At night the choppers buzz the bamboo roof of the jungle, dumping from three thousand feet to little more than a hundred, circling, climbing, circling again, no LZ to land in, no casualties to pick up. Above the roar of the rotorwash come the shrieks of the damned: wails, moans, plaintive cries of Vietnamese. It’s real William Castle stuff, weird sounds and screaming meemies, but even knowing it’s coming from a tape recorder, even hearing the static hiss of the loudspeakers mounted on the Hueys, it still spooks the shit out of the VC. “The Wandering Soul,” it’s called—the sounds of dead Cong, their bodies not given a proper burial, their spirits helplessly wandering the earth. Psychological warfare. Inner Sanctum meets Vietnam. Down in the tunnels Charlie hears it, knows it’s a con, tries to sleep but can’t, the damn stuff goes on half the night. The wails grow louder the lower the choppers fly, then trail off, to suitably eerie effect, as they climb away. Until the next chopper comes with its cargo of souls in a box.
It was to be a quick peek through a hand-wide crack, but enough to risk disillusionment and the dispersal of all the enchanting traumas he had articulated in his brain and his books, scattering them like those peculiar shadows he supposed lingered in that room. And the voices—would he hear their hissing which heralded her presence in a zone swirling with roping shapes? He kept his eyes fixed upon his hand on the doorknob, turning it gently to nudge open the door. So the first thing he saw was the way it, his hand, took on a rosy dawn-like glow, then a deeper twilight crimson as it was bathed more directly by the odd illumination within the room.
The flesh surrenders itself, he thought. Eternity takes back its own. Our bodies stirred these waters briefly, danced with a certain intoxication before the love of life and self, dealt with a few strange ideas, then submitted to the instruments of Time. What can we say of this? I occurred. I am not . . . yet, I occurred.
We humans, on coming into the world, find we have one sorry privilege--the privilege of feeling ourselves live, with all the fine illusions that follow as a consequence, the illusion, in particular, that this inner experience we have of a life forever varied and changing--changing according to time, circumstance, or fortuity--is a reality outside ourselves.
You buy furniture, you tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. buy the sofa, then for a couple of years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled, then the right set of dishes, then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things that you used to own, now they own you.
A man living in normal circumstances suddenly disappeared, was not heard from, returned months or years later and didn't remember where he had been during this time. Later, however, someone who had run across him, somewhere, in a foreign country, recognized him, but the man himself remembered nothing.
It was a burning wind -- it burned through Susan's sleep like acid on silk, reaching deep into each smooth furrow of her body. The nightgown was too much. Her breasts felt as though covered with sand, with insects, as though she lay buried to the neck in an anthill in a hot summer storm. By turns it was terrible and then sweet -- a tickling, moving, crawling sensation. An awareness of the physical that not even sleep could override.
A picnic. Picture a forest, a country road, a meadow. Cars drive off the country road into the meadow, a group of young people get out carrying bottles, baskets of food, transistor radios, and cameras. They light fires, pitch tents, turn on the music. In the morning they leave. The animals, birds, and insects that watched in horror through the long night creep out from their hiding places. And what do they see? Old spark plugs and old filters strewn around... Rags, burnt-out bulbs, and a monkey wrench left behind... And of course, the usual mess—apple cores, candy wrappers, charred remains of the campfire, cans, bottles, somebody’s handkerchief, somebody’s penknife, torn newspapers, coins, faded flowers picked in another meadow.
- Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic (1971)
Every moment in your life is a turning and every one a choosing. Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn. No line can be erased. I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person's path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning.
The Beduin could not look for God within him: he was too sure that he was within God. He could not conceive anything which was or was not God, Who alone was great; yet there was a homeliness, an everyday-ness of this climatic Arab God, who was their eating and their fighting and their lusting, the commonest of their thoughts, their familiar resource and companion, in a way impossible to those whose God is so wistfully veiled from them by despair of their carnal unworthiness of Him and by the decorum of formal worship. Arabs felt no incongruity in bringing God into the weaknesses and appetites of their least creditable causes. He was the most familiar of their words; and indeed we lost much eloquence when making Him the shortest and ugliest of our monosyllables.
John Tocher surveys the free music landscape for new and old releases encompassing the realms of avant garde, experimental, electronic, musique concréte, industrial, dada-ist music. A transplant from the Los Angeles area, he now makes his home in southeast Texas near the border with Louisiana --deep in swamp country, where the ambiance is enhanced by cicadas and the occasional hurricane.