Tag Archives: racism

Between Jerusalem I’m Sorry, Chapter 9

The Back of the Bus

Too old to be told they say, but that’s not true. I grew up hearing about the fights surrounding desegregation busing on the news, and when I got older and found out what busing actually was, because as a kid if I were told what it was, it just went into one ear and out the other, I thought it was such an imposition upon the White schools, so unnatural, so forced, echoing the opinion of my elders, which they voiced to the TV many times. As a young man in the army I thought all the fuss about equal opportunity was unnecessary (it was the 80s for God’s sake) and affirmative action outright reverse discrimination. So when I was a doorman at Four Leaf Towers and worked the west tower 7 to 3 shift, something I only did a few times, since I worked the east tower, I took the opportunity to ask the concierge about it, and I’m sorry I forget his name.

He was the most senior employee among the staff and was talkative and easy going but very vocal about discrimination in regards to being Black. He had a funny figure the way his hips stood out from the rest of his body, not a result of being fat but because this was the way he was built, which matched perfectly with his effeminate manner. He spoke with a ‘Black’ accent but not in ebonics, and he giggled a lot but could get dead serious when the situation called for it. He got that way when I asked him to explain why blacks felt they were being constantly discriminated against. He was not offended in the least, however, was happy to explain why, but instead of talking, he told me to wait a bit. What could that mean I thought? Little did I know it happened so much around there to him all we had to do was wait a few minutes.

It wasn’t long before we saw a well dressed, White man walking to the lobby from the outside. He told me to go and stand by the door on the opposite side of the lobby from where the man was coming, not to go and open the door for him because he wanted to show me something. He said to stand so the man could see me, and he stood up from inside his octagon desk, where he could be seen clearly from the waist up. The desk was very visible and in the center of the large lobby. We both wore a dark blue suit and red tie, the uniform of the doorman and concierge. He said to watch what the man does. The man walked in, looked at the concierge standing behind the desk smiling an inviting, ‘may I help you?’ smile, the one obviously in charge, and then he looked at me, the White person, the one obviously just the doorman, and he walked all the way across the lobby to speak to me. I referred him to the concierge.

After the man left, he asked me how I’d feel if something like that happened several times a day; how would that make me feel about myself he stressed. He said he knew the man didn’t mean to treat him of no account, and that he probably wasn’t even aware he was being racist, but that’s the way it usually is. He explained that discrimination wasn’t always of the outright variety, was most often not something people even knew they were doing, and it was that kind that got to you because, slight though a single instant of it was, it was constant enough to cut slowly but surely deeper and deeper into your self-image. He pointed out the same thing happened almost every time a White person came there for the first time. He asked me to imagine daily life among a White majority, going shopping, to restaurants, the movies, wherever, and then he brought the point home by bringing in employment, how many Whites would just naturally choose a White over a Black, without even thinking, without feeling the slightest bit of racism.

To solve the problem of unconscious, or even conscious, racism, however, we’ve done what we always do: enact laws that address specifics of the problem and punish individual violations of them, the hydra approach, because, as many instances of racism that we punish, more occur. The roots of the problem are hardly even seen let alone dug out and removed.

Many years later, living in India the only White person in the neighborhood and getting that same kind of treatment every time I turned around too, although I have the added baggage of being a foreigner to boot, I’ve come to understand the fundamental problem in a different light, one that concierge couldn’t see because he saw in terms of right and wrong, of morality, naturally because he was being treated badly. At first I too saw the people discriminating against me as bad, but then I began to realize how human it is to hate or fear people of a different race or culture, as I’ve said earlier, and, able to see it in that light, as the natural way the ego reacts to people not of its group, because it’s been conditioned to react that way, since it’s taught to identify first with its own group, I’ve come to realize the only way to heal that is by making integration a part of the transcription of every human ego so that the child, from the time they can distinguish differences in people, which is very young, learns to identify themselves with humanity first and foremost and with their particular group, be that a race, religion, nation, or what, second. If you think about it, there really is no other way, and that, in terms of good and evil, it’s for goodness’ sakes.

While it’s possible to try to teach some watered down version of this in the schools, of most democratic countries at least, where learning to see people of a different race, gender, religion or whatnot, are equal to you in terms of citizen rights, human rights and the right to self-determination, which would be taught right alongside the 3 R’s, the obstacles to implementing the humanity first ideal are insurmountable at this present time, nationwide being impossible enough, worldwide not even thinkable, as I think anyone can see. Imagine all evangelical Christians and patriotic Americans, or all Muslims, Jews, and Hindus for that matter, teaching their infants and children they are human beings first and Christians, Americans, Muslims, Jews, Hindus or whatever, second. The Devil you say.

Citywide, however, it’s possible to begin right this minute, with the kids being born now, but not in any regular city where the people have come to live for the usual reasons, to be safer, to live in a nicer place, to make a better or easier living, etc. It would have to be a city where the people have come as pioneers of human unity first and as creatures of comfort second, a city created and set aside for that purpose, to achieve that aim. There is such a city on our planet, Auroville, India, where this narrative is moving, slow, like the growth of trees upon the land.

At this moment in the narrative, however, we return to Safed, where the line between Jew and non is about to be drawn more definitively. As I’ve mentioned, I was sleeping outside, now out of the cemetery and in the little square Moshehiem’s apartment and Avraham’s gate opened onto, behind a little clump of bushes along a wall. I was perpetually hungry, and I think by this time I’d quit the back-breaking hauling stones out of old houses job. I really don’t remember how or what I was eating, only that on this particular Shabbis, my third or fourth one there, my last one actually, I was particularly hungry and was so looking forward to the Saturday feast. I was delighted when I got a special invite for the Friday evening meal from the expat American married couple that lived in an apartment next door to Avraham, the man one of the three men at the fountain who dressed me down about the Hitler poem. I figured with this invitation all was now well. It was at his apartment, and it was a modest meal I shared with he and his wife, her nephew, a little boy about nine, and his best friend from high school, who had come to visit from America, one of the people there exploring their Jewish identity, but that wasn’t the only identity of his he was exploring.

I remember him at the afternoon show and tell in the studio courtyard the day before. He appeared to be trying to make himself look much smaller than he was, and much younger than his 20 years, sitting in the chair the way a child would and holding onto a teddybear. The only thing missing was the thumb in his mouth. I forget what he said, only that it was all to make us think of him as a child and not as an adult, which was to get everyone to accept his love for little boys, but that didn’t become apparent to me until that dinner the next day when, as we were waiting to eat, he was rubbing the little nephew’s back as the boy lay on his stomach, running his fingers through his long payot (sidelocks), what he was doing when I came in, what it appeared he’d done all night, as he’d slept beside the boy there on the floor. I could smell the sexual desire, and when he suddenly goosed him between the legs, grabbing his package from behind, I could see it. The boy yelled, “Hey!” for his part, but I could tell this wasn’t the first goose, and the young man gave a faked devilish laugh and went back to safer territory the boy was more comfortable with, but I ascertained the boy had had a handful night.

I could sense the couple was not comfortable with all this, and he sensed it too, and as a way of trying to have them make some sense out of this, he got up and went up to the young woman and told her how wonderful it was he’d made such a deep bond with her nephew in so short of time. I about choked when he said that, thinking how immature and see through was his attempt at manipulating the people around so he could hook into the little boy. She didn’t say anything. When I left after dinner so did he, and I overheard his friend tell him he was to sleep at so and so’s house, not there, but there wasn’t any mention of why or any sound of disapproval or disgust in his voice. The separation was as much to protect the young man as it was the boy. I could sense the bewilderment of this man, who’d learned this unspeakable thing about his best friend, but I could also sense his concern for him.

The next day he was following the boys around as they played, looking very awkward doing so. I saw him standing on a thin concrete ledge above the now dry sewer that ran the length of the upper end of the square. He appeared very unsure of his footing. The group of boys had just ran over it without hesitation, and they didn’t wait for him, seemed not even to be aware he was there. The day before the boys had followed me being the Pied Piper as I ran the length of that ledge and expertly negotiated other obstacles around the square as though I were on an obstacle course, like a paratrooper. I’d been teaching a couple of boys who lived there the basics of meditation and pranayama, boys about ten who wanted to wake up in their dreams and such, lucid dreaming something I’d asked them about, if they did, and it happened that suddenly there was a number of boys in the square, and the Pied Piper thing just came about as I sat the two aforementioned boys down and began giving them their lesson. Curious, the visiting boys were not shy about interrupting us, and soon I’d abandoned the lesson and just played with them. With the young man on that ledge, Mr. Goose (let me call him), however, you didn’t have to use a crowbar to separate the men from the boys because the boys weren’t into him, but he so wanted them to be, as he’d seen me the day before too and wanted what they gave me, their undivided, unwavering attention.

The next day after Shabbis, he went to Jerusalem to stay at the house of the little boy who he’d made handfuls of, and I remember thinking what a wake up call that would be for that household, which had several boys, as the orthodox tend to have many kids, and what a day of reckoning it would probably be for young Mr.Goose. I doubted the father of the boy would be as concerned for his welfare as his best friend was. That the father was also the go to person for Americans who wanted to convert to Judaism, was I was told who I needed to go to if I did decide to convert, wasn’t the only connection that brought Mr. Goose’s story home to me. I sure didn’t want to arrive in that house after a nuke had gone off, the one strapped to my own back, well, that’s the thing see.

Er, ugh, so, like I said, I took the first meal Shabbis invitation on Friday evening to be a sign that all was well between me and the ‘gang’, but it wasn’t that at all but something more like a bone you’d throw to a dog so they’d not bother you begging for your food. It was an appeasement, I would be told on Saturday by Mr. Next Door (as in next door to the studio), so I’d be satisfied I’d been taken care of and not expect to come to the second meal Shabbis, which was that Saturday afternoon. Funny how his true intentions in inviting me to eat at his house, which weren’t good intentions, matched, in the weird way the universe matches this and that, the bad intentions of Mr. Goose, who’d been invited there with the best of intentions, but even if you believe things in this universe are put together consciously, it’d be hard for you to believe that bad intentions are bad intentions, whether that be to fondle a child over his trousers or invite someone to your house because you’re trying to ultimately exclude them. In other words, that all bad intentions are connected to one another and are the same in essence. You got that?

It was early Saturday afternoon, and I could tell something was up at the studio. The gate was closed and had been since I woke up. Three young British men were with me, having slept in a hostel nearby. Me? I slept in the bushes. They arrived the day before and were all beside themselves with a story of seeing a UFO in the Sinai desert. I say beside themselves, but maybe you don’t get the picture: they were unhinged. Their eyes shined with a fire of having seen something literally out of this world. I knew they were telling the truth by their unmistakable shaken look, like you know when someone’s terrified or hurt by the unmistakable note of such in their voice.

At once afraid and excited, they were people who’d had their worldview suddenly changed to include aliens upon earth and all the incredible things that suggests. They would not stop talking about it, but, lost in being Jewish or wanting to be included in being Jewish, we didn’t listen to their story, and it seems to me now the universe brought them to us to add emphasis to this story, to show us how narrow-minded we all were at that moment, myself included, although I did talk to the boys more about their encounter after hearing them tell the people in the studio who were there when they came in. I only remember it was a close encounter of the second kind, where a small glowing oddly shaped craft landed very close to them and then dashed off into the sky, leaving them stunned and unable to move for some minutes afterwards, but it was it close enough to remove any doubt of what they saw.

That afternoon, soon after the three British men arrived at the square, having spent the night in a hotel, Avraham, Mr. Next Door, and B Actor came out of the studio to talk to us, the same ones who spoke to me about the Hitler poem a couple of days earlier, although B Actor was a little behind the other two, appearing more like a tag along than who’d been elected to tell us what we were about to be told. Avraham did the talking, and it was obvious he wasn’t proud of what he had to say, and that he was struggling with it: “Hey look, we, uh, we just took a vote, and I’m sorry, but you guys can’t come to dinner this afternoon.”

“Why not? What’s going on?” I asked. I was so let down. I’d been looking forward to this meal all week watching everyone prepare for it. It was the first part of June, and the crowd of young Americans hanging out at the studio, who were mostly college kids on summer break, and a couple of recent graduates, had gotten pretty large. I knew this would be a feast.

“Like I said, we voted, and we only want Jewish people to come to the second meal this afternoon.”

As Avraham said this Mr. Next Door piped in, telling me what I’ve already explained above: “You got invited to my house last night for the first meal so that you’d be taken care of and not expect to come to the second meal too.” He said that like it was really rude of me to want to come to dinner that afternoon —the nerve of me.

Now there are times in life when you have a sense of saying things for the future, and you stand up and say them, and say them well, but here that didn’t happen. I only had the sense of saying such, not the well-spoken speech itself, but I did try. It’s always been that way with me. I’m a writer not a speaker. “What? Because we’re not Jewish? Do you know what you’re saying? Come on Avraham, you’re American. You’ve seen the movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

Avraham was uneasy, and he looked quickly at the studio gate, where he wanted to be heading right about then. “I know how this looks, but we took a vote, and I have to abide by it. People are afraid that if you are there, well, they won’t feel comfortable to express their Jewishness.”

“And you have your own spirituality, and it’s strong, and we don’t want anything to get in the way of ours.” That was B Actor. That was the main reason, I surmised.

“What about these guys? Why them too?” I asked, motioning to the three Brits.

“We decided only Jews.” Avraham said. How everyone knew they weren’t Jewish I don’t know. That must’ve been a question, covert or otherwise, they got asked the night before, and the answer had gotten around. If you would ask me what’s wrong with that because this was Israel, I’d tell you that’s what wrong with Israel: the overriding importance placed on being Jewish, to the exclusion of others.

If I had been aligned with the cosmos at that moment, or, to sound less new agey, with what would be the most interesting dinner conversation around, I’d have pointed out that the three young gentlemen had a story to tell at the dinner table well worth hearing, and wasn’t it interesting they were there with it at the moment non-Jews were being excluded, like as if to say, “Hey, let’s not only exclude non-Jews, but let’s shut out the universe too while we’re at it?” But I was as lost in being excluded as they were in being Jews. I can, however, point that out now.

“What did you vote Avraham?”

“I agree with this, but not everybody does. The ones that don’t have made arrangements for you all to come after everyone has left and eat your fill.” I was surprised to hear he was among the people voting us out. I don’t think he was comfortable with his vote, but he’d opted to be part of the crowd and was going with it despite his reluctance.

“But you invited us last night, why we’re here now, to come to dinner,” one of the Brits threw in.

“Yeah I know, and I’m sorry, but this morning people objected to you guys coming, and there was a long argument, and so we took a vote,” Avraham said.

“Wait a minute. Something doesn’t fit because last night I got invited to the first meal Shabbis, as I’ve just been told, so I wouldn’t expect to come to the second meal, and so what’s the deal?” I was trying to point out that the exclusion had been pre-planned.

“We just don’t want any gentiles, and that’s that.” Avraham was obviously finished.

I argued more, but to no avail. We were told what time to come and told not to come before then, and the three walked back to the studio. Disappointed I’d have to wait until 10 p.m. to eat, but thankful I’d at least get to, I went to sit down at the fountain and just wait. Being excluded was par for the course for me there in Safed. The three Brits mumbled something about Jews being clannish and this being bullshit and walked off. When they’d arrived at the studio the night before, telling anyone who’d listen about their close encounter, they’d been invited to the second meal by not only Avraham, but others too, so to share their strange story. It got untold.

If anybody that voted that morning to exclude us because we weren’t Jews were to be asked today, it’s doubtful any one of them would own up to it, and I base that on virtually everybody’s reluctance to admit they are racist, even most neo-Nazis and White supremacists. When you combine that with our almost universal unwillingness to admit we’re wrong when we really are, and with our tendency to refuse to concede to an opposite point of view even when presented with concrete facts proving it, or tendency to become even more obstinate with our wrong view actually, you can bet the voters in this racist election won’t admit they cast votes to exclude us.

