Child-hooded

Articles

Child-hooded

One — Harry Potter at Ground Zero

At last I have arrived in New York City to start studying wizardry. I am excited and glad to have left my home. My home in the suburbs was frightening. Now I have discovered I am a wizard everything has changed. How crowded the trains are! There are not enough of them and they move slowly and loudly under the city, just above the realm of Spiritwort. I have noticed so many people reading my adventures within subway cars. I am Harry Potter and I am beginning Wizardry School in New York City now– now the Towers have fallen. ‘It’s not like that!’ I want to cry and tear the book from the fingers of the adults reading about me. ‘This is my life now.’

Mugglesworth

Imagine a great rock cavern dripping with rusty metal and brilliant lights large as stellar bodies. Picture an enormous expanse of rutted dirt. This is the sight that greeted my eyes as at last the day came when I arrived at Mugglesworth. I filed in past large men in orange hats. My heart pounding. Clutching a bag filled with objects I’d been asked to bring back months ago when I was in the livingrooom, staring through the picture window at a neighbor’s picture window. Suddenly, there was a beating of flatscreens and a great white technological beast wound in numbery ticker-tape came thrashing through the branches. From its beak hung a tattered scroll. Gingerly, I plucked the parchment from its huge drooling lips. The lips looked like an old man’s lips from another country. With terror, I drew open the scroll and looked down at the elaborate script:

“Harry Potter! You are a wizard! And it is time You Entered Mugglesworth to Begin Learning Your Magic Craft! Bring with you a Wand and a Wizard’s Cap and a Crystal Ball and a Book of Spells!”

Imagine how I felt reading these words-and now this! Often, there were birthdays in my office. I think the day I first suspected I might be a wizard an enormous chocolate cake with blue frosting swirls had been prepared for a coworker. There were balloons everywhere of every color-the colors of a chest of Arabian jewels. Chanting grownups blowing candle job flames. I remembered a birthday party as a child when I’d been given a pair of giant boots. Those boots made me as tall as I am today. Storming through the glass doors in excitement. So that-I wondered what had happened in those years. What was laid down by the oracle at that moment.
I looked up and gave a nod of secret agreement. The beast gave a deafening shriek and flew off into the sky now shattering with red clouds and black. I saw people lying on the earth coughing with their eyes shut and their limbs jerking.

Wiggleswort

Wizard’s School and another chance at real life – Only it was Real! I went home and got inside the television, behind the glass door. The same television I had showered in for years. The hot colors, blistering hot, came down over me and I felt so alone-so at peace in the hot colors. I wanted them to come steaming down over me until I vanished in smoke.
Inside myself, I heard a voice

Evil. Towers in the moonlight. Stone! Sorcerers!
I realized I was being given the spells by an invisible servant and hurried out of the TV to copy them down.
Flying lessons had begun.

Harry Arrives at Drigglewort

“Hullo. I’m Harry Potter.” I pushed back my large round glasses.
Massive cranes swung through the air above me. A large black woman mumbled about all those spirits under there.

Right away I was led through crowds of people waiting to catch a glimpse of what was to be my home for years as I supped from the skulls of wizardry. Everywhere the crowds. Police policing everything. But perhaps I should describe for you the physical site of the school. Imagine a map. On the West was Worth, the entrance zone to which I was conducted. On the east lay Dom, where some of the lesser wizards resided. In the south was Wort where the wizards who could not be trusted were. And then my own boarding zone to the North, Worthworth. Everyone was envious of us. But soon, as I was led to my dormitory, I was filled with terror. I thought all had been taken away, but here a great twisted mane of burnt orange steel remained, writhing its locks, a cut-off head. Everywhere, there were trucks groaning back and forth. Beside me squatted a man with an egg-like head. He had a way of leaving his mouth hanging open so that odd wires and chips fell from his lips constantly. “They’re still falling bodies, they’re still finding bottles,’ he kept whispering.
“Which is it?!” I finally turned to him in a fury.

Getting Acquainted with Muckles and Wingbing

At precisely midnight, there came a sharp rap on our door and a voice roared out, “Harry Potter!”
“Yes, sir!” I cried and slipped away from the sheets down on the floor buckling myself up at top speed.
The next thing I knew I was being roughly pulled back and bodily carried out of the hole down a track in the dirt to a little trailer set up near the entrance to Mugglesworth. I was pushed up a set of crude wooden stairs which had been propped against the side of the trailer and told to go inside since I was late for class. Still blinking with astonishment I trudged up and pushed through the door.
Four men of about my own age wearing big spectacles were hunched over crude desks madly writing away, apparently copying notes on the blackboard, while a little glass hog with a human face cheerily read out the information:

Categories of Wands:

Humiliation
Hegeminocus
Suckintoit

Performing Simpler Spells

I felt myself flush. The clock at the head of the room grew to cover the whole wall. “Performing Simpler Spells!” I shouted. At once the arms swung out of my ears, the clock released, shrunk and dried, rolled back up the aisle and threw itself on the wall. The other children in the room-they were children, I saw that now, as was I and everyone in the universe-especially the Evil Demon-broke into loud cheering. And now my blush was joyous shyness. I’d found a friend.
A School full of them.

