 1959, this funny boy, Roger, would sometimes sit next to me at rehearsal. He was a real 1950s type, with a burr haircut, heavy glasses frames, and a cocky attitude. His father was, I think, a real estate scam artist, physically resembling the then-famous con-man Billy Sol Estes whom I’d seen on the cover of Time magazine. There was this one hymn we were rehearsing, with the chorus, “Jesus loves you, why not serve him?” And Roger would make his voice sweet and gentle, and sing an obscene variant of the line. What a witty guy.

My wife and I spent the day in Santa Cruz today. It was really nice to be out seeing different stuff. The ocean was a nice aqua color. We ate some nice food, looked at bookstores. I bought a nice sweater on sale. I’m exhausted now, but in a nice way. Lying on the couch with my laptop.

This morning, as soon as I woke up, I felt good. The world outside is so green and lively. I recall a feeling I sometimes have when I’m flustered—less so now than when I was younger—of being in a tunnel, caught up in my worries, deaf and blind to the outer world. It’s all a matter of the attention that you’re able to pay.

The world runs itself without me. It used to baffle me that the world would go on after I die. I understand this better now. It’s like I’m just one particular monitor displaying the reality crunch. The interesting thing is the world itself—as opposed to the interesting thing being my individual mind. This is in some sense obvious, but somehow it’s not a fact that I really internalized until I was older.

5 Responses to “Cow Liver Goddess Satori”

  1. rs Says:

    I’ve been rereading “Time Enough for Love” for the first time in 30 years, its just Heinlein kvetching about his life. Your kvetching would be at least as interesting as his.

    I love the photo of the string at your feet.

    Nothing in the world would be what is without you.

  2. Steve H Says:

    You are #5 with “Monday morning when I answered the door there were twenty-one new real estate agents there, all in horrible polyester gold jackets.”

  3. Ogre Says:

    So, Mister Rucker – why is there a picture of my rather considerable, Utilikilt-covered tuchus (and the rest of me from that angle at what appears to be some SF con or other).

    Inquiring minds want to know (and are also amused).

    As do at least two of my friends who recognized me from the pic above and pointed me to it.

  4. Rudy Says:

    Ah, hello, Ogre. I took this picture at Anaheim Worldcon in 2006, and am in fact recycling it from the original post.

    WHY the picture is appearing again in this entry? Well, no real reason, just that I thought it was interesting, and it goes with the theme of “my wife and I.”

    When I have enough text for a post, and don’t have enough new pictures handy, I sometimes scroll through the past picture files and pick ones sort of at random, though not exactly at random, in that the Muse of Surrealism is always present to guide.

  5. Ogre Says:


    Thanks for clearing up the mystery. And kilts are comfy, really.

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