Whomever asked about it might use the reason I’ve just revealed to you about myself, that nuke on my back, but that wasn’t something they knew at the time, although I’m sure it entered the minds of the people watching me play so freely with the boys in the square on Thursday. In short, it wasn’t on the table with this crowd. And besides, Mr. Goose got not only to go to dinner but a place to sleep, and it was on the table with him. Yes, there was some controversy because of the Hitler poem, but there was no question of me being anti-Semitic or anything of the kind. This was about being someone with a spirituality stronger than their own, and I’m speaking about personal inner and mystical experience, and with a creativity flowing from that alive and kicking, those things more than I wasn’t a Jew, but the Brits would say it was because we weren’t Jewish, and that is the main thing on the table here, being excluded because we weren’t Jews.

At 10 p.m. we were waiting at the gate, and it opened for us. Avraham ushered us in but then made himself scarce. We ate the leftovers in the dark, as the lights had been turned off, but you could still see. And we ate in a relative silence, only speaking about how good the food was. No talk of the out of this world, unfortunately. The meal had been buffet style. There was one small table with dishes of food on it and a longer one where the people ate, and a couple of smaller empty tables behind. This had been a big dinner. I gathered about 20 or so people had eaten. We didn’t serve ourselves but were served by the three or four dissenters to the vote, served like we were important people they respected and admired, and in telling this story through the years I’ve said that’s the way it is with Jews: if some Jews do you wrong because you aren’t Jewish, other Jews will come along to try and make it right, and what’s different about that in the other peoples on this earth is that with Jews you’ll almost always have the ones trying to make it right right there within the same group that’s doing you wrong. That’s a generalization I know, maybe not even correct, but it’s become part of this story because that’s how I’ve told it since it happened. Let me just say thank you to the kind people that sacrificed to serve us.

I will tell you all the rules when outcasting these people.
Drop in
a sister’s pain.
It was deliberate and actual.
She threw him out the window,
and years he’s been sitting at the fire
tryin’ to make sense of it.
It’s mean.
She even has her daughter on the report.

It’s vocabulary for everybody.
It just hurts, you know?
No one cares.
They just reject you,
like you’re some changeling in their midst,
like you’re a monster.

Just stop a moment and think,
do you ride the world this way?
Are you taller than trees?
Is this the good in you?
And can you tell me why you’re doing it?
I don’t understand,
what’s society got to do with this?
That’s who you propose is true?
What’s it about you?
What are you doing?

Please tell me
I can lay my head on your shoulder.
Do you know the moon?
Show the world you’re not some redneck from Texas.
Be my friend.
Be good to me
Gwendolyn Gaye Duke.

No don’t brag about this,
but I think of you often.
I just don’t know how to include you in my life.
How can we be brother and sister?
How can you even like me?
I’ve done you wrong,
as hurtful as I can do that.
I’ve even threatened to put you behind bars,
if you should just try and talk to me.

Why did you have to go and be some security blanket for the world?
Why did you have to stand up and sing?
It makes me look so bad,
and I handle it with care.
No one talks about it around me.
Oh man I’m sorry.
What am I supposed to say?
That worms,
so I just sit here and count dimes till the end.

What do I do with you?
Of course you make my smile
when I,
when I practice childhood with you
in my mind’s eye.
How do you throw a brother away?
how do you dig him out of the trash?

Okay people I’m responsible.
I did this to my brother and see
I will official him again.
I will be there for him when he needs me.
I will do what’s right.
These are starting on my lips.

I’m on my way.
Do you hear me Gwen?
It’s time to overcome now
the points you had with me taking over,
stealing your mother’s love,
being a boy in the room,
when sisters are not allowed
because they’re girls.
I blamed you for the failure
of being a girl instead of a boy.
This is quite animal.
Disappointed, stagnated, stand up.
We need to redeem girls, don’t we?
let them have the world in their hands like boys do.

I don’t know how to start this.
I don’t know how to make it right.
I just know we need it,
and it’s coming.
In the meantime,
don’t blame me for the war.
I am not the one who caused it.
I just sat there,
a little boy in my mother’s lap in love with her.
I just didn’t know it hurt you.
I couldn’t see you there.
I was just a kid.
That’s all I have to say.
Do you need me?
It’s on the way.
Let’s fight this thing.
I’m comin’.

Endure all these stabs in the heart
from my world and my family.
They don’t even hesitate.
I get rid of…
I don’t know what to do with these feelins’.
They hurt me.
They go round all the time.
They happen all the time.
They don’t even think about it.
It’s automatic for them,
the outcast mode.

Society allows this,
encourages it.
It’s what makes it mean.
I’ve Heard the Crawdads Sing doesn’t do it,
a Me Too statement
science made—
kill somebody
and don’t even feel a thing
what’s yah doin’?
No one knows the story of outcast.
They make movies they don’t believe in.
Write books they’re not sure of.
And they would outcast me too.

We shake up underdogs,
like they’re special,
talk about them all the time,
especially in children’s literature,
their movies and things,
and we go to town for them,
bring them into you,
make them heroes,
and we don’t believe a word of it,
are confused over what it means,
can’t quite grasp its concept,
don’t even know what to do with it.
We just put people down
when we meet them in real life,
the underdog, the outcast.
We can’t seem to understand
they wear different clothes each time,
and society is not true to itself:
outcast might mean somethin’ else tomorrow.

Do you even know what you’re doin
puttin’ us in the outcast pen’?
Do you even care?
I’m here to warn you:
you’re tearin’ society apart.
You’re being loyal to your animal rage.
You’re actually bein’ immoral.
How do we show you this?
You will not let us speak.
You’ve just shut us off.
It’s a crime, you know?

It’s equity, you know?
what’s missin’ with you.
You would be safe and sorry.
You will not risk a thing.
You don’t know what it means to love
someone you don’t have to.
You can’t grasp love—
a noble idea,
but you can’t seize it.
It’s not just something you declare,
like Ari says it is.
No, you feel it
in every situation,
because it’s how you encounter the world,
and you’ve done the work to evolve that.
It’s such hard work.
You find the shop there:
you have to put it on everything in your day.
Try it on for size,
and your shortcomings you study.
They reveal yourself.

This is not wide open to the world
to just take you for a ride.
You love.
It’s never let people harm you,
or take advantage of your things
to the point you lose.
You have to be wise.
You have to know how to play.
It comes and goes.
You get stronger at it,
and faced with someone like me,
whom everybody hates.
you love.

And that brings society together.
You’ve passed the test.
You are your brother’s keeper,
your sister’s righthand smile.
You’ve saved the world here.
Do you know love will solve the world?
That’s equity.
That’s how we deal each other.
That’s how we make it right.
And even the climate’s better.
And even nuclear disarmament’s happened.
And we have world peace,

I really hate these shoes.
They don’t fit my feet,
and they cause blisters,
That’s society
in its lower parts.
We can do nothing about that.
Until you try.
We’ve have to give them the example
in the press
and on equity’s base.
We do have better parts, don’t we?
Can’t you even try?

You had to go and get the world by the tail,
you had to be a speaker for humanity,
to even bring this up,
to even bring this up.
To the bullpen,
I’m gettin’ there.
You’ll have to listen to me.
There’s we lose society
if you don’t.

I’m a wide speaker.
I can bring people together.
I know how that works.
I know how divine it is,
and I know its power.
Can I introduce it to you?
You think you have it.
You don’t know the sacrifice it means.
It’s got horns.
It puts you in the way with people,
makes you vulnerable,
tests your limits.
It’s not easy,
but we break apart without it,
I mean as a world,
a society.

You can see the fractures now.
Don’t trust anybody.
Kill anybody that laughs at you.
Make a mistake,
and the hounds are on you,
to the fullest extent of the law.
We just break here.
It’s time we got smart,
took love out of the cupboard
(oh those silly 60s)
and healed people with it,
applied it to society
in very practical terms.
We make it rule our hands and feet,
garden our minds,
have it control our mouths.
It’s the thing in the room
we constantly refer to.
It’s the basis of our acts,
and I’m not talking blind.

We do what needs to be done
to protect ourselves,
to protect our mistakes.
We can’t go there.
Imaginary self-defense
invaded Russia,
and the vast majority of a great and powerful nation,
so sophisticated,
charged that into invading Ukraine.
Unbelievable the size of it,
the lack of love.
Do you see that?
Can you see that?
I’m talking to Russia.
Scapegoats one and all,

I’ll be back in a minute.
I’ve got to hang out some clothes
and other speedy deliveries for my family.
That’s what I’m doin’ doin’ poetry,
publishin’ a book,
a lot of housework,
where I take care of people and their things,
It’s a large house,
full of people and dogs,
and they call me daddy around here,
and I have a large family,
so loveful, at times so uneasy. [heard sung]
She went to say watch
she was Heavenly pulled.
Oh by the way,
I clean my own bathroom.
So this is founded on stuff,
the nitty gritty of life’s room,
and I am sorry,
but the stuff comes first
around here.

Every shirt I could breathe,
my chores,
you know Douglas.
He’s my friend,
like a…
like we’re married.
It makes the day go by kind,
and we sure do love each other,
no gay involved.
He’s the actor in the room
the friend,
the incredible, amazing friend.

And I’m giving you the facts straight.
There’s the welcome:
dial 9.
It’s got some kidney power.
Bring the dog along.
Contrary to doctrine
that doesn’t like children,
if you get distracted,
there’s the Messiah there.
He’s nice and warm.
That’s your fingers on ice
not bein’ a mean to people,
and you’re the Messiah.
How powerful that is
when applied to everyday life.
The Messiah settings,
I don’t see here the crawdads and the frienddogs sing.
Wait counsel.
Eventually everyone will be the Messiah,
although you are free to go.
I did this
in my own yard.
I was wide open.

How much gas is in my car?
No it is not illegal.
I got free spoken of her so much.
Why didn’t you go with him?
I don’t know how to make it right,
not to mention,
that notion
is whimsically laid out.
It’s the Messiah man.
You can’t finish it
and apply it
on a cold and grey Chicago morn
another little baby child is born
in the ghetto,
and his momma cries. [this and above three lines sung by Elvis]
Do you have teeth?
Just throw this off the bus.
It’s Rembrandt.
We believe its existence.
We know it’s there.
We can’t get under it.
I’m right behind you.
I stand on wheels.
I’m the end of racism.
I’m love, you understand?
I’m really here.
Just ask your heart.
It’s got school in it,
and there it is on your table.
Well let’s get goin’.

Let’s splash down in this water once more
and look at the victim in the room.
They’re there as originally supposed:
they’ve been hurt.
The question of the ages:
what do we do on their behalf?
We don’t get revenge.
This is horrible on society.
It destroys us,
keeps us mean and hateful people,
is barbaric.
We have to help them.
We have to take their hand.
We need to protect them.
We need to validate their experience.
We need to give them room to breathe.

The only way to heal is through the victim
fall in this hole on the ground,
and take the victimizer in their arms and pray.
No, not that Europe.
They’d have to learn a lesson.
They’d have to learn
that victimizer is in trouble.
Do you see it?
They don’t let him off scot-free,
but we have institutions now to heal them,
and they’d come together Norway,
put in jail in lovely places
and fellowed,
brought back into the fold
with gentle hands and loving eyes.
We have angels for this,
people put through soul force to get there.

Wait a minute,
they are certainly greased,
made to feel their wrong,
put in positions to see that
in the time they are cuffed,
Positions that do not harm them,
but show them their weakness,
why they kill,
why they rape,
why they bring harm to people.
Maybe that’s out of doors in wilderness brought back to bear,
if we understand the institution’s
not a building housed.
Why would he have roles if he didn’t have a victim?

This is not a boneyard.
It’s not a rub your nose in it please.
I feel so guilty
I’ll do it again.
But they need to see the pain.
They need to see it plainly,
how it hits their lives and hurts them too.
That’s the connection made.
That’s what we get them to see.
Not with the mask
of they are jailed for that,
put in nice prisons.
This is in their very lives.
They’ve caused harm to someone-themselves.
This is an inner journey,
soul searching.
They need to see they hurt themselves.
Who knows the function of dreams?
They’re there for the taking,
and here they bring a lot.
That man,
that woman,
begins to investigate themselves.
We have time.
They’re in prison,
some beautiful square walls
that make inner learning easy.
Beauty surrounds them
and people who are not offended by them.
They’re there to help.
The factor involved is not a stretch,
a time term.
It’s their record of healing.

Okay how do we do that
in a society of hate and mean?
The world’s gonna change you know.
We will become a nation
of lovers of other nations,
until we lose that political boundary,
and people’s populate the planet
into one another.
You, see the direction.
What government might there be wrong?
This will evolve to show,
so wrong doesn’t come.
We’re lookin’ at the future.
We hug these ideas today.

We’ve come a long ways,
haven’t we,
from the victim’s needs?
No, we’ve brought them home.
They’ve been vindicated,
given their due,
put in the right place:
now I understand school.
I really do.
Time teaches them this
without the victimizer.
They need to heal.
Left to themselves
they crumble,
they falter,
they stumble.
We can help them,
and it’s part of society’s plan
with the perpetrator in the room.

You wouldn’t see them at first.
You would have be prepared for that.
You would go through your trauma.
You would see it.
You would learn it’s not you.
They soul is inviolate.
Don’t hit the lady,
force ‘em to hear it.
How do you explain movies to children?
And that’s the star of our role:
we are actors on a stage the poets have told us.
This is how we heal.
Seein’ that reality
we come along fine.

I’m writing in a tactical attitude that has a historical basis,
and we look at books now,
the one I’m writing now.
I can write on and on and on
to get you in the breeze so you can hear me.
I’ve touched your most precious subjects,
and I will continue.

I’m spanking you hard, aren’t I?
This is not the ideal’s lair.
I’m putting practicality in your hands.
That’s why it smarts so.
I touch bottom.
Can you gather the sound of music?
It’s military, ain’t it?
I have some points to get across,
a world to change,
and let’s just get down to business, shall we?

Went higher than where our pen works,
and try it on for size.
But this is too high to raise:
and we just slag there.
That’s the seer
on his divine ground,
where we’re goin’.
I want you to tell the truth.
On 27th
you stay here
a butterfly.
I don’t bring zero down to Earth.
I have no notion with the Antichrist.
You mean the prophet here.
The seer.

I’ve got such a sofa.
I don’t know how to write it.,
but you’re hearin’ me speak.
I will protect you
from the end of the Earth.
You can see my bargain card.
I’m an outcast wants in.
Why do you do that,
chop me in half when I ask?
You just listen to Steve,
my step-brother Steve Abbott,
who turns me away.
I think he’s read my material.
He can’t deal with it.
He doesn’t know what to say,
and I’m his brother.
This is ridiculous.
Every one of you out there
does the same thing.
Why is that?
Do I pee?
Okay let’s give racism a chance,
Is that what you’re saying?

We’re really into vegetables.
I think I should hang up the phone now,
and let you get me some sleep.
There’s enough to say
in the whole book.
I love you.
I’m not pullin’ any punches, you know?

What a surprise,
I hear from Steve.
Oh thank you Steve.
Throw any rock at me?
Okay Gwen,
this isn’t good.
I don’t understand it:
never speak to me again?
I’m Gwen,
do my M.O.
That’s stubbornness alerted itself.
Look at your
You want to…
You’re hurting me.
Stop racism.
You want to stop it.
I’m finished.
Do you understand?

You aren’t finished.
What have you got separations to say?
Just let me shoot yah,
put you out of your misery.
A dual piece of property
the owner
was mine—
a victim’s statement.
And I’ve told you there’s teacher.
But I think I told you this was a dream.
I’m a hustler.
I’m just tryin’ to get you to see reality.
Something more than a movie,
but can you call it?
Victims square one.
They have teeth.
We’re not allowed to brush them aside.
You have responsibility in the movie.
We’ve got things to do here.
This is not a nightclub.
It’s a representative reality school involved.
We’ve got so much to learn.
We’ve got a world to learn,
and we are here for that,
every one of us,
including you.

We’re here to learn
the notions of the universe
that have us learn God.
See here
how God sees through our eyes,
God what we’re lookin’ at.
And I’ve explained myself
and put you in the right place.
And we put this helmet on
and go to work.
Now put up with society,
so we can get the right music.
Brother, brother, brother,
what’s goin’ on? [this and above line heard sung voice of Marvin Gaye]
A love notion.