Harry Potter at Play

We found a bin of chocolates underneath the floor and began pulling them out but as we plucked them by their lips they would transform into sparkling blue shimmers speaking of our mission and we would feel badly about eating them but they would instruct us to munch up and when they went inside us whirly stars and crescents sparked from our breasts. We looked bewildered but began making plans for how to take back Mugglesworth from the bad wizards. It was to be a huger war. We had plans for large camps with banners and tents. Directing the battles between good and evil with enchanted creatures and our special powers. To destroy at last the bad evil ones and make the world safe for good wizards. An enormous, age-long battle. Lasting over versions. We patiently waited in awe the peach sun squishing up through branches of red fire at the trailer’s back. Sparks from teams of welders cascading down the final perforated building facades. But we committed so to nobleness and truth the protection of good hog, red with readiness for the endless war! And ate and ate. Candy fountains cascading up through the air filled with electric toys we could take at will. We raised a great cry waving our wands and pledging ourselves to the triumph of eternal goodness with wild slides that zoomed down beneath the bowels of the site past gaping dead then through waterfalls and rainbows of birds lifting up by our faces we laughed and held on to the front of the car which would soar us at last back to Drigglesworth and a well-earned bed dream. The battle was set to begin. And we were ready to win.

Harry Potter’s Magic Sirens

Yet, late that night, back in my bunk above the other Harry Potters, I heard sirens go off everywhere around Driggleswort and Mugglesworth. The air was filled with eyes. I thought of all those people on the subway and in coffeehouses, all those grownup people reading my life and thought to myself they should enter wizard school themselves. I just thought, might they not be wizards themselves? And if they are wizards we need more now in Worthworth. I saw the hands and the eyes of all those thousands of adults studying my magic life- I wanted to cover myself with their hands and eyes as they covered the book about me, even if the book was a pack of lies. And the sirens grew until I covered my ears and bent my head, weeping. “This is my first night in Wizard’s School!” I cried. Already the moment of camaraderie in class seemed far behind me. Sirens. Sirens. Pink, lurid sirens; flesh comets streaking the sky.

Two – John Walker

I’ve thought for a long time about how to answer your questions in a way that would make you understand. But I have come to realize that for you to truly comprehend, you would have to take on my beliefs as your own. Of course I hope for your sake that you come to recognize the truth of my beliefs, but I am not out to force you to them, whether by words or sword. I am aware you will not believe this.

I am aware that if you take the final ‘s’ of words and put it before the word, you make the conversion. What I am left with is just a few bold strokes, a tale of spiritual conviction and historical circumstances which would probably disappoint you in its familiarity. Does it surprise you if I tell you I have seen nothing dramatically wrong in the media’s depictions of my journey to the fortress in Kandahar?

It is true that I came from a broken, overly tolerant home in a community which was lacking any compelling structures of faith or ethical purpose. My mother, who naturally had her own spiritual hunger which led her into eastern religions, encouraged me in my searching for God.

Just like the articles say, as a natural step in my search I explored the local mosque. I found the community of worshippers there both tolerant and deeply serious. I attended more frequently. I studied, with others and on my own. I found my way to God through the Koran. Yes, Islam provided the structure that was lacking in my home and my larger environment. Yes, I found inspiring the rigor of Islam as an opposition force to contemporary American entertainment values. But you must also recognize that my belief in the tenets of Islam breaks out of the category of psychological need. I know you would hate it if I were to just tell you, it’s all clear once you’re inside the structure of belief, all the nuances glow before you then. I have resisted saying that because it smacks of an arrogance and Islam is all humility. But that truth is why I have such a difficult time communicating. My voice halts and breaks not because of the exhaustion of my experience, but because of the exhaustion of trying to rise up from the depths of my faith to the plain of universal language.

I do not believe there is anyone who can explain, on religious grounds, on the grounds of faith itself, the point at which the line should be drawn. If, for a moment, you entertain the notion that God is real. That death is an absolute. That human life is the ground in which the eternal fate of our soul is determined. What is there, for Christian, Jew or Muslim but a responsibility to live life in accord with the full weight of religious truth? I have never heard a satisfactory explanation for that smiling, ironic stopping point. Either it’s true or it’s not. It’s no different than pregnancy.

I’m reduced to these hollow, cliched abstractions. This can make my spirits plunge lower than the flooded black pit. That there may be no common language for you and me. You can’t learn to speak Islam the way you might learn Arabic. We all have a special mission here on earth, or I would not be incarcerated in the way that I am.

John Walker at Home

I am on the lawn. I am on the lawn before my house. I am looking across the street at the other houses. I am looking at the quiet street. Inside my house, the television is on. I am on the lawn. I am walking around the lawn. I am at my neighbor’s house. I am on the lawn. The air, the blue heaven above me, seems like a hole. But a hole with a physical weight that presses down on my skull. How can nothing have such incredible pressure?

I walk off my lawn onto the street. I walk up the street. I turn left on the street I go straight, I cross over, I go down, I turn right, then left again, then left into the parking lot of the neighborhood swimming pool. I plunge into the blue and it is sky.
I would never blame my environment for the emptiness inside me. But the environment was empty. Emptiness is the environment

John Walker in Pakistan

You’ve never seen faces like these. I want mine to carry as much weight, to be as void of emptiness. We can make truth become true retroactively by explosions of piety.

John Walker at Home

None of us know words to say to each other. We eat quickly. I hardly chew. The meat goes down on its own grease. I shovel back more. We all want to rise from the table. The table rises through us. Food pitches over its sides and the table smashes the roof of our home floating up in the sky suburban satellite roulette fragments of our food still clinging to the axis of our starvation. We float up as well.

