Tracey’s Yoga – Oprah Interviews Krishna

Krishna and Radha
Krishna and Radha

 

 

TRACEY FLAGLER’S YOGA

FROM TRACEY FLAGLER – A SOUTH BEACH NOVEL BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

WITH PSEUDEPIGRAPHIC EXCERPT FROM OPRAH INTERVIEW WITH LORD KRISHNA

The evidence of birth is made more public than that of death; we see many more babies than we do corpses during our lifetimes. Medieval people made no bones about the public display of bones, for instance celebrating All Saints Day in ossuaries, but we moderns manage to keep the most obvious fact of death more or less private, hidden away in hospitals, morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries. Although I was not familiar with my neighbor Stacey Flagler, when I discovered her beautiful body decaying on her bed on Thanksgiving Day, lying there as if it were an offering to the gods of this world, I was profoundly affected.

I worked as an hospital orderly in my late teens, and I saw and handled several dead bodies during the course of my duties – I noticed that deaths came in bunches, shifting from one wing to another. Making money seemed to be the purpose of human life, so when I counted the pittance I received as pay, which was less than a dollar an hour, I told myself that I had better hurry up and become a millionaire before it was too late. But I was really in no hurry, and I soon forgot the corpses I had seen, for I believed in my heart that my own life would go on forever one way or another, that I had all the time in the world to do anything I wanted to. Now that I am well over the hill, so to speak, and feel myself slowing down and going to pot; now that my contemporaries, friends, and family members are dying off; now that my bank account is short by nearly a million dollars; – I confess that I have serious doubts about my perpetuity.

Indeed, I am moved to admit that my body will undoubtedly perish. As for my soul, I do not know what that might be other than the “I” that I refer to as mine, the elusive unity or apperception and phantom pilot of the ghost within my machine, a selfish mental field that will most likely perish along with its platform. The thought that my self is merely software, the notion that I am an epiphenomenal ghost that did not exist in the first place, is comforting when not appalling. If I were never born, then how could I ever die? Still the machine does not want to run down, wherefore I cling to this self-conscious life in between nothing and nothing.

Stacey Flagler let go of hers. She had a terrifying craving she could not satisfy, an inability to relax due to an insufferable energy impelling her frantically forward at all costs. Witness this small portion of her handwritten confession to Abraham, the psychic entity that she adopted from Esther Hicks and then channeled for her own consumption:

“I feel like I have never translated my desires into a recognizable life that others could identify with. And why do I want that? So I can relax. Then I would feel like I had succeeded. Success would make me relax, because that would be my joy, and I want to be an example of joy, to teach joy. If only I could relax and let joy and passion and well-being in. But if I relax and find relief, then I don’t believe anything will have meaning! I might as well not have a body. I want to have a specific meaning in this minute, and what I want that specific meaning to be something I asked for and created. I want to know that I am powerful and can create security while I’m here, security for me, Tracey, the human being. As I look back I have always been looking for security even though it doesn’t seem like it, the security of easy joy and of more and more joy. It has all been about finding and keeping joy, choosing love, and love choosing me. Nothing is wrong with me – I’ve actually been attempting for seven or eight years to create my own reality and to accomplish that on a certain scale would be the ultimate security. At the same time, I’ve always wondered if something was wrong with me, if I should abandon my search for joy, to give up my commitment to stability in a physical sense. I think that creating my own reality puts me at a disadvantage. I believe I am unsure of it because just being happy, focused on love, having fun, and feeling contented will not inspire me to be that productive. I work harder discontented. So what does security feel like? It feels like I have to change external things to be secure, so to be secure I have to be insecure, to move from insecurity to security. To be secure I have to focus on my personal preferences, focus on things that matter to me. What do I want security to feel like? What matters to me? Non-resistance, keeping my body and mind clear of resistance, being in a state of joyful grace. Having physical things to focus on here can bring me joy. But then I will transform into something non-physical, and so why do any of this at all? Why does any of this matter? I am to fulfill my reason for being by just being here and being on the leading edge and having my personal preferences, but how do I get in on it? What is it that I wish to experience in the meantime, until I am fulfilled? I want the relaxation and joy that allows me to focus. Why? What is the point of anything? Do I really believe the point of life is to focus on and obtain my personal preferences? Yes, I do, but I just don’t know what they are anymore, or if I can even handle what I’ve asked for, or why they continue to included alcohol and drugs when that is clearly self-destructive! I just want to connect, but then you say that I need to be so connected that they are irrelevant to my connection, and then I can feel the greatest joy. You say I can find that connection on my own. But I think I need a partner to relax. I feel I must have a reason to love, someone else to love besides myself, and then my problems would be solved. But I know from what you say, Abraham, that what I am really longing for is the connection to Source, to my inner being. But if I am looking for my source, which I had in the first place, then why did I come here to look for it? Why have these circumstances with all of the fear and worry and insecurity that goes along with them? What is the point, then? It just doesn’t make sense! “I want to love someone who loves me back in the same way and it is mutual and they see that potential too and they hold onto that potential.”

She had turned to the popular postmodern culture for advice, to the splendiferous effusions of Oprah Winfrey; to the contradictory conversations of Neale Donald Walsch with his super-egotistical god; to the pronouncements of Abraham channeled by Esther Hicks; to the big Secret that must be kept in order to be believed in instead of laughed at – small secrets are leaked from time to time to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. She was told that the purpose of life is to have joy, that death is just a myth, that everyone can create their own planets in a universe that loves them. Since she did not feel the joy and love, since the reality she wanted to create was not obtained at will, and since life had no specific meaning for her, she chose the myth, perchance to be incarnated on another planet if not reincarnated on this one.

The risks attending such a fatal leap are mortal indeed, and I was duly mortified by Stacey’s premature departure. She took too big of a chance, I thought; that is, I thought so until she contacted me from the so-called “Beyond” the other day, from that place referred to at funerals as the Better Place – more on that later. I thought she might not have taken her last life if she had fallen into the right hands. Not that I blamed Oprah, the new high priestess of the New Age, or the postmodern gurus she or her guest celebrities endorse, nor did I blame their crowd of sympathetic sycophants, for elevating Stacey’s expectations and then letting her down when she reached out to them and discovered they were too busy creating their own realities to attend to her desperate needs.

We like to believe that our social icons are really special, but we should realize that, in order to attract the average person and be orthodox and politically correct enough to be popular, one has to specialize in mediocrity to a certain extent. Attractive models are not famous for their brains but for the looks or power or money we would like to have. That is not to say that every model is superficial, or that the spiritual world is really deeper than the supposedly shallow material world. Stacey was confused by the supposed relationship of the spiritual and material; she thought she needed stuff or the million dollars to buy it in order to make matter and spirit one and the same; then she would supposedly be completely relaxed, well loved and joyful, but she preferred the spiritual over the material, and to that extent she was not on the wrong track, she just needed a better model to keep her train on the right track to joyful love and eternal bliss.

To that end, I mused after Stacey’s early end, Bhakti Yoga would have been a much better vehicle for her than the claptrap jalopies haphazardly slapped together from Sixties’ New Age leftovers. She was right: There was nothing wrong with her, at least not for wanting the security and joy of loving and being loved. Untold millions of people are spiritually dissatisfied: there is nothing abnormal about that. Stacey might have been able to tolerate and even love the world with her self in it this world if only Krishna had appeared on the Oprah show, as in the unauthorized depiction below, and Oprah had plugged the Bhagavad-Gita. The wheel has been turning for eons; it is a terrible waste of time trying to reinvent it.

Stacey would have loved Krishna, I opined, so much so that she might have blissfully devoted her every action to the Supreme Personality without consideration of worldly reward. Chanting Hare Krishna, singing praises, dancing and cooking delicious food would be fun. Krishna is playful, by the way, so she would have had some of the fun she yearned for. And she would not have to worry about piling up a bunch of stuff to be happy. On the other hand, loving obedience to authority might not be her cup of tea, although some of that would be useful on a part-time basis. She loved and hated the same men, was conflicted over her objective relationships: she wanted but at the same time rejected love objects. She had to continually tell herself how much she appreciated the little things of life, and I doubted if the big things she thought would gain her respect from others would be good enough for her. In fact, no particular thing or person seemed to be good enough for her. She wanted to be connected to the source of everything, to be at-one with the infinite, yet it is extremely difficult to love an abstraction. Wherefore I imagined a synthesis of Bhakti Yoga, or love yoga, and Raja Yoga, or mystical yoga, would have suited her best; she might do both at the same time. Karma Yoga, or productive work yoga, was out of the question, for she really did not want to work for things, and Jnana Yoga, or philosophical yoga, would probably have flown over her head, for she wanted to get to the point.


OPRAH INTERVIEW WITH KRISHNAPSEUDEPIGRAPHIC EXCERPT 

OPRAH: Glad to have you on the show, Krishna.

KRISHNA: The pleasure is all mine, Oprah.

OPRAH: I have been reading about your pastimes. I see you made the National Inquirer again, just last week.

KRISHNA: Don’t believe every scandal you read. I like to have good, clean fun.

OPRAH: Clean fun? What do you mean?

KRISHNA: I always take plenty of soap with me.

OPRAH WINFREY: I understand that you like diary maids.

KRISHNA: I love them with my flute.

OPRAH: And you slay demons.

KRISHNA: That’s what they say.

OPRAH: How many lovers do you have?

KRISHNA: Billions if you count my many forms.

OPRAH: Wow! And you love them all back? How can you serve and be faithful to them all?

KRISNA: I can be everywhere at the same time.

OPRAH: It’s like television broadcasting?

KRISHNA: Sort of.

OPRAH: I feel blessed and graced with so many eyes on me, so many people adoring me. How do you feel?

KRISHNA: Transcendental.

OPRAH: Is that a feeling?

KRISHNA: It is your bliss if you are my devotee.

OPRAH: Bliss? Do people love you for the joy of it?

KRISHNA: Many of them do, especially my bhakti people.

OPRAH: And what is bhakti?

KRISHNA: Loving devotional service.

OPRAH: Why bhakti?

KRISHNA: Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the grinding wheel, the cycle of births and deaths. He attains the immortal abode of everlasting peace, bliss and knowledge. The ultimate goal of bhakti yoga is to obtain a feeling of pure bliss.

OPRAH: Oh, yeah. Joy is the key word, right? People devoted to you feel splendiferous, feel blessed and graced all the time, true ? I mean they feel really good about themselves, experience a lot of joy.

KRISHNA: Well, yes, all of that and more, but that kind of joy is just the beginning. Bliss is the ultimate state, and is far better than what you call joy.

OPRAH: But isn’t bliss joy?

KRISHNA: By bliss I mean something similar to what some of your Stoic gurus called apathy.

OPRAH: Oh, no, that doesn’t sound good. It sounds depressing.

KRISHNA: Bliss is actually an indifferent feeling. It transcends good and evil feelings. My devotee is ultimately free from joy and depression and the dread of harm. She expects nothing. She is pure, just, impartial, devoid of fear, and could care less about profiting from the results of her action. She is most dear to me and to others, for she is not afraid of them nor are they afraid of her. She who does not rejoice, find fault, complain, or covet stuff, who is not interested in good and evil results, is most worthy of my love.

OPRAH: OK. I guess. Is there equality?

KRISNA: My beloved servant is equal-minded to friend or foe, the same in honor and dishonor, in cold and heat, in pain and pleasure. She is satisfied with whatever happens: she not anxious about what might or might not happen in future. Praise and blame are the same as far as she is concerned. She pretty much keeps her mouth shut because she is content and therefore does not have to talk much. She is blissful everywhere, and may be what you call homeless, for she does not need to live in the same place all the time. I am her home. Her heart, full of devotion to me, is secured by me.

OPRAH: But she must get mad sometimes.