Next post:

Chapter 10
You Can Gimmie my Car

Between Jerusalem I’m Sorry, Chapter 6

La distruzione del Tempio di Gerusalemme by Francesco Hayez 1867, public domain

Legends of School

“Donny, come here, come, come.” It was my classmate, and he was eagerly motioning me to follow him. This was very odd because he was Black and I was White, and this was third grade in East Texas in 1970, and, although Leon County School was officially desegregated, that didn’t mean the different races mixed socially, not by any means. It was like there were two different worlds sharing the world, only no one shared anything with the other race unless they had to. I tried to ignore him, but he was persistent, standing there under the awning near our classroom putting all his will into his hand pulling me towards him.

I regretted again that day, some two weeks before, when, bored to have no boys my age to play with because we lived so far from town, I finally gave in to my sinful desire to go and play with the Black boys who lived on the same dirt road as I, sinful because I knew my daddy would not like me to do that and might whip me for it. We lived on Old Durant Road four miles from the town of Jewett, a road littered with the houses and trailer houses of both poor Whites and Blacks. We were different my daddy often said. We were Dukes and White, and they were just a bunch of niggers. I believed him, never challenged his racism, but I always wanted to point out we lived on the same road as they and were poor too, but I never did. We lived in the woods almost a football field from the road, woods I roamed in, where I became a thinker, because I spent most of my playtime alone in those woods. My two step-sisters told on me too much to play with. That scrubby secondary forest, punctuated with tall old trees, was where I put my thinking cap on, as a habit I mean, kippah-like, although I already thought a lot, and so the solitude helped me to grow, was something I actually enjoyed sometimes, but it did get boring, like on that day.

Anyway, I knew the boys lived a mile or so further down the road, and so I rode Dolly, my Welch pony, to see them. I rode her bareback and with reins of rope, Indian style we called it then, as we couldn’t afford proper horse tack. Boy were they surprised. They lived in a cluster of houses on both sides of the road, and all the boys came out to play. They were a lot rougher than I was used to, and poor Dolly got the brunt of it, but it was wonderful. I spent almost the whole day there and regretted it after because I thought I’d done wrong. I never went back and, although the boys, like this one now, held my one-day friendship still in their eyes, I didn’t talk to them at school other than what you have to say when you live side by side, and I didn’t want the White boys to know I’d made friends with them. My daddy never found out, but it’s doubtful he’d have whipped me. Kids have this way of taking the prejudices of their adults as something they wear at all times and in all circumstances, and that if they don’t do the same, they’re in big trouble.

An image of that day has stood out in my mind and heart ever since, my heart also because I feel the sadness of it in my bones, and I’ve wanted so many times to tell that little White boy I was back them to just eat and enjoy it. The mothers made a feast for us, happy to have me there, and they went all out, cooking fried chicken with all the trimmings, mashed potatoes and gravy and greens with bacon bits and other tasty things. It’s pained me so many times to realize they must’ve sacrificed for that meal, and I just refused to eat it, but I wasn’t trying to be mean. It was so clear to me that here was line I mustn’t cross, to be loyal to my daddy I said in my mind, and looking at that nice meal I had to repeat that a few times. I’d play with them boys but not eat their food. You’d think the women would be put off, but they knew what was up. They sat me down—I think there were three of them —and, smiling with the patience of the ages, waved a drumstick under my nose until I couldn’t resist it, knowing as they did the hands of little boys when it came to being offered what they liked, and I grabbed that leg and ate it, but that was all I’d eat I thought to myself, the chicken, but I wanted to plow into the rest like who would’ve thought it. I didn’t though.

Returning to that little Black boy motioning me at school, I followed him to where he was leading me, a place near the end of the row of classrooms where we wouldn’t be easily seen by anybody. He stopped and put a crayon to his arm, a black one, and said, “Look, I’m not black.” And then he put a white one to mine and said, “And you ain’t White.” I stood there and agreed with him, never having looked at it like that before. He was being painfully earnest, like he was showing me something extremely important, a discovery of his that would change, if not everything, then at least things between us. For just a moment I felt his pain at being Black in a White only world, as much of all that a nine-year-old can grasp, but then I quickly walked off back to the playground, eager to get away from his pain and the dawning sense, which I wanted to nip in the bud, that I was a cause of it. I felt really uncomfortable as I was walking away, as these weren’t feelings that fit into my kid-self (more grown up they were ), and like a kid I just wanted to lose myself in play, which meant in those third grade recesses get back to bulldogging it on the merry-go-round (grab its sidebars with both hands when it was at full speed and let it fly you through the air), and I was king of the bulldogs.

I was Donny Duke, a recent addition to that ‘been together since kindergarten’ ascending class of that one classroom per grade country school, and I was from Houston, the big city, and I was girl-crazy, girls in the class as crazy about me (Carla even dug up her dead cat to give me the skull, a prize for boy like me, a woods roamer), and walking to and fro under those tin awnings, my class going somewhere in single file, snaking this way and that, high school girls would come and run their fingers through my hair and fuss over me and say how cute I was and didn’t do that for any of the other boys. You would not believe what took that normalcy from me, religion believe it or not, but the spiral will fill that out later.

There was another reason I was making a hasty retreat from that boy’s pain, one deeper than a narrative of a lifetime can go without sounding like it’s gone off the deep end so far have we gone from the narrative of soul, a secret, awful reason steeped in my own unremembered murder at the hands of the KKK when my soul had donned the body of an African American man of the South in a former life, which was somewhere around the turn of the 19th century. It was a haunting really, and the memory hunted me in dream as a little kid, although in this moment it was a stirring awake enough to run from, dreams where I’d either be or be watching a Black boy growing up, and that day with the Black boys on Old Durant Road, playing among their smiling mommas and dilapidated old houses, was a sort of an unrecognized homecoming, why it felt so good but why also I really never went back: it really hit a nerve.

Getting back to the setting of this story, Safed, Israel, it’s occasion for being told, I don’t remember when I put on the kippah, before or after my night at Mosheheim’s, or if I had the dream of putting one on before, but I know I had it on after, when I attended a couple of classes at the Ascent Institute of Safed, where the crowd at Avraham’s was taking night classes. I wore a white kippah, which was for ceremonial purposes, not for everyday use, why probably I got pegged as a non-Jew so easily. I was and am a person that listens to synchronicities, and I found that kippah on the ground a day or so after the lucid dream about putting on a kippah, where I found it I don’t remember, but most likely in the cemetery where I was sleeping. Of course I put that one on. My whole time in Israel it was the only kippah I found. It appears the universe that put it on me didn’t want me to convert to Judaism, since it didn’t aid at all in that process, made sure I’d look like a Jew wannabe Jesus look alike and nothing more.

I went to Ascent in the late afternoon and asked if I could takes classes there, explaining I was a non-Jew but was thinking about conversion, and that I wanted to study Kabbalah. I was sent to talk to the director, or whatever he was called, who gave me permission. He told me, and it was literally the talk of town, that it was the time of the Revelation, not in the Christian sense of that word, but in the Jewish sense, when the Kabbalah would be disseminated throughout Judaism. Tradition has it that only when you turn 50 can you turn to it, after having learned the whole of the Law and having put it in practice for a lifetime more or less, so you won’t get sidetracked or go off the deep end obviously. In any event, their disseminating it to all Jews who wanted to learn it, regardless of age, was a breach of tradition, but they thought it was justified because they believed it was the time just before the end times and the time of Revelation. I left there with a small pamphlet I’d picked out to read among several, because the title caught my eye, which was something like The New World Order and the Coming of the Mashiach.

It spoke of the Mashiach as a political leader, not a miracle worker, and stressed that. He’d be the leader of the nations, and Jerusalem would be the capital of the world. That was basically the gist of it. I don’t remember much else of the pamphlet other than my thoughts while reading it, which that it seemed to me the writers of the pamphlet were trying to upstage the use of that phrase, new world order, by the former U.S. president George H. W. Bush. I didn’t know at the time it was or would become, with the advent of the Internet, a phrase linked to the conspiracy theory that claims Jews secretly rule the world and so forth. I didn’t buy into that theory then and don’t now (my awareness of the unlimited power Israel has to oppress the Palestinians and to influence especially the American government in its favor notwithstanding). I do, however, see that some sects or groups of religious Jews believe Jews should be the leaders of humanity and have prophecies that play that out, such as the pamphlet I read was doing. While it isn’t a whole lot different from the Christians or Muslims who desire the same, or, from a national perspective, the Chinese or Russians, and I can keep adding groups all day long, as it’s probably a desire among some in every human group on the planet, I think it’s quite prevalent among orthodox Jews in Israel.

I had an encounter with a young orthodox man on the streets of Jerusalem, the new part, not far from the central bus station, a month or so after leaving Safed, who gave me a very revealing picture of what it looks like to Jews (who believe it) to have the Jewish people as the leader of the humanity. He came walking up from the opposite direction and was putting leather bands on people’s arms, on anyone’s arm who let him, and it was a kind of complicated procedure with the knot he had to tie. He wasn’t wearing the Hasidic getup but was wearing the black clothes of the orthodox, with the 40’s style man’s hat. He appeared to be in his mid-20’s, and he looked determined. He was tall and rather slender, and when he bent over it was as though paper was being folded in half, was not a fluid flow. He had a handsome face but one not open and smiling. Watching him put the band on a man’s arm in front of me, I asked him what he was doing. He explained, telling me it was called tefillin, and that on it, or folded in it rather, was a verse from the Torah. It seems to me he gave me a rough translation of it, and I knew it from my Bible days (I’ve since learned there are four verses). I asked him to put one on me too. I no longer wore a kippah, was wearing my colorful hippie clothes. He looked me up and down a moment and asked if I were Jewish. I said no. He said no band then.

Therein ensued a conversation wherein he gave me that revealing picture. He likened humanity to a body and said that Jews were the head of the body. I asked then what people were the anus. He didn’t see my point. I went on the say that his idea was religious racism, although bigotry is the word normally used to describe his religion’s superior attitude. We’d need to see it as racism to change it, give it the charge it needs to see it. I explained that, inherent in that view, was Jewish superiority over everyone else. He denied that it was racism of any kind, laughed at the idea. He said humanity had to have a head, and Jews were it. What would humanity be without a head? I couldn’t make him see that the image was only that, an image for illustration, and that you couldn’t make it fit reality. Who would be the arms then, the hands, the feet and so forth, returning to the anus so he might see now what I meant. He didn’t, and he didn’t put a band on my arm. What struck me though, was how sure he was, dead certain. I realized I was talking to a brick wall, one that had been built by bricks of indoctrination that had been put carefully in place over the entire course of his young life, from birth onwards. It’s the idea of the chosen people pictured how it would look in practice: the head would look down on the rest of the body and order it around.

While I was with Lars camping on the Mount of Olives with our small Jerusalem Peace Group, some days after finishing the hunger strike, we heard a story about a Catholic priest that had been publicly asking the question: what’s the difference between the chosen people and the master race? The story goes that he got quickly transferred out of the country. Maybe that’s a folk story that’s been floating around Jerusalem for years, or maybe it’s a true story, but it’s a good question nonetheless and one that needs asking. Of course the ideas of the chosen people and master race are not the same ideas either in theory or in practice. There are big differences between the Jewish belief and the Nazi one, but the thing to ask is if there are similarities, and, if you’re honest in your assessment, whoever you are, you’d have to admit there are. It’s the same with the comparison of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with the Apartheid of South Africa. It’s not the same thing, but you can draw a comparison between them, and that’s what needs to be admitted.

The world cannot, neither the Palestinians being oppressed nor the people wanting it to stop, expect either the Jews who are doing the oppressing or the ones unequivocally supporting Israel despite it to admit to that Apartheid-like oppression unless humanity admits that the Jewish people not only has a right to exist (as my muse has said in poetry) but also that we need them and always have, at least in this latest stage of being human, because they have something to do with who we are, with our becoming the modern ego us, but that’s a story filled out on the spiral later on.

But that pamphlet about the new world order and the questions it brought up were not the main things on my mind. At that moment in Safed, I wanted to attend Ascent to explore the possibility of becoming a Jew myself and to see what the Kabbalah was about. Constantly being discriminated against because I wasn’t Jewish just baffled me, as it was wholly unexpected and didn’t fit into my picture of how I thought Jews treated non-Jews, ones who weren’t trying to kill them or wanted them dead at any rate. Somehow I expected the best from them, which I know now you can’t expect from anyone, myself included.

The first class I attended, one late afternoon, was an introductory one in the main lobby, where there was a long table at the head of which sat the teacher, a man in orthodox clothes. On the sides near him we students sat, only two women and I, both of them married and wearing the hair net married women wore. We watched a short film on a television monitor about Hasidic Judaism, one full of enthusiasm like it was just the coolest thing, and then he talked about what it meant to be Hasidic, which was, as he explained it, to be on fire for God, and where, for example, you were by the Law required to put your cut fingernails and toenails into the trash, the Hasidic would burn them so to go that one step further in obeying God’s laws, and they would do that with everything. It gave me no desire to convert let me tell you, and I began to suspect that the teaching and study of the Kabbalah had been taken over by the orthodoxy, and I couldn’t see how the two could mix without the latter becoming so watered down it became only an outer observance and inner moral attitude and not the unbound and unpredictable opening of the inner consciousness whereby mystical experiences steeped you in knowledge of God. I didn’t know at the time that the Hasidic movement had been centered on Kabbalistic teaching since it began, or, to put it differently, that the orthodoxy had taken it over long before. It’s that way with any mystical tradition really; it’s too dangerous to the doctrines and practices of any religion to not be controlled by the orthodoxy of that religion, or banned altogether as it is in many cases. Mystical experience, which means both metaphysical and spiritual experience, has this habit of taking off habits and changing a religion.

The second class was my last. It was in the evening, and several Americans from Avraham’s were there, including he, people I knew and talked to on a daily basis, at least for the past two weeks or so, people I considered my friends, as much as you can in that amount of time, which, when you’re traveling, when time is or seems more compressed, is quite some time. It was a regular-type classroom, with student desks, the teacher’s, and a blackboard. The teacher looked like a regular collage professor, wasn’t dressed in the black of the orthodox or in the heavy getup of the ultra. I remember he was writing on the board the Hebrew word for charity and explaining that, according to the Law, whatever fell onto the ground in a farmer’s field could be gathered by the poorer Jews and was to be left for them, but they couldn’t take anything off the crop themselves, as that would be stealing. I think I must’ve asked a question, but I don’t actually remember why he suddenly centered his attention on me.

“Are you Jewish?!” It was a typical ‘who, me?’ moment as I tried to evade his pointed stare.

I just looked at him a moment, feeling like a Jew in Nazi occupied Europe being spotted in a crowd or whatnot. I’ve probably just offended a million people, because the consequences were so lopsided. Here I’d only be thrown out of class, while there I’d be sent to a concentration camp and probably killed, but I’m showing you the spirit of the thing, hatred, and you don’t know how interconnected we really are, or I doubt you do, connected in our very deeps, how we are not divided in groups or even as ego individuals as it appears on the surface, and how it’s these small ‘you are not in my group get out’ that add up to the big ones where you are killed for being in the wrong group. After some hesitation, I finally said, “I, I uh, no, but I got permission to take this class from the director, and I’m thinking about converting.…” I’ve always said too much in a pinch.

“I don’t believe this.” The transformation that he then quickly underwent was something to behold. “This is impossible. I can’t teach this class with you in it. Leave!”

“I’ll just sit here and not ask any questions.” I looked around at my friends for some support, but, like as happened before but with different Jews, they looked away or looked down, looked anywhere but at what was happening, although I think I caught a whiff in the room of a couple being happy about it, the ones who had wanted to tell me that same thing but couldn’t do it because of social constraints.