John Walker Grows Up

I walk the halls of my school dreaming of one day being absolutely free. As free as the sky above me is of hope.

John Walker’s Mother

She was going to live out her life in this vapid pit; a pit so vapid one believes there must once have been something very tall and grand standing there once-the site where now my suburb lies. How did my mother allow her life to end up there– the suburban coffin into which she’s painted herself where all she can do is eat and grow large? Her worry birds one with her flesh. Pregnant with her fears. But she’ll never give birth. Her belly filling with still births of unhad lives.

John Walker’s Harry Potter

I do not remember when they began speaking about the possibility of a rebellion. I did not hear any of the preliminary planning, even if-yes-I must have heard that we were going to do something in the name of Allah. Of course I knew that a rebellion was going to take place. We were all in one place, talking. What was I going to do at that point? I was with these men. These men and I had been fighting in the name of Allah for months now. Now we were together in a pit. We were determined to get out of the pit. All our will-lessness before Allah, all Allah’s will ours. I remember the day of it, being told firmly it was happening. Hearing explanations for how I was to proceed. Then it began and darkness came again. God of mother. Bodies, everywhere. We were down down and starving. Standing by torn open bodies. God of mother. You don’t think then. Beyond the tenets of your faith. There is no thought. Just repetition of the prayers. Praying together with your brothers. It’s what any Muslim would do. Of course we were trying to free ourselves. They flooded the pit. The water was black and freezing. We were up to our waist then in freezing water, stomachs gnawing us open. My belly an open hole, an open eye. The eye of God looking out from the hole of our dying.

John Walker’s John Walker

Standing in the picture window of my parent’s home, staring out across the lawn, across the street across the lawn at the picture window of another home. On the carpet. In the imageless God room. Once, I imagined myself on television. In my imagination, when I came to be on television, I was beautiful and everyone’s eyes were riveted to me as I strutted and turned in my beautiful freedom. Seventy cheerleaders surrendered. Allah is Great. I came to be on television. I came to be on television imprisoned and filthy, disfigured and in chains. I came to be on television as truth.
Repeated chain stores; repeated prayers;
Repeated TV series; repeated prayers;
Repeated homes; repeated prayers;
Repeated nothingness; repeated prayers;
Repeated upbringing; repeated prayers;
Repeated repetition; Unrepeated repetition.
One God; One prophet; One Koran.

I am the next generation reality entertainment.
And the next generation of me, the sequel to my existence here, will be the celebration I imagined through a screen darkly when I reached puberty.

Three – Epcot Center

‘Epcot is by far the most “adult” of all the theme parks, but don’t be fooled.’ [1]

Arrival at Epcot Center

We arrived at Epcot Center in cold, sweeping rain. Across the endless plains of parking lot, countless visitors in mustard-yellow nylon panchos celebrating 100 years of Disney Magic ducked and dashed. The brilliancy of color against the driven gray made everyone cartoons.

The first ride presented the story of communications sponsored by ATT. We rode a little, creaky car into a tunnel. “The history of human communications presented by ATT.” At first there were hairy cave men with clubs next to bonfires. Soon, we enter the Middle East where Arabs and Jews create written alphabets to trade. And then the Middle Ages, during which time cloistered monks preserve human knowledge. Suddenly, with the invention of the printing press, an explosion of ideas, knowledge and communication. Michelangelo moving figure lies on its back on top of a ladder perpetually stroking its brush at a painting of God. This is the peak of the arc of human communication. After the Renaissance, we enter the industrial age, when everything that has happened so far in history accelerates and becomes smoky, black. For the first time methods of communication begin to audibly compete. The cries of newspaper barkers clash against telegraphs and early telephones. And now we begin the rise into contemporaneity. The smoke and black cools and cleans into white screens and well-dressed technical professionals. But now we are well on the downward path of the arc of communications. Each of the multiple screens planted and suspended around our space generates different configurations of voices simultaneously. One of them may become distinct for an instant or so, the way a single current in a larger stream might swell visible, but it is merged again before becoming comprehensible beyond the level of individual words. The age of information is born. And now, with our car having swung around so that we are facing backward, we have entered the future. Here, the numbers and complexities of screens and other, still more advanced mediums of information have proliferated to the point where no communication of any kind can take place except between the machines themselves. Stars are everywhere. No longer even pretending to be above us in an eternal, omnipresent outerspace. The history of human noncommunication. The history of technological communication between technologies has begun.

We shudder in reverse out of the tunnel while a message blinks and a sophisticated female voice repeats, “Spaceship Earth: The History of Human Communications Presented by ATT. ATT Presents Spaceship Earth: The History of Human Communications Presented by ATT.”

World Showcase-Morocco

We take a boat in the bitter downpour across World Showcase Lake to Morocco. Through the mist looms maroon brick; a tower, a wall, a gate. As, traveling across the lake, we saw the campanile of St. Mark’s, an important red structure in China, yellowish-black clusters of countries such as Germany and Norway.