KRISHNA: Of course. But again, my devotee who is free from enmity, well-disposed towards all creatures, merciful, wholly exempt from pride and selfishness, the same in pain and pleasure, patient of wrongs, contented, constantly devout, self-governed, firm in resolves, and whose mind and heart are fixed on me alone, is dearest to me.

OPRAH: Okay, but is she immortal?

KRISHNA: This religion as I explain it is the sacred ambrosia, the very religion of immortality. Those who come to me full of faith, intent on me above all others, and united to me by devotion, are my most beloved.

OPRAH: But what about people who don’t want to bow down to a personal god, don’t believe in things they can see, and think stuff is vulgar. What about those who can’t stand the thought of a definite god and want to love the unbounded and infinite being, the unseen?

KRISHNA: There are many ways to skin a cat.

OPRAH: Please. I love cats.

KRISHNA: I spoke figuratively so that your audience might better understand me. There are several ways to the same goal. Those who worship me as a person, with constant zeal, with the highest faith and minds placed on me as a person, are held in high esteem by me. But those who, with minds equal toward everything, with senses and organs restrained, and rejoicing in the good of all creatures, meditate on the inexhaustible, immovable, highest, incorruptible, difficult to contemplate, invisible, omnipresent, unthinkable, the witness, indemonstrable, shall also come unto me. Yet mind you that for those whose hearts are fixed on the unmanifested, the labor is greater because the path which is not manifest is with difficulty attained by corporeal beings. But for those who worship me, renouncing in me all their actions, regarding me as the supreme goal and meditating on me alone, if their thoughts are turned to me, O Oprah, I presently become the savior from this ocean of incarnations and death. Place, then, your heart on me, penetrate me with thy understanding, and you will undoubtedly dwell hereafter in me. But if you should be unable at once steadfastly to fix your heart and mind on me, strive then, O Oprah, to find me by constant practice in devotion. If after constant practice, you are still unable, follow me by actions performed for me; for by doing works for me you will attain perfection. But if you are unequal even to this, then, being self-restrained, place all thy works, failures and successes alike, on me, abandoning in me the fruit of every action.

OPRAH: That is a mouthful. Can you sum it up for us?

KRISHNA: Sure. There is something for everyone or nothing if they prefer. There are four ways to supreme unity. The ways of knowledge, practice, meditation; and renunciation. Knowledge is better than constant practice, meditation is superior to knowledge, loving renunciation of the fruit of action to meditation; final emancipation immediately results from such renunciation.

OPRAH: You mean to have stuff is bad? Can you have sex? What about drugs?

KRISHNA: You can have nothing but the clothes on your back, a bowl of rice and a flower, and you may also have scrumptious vegetarian feasts for me, but take no drugs, and you can study and dance and chant all day, and have sex at night, but only for procreation of more devotees, and you can do lots of other devotional acts as well. On the other hand, you can meditate a lot, be driven around your ashram every day by a different beautiful woman or handsome man in a different Rolls Royce, and you can have a little laughing gas during your dental appointments, if you like. Just say no to drug use in general, including alcohol and tobacco and marijuana, without a special prescription from me, and don’t allow your disciples to traffic in drugs even if they don’t use them. Worshipping me is the greatest natural high of all.

OPRAH: So I can keep my $2.5 billion?

KRISHNA: As long as you devote yourself to my service, you will be immortal and blissful regardless of your wealth – remember, the Lord Himself is Opulent, and he loves the poor. Whatever is rendered to me is returned with compound interest, or, if you want less, then you will get less, and if you have faith in nothing because nothing is perfect and permanent, then nothing shall be yours for the asking, but it’s best to ask for nothing at all because nothing is infinite and nothing really works. Remember, it doesn’t matter what you have or do in my favor, for all things are mine and should be devoted to me anyway. When you are mine, when you love me, the universe loves you back and is yours no matter what you have on hand at the time of devotion.

OPRAH: I think I like the loving yoga you mentioned best. How do you do that?

KRISHNA: Here, I brought you some anklets. Please put them on. And here’s a bracelet with some bangles.

OPRAH: Oh, thank you! They’re beautiful. Listen to the little bells tinkle when I shake a leg! And the bangles, here, how they jangle so wonderfully. Very exotic!

KRISHNA: Yes, please stand up and shake a leg with me. Take this tambourine and jiggle it in the air. Good. Now take my hand. Let’s do some hip hop dancing and chanting. Repeat after me, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Got it?

OPRAH: I wish Ellen were here. Okay, here we go…Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna…. I feel blessed and graced. I think I love you Krishna.

KRISHNA: The feeling is mutual. Here’s a pouch full of my books, and you will find some flowers on top. You can carry it over your shoulder. My favorite book is the Bhagavad Gita.

OPRAH: Then I shall recommend it to everyone! Oh, this is fun! Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna….. We’ll be right back after this commercial….

Tracey’s Thanksgiving Suicide

Tracey Doll

 

TRACEY’S THANKSGIVING SUICIDE

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

I certainly understand why my next door neighbor, Tracey Flagler, may she rest in peace, opted out of her conditioned life in South Beach on Thanksgiving Day of 2007. I nearly did the same thing myself one New Year’s Day, so I have no right to blame her. Besides, what person in her right mind would want to live forever in the very world of circumstances that had made her so miserable? In any event, many reasons can be found for committing suicide.

Of course lunatics are not morally guilty of self-murder by reason of insanity. In their absence of mind they lose self-respect and the so-called instinct of self-preservation, and may therefore give effect to almost unimaginable scenes of self-mutilation and self-annihilation. Even an healthy individual might be momentarily seized by a heretofore repressed, fundamental anxiety, and suddenly be driven by a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach to her demise, throwing herself out of a window, for example, as a woman did during my lunch hour one day in Midtown Manhattan – fortunately the horizontal extent of her leap caused her to land on a taxi cab instead of the crowded sidewalk below.

Relatively sane people have many reasons to end it all. Notwithstanding the fact that thinkers have gone to great lengths to prove that suicide is irrational in itself, self-destruction may be a perfectly logical outcome of a person’s creed or rationale. Liberty is often cited as a sufficient reason to murder oneself if not countless others. People might kill themselves for some professed ideal, or to save the life of others, or perhaps to relieve caretakers of being a burden unto them. Suicidal libertarians might martyr themselves to demonstrate against and shame the authorities instead of assassinating them. Tyrants prize the lifestyles they have obtained at great cost to those who fear and envy them – indignant pride or wounded self-esteem has often provoked suicidal rebellion against one tyrant or another; although their suicide in itself gives tyrants little cause for remorse, perhaps the masses will take the cue and rise up against them. Greedy competitors in the war of all against all covet and hoard the things of this world at great cost to those who would rather make love than war – some people prefer not to set evil against evil, and kill themselves instead.

Abject poverty has always offered a civilized person a reason to embrace the ultimate poverty of death. Today’s religious individualism places the blame for poverty squarely on the I-god individual, who should prefer death to being cast on the street to be publicly shamed. Indeed, the rise of individualism in ancient Greece was accompanied by the increased discussion of suicide – discussions of the subject are believed to result in an increase suicide rate – not only due to social disorganization: if a man was his own best friend, he might rightfully put an end to a life that was not worth living as far as he was concerned.

Later on the Stoic schools condoned suicide, and even recommended it where immortality was disbelieved, for death was seen ever since the beginning of history as the cure for all ills. Unreasonable suicide was deprecated by reasonable men including Stoics, but many Stoics and Cynics who were indifferent to death as evil and life as good would not even scoff today at woman today who killed herself for breaking finger nail: the founder of Stoicism was said to have killed himself over a wrenched finger. A truly indifferent Stoic might do himself in even if he were happy; likewise an unhappy person might suffer indefinitely. Others simply saw suicide as a naked human right.

Homelessness is despised wherever money is God, and some people think God puts homeless persons on the street as a warning. Where money must be had to purchase love, not much can be said for love or for the value of money, and everybody suffers accordingly. And wherever expectations run high, disappointments are accordingly severe. In any event, there is no end to desire.

The bare necessities are never enough, and wants are multiplied with the supplies as advertised. Tracey Flagler, for example, had food, clothing, shelter and a bicycle, but that was not enough: she went to the movies, she watched television, she read magazines, and she served rich and famous people at the restaurant, observing them having a lot of fun, and she read prophets who said the purpose of life is to have fun, and Oprah agreed with them, and Tracey wanted more than what she had, and she didn’t get it, and the prophets said there was no such thing as death, and she apparently threw away everything she had along with the slim chance that everyone is supposed to have in this great nation of ours, the chance to get filthy rich.

We have lately heard that there is a hereafter where all is forgiven, that death is not final after all, that there really is no such thing as death for us, and that our souls are immortal. I happen to know that Tracey Flagler heard that rumor, along with rumors about reincarnation on self-created planets – I read about them in her diaries. I have no doubt whatsoever that it was a factor leading to her premature departure from this planet. A suicide with a reason to kill himself may as a matter of habit feel that he is virtually immortal even though he knows he will actually perish – he believes the future state, even nothingness, is something that will relieve him of his anxiety, hence in that respect nothing really exists for him.

Of course the Judeo-Christian religion scruples against self-killing, citing the sixth commandment against killing while engaging in the wholesale slaughter of foreign enemies who seemingly worship the same god. Remember, “Thou shalt do no murder” is the sixth commandment, properly translated; obedience to God might require one to kill enemies, and killing is not, legally speaking, murder. Mind you that there is no text specifically prohibiting suicide in the Judeo-Christian canon, but the religious still consider it a great evil, not only because life is said to be a gift of God for us to use but which we do not own, but also on the rational grounds that our will to live naturally causes us to fear death, to deem life good and death evil; hence life is the ultimate datum, the greatest good of all goods, wherefore we should revere it and refuse to drink the bitter tea.

According to Plutarch, a rational remedy was employed to cure a terrible affliction suffered by the maidens of Miletos. The ladies were, for some unknown cause, overcome with such a mad desire to die that they hung themselves before they could be prevented from doing so. A wise man moved that a resolution be adopted, that their bodies would be displayed in the shopping center; the malady ended upon the adoption of said resolution.

Besides, suicide costs the society a taxpayer, hence is a sort of theft from the commonweal. We note that, in 1807, twenty-eight Russians buried themselves alive to escape the census, which they believed was sinful.

Let it not be said that one should kill oneself or get oneself killed like the son of God in order to obtain some good, for thou shall not kill, and it is wrong to do an evil to get any good. We project our native instinct to live forever onto a higher personal power, which is a rational power by virtue of being personal, i.e. human: therefore we must find sufficient reasons why God commands us all to live. Suffice it to say that the evil is not in the suicidal act itself but in disobedience to God’s will. Keep in mind that God exists and that suicides will roast in hellfire forever. In fact suicide is high treason, a direct revolt against the almighty will of God. In effect suicide is blasphemous because it seems to detract from the belief that God’s will is in fact all mighty. Further, suicide is a grievous insult to humankind as such.

God does command a few worthy followers to martyr themselves in his name. Jesus was not, then, a suicide but was an obedient son – he would never have committed suicide-by-cop on his own. Yes, indeed, although we are sent here as sentinels, a few of us may be called upon by the Commander to abandon our post. Righteous suicide may be committed for the glory of God, just as humankind wages war against itself in the name of God for the improvement of the race. After all, religion is verily virtual suicide, a denial of that aspect of man’s brutal nature, which includes not only an instinctive urge to fornicate with any woman in sight but also to kill whosoever stands in his way, including his own self. Wherefore self-sacrifice for the love of God and contempt for the perishables of this world including the rotting flesh of the body bag of filth is sometimes warranted for the ascetically inclined.