“You have no idea. Your very presence will disrupt the class. You don’t have the background, don’t know anything about the Jewish tradition, what these people have been learning their whole lives. You, you know nothing of it!” He was silent a second and declared, “I will not teach this class until you leave! Is that understood? He said the last part to the class, and now what was happening was being looked at, but not from my side. I decided to go, but what really got me was his hatred, and I didn’t’ t want to just leave without addressing it. He wasn’t just annoyed I was there. He was seething with anger, shaking with it. I really wanted to ask him why he hated me, and did he hate all non-Jews, or, for that matter, what had all that tradition taught him if, at the drop of a hat, he would just lose it and throw a fit, but I said nothing and just left, the room’s silence a thunder helping to throw me out.

I’d imagine the reader would be split 50/50 on this. Don’t people have the right to the privacy of their group? There’s a humanity involved. Maybe in matters of security privacy is needed if the secrets being told save lives, and even then a humanity witness would not be out of line if they know to keep the secrets that really do save lives, and they are there for humanity and not just the group telling the secrets, but things like a humanity witness in human groups won’t appear until we are quite a bit more mature as a humanity. I’m not talking about surveillance devices, electronic spying, but of living breathing human beings, and not ones necessarily appointed for that purpose but people, like myself in this instance, an outsider, that, as part of the mind-boggling all things connected movement of world process, just showed up. When you let them in it’s a process of soul. It could be too that a group needs their privacy if they’re teaching or telling things too deep, things that could harm the uninitiated, but that wasn’t the case here. The case here was the racist and exclusive attitude, which had superiority as its basis, that the uninitiated would harm the group just by being there.

I went to the office the next day to complain. I talked to a different man than the director, or the person I thought was that I spoke to the first time. This one was impudent but not so much so you couldn’t talk to him. He wore orthodox clothes, not Hasidic, and I think they didn’t dress as the Hasidic Jews they were because they didn’t want to scare prospective converts off. The whole place was a front to convert Jews to Hasidism more than anything else. He told me that the teacher was in his right not to teach the class with me in it, and, to sum it up, that I was no longer allowed to take classes there. I tried to talk about the hatred and anger, but to no avail. Finally, I did what I always did when being devalued. I bragged. God save me.

This meeting with him has played over and over in my mind since then, since it was here I began to realize I was only bragging when talking about my spiritual and metaphysical experiences (but realizing is not the same as stopping), my over the top outer ones too for that matter, like being a Green Beret on a tactical nuclear mission for example, not bragging every time, but most times, and that, usually, the person or people I was bragging to would not appreciate my experiences and were not ready to even hear them, as was the case here at Ascent. What is the case here? You not ready?

We were sitting at a small table in the large lobby near the entrance, in front of one of the windows, he with his back to it and me looking out it from time to time. I’d never just listed my experiences like I did with him, but the topic of our conversation had gotten to the Kabbalah, and I was expressing my thoughts on what I thought their thought was in regards to it, which wasn’t to either teach or encourage mystical experience other than surface phenomenon such as slight ecstasies, the seeing of visions, auras, the future, and the curing of sickness, and other things that had to do more with magic than spirituality. I figured, however, that he’d be interested in deeper things, and I figured correctly, only he wasn’t about to show that. As I went through my list I could see him try to hide his peaked curiosity and interest, which is how a little boy looks driving a motorbike on the roadways here in India, so serious and matter of fact, so to look like he’s not driving illegally most likely without his parents’ permission, when you know in reality he’s jumping up and down inside with excitement.

I don’t remember either the order or the exact manner I listed the experiences, not anywhere near as neat as I do here for you, but this is the basic gist of the list. I asked him did he want to hear about driving my truck and going several meters over my head and being for a moment who I am beyond all the lives I’ve had, my Godself, or did he want to hear about driving that same truck a year later and not only my thoughts stopping but my breathing and heartbeat, and down the road I drove still, in a sort of suspended animation, or about the time I found myself inside my grandfather’s body as he died of a heart attack two weeks before he did in the way and in the place I experienced it beforehand, or about the inner journey I took to someplace deep inside me, which was all the way through dream to what was beyond it, an ocean or realm of Spirit, or about the time in university I conjured a demon? I didn’t include the divine experience because I was on acid, and so I didn’t think he’d think it was real, and I only included the biggest experiences, the ones I knew that would impress him the most.

He wanted to hear about the demon, and I remember I thought at the time that showed me how mundane he was, unspiritual, since a God lover just wants to hear about God, any and every idea of God, to see how it stacks up to theirs, to see if they might be missing some possible way to get closer to God. I was surprised at his choice, and he knew it. A look passed between us that put the conversation on a different footing, a look where he no longer held the look of holier-than-thou, a footing where he no longer held the higher ground.

He got a very abbreviated version of the story of conjuring the demon, which happened soon after I returned to Houston to study the History of Science, returning there from Seattle, where I’d been washing dishes so to try and forget about thinking deeply, if you remember. The detailed story I put on the web some years back with the title, “Breaking Silence, Careful to Stay an Apparition”, but maybe I was too detailed, or too careful, because only a handful have heard that silence broke. It’s the silence in regards to being molested by the Hostile Powers, whom my muse has described in poetry at the end of the last chapter.

Even though I was no longer an atheist before the conjuring event, I hadn’t become interested in knowing God or in spirituality, wanted only knowledge and returned to college for that, as I mentioned earlier. I as yet had no idea where to put or what to do with what I’d seen in that divine experience. Returning to Houston after that experience, it took some three months to settle down enough to begin classes at the university, and because I had a dual focus, inner exploration and university study, I had to find a full time job that would support me but wouldn’t rob me of any thinking time or shake me up out of myself and my inner focus. That’s why I kept the job as a doorman, valet and concierge I’ve mentioned earlier, at Four Leaf Towers near downtown Houston. They preferred college students and allowed us to study at work, and it was a calm, quiet environment conducive to an inner focus. I should mention that, other than with my mom and high school best friend Randy, I didn’t socialize with anyone (no net then). My life was concentrated on gaining knowledge, not of the material world but of the unseen, to a degree that all else took second place, because I’d seen it exists and knew there was knowledge to gain. And so begin those three exceptional years or so of mystical experience I’ve referred to.

I don’t think you ever write a university thesis on really what exactly interests you the most. Other than having a small brush with a tactical nuclear device in the army and becoming interested in atomic science, I don’t know why I decided to write a Master’s thesis on the origin of atomic theory in Greek science when what interested me more was how we came to be different from other animals in the first place and how we become the ego-organized human beings that we are, ego transcription, mainly because I wanted to know where our sexual preference comes from, but that’s a story for later on. I wanted to show that their atomic theory came more from intuition than empirical observation, perhaps wholly so. I suspected the early Greek scientists were mystics, and that they did as much if not more inner exploration than outer observation. That tactical nuclear weapon mission in SF had made a deep impression on me, and I basically wanted to know why, being so much more civilized than other animals, we were at the same time hell-bent it seemed in destroying the whole human world, and much if not most of the natural world, with nuclear bombs. The Cold War was still going on remember, as this was 1989. Also, I didn’t want to come from the standpoint of religion but of science, what I still held as the most reliable means to investigate reality, if it would but admit the results of inner exploration and modify its method for that. If it would but admit it was wrong. Fat chance.

As it turned out, I didn’t get past the initial idea stage of the thesis, didn’t even complete the undergrad History of Science class I’d enrolled in at the request of the professor who’d oversee my studies, who also taught the class. What happened was this: I’d begun to wonder if, like Socrates from his daemon, some early Greek scientists got ‘help’ from non-material entities in their investigations. The divine experience had opened the door in me to such possibilities. My question concerning them took the form of a more general question concerning us: are such beings involved in human life now? My life was arranged to answer such a question, and so when the writings of Carlos Castaneda gave me the knowledge and a drawing of M.C. Escher suddenly the how-to, I used them.

I remember sitting on my sofa in my small, rundown apartment on Old Galveston Road near Pasadena, Texas, looking at an Escher drawing on my wall, the one where he’s looking at his reflection in a small glass crystal ball, and then looking at my own glass ball of the same size on my coffee table, which I’d rubbed my blood, spit, and semen on in the weeks before in order to ‘program’ it to me, things I just did on the spur of the moment looking at the thing, having heard you have to program crystals. It was a Christmas gift from my mom, made in India, and I do think those things add to the whole thing. Anyway, I snatched it off the table and got it to how he had it in his drawing looking at himself in it sitting there on my sofa looking at myself in it. Putting the two and two together had not occurred to me before, believe it or not.

I didn’t just look, but looked with that knowing Castaneda talks about in The Fire From Within (or maybe it was The Eagle’s Gift?). You have to look into a reflective surface so to call up what he calls an ally, his name for the disembodied beings that help him with his exploration of dream and magic in his books. It’s hard to know what I mean; it’s not believing you’ll see one but knowing you will with a certainty, the same kind of certainty you use in lucid dream to supersede the laws of matter. It certainly helped that I’d just smoked some skunk my sister had given me that’d been grown on Spyrock Mountain.

With that certainty, I was not surprised when clouds began to form in the crystal ball, but I was very excited. After a few seconds they took animal shapes, each with the same silvery, mirror color, a donkey, monkey, and then the shape of my surprise: looking at me with his pure red eyes was Chevy, the dog-dragon, the imaginary playmate from my early childhood. He was standing in the reflection as if behind me and had one furry paw over my shoulder, like he was posing for a family portrait, the fur on his body standing straight up like it’d been electrocuted, which really added to the atmosphere of hysteria let me tell you. That devil wore the same shit eating grin he wore the last time I’d seen him, when he’d shut the storm cellar door down on me after having tricked me into the Void, that cellar door how my four-year-old mind represented the entrance to the Nothing, or nonexistence, or bottom-most hell, or whatever you want to call the sum total of all our fears. We were looking eye to eye the demon and me.

The eyes of a demon are the damndest things, holding awful knowledge you really don’t want to know, knowledge you gain in the Biblical sense of to know, being fucked, but it’s not consensual intercourse; it’s like you’re being raped, ravaged. And it wasn’t just any demon. The hell of the whole thing was that it was the imaginary playmate I knew I had but didn’t remember how it looked exactly, until now, when I saw it wasn’t imaginary but very real, what it wanted me to see. It was looking into those calamitous eyes that I realized, among many things in that terrifying moment, that Castaneda did not have the reader’s best interests at heart, had the worst intentions in fact, and I had been snared in his intricate, tantalizing web of lies lighting every truth. He says two very contrary things to do, several pages apart, if you find yourself looking into the eyes of an ‘ally’: if you keep looking in its eyes you’ll bring it out into your outer reality; if you look away it’ll kill you. What is a Faust to do?

I tore the thing from in front of my face and held it at arm’s length, stood up like a jack-in-the-box, shaking like a leaf, and ran to the window to fling the thing as far as I could from me, then thought better of it, since I realized it was now an object of power, something those books also explained, went back to the sofa and plopped down into it in that state of terror that visits a man when he’s come face to face with something really and truly to be afraid of, something from the jaws of hell, a devil. Fortunately, terror of the unknown and I were very acquainted, as you have seen, and it didn’t unseat me, just scared the shit out of me. Hastily I put the crystal ball back on its stand and sat there trying to calm myself down. I had to be at work within the hour.

In our talk we miss somethin’:
God simply is.
And that’s a whole other business,
like the mountaintop.
The mountaintop
came into my arms so easily.
I did not know what it said.
I ignored its wisdom.

I looked on the floor and found God.
This was a world away.
God became the center of my attention
in long slow leaps.
It’s where I put my feet today,
and I’m not crying.

I don’t think so,
I don’t think I will be here tomorrow.
Do you have another one?
Of course.
I will guide tomorrow
all levers to enlightenment.
My body will be here but my mind will not,
not the mind you know,
not the one called Donny.
We’re picking it up now,
and I don’t know how long it’s going to take,
but here I am in the room with you.
Field with me.

Let’s bring this to enlightenment,
the village in our room,
the city we sit at.
It’s what’s going to take tomorrow
in human consciousness,
in long slow years,
as the years open up.
We gather it today.
And here we are.

You ever seen it?
And this book will show it to you
in the course of its pages.
So it’s here before me
in my mind’s eye,
completing the world.
Do you hear it?

We’ve listed it,
put it where aim bothers you.
How would you grasp life?
You’re reaching for enlightenment.
But know this:
it’s not the end of the world.

Supermind comes down
in your ascension,
and you fulfill the world
with your consciousness.
You become That who you are,
and we are here for that.
Great the days play towards that end:
a new Jerusalem,
in the symbol paradise of man’s mind
Heaven on earth you see.
And there we are.

Let’s talk about the soul.
We did.
The Supermind
is where your soul sits above time,
and there it is inside you
a piece of itself
evolving in its ways.
It’s what we are becoming
if you want to know the truth,
our soul self.

That meets enlightenment.
That gets ascended
in the supramental transformation,
an enlightened being soul.
That ascends with soul force.
Ace ascension,
it’s a hard part,
the ascension of the soul
into everyday life
from the depths within.

Where the soul meets life,
it’s not an automatic process.
Can you grasp your soul?
Can you bring it on?
Touch it and it will come.
Be ever present with it.
Soul involvement
to open your life
to an involvement with God.
This is ascension.

Really come ascension.
It probably goes to me right now
provide you the milk.
Deal with it.
Deal with it plainly.
You have the news.

The burning of Jerusalem,
I’m just really well on the water.
Someone with an advanced degree
has just barked at you,
read you the riot act.
No I haven’t done that.
Enter your community
someone who reach people with ears.

I’m listenin’ to my world.
I write it down for you
a world need.
You’ll just lock me up
if I get unprotected.
You hate prophets and seers.
You will just get rid of us
to get out of that word.

I think I saw it a short film
and ah
notion you ride in your head:
my path lays straight the ways of the Lord.
Read my path that way.
No need to divorce.
We’re not gettin’ a divorce.
I’m right here at book.
That cannot be;
that can’t happen:
and the God who was in the book dies,
and we’ll never hear it.
Just look at me please.
You’re gonna have to sooner or later.
Now that’s the stuff
build us a better world.
Let’s get this show on the road.

Next post:

Chapter 7
Some Inner Life

Between Jerusalem I’m Sorry, Chapter 3

Jewish National Fund poster, ca. 1960. From the National Library of Israel Ephemera Collection

The Fruit Fly and the Blessing

We return from the past to the present of this story, Safed, the constructing arm of the spiral galaxy of this story. The social life there in Safed, or the one I was around, revolved around Shabbot, or the Sabbath, which started at the blast of a horn sundown on Friday and ended at another horn blast sundown on Saturday. What you can and cannot do or buy on the Sabbath has been and still is a source of debate in Western culture, not only among Jews, and when I was a boy, which wasn’t very long ago comparatively speaking, the Texas Blue Laws made it hard to buy things on Sundays, the Christian sabbath, things like a saw or screwdriver, any hardware, and restrictions on buying alcohol on Sunday are yet part of Texas law. But however holy we hold them, days like these don’t have an identity; we give them one. I think that’s basically what Jesus was trying to say to his day.

The whole week was a preparation for that day it seemed, what with all the shopping and cooking throughout the week that came to a frantic crescendo as the horn threatened to blow on sundown Friday. The day was not, at least not as I encountered it with the Jews I was with while I was in Israel, a time of quiet reflection and prayer, or of inward turning, and I’m not talking about the study and contemplation of books, which wouldn’t have been around when the day had originally been set aside, it being set aside, from my perspective, why there was no work, so you would be unencumbered by duties and could seek inner contact with the divine, but then you’d have people that would actually make that contact, admittedly few, but that contact has such an impact many would come to know about it, and you’d have a religion in constant evolution, something tradition abhors, and Jewish tradition, if anything, is exceptionally traditional, and even Reform Judaism, which tries to make allowances for that evolution, falls convincingly short.

It was a day of celebration and revelry, as I saw it anyway, and my vision wasn’t incorrect: the divine aspect of joy was stressed in the orthodoxy there in Safed. There were two principle meals, as I’ve mentioned, the first meal Shabbis on Friday evening, a modest affair compared to the big dinner of the week, the second meal on Saturday afternoon, where neighbors and family came to table together to eat, drink, and be merry. It was a time of sharing, being with your friends and family and enjoying a good meal, one usually many contributed the cooking for. There was also the tradition of going out and finding a Jewish person who didn’t have a dinner to go to and inviting them to your Shabbis meal, and so strangers also often sat at the table too, ones who didn’t or couldn’t contribute anything but their presence. Zeke had benefited from this tradition that night in Jerusalem, and I, though non-Jew, did too here in Safed, getting an invitation to Mosheheim’s house, also in that square in the artist’s quarter, for a sleepover no less. I was overjoyed at the invitation, which meant a night sleeping indoors and some good food, and I’d heard he was a good cook. He also turned out to be a good storyteller.