Now we have arrived near to Morocco. We walk through the rain to the inviting walls. We have entered the winding alleys of the casbah. They wind past several stores selling Moroccan merchandise and two Moroccan restaurants. Then we exit the casbah, not far from the rain-beaten lake. We reenter the casbah. Here, immediately to our left is a reproduction of a house on a courtyard, of a courtyard house, such as we might find throughout the Middle East and North Africa. We stand in the rain. There are tiles in the wall. Above us, on ledges of the courtyard house, are articles such as we might find in the Middle East, a pouring vessel, tiles, a hammered platter. We leave the courtyard house and reenter the casbah. Here, we find a cafeteria style restaurant serving food from Morocco with Moroccans serving the food. We order salads of humus, pita and cous cous. Having eaten, we leave the restaurant and reenter the winding alley of the casbah. Here, we go into a shop selling merchandise from Morocco, tiles, hammered platters, woven hats, a vessel for pouring.

A lovely Moroccan woman with black hair in traditional embroidered dress, rings our order. “All of us are from Morocco,” she says smiling in response to our question. “We come here for six months. They send us here for six months.” A handsome young man, tapping on a narrow drum, perhaps goat-hide, dressed in traditional robes, comes up next to her. “Will you stay on past the six months?” The young man drifts off. “Nooo.” She laughs. “I want to go home.” “Oh.” We smile, nodding. “You miss your family and your friends and your home? “Yess. I want to go back.”

We stand at the shop entrance, staring out at the casbah. Heavy visitors dressed in shining yellow panchos celebrating 100 years of the Magic of Disney walk along the dull, brown-red stone walls with the brilliant contrast of cartoons.
There are no entertainers because of the rain. There are no characters.

Epcot on the Internet-The Future of Epcot

“Throughout the day at Epcot, Kidcot Fun Stop activity kiosks around World Showcase will offer children cardboard compasses illustrating the 11 World Showcase countries with a press-out “coin” in the center of the compass. As the nightly procession begins, recorded voices of children tell their dreams for the world as three Dream Seekers dance along. During the parade, young guests can make a wish as they toss their “coins” into the Dream Catcher float that passes by in the procession. “The dream spinners call upon guests to imagine a vision of the future where all of our best dreams come true,” says producer Taz Marosi. The dreams are woven into a tapestry of vibrant sights and sounds as the parade, with brilliant puppets that conjure up sprites, angels, birds and other ethereal creations, encircles World Showcase.
“The parade explodes with rhythm, color and music,” says Marosi. “It’s a brand new experience.” [2]

There is a “Coin” at the Center of the Compass
The Coins are Paid to the Dream Catcher
The Dream Spinners Spin the Guests’ Dreams of the Future

There are 11 World Showcase Countries

These nations have united with a series of treaties and contracts. They have formed an Axis of Disney.

There are 180 Remaining Countries Which are Not Part of the Axis of Disney

At The Center of the Compass of The World is A Coin

When you press out the center of the compass of the world it becomes a coin. A coin for children to pay to dream catchers. The dream is a coin at the center of the world pressed out by children. Children create the dream of the future represented by the 11 world showcase countries coin.

If the center of the compass is not pressed out there is no coin. If there is no coin to give to the dream catchers, there is no dream of the future which will be best for everyone in the world. Including the 180 countries not part of the Axis of Disney.

Why do the Dreamseekers Dance Along to Recorded Voices of Children Since the Recorded Voices Indicate a Dream Has Been Found in the Form of a Child’s Dream What is it They are Still Seeking No One Is Seeking a Dream of Adults

Ethereal Creations Encircle World Showcase

Ethereal Creations are the Dreams Spun by Dreamspinners Based on the Dreams of the Best Possible Future Created By the Guests After the Payment of the World Compass Coin

The Dream of the Future, the Ethereal Creations Which Embody the Dream of the Future in a Parade When The Coin of the 11 Countries Which Form the Axis of Disney Has Been Paid, Is a Brand New Experience Says the Producer

It is Not That They are Called upon to Imagine the Best Possible Future. They Are Called Upon to Imagine a Future in Which All Our Best Possible Dreams Come True. Not Inotherwords The Contents of the Dream. But a Future Which Allows Best Dreams to Come True. It is Represented By Ethereal Creations. Such as Birds Angels And Sprites. All the Ethereal Creations Which Represent a Future Where our Best Dreams Can Come True Have Wings The Dream Catcher Also “Floats” Past the Procession. The Coin is “Tossed” To the Dream Catcher. The Future is Ethereal. The Future is Not of the Earth. But of the Air or At Least Up or At Least Suspended or Higher. The Coin is Pressed Down Out of the Axis of the Axis of Disney Leaving a Hole Which is What This Earth is To be Filled By the Conjured Forth Ethereal Creations of Tomorrow and Tomorrow
It’s A Today World After All

“Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the child’s approach to life. They’re people who don’t give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought – sometimes it isn’t much, either.” Walt Disney [3]

Never never land is the land of tomorrow. A tomorrow which is not afraid to be today.

This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it. Nietzsche [4]

Why don’t we have to grow up? You see people who give a hang what the Joneses do every time you don’t go to Disneyland..Are the Joneses grown up? What do the Joneses do? Why do the Joneses have to be grown up? The ungrownup people you see all the time at Disneyworld are often heavy. You see the weight every time you go there. Their bodies have grown out. They grew out instead of up. They have outgrown themselves, but do not have another body.

It’s A Big World After All

It’s A Big World After All

In the motel restaurant, all-you-can-eat buffets around the clock. Those death aluminum serving bins heaped with glazed yellow-orange-brown morning night feed. Bodies packed into massive tables. Silent consumption. A consuming silence. So much squeezing. As though the world just shrank around them.

