Sunday, July 20, 2014

The last week has been unusually cool for the middle of July. Mid-60's and overcast, no rain and nights that require at least a hoodie when the window is open. On Friday evening, sitting at my dining room table, playing cards with a couple friends, I unsashed the window curtain to find, sitting in the middle of the gold/brown fabric was a big black beetle, probably a cedar beetle, or as the entomologists on the internet call it, a Sandulus niger. It wasn't bothering anyone so I just left it (after taking a picture and posting it to instagram). Slow and seemingly innocuous. Vague memory of luck and scarab beetles and the story that Jung told in relation to synchronicity, about finding a golden scarab knocking at the window when his patient was talking about a dream about a golden scarab. This morning, Sunday, I picked up a pile of worn clothes to put into the laundry basket and found the beetle sitting there. I got an empty jar from the kitchen, covered the beetle with the jar, and slid a piece of junk mail between the beetle's feet and the wooden floor. I carried him/her downstairs and showed it to my neighbors who were sitting on their porch. I lifted the jar off the piece of paper and the beetle sat there with us as we chatted. Eventually I took it accross the street and released it into the dirt beneath a row of hedges. Beetle just sat there and so I nudged it along with a stick and it started moving and burrowing into the dirt and I left it there. 

I went back and sat with my neighbors but continued thinking about the beetle, wondering why it was in the apartment and what it was doing underneath the pile of dirty clothes. With the unseasonably cool weather maybe it was warmer under the pile, or maybe the beetle liked hanging out in my apartment? Or maybe it was friends with those two ants who were hanging out on my stove in June or maybe it was lost. Or maybe it knew exactly where it was and what it was doing. It doesn't matter really, but as I was sitting there, I wondered if I should have kept the beetle. If it wanted to be in my apartment maybe I should of let it be there. Who am I to presume that a big black beetle (with a greenish tint) is better off underneath a shrub then underneath my dirty laundry? Maybe this beetle and I were destined for each other and I speculated on possible long-term scenarios, keeping the beetle in my little flower garden on the porch or in a glass tank on top of the mantle so we could continue our story.

Tangentially (eventually), I saw the movie Snowpiercer last night and really enjoyed it. It's science fiction, about a train that travels around the world carrying the last living people on the earth. A silly premise and a long story, but the movie is also thoughtful critique of class warfare, a surreal and intense action movie, and a kind of Buddhist parable (the director is Korean but the actors are mostly American). I bring it up because it also offers some insight on narrative and drama, suggesting that aspiration couched in the realm of improvement (self, social, or otherwise) more or less just keeps the train going. The revolutionaries can overthrow the dictators but eventually, and inevitably, all we're doing is starting the story over with a different cast. Constant jostling for power on both a macro (free markets) and micro (an argument between two people) scale is another kind of entertainment, something to do for and with each other as we speed towards the end. Of course these stories of success and failure are what give our lives meaning, and meaningful lives are what we (sorry to generalize all of humanity) generally aspire to live. But meaning upon reflection, and thus purpose, remains contained entirely within language. I don't know if this is good or bad. On the one hand it's silly to fantasize about the beetle and how it and I may be connected in a deep cosmic way. Yet on the other it gives me a kind of pleasure when I do. It is nice to feel that someone has put me at the center of a story. Alternatively, on neither hand, jumping off the train (of language, humanity, etc.) is certainly not a life path I've been encouraged to pursue (and I don't mean suicide by "jumping off the train"). At any rate, it's a thoughtful and entertaining movie. I'm going to stop here and go to bed. I'm going to the dentist tomorrow. Goodnight.


Postscript: Oh, and one more thing. Friend/Poet Matt Turner has some poems on Dennis Cooper's blog. Matt was living in China for the last five, six some years and now is back in the States. Here is the link, and here is a very brief excerpt:
Some say we should enjoy the rain, and our soaked boots. I don’t have an opinion on it.