Home Page Photo

The Big Stupid Review

Archives

American Dream Serialization (Early Chapters)
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Maurice Stoker
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Tom Bradley
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream Title Page by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 1 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 2 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 3 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 4 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 5 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 6 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 7 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 8 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 9 by Jim Chaffee
01-01-2015
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
01-11-2014
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
01-04-2014
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2014
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
10-01-2013
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
07-01-2013
The Poet Laureate of Greenville by Al Po
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 3 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
04-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part V by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part IV by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 2 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part II by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part III by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 1 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
10-01-2012
DADDY KNOWS WORST: Clown Cowers as Father Flounders! by Thor Garcia
RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight by Louis Armand
Review of The Volcker Virus (Donald Strauss) by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-07-2012
Little Red Light by Suvi Mahonen and Luke Waldrip
TEXECUTION: Klown Konfab as Killer Kroaked! by Thor Garcia
Miranda's Poop by Jimmy Grist
Paul Fabulan by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-04-2012
Operation Scumbag by Thor Garcia
Take-Out Dick by Holly Day
Patience by Ward Webb
The Moon Hides Behind a Cloud by Barrie Darke
The Golden Limo of Slipback City by Ken Valenti
01-01-2012
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
01-10-2011
When Good Pistols Do Bad Things by Kurt Mueller
Corporate Strategies by Bruce Douglas Reeves
The Dead Sea by Kim Farleigh
The Perfect Knot by Ernest Alanki
Girlish by Bob Bartholomew
01-07-2011
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
01-04-2011
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
01-01-2011
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
10-01-2010
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
07-01-2010
Injustice for All by D. E. Fredd
The Polysyllogistic Curse by Gary J. Shipley
How It's Done by Anjoli Roy
Ghost Dance by Connor Caddigan
Two in a Van by Pavlo Kravchenko
04-01-2010
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
01-01-2010
Idolatry by Robert Smith
P H I L E M A T O P H I L I A by Traci Chee
They Do! by Al Po
Full TEX Archive
Side Photo for The Big Stupid Review

The Book of Ancient Wisdom

By Hugh Fox

garden radicchio

“Here’s something I came across in the basement yesterday,” Jean had told her daughter, Suzie, the day before, as they sat in the dining room of Jean’s just-dead (one week) ninety-five year old father. She had inherited the house and all its contents. Her sister, Martha, inherited the other house in Cádiz, which made Martha very happy....a place to spend her winters, away from Kansas City. But Jean was happy with the house in Michigan because her father had only spent ten years of winters in Spain and fifty years all year around there (minus the Spanish winters), and it held most of his “serious” belongings, including the family silver. Jean had already told Martha she’d share the more “serious” stuff with her, which to Martha meant silver, paintings, jewelry, whatever could be re-sold for quick cash. Which was Martha's main concern.

Jean, though, especially wanted the books and manuscripts, the books her father had written, the signed poems from other poets (and himself) all over the walls, the endless copies of signed small editions of now dead “small-press” poets who were slowly assuming classic dimensions. Martha and Jean differed radically on how they regarded their father’s poetry and the poetry of his “circle,” what he had always called his “gang.” Martha thought of it all as ephemera, but Jean saw it as the work of Rimbauds, Hart Cranes, Verlaines, Kafkas, Apollinaires.....regarded her father, especially, as a kind of latter day Rimbaud.

Suzie was rather tentative about the old notebook. Perfect bound. Black. A sketch-book notebook, really. Her grandfather hadn’t ever wanted to write in anything with lines. It made him feel “constrained,” “Tied-down,” “controlled.”

Her mother wouldn’t be back to the old house for another few hours. Some problems with the restaurant. One of the chefs had been or was going to be deported back to Mexico. The best “French” cook she’d had for years. But she was certain something could be done, had her lawyer in on it. Lawyer and old friend: “That’s the way it should always be. Business should never be separated from pleasure, everything should always be seamless, one piece....”

radicchio captured and cleaned

Suzie was supposed to keep poking and sorting things, she supposed, but instead drifted out into the garden and found one of her grandfather’s old, many-times-painted fan-backed wooden chairs under an ancient oak, opened the notebook cautiously and began to read:

I’m beginning to write this on the day of your birth, January 3rd, 1967. Cold every place but here in Cadíz. I talked to your mother on the phone this morning, our morning, her midnight. Said she couldn’t sleep: “Against all sense and logic and power of biochemistry, I am wide awake, and it’s a girl. I like the name Susan, don’t you? Like ‘Black-Eyed Susans,’ ‘Oh, Suzannah, don’t you cry for me...’ Oh, I feel so overwhelmingly silly. I guess I was supposed to go into post-partum depression or something, but I’ve never felt so high.”