Heavy-accented serving women from Eastern Europe. Heavy-accented cleaners from emerging nations. Heavy bright cars crammed in fat parking lots all along obese highways. Heavy televisions blasting cellulitic image veins into eye flab.

It’s a Big World After All

One’s world might in fact be very far from this world.

‘”I want them to feel they are in another world.” That was Walt Disney’s mission all his life –
– and it was a mission accomplished.’ [5]

“The classical Islamic position holds that the world is divided into three spheres: the zone of Islam (dar al-Islam); the zone of peace (dar as-sulh—those nations with whom Muslim nations have peace pacts); and the zone of war (dar al-harb—the rest of the world).” [6]

“Welcome. There’s plenty of magic throughout our Parks and Resorts during the Walt Disney WorldÆ 100 Years of Magic Celebration. You can explore on your own, or choose our Vacation Helper for a quick tour and easy planning assistance.” [7]

It’s a World After All

“Freedom to Escape” (Official Las Vegas Tourism Bureau Slogan)

Seventy showgirls in glittering green sequins, flooded with an Arabian treasure chest of lights lift their legs in synchrony; white-gold curls pluming high; their teeth shining; they pull back thin straps, and their breasts, whiter than their teeth, with dazzling sequined stars pastied to the nipples burst free; they smile wider. Shaking their torsos, leaning over the audience. The great roulette wheel suspended, red and black, tilts up an angle, expanding in diameter, spinning faster while the grins fisting chips lean in on different planes which slide through the air at different angles in relation to the wheel; chitter of the silver ball across the numbers like the chatter of the teeth of spectators watching the gleaming teeth above the breasts of the show girls, diamonds in their bare navels. Sweating round heads leaning in fistfuls of dollars; breasts undulating like the palms beyond the door. That Las Vegas sky, we say. The blue between the cars. Playground heavens. We walk the street; sun blinding off the hoods; side by side in our sunglasses smiling. Seventy naked non-virgins sashaying forward with the bounty of a never-ending buffet. Everything has been prepaid in another world. In this world, everything is free. One of the seventy begins coming over our body with a buckling groan; the ride of her hips shuttles us down inner space mountain; stars shooting past the planets of our flesh parts; pink comets of our rollher coasther shriek. Green bills jerking out of our holes into each other’s holes; roulette wheel satellite revolving slowly above our heads above the bed; inclined at that soft angle; our heads pressed together in the green sweat; our lips sweating green; the liquid president faces oozed over our thighs.

We follow the bouncing ball closely and see our face as a child. It’s not reflected. The ball is our face become the size of a mouse eye. To see from within the mouse. To see the world from the perspective of the mouse who began it all. Babies line up in the slot machine naked, fat crying. The babies roll across the long crap tables with all their spots. Babies turning around and around where do they stop. The babies held in close to the chest, the eyes.

We have received everything; we have risked everything. We have arrived at the kaba of paradise, the black back of a turned over God.

Las Vegas Dream

I buy a scratch-off card in a gas station. I win. I am given a free all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas with $10,000 worth of coupons redeemable for chips. In my lavish hotel there is a lush strip club. I receive a lap dance whenever I want from one of the woman with perfect breasts and lap Then I go to the casino and try my luck. I win. I win bigger and bigger. I am able to afford a whore. A beautiful whore. We go back to my lavish room and fuck. Two of them. Two whores. It’s the match between the number I put my chips on and the number the ball my face as a child stops rolling on. Then I order room service. We have more sex. I pay more money. Then I take more of my coupons and get my chips. I gamble through the night. I keep winning. I win thousands and thousands of chips each one worth tens of thousands of dollars. I will be able to afford a house, a car. A home entertainment system. Whores. I will be invited back to the casino on perpetual all-expense paid trips, but I only win more. Eventually I own the casino. Eventually I own the whores. Eventually I own Las Vegas. Eventually I am Las Vegas. Eventually I am President of the world so much money I am –
A new entertainment. Another world. I build my own world version. “It’s My World After All.”

Las Vegas Magic

We experience the magic of Las Vegasworth. We enter Las Vegasworthles. We go to Gambleworth to learn how to become Gambleworthians. We are Worth-Worths in the institute of Worth-Worth fighting agains evil Noworths.

Dream Vegas

It all began with me as an infant. With me being conceived in sexual intercourse. I only hope we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started with my father and mother’s naked genitals. My obligation to God Mouse Breast to be free with simple pleasures. Simply pleasured. I have no work to do. No concentration to have. No further to grow. Here. I am here forever. There are no more stages of everything. There is one wizard and his name is Ungrownupworth. And his prophet is Pleasureworth. And his holy book is Simpleworth.

It’s done. Stop pretending. What had to be said, is said. Or will never be said. What is unthought cannot be thought. Must not be. You have no thought but not to think thought. Your responsibility has ended to everything except your own pleasureworth. There is one chance and it is already won and you don’t even have to play any more playworth. You are as done playing as working. You are donewitheverythingeverythingwonworth. You are-
Las Vegas Potter.
Last Vegas Potter and the Sorcerer’s Islam.
Las Vegas Potter and the Sorcerer Adulthood
Las Vegas Potter and the Secret Responsibility
Las Vegas Potter and the Magic Worthlessness

Everywhere I looked there were people reading me. Who were these people? Were they ungrownup or Joneses? Why was everyone everywhere suddenly reading me? What had become of Adultsworth? Las Vegas Potter and the Mystery of the Vanished Adultsworth.