Suicide is cowardly and ignoble, anti-heroic, a murderous act of sheer desperation. It is better to be killed by an evil-doer or tyrannical authority than to do evil unto oneself by self-murder if one cannot escape from its power. The noble person dies nobly, heroically confronting his undoing, while the ignoble person kills himself to escape what the noble person courageously endures. The suicide does not resist: he is afraid. He despairs and desperately takes his own life. Besides, if there is no afterlife, then this existence, no matter how miserable it might be, is better than nothing. It is better to be miserable than not to be at all.

That might very well be the ignoble and cowardly attitude, one that runs counter to the grain of human nature, which cries out for liberty or death. But most of us are neurotic enough to stick around no matter how miserable we might be, and, notwithstanding the stoical and cynical attitude of pessimistic skeptics, despite our suffering we may expect to be saved from our end right down to the bitter end, which some sweet-lemon prophets advertise as the happiest moment of our lives. The I-god prophets of the Me Era’s popular religious individualism believe individuals live forever at will, intentionally donning and doffing a series of bodies along the way – dying is simply a dramatic scene; death is a farce since there is no such thing.

A discontented person might just move to some other part of the world. But no matter where you go, although that part of the world might look somewhat different, it is the same old world, and there you are, with the same old history, and with the same old stuff to buy thanks to mass production. All of that is quite boring after awhile, and the stuff soon begins to look like so much trash, junk and garbage again.

As for another world, a netherworld or a hereafter which is presumably quite a bit different than this one because it is also inhabited by aliens from other planets who happen to wear medieval costumes as portrayed on Star Trek – why would people want to betake themselves to such a beyond with much of the same old baggage that weighed them down in this one? That would be the continuation of hell on Earth. As for me, I love myself well enough, but I would not take my historical self with me to heaven, I speculated, only to taint paradise and get the vicious cycle going again. History, after all, is to some extent a mistake. It would be best to be born again with the slate wiped clean. But if we arrive with our memories wiped clean, what’s the use of surviving? If I am not to remember my current self on that better planet, if I am to be purified of that naturalized and socialized individual that I think I am now, what do I, as I am, care about that place, other than to be confident that, before I am transported there, my conception of me will be forever laid to rest, even before my body is rendered personally irrelevant and arrives at its final resting place in a grave, or perchance is somehow scattered about – the Hindus and others would leave nary a trace of that sullied cloak behind. May my unsullied soul continue forever without me if it will, and may that continuance be no business of mine for heaven’s sake: Karmic regression or progression is not my concern if I may not remember what transpired before in order to know whether my present state as a werewolf or a demigod is better or worse than my past state.

All the reasons for and against suicide seem to add up to nothing for certain. If one does not embrace life as a premise to be upheld and revered in all circumstances, whether by commandment of a god or not, then a number of options present themselves. Given the warring history of the human race, the consensus seems to be that the quality of life is more important than life itself.

Tracey Flagler tried very hard to appreciate the quality of her life, which was no doubt better than that of untold millions of inhabitants of this planet, and the fact that she tried so hard makes it evident that it was not for her in the first place. She was young and attractive and passionate, a fun-loving girlfriend to her boyfriends; she was always able to find good jobs serving delicious food; she picked up hundreds of dollars in tips almost whenever she wanted to; she had a modest studio two blocks from a beautiful beach. But none of that was enough. She suffered terribly for the dearth of some ineluctable thing that she thought was the purpose and point of life, namely fun or joy. She never had enough fun, and thought the lack was due to a shortage of stuff. The pop prophets reinforced her faith in fun and in the notion that it can be purchased. Her notebooks reiterate endlessly the impoverished terminology of the instant success cult: I, want, fun, joy, me, feel, source, Oprah, money, stuff, famous, Madonna, eternal, rich, universe, attraction, vibrations…. And then there are the almost pathological perseverations, the fearful chanting of positive affirmations – unfortunately, we cannot make ourselves appreciate something simply by affirming the appreciation that we don’t really have over and over again.

The handwritten menus, the lists of ingredients in various dishes, that I found in Tracey’s notebooks are far more mouthwatering, and led me to believe that her life would have been richer if she had focused her intensely passionate nature on the objective details of things, on the consideration of other people, on the study of some liberal art she might have some interest in – a course in academic philosophy might disenchant her of the popular delusions.

At the bottom of Tracey’s being there was an awful want, a terrible desire, a craving so intense that only a Buddha or a withdrawing drug addict could fathom it. Of course the inchoate desire she suffered was not unique. We have it in common, but we manage to cover it up, put it on a leash, subdue it, repress it, ignore it, or just accept it and suffer it. Some suffer it more than others, and poor Tracey simply could not tolerate the suffering. She wanted to believe the hype that the purpose of life is a constant joy that can be had in hand, instead of admitting the truth, that human nature is suffering, and that without it even fleeting joy would be impossible. She had her doubts about the eternal joy business: she expressed her anger at the false prophets from time to time: “I HATE you, I HATE all of you!”

That is not to say that overt suffering is a good thing or that we should suffer needlessly. Freud was right: Neurotic people cling to their misery in self-defense no matter what paradise is promised. Sometimes we suffer only because we want to, although we don’t know it. I developed a habit of asking myself, when miserable, “Do I want to make myself miserable?” No? Then I dwell on something else, and that’s the end of that. Thoughts do influence matter, that much is self-evident, but the magic of positive thinking needs the right means.

Tracey thought a million dollars would afford her more leisure to have the kind of fun she wanted to have. Most of us without a million bucks would not mind having a million or more. If only everyone could get their hands on a million dollars, our world would presumably be a much better place to live in provided inflation could be held to less than two percent per annum. Yes, a million dollars would make room for more fun, but fun at doing what? If I had a million dollars I might quit my day job tomorrow and invest my time in saving the world with success books. Ideally they would be written, edited and published by yours truly, under my Three Stooges Publishing imprimatur. I already have the first book in mind, How to Make a Million Dollars for Somebody Else. I shall submit it for approval by Oprah Winfrey’s book club. I can see myself now, chatting with Oprah on her show, explaining how the world would be a much better place if everyone would try to make a million dollars for someone else rather than for themselves, and I shall suggest that she use some of her $2.5 billion to sponsor a brand new reality show called The Pot Latchers. I shall bring along Tracey’s One Million Dollar Bill coffee mug and some her catnip tea for people who like to see magic stuff, and I shall bring along Penelope, her teddy bear, too. Ten percent of the profits would go into the Tracey Flagler Foundation for Stray Cats.

Oh, Dear Tracey, I did not know you when you were here, but I know you well enough now, and I miss you. You were welcome here. You thought you were a weirdo; you thought that you did not fit in here because your craving was not satisfied, you felt nobody could make you whole or fill your hole. If only you had known that South Beach is for weirdoes, and that you would have fit right in here, we could have had fun suffering life together. We could have had fun riding in limos. We would have gotten on the Oprah show. We would have opened up an erotica boutique, a tattoo parlor, and a night club on Washington Avenue. Yes, we would have suffered, but we would have had a great deal of fun even thought that is not the purpose of life.

# #

Tracey’s South Beach Neighborhood

LUMPEN HEADER

TRACEY’S NEIGHBORHOOD

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

 

 

Tracey Flagler, may she rest in peace, was my neighbor. I barely knew her when she was with us. After I found her remains in her apartment, I thought she might be any one of us despite our differences. The soul is bared when the body is decomposed, a soul essentially simple, without height, breadth or depth, at once boundless, numberless, and one.

Reality when beheld from the right angle is an inexhaustible diamond mine no matter where an author might dig. Now that Tracey is gone for good, she is quintessentially as good a subject as her great idol, Oprah Winfrey, who was in Africa when she needed her, and who no doubt would have come to her rescue if only she had known of her desperate plight.

A ragged servant and a rich queen in this great log-cabin to white-house, or squalid ghetto apartment to $50 million mansion great nation of ours, are at most and at least born equal; and to that equality all are fated to return. Notwithstanding a final judgment on their accidental particulars as individuals, they are hypothetically not only categorically the same as an existential category of one, but are in the final analysis are substantially the same as well.

Although only individuals may apparently exist; although there may be no substantial continuity between individual things; although there may be no universals binding particulars; although the forms we perceive may be illusory, accidental configurations of matter; – still, in order to maintain our dignity, a wondrous exception must be made for our divine soul. Undoubtedly that soul is not merely nothing but a name for the Vanity of vanities: no, it is not an empty excuse for nothing but ignorance; it is rather the supreme personal being, the universal I-god who presides over the cosmic stuff. Withal, no man in his right mind is a nominalist in his own right.

Tracey was virtually alone in this crowded world. Her heirs if any were unknown, and the personal effects that survived her were seemingly too inconsiderable to make an estate of any interest to the state. In any event, the stuff in her apartment was up for grabs, thanks to our landlord – he left her door open for the Salvation Army truck. My fellow neighbors carted off a few of her things, but they missed what I discovered in the proverbial Field of Diamonds, that is, one’s own backyard. The hidden treasure was worth more than the million dollars Tracey had asked the Source for in Oprah’s name, money she needed to relax and have fun, to be free to be joyful every minute, free to be the proud proof of the success everyone wants, instead of scraping out a meager living as a hassled waitress for tourists and the occasional rich and famous people whom she wanted to join at table instead of wait on.

Although she wanted more than what she had, Tracey very much enjoyed her South Beach apartment. She left notes behind expressing her appreciation:

“I am glad to have a city and a place to live in and my health and my kitties – I’m glad to have that in my life. Success is based on enjoying and appreciating physical stuff. I begin by appreciating the stuff I already have. I appreciate South Beach and the beautiful ocean, the colors and the architecture of South Beach. I appreciate the beautiful things in my apartment: my TV, my overstuffed chair, my kitties, all of the cool colors, my plastic glasses, my Etch ‘O Sketch, my dry-eraser board. Yes, it is small compared to the mega-stuff I have asked for, and I feel stupid, but it is so BIG compared to what I once had. I am angry that I allowed myself to dream so big, yet I can harbor so much more in JOY than I used to be able to. Is there any reason that I can’t continue? Why cannot I continue to keep up my success?”

The apartment Tracey appreciated so much is in a small complex on one of the last half-dozen blocks of the blighted old South Beach ghetto that has otherwise been gentrified. It is barely a stone’s throw from the so-called chic scene on the southern extremity of the City of Miami Beach, the living end dubbed ‘South Beach’ by the promoters, where Tracey worked as a waitress, and is a mere block from Washington Avenue, the vulgar, drug-ridden nightclub strip favored by tattooed hip-hoppers and mentally ill vagrants. The rental property has an assessed value of one-million dollars and comprises three small two-story buildings, with four identical studio apartments to each building, squeezed into a perpendicular row from street to alley. Living quarters therein are dirt cheap: $750 to $800 per month; the equivalent of the first and last month’s rent must be deposited in advance as security.

A severely damaged sculpture, a tall monolithic wooden structure onto which an illusory resemblance of the face of Mona Lisa was slashed with a saw, stands out front in a small plaza. The sculptor sprayed it with graffiti and smashed the face of his creation before he moved out. The landlord, who complains that he has little money for maintenance because his rental profit has is taxed out of existence if he reports it, has not bothered to remove it. The plaza out front as well as the narrow yard and sidewalks all around the buildings are usually cluttered with trash thrown carelessly on the ground by tenants, and socks, rags and underpants tossed out of the windows of the apartment building next door, and dead palm leaves, sticky palm nuts, motor scooters, and a great deal of stinking dog excrement.

As we say in Miami, “It’s the stupid culture, stupid.”