Body types abound in humanity, and they transcend race. Among those there is the at once recognizable bear of a man who has an open face that regards the world kindly and with a smile. Santa Claus is of this type. It’s not that Moshehiem (I don’t know if that’s the spelling) was always happy when you saw him; it’s that being sad or cross were moods not so native to his public character at least, however much he may have entertained those unlovely guests in private. He was, however, like Zeke, a Jew first and a human being second. He was part of the core group surrounding Avraham’s studio, although he had his own place and spent most of his time there. I didn’t know why he invited me, not at first at least, but I’d been in Safed a week or so by then, very present in and around the studio, and I was making waves because I wasn’t Jewish but was as serious about divine matters as they were, was a lover of God as much as they were. They believed but I had seen, speaking of divinity and speaking in a matter that smacks of a big head, but pardon me it’s also the truth here. That’s a difference (between believers and seers) hard to ignore but equally as hard to put your finger on, and when you did, if you only believed, you didn’t quite know what to do, examine yourself as to why you hadn’t seen, put the person who had on a pedestal, or put them somewhere they didn’t crowd in on your self-satisfaction at your religiousness, most preferably out of the picture.

I don’t remember where I was at that moment in investigating my own Jewish identity, but I hadn’t had the kippah dream yet and wasn’t wearing one. I remember talking conversion over with Moshehiem, and he was the one who filled me in on the ins and outs of converting, what a Shabbot Goy was and how I could become that for them, which is a gofer and errand boy not bound by the law, although he did not like the word goy, and he explained it as a racial and derogatory term for a non-Jew, akin in character to the word nigger, although it seems to me the n-word carries such a history of violence it’s not really in the same category as the word goy. Funny how he didn’t like that word but held feelings of racial superiority. Racism is like that; no one knows they’re racist.

Funny how human that is, to be an unconscious racist but espouse to hate racism, get it out of your vocabulary but not out of your heart. I don’t think a one of us is completely free of that hypocrisy, and when we start to see that we’ll finally be able to truly address racism among us. This bears more than a moment’s pause and is an idea I’ll return to often. We tend to see racism and bigotry as morally wrong, as an aberration of nature, but it is in fact natural to the animal us, to the ego nature, to see people from other groups as less human than people from ours, meaning they don’t deserve the same respect or rights as us, and the more different they are, a different skin color for example, the less humanity we give them. Education and inner development helps override this natural tendency in ourselves, but it does’t obliterate it. If you are sincere with yourself you can still see it.

Although I identify more as a human being than a White person, I still catch myself looking out White eyes, and when I do I try and catch from where it’s coming from inside me. It’s not hard to see it’s not coming from my soul but from the animal ego. Although most everyone would say it’s because I was indoctrinated as a child to see out those eyes, I’m afraid it goes deeper than that, although that certainly amplifies it. The roots of racism are in the very nature of the human ego, as I’ve suggested above, what would have to be more than rearranged if we want to get rid of racism, in all its forms, religious bigotry included; we’d have to get rid of the ego. Be that as it may, it seems to me that I had those conversion conversations with Moshehiem after I’d stayed with him and not during, but I don’t exactly remember.

What I remember most of my Shabbot with him was his stories. I guess it was my dad’s stories of being in the army that got me hooked on hearing people tell stories, as his were so animated and detailed, put me there for instance as the fuel depot blew up when he, as a joke, to scare the Black attendant sergeant filling up my dad’s jerrycan, took out the lighter he kept as a memento of something or another, the one that had stopped working months before, that he’d take out and flick every now and then. That time he flicked it, it lit, impossibly, and I could just see he and the sergeant hauling ass out of there as the flames shot up to the sky, the whole place going up in a matter of minutes, the surprise on my dad’s face bigger than the sergeant’s, a surprise I could feel in myself hearing the story. He said it almost re-started the Korean War, as this happened there just a couple of months or so after the war had ended, and everyone thought the North Koreans did it. When the truth came out, no one said anything to my dad, or so he said, so relieved it wasn’t the enemy. True or not, that story, along with his others about being a G.I., sparked in me a love to sit at someone’s feet so to speak and hear their stories, did not conflict with my love to tell my own, although you had to be interesting, had to know how to tell a story and give me enough of an image so I could see it in my mind’s eye, else you’d just be hearing a bunch of my stories and have a hard time to get a word in edgewise. Nobody’s perfect I keep trying to tell you.

The first image Moshehiem invoked in my mind was that of he and three or four other friends looking out an upper window at the stars at night and wondering over God, having come to a room upstairs, on their own, one by one, to get away from the noise and whatnot of the acid-dropping party happening downstairs, and the surprise he felt, they all felt, when they discovered they were all Jewish, all the Jews in the party. The room was only lit by star shine and the diffused glow of streetlights coming from the window, and with that soft darkness and the quiet in the room muffling the noise coming from below, combined with the mind-expanding effects of the LSD, which gives such a sense of destiny upon events, they had been taken out of the party, where all the non-Jews were, and into rapt contemplation upon God. He said they all looked at one another knowingly, as it had happened as if by design, the separation of the Jews from the rest, the non-Jews, who were all down there partying it up.

His story had come about because we’d been talking about the concept of the Jewish soul, a concept I’d been encountering more the more I was around Jews while in Israel, me being non-Jewish, a concept that, no matter how you sliced it, seemed to me to be racist. It proposed that there were two basic and fundamental groups in humanity, the Jew and the gentile. I’d been surprised to find that many Jews believed in reincarnation, especially the ones who hold the Kabbalah in high esteem, but I’d also been surprised, dismayed more like it, to find they believed the Jewish soul always reincarnated as a Jew, and the gentile never as a Jew, although one would if they converted, the immortal soul, as they saw it, being susceptible to manmade manipulation and device, the whim of the ego. The above story was the example Moshehiem gave me of the difference between the Jewish soul and the gentile, what had shown to him there was a difference, what had begun to set him apart from non-Jews, as up until that time he’d not made any distinction and mixed freely with other young people. The difference, he said, wasn’t one of superiority, but that it was the Jewish soul that could draw neigh to God, that was drawn to God, while the non-Jewish soul couldn’t, or not very easily, and wasn’t called to be close to God, not his exact words, but the gist of it.

He was neither a Torah scholar nor a rabbi, although he had spent some time as an Hasidic Jew and a little crazy time thinking he was the Mashiach, the Jewish Messiah, experiences that would give one some intense thoughts on such matters you’ve got to figure, and this is how he viewed the difference between the Jewish soul and non. It doesn’t say in the Torah that Jews have one soul and gentiles another, but it does say Jews are a people chosen by God, have a covenant with Him, does set Jews apart from non-Jews, proscribing what Jews and non-Jews can do together and what they can’t, such as Jews not being allowed to leave their wine with gentiles or let them cook their food, and it can be said without a doubt that many of the restrictions on Jewish diet and behavior was to restrict their social interaction with non-Jews. And so the separation was part of the religion of Judaism in its foundation, something I believe has more to do with the formation of the human ego, or its final form rather, than with an intrinsic separation to last an eternity, but let us return to the idea of the Jewish soul and look to see, since it didn’t originate in the Torah, the founding text of Judaism, perhaps why and how it came to be.

First let’s look at an offshoot of Judaism, Christianity, in order to draw an analogy. Although the virgin birth of Jesus is a central part of Christian doctrine, a belief not even questioned by most Christians, the same was said of Confucius, and probably of many others that people of old wanted venerated who have been lost to history. It was said of Confucius to give him authority, and it was the same in the case of Jesus, only with him it was more a moral necessity and was created, made up, to escape the fact that a teenage girl had him out of wedlock, making him a fatherless child, a stigma in that culture and at that time akin to being a criminal in today’s society, an inevitable  persecution he would have faced at the hands of his society interestingly left out of the Gospels. That persecution we might call the primary school of Jesus, what he cut his teeth on, so pronounced a suffering it was upon his early life, and we can draw many parallels from this discrimination and his compassionate teachings if we were on the subject.

At any rate, people in his society did not consider him the son of God when he was growing up, and no one would’ve accepted him as the Mashiach if they knew that he was a bastard once he’d died, and so the founders of the Christian religion invented the story of the virgin birth to give him the moral authority he needed to overcome the stigma he represented, however much it is indeed possible his birth was heralded by an angel to Mary similar to how Buddha’s mother was foretold in a dream her son had an extraordinary destiny to fulfill, be either a great king or spiritual leader, and aren’t these parallels between the King of the Jews and the Enlightened One revealing? Their houses (heavens) were, in my divine experience, side by side.

Likewise, in the Jewish tradition, while the creation of the idea of a separate Jewish soul wasn’t to give that soul authority, or not specifically, it also came about as an invention of man, but in this case to make the Jewish soul, and hence the Jew, as distinct from other humans as possible, the soul in its usage being, even figuratively for people who don’t believe in a soul, the essence of a person, the deepest we go. If something is said to be in the soul, it’s like saying it’s really real.

Unlike the virgin birth concept in Christianity, however, the idea of a Jewish soul did not arise immediately but resulted from a long process of evolution of Jewish thought and tradition, and nor was the idea simply a caprice of the human mind, to cover a hole people wanted filled, as was the case with the Christian virgin birth. I’d imagine the origin of the idea can most likely be found in the origins of Jewish mysticism, where there were Jewish mystics having spiritual and metaphysical experiences, though within the confines of their house, their divine ideal, quite sophisticated experience compared to the churning ocean of the mass of humanity around them, who was concerned with much lesser things, surface phenomena, not the deeps of God, and they, like the Vedic Rishis of India, like other mystic groups, attributed the phenomenon and capacity to their religion and racial type. It’s a prejudice and is because the mystical experience within the confines of any divine house will be just as sophisticated, however different if may be in terms of ideals stressed, not of course with coarse people, but with seers who have reached the level of development the Vedic Rishis and the early Jewish mystics had. In passing it’d be appropriate to note that Jesus, whom we can at least agree was a Jewish mystic, probably had the divine experience I’ve mentioned and seen the “many mansions” in the house of God.

The idea of the Jewish soul comes from an ignorance of soul development, an evolution that would transcend the limits of time and space, and so language too, and so I can only paint impressionistic pictures. There’s more to the soul than its human part evolving, what we call the individual soul that’s putting on one body after another in this present eternity we find ourselves in, which is not the only one we’ve been in nor the last we will be in. In regards to that human part, there is a tremendous deal of diversity in levels of maturity, a mature soul being one that can concretely grasp its embodiment and lead the life, what may take many thousands of embodiments. It happens within this evolution of souls that every and any kind of grouping can take place to quicken both the development of individual human souls and the world soul, where groups of souls come together for that reason, a quickening, one that not only effects the individual souls involved but the whole human race, what acts like a leavening agent upon humanity, a grouping together of the human soul, not a creation of different kinds of human souls. Such a grouping can provide a system and structure for the quickening to continue, though quite diminished, sometimes to the point of being dead, long after the original initiating group has left the scene; such a grouping can create a religion such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity for that matter, and I can continue.

Judaism stands unique among the modern world religions because it created a people within humanity, a more apt word for what Jews are than race or nation. It also stands unique for a reason more vital to the entire race, but more on that later. The birth of the Jewish people had the divine as a midwife, was created by a house on the divine plane to embody on earth the ideal of that house. The people did not eventually come about as a result of all being of the same religion; it was created hand in hand with the establishment of Judaism, in a covenant a divine made with a human man, who was the head of a large family, Abraham, a promise that from his family there would arise a great people, and it wasn’t until much later that the religion was more formally established, although the worship of that divine and that one alone, the ideal of that house being there is only one God and making life holy for His sake, was the part of the covenant the people had to fulfill, was present in the very beginning.

That it was a people a divine house established and not only a religion, makes Jewish identity among the strongest of peoples on the planet, makes Judaism a religion in the bones and not only in the heart and mind. Seeing it in this light makes it more understandable how such a segregating idea as a separate soul was created by Jewish thought, and I can say that it came from the Jewish mind (was invented) with such certainty because the overriding knowledge you come away with from soul contact is the identity we share with all things living and non. You don’t see your people as having a separate soul. It’s a different group soul within the soul of humanity, and of those, there are many.

My discussion with Moshehiem about the Jewish soul did not come anywhere near the depth I’m discussing here, and I see now I’d have been more to the point if I’d have talked to him about it from the perspective, metaphysically speaking, of when the Jewish soul supposedly had been created, with Abraham or at Mt. Sinai (tradition has it that every Jewish soul was present when the Torah was handed down at Sinai, meaning any real Jew has been incarnating as a Jew at least since then). It doesn’t really matter if it’s one or the other or both, since it poses implausible theories in regards to the inviolable and immortal soul that more readily reveal the origin of the concept, that being the human intellect, than does what I focused on with Moshehiem, which was the afterlife.

“Come on Moshehiem, you mean at death the Jews are separated from everyone else? Do Jews go to heaven and the gentiles to hell? How is that different than the Christian belief that, no matter what kind of person you are, if you’re a Christian you go to heaven, and if you’re not you go to hell?”

“No, no, gentiles don’t go to hell. They have an afterlife…”

I just cut him off. “Separate but equal right? Where have I heard that before?”

“With Jews the afterlife is concerned with being close to God, giving glory to God, and the gentile afterlife with…” He paused to consider his words.

“With what?” I asked, jumping on his obvious difficulty in making it sound like the gentile afterlife wasn’t inferior to the Jewish.

We were in his apartment standing near the table just outside the kitchen, where he was cooking dishes for the second Shabbis meal, which was the next day, this being late Friday afternoon before the Shabbot horn, and he was pressed for time. It was a small place but nice, an old stone house of sorts that was conjoined with a row of them on that side of the square, which was to the left of Avraham’s studio as you faced his studio. He returned to the kitchen and spoke from there. “There’s just no way to understand these things with the human mind,” he offered, using an argument I often used. “Gentiles have an afterlife, go to heaven and all that, are not in death necessarily separate from Jews, although there would be some kind of separation, gentiles getting what is right for them, and Jews what’s right for Jews.”

“You’re intelligent. I’ll give you that, but think about it, it’s all a bit arbitrary don’t you think? Just by being born a Jew you can have an afterlife close to God, but if you’re a gentile, even if you’ve spent your life loving God, you have an afterlife further from Him. No matter how you put it, you’re still speaking as though the Jewish soul is superior to the gentile. I mean, what’s higher than God, if you see what I’m saying?” He did, but refused to admit it.

Reality really is much stranger than fiction, and, as it happens, what became apparent only after many years in interpreting the divine experience, when we die we don’t all go to the same place, not by a long shot, although we do go to ‘the other side’, the place of the dead, unless we are unfortunate and become ghosts trapped here. Nor do we all ‘end’ our afterlife journey in a heaven that we eventually rise above to as well in our journey to becoming again our pure soul, so as to take on another life and body, but for the purposes of illustration it can be said that we all do go to Heaven, but not some general, generic heaven, but the Heaven, or house, of our divine ideal, the one our soul is drawn to the most.

So, in a manner of speaking, Jews do have their own heaven, but not all Jews go there; the ones whose soul is drawn to another divine ideal go to that Heaven. In other words, what Heaven, or divine house, you go to isn’t based on blood, on the flesh, but on what religion or divine ideal your soul is most drawn to in this your present life, and in the impossible to our ways way of soul and difference in the way time passes on the other side than on material earth, some souls might go here and there.