Four – Osip Mandelstam and David Schubert

Osip Mandelstam and the Unattainable Adulthood

In 1931 Osip Mandelstam was forty years old, the world contracting around him. Empty accusations of plagiarism raked with critical dismissal and harassment had largely effaced his literary name. His hostile relations with Soviet cultural arbiters were growing more dangerous. He had just emerged from four years during which he’d written no poetry, was three years away from his first arrest, seven from his death in a Siberian transit camp.

Between August and October he wrote a poem beginning, “I’ve many years to live” [8] in which he both laments his failure to have attained an age of authority and helplessly embraces the wonders of vision he realizes lies the child-side of power.

I’ve many years to live before I’m a patriarch.
I’m at an age that commands little respect.
They swear at me, behind my back,
in the senseless, pointless language of tram fights.
‘You bastard!’ Well, I apologize,
but deep down I don’t change at all.

Cursed for the immaturity of his time in life, apologizing for the manner in which his youngness gets in the way, he yet knows and seems unapologetic for the fact that “deep down” he remains absolutely the same.

When you think of your connection with the world
you can’t believe it. It is nonsense.
A midnight key from someone else’s flat,
a silver penny in the pocket
and stolen film.

These random attributes, fallen to him the way a gambler’s fortune might come, in the nonsensical manner of objects and events in a children’s story. This ridiculous array of chance things is precisely what connects him to the world.

I hurl myself like a puppy at the hysterical
ringing of the telephone.
I hear greetings spoken in Polish,
a gentle long distance rebuke,
or an unfulfilled promise.

How terribly we yearn for something to break into this tenuous, respectless age, and what comes then is another language, a technological one, which fixes us by way of reprimand in the purely helpless position of childhood, stressing by broken vows the isolation of where we find ourselves.

You’re always thinking about what you really desire
in the midst of all the crackers and fireworks.
Then you burst, and all that’s left
is confusion and being out of work.
Just try even getting a light for a cigarette from that.

You daydream endlessly about all the good things, surrounded by a world made up of toy snacks and colored spectacle. It’s right there, why shouldn’t you revel in your reveries? Then it’s you who explodes. You are just one more plaything for those with the power to enjoy. And your detonation – not even the bursting of your fantasy but of you yourself– brings the giftless state of unemployed chaos. Being out of work is the form in which Mandelstam is condemned to maturity even as he has been disbarred from adulthood.

I smile at times, at times I timidly dress up
and go out with my white-knobbed cane.
I listen to sonatas in the backstreets.
My mouth waters as I pass by food-stalls.
I leaf through books in muddy doorways,
and I’m not living but somehow I am.

What is this smile? Put on, tried on, instinctive, all three? There’s no other real world to which he can return. But it makes him shy knowing it’s always a costume, the clothes of adulthood with the “white-knobbed cane.”
And his meander is as helpless an accumulation of scenes as was the gathering of things connecting him to the world. The direction is the all-responsive one of a child. He hears a sonata on a backstreet and must listen. The food in a stall makes his mouth water. Because books offer themselves from a muddy doorway he must turn through them. This is not living because it lacks the exertion of willed order we associate with being a man, and yet it is living because he is in open relation to the world. The living world’s calls imprint themselves on him as his life.

I shall walk to the sparrows and the reporters
and the street photographers who will take my picture,
and in five minutes pull it out
like a wet spade from a child’s bucket,
and I’ll look at my likeness
against the backdrop of the purple Shah mountains.

A sudden, majestic confluence, confidence. He announces, in advance, what he will do. Embraces his figure’s weave in the tapestry. “I shall walk to the sparrows and the reporters and the street photographers.” To the singing of innocence, the rhythm of someone else’s recording and the ply of another image-gatherer’s trade. And his picture will emerge from the machine like a play shovel from a child’s vessel of accumulation. And he will look at the image as he will, hold it up in the sky in the context he envisions for his likeness, away from the streets, against the distant purple mountains of the East.

Or I’ll go on errands
into the steamy basement laundry
where the clean, honest Chinamen
eat fried dough balls with chopsticks
and play with narrow cut cards,
and drink vodka as the swallows sip the Yangtse.

Yet further east the game runs on, as the excuse of running errands such as a grownup might lose himself in transmogrifies into a voyage to China, where the “clean, honest Chinamen” are busy playing their own games, eating and drinking in the manner of swallows, as he pictured himself walking to the sparrows.

I enter the robbers’ paradise of museums
where Rembrandt paintings gleam
like rubbed Cordoba leather.
I’ll gaze at the Titian priests in tricorn hats,
and wonder at Tintorettos’ thousand squawking parrots.

And from the fantasy east straight into the realm of art, paintings stolen for the grand museums from each of the artist’s fantasy worlds. Gazing and wondering finally at another image of birds, the squawking parrots, human speech, the talking ones, to poets speaking, silent in their paint. This treasure chest of other artists before him robbed of their vision, as his voice is being stolen from him.

And how much I want to be carried away by play,
to have a conversation, to speak the truth, to blow my depression to the mist, the devil and to hell,
to take someone by the hand and say to him ‘Be kind-
we’re on the same road.’

How alone he is! When he entered the “steamy basement laundry” of the Chinese he was almost carried away by play, then entrance to the museums brings back the fate of art, vision, artist. What is the “carrying away” he craves? Simply conversation, someone with whom it would be possible to speak the truth. Not to be alone in his helpless wandering. Human fellowship. To bring another the recognition of a shared path justifying kindness.

