Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman
I am a dead man walking—er, actually I am currently sitting and sipping a highly honey-sweetened cup of Wyoming-roasted coffee with cream on the back patio of a coffeehouse in downtown Laramie. The pale-brown liquid within my cup has grown quite cold over several hours sitting and exposed to the elements of a high-country afternoon, though ice has yet to form around the rim. I sometimes gaze into the swirls of milk fat floating on the surface and the patterns of variously mixed solutions of bean juice and water and honey and half-and-half to scry with what shapes might emerge to tell of things present, past or possible.
I don’t mean that someone has me as their mark, necessarily, or that I am keeping a wide-eye open for fear of potential assassins, necessarily. My point with these words is in fact rather more stark. What I actually mean by this opening statement, these first words in print after flyleaf and front matter, is that I have already been murdered, and perhaps on as many as five occasions. The most poignant and certain instance of experiencing my own homicide occurred one ordinary summer’s day at dusk in Golden Gate Park, when two bullets were rather randomly and undeservedly introduced to the inside of my skull after an otherwise pleasant and uneventful day on Hippie Hill.
In addition to such homicidal intrigues, I have encountered sasquatch, a skinwalker, holes in space-time, and a shape-shifter who did her turn whilst astride my lap. In pursuit of romance and the hidden secrets to life and history, guided by instinct, intuition, chance, and sometimes helpful deities, I have been granted many such glimpses behind the veils of normalcy—at moments to my delight, and at others to my terror.
At a certain point in life I decided I had a desire to unabashedly seek the truths that seemed unavailable in academia or conventional religion, and to discover what hidden magic and beauty and adventure this world really has to offer. I concluded at some moment of disillusionment or discontent that merely reading books of fiction or supposed scriptures to find inspiration and truth, else vicariously viewing others’ explorations and adventures on TV or on the big screen proved insufficient means to satisfy my yearnings to experience or to satiate a want to know, and thus I decided that I had a need to endeavor the quest, and by the most quixotic and heroic means I might have need that I might find what abides behind life’s curtains.
And so I began to live as a wandering renunciate before I truly knew what this meant or might imply, hitchhiking and train hopping and backcountry rambling on a simple and more or less innocent search for answers and quest for love both transcendent and terrestrial. Thus began the ride of my life. Visions and experiences that answered to my curiosity and were revealed to my searchings surpassed extraordinary, and indeed met with the sublime, and even Divine.
I have been tailed by a tornado in the badlands that bore the certain imprint of God made manifest, and have pursued an apparent apparition of the Goddess across the breadth of the continent. I have crossed the threshold between life and death more than once, though still I breath, drink, eat, piss, shit, think, and even occasionally fuck, and thus by all appearance and common indicators, I am quite alive. In the most recent third of thirty-six or so years lived I have experienced things most would assume the stuff of fairy tales or fantasy, mythology or merely a wild imagination.
Yet here I sit, just where I sat some twelve years ago, and with little if anything overt to show for my years of questing, labors of love, challenges to the system and changes to myself. I now have a PC upon which I type these words, whereas then I had a Mac. This evening I pen (er, type) my early memoirs, whereas then it was my Master’s thesis I labored to complete. Little else overt has changed, save that I am now long since estranged from then-wife and son, church and institution, I have lived over a dozen years more, and these days don a beret and wool overcoat instead of a thin cotton trench coat and ski cap. Three fat dreadlocks also now dangle amidst the otherwise unknotted past-shoulder-length hairs on the back of my head.
The sun is setting behind the Snowy Range Mountains, and the oft-ferocious high plains wind is only a gentle breeze this evening. I’m watching this rather dull spectacle (compared to the best or even average of Laramie sunsets) from the back patio at Coal Creek Coffee Company’s downtown coffeehouse and roastery. A freight train is roaring past beneath the steel footbridge that spans the railroad tracks which reside between my vantage and the sunset. This bridge links the downtown to the Near West Side, and purportedly is or at least was longest of its kind in the country. Random pedestrians in wool coats and down parkas pass by both near my seat and strolling over the human viaduct in the background, faces only glimpsed between snuggly wrapped scarves and hats pulled low, and fewer I know now than I knew in days past in this small city on the high plains.
Said painted black steel and concrete span, occasional trains rumbling beneath, the derelict smokestack tower that stands ten stories tall behind, and people passing by in warm winter gear provide an excellent foil for the now dark gray clouds and fading light and subdued colors of this evening’s sunset show—or would it be the other way around? Regardless, it seems to me at this moment, this picture painted in words might offer a poignant backdrop for you to bear in mind as you read on, dear reader, providing a scene that appropriately sets the tone for the tales to come in this text.
Before the beginnings of my wild and weird cross-country adventures, before I tried to make a break from the system’s sometimes subtle and subliminal hold, I would often sit at this very table laboriously researching and writing my Master’s thesis, “Non-Essentially Occidental: Heteroglossia in the European Discourses on Islam.” Back then I still held on to some semblance of the assumption that there was a comfortable place for me within “polite society” and inside the bounds of the popular consensual reality of Anytown, USA, and its various venerated institutions.
Never quite finished this thesis, and thus abandoned hopes of becoming a certified PhD professor-type. Instead I decided to seek the truths of self and other (and “Self” and “Other”) outside of familiar text and tradition and institution, to take to the open road to search for evidences of heteroglossia (many tongues) telling different versions than the officially-sanctioned and academy-approved, and to find a more personally valid and abiding title or state of being than “Doctor” or “Professor.”
In this loosed condition, wonderful and weird magic and mystery unfolded before my sight and other senses. Wisdoms both beautiful and terrible were bestowed as the wide world opened doors to mysteries archaic as well as immediate, from revelations regarding obscured secrets of ancient myths and migrations of ancient Gods and their peoples to the manifestation of divine plays presented first-hand in my own life-lived. Such accounts are the substance of this bound book, dear reader, presented for your entertainment, and perhaps for the enrichment of your own life-lived in this everyday world, where truth proves more than meets a mere two eyes . . .