"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Resuscitation of a Hanged Man

Since the beginning of last year, cf previous posts, I've been keeping a list of books I read. I just read over the list and was disappointed in how many of those books I just didn't like. You could lose your faith in reading, except that once in awhile a book like this comes along.

"And I asked myself: The way you are now, would your eight-year-old self approve of you? Would your eight-year-old self -- that totally innocent child, with those ideals that are real, man, and human -- would he approve?"

The tall thin man got up and headed out the door.

"No fucking way. I was betraying that kid," Phil said, "my childhood self. I'm talking about the real feeling of like if you stuck a bayonet in your buddy's back, not just ripping off a friend or something like that, but killing, death. You know what I'm saying man?" Phil's face was crushed under the pressure of his pain. "I don't think you know the kind of treachery I'm talking about."

"Whatever's on tap," English said, and the bartender drew him a glass of beer.

Phil's troubled scrutiny had floated over and snagged on the cross-dresser. "You never tasted that kind of treachery, man."

The cross-dresser smiled and shrugged. Her eyes were very red.

"But then, and then it was like," Phil said, holding his hand out before him, gazing cross-eyed into his open palm as if this memory rested right there in it, "the ghost of John Lennon appeared to me. And he said, Fuck that, he can't judge you, because an eight-year-old doesn't have the knowledge, man. Those ideals of yesterday, even everything you believed two hours ago, man -- fuck that. We don't need to apologize to our past selves. They were the ones who turned into us. We are just who we are. You know?" he asked the cross-dresser.

She sat in splendid isolation, putting her very red lips around the cherry from her Manhattan.

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