Osip Mandelstam and Harry Potter

This is the opposite of the child-wish for a Freudian “omnipotence of thoughts.” He wants only to lose himself in the breadth of the world as it stands, to rid himself of his own depression, to lose himself with someone, to talk about the magical transformation of that loss, to lose himself in conversation with someone else, as he could place his likeness in visual dialogue with the purple Shah mountains.
Mandelstam’s wish for play is only a desire to be engaged with another in humility before the world.

David Schubert and the Dream of Adulthood

In the late 1930s, around the time Mandelstam was dying in Voronezh, David Schubert was desperately seeking work in New York, his mental health in decline, his marriage foundering, already given to vanishing for days at a time with no means of support. [9]
At some point during his descent into deep American isolation, before he began his bouts in mental hospitals and some years before he contracted the tuberculosis which would kill him at the age of 33, Schubert wrote a poem entitled “Midston House.” The opening lines seems to echo from the end-point of Mandelstam’s “I’ve many years to live”

What is needed is a technique
Of conversation, I think, as I put on the
Electric light

Hints, immediately, of technology, “technique,” “electric light,” the system and tools of American illumination.

But not the limited
Vocabulary of our experiences, the
surface irritations which pile up,
Accumulate a city – but the expression,
Metamorphosed, of what they are the
Metaphor of;– and their conversion into light.

Oh limitless ideals of this nation. Dream of an escape from the ordinary language. Sublimation of analogy to radiance. A city made now on its surface of irritations, of, precisely, Mandelstam’s “senseless, pointless language of tram fights.” And Mandelstam’s stasis, his sustained preparedness for the world’s conversion into light-What Mandelstam describes when he portrays his picture being drawn from the photographer’s camera then held up against the purple mountains’ majesty
What is needed is a technique of conversation. The transmissible method. America’s religion of omni-accessible self-help conversion.

On the bus toward Midston House
I survey the people in their actions. Placid
And relaxed are they; this is the humdrum
Claptrap costume of girls and food, men
And work and house. The insurance
Of habit is circular, as
Democracy has interlocking duties,
Circular obediences.

It’s the same view Mandelstam receives when he timidly dresses up and goes out. Only there’s a constant American tug-of-war Schubert undergoes between consigning all to the realm of empty, random nothings, that ridiculous constellation of objects which connects Mandelstam to the world, and an insistent aspiration to the American all-structured system.

At first in his survey of those engaged in the business of life, the adults are marked by “humdrum” and nonsense costume. But there is insurance in the sheer routineness of this, the security of adulthood. And it is elevated in its associative weave, related to the obligations of democracy; of participation in the social fabric which Schubert knows he exists outside the circle of.

Yet how to transform
The continual failing clouds of
Energy, into light? The vital
Intelligence of the man whom I am
Going to visit – does he know? I
Think of how the sharp severing of
My life’s task-severed associations,
Produced in me almost a
Lypothymia of grief and a hiatus of
Days, which grew fangs of anger, my
Lycanthropy – thank god, it’s over!

Ending the previous stanza with that acknowledgement of the interrelationship between democracy and the diurnal, national sequences between the genders, responsibility’s role in the link between the humdrum and goals of work and house, there is, at the outset of the current lines, an acknowledgement of despair-of plain old no know-how.

Schubert is all perpetually “failing clouds of energy,” requiring the same transformation into light as the vocabulary of annoying, shabby experience. He is going to visit someone. A man not subject to his own weaknesses-a vital purveyor perhaps of self-help technologies. What is there but to hope? He thinks back on the sequences from which he has been snipped out-his own true work cut off because he does not have the secret of transformation. Which is itself the American system-perhaps! Recollection of time’s interruption -engendering madness almost. More-entering the realm of childhood, conversion the opposite direction from light, into a wolf! Witchcraft! Magic! And then, in the most childish conviction of all, ‘thank god, it’s over!’

I am fired from my job by flames, big
As angry consciences: I can do
Nothing: I have not one ability! This man
Whom I am waiting to see in the lobby-
All my life I am waiting for something that
Does not eventuate-will he
Exist?

American terror. Not a single knack. And it is no longer reminiscence, all’s happening now-again. Child fears, big angry conscience monsters. He is going in a lobby. The man must be there with work, with knowledge with the secret of transforming himself into the flames of light-joining the grand Democratic circles of duty cum obedience. “You’re always thinking,” says Mandelstam, “about what you really desire in the midst of all the crackers and fireworks. Then you burst and all that’s left is confusion and being out of work.” And yet, this man, this vitality of grown-up existence which he has been anticipating all his years-is it real? If it’s not, he’s thrown back forever into the youth realm of wolfmen and madness.

The law of life, like an abstract
Rigorous lawyer, passes a terrifying judg-
Ment on poor little me, in a strange foreign
Syllogism. He is cheating me! He will not
Keep the appointment!

Paranoia, supreme. Schubert, poor and little. The alien logic of this other sphere manifests itself only in his condemnation at the bar.

His probity
Rebukes my suspicion. What can I say, that
I love him; that I am un-
Worthy? My doubt makes me feel,
–Even as we discuss another’s dishonesty-
Ugly, irate, and damned avid, a cunning
Rascal, like that ugly bird of the White
Nile.