It’s crucial to understanding soul process, and hence its inviolability, to realize it isn’t passed through sperm and gene, as I’m sure most Jewish rabbis would tell you, but when you get into the ins and outs, the semantics, of the concept of a Jewish soul, that’s what it boils down to, something dependent on material process and heredity, something passed from parent (mother) to child. As for when it incarnates, at conception, at this or that trimester in the womb, it’s also crucial to understand that uniformity has nothing do with the spontaneity and plasticity of soul process. It incarnates in an infant once the vehicle is sufficiently formed for its needs, which is not the same for every child born, and in some cases, that might even occur shortly after birth and not in the womb. It’s this question we’d have to base the issue of abortion on, not the morality of it: has the soul taken its vehicle yet or not? That can be determined by the mother and interested parties ‘seeing’ on the inside through dream and vision, which just sounds arbitrary hogwash now so far we are from knowing the reality of seeing inner reality.

The question would come up, from where does the soul come to take on a vehicle? Does it come, or they rather, in this pluralistic view, from all the houses or Heavens? After all, it’s drawn to this or that house. That would mean we would have separate souls, as we do egos, and that the soul does not transcend the Heavens, the universe, but is created in it and by it, and neither are those the case. But it is undergoing an evolution within the conditions of the cosmos, which I’ve called a process of maturation, or growing up. That would mean it changes and aligns with this divine ideal(s) in this incarnation, and with that one in another, with a lot of going back and forth and tarrying with this or that ideal(s) a few of incarnations, speaking of the human portion of the soul inside us, that portion of it individualized for the purposes of evolution, what’s called the psychic being in the yoga I follow, and there is infinitely more to the soul than that.

The human soul does not come from the Heaven it’s drawn to in its embodiment, if it’s drawn to any, and many aren’t, but a house can emanate itself into an incarnating human soul, or, more concretely, send down an avatar, an actual incarnation, which is extremely, extraordinarily rare I’m afraid. The emanation, however, is more common. In such a scenario, it’s easy to see how the concept of a separate Jewish soul, or an inherent, intrinsic Jewish ‘spark’ in the soul of Jews, a pintele yid it’s called, could come about: from an incomplete ‘seeing’.

The soul is not from around here I must stress, and it comes from a realm of oneness beyond the universe to incarnate in bodies on earth, and it’s not of spark of Jewishness the Jewish mystics saw, if the image of a spark comes from something seen in vision, but a spark from the fire of God they mistook for the fire of their ethnic group, understandably, if the human mass around their little, ordered, clean, Jewish island was yet raging in primitive man, something I’ll come back to later on, that ordered Jewish island when man was yet rather lost in chaos.

From afar in dream and vision the soul appears as an impossible to get to incredible, and dry, city at the bottom of the ocean, or one that lies in a blessed little valley so far below there is no hope to get there, but when you get right up to your soul, hold it in your hand, if you ever dream down deep enough to have it represented in dream, come into that holy, mute, dim shrine, which might be inside an ancient cavern, an ages old temple, or the puja room of an old Indian house, depending on how your dream maker makes it, it’s an unwavering, inextinguishable flame that you know is lit from the home fire of God. Personified in dream, when it meets you face to face, and in my dreams it’s always female, it comes to you as the sweetest, most trustworthy and nonjudgmental person you’ve ever known, or someone you know is that just by being in their presence. To actually go to the realm of soul is to be immersed in the boundlessness of Spirit. A point of light, yid, immersed in form, is just a representative surface. Can you see the difference between personal experience and belief? I’m showing it to you.

The Shabbot horn sounded sometime later. Moshehiem said it came from an ultra-orthodox community nearby, where it was like a trumpet of God to the people there, who dropped at once whatever they were doing, went indoors, and heeded the law of the Sabbath. I remember the pictures this posted in my mind: first, of a loud speaker high up on some pole, it sitting up there like some exclamation point in reality, then of people somewhat alarmed, somewhat relieved, scurrying about to get inside as quickly as possible, packages and parcels hanging this way and that on them, leaving the streets empty of life, like everyone that lived there had died so pronounced was the silence the streets presented to an outside witness eye. Moshehiem too stopped working, and we sat down to more conversation, he and I alone together, he, I already figured, curious about me, being non-Jew, and my love for God and the spiritual and metaphysical experiences I wore on my sleeve. It seemed strange to me though, knowing that was the case, that he didn’t really want to hear about me; he wanted to talk about himself and being Jewish. His unwillingness to listen to my stories I think was a combination of being around my eager ears that like to hear people’s stories, and the unease my over the top stories brought in people who likewise sought God and who wanted such experiences, but never got them.

I forget what he told me of the events that put him there in Israel, but he gave me a vivid image of him in a phone booth in New York City talking to a family member about his pressing need to reveal himself to other Jews as the Mashiach. It was time. The family member was trying to talk him down. I think they did manage to talk him home. I don’t know how long it’d been since the acid trip at that party, a couple of years I think, but it was after that trip that he’d begun to explore his Jewish identity, becoming in time a religious Jew. It would be interesting to know when and how exactly the notion of him being the Messiah entered his head, although I’m sure it had something to do with that idea being so prominent in the Orthodox Jewish mind, the coming of the Mashiach, but he didn’t exactly know himself. Whenever and however it came in, he found himself thinking about it more and more until it reached that breaking point, crossed that red line, where he actually believed it. This opened up what in psychology is known as a psychosis, where your inner reality sort of swallows up your outer reality, with all the weirdness that entails, something LSD is a window into if you want to see what it’s like to have your inner do that, not necessarily a bad thing, at least not when it’s your soul taking over or a very conscious, ordered inner being full of light, but not when it’s your subconscious.

On acid the experience is temporary and what you make of it, is what your set and setting make it, many times that being no more than a wonderful weirdness that gives your senses so much room to play, but if set and setting are the right combination, consciously arranged, painstakingly prepared, it can be a powerful healing experience, even a religious one, but a psychotic break is a whole other story than an acid trip, even if one triggers it, although a psychosis too can bring about healing if it’s handled as though it can. Whatever I experienced after my acid trip, when I had that divine experience, the term spiritual emergency describes it pretty well, but I’m sure some would call it a temporary psychosis. In Moshehiem’s case he said it took months for him to recover, from the Messiah notion, not the acid trip, but he hadn’t been hospitalized. When he came back to himself and got his feet back under him, he decided to go to Israel, and did so and made Aliya. I’m not sure when he became a Hasidic Jew, whether that was in New York or Israel, but by the time I met him he’d taken off those black garbs, that religious fur, and was just focusing on observing the Law and being a good Jew, but it was obvious to me that wasn’t enough, and he longed for more but had no idea what that would mean. He’d already tried what most try if they feel lacking in their religion: go as orthodox and strict as possible, to the extreme in the observance of your religion, and so doing we make the biggest mistake in regards to religion, which is to substitute it for God. It never works.

Encounter in a goodwill’s party that your story is welcome too, but here mine wasn’t, as I’ve mentioned, and when I tried to tell the story of my first acid trip, as a way to show him that non-Jews thought about God too when tripping, and not only thought about God but could actually have an experience of God, he cut me off before the trip could take off. Room, there wasn’t enough room. His being Jew took up all the space, and he didn’t want to hear spiritual stories from a non-Jew that made him question his belief in the spiritual superiority of Jews. Although it was like he hit me over the head, what being squelched has always felt like to me, and I get hit in the head more than listened to in my life, I was glad to be indoors, thankful he’d invited me and was spending such a concentrated time with me, not what I could actually call giving, as he had his reasons for bringing me there, and they weren’t the best of intentions I could see, but I thought “what the heck, so I can’t tell my stories. I can listen,” and so I did.

You got to be willing to get your hair wet if you’re going to wash someone’s hair, hair being a symbol for the mind and its thoughts, and it’s not Moshehiem’s hair I’m talking about; it’s ours. The young Jewish man in King’s Cafeteria went through a bout with the idea he was the Jewish Messiah, too. Then there was Lars with the idea he was Islam’s Madhi, mentioned in the Tongues Jerusalem story, and I with the idea I was the Antichrist of Christianity would you believe it. You’d wonder what is going on with us, with so many of us, having such symbols and tattoos in the being. While it is a form of megalomania, it doesn’t come about because we are just egomaniacs. With the young Jewish man it’s easy to see how he got the idea in his head: he was raised to believe he was, who he was told he was during ego transcription. With the rest of us it’s not so clearly spelled out, but it comes about in the same way: our parents and/or primary caretakers, or only one very intensely, adores us, worships us really, when we are infants and toddlers, and we are their little Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, Moses, or whomever. Even if you are never called these things, the devotional energy given to you, the importance you are shown to have by your parental devotees, and I’m not talking about simply adoring your child but putting this emphasis on them all out of proportion to their place in the world, which even for a prince or princess is nothing compared with the size of the world, is something pathological and causes complexes like a messiah complex, which the child, at some point in their adult life, manifests and puts it in the terms of their religion.

Good God why did I have an antichrist complex? In addition to being my mother’s little Jesus, I was her little lover, her relationship to my penis and the whole nine yards captured well by a line of muse poetry, from the inner voice, that came to illustrate the above point: “a combination of suck it serve it, have Sermon on the Mount with it.” In such a taboo relationship, so hedonistically Oedipal, you wouldn’t imagine I’d grow up and believe I was the Messiah would you?

The antichrist thought had never even entered my head until I dropped acid for the first time, was not anything I would’ve identified myself with, was not anything I even remotely wanted to be. I had wanted to be a prophet when I was a teenage Jesus freak, like I wanted to be a Green Beret and astronaut when I was a little kid. Although my self-importance had always been barn big, as a result of being worshiped by my mom, I’d not thought myself any kind of divine specialness, good or bad. That it was not only a bad specialness but the worst you could be, in my cultural/religious context anyway, when such an insane thought did hit me, resulted of course from my sexual relationship with my mom from birth until I was four. Other bad things resulted from that too, as well as things that never would’ve happened if that hadn’t, incredibly good things, like being wide and open enough to encounter the behinds and in-betweens of reality. Do we only cuss Eve for eating the apple, simply despise Pandora for opening that box?

Radical consciousness,
it proved things through inner experience.
It's hard on time.
It's all we can do to stay awake.
It's all we can do to be alive.
It's all we can do to stay alive,
if we've confronted the Antichrist,
if we've confronted his paper.

You're caught up in pegging people evil.
I don't think you can see yourself
if you've confronted the Way.
No finger wagging at me
if you've confronted it honestly.
Can you turn the pump off,
wash the live yard?
I think everybody is up in arms over everything.
Hit over the head with morality,
even the undefined spiritual path.

The workings of the spiritual path
what I'm showing you,
what I'm here to find out,
specifically the spiritual divide in that,
where racism starts,
the spiritual process in that.

You are really you.
The Messiah,
I'm poundin' on your door.
I think this is where humanity springs.
I think this is every one of us,
whoever we find Messiah.
It's our larger self
comin' down the pikes through time.
I'm a seer to help us get there.
That's my public face.
I'm not about to ditch you in the ditch.
I'm serious about this stuff.
Listen to me speak.

Can this doctrine go the distance?
[dramatic music from the U2 song "Drowning Man" heard here]
It's reaching out for you now.
In the future
it will be the doctrine of our self.
It will be where we carry our bank card.
won't necessarily find us this order.
It's a handle from the creators of this universe,
a supramental handle.

Oh my gosh,
you've changed the face of God.
Brushed with death
to get this across to you.
The Gods in their starry heaven
have to be surpassed.
The universe is so small, you know?

You were born in your south.
It's where we all march on to improve.
It's what I'm about here.
It's what I'm doing with you.
I'm making you lunch.
There, another chapter.

The image of the werewolf,
I'm not about that spirit.
I've had to overcome it to be on this page.
I've had to overcome it to get here.
And we need this overcome in man.
How easily you'll assign to me the worst evil possible,
but I'm giving you joy.
And here it is on your page.
Good evening.

Next post:

Chapter 4
A Living Incense Link

Between Jerusalem I’m Sorry, Chapter 1


Where White Puts Supremacy Last

On a bright day in Jerusalem in 1995, a young woman approached our little hunger strike camp like a Buddhist goddess, with her flowing orange robes, crew cut, and a face made out of sunshine, or so it seemed, and I was immediately enchanted. Walking straight up to Lars and I, my partner in the hunger strike, she deferred to us like we were kings, calling us hunger strikers like it was a title that meant we were God’s gift to the world, and we just ate it up, since we both secretly considered ourselves such a gift, and we gave her our complete attention, fell over ourselves to seat her there in the center of the world with us, fooled like everyone is by where our senses place us in the scheme of things, dead center. Hen-ya was a master at this disguise and was not aware she was wearing any, had lost herself completely in the part she played, a young Jewish woman defying the powers that be, embracing another religion, and daring to love everyone, but I could not see her self-ruse at the time so lost was I in mine.

I’d have followed her anywhere, and when she urged us to go to Safed after the strike, it was there I would go, Lars going back to Denmark for some soul searching, having his individual world somewhat altered by the intense clash with the world itself. He had, alone unto himself, considered himself the Mahdi of Islam, having converted in Iran and been treated special because he was a Caucasian convert, the only one around. Not understanding why he was the honored guest at every household he went to, all that special treatment went to his head, but the Golden Gate did not open to him when he touched it, when we were taping poems of mine on it one midnight standing on our tippy toes on Muslim gravestones, and it was supposed to open for the Mahdi according to some prophecies, and that had sort of rocked his secret ‘I am the one’ world, not to mention someone else in his face constantly reminding him others saw themselves at the center of the world too. That person was me.

Returning to the present of this story, it happened that after the strike, which wasn’t a real hunger strike because we drank milk and vegetable puree, although we technically didn’t eat anything, everyone went their separate ways except Zeke and I, who went with Hen-ya to Safed. Although Lars and I were the only ones not eating, by the time we finished, Easter and Passover of that year, 1995, a small band of people had joined us at our camp. Most were backpackers who wanted to be part of something interesting, but two were perpetual pilgrims who had made careers vagabonding the Holy Land: Zeke, a Russian Jew, Torah scholar, and Kabbalist in his 5o’s, and Andre, a self-proclaimed Catholic monk from French speaking Belgium just turning 30, who figures in the story from Tongues “Without a Miracle a Few Fools Salvaged Hope”. It was Zeke who had persuaded us to stay in our camp early on when a group of young Palestinian men had threatened to kill us if we didn’t leave, our test of fire during our action. It’s not an absolute rule of world action, but it happens often enough to be a guideline: when you draw a definite line in this world, stand up for anything with enough force, your resolve will be tested. Watch what happens with anyone that proclaims they love the world: someone will come along that shows them to be a hypocrite. Sorry Ari.

Safed, in the north of Israel in the Galilee district, is the highest city in Israel and is considered a center of Kabbalistic learning, or became so after 1492 when Jews were expelled from Spain, but my search there for mystical practice yielded no results, only what seemed to me a confusion between that and being ultra-orthodox, although my search was admittedly limited by language and culture. I slept in the old cemetery and in the bushes of a small park in the artist’s quarter, spending only three or four nights inside in my month or so there. I was used to that since I’d been sleeping outside during the three weeks of the strike, but of course I wanted to be indoors. Zeke, being Jewish, easily found houses to sleep at. My dream life was quite enhanced in Safed, and not only was there a lot of lucidity but also very deep dreaming, and it was apparent to me that the location was quite conducive to inner exploration, either because it had been used for such over a long period of time or because it was just naturally situated to be such, like an unusual mountaintop in a region or a strange and special place in a natural area, but it’s probable it’s for both reasons.

It was in Safed that I came to terms with my inexplicable Jewish identity that had been coming up in dream for years. I reasoned that maybe it was because I was circumcised, but that wasn’t sufficient to explain it to myself. It felt more substantial than just having a conditioned penis. While there I explored the possibility of converting, after having a powerful lucid dream about what Jewish identity meant. It was set in some European city sometime before WWII, judging from the 1930’s style clothes. I walked into a city square, a plain one surrounded by brick buildings without any grass. There was a large pile of kippahs about a meter high in the center where the fountain usually is in a square. After a moment of deliberation, I took one off the pile and put it on. As I did, a young, married Jewish couple walked by arm in arm, and the man saw I’d put on the kippah, and he said, ”You know what that means don’t you, putting on a kippah? It means you’re a Jew, and that means being part of a people.” The sense was not any kippah would fulfill that for me, only one from that pile. That I was lucid added a lot more weight to my decision, as though my waking self had made it, not only my dreambody.

