Sunday Stories: Gravity’s Rainbow (6)
It is not about us. It is about them. No capital T, just a t. No drama but only performance. “We’ll all use it, someday, to leave the earth. To transcend.” Everything can be forgiven, everything except for the lack of aspiration that is normally called out by the label ‘ambition’. “They were athletic, brainless men without vision, without imagination. But they had power, and it was hard for him not to think of them as superior, even while holding them in a certain contempt.” A time is coming that will be the time for the weak. Emancipation of the weak is unavoidable. In the quadrialectics of strength we have reached the stage where muscular strength is still being compensated for by strength of character. The base movement is nevertheless a movement of removing strength from equations.
“In his electro-mysticism, the triode was as basic as the cross in Christianity. Think of the ego, the self that suffers a personal history bound to time, as the grid. The deeper and true Self is the flow between cathode and plate. The constant, pure flow. Signals – sense data, feelings, memories relocating – are put onto the grid, and modulate the flow. We live lives that are waveforms constantly changing with time, now positive, now negative. Only at moments of great serenity is it possible to find the pure, the informationless state of signal zero.”
This is the truth of the Zen. Which is not a truth. The waveform is not bounded to time. Therefore, neither life nor the ego are so bounded. This is not a matter of mysticism. Movement is the only thing essential. Since we appear bounded but are not bounded we cannot be what we appear to be. We are not us. We are them. And there is always a they that lives on. And corny as it may be, that is how it is. “So he hunted, as a servo valve with a noisy input will, across the Zero, between the two desires, personal identity and impersonal salvation.” There you have the error: excluding personal salvation, which is only problematic based on a basic misunderstanding of the concept of personality as an identity with itself instead of as a movement resulting from others. It is the denial of personal salvation that leads to the animosity against time, and with time, the animosity against mortality and death.
“The Serpent that announces, “The World is a closed thing, cyclical, resonant, eternally-returning,” is to be delivered into a system whose only aim is to violate The Cycle. Taking and not giving back, demanding that “productivity” and “earnings” keep on increasing with time, the System removing from the rest of the World these vast quantities of energy to keep its own tiny desperate fraction showing a profit: and not only most of humanity – most of the World, animal, vegetable and mineral, is laid waste in the process.” And so on, so forth (page 412 of Vintage Pocket edition).
It is the aspiration of the writer that clarifies decades ahead of time what will be the key question. He may be forgiven for giving the wrong answer. It is the thought of recurrence and that of time-boundedness that makes people hurry and gives the incentive to make wasteful decisions. It is those thoughts that make everything about us and everything against them.
“Where it was darkest and smelled the worst, Pökler found a woman lying, a random woman. He sat for half an hour holding her bone hand. She was breathing. Before he left, he took off his gold wedding ring and put it on the woman’s thing finger, curling her hand to keep it from sliding off. If she lived, the ring would be good for a few meals, or a blanket, or a night indoors, or a ride home. …”
Would she really have to pay for any of that? Unfortunately yes, because the time of the weak has not quite yet come, and the focus is still on keeping things going in the fixed pattern. Holding on to stuff.
Time for Slothrop again. Time to let go: “Either They have put him here for a reason, or he’s just here. He isn’t sure that he wouldn’t, actually, rather have that reason. …” Boo-hoo-hoo. “While Rossini was retiring at the age of 36, womanizing and getting fat, Beethoven was living a life filled with tragedy and grandeur.” Who cares about biographies? Did they have aspiration or just ambition? Did they want to hold time or move time? “Everyone is kind of aroused, (..)” Good. “(..) planting swing notes precisely in the groove between silent midpoint and next beat, jumping it pah (hm) pah (hm) pah so exactly in the groove that you knew it was ahead but felt it was behind, (..)” All that jazz. “We’ll all just keep moving, that’s all. In the end it doesn’t matter.” Except that it does. To them.
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