A five-foot high, white metal picket fence runs along three sides of the property. The fence is for naught since the tenants could care less about keeping the gates locked because they want to let their drug customers get it, or are just afraid to lock them: a resident was stabbed into a comatose state recently by a homeless man who was angered at him for locking them, thus denying him a convenient easement from the alley to the street. Club-goers drop by occasionally and use the premises as a toilet, as do the huge dogs that live on the premises and on the block; the place has been likened to a kennel. One resident dog lover had to move out of his apartment and off the beach because it is illegal to keep pitbulls on Miami Beach. The dog, a pitbull-Doberman mongrel, was over-friendly yet presented a terrifying aspect as it played, tearing around corners of our buildings lickety-split to charge at any two-legged prospective playmate in sight. The owner, a waiter at a popular restaurant nearby, was a nice enough fellow, but his culture mandated shouting commands interspersed with key curse words at the dog at all hours of night, not cleaning up after the dog, and yelling Ebonics into his cell phone while pacing outside our windows when he got angry, using frightful gangster-rap talk.

When nature calls, animals respond. The sound of two ladies simultaneously talking on their cell phones woke me up late one night last week. With miniskirts pulled up and panties around ankles; they were urinating underneath Tracey’s stairwell, just below her neighbor’s window downstairs. I put the finely rounded brown asses of the two squatting ladies in the spotlight with my flashlight; they squealed, pulled up their panties in a hurry and scurried away. Late last evening, a couple came onto the property and took shelter from the rain under Tracey’s stairwell. Their groaning sounds awoke me, and I thought someone was hurting. I went to the window; the couple was obviously having consensual sex, so I retired to let them have their way. Of course some of the hundreds of vagrants who live in South Beach alleys sometimes sleep on our outside stairwells. And one homeless man regularly uses the outside electrical outlet to charge his cell phone late at night – if only he would not talk on it so loudly, nobody would care.

The large abutting building walling off the north side of our ground is an unlicensed hotel residence occupied by non-English speaking Hispanics, the majority of them illegal aliens. The shrinking economy is sending some of them back to impoverished Mexico as I write. They are a relatively peaceful lot. One of the, however, was dumping his garbage onto our six-foot wide lawn along the building, but we found his phone number on a takeout slip for tacos in the garbage – a phone call threatening to call the police and immigration resolved the problem immediately. Two large-bodied workers who place their shoes and socks on the window sill can be seen sleeping in one small bed from time to time. Another tenant therein plays raucous Mexican music for an hour each evening. In case anyone is interested in such details, the inhabitants without curtains may be viewed taking showers. Welcome to the Third World in South Beach.

Lawrence, my first next door neighbor, mentioned Tracey shortly after I moved into my second-floor studio in the building in front of hers – I could look directly into her place from my back window in the bathroom. He said she was a sweet girl, and that if he were straight he would definitely go for her, but he doubted he would get very far because, he said, she preferred black men, an assumption made from a handsome brown gentleman regularly seen at her door – why do we whites have to work so hard for our tans? Lawrence, a New Yorker through and through, apparently had no such color preferences. He said he had overheard Teddy, our Puerto Rican neighbor downstairs, making racist remarks on his cell phone; he said was deeply offended by such low-class talk, although he was otherwise impressed by Freddy’s linguistic facility, particularly his elocution and smooth tone of voice, as well as his ass.

I did not think Teddy’s voice was so smooth. He did not want to disturb his own family, so he was wont to come outside and yell into his cell phone below our windows. And then he liked to party with friends and a jug of wine on our stairwell. I spoke to him quietly about the annoyance, but he said he was the de facto resident manager; he said he did not care what I thought, that I should just move. I became the jerk who straightened him out the next night with a scene that included cops in the cast. He apologized through the landlord, and became quite the gentleman thereafter. He is now the head of a family of five including the dog, all cooped up in one room with a large entertainment center that thumps into the night until I call him or bang on his ceiling. He does try to be considerate, but our floors, which do not comply with the city’s soundproofing code, and the walls are paper thin and he loves drumming. And now he takes his cell phone to the street for long calls. He could be a very successful family man, a man with a house and loving family and a backyard for the dog, if only he would reach for the stars. But he reached for Section 8 housing, and turned it down after waiting 3 years – he did not want to raise his kids in a violent ghetto. So here he remains, with a brand new baby. I want him to be successful, but my own circumstances are certainly not a pulpit from which normal success can be preached without hypocrisy – I am presently a successful failure.

Lawrence and I became immediate friends, but he moved back to New York two weeks after I arrived, one reason being that he was angered by Teddy’s racket-making, another being that, although he was gay, he could not stand the “mean young gays” who live on South Beach.

I know my other neighbors even less well than I knew Tracey, whom I barely knew. I am a gregarious person, but my neighbors live on their own little planets and want to keep it that way. Indeed, when I greeted a neighbor who lives in the front building, and said that I did not know my neighbors, she said she did not want to know hers, and abruptly turned her back on me and walked away. I only know her from her orgasms when her boyfriend visits – she is a screamer.

I stopped greeting the two men who live in one of the back studios, as they are exceedingly sullen and gave me the impression that I am a gringo they would rather kill than say hello to. There is, however, one courteous fellow downstairs: Carmichael, a bodybuilder, nightclub doorman, and youth worker, but I rarely see him because he works day and night. And there is my sole neighbor upstairs, whom I rarely see because he works nights as well; thankfully, he is the quietest man on earth, and he put a welcome mat and plants on our shared stairwell instead of the customary bags of garbage.

Now then, since the ubiquitous “I” is our main subject, I am eager to say something about my appreciation of some things. What do I appreciate about my physical environment? I appreciate the beach most of all. If it were not for the beach itself, South Beach would be nearly worthless, at least in my opinion as a frustrated beach bum. Well, yes, I appreciate the Art Deco architecture when the sun falls upon the pastels in a certain way, although I consider the ornamental style superficial and cheap on the whole. As for function, many of the buildings were barracks, and might better have been torn down long before being put on the historic preservation list. My apartment complex is unusual, not Art Deco ornamented. I appreciate my studio, but I liked it better when it was almost bare inside. I do not require much stuff to be an enormously successful failure. I am leery of owning luxuries, preferring to view them when they are in someone else’s possession, or when displayed in museums and picture books. For me beauty really is in the mind of the beholder. I am complex within but a minimalist without. I have furnished my studio with a few things from the alley, and with a TV and microwave from the much smaller, hotel room I had lived in before the hotel was purchased by the usual greedy developers eager to get their hands on some of the surplus capital buyers have ripped off from labor or borrowed from banks. The vulgar residents of that unlicensed hotel, which served several drug dealers and prostitutes well enough, were precipitously evicted to make way for the gentry; holdouts had their doors kicked in by off-duty Miami Beach cops. The hotel sits empty two years later. I got a TV and microwave off the landlord.

My most useful possession is the used computer my generous friend Darwin gave me after I wrote his ‘Manifesto on Cubosurrealism’. I also have plenty of books to appreciate, titles such as The Deconstruction of Literature, Fathers and Sons, The Way We Never Were, Ten Philosophical Mistakes, Suicide, The Egotists, The Pursuit of Loneliness, The Success and Failure of Picasso, The Myth of Male Power, Becoming Mona Lisa, The Lonely Crowd, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Great Cons and Con Artists, Magister Ludi, and The Skin of Chagrin.

Tracey was all alone when she suffered her breakdown, too depressed even to reach out to her high priestess, Oprah, perhaps the only person in the world who might have saved her with a talk. Chatting on her cell phone failed to relieve her loneliness, so Tracey had turned it off for good.

The Pursuit of Loneliness, copyrighted in 1970, claimed that American culture, with its economy based on greedy individualism, was at the breaking point. The problem with the striving for money is that its value is inflated, from a tool facilitating exchange to a digital symbol of power; thus the lust for easy money distracts people from actually producing and distributing the basic goods and services and the better environment that everyone needs. As for the liberated American woman, she is still manipulated to live for the convenience of men, who still cultivate violence at home and abroad.

The Lonely Crowd, copyrighted in 1961, suggests that our “other-directed” contemporary individualism may be more flexible, but in fact is as conducive to conformity as the “inner-directed” or tradition-bound individualism we associate with the legendary “rugged individual,” whose common morality was implanted in early life by authority figures. Now that relative affluence has been obtained for the majority of Americans, the problem is less and less with squeezing out a living from the natural environment, and more and more with profiting from other people, with whom everyone is increasingly in touch by mass media, which of course serves the rigid organizations needed to harness the new flexibility. Rapidly changing fashions, instead of enduring morality, is the contemporary rule for other-directed people, who are, on the whole, and especially if they are rootless Americans, more friendly and shallow, wasteful and insecure than the inner-directed traditionalist of old. A survey of people on the street or review of any popular magazine rack or an audit of casual conversations belies the notion that contemporary persons are unique individuals in any way – if anything, they have been over-socialized. So we are virtually zombies, possessed consumers. We have more and more things to choose from, but the choices are not ours; we want something else besides all that, but we really don’t know what that is, or quite how to get it, and we lose faith in the whole shebang not to mention our idols and gods.

One of Tracey’s letters, penned shortly before her departure, illustrates the postmodern milieu:

“I want to be proud. What is pride? What is being proud? What do I want my definition of pride to be? Pride is in visible, external success, the proof of greatness. Since I want pride, I lack pride and must really hate myself. I want greatness but am not great. If most of the people in the world died today or went to prison unfulfilled, I believe they might still be great, but they were unable to recognize their greatness. Is that the meaning of failure? For me it is because I know these processes, I know the secrets of the universe and I still screw up. I don’t care about those people who don’t know they are great – I care about me. What is it all for? We could die in a week and what is it all for? What do I want it to be for? I wanted to be able to be happy in every moment, to choose stuff in every moment and have that lead to greatness. Why, why, why? For the fun of it, that’s why. I wanted to feel that way, to have joy, and I saw famous people feeling that way, having fun. Everybody wants money and fame so I figured that if I could have that it would lead to joy. So I wanted to be great. If there is no proof of greatness then what is the point of being here? Why bother? Because they tell me all this stupid crap, like I can create anything I want and am a genius creator, et cetera et cetera. And then I look at my stupid life and the fact that I can’t even exist without some weird, intense pattern of thought taking over, and I sometimes think we are all so full of crap, so full of crap that life is really futile.”

I have retrieved a few of Tracey’s things and have suitably positioned them around my place to get to know her better. In addition to her secret stash, I have her big brown teddy bear named Penelope, a Voodoo charm, the dry-eraser board, a cute little bowl, a large mug decorated all around with the image of a one-million-dollar bill, fifteen boxes of tea, and books entitled The Millionaire Mind, Pathfinder, Self Matters, What Color is Your Parachute, and Basic Spanish Grammar, along with representative samples of her subscriptions to O – The Oprah Magazine and Oxygen.

The Salvation Army will pick up the rest of Tracey’s stuff next Friday. The stuffed chair is a prize but the neighbors do not want it, as it is very large for small studios and rooms, and one would need two men and a truck to get to move it.

Tracey’s somewhat dated books are in mint condition, as if they have never been cracked. Opening The Millionaire Mind at random, we find this tidbit from a multimillionaire’s mouth, for digestion by success-seekers:

“We feel power and control…. It’s a sense of power. You become king within reason. I have a small corporation…. Those that don’t agree with me can resign…very democratic.”

The Pathfinder’s subtitle is, ‘How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success.’ We learn that “part of the reason so few people have truly satisfying lives is that they simply do not have tools adequate to the task of designing such a life.” The author provides us with the tools, after noting that “most of us would not be willing to live such a life for very long, even if we could design it.”

Self Matters addressed the subject of ‘Creating Your Life from the Inside Out.’ The author assigns us our first task on page 63: “Beginning right now, with only the second chapter of this book, I am asking you to take a huge ‘time out’ from this scramble you call life, and to focus on the one doing the scrambling: you. I am asking you, demanding of you that you focus fully and unapologetically on you.”

What Color is Your Parachute would have us know that there is a job out there for you: ‘Write This on Your Forehead, There Are Always Vacancies Out There,’ reads the rubric on page 19 of the 2006 edition.