Of course that I was surrounded by young Jewish Americans exploring their Jewish identity aided my feeling to convert, not to mention where I was, but I ultimately decided against it because I didn’t want to become an orthodox Jew, which was at that moment in Israel the only way to become Jewish, and there were two kibbutzes that specialized in that, where I’d go if I converted. Besides, it wasn’t the religion I identified with, not in the least; it was the people part of it that I identified with, but that’s what makes one’s Jewish identity so difficult to explore: can you be a Jew and not practice Judaism? Or put differently: can you separate Judaism from being Jewish? That’s a question that probably has as many answers as there are Jews, but all I knew was that if you want to convert you have to go through the religious side, and I didn’t want to do that nor had that calling. The real reason I didn’t convert, unbeknownst to me at the time, however, was I was being called to another path. To this day, my Jewish identity still comes up in dream, but I know now where it’s coming from, but you won’t easily believe it unless you hear how it fits into my life story.

I was born in 1961 into a White Protestant lower class family that became middle class during my early adolescence, after a divorce and split. The identifiers, i.e., what group identities were most stressed while my ego was being formed, were being a Duke, White, American, Texan, southern, and male. I should mention that the southern identification was with the South of the Civil War, as the Confederate flag, heroes, and symbols of the South peppered my childhood world. My father regularly schooled me on the inferiority of both non-Whites and women, and it was his attitude in regards to the latter that made my mom ultimately divorce him when I was six. Although a racist and bigot, he was not anti-Semitic, and I never heard him belittle Jews. He greatly admired Israel, and it was a country regularly put before me as deserving of respect, mainly because it was able to defend itself so well against what seemed overwhelming odds.

I remember once he was driving the family down the road, right before the divorce and right after the Six-Day War, and he was turning his head back and talking to me in the backseat, as he did often while driving, as though my mom and sister weren’t even there, and he was telling me about Israel, how it had been surrounded on every side since its birth, by nations that wanted to wipe it out, and it had just beat them all again. That, he told me, was a nation to admire.

He didn’t, however respect Black people. He taught me often that African Americans were an inferior race, were little more than monkeys. He called them niggers. So did, inceidentally, every other White person I knew except my teachers at school and the clergy of our church. One day, when I was four or five, and we were getting out of the car to go to the house, I saw the only Black family on our street standing in front of their house, a couple of houses down from ours, just the mom and dad, and I went up to them and told them “my daddy said you were monkeys,” said it loudly and proudly. They looked a bit stricken but didn’t say anything. I’ll never forget them standing there silently looking at me the way they did. They weren’t mad and didn’t even seem offended. They looked very sad and looked at me like you’d look at a small child that didn’t know what he was saying. It did not match with the behavior of monkeys, and even then I could sense a discrepancy, and I teetered a moment looking at what I now know was their humanity, what it was they were showing to me, but then I marched back to my family, thinking my dad would be proud of me. He was embarrassed, as was my mom. I didn’t understand why he was. After all, he’d taught me that so confidently and righteously. He didn’t scold me, but he did tell me that I wasn’t to do that to Black people. Our neighborhood of Southpark was in the preceding years to experience what was called back then White flight, and in time the racial demographics changed completely from a predominantly White neighborhood to a predominantly Black one.

It would bear mentioning that among the kids that I played with on my street, Southmund, and I lived at 5918, we all identified with the Rebels and not the Yankees, as the Civil War was a common theme of our kid talk, like it’d just happened a few years back. I do not know, nor can remember, why, except to say that the Confederacy was such a part of our culture. Once I told my older sister Gwen that I liked the Yankees, and I always secretly identified with them, since I liked the blue uniforms better and the fact they were Americans, and I really identified with being an American. Gwen said she’d tell Pepal, my father’s father, who owned and worked a small farm in East Texas, one I’d live on as an older child. I remember how serious she was—you know how kids are—and how afraid I was that she’d tell Pepal, as if it would’ve gotten me in big trouble. I immediately took it back and said I liked the Rebels.

When I’d return to Houston after living on the farm, I’d be an avid reader, and I liked to read war stories mostly, and on the war shelf in my school, George A. Thompson Intermediate, there were biographies of all the Confederate heroes, and I read every one of them. There weren’t many biographies of Union heroes that I remember. There was, however, a book I kept passing over, because it was about a young Union soldier, and I actually felt guilty to even leaf through its pages, like someone would see me and tell someone, the historical novel Rifles For Watie. It turned out to be the best book I read about war while in that school. With such an obvious effort to keep the Confederacy’s memory alive in a school library, you would not wonder over the fact that the city of Pasadena, Texas, whose school district I attended, had a sign at each of its city limits well into the 60’s that read, “Nigger don’t get caught here when the sun goes down.” It also had a KKK bookstore that stayed open until the end of the 70’s. More than one kid in my high school went there to get material for book reports. I visited it when I was 17, and, although I was of the cowboy crowd, called KIKKers in my high school because of the country and western radio station KIKK that the cowboy crowd listened to, I felt as though I was in enemy territory and looked at the guy behind the counter as a goon. I went there with my two best friends at the time, both KIKKers, and they felt the same way. The book reports, too, were not pro KKK. There’s a hard thing to get across here, and that is, although people of my immediate culture were racist and still identified with the Confederacy, and even the popular country radio station’s call sign sounds a lot like KKK, most anyone I was ever around growing up didn’t like the KKK itself, did not take their ill will towards Blacks that far, not even my racist father.

Although racism against Blacks was a common feature growing up, and I went to school with many Black children, who, however, made up a small minority of the schools I went to in and around Houston, I didn’t encounter much anti-Semitism, other than I’d hear someone being called a Jew if they were stingy with money, which is of course still anti-Sematic, and there was only one Jewish person that I remember in elementary school, Kelso Elementary (a part of H.I.S.D.), a girl who sat beside in second grade, but I never saw her harassed by the other kids or singled out by the teacher for being Jewish, and I knew that she was Jewish because she talked about it often, as it was such a part of her identity. I didn’t look at her any differently than if she were Presbyterian or something, as my family were Baptists. I remember that she was quite headstrong for a girl, vocal and not hesitant to stand up for herself, and we clashed along gender lines, as per dad’s indoctrination. I actually had a crush on her that I never could quite admit to myself, and I was a romantic lad, had had girlfriends since kindergarten.

In high school I had a Jewish girlfriend with those attributes, Rachael, but she had converted to Christianity, something strongly opposed by her family, and I faced off with her older brother a couple of times over it (she and I were 15 and freshmen), but I just thought he and his family were ignorant of the truth, since at that time I was a ‘Jesus person’, (Jesus freak to my classmates), that is, fanatically devout and evangelical, and so in my mind Christianity was the only true religion. But I did begin to understand that being Jewish meant more than being simply a Presbyterian or such, and that there was something stronger about being Jewish than at that time I could put my finger on.

I don’t remember when I first heard about the Holocaust, or realized what I’d been seeing in the media and whatnot all my life in regards to it was an event called the Holocaust, but I do remember, once that realization came, that I was baffled as to why Jews would be singled out. Hitler and his henchmen were in my mind the face of evil itself, and it was the same for my society, as this was only the 60’s, and WWII was yet fresh in the Western collective mind. When my reason was sufficiently developed, I attributed it to Hitler’s madness and the insane evil of the Nazis, but of course my reason was informed by my society. As I got older I began to understand the need in human society for scapegoats, and the more authoritarian a society the more violent would be the singling out of scapegoats, and, as I saw it, Jews in Germany at the time were the most convenient target.

That is certainly true, but could the willingness to accept them as the scapegoat have anything to do with the behavior and/or attitude of Jews themselves? What we have lost in the Western time spirit’s adamant directive against blaming the victim is the whole picture behind any occurrence of people harming other people, and I must say the issue here isn’t just harm but attempted genocide, which is all the more reason to be open to seeing the whole of the matter: so it doesn’t happen again, to any people, and that it has and continues to this day may have something to do with the fact that we hold the victim aboslute in their innocence of becoming and being the victim, will not admit any ‘fault’ on their part that might’ve made them targets in the first place. Wearing kid gloves, with an attitude of respect, I aim to question Jewish bigotry in the light of the persecution Jews have faced. Don’t count me wrong. I’m of the opinion there is no justification for persecuting anybody. Just listen.

In college I worked for three years as a doorman, valet, and concierge for a high-rise condo complex in Houston, Four Leaf Towers, and many of the residents were Jewish. I was an employee popular with the residents, and I was well taken care of, although I had to pay the price of my privacy, as I’ll explain later. Working graveyard, I was an ear for some who had no one else to talk to about things, and one of the residents who came regularly to talk was a concentration camp survivor. He never talked directly about his experiences in the camp, but he showed me his tattoo, as did others there. They were, in my mind, people to care for and listen to. As an undergrad minoring in History, I’d come across many firsthand accounts of the Holocaust in my studies, as part of my class work and what I pursued on my own, that event in history standing out to me as holding some key to our evil that, if we could find it, could possibly show us how to heal human evil itself.

It’s pertinent to the story to mention here that during those three years of employment there I was a post-baccalaureate studying Classical Greek at the University of Houston. I had no major but did have a focus, once, that is, I dropped my plans to do graduate work in the History of Science. I wanted to learn, which was a project of self-study, the process of both individual ego transcription and how we became human beings apart from other animals in the first place, where human identity came from and how it’s continued with each child we have. Greek was a doorway into the ancient world as well as a means whereby I learned to think, as learning that language broadened and deepened my ability to think, and think creatively, as much of ancient Greek writing of significance is poetry. It also helped keep me, along with my job, grounded in the outer world.

It was during that time I had a spiritual experience that rearranged the identifiers in my ego, or a series of experiences I should say (and include in that metaphysical experiences) that showed me we not only share a field of consciousness, are connected to one another in our inner lives, and communicate with each other therein, but that we also share identity, and my racial, familial, national, religious, regional and gender identities became flimsy things only skin deep, not who or what I was, although I am still influenced by them. Focused on the inmost feelings of another human being around the world is how I might put what it’s like to identify with humanity as whole, and it’s not a decision I made that I try and live up to; it’s who I feel I am, a human being first and foremost, here in the flesh among human groupings that is, however much I fail to treat everyone with the same importance I give myself, as my ego has not been surpassed, just rearranged, where humanity has become the group I identify with as opposed to some grouping within humanity.

It’s this identity I took to Israel, one human-wide despite my failings, and I was very surprised to be discriminated against by Jews because I wasn’t Jewish, just about every time I turned around, as I’d naively thought that Jews, because they had been discriminated against so harshly and for so long, would not be prejudiced against anyone. Chalk it up to not understanding human nature, how we tend to become victimizers if we’ve been victimized, turn around and find our own scapegoats if we’ve been scapegoated. It’s important to mention that I knew next to nothing of the treatment of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis (not all Israelis) until I heard and saw this firsthand in Israel.

It’s not easy to identify the problem, simpler to assign blame to this people or that, but once you see the problem it becomes rather obvious, like the snake you didn’t see in the grass in front of you: humanity is divided into groups, along many lines, racial, religious, national, regional, gender, etc., the group being part of the very identity of the individuals in it, stressed by ritual and whatnot to every child from birth onwards, and each group puts itself before the other groups, not always in theory but how it happens in practice, and no group identifies with humanity as a whole more than it identifies with itself, puts humanity before itself in importance, acts in the best interests of humanity at the expense of itself when faced with a choice of putting one before the other. If you stop and consider this for some time, recognizing that the overlay of the ideal to ‘treat everyone equally’ is only that, an overlay, not how either you or anyone else always or even often behave, the problem will become crystal clear. It will be the solution we’re looking at in that clarity.

“You’ve got to be kidding me Zeke. Human unity means nothing to you when it comes to your Jewishness? You’re a Jew before anything, feel you’re one more than a human being?” I was exasperated at him, having just been abandoned by him for the second time in a moment of need, when I was being discriminated against because I wasn’t a Jew, and one of the main topics of our conversation had been, up to that point, the ideal of human unity. We were in Safed, standing near the back wall of the artist’s quarter, having gone there so not to be heard, as he knew I had a bone to pick with him about not being Jewish. On the other side of the wall was the cemetery, which was quite large and occupied a downward slope of the mountain. The city was on the top of the mountain, which wasn’t like mountain mountain, with ragged slopes towering to the sky, but you wouldn’t call it a hill either.

“Why yes of course,” he said with the same sweet smile he always wore. That’s just what I couldn’t get over, how equal he seemed to all things, was a person you couldn’t make mad or even offend, did not ride the usual emotional rollercoaster most of us ride, although he did get a little upset when, in the chaos of our camp being temporarily turned up-side down by the aforementioned Palestinians who’d come to threaten us with being murdered, all his Hebrew dictionaries and references were stolen. A short, little, skinny man with an almost perpetual happy face, offset somewhat by peering eyes intently regarding the world, he was the first person to give me an email address, as he used the net back then, and I remember thinking how nerdy he was, how I’d never use such a thing to communicate with him or anyone else, ignorant at that time like most were of how the net would soon become the preferred postal service of humanity, would become virtually the world for many if not most of the literate among us. Here, however, with his blatant racism, what I’d come to call religious racism upon leaving Safed, he was neither being equal nor pioneering. What he’d been was a coward.

“You don’t think that’s wrong?” I asked.

“Morality has nothing to do with it. It’s a matter of what it means to be Jewish.”

“Even when it means just standing there and letting your friend be treated like a dog? You were such a coward, and that’s the second time.” It had happened that we went to a Moshav on Shabbot, near the time of the second shabbis meal, the big dinner of the week. I’d been taunted from the moment the men there learned I wasn’t Jewish, young men, native Israelis, who held me in such contempt I could feel it assaulting me like blows. They had started out by asking me if I liked Wagner, and not wanting to show my ignorance of Classical music, not knowing Wagner was greatly liked by the Nazis, and that I was being asked the question to see if I identified with the Nazis, I didn’t answer right away. My hesitation they took for a yes. Finally I said I didn’t know the composer, but it didn’t matter what I said. They assumed all non-Jews were Nazi-like in their hatred of Jews, and here was a non-Jew, a Nazi-lover as they saw me, and so I got blasted with their hatred, the kind that uses the power of the sneer and cruel laugh as opposed to actual blows, but it hurt nonetheless.

I had looked to Zeke and my other friends who came with us for some support, which included the all-compassionate Hen-ya, but they ignored my eyes asking for help, just sort of looked down shuffling their feet and such. I was bewildered, as I hadn’t expected this, could not make any sense of it, not only the ridicule but my ‘friends’ not standing up for me. The men rudely told me I couldn’t eat there in the house with everyone else, had to eat in the barn, and still my friends didn’t say a word, and to the barn I went, feeling like a whipped dog. Lucky for me they had an omega member, as all human groups do, a non-native Israeli from New York, older than the others. He lived in the barn, and we shared dinner together. He told me not to let it bother me, as that’s the way things were, but I could see he wasn’t too happy about his low position in the group. It happened that he had all the volumes of The Zohar there in the barn, the basic authority on the Kabbalah, although people I asked about the Kabbalah were adamant about it not being in a book. After we ate, I asked him some questions about the books as I flipped through them, and then we talked some of mystical experience, which he didn’t have, or none really he could count on his fingers, he becoming intrigued at mine, as I knew he would. I guess I bragged to feel bigger than being put in the barn made me feel, but I was a braggart in the best of circumstances.