Good sign. Good omen. You come on the scene like a sunrise.

What I’m going to try to do here is -- ha, ha -- give you the accumulated wisdom of my long years as itinerant philosopher, poet, mythologist, anthropologist, whatever you want to call me.

I was reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein today and as I read through it, page after page of Dr. Frankenstein’s travels, I thought that’s what I should tell you, “Travel, travel, travel, go to England and Scotland, the Lake District, the moors, over to the Dordogne, the Alps, go to Prague and Vienna, learn the languages, find strange alleys and strange allies, make strange alliances and have strange loves, grasp it all to you like a cloak of rose petals....or even, when it hurts, like a cloak of thorns. Why such a concentration on The Strange? Well, then I thought exactly the opposite, never leave your village of Winona Point, Wisconsin, get married and mother ten children, end up with a hundred grandchildren, end up matriarchal beyond belief, creatrix of your own private race/tribe. Six generations down and they’ll number a million, if they all keep up your pace. But one thing you’ll never suffer from is what I have most suffered from -- a sense of irreality, isolation, getting up in the morning and reaching out and being surprised when I can actually feel/grasp a glass of milk, actually open a door instead of floating through it. One husband, stability, friends, a whole town that knows you....isn’t that one way of answering the unanswerable?

And forget about One God way Out There someplace in Never-Never-Land. The ancients were right where the moderns are wrong. Religion has been very wrong for the last few thousand years. Listen to the river gods and the forest gods, the cloud and rain gods and goddesses...go out into the forest away from Man and feel the presences.

And don’t try to figure it all out logically. Imagine you’re a red corpuscle in someone’s bloodstream and you suddenly become “conscious.” What could you know? That there were moments of aeration and depletion, contractile movements...maybe you could figure out you were in some sort of stream and there was a pump, a “rich” area, “poor” area...you were mortal..but could you ever figure out you were in somebody’s body, much less figure out that the body was in a room and that the room was in a house, the house was on the surface of a planet, and there were a sun and moon, planets, stairs...well, we’re like that, no idea what is beyond our closed system. In whose veins are we circulating? What is beyond the walls of our cosmic arteries?

One thing for sure, there is one master-message being beamed at us full time. Think of all the eggs that your ovaries are going to produce during your lifetime. Think of all the sperms produced by your husband or husbands, lover/lovers. Think of all the seeds of all the trees produced in Spring, all the beans and peas and seeds in watermelons, squash, pumpkins. The message is pretty obvious. The core of EVERYTHING IS LIFE, REPRODUCTION. What is all this nonsense about unmarried priests, celibate “sisters”?

The last thing that God wants/the Gods want, is celibacy. Nature is profligate, it calls for profligacy. Everything screams L’CHAIM, L’CHAIM, L’CHAIM, TO LIFE, TO LIFE, TO LIFE!!! And shouldn’t that same sort of generosity extend out to everything?

I mean enthusiasm. Invent God/ Gods! God has me in his hands in the morning and in the afternoon. He brings on the dawn and the dusk, he holds all the living and dead in his power. Why hold back? Your breasts and vagina and legs, hair, skin....rush to meet Life, don’t hold back and treat life as if it were an enemy. The ducks descend, snow, rain, leaves, death....so it’s late Winter, say, you’re walking along beside the Red Cedar River, it’s cold, snowy, cloudy, whatever it is, you’re not projecting out to somewhere else or into some other time that’s already been or is going to be, you’re entirely there, this is it, nothing else has ever been or will be, your skin is there, your eyes, your smell, taste, ears, every fir tree, Dawn Redwood, Tamarack, Chinese Tree of Heaven, every face that you pass, the movement of the water under the ice, the movement of clouds over, under and around the sun...if you grasp it all to you in all the dimensions of its clarity, you can die with a sense of enough, ça sufit, surfeit, the feast ends, but at least it was a feast...

She stopped. There wasn’t much more anyhow, just a few more pages. But really couldn’t go on, wasn’t sure exactly what she felt, a strange mixture of awe, a sense that she was very personally, almost nastily, being censored, a certain repugnance at, what would you call it, “vulgarity,” and, more than anything else, a sense that under all the flourishes and fanfares, he was essentially right, IT was there right outside the window, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, always on the edge of making “Itself” visible, and in a sense always did, in all the things that simply happened...like the rain just beginning again now, on the edge of Spring, a week before Easter, snow-god, rain-god, spring-god, feeling infinitely sad that the grand old man had died, after ten impossible years in coma, six years before that vague and only fragmentarily “there” at all, before he’d really ever had anything but the slightest sense of who he had been writing to, way back when, twenty years before, when she had been born...

radicchio torn limb from limb

© Hugh Fox 2007