As for Basic Spanish Grammar, facility in Spanish is often essential for getting a low-paying job in Miami. ‘Bilingual (Spanish) required’ reads the Help Wanted advertisement.

Practice makes perfect. If Tracey did not read these books, still in pristine condition, those of us who have read them and are still stuck in a rut might not blame her: we known what to do but don’t do it, for that is the very nature of the rut.

Honore de Balzac would certainly appreciate Tracey’s million-dollar coffee mug in the wee hours. I’m drinking my coffee from it as I write, and with this wish, that Tracey Flagler returns from The Beyond to sue me for stealing her secret. I shall raise the defense that her last testament left her estate to finders-keepers. And then I shall gladly cut her a settlement check for the cool million dollars she wanted so badly that she did not notice it beneath her feet, just as I did not look down at the roll of hundred-dollar bills my right foot stepped on the other day while strolling along Washington Avenue – I cursed at the felt impediment and kept on walking; a homeless man ran across the street to pick it up the money: “Oh, my God!” he exclaimed. God, indeed!

I was taught not to look down, but to keep my head always held high, and to look upwards, at empty space, when I prayed – perhaps that is why I have faith in Nothing instead of in things. I appreciate the fact that that poor man who looked downwards got the bankroll – I did look downwards at the Equinox gym one day during my free trial and found a $100 bill on the gym’s floor.

Oh, yes, appreciation: I appreciate even more the fact that my studio has six windows. I appreciate the marvelous webs spun between the palms and the buildings by the crab spiders. I appreciate the two little trees the landlord planted outside my window. They were knocked down by hurricanes several times, but they took root during the last two, untroubled seasons. Butterflies, duly camouflaged with yellow wings, flit about the yellow flowering leaves on a background of dark green leaves, and a noisy blue jay has taken up residence in one tree – when I answer with a song from my flute, he takes off for awhile. I used to look out of my window above the bathtub when showering, to appreciate the sight of Tracey’s favored fluffy kitties sitting in her window – stray cats also sunned themselves on her doorstep, dreaming of another bite to eat from her generous hand.

Yes, I appreciate South Beach, my apartment, and the things in it. I imagine Tracey Flagler felt some joy in her circumstances, just as I have joyful moments in mine. But who is Tracey Flagler, and who am I? That remains to be seen.

To be continued

Photo Credit: Sketch by Darwin Leon

Tracey Flagler’s New Age

TRAVEY Header PIC

 

TRACEY Flagler’s NEW AGE

 

Excerpt from Tracey Flagler by David Arthur Walters

 

Tracey Flagler was a New Age woman through and through. She had become acquainted with The Source while working as waitress in South Beach,. Her main ambition was to become a medium and high priestess of the postmodern cult. That was made clear in the diaries I recovered from her apartment after her tragic suicide. Therein I found nine tenets from one of the several entities she channeled:

 

ALL HAIL SHALOMA

 

-1-

 

Rejoice!

The Ultimate Reality and Purpose

of YOUR Eternal Life is Bliss,

YOUR feeling of Absolute
Joy. Have Fun, O Dear One!

YOU are a Feeling Being.

YOU are what YOU feel.

YOUR feelings changes things.

YOUR feelings transform objects

as YOU perceive them.

Therefore Elate YOURSELF,

save the World that is YOU!

Cheer Up, O Dear One!

YOUR Joy recreates the objects

YOU were formerly depressed about,

into the Very Substance of Joy.

YOUR Mission is to have fun,

to experience Joy.

So Have Fun at all times.

Rejoice!


-2-

 

Rejoice!

The Inner Higher SELF is the Source

of the Joy that YOU connect with,

evolve toward,

and become at-one with

through SELF-realization.

YOUR SELF itSELF is God

by Virtue of Identification.

But YOUR SELF does not

lose its In-Dividuality and perish
when it becomes One with the All,

for the All is YOUR Multidimensional SELF

comprising Infinite Possibilities,

each being realized somewhere in Consciousness,

no matter how minutely.

In effect, the Potency for which YOUR human-potential
strives is Omnipotence,
and in this Absolute Freedom

YOUR SELF enjoys Unimpeded
Being.

Rejoice!


-3-

 

Rejoice!

God s Infinite and is and is not everything at once.

Take Heart! YOU, the SELF-God,
are Like-Wise Unlimited.

Be Gladdened, O Dear One.

The SELF-God would persevere
forever without impediment if it could,

and in fact it can and it does so in YOU,

an Ideally Instantiated Fact

that the evolving YOU

becomes fully Self-Aware
of in Eternity.

Rejoice!

-4-

 

Rejoice!
It follows that the SELF is Immortal,

that YOU cannot die,

and that the apparent death
and dissolution of the human body

is not the death of YOUR True Form or Soul or
SELF, which may choose to create,

take on and cast off another form at will.

Rejoice!


-5-

 

Rejoice!

Since
God is the Omnipotent,

SELF-Created,

SELF-Moved,

First Mover who creates Reality
by merely thinking it in terms of the Word

created for that Purpose, the SELF-God
creates its own Reality

including its SELF

by chanting the Word.

Everything thus thoughtfully created

is a Mode of Consciousness although,

apparently, largely unconscious.

The so-called Unconscious

is not really Unconscious-In-ItSELF:
it is Profoundly and Unutterably Conscious,

and holds sway over Conscious-Consciousness;
this Fun-Loving Merry Mind

is the Source of God’s Marvelous Mysteries, and
should be exalted accordingly. Rejoice!

-6-


Rejoice!

Since
the SELF’s Word becomes

the SELF-Chosen Material World,

all wishes come true,
and the truly SELF-realized SELF

has no desire to reject the World

and become
Homeless or Other-Worldly.

The SELF-Created World

belongs to the SELF; however,

the SELF does not exactly own the World:

the World is precisely the Derivative
World of YOUR Choices.

Enjoy Your Profit O Dear One!

God is of course Opulent;
the World is Her bauble;

hence the SELF-Realized SELF or YOU

does not eschew riches
but embraces them,

adorns Her-SELF with them,

and chants the Exhilarating Gospel
of Wealth.

Rejoice!


-7-

 

Rejoice!

Until its Atonement, the In-Dividual,

divided against its SELF by ignorance of its SELF,
must endeavor to have Fun for its Own Salvation

or SELF-Unity,

and since its Own
SELF is the SELF-God within every One,

within each and every Member of the
Category of One,

Global Salvation may be accelerated

if the SELF so chooses,

by
giving Profitable Service to Humanity,

but that Service is Insufficient,

for ultimately
only SELF-Service Saves.

Be Gay, O Dear One!

Rejoice!


-8-

 

 Rejoice!

The SELF-God is ultimately responsible to YOU:
Every One gets what S/HE deserves,
for S/HE has in one way or another c
hosen those just deserts.
The SELF shall evolve accordingly,
from form to form,
until full awareness of its
Divinity-in-Unity is achieved.
All who embrace the Future
and take responsibility for their own SELF
shall in the End eternally dwell
in Joy-Full Harmony in the Peaceful Sphere.
Therefore Exalt YOUR SELF, O Gleeful One!
The Instantiated State of Ideal Peace
is beyond good and evil;
all goods and evils along the way are relative;
since Divine Selves seek the same End, namely Good,
there is no such thing as sin.
Rejoice!

-9-

 

Everything God does,
including what ignorance foolishly perceives to be evil,
is really Good
– there is no such thing as evil:
God does not need a devil to be God.
What is true of God is true of the virtually identical
SELF that is YOU.
In any event,
no matter what is done,
Good Intentions shall suffice
to sanction the deed!
Rejoice!

 

ALL HAIL SHALOMA

Photo Credit: ‘Deception’ by Darwin Leon

Tracey Flagler’s Holiday

TRACEY HOLIDAY PIC

TRACEY FLAGLER’S HAPPY HOLIDAY

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

This is the season to be jolly, but I am sad at present, and I look forward to saying good riddance to this two thousand and seventh year of the Common Era, or, if you prefer, the same year of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course this year had its good side: there is no evil unattended by some good, and vice versa. The Dualists say Good shall overcome Evil in the end, and then and only then shall there be one god, an entirely good god at that, but until then we shall have them both. I am thankful for a goodly number of reasons, which I am in no mood to presently enumerate, and may the New Year be a happier one for us all. But for now I am sorrowful.

I have just received word that Nathan, scheduled to be home for Christmas, was killed in Iraq. His grieving grandfather, a minister and a missionary, had tried to persuade him not to go to war; but he was an idealistic youth: he wanted to exercise the patriotic ideal handed down to him from high authority; he wanted to “do the right thing” urged by the president of the United States in the name of the unseen father higher than his father, whosoever that unknown all-mighty might be. Of course we support our troops, but I for one envision the devil dangling by the neck at the end of a flag from a pole while his councilors face a firing squad below.

The year did not begin well for my family: my niece’s dad went into the backyard and shot himself to death with a rifle shortly before she turned sweet sixteen, apparently over economic woes. They were close; we could only imagine the sorrow and horror she felt – she did not show it. My aging father, always solicitous for her welfare, was left extraordinarily distraught. He had already suffered from an Orpheus Complex for nearly seventy years: my mother died of polio, shortly after I was born, in her twenty-first year, and since then he often wept over several poems he had composed in commemoration and then frequently rewrote throughout his life, changing a word here and there, but never getting them quite right. He finally joined her shortly after his ninetieth birthday – how such a wide difference in age is resolved in the hereafter no one knows, for sure, except perhaps the psychic who swears that all persons there are thirty years old regardless of their age at time of death.

And then my friend Doc gave me his old, slider cell phone for good luck. I received a call on it a few weeks later, from his new number, but it was not him: it was his son, who informed me that Doc had died. If there is a life similar to this one after death, with money and all that it implies, I shall buy him that cheeseburger, as I had promised to do in order to break his insistence on paying for our greasy meals when we got together. And now the nation’s elders have sacrificed young Nathan’s life, needlessly, in my opinion, if it were not for the need of the young to imitate their elders and prove their mettle. Doc understood all that: he proved himself several times over in Vietnam, and elsewhere on Black Ops; he was a warrior by profession, loyal to his nation and its commander-in-chief, no matter who he might be.

“Woe is me,” is certainly unsuitable in my case. It is not as if my entire family and many friends besides were killed collateral to the struggle for so-called liberty. Again, I have due cause to be thankful for many things, not to mention just being alive in the first place and the chance to rejoice once in awhile as my own end appears over the horizon.

Still I have been morbid as of late, and even the more so since I found the beautiful body of Stacey Flagler, the girl next door, decomposing in her apartment. Her diaries revealed that all she wanted out of life was fun and joy and love, which amounted to the same thing.

“Joy,” she wrote, “is the whole point of life.”

The hodgepodge pop-culture endorsed by her frantic idol Oprah Winfrey had convinced her that the purpose of life is personal joy, that death is really a myth, that good and evil are relative, that even Hitler went to heaven because he thought he was doing the right thing, that there is really no such thing as death, that we are all immortals who choose and discard one body or another and take up yet another at will, so she discarded hers, and I found it rotting in her studio.

Unsurprisingly, she had taken up democratic channeling – everyone can now sit down and hold séances with their ids, alter egos, superegos, and other psychic entities if need be, and become mediums for ghosts, spirits, souls, and gods and the like. I supposed that was all a lot of nonsense; but then again, wishful thinking along with the fact that our culture, hoping for a better life, worships death somewhat more than life, has given me cause to dabble in the occult, and, in this living novel, to dwell at length on the incidentals of the demise of one Stacey Flagler, may she rest in peace if she’s not dancing for joy in paradise.

The pop-culture of today is constituted by warmed-up leftovers of the postmodern dishes we relished in the Sixties. We said yes to the occult long before we just said no to hallucinogenic substances that helped us to get together, get with it, freak out and enjoy the vibes. Our vibes back then are today’s vibrations.

