Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic
enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.
Alfred North Whitehead
To see, to hear, means nothing. To recognize (or not to
recognize) means everything. Between what I do recognize and what
I do not recognize there stands myself.
I grew up on the streets with a headful of Homer, Herodotus, Ovid, Virgil, Coltrane, jazzed in the knowledge there was greater knowledge and a way to know it. Beowulf, Thomas Wolfe, Steppenwolf, Magister Ludi, Das Glasperlenspiel. Between Beethoven, Mingus, Bach, Monk, Palestrina, discovering the archeology of secret long dead libraries and dusty bookstores. Alexandria, New Directions, City Lights. Dylan, the first one, wording his birthday shroud from the morning surf and dark drunken midnights of Wales and New York, 20 years older than I was then; 16 years younger than I find myself writing this now, for some reason trying to remember.
John Donne, Bessie Smith, Zen, amphetamines. Japanese calendars, Child ballads, southern spirituals. Getting high on cheap wine, bad weed, and watching the cars at night from the overpass, taillights streaming into the night and wondering where I would travel, who become. Gerry Mulligan's baritone sax bopping and blurting, talking back to the night, to Kerouac, Clellon Homes, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, and ending up on those negro streets myself, looking for something altogether else. Apollo, Dionysus, Delphi, Styx. Crossings and counterpoints. Toynbee, Spengler, Robert Graves, Jane Ellen Harrison's dark Prolegomena. Books turned and weighed, their secret geometries imagined.
And dropping finally in the slums of Rochester, best Sandoz product ever made. Not knowing how to take it, how to be, joking and poking at the great snake sleeping, kundalini uroboros, under my little life. I picked up the first book that came to hand, The Interpretation of Dreams, read from it aloud, my voice strange in the great space opening out inside my head, but Freud, long since dead, still made too perfect sense. And I knew what I needed th