The first time Zeke abandoned me was while we were still in Jerusalem, just before we posted my poems all around the Temple Mount, as it’s known to the Jews at least. It was just past dark, again on Shabbot, and we were sitting on a tourist bench inside the ruins of a Christian church right above the Wailing Wall. It’s hard to get a picture of the surroundings on the black and white of this page, but it was a bit like being back in Biblical times, the way the darkness meshed with the ancient scene in the seat of my feelings. I was explaining the meaning of a couple of my poems, when out of nowhere there appeared four or five men dressed in black wearing the kind of hat men wore in the 40’s, looking to me like the Gestapo. I’m sorry, but that’s the way they looked to me in that moment, as they wore that attitude. They were angry and asking if I were trying to convert Zeke to Christianity. They spoke good English. Stumbling on my words, I managed to blurt out that I was just showing my friend my poems. One of them snatched the poem I was reading out of my hand and read over it a few seconds and proclaimed, “This is gibberish!” It was the poem “Speaking of the Devil”. I could say here: “and speak of the devil,” but the irony isn’t lost to you, or is it? That he considered it nonsense and hence not a threat to his religion got me off the hook, but his pronouncement on the poem rather stung. Then they turned and questioned Zeke, very kindly, as though talking to a child, as they recognized him as being Jewish, but they had to confirm that. They then asked him to come with them to dinner, to their house, to share in the Shabbis meal, and I was sure he’d say no, so as not to abandon me, but I was surprised to find his face light up with an immediate bright yes, and off they went, leaving me alone in the dark with my poems in hand and wondering over exactly what had just happened.

Partly because of these reasons and also because it was the happening place in Safed for young people at that time, I began to hang out less with Zeke and Hen-ya and more at Avraham’s art studio, which was in the artist’s quarter of the old city. It had been a large Arab house, which consisted of a main house, courtyard, and a couple of out buildings surrounded by a wall. In 1948 all the Arab inhabitants of Safed had fled, after a plan to kill all the Jewish inhabitants on the part of the Arab Liberation Army had failed, leaving the former inhabitants’ homes open for Israelis. The now art studio and home of Avraham was one of these. Of course it certainly helped my inclination to hang out there that most of the young people, including Avraham, were fellow Americans.

A common language and culture are powerful magnets, and they are not wrong magnets, as neither are the magnets of a common race or religion, or gender or sexuality for that matter. It’s when a magnet sees itself and its members as the only real human beings, or the most important, that it becomes a magnet that’s a force that acts, however slightly, to destroy humanity and not ensure our survival. Up to this point in our history we’ve had a world that could contain this ignorance of which I speak, putting a grouping within humanity first and not humanity itself, at, however, a huge cost, which is as plain as the nose on our face. We’re rapidly approaching the point where the world cannot sustain us separated in this ignorance of the superiority of our group, which also should be as plain as the nose on our face. Let us not let it become the writing on the wall, but, knowing us, it will. That won’t be the end of the world though; it’s our usual call to action: we have no choice.

Avraham was a young man from America who had made Aliyha, which means he came to Israel declaring himself Jewish and thereby was more or less automatically accepted as a citizen, once his Jewish identity was verified, to say it concisely. I don’t remember where in the States he was from, but I don’t believe it was New York or New Jersey, like most of the young Jews I met there. He was a struggling artist supported by his parents, who lived in America and came to visit him while I was there. They were quite rich, how Avraham could swing having a studio. His canvases consisted of collages of cut out Hebrew letters and Jewish symbols with a dab of painting here and there, nothing even remotely resembling art, but, as he was the man, the one you saw for a shower, a meal, a hangout spot or whatnot, you didn’t make negative comments on his work, and most just didn’t say anything. He was quite tall and rather slender, youthful looking, with dark hair and eyes but a friendly and open face that smiled easily but could get wrapped up in a frown just as easily, not so much a frown on others, the kind of frown that tried to deal with adverse circumstance, and that’s what I’ll say about him, he tried.

Whatever talent you had, the way the place was scheduled, you could sit in the courtyard at a certain time of day and show it to a small audience, the regulars hanging out there, which consisted mainly of young American Jews who’d made Aliyha and lived nearby and ones that had been just passing through on their tour of Israel but had decided to stay awhile because of the happening scene. Non-Jews were welcome to show their stuff too, and at that moment it seemed no distinction was made between Jew and non, but that would change in the days ahead, partly because of my poetry and for reasons that became apparent later. I had read a couple of poems of mine in that venue and was so enthusiastic about my poetry and performing it (whether it has any poetic merit or not, and I’m now inclined to say no or not much), I managed to convince Avraham and the ‘core members’ to allow me to do organize a poetry reading in the courtyard, where I’d be the MC and a poet reading his own poems.

I called the reading Noise From the Innerwho, and I’d started it as a monthly gathering in the veteran’s center of the small American town I’d been exiled from, Garberville, California, what I speak of in the Tongues series. I was a cross between the town prophet and town fool, more emphasis on the latter I see now in my later years, where I’m still the fool, jumping up and down and waving on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Medium, and Internet Archive saying, “I’m still here!” You aren’t liable to give me a medal.

The poetry reading was a monthly show I put together mainly with the homeless population of Garberville, but poets also came to read from the general population. It was there I first began taping up poems of mine around town, on bulletin boards and in front of places significant to the community, doing that twice before I had to leave town in the dead of night, a public fall that gave rise to the journey of redemption the Tongues story wags on, a story the town never heard, a redemption that never happened. While all of human society would at this moment disagree with me, it takes the support of a community to bring a person out of their bad in the same spirit it takes a village to raise a child.

Even before the reading in Safed, I’d begun to clash with people over not being Jewish, since I was quite present in their circle, unlike the other non-Jews, who showed up one day and were gone the next, and it wasn’t like there were many of them either. With Zeke’s help I’d gotten a backbreaking part time job removing large stones from old abandoned houses that lined a street near there, not getting paid enough to stay in a guesthouse or hotel, just enough not to be a beggar. My afternoons and evenings were spent with the crowd at the studio, my fellow Americans, who were mainly there to explore the religious side of being Jewish, and so the Torah and Talmud were major topics of conversation as well was what it meant to practice daily being a religious Jew, an orthodox Jew but not an ultra-orthodox one, not a Hasidic Jew. They were learning to observe Jewish law, all 613 of them, although in my understanding some of the laws were for olden times and could not easily be applied to the modern day. In such a circle of course the non-Jew would be a bit of a problem. Most had had a secular university education, which was clashing with their adoption of such strict religious beliefs, internal clashes which added to the clash they had with me, although I did not try and dissuade them from becoming religious and observing their law, as I was torn at that time over the question to be or Jew or not to be. What I did wrong was just be my mystical, bragging self.

At that time, and for a long time in my adult life I am sorry to say, I wore my metaphysical and spiritual experiences like merit badges and readily proclaimed them to anyone who spoke with me of anything religious or spiritual. If that wasn’t enough, those experiences topped anyone else’s I had ever encountered in person (I am sorry but what can I say?), and I regularly had lucid dreams, and every so often out of body experiences, where I explored reality with a passion, always having a question to ask or task to complete when I got my conscious will online in sleep. Even most of my ‘unconscious’ dreams were quite vivid and interesting stories in themselves, and anyone around me when I woke up got an earful of what I’d experienced during sleep, although I was also keenly interested in what whomever had experienced, and being around me meant talking about your dreams and things first thing in the morning. If you didn’t remember your dreams or they weren’t all that lustrous, then you could not help but feel a little outshined, quite inadequate I’d imagine. I’m sorry.

I was oblivious to this so wrapped up I was in being me. I’ve since learned it’s really our most basic difficulty in relating to one another, one I yet grapple with, what it is about human relations, or our relations with other forms of life, that’s the stick in the mud. I’m talking about the weird and enigmatic way we are situated here on earth, so common we don’t even question it, where our senses put us in the center of the world with a vivid inner life environing everything our senses engage, but we don’t hear or see the inner life of others (not directly that is), neither feel their bodily pain nor pleasure, only our own, certainly don’t see others sharing the center of the world with us a center unto themselves, see in the sense of know it because that’s how we experience it, however much we can infer others do by how obvious it is that they do. When you add all that up you get a world where it’s not only not easy to love your neighbor as yourself but also damn hard to see any and everyone as you see yourself: centrally placed. You get a world where we can turn our backs to one another at the drop of a hat, kill each other over the turn of a phrase, or just sit and spout about ourselves at the expense of others.

Although I used some Christian symbols in my poetry, I’d left Christianity, had quite suddenly put my Bible down at 17, realizing religion was just a set of clothes I’d put on and not a good stand in for an actual relationship with God, God being something or someone I still believed in. It was just religion I rejected. But about three years later, at 21, going out the door of an aircraft as a Green Beret in the army, I realized I hadn’t done the usual prayer and rededication to Christ before I jumped as I always did, no matter how strongly I’d resolved not to do that before going out the door; I realized I’d fully become an atheist, what I was by that time (1982) except at those scary moments in an aircraft seconds before a jump. Only God knows if there are any atheists in foxholes, but I’d imagine so, although in the army I never heard a shot fired in anger and can only reason there are. In any event, being an atheist notwithstanding, I continued to question the makeup of my reality, in my inner life as well as in my outer, explore both with a passion that enabled me to surpass the normal limits. As my muse says, “Passionate people alter space.” And so I didn’t remain an atheist, as I don’t think anyone would if they went out of the bounds of everyday life, and it was God they went out there to find, but neither did I simply just decide by my reason or emotion that God is, did not use belief. What initiated those three years of metaphysical and spiritual experiences I’ve spoken about, that happened before my trip to Israel, to place us in the story, was going beyond the forms of our world and encountering, with my very own eyes, a very different answer to the question of God.

The rule moves on and you need love— [line heard sung]
a holistic speaker.
Let's not damage Jews.
They're everywhere.
They're so much of ourselves.
We get bigger all the time.
We need to understand somethin':
you won't find a separate people.
They don't exist.
We are humanity.
A group exists in that,
and that's its very nature,
no matter how much they conceive themselves a separate group.
Our world depends on this.
You hear humanity?
We need each other,
and a people survives on that,
great the people are.

Next post:

Chapter 2
Questions by the Moon

Between Jerusalem I’m Sorry, Introduction

Lars Nørgaard, from Denmark, my hunger striking partner, made this flyer in March 1995


I am the non-Jewish traveler in Israel, that one [1], that did a three-week hunger strike for peace in Jerusalem and afterwards taped poems of mine on holy sites in the old city, on the top of Mt. Sinai and inside and around the Great Pyramid in Egypt. This is the story of after Jerusalem and before the mountain and pyramid postings, a five month period in 1995 when I was in-between actions, when I was a vagabond sleeping outdoors more than in, when the Internet was yet too young to be the world wall or whatnot I posted my poems on. Those actions are told in a series of stories entitled, “A Journey of a Thousand Tongues”, posted on the world wide web, a stand in for honest to God face me reality, where we are yet but stand ins for human beings and not actual living and breathing people a world unto ourselves, or at least that’s how we act with one another on the net, where value is not put in terms of quality but in how great a diversion something gives. Nonetheless, it’s where I’m publishing this book, because of the absence of the usual censors, who most likely wouldn’t let this book pass. I doubt you’ll find a book that’s that hits us in the quick of our social selves more. Netizen, you’re in for a wild ride of a read.

You know about memory? Number one, no two people will remember the same event the same way, and even the same person will give slightly different accounts of it as time goes on, because memory gets things mixed up over time, puts this after that when this came first, forgets what a location was wearing, can’t remember this name but remembers that one (oftentimes more the name that did you wrong than did you good), adds things that weren’t there (usually things that make you look better), gets rid of things that were there (things that make you look bad), and it exaggerates events to make them more interesting or you more the hero or victim. Yet the mind is sure the story’s true when told. Dialogue is especially difficult, impossible really, since you basically just have to make it up when relating what was said (why I use it sparingly), trying as best you can to capture the gist of the conversation, if, that is, you are trying your best to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and many of us aren’t. It isn’t only Hollywood that embellishes stories to make them sellable. We all do that a certain extent, even when we don’t want to.

That’s just the way memory works, unless you’re under hypnosis or something, or the whole thing was filmed, the conversation taped, and even then there’ll be debate. It makes narrative nonfiction part fiction no matter how you slice it, why I imagine the genre autofiction has come about in the first place: just to admit at the get go you’re not letting the facts get in the way of the story, to quote partly Farley Mowat, author of The Dog Who Wouldn’t be and Never Cry Wolf. You might wonder if he’s not doing that with his attitude to the truth. Getting the facts as accurate as possible gives the story more reality, and that’s what I’m doing, showing you, as best I can, as much of reality as I can. If you haven’t seen sides of it I’m going to show, then I’m doing my job. My muse however, which gives the inner perspective on the happenings of the outer world, has been insistent on adding the following: “I don’t think facts life earth.” Since it’s basically also the inner that remembers events, it seems the deck’s stacked against a 100% factual narrative of any event in the whole history of us.

It’s all so normal, so everyday, but, when you look at it, it’s out of this world. I’m talking about the fact that we are only here for some seconds before here becomes a there you cannot go to again save by a faulty, elusive memory. It’s a little scary too. Did that really happen, I mean, anything that we’ve experienced? Past experience has a will-o-wisp feel about it, can make you doubt the reality of reality itself. When you top that off with the fact that you only hear your inner life and not that of anyone else’s, as if you’re the only real one around, even though you know you aren’t, know with the same sense you know you’re real, you get the strangest world, impossible to capture with so many words.

Now let’s just get down to business. What’s at the bottom of racism and bigotry? I explore that, with an eye on how to heal it, but I’m not looking at it through the usual lens, the Black and White card of racism, although I do look through that lens quite often in this book, as a way to see more clearly the main focus here, which is something that is not officially allowed to even be named, much less examined, without you yourself being charged with racism. It’s a no name situation. This book exams the bigotry I experienced being a non-Jew in Israel, not only by religious Jews but also by Jewish American university students and graduates, and it was so ‘don’t sit at the table with us’ it felt like the lines weren’t being drawn on religious lines but on racial ones, like there was a fundamental difference between us in our very humanity, and I was the inferior type among them. Many Jews will tell me I’m being anti-Semantic just by saying this, but I’ll tell you what I felt: I was the Black American trying to be seen not as nigger but as a human being. You know, maybe it’s here, in this unwieldy, unmentionable thing, the bigotry of Jewish people, not all Jews by any means, but enough it was the main course on the table, humble pie, when I was a gentile in the land of Israel, and I seriously doubt I’m the only person that’s ever experienced this, that we just might find the heart itself of Western racism, and in so doing, have an eye yet to heal the world’s.

Yet this book isn’t about racism, and it doesn’t put Jews low on the rank card in terms of being human (if you’re not Jewish you might be offended where I do place them on the totem pole). Racism’s the tool I use, the jumping off place, in order to get at world origin and human meaning. Can you think of a better one? And if those two inscrutable, cabalistic things aren’t enough, I will take this book all the way to spiritual enlightenment and beyond, all the way to God, mentioning even devils in-between, and I’ll do that with my very hands and feet, not just my mind and mouth, and, believe me, you’ve never read anything like it in your life.

You’re sitting right there a you. The complexities of the relationship between us preclude any real knowledge of me, I mean that you taste me as substantial as you taste yourself, and, like me, you taste yourself bigger than you appear, much bigger of course than me at this moment. That’s just human nature. But read this book, and another person will become real to you in taste, become a taste of your very self. That person is this author. You game?

Because curd rice
is a healthy alternative to chicken.
Center for where things go alone.
Are you anti-Semitic?
I think you see the healthy alternative:
examine racism in all its forms.
That's the hero of the day.
We get rid of racism that way.
Now let's go.

You’ve added onto barley.
This smells the world.
Tell me about it,
a feature of muse.
Come on let’s go ride the mountain,
a lonely seer’s voice in time,
the exclamation of the book.
I’m modal thinking.
I’m reachin’ for everything
that will knock your socks off.
You’ve got the book.

Chapter 1
Where White Puts Supremacy Last

Title of tomorrow’s post
I’ll be publishing this book serially, daily, or thereabouts,
unless circumstances don’t allow that.


[1] The writing of this book resulted from the efforts I made over a period of months to get Ari Mahler to speak to me after he accepted my friend request on Facebook. He never did, although finally a personal friend of his did and told me basically to be quiet, that he was a public figure and to leave him alone, and I did but began this book, which has been some three years in the writing, put down, picked up again, and now picked up to finish and significantly edit all I wrote before. Ari wrote the famous Facebook post: “I am The Jewish Nurse. Yes, that Jewish Nurse. The same one that…