And now the mesmerizing high priestess of the Virtual Church of O has endorsed something called the Law of Attraction. Someone used to refer to the Power of Magnetic Thinking. We don’t need to hold on to an iron rod dipped in water to cure our woes nowadays. We can plug ourselves in to the will-power-source within, direct the current to our internal generators; the amplified flow, oscillating according to our fondest dreams, may create magnetic fields capable of attracting whatever we might want, or at least set up an aura of the right wavelengths to attract money and mates like bugs, if not send some sort of electromagnetic ray to reel in the prey from afar, or perhaps radio-waves emitted by our Diamond Crystal Radio implants might enable us to use the fabled Power of Suggestion on people at a great distance.

But it is difficult to keep up with the amazing progress of science, so analogies drawn from that field to create useful science fiction aids to successful thinking might be exposed as faulty, which would cause people to look like fools and to lose faith, It’s best to keep the scheme and the technical methodology in which one has faith secret, lest the critics, who would naturally resent one’s luxurious lifestyle were it obtained, do everything they can to retard the novitiate’s progress. We used to speak of a person’s magnetic power quite often until someone familiar with magnets pointed out that like does not attract like, as the ancients thought; in fact, as many married couples know very well, opposites attract, wherefore it would seem that praying for wealth might attract poverty.

Maybe it would be best to take vows of poverty in order to be loved by the universe and to therefore gain catholic fame and fortune. We may recall that the wise old Jew in Balzac’s Skin of Chagrin renounced things and pursued philosophy: things flew to him as if he were a magnet; he got what he did not want, namely everything, including an antique store wherein the wild ass’s skin was deposited until the suicidal fool who had given up philosophy took it as a gift.

For all we know, the holes vacated by electrons in the Jewel in the Lotus race around in a direction contrary to that of the electrons, as the electrons vacate and fill hole after hole. And who says that space itself is negative, when we may think of it as positive; the things that fill it negate it, hence are negative. Let it be positively negative if you prefer. The negative has its positive attractions after all, especially in a liberal consumer democracy, where the motto might well be “Find a hole and fill it ad infinitum.” The miserable shall be comforted and the meek shall inherit the earth. We are all bums at the bottom of our being: we should have more faith in Nothing.

My positive might be your negative and vice versa. Debit and credit do not mean minus and plus, but mean right and left; and then there’s the question, to whose right and left? But never mind scientific skepticism; positivism gets sensational results, so let’s be positive and embrace positivism. It is generally accepted that we must be positive to obtain a fortune including an attractive, sexy mate. That’s the ticket to winning friends and influencing people profitably. Think negatively and suffer the consequences accordingly: live in poverty alone or with a broken-down old nag or an abusive, beer-guzzling football fan. I am feeling more positive now that I think of it. Let people be miserable if they want to be, and then maybe someone will come to comfort them, but don’t depend on it in our grasping society, where so many people have only Jesus for a friend.

Yes, I am getting into a better mood at this place in our living novel. I feel like crawling completely out of the disheartening dumps I’ve been in. I’ve turned off the television and have picked up Stacey Flagler’s notebooks. Although she finally negated herself, there is something very positive about the way she felt. If she had kept the faith for another year or so, I believe she might have lived her dream, perhaps even be blessed and graced by the likes of Oprah Winfrey.

“I have faith in the Law of Attraction,” Tracey had written large on a page in a brown spiral notebook, “and I make myself the focus of my energy field. I have a sense of connection to it no matter what or where I am. I need to be a vibrational match to be wealthy and to attract a true mate. I would experience the joy I am seeking if I were involved with someone who is somewhere within my vibrational range. I need to feel good, and know that there is enough security, connection, and stability.

“Getting stuff and mates is not about getting what you deserve. Fame and success is not about talent –it is about the alignment of vibrations. Nothing is about getting anything – it is all about vibration. I shall be a vibrational match to whatever I want, and attract it right to me. I shall pretend that my vibrations attract a wealthy mate and that he matches my vibrations and buys me an amazing home. I shall focus connecting energetically to what I want and receiving it. The more people caught in my web the better, as long as I put myself first.

“Abraham says just get happy and all things will flow into my experience. The universe loves me; the only thing I have to do for the universe is be as happy as I can be: that is the trade and the exchange, I feel swept away into a current because it feels good to connect to the energy stream. It is fun to be in the freaking energy stream! I want the energy connection. Oh, magic is afoot! I feel such excitement about the thoughts I’m thinking! It’s all about my imagination as reality. Imagination is the great launching pad!

“I feel money flowing now. I feel myself being in the top 5% financially. What is it that I love so much about money? I love it for the flow of energy and stuff that it makes possible, for being able to buy things that help to make it the energy flow, to put out great vibrations that attract people who love me. Some man is going to get a great girlfriend who loves sex, who knows how to have fun and focus on the best, on the most excellent things, on sensual and spiritual things.

“I love the name of the book I am writing about this stuff, Intentional Genius. What a marvelous title! I feel my energy flowing in that project. I feel I am on the brink of success! My vibrations will attract wealthy geniuses from all over the universe. And I love doing channeling too, relaxing and lowering my vibrations so my mind can be the medium for Abraham, Immanuel, Seth and the others. I do love my own energy so much, the energy flowing from myself, in pulses that say ‘love, love, love, love.’

There you go. I am feeling cheerful now, so I shall give Stacey’s memory the benefit of the doubt. She might be immortal after all. Happy Holiday, Stacey, wherever you are! We love you! We love you! We love you!

Tracey’s Chagrin – She Wants To Be Dead

CHAGRIN SKIN

TRACEY’S CHAGRIN

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

“Right now I am really mad,” Tracey Flagler, the nice girl next door, scribbled furiously in her diary. “I want a million dollars right away. I want to be independently wealthy so that I do not have to do anything. My life just seems to be so stupid sometimes that I no longer want eternity. Who wants eternal stupidity? Eternity sounds so exhausting! I want amazing things to happen. I want to see myself as amazing. I am angry that I have to work tonight. I am mad that I have to support myself. I just don’t want to do anything anymore. I wish I were DEAD. I want to be free right now, and I mean right NOW, or DEAD.”

Give me liberty or give me death – perhaps the two are one and the same. Tracey finally freed herself from going to work. I noticed that she had not fed the dozen or so alley cats that showed up at her door regularly. I glanced discreetly into her window from my bathroom window next door, saw her nude form on the bed, and surmised that she was sleeping. The next day I looked again; her body was in exactly the same position, and likewise the day after. Something was wrong with that picture. I went across the way, up the flight of stairs to her apartment, knocked on her door and looked into her window. Her body did not move. I tried the door; it was open; her prized cats, the fluffy ones she kept inside, did not race around as usual, but put their heads down and growled sorrowfully.

The odor was ghastly. It was a good thing she had put out plenty of food for her cats, I thought, or they would have eaten her according to the rule, Food eats food. A note to our landlord was pinned on the wall, asking him to get rid of whatever he found in the apartment. After official inquiries were completed and the apartment unsealed, he told Tracey’s fellow tenants to take whatever they wanted before the Salvation Army truck arrived. I was the last to take my pick, but I found a fortune that had been neglected and tossed into garbage bags, namely her literary remains, along with several charming items that have occult properties, and other things I have described elsewhere. I found a book outline that she had penned on 35 pages of an Eden Roc Hotel note pad. The book would include a chapter on reincarnation, but she had written “DELETE” beside ‘Ch.7 – Reincarnation’. Who knows where Tracey is now, or whether she exists at all?

The answer to that question was imagined in my dream last night. I saw her reflection in a bubble that popped up on an ocean of milk. She had resurfaced in a motel room – San Diego Motor Inn, read the neon sign flashing just outside the window, casting an eerie red light across the room. Her lithe, alabaster form was stark naked except for a big black cat she held across her chest as she stood by the bed. Music from Madonna’s latest album was playing on the clock radio. An elegant leather briefcase was on the stand at the foot of the bed. She put the cat down, exposing her enchanting bosom, bent over and opened the briefcase. It was full of money – exactly one million dollars, I instantly calculated in my dream. I was both aroused and amazed by the spectacle. She looked up at me and smiled. Somehow I knew that I could have anything I wanted if I would squeeze her marvelous breasts at the same time, one in each hand, and make a wish. She glided towards me, hips swaying with the music, fulsome lips slightly parted. Now if someone comes at you with their lips slightly parted, you have to kiss them, so I intended to do just that, and to fondle her breasts as well, and of course to enjoy the joy within her at the same time, but as she came near and I eagerly looked at her flat tummy, I awoke with a start – she had no navel! What did it mean?

Unless our lives are dreams we have wished upon ourselves, dreams rarely come true. If only I had kissed her lips and squeezed her magic breasts and wished that I would never wake up to this reality, I might have forgotten the difference between dreams and reality, and enjoyed an orgasmic life with the woman of my dreams – the existential ace cannot exist alone: there must always be another for number one to be. But one must be careful what one wishes for, and it might be best not to wish for anything at all lest the source completely dries up.

Tracey’s breasts might have shrunk with my every wish, just as did the skin of the wild ass in Balzac’s instructive story, Le Peau de Chagrin – The Skin of Chagrin. Raphael of Valentine, the impoverished young protagonist of Balzac’s story, had discovered the secret of success in the human will, and he had in fact drafted a seminal work on the subject. In sum, he believed in the power of passionate thinking to achieve anything one wants. But his grinding poverty belied his theory, or rather some obscure fault in him rendered him unable to prove it true in his case, so one day he resolved to drown himself in the river Seine, after losing his last gold piece at the gambling parlor. As disaffected youth knows very well, suicide is the most obvious solution to life’s problems, but most of us survive the troubling years.

“There is something great and terrible about suicide,” observed Balzac in Chagrin. “Most people’s downfalls are not dangerous; they are like children who have not far to fall, and cannot injure themselves; but when a great nature is dashed down, he is bound to fall from a height. He must have been raised almost to the skies; he has caught glimpses of some heaven beyond his rich. Vehement must be the storms by which compel a soul to seek for peace from the trigger of a pistol.”

Now the late Tracey Flagler, who was an aspiring author among other things, certainly would have appreciated Raphael’s predicament as much as I do: “How much young power starves and pines away in a garret for want of a friend, for lack of a woman’s consolation, in the midst of millions of fellow-creatures, in the presence of a listless crowd that is burdened by its wealth! When one remembers all this, suicide looms large. Between a self-sought death and the abundant hopes which call a man to Paris, God only knows what may intervene; what contending ideas have striven within the soul; what poems have been set aside; what moans and what despair have been repressed; what abortive masterpieces and vain endeavors! Every suicide is an awful poem of sorrow. Where will you find a work of genius floating above the seas of literature that one can compare with this paragraph: Yesterday, at four o’clock, a young woman threw herself into the Seine from the Pont des Arts.”

As Raphael treads his melancholic path to the river, he encounters two beggars along the way, on old man and a child; they pled for his charity, he flings his remaining small change at them, and continues towards his fate. But he decides to wait until dark to forever extinguish his passionate will, lest he be seen and fished out of the water alive by the suicide-prevention institution, ‘THE ROYAL HUMANE SOCIETY’S APPARATUS’, which has a shed nearby. Much to his posthumous dishonor, the record of his attempt would then be published in the paper.

Wherefore Raphael entered an antique store to pass the time, and there he eventually encounters the proprietor, a centenarian, one of those types that serve artists so well as models for Moses:

“The craftiness of an inquisitor, revealed in those curving wrinkles and creases that wound about his temples, indicated a profound knowledge of life. There was no deceiving this man, who seemed to possess a power of detecting the secrets of the wariest hearth. The wisdom and the moral codes of every people seemed gathered up in his passive face, just as all the productions of the globe had been heaped up in his dusty showrooms. He seemed to possess a power of detecting the secrets of the wariest heart.”

