Lust Not for Result

A smooth life from birth to death, no bumps, no neighbors' disapproving grimaces, abrogating responsibility to one's own self or letting others set the standards: thanks, but no thanks.

If you need a reminder from what you've read in this slightly off-kilter blog so far, I've never claimed to have led a facile life, nor even wanted to, despite the ever-present danger of disappointment. A curious, dogged determination to give more credence to my own deductions rather than the fixed conclusions of society has always been my motivation--a Taurus through and through, though never really conscious of that until fairly recently. Nonetheless, a number of prerequisites tackled early on suggested that might be the direction things were taking.

Somehow, don't ask me why, at the tender age of seventeen or so I had set my sights upon the value of the senses, knowing that evolution wouldn't have created them unless they really meant something important. I learned to appreciate the senses even more because Christendom loathed them so mightily, implying they must have much greater merit than "just getting around in the world." In the words of Oscar Wilde's Lord Henry,
Don't squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. These are the sickly aims, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing....
While it might sound rather immodest, by high school I had literally stumbled upon this grand philosophy myself. Reading of it in The Picture of Dorian Gray several years later, my only thoughts were, "So, tell me something new."

Wilde's passage surely deserves careful review by those who think the past as real as the future.

At this point, I can almost hear someone whining, "But that's just selfishness." 

Nope. The most generous gift one can offer the world is to excel. At the worst, it at least sets an example. And at the best, well, one more person is happy, an all too rare commodity.

I will never understand why so many people are committed to fabricating a world around themselves which they detest. We're surrounded by complainers who will die complaining, and worse, who elect politicians making certain the next generation also complains. The solution, as simple as it seems, is to focus on becoming. That necessarily means a return to the self. Do what thou wilt...

In a dream, just last night, some nameless naysayer bitched me out for using bold print in the previous paragraph even though I hadn't written it yet. I stood by my choice in the dream, and still do so. One of the beauties of being a formalist is that prior restraint fails to have meaning. 

Fulfilling duties and serving others at the price of standing still might seem generous in the very short term (i.e., within a lifetime, the only coupon any one of us has to redeem), but surely becoming all you can become is the greatest gift any man or woman can offer. Selfish? No way. Not growing is simply existing on the fumes of the past, and setting up the same cycle for the future. Hardly a decent legacy.

Mastering something is good for the individual, ergo, the species.

In the Age of Aquarius, it was just assumed that each individual was cranking away at something, trying to become the best at whatever it may be, and that the accomplishment of said goal was of intrinsic worth to everyone.

That brings up a curious word from the sixties, "counterculture" which no one takes seriously anymore. I still do.

After a very long spell of feeling isolated and almost joining the hoi polloi, up popped an Aquarian reminiscences of forty years previous, a song by the Grass Roots:

Not a song, but an anthem. It's funny to think of it, but Lord Henry more than anticipated the Summer of Love and Haight-Ashbury. And the Grass Roots were his totally natural progeny. I heard their clarion call back then, believed it, and still do.

By the way, did you catch the retarded triplets near the end as the group builds to a conclusion? One of the things I so loved about the music of that era was a willingness to break the meter to emphasize a point. Fifties rock and roll (with the possible exception of Jerry Lee Lewis, who never listened to anyone, bless his heart) always ran strictly according to a relentless metronome. So, even if you think of the Grass Roots as little more than fluff from an era, bear in mind they were adding something to the lexicon of rock, even if not completely obvious.

As a college freshman, I heard this song over and over on the juke box in the darkened basement of the Student Union. I never paid it much mind at the time, consciously, too busy eyeballing the ultimate hippie chick, Joanie. Grannie glasses, tank-tops, brunette hair, blue jeans. One should only pursue academic studies while sexually inflamed.

It's just a song, right? Yeah, right. The Grass Roots definitely tapped into something from Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law, which I have touted over and over herein:
For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.
I hadn't thought about that song for ages until a year or two ago. And then it opened the floodgates and I recalled that the Grass Roots had a couple others which meant so much to me way back then, emotionally, because the tunes proposed that cravings, urges and the senses are not to be fled, but embraced in our relatively short times on Earth. I mean, really, at the pearly gates, does the Lord hand out Eagle Scout merit badges for never having had an unclean thought? Why bother evolving?

Reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson's astute maxim:
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!" 
The connections are really clicking tonight! Bruce Jay Friedman's exquisite play Steambath just popped to mind in this context. Before I mention why, you really need to see these chaps from that show. Takes me right back to my friends on Fifth Street mentioned in MYOB and Anasyrma.

In this amazing play, strangers meet in a steambath, and eventually discover each is dead, waiting to see what's next. None has accomplished in life what they intended.  Yet another reminder: lots of people live, lots of people die. But how many manage something special in between? Damn, what a waste...

But back to the music. In high school, I knew the feeling of what the Grass Roots were proposing was correct. What I didn't know at the time was that there was a man behind the curtain. 

Specifically, the instrumentals on the albums were being provided by the Wrecking Crew. If you think "bands" of the sixties, the ones who got all the press coverage, were leading the show, think again. I guarantee you: this insanely talented crew, whose members nobody knows by name, created and played more of the music you listened to than anyone else. In short, across the board, there was an anonymous organization not only shaping pop music, but what we believed in.

You won't be surprised to learn, it was the bass (once again) which inflamed my gonads. Joe Osborn, he of the Fifth Dimension's
Aquarius, was at work yet again behind the scenes.

The Grass Roots, or at least their ventriloquists, were suggesting something.

Has a half-step up from verse to chorus ever invoked such horniness? You, know, I still get huge amounts of goosebumps hearing that (really) thinking about one special person. It's always in the eyes, isn't it?

And then there's:

When I hear that Farfisa organ, I'm taken right back to the dreams and wishes of junior high and what I hoped for then. It's intense. I'm still waiting...

The funny thing about this song: it's so much more modern, new chords, new key changes, new syncopations, and yet it drew so directly from what Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels were doing for me in junior high. I can still hear the connection.

My point is: the past is full of what "might have been, if only ..." and the future is full of "what might be, supposing that..." but only the present is, is, which is perfect in every way. Which brings us back to the Grass Roots who no doubt helped me craft a decent philosophy very early on. The subconscious can work wonders if we'll only shut up...

In other words, live for today.

Next installment: 49 Years