Another Death in July
Death possesses a particular life of its own - does it not? A glimpse into the bowels of what once was. Life and death refer to existence and no longer extant: but how can one quantify existence when it functions on a continuum? A sentiment and philosophy acknowledged in the band name N.E.R.D. (No-one Ever Really Dies), unless…
William S. Burroughs makes astute observation and provides deeper (spiritual) commentary on a not dissimilar concept on page seven of his book, The Western Lands, when he postulates scientific substantiations of souls and their cosmological essence and life span:
Can any soul survive the searing fireball of an atomic blast? If human and animal souls are seen as electromagnetic force fields, such fields could be totally disrupted by a nuclear explosion. The mummy’s nightmare: disintegration of souls…
As long as electromagnetic force fields (Souls) composed of interconnective energistic matter (fleshless human entities) are our corporeal destinies (if mushroom cloud causing annihilations remain unpressed) then Pharrel Williams and the rest of the N.E.R.D. clan, countless musicians, artists, and other cosmically attuned creatures of the Universe, and, lastly, the sagacious Joni Mitchell, who eloquently expresses her Universal understanding in the song, Woodstock, at the Woodstock festival:
...We are stardust / We are golden / And we've got to get ourselves / Back to the garden / Billion year old carbon / Caught in the devil's bargain / We are golden / And we've got to get ourselves / Back to the garden…
There exists an irrefutable responsibility upon the mislabeled and scapegoat identified “lost” : individuals blessed and cursed with grace and consciousness bound to infinity’s universal, sentient composed, stardust - an invincible ubiquity beyond our limited access to the physical realm. And this was exactly Toshio’s conundrum, reality: and its proceeding stages of ambiguous recompense. What Toshio began to realize was (gifted by way of metamorphic transition from experiential waking to purgatorial ephemera) these were his his final days of corporeal engagement: now he, like Dante, must backfill the blind spots of his emotionally inconsiderate and selfish past: Toshio was relegated to self-examination - how does one determine, with grace, the punishment equal the crime severity of their consequential past? One could suppose he is to tease out, through the allegorical recapitulations of actors by other names the degree and dosage of other’s resentments and interpersonal misfirings - all slowly comes to view once relocated from petri dish to viewfinder.
We are Dante; we are Virgil; we are Toshio: there is no escape. Another musical poet enters my mind to help illustrate the enormity of our cause, or struggle, or path to accepting the guilt: and that is Aimee Mann and her song, Wise Up.
It's not / What you thought / When you first began it / You got / What you want / Now you can hardly stand it though / By now you know / It's not going to stop / It's not going to stop / It's not going to stop / 'Til you wise up / You're sure / There's a cure / And you have finally found it / You think / One drink / Will shrink you 'til you're underground / And living down / But it's not going to stop / It's not going to stop / It's not going to stop / 'Til you wise up / Prepare a list of what you need / Before you sign away the deed / 'Cause it's not going to stop / It's not going to stop / It's not going to stop / 'Til you wise up / No, it's not going to stop / 'Til you wise up / No, it's not going to stop / So just, give up
As a reader (and listener) one can easily get caught in the song’s lugubrious misdirection. This is not a defeatist song. This song represents strength, hope, acceptance, and the rock bottom one requires to precipitate a personal change. Do not give up on life, give up fighting life. Fighting life is analogous to fighting grape jelly or Jell-o (and we all saw what happened to Bill Cosby). This is what Running to Death (RTD) represents: the recognition that life is an impossible absurdity and carving a path through its intransigent brambles to spite it best we can. Give up the fight and find a way to cut a sliver, the beginnings of a clearing, to spend your time (our most valuable asset) to do the things you are passionate about; the activities you love; the people you love; the places you love; the spirit you love. And I want to be very clear on the following point: sure, I am talking to you (if you choose to listen), but first and foremost I am talking to me. I am seeking a way, a path, to decency - a life I can feel proud of and content with - because we will blink, and be looking back on either a life well lived or a field of regret and resentment. And it is a choice. I once read that Abraham Lincoln said that most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be: I have to make a conscious effort to choose to make up my mind daily, because the misery is were I cut my teeth; it is where I honed my mind, sharpened my soul, and unraveled my being. And I am lucky: it mostly came back together - no longer can I give it away.