The wise old Jew was iconoclast who wanted nothing, therefore he wound up with it all, including an antique shop full of curious from his carefree travels all over the world. We venture to invent a maxim here – if it has already been penned by another, our plagiary is pardonable: He who wants for nothing has everything.

“I have attained everything,” uttered the old man, “because I have known how to despise all things. My one ambition has been to see. Is not Sight in a manner Insight? And to have knowledge or insight, is not that to have instinctive possession? To be able to discover the very substances of fact and to unite its essence to our essence? Of material possession what abides with you but an idea? Think, then, how glorious must be the life of a man who can stamp all realities upon his thought, place the springs of happiness within himself, and draw thence uncounted pleasures in idea, unsoiled by earthly stains. Thought is the key to all treasures; the miser’s gains are ours without his cares…. The true millions lie here,” he said, striking his forehead.

The wizened wise merchant had something in store, a curio that he felt would be most suitable for Raphael’s distraught state: “Without compelling you to entreat me, without making you blush for it…I will make you richer, more powerful, and of more consequence than a constitutional king…. Turn round, look at that leather skin,” he went on, using his lamp to illuminate the talisman, a portion skin from a wild ass, stamped with the Seal of Solomon, no bigger than a fox’s skin, gleaming on the opposite wall, upon which something was inscribed in Sanskrit. Raphael, highly educated as he was, translated the exotic script into English:

POSESSING ME THOU SHALT POSSESS ALL THINGS, BUT THY LIFE IS MINE, FOR GOD HAS SO WILLED IT. WISH, AND THY WISHES SHALL BE FULFILLED; BUT MEASURE THY DESIRES, ACCORDING TO THE LIFE THAT IS IN THEE. THIS IS THY LIFE, WITH EACH WISH I MUST SHRINK EVEN AS THY OWN DAYS. WILT THY HAVE ME? TAKE ME. GOD WILL HARKEN UNTO THEE. SO BE IT!

Raphael asked the merchant if it was some sort of joke, or, then again, was it an enigma? The old coot responded, in part, “Before you came here, you made up your mind to kill yourself, but all at once a mystery fills your mind, and you think no more about death. You child!” And, “I am a centenarian with a couple of years to spare, and a millionaire to boot. Misery was the making of me, ignorance had made me learned. I will tell you in a few words the great secret of human life. By two instinctive processes man exhausts the springs of life within him. Two verbs cover all the forms which these two causes of death may take – To Will and To have your Will…. To Will consumes us, and To have our Will destroys us, but To Know steeps our feeble organisms in perpetual calm. In me Thought has destroyed Will, so that Power is relegated to the ordinary functions of my economy. In a word, it is not in the heart which can be broken, nor in the senses that become deadened, but it is in the brain that cannot waste away and survives everything else, that I have set my life.” Moreover, “Is not the utmost brightness of the ideal world soothing to us, while the lightest shadows of the physical world annoy? Is not knowledge the secret of wisdom? And what is folly but a riotous expenditure of Will or Power?”

“Very good then, a life of riotous expense for me!” Raphael rebelliously exclaimed. I had resolved my existence into thought and study, and yet they have not even supported me. I am not gulled by a speech worthy of Swedenborg, nor by your Oriental amulet….” Raphael then proceeded to wish upon the Skin of Chagrin for, in short, a life of boon companions for the riotous enjoyment of fine wine, passionate women, and, it goes without saying, song, culminating in no less than orgasmic joy: “I bid this enigmatic power to concentrate all delights for me in one single joy. Yes, I must comprehend every pleasure of earth and heaven in the final embrace that is to kill me.”

“Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy…!” Tracey Flagler had reiterated longingly during the lonely lucubration before her disappointing demise. The wishes Raphael made came true, and each truth shrank the magic skin along with his life, for that skin of a wild ass was his own ass, so to speak. But Tracey’s wishes did not come true. Her heart shriveled in despair, and she overdosed herself with the drugs her psychiatrist had prescribed to relieve her melancholy, having saved up several prescriptions for a dire emergency.

If only she had met Raphael, and he had become her Balzac, they might have lived a longer life on the average, and had a great deal of fun in the meantime. No doubt the bejeweled Madame Tracey of Valentine would have hosted a most charming Parisian salon. She would not have the billions of an Oprah, but powerful gentlemen would marvel at her breathtaking beauty, as if she were Madame Recamier herself, and, like Madame Recamier’s great friend Madame de Staël, Madame Tracey would probably enchant the likes of Napoleon with her popular gift of gab. Madame de Staël’s books are rarely read today, and are roundly criticized as mediocre, but none other summed up the society of her time so well. Madame de Staël and Napoleon were unwilling to share power over the minds of influential men, so he exiled her – Madame Recamier was charged with the crime of visiting her. Her exile gave her cause to contemplate suicide in her tome, Reflections on Suicide.

“Inordinate misery makes people think about suicide,” wrote Baronne Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holsten (nëe Necker). “We need not be afraid of devoting too much time to this subject –it is at the heart of mankind’s whole moral organization. I flatter myself that I can offer a few new insights into the motives that lead us to suicide, and those that should turn us away from it.”

Like every one else, I have considered suicide. First of all, I desperately opined, it is impossible for god to kill himself. But what could god do with eternity but to create something to break the boredom? I was moved to become the greatest author the world would ever or never know, the author who managed to cremate himself with his own works. At present I am writing the second draft of the seventh volume of my planned fifty-volume suicide note. To whom am I writing? Unhappy people.

“Unhappy people are the ones to write for,” wrote Madame de Staël. “People who have the good things of the world learn only from their experience, and consider abstract ideas on any topic nothing but wasted time. Sufferers are different: reflection is their safest refuge. Isolated from the distractions of society by misfortune, they examine themselves like an invalid tossing on his bed of pain, seeking the least agonizing position they can find.”

“It would be so nice if I had enough reasons to want to be here,” reads an entry in Tracey’s diary. “The idea that there are an infinite number of reasons to live thrilled me at first, but I don’t have one of them for myself. Right now I HATE, HATE, HATE – I HATE being alive – I want to be alive but it sucks to be alive –I HATE this culture based on the fun I don’t have – I HATE drugs and alcohol – I HATE Abraham – I HATE myself for not taking responsibility for him – I HATE being sad all the time – I wish I were dead and I wish Abraham were dead so I could stop loving him – I HATE thinking that I will not love someone so much again – I’m trying to tap into true love and the humans like Oprah Winfrey and Madonna and Jerry and Esther Hicks and Neale Donald Walsch and Jane Roberts and Robert Butts and Pat Rodegast and Judith Stanton and Napoleon Hill, people who have found true love – I know in my heart I’m so good but I HATE myself for not having their fun. Have I had fun here? That is the question. No, I am not having fun now. That is what all the reasons to live are really for, to have FUN! Do I want to be here? No, I wish I were dead, dead, DEAD! But my book makes me feel better. I have fun when writing it. I would have fun teaching people JOY. I know Oprah would love my book, and she would have me on her show, and I would have plenty of money and be secure, and I could finally relax, take a permanent vacation from all these stupid people who don’t have any imagination, who don’t know they can create their own planets and live on them with their own lovers, like my Abraham, and then I would have fun all the time. Joy, joy, joy, JOY would be forever mine! ”

If only Tracey could be around to see Honoré de Balzac appear on the Oprah Winfrey show: Oh what wisdom he would impart to our bourgeois world! It is a world that was already well on its way in Balzac’s day. Balzac cut his literary teeth anonymously, as a potboiler formula writer. The formulas are rather simple, rooted in the motivational principles of human nature, but they are better kept a trade secret, for an audience loves to be deceived, and a disillusioned audience will not maintain the trade. Love does not abhor a secret, and, neither does Oprah, but she would not have to be embarrassed with the revelation that our masterful novelist was a profligate fraud burdened by insurmountable debts due to his spendthrift ways. She would no doubt appreciate a confident man who was able to exchange novels for his staggering debts even before the novels were conceived let alone written.

Nonfiction authors lie a lot to tell a little truth. Great novelists lie a little to tell great truths. In any event, if it were not for the human imagination, next to nothing would get said or done. Honoré de Balzac, like his bureaucratic father before him, fancied himself as entitled to a title, but also the fun life that goes with it. He naturally fell in love with a fabulously wealthy Russian countess, who was so kind as to provide funds from time to time, and to finally marry him after putting her fortune in a trust he could not get at, but who in the end was more interested in shopping for jewelry than in his deteriorating health, as that was his problem, not hers. Oprah Winfrey would probably be much to his liking, and even the more so given their mutual interest in the occult. He wanted millions and lost a great deal of other people’s money trying to get them, but money was not the cause of the monomania he attributed to his characters; rather, there was some sort of energy, an essential force or elemental power underlying reality, and, despite his business failures, he thought that thought concentrated by that force was bound to succeed for good or ill. Yes, the occult power of thinking could be misdirected to negative as well as positive ends hence could be an enormously destructive power – monists speak enthusiastically of the creative-destructive power.

Balzac’s own life was a grandiose wish for love, fame and fortune. His pursuit of happiness despite every failure unto his premature end, has blessed our self-loving, money-grubbing culture with an everlasting self-portrait of great beauty. At the end of the day, human history seems to be a mistake for which we have due cause for chagrin. On the other hand, since this is the best of all possible worlds because it is the only one immediately available, we have cause for joy as well, for without the great expectations that lead to so many disappointments, life would not be worth living.

Tracey Flagler misunderstood eternity, I opined today as I relished some of the chocolate I retrieved from her apartment. Eternity is exhausting, but only in the sense that it relieves us of time altogether, hence we are relieved therewith of our anxiety over the future. Eternity is not time, it has no moments. Eternity does not go on forever and ever: Eternity is immovable. Eternity is that Better Place funereal preachers refer to in order to console the living. There is no stuff to want or to worry about in that placeless place. There is neither North nor South, nor East nor West, in eternity: The rivers of milk and honey in the East and the emerald trees laden with precious gems in the West are exotic fictions piously designed to lure the vulgar onto the exoteric paths that converge at the occluded centre of the universe, the centre that is and is not, the centre that is at once everywhere and nowhere, the pointless point of it all. May we enjoy everything besides the point.

“Take me, and God will harken unto thee!” If the Skin of Chagrin has been wizened by desire down to nothing, then may we have faith in Nothing, the Negatively Existent One. Only Nothing is perfect. The rest is for naught, so let us have as much fun as we can, even though we might suffer for it. Perhaps if we cared less about fun, and stopped making ourselves miserable for the want of it, we would have a lot more of it.

TO BE CONTINUED

Tracey’s Madonna Between Matter and Spirit

Kimberley JPG

Painting by Darwin Leon

From Tracey Flagler, a Living Novel

By David Arthur Walters

TRACEY’S MADONNA

Between Matter and Spirit

“I want to be part of the pulse of life, not a weird and ashamed outrider,” Tracey Flagler had scribbled in her confessional journal some time before she left South Beach for good. “I want to be proud of being here, knowing that I can be connected to the source and deliberately choose and control my focus just like I am doing right now with this pen and paper. I am proud of people with HUGE physical success, like Madonna, and that would make me proud of myself. I want others to be proud of my success as I teach them how to focus and get exactly what they want. I wish so much that I had physical proof of my power to create success. Why? So I could relax. Why would I relax? Because I had succeeded.”