Not that way! This is to become an ancient, ugly bad bird. The point of adulthood, that universe of responsibility is precisely its trustworthy dutifulness. Appointments are never unkept there. He he is the clever, scheming one. Because he is viewing the actions of the one who embodies the realm to which he aspires as though the laws there were the ones he operates by on the child rascal-side of grown-uptitude. It’s exactly why he has been unworthy to convert his failing clouds into light until now-that he could doubt the concrete justice of those for whom the conversion has already taken place.

But the poem is just this
Speaking of what cannot be said
To the person I want to say it.
I am sleepy with subtlety; the room strikes me as
Dark, so cold, so lonely. There is
No one in it. I will put on all the lights.

But the poem-his whole life speaking– is that: recognition of the other realm. His enactment of its truth. In the poem he has already all grasped that-he’s been doing it all along-so what does it mean to say that he is out of work now? It’s an exhausting thought. The full acknowledgement of that world he has been waiting all his life for is precisely what he has spent his life making. He is not guilty. Everything is dark, lonely. How he longs to take someone by the hand and say to them, I’ve been with you, right next to you on your path all along.

What can he do but put on all the lights. As he began by putting on the electric light on the recognition of the need for a technique of conversation. A universal system. One which would enable the conversation he has been engaged in all along to be heard by and involve the conversation of others.

I wish I could go
On a long, on a long long journey
To a place where life is simple and decent, not
Too demanding.

Oh just to escape, to give up, to renounce any conceivable relation to these democratic circles. To be far far away, where there are no entanglements, nothing demanding participatory response.

No! On the vehicle, Tomorrow, I will see
That man, whose handshake was happiness.

A refusal of weakness. A commitment to promise. And in the faith of unarrived time, he will meet him whose touch – he must have felt it before, if only in the surety of his imagination-was happiness.

Though he began with the invocation of conversation with which Mandelstam closes, he ends with the same elevation of a handshake to salvation. He will feel that grasp which says he is not alone, that his right to exist in light, as light, in the cosmos of respectworthy vital adult energy is recognized. He will take on himself all the obligations without failing and ride the future to where that man is. That man he is not and has been speaking to in unheard conversation; being, then, in the poem.

David Schubert and the Magic Day

The magic day is tomorrow. Tomorrow, the enchanted land viewed from the vessel childhood. Always brimming, sparkling with everything not in existence now. Not in existence. Happiness.

David Schubert and Osip Mandelstam

What for Osip Mandelstam is helpless surrender to wonder at the marvels of the world around him, for Schubert is helpless surrender to the wonders of the future. For Mandelstam in spite of the randomness, vulnerability, danger and exclusion of his own life as he is not living it, though somehow he is. For Schubert in spite of exclusion from the grand democratic system of laws, habit and obligation, the dangers of lycanthropy and being fired in flames, vulnerability before the abstract rigorous lawyer and the randomness of associations once severed.

David Schubert, Osip Mandelstam and the Responsibility of Childhood

Both Schubert and Mandelstam sustain a commitment to the vision of wonder normatively associated with childhood. Whether directed toward the shining suggestions of today or tomorrow.

In both their cases, the only power of childhood is the power to receive the world afresh-their only fanatical faith that they themselves will one day be received. Deem me worthy, clasp my hand. Let me enjoy one instance of shared being with another would-be adult. One of those who has learned the technique.
Their childlikeness is powerless receptivity. The power just of seeing: the man whose handshake is happiness; their own likeness against the backdrop of the purple Shah mountains.
Their childishness is their inability to impose their will on a world they yet believe in and love.
Life course pursuing the dream of conversation.

Harry Potter, John Walker, Disney and Totalitarian Childhood

There is another model of eternal childhood. In which the child is tyrant to the world. Where power is invested in the child to determine the shape of what it sees and to compel the subjugation of nonbelievers to the absolutism of childhood.
Hail all-powerful child desire! The institutionalized corporate vision of paradise, magic kingdom and fantasy genre blitzkrieg demanding we play infantilization game. Grasp the hand of the child and be led deeper into childhood or drop and tumble down the wayside ditch, become old, irrelevant and dead.
We cast our will across the world in child wishes made Trade Tower tall.
Conversation converts to spells.

Notes

[1] Intercot-A Virtual Guide to Walt Disney World – Epcot- online: http://www.intercot.com/epcot/default.asp

[2] 100 Years of Magic Archive, online: http://www.wdwmagic.com/100years_archive.htm

[3] The Magic is Born, Walt Quotes, online: http://disney.go.com/disneychannel/z4/TheMagicIsBorn/quotes.html

[4] Quoted in “Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence” by Phillip Adams, online: http://personal.ecu.edu/mccartyr/great/projects/Adams.htm

[5] Quoted in CNN.com “Specials”, online: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1999/century/faces/disney/info.html

[6] A Short Summary of Islamic Beliefs, online: http://www.ldolphin.org/islam.shtml

[7] Walt Disney World, online: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/waltdisneyworld/index

[8] Osip Mandelstam, The Moscow Notebooks, Translators: Richard & Elizabeth McKane, Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1991 (version used throughout)

[9] John Ashbery, Other Traditions, Cambridge, Massachussetts, Harvard University Press, 2000

George Prochnik is a writer living in New York City. He is currently finishing a novel which plays off parallels between the rhetoric of land politics in the Middle East and body politics in the U.S.