“Oftentimes I say to myself ‘Thou art wretched: all other mortals are happy—none are distressed like thee!’ Then I read a passage froman ancient poet, and I seem to understand my own heart. I have so much to endure! Have men before me ever been so wretched?” – Johann Wolfgand von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther
What could possibly be more ridiculous than starting this off with a quote from Goethe’s Young Werther? Perhaps the fact that I cried myself to sleep the night before last and yesterday I got up and I tried for an entire day to function, but I just couldn’t. I haven’t cried myself to sleep since I was a child, maybe 15, or 20 years ago. This was something I used to do often when I was a kid because I grew up in quite a bad environment. The reason I cried myself to sleep last night? Ridiculous. Contemptible. Obscene. Ridiculously-contemptible-to-the-point-of-obscenity—I won’t get into it but basically (and I can’t even believe I’m about to write such a thing) I’m still quite heartbroken over someone. So contemptuously Young Wertherian, I know.
Well, here’s what I did yesterday: I woke up, thought “Oh wow, I actually cried myself to sleep last night for the first time in like 15, or 20 years” just sat there in a state of near disbelief for awhile. Then I did many asanas and some Shaolin Qi Gong and still couldn’t rid myself of the dark gray cloud that seemed to be surrounding my consciousness. It was a deep brooding feeling that weighed heavily upon me I could almost literally feel the weight upon my shoulders. “Art, yes. I need Art!!” I thought, so I picked up my most beloved book on Gustav Klimt and perused the Klimt Exhibition in my hands…
When I do such things I’ll have these little discussions and debates with myself…Aesthetics…Symbolism…Color Theory…I love Klimt(!) but, no, Herr Gustav could not soothe my soul. I still couldn’t focus enough to write so I put my headphones on and some nice jazz was on, a William Parker cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”:
“Run up the mountain
Don’t be afraid
Keep on pushin’
It´s a collective sruggle
We gotta last…”
Nice, but not nice enough. Scream-talking was so insane that I knew I couldn’t be able to read so I engaged in some more Yoga…Claming, yes, but I still couldn’t bring myself to write. The maelstrom of scream-talking died down a bit so I picked up some of the Yoga Journal magazines.
This may sound strange, and perhaps only one who practices Yoga as an integral part of their life will understand this, or perhaps another artist, or really an artist who is a Yogin/Yogini also…but, I’ll look at the pictures of women doing Asanas in Yoga Journal magazines, admiring them for lengthy periods of time as if I’m in the Louvre or something. I was just reminded of how there was a controversy awhile back about Yoga Journal having pictures of half-naked women in the magazine. I felt like writing them and saying something like this: “I’ve spent many hours looking at half-naked women in Yoga Journal and I’ve never once had my dick in my hand while doing so. And I´m in prison. People need to stop being ridiculous—the photographs of the women doing asana are absolutely beautiful.”
The photos are indeed pure, brilliant Art and I see and feel illuminating Shakti vibes leaping from the pages when I look at them, but I still couldn’t seem to come to a level state of mind. More Yoga…Someone hollered at me and told me an inmate just stabbed another inmate on the pod across the hall. The belief in the need for Ahimsa (Non-Violence in thought and action) is something that is deeply internalized within me. Getting this news was very disturbing to me, even though I personally think the individual who was stabbed is quite vile. This environment is just so damned wretched—a sick and twisted little Orwellian-Kafkaesque-Huxleyian nightmarish place.
So, this added to the weight upon my mind. Inmates stabbing other inmates…Death Row inmates stabbing other Death Row inmates…Whew…then I turned on The Prison Show on KPFT and what do I hear? A guy I know who is in a cell about 20ft. down the run just had his last appeal denied. Whew. I’m cool with this guy and was just talking to him. He talked about how he was absolutely certain that the court would grant him a reversal. Can you imagine how he’s feeling right now? See, this is what always gets me—I start thinking about how horribly unjust this system is and then start thinking about all of the pain and injustice on Earth…How can people remain so inactive when so much injustice, pain and suffering is in the world? How can people knowingly create more suffering through inaction? How? How can people do so many things that they know will hurt others?
Needless to say the weight upon my Consciousness became heavier once again and I just couldn’t come to a level state of mind so I did some more Yoga and then got some rest. I woke up today and re-reminded myself that I must push forward. I have work to do, important work. At the end of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, Werther kills himself. After this book was published (in the late 1700s) there was a dramatic rise in suicides among men in the area it was said. What if all those people would have dedicated the rest of their lives to the service of Humanity instead of committing suicide? It’s possible to commit a sort of suicide of the Spirit…And I can’t let myself do that. Yes, today is a new day and I must seize the time.
I’ll sign off with a passage from an ancient poet:
I know that I hung in the windtorn tree
Nine whole nights, spear-pierced
Consecrated to Odin, myself to myself above me
in the tree,
Whose root no one knows when it sprang.
None brought me bread; none served me drink;
I searched the depth, spied runes of wisdom;
Raised them with song, and fell once more thence.
Nine powerful chants I learned
From the wise son of Boltron, Besla’s father;
A draught I drank of precious mead
Ladled from the well of wisdom.
I began to thrive, to grow wise,
To grow greater and enjoy;
For my words led from deeds to new deeds.
Sacred Havamal of Odinism, 137-140
Yes, I have many new words to write and many new deeds to put into action.
* Late night 1.29 Saturday: Yes I had a productive day!