If only I had known about my neighbor’s dire emotional strait before I had found her dead from an overdose in her apartment, I would have invited her over and channeled George Berkeley for her edification. Then she would have known that one does not have to die to get rid of physical obstructions, for physical objects do not really exist, therefore she could have remained alive and succeeded without such stuff once she was convinced that the goods she wanted were within her. She could have been a successful failure in material terms. Indeed, she could have been all-powerful and instantly successful without a thing to show for it. But alas, the foolish commonsense notion, that matter exists, and that plenty of matter or the money to buy it must be had to prove one’s worth in this great nation of ours, persisted in her mind, despite her transcendental inclination towards what she called the source, the source in which she supposed she would completely relax and enjoy in particular the absolute joy she craved so much that she would rather die without it.

Yes, Tracey thought she would have to cop a lot of stuff to make a buy; but deep down within she knew better. She knew that all the stuff in the world would not buy her the fix she really wanted, and in the end she chose the fatal alternative and left her world behind. While rummaging through her apartment after she passed, I found a dog-eared and heavily underlined copy of the transcript of Oprah Winfrey’s September 16, 2003 conversation with one of her idols, Madonna, wherein Madonna presented her new, post-cabala side. That the old, material-girl side persisted on the other side of the coin was evident in her apparent belief that stuff really exists:

“MADONNA. Basically, the idea is that I have all of these things that money can buy, but I realized that those aren’t the things that make you happy, that make you feel fulfilled, and – and that nothing in the material world will ever make us happy.”

The material girl noticed something was missing – her fans may be glad that she realized it after she got rich, instead of before: She was not in charge of her life. She was defined by her circumstances; she did not know what her place in it all was. In fine she was a successful shipwreck. And now she is finally getting her island together. The birth of her daughter gave her cause to wonder what she would teach her, and it dawned on her that she did not know what to say for sure. She found the popular version of cabala and she learned that people are personally responsible for everything that happens to them, whether for good or ill. There exists, Madonna informed Oprah, “an all-giving, all-loving force. You can –you could call it God…. When we disconnect from this force, we – that’s when we have chaos…that’s when we invite pain and suffering into our lives.”

Armed with this finding, Madonna decided to write stories that would teach children to identify with their good side and to consider their bad side as an opponent to be defeated. She would fain teach them “about the laws of cause and effect” and thus inspire them to do good deeds, to give them cause to share, with good effect.

Oprah tentatively approved. She thought the new Madonna seemed to be a gentler, kinder sort of person, and blessed her books on the air, augmenting the fact that whatever Madonna does will sell well.

What was the secret of Madonna’s physical success? I asked myself. Well, for one thing, she had a strong will, she was persistent, she never stopped dancing, even after she ripped her innards apart and was sewn back together.

I had no idea who Madonna was when I first saw her taking class at Joy of Movement on Broadway and Lafayette: “Don’t you know that song, Borderline?” a dancer responded after I asked, “Who’s that girl?”

Madonna let it all hang out, and I liked that. The only tool a dancer needs to do her thing is her body. Of course dance sells sex. What’s wrong with that? Aren’t we all sex buds? Isn’t sex the reason for our existence? That must be why sex feels so good. Shall we not unite one day in a gigantic eternal orgasm? Many of our parents said sex was bad, that we should not do it, that we should not touch our thingies. Naturally boys wanted to be bad and girls wanted to be naughty.

Madonna was your average girl, of average height and build, nothing really spectacular, and she had an average voice, but she put on a damn good show with what she had. She gave you the impression that the average girl could make it if she had the gumption. “This may be crap but our job as dancers is to make it smell good,” dance master Luigi liked to say. And Madonna made it smell great. I sympathized with her when the cheap shots found in the dumpster were used to deny her uppity housing at the Dakota: How absurd! Who would want to live where Rosemary’s baby was born, anyway? And what hypocrisy! Major dope dealers shared an apartment there.

There are dumb dancers but not all dancers are dumb. Some dancers become doctors of medicine and philosophy and the like, but bookish professional dancers are few and far between. Still, a good dancer has sufficient animal intelligence to survive and move ahead of the pack, and Madonna obviously had plenty of that. But now she wants the permanent wisdom that has somehow been occluded by the dynamic material world. She gave birth to a daughter and named her Binah, and she wants to do the right thing now, to do her duty for the sake of her child. She noticed something was missing. What could that missing something be?

Perhaps she lost her ethical self while winning the world, I speculated. I closed my right eye, rolled my left eyeball upwards towards my third eye, took a deep breath, and whispered as I exhaled: “O, my Spirits, I call upon thee. Pray tell, what was Madonna missing?” I felt my left brain going into a light trance as my alter ego became the medium for a spiritual conference: the spirits of Immanuel and Baruch showed up:

IMMANUEL: She was missing her Dear Self. Out of my own love for humanity, a love which is by definition ethical, I am willing to admit that Madonna’s care for her child is for the sake of her child and performed out of love for her child and a natural sense of maternal duty. But her love for another self, like anyone’s love for other selves besides their own, is essentially selfish. Anyone who loves another should know that she in effect loves herself.

BARUCH: Only the intellectual love of GodNature will liberate her from her bondage to limited selves. Once she understands her circumstances and accepts the necessity of her predicaments, her comprehension of GodNature will be assured and the cabala lore rendered moot. This is, after all, the only world possible, and as such it is the best of all possible worlds.

IMMANUEL: My friend, you are a godless Gottfried.

BARUCH: I beg your pardon?

IMMANUEL: All right, then, which is better: to be raped a hundred times by African pirates, to have one buttock cut off, to run the gauntlet in the Bulgar army, to be excommunicated for monstrous deeds and abominable heresies, to be whipped and hanged in an auto-de-fé, to be dissected, to be slowly smothered by glass dust, to be Sisyphus in Hades heaving his stone forever, to be a galley slave to eternity, or to sit around on your thumbs doing nothing and be bored to death?

BARUCH: Whatever happens to us, it is best to be reasonable and to accept it stoically instead of chasing after rainbows in hopes of finding pots of gold at every end. Our happiness and well-being are not in enslavement to the passions, nor in the pursuit of transitory goods that we believe will make us happy, or in related superstitions, but rather in the harmonious intellectual calisthenics of a perfectly consistent, systematic philosophy.

IMMANUEL: Nothing is perfect.

BARUCH: Only if nothing exists is it perfect. God is confessedly perfect, and therefore Nature must be perfect as well: careful reasoning informs us that Nature and God cannot be conceived as distinct things because then each would be limited by the other; God would have then contradicted himself with Nature, hence God would be imperfect. Wherefore God and Nature are one, as GodNature, and the infinite attributes we perceive are merely the innumerable modes of the perfect Nature of Supreme Being. In fine, the best we can do in the best of all possible worlds is to cultivate our intellectual garden.

IMMANUEL: Cultivating an orchard would be more fruitful, practically speaking. We have natural restraints beyond which our understanding, trained by nature, may not obtain. Metaphysics is impossible because the unknown is inconceivable. The ideal world is an illusion, and to dwell on it, no matter how logically, contradicts reality. The perceived world must exist in its own right; otherwise, we would be unsure of our own existence. Madonna would do well to cultivate her daughter and leave the metaphysical nonsense to the cabalists, or to historians who teach the history of the absurd.

BARUCH: The absurd may lead to her blessed enlightenment. One eventually learns that waiting for Godot or praying to God is to no avail. GodNature is surd or deaf to our pleas, for the world on the whole is already perfect, and when we realize the joke is on us, and laugh out loud, we are freed. I too believe Madonna should attend to her daughter Binah, but in both senses of the name.

IMMANUEL: What does binah mean, again? I know we have spoken on this subject before, about the ten sefirot, and about the belief of certain cabalists that it is our duty to recreate God.

BARUCH: Binah means between, the power to distinguish between ideas. Binah is the third of ten sefirot, the womb of understanding, associated of course with the power of understanding.

IMMANUEL: Aha, the analytic. And then Madonna may help others pick up the sparkling shards and put Humpty Dumpty back together again so the cannon may be set upon the wall to defend us from self-contradiction. Once this task has been completed by all, paradise shall be fully restored. However that may be, it is better to presume that God exists transcendentally and to do the 613 mitzvahs rather than sit on our thumbs and exercise our imaginations.

BARUCH: We do nothing on our own. Madonna along with the rest of us shall proceed as determined.

IMMANUEL: She shall do what is willed, whether that will be her own or not. At least I give individual liberty the benefit of the doubt, my friend. Unfortunately for the humanity I love so well, every one does what they will and no one really obeys the stern command of duty to do the right thing no matter what. The thing that Madonna feels is missing is her Dear Self, and the reason she misses it is because she, like everyone else, is basically selfish, but she has been preoccupied with performing for other people, the fans she loves, and that has distracted her from the real object of her love, her Dear Self. We shall find that her love for her fans is for her own sake, if we analyze it carefully enough and synthesize the results. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as virtue anywhere in the world, for every performance is motivated by what one wants for her Dear Self, whether she knows it or not. When actions are performed for one’s own reasons or causes, it makes no difference whether they are benevolently directed towards other selves or greedily directed towards one’s dearest self: in either case the actions are not, by definition, ethical, hence are not virtuous.

BARUCH: Immanuel, you are too cynical!

IMMANUEL: No, I’m realistic, a cool observer of the truth of the matter at hand.

BARUCH: So cool that your colleague Friedrich believes you are a deformed idea-crippler, not to mention a cold-hearted bastard.

IMMANUEL: Maybe he is your colleague. Did he call me a bastard? Then he is a selfish bastard, as far as I’m concerned, and his popularity proves my point. No matter what he thinks, duty is done only by those who act according to the rational authority of an impersonal moral imperative rather than pursuant to some private inclination of their own, including the barbaric lust of for power. Friedrich is irrational: he knows nothing of true virtue and thinks virtue lies in the will to power.

BARUCH: How can virtue be true and not exist? I think you have contradicted yourself. And what happened to saying of others what you would have them say of you? I would think you would appreciate the fact that he, like you, looked around and found no virtue in the world. Only his imaginary superman was capable of virtue.

IMMANUEL: Not Christian virtue, which requires a personal and humiliating crucifixion so the impersonal law can be fulfilled. God’s law makes no exceptions for persons.

BARUCH: But God’s love is in every person. The universal scheme is God’s love expressed.

IMMANUEL: Spoken like a true pantheist. Of course a pantheist is nothing but an atheist. At least the youth corrupted by Friedrich loved a charismatic superman in lieu of God, while your narcissistic youth love only themselves, thinking God is within each person of the plurality.

BARUCH: You mistake me as far as things go. I do not love things as if the deity were in them.

IMMANUEL: But do you love the thing-in-itself?

BARUCH: What?

IMMANUEL: You know, the underlying thing, the unknown thing-in-itself, the Thingie.

BARUCH: Do I love the unknown? How would I know? I do know that daily life was so hollow and futile for me that I decided to discover whether or not the good life existed. By that I mean a life of continuous and supreme joy to all eternity. I found neither good nor evil in the things that I was anxious over. Along the way I discovered that self-esteem is the highest thing we can hope for.

IMMANUEL: There it is again – the Dear Self. And what is self-esteem?

BARUCH: Self-esteem is the joy of knowing one’s power.

IMMANUEL: Good grief. Neither good nor evil without, but omnipotence within is the thing.

“Gentlemen,” I interjected, “excuse me for interrupting, but may I say something? Harry Frankfurt, my professor of philosophy at Princeton, professed that there should be nothing shameful or unfortunate about our self-love, for we are told by an author of the greatest authority that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves, therefore self-love is not an enemy of virtue at all, but is rather its prerequisite. The ardent manner in which we love ourselves is the best model for loving others, so let us love them as enthusiastically as we love ourselves. By self-love Professor Frankfurt did not mean self-indulgence, for to serve the best interest of another might require self-restrain: merely indulging him might not be in his best interest. Is not this the way to go?”

My question put an end to the séance; the spirits fled, leaving me alone with my own thoughts. If only Tracey had not gone off to find her soul, if only she had fully understood that the material girl had become a spiritual girl because she had a soul in the first place, I thought, she would be with us today.