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Be High

About three weeks ago, I went for a hike in Castle Rock Park, alone, going far, and I talked to a plant for a long time. A madrone with a duckbeak snag and a moss beard.  I haven’t used pot or alcohol for twenty-five years, but I still like to be high.  When I find the way.  After all, it never was about getting high.  It’s always been about being high. And here’s the guy I was high with.

Amazing creature.  The skin of these madrone’s so smooth and bumpy.  I want to put him—them into a story.  I’m going to call them Bumpy the Tree-ee.

The way I met Bumpy—I was sitting on this overlook at Castle Rock where I can see across valleys and the Santa Cruz mountains, all the way to Monterey Bay…and I was pushing.  Trying to get high. And not making it.  Kind of despondently thinking, I know I used to get very excited by this spot, and…what was I used to do to get into this scene so heavily? Without having to burn a bone of the good old green.

Don’t take out your phone Rudy.  The road to High sure as f*ck doesn’t run through checking for emails, text messages, Twitter , and new stories on the Washington Post.

The wonderful doughy flesh of the madrone trees. They look like trees sculpted by someone unconcerned with the normal standards of how trees should be shaped. Fat branches sprout out thin branches instead of stepping through the intermediate stages. The trunks have great wens and buboes, elephant wrinkles and stomach-paunch folds; they puddle out at the base.

I decided to paint Bumpy. I’d been trying to get a new painting going, and all I had was this tasteful grid of colors that I kept changing.  I was inspired by Sylvia’s latest beautiful quilt, with wonderful colored squares, and circles inside the squares, and each square/circle divided in four. But I settled for plain old bland squares.  And then obviously I needed more.

I was on the point of putting faces into the squares—thinking the faces might represent characters or critters in my novel, but that felt boring, also the canvas isn’t very big, so the faces wouldn’t get much pop.  And then I decided to put in maybe just three faces, maybe to be characters in a story, and to have the middle of the canvas filled by Bumpy the Tree-ee.

“Bumpy the Tree-ee” acrylic on canvas, February, 2022, 28” x 22”. Click for a larger version of the painting. For more info see my Paintings page.

The painting took me a long time, like seven or eight sessions, when usually I can finish in four.  I kept adding to it.  Making the tree gnarlier.  Working on the kids’ faces.  Doing the color backgrounds over and over.

I’d like to put Bumpy and the three kids into a story to be a prequel or sequel to  my story “Everything Is Everything,” which I’ve rewritten quite a few times.  It’s a story about endlessly regressing scale.  Lower and lower size levels.  And it’s useful to remember that trees have extensive root systems. Bumpy’s root system might go down through transfinitely many size levels. He might be, in some very real sense, omnipresent, with a tendril always closer than you think.

I don’t want to do the stale thing of saying atoms are solar systems. For that matter I don’t want to hang out on the atomic level at all.  Hell, I already did that in my very first novel Spacetime Donuts—which I wrote in 1976, some 55 years ago.

I want to go down to the subdimensional level below the atoms.  I love that word “subdimensions.” But it’s a little misleading.  If we have Absolutley Infinite “Conway space” like in the Surreal Numbers post I did a while back, we’re talking more about size scale more than about subdimensions.  Maybe I better say infinitesimal, or no…transinfinitesimal.

The Mathematician Godfather makes you an offer you can’t understand.

The painting above is one of my favorite in the permanent collection at SF MOMA.  James Roseqnuist, “Leaky Ride For Dr. Leakey.”  I’ve never seen an explanation of the painting, but I have a theory.  First of all, Dr. Leakey was a British anthropologist.  But let’s just think of him as a man who’s perhaps interested in sex.

Sex?  Well “ride” suggests intercourse, right?  And we see a Pop Art glamor girl looking out through the star-path zigzags on the right.  And the central image shows an assemblage that’s screwed together.  And it’s dripping.  And pencils…well what other words start with PEN?  A Leady Ride for Dr. Leakey…and, harrumph, a thoroughly enjoyable one.

Am I high yet?  Jive can get me there.

Mystery guests behind the moire curtains. And when I see their “faces,” I scream until my voice cracks and goes silent.

Adventure.  Something to think about besides the three bringdowns: past remorse, present fear, future tasks.  Better: past happy memories, present is NOW, future is wide open.  No need to worry about it.  It ain’t here yet.

The third year of Covid coming on.  Wow.  Maybe nothing matters anymore.  Should I write another novel?  I’ll be 76 in March.

Last night I was thinking maybe I really am done with being a novelist.  Ageism is real. People tend not to care what I do, even if it’s good. And Age is real as well, that is, my powers are fading. At this point I’m sometimes repeating myself.

Novels take so long, and they’re so hard for me to sell anymore. If I’m bopping around the size scales, it could become a picaresque novel.  All that world-building.  Kind of frenetic, and tiresome to think about..

In a way I’m up for writing a transreal novel about getting old and dying, I did the afterlife in White Light. I danced around it in Juicy Ghosts, but didn’t fully go in there—although I guess teepsapce is a bit like the afterlife.

Get a grip, Rudy.  You don’t want to write a novel that’s about getting old and dying. That’s too much like real life.

Hi, Jack.

The broken clock all gone.

Time frozen.

Sylvia and I went down to Seabright Beach near the harbor in Santa Cruz. Very low tide, the riprap jacks deep in the sand, only a stub of the timeflown lighthouse.

Planet of the Apes. This was once a great city. And everyone was high.

The lean, faceless natives gathered, sounding shrill cries. They led us to a feast of roast carrion on a smoking pile of dried kelp.

The world is fun.

One Response to “Be High”

  1. swarm Says:

    I hope you write another book. Juicy Ghosts was so good! I really enjoyed your idyllic vision of a future internet where we’ll force all the techbros and right-wing psychos to log off and then talk to snakes about erotic asphyxiation.

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