On Man-Books and Mind-Boggling

imgres-17There is something serious going on with/for me right now, but as is so often the case, I have no idea what… yet.

A couple of days ago, I read a tweet from some pompous ancient religion/philosophy jackass about divine perception having to do with being able to conceive of the infinite and the temporal simultaneously, (only he used big, fat, clunky, unnecessarily opaque verbiage). I tweeted back and said I wondered what that would look like in actual practice. He replied with some nonsense involving more puffed-up verbal garbage. No answer there. Then, on Christmas Eve day, all of a sudden I got this insatiable urge to read—to read hard and long anything I could get my hands on. It was like I was starving for intellectual stimulation and/or in desperate search of something. I have an Audible account I haven’t really been using, so I have a ton of credits racked up there. I went hunting for The Doors of Perception because the Aldous Huxley Facebook page shared an article about it a few days prior and it had me curious. (Looking back, I realize now this cooking fire was turned on even earlier than I thought.)

I found the book on Audible and listened to a sample. I was fascinated, but at the same time knew this was not a book I could listen to. I had to read it to engage with the text body and soul. I bought the text, began to read, and it is blowing my mind in every possible way. I have mentioned here before that I am fascinated by the logistics of godhood, and in his book, Huxley is describing in vivid detail god-consciousness. It’s both challenging and breathtaking.

One of the largest sections of the book so far has been about the ability to conceive of an object both in its temporal and infinite forms at once—about time not dissolving completely, but becoming unimportant. He is taking mescaline in an experimental way with a sort of rogue psychiatrist, his wife, and another friend attending. As he’s experiencing it, the psychiatrist asks him questions about his perception. One such question was, “And what about time? What do you feel about time?” Huxley’s answer was a nonchalant, “There’s plenty of it,” and he moved back to considering the books on his shelves that had become like vibrating jewels.

It makes me think of an immortal god who would most likely have the same nonchalant response to that question. “Hermes, what do you think of time?” With a wave of his hand, he answers, “There’s plenty of it.”

I went on reading The Doors of Perception slowly, letting it seep into my skin one paragraph at a time, but I still had an insatiable desire to read, though this time I was hungering for a story I could listen to. (I have to be picky about what I read with my poor eyes because it can get painful quickly.) I wanted something deep and meaningful, but something I could ingest through my ears.

As I said, I had a significant amount of Audible credits racked up, so I went hunting. I already have a bunch of audiobooks I haven’t read yet, and I am meaning to get around to them all, but none of them struck me as it. Christmas Eve I went searching and picked up six more books, as many as my credits allowed. I want to read all of them, but it wasn’t until the last one that I got it right. I picked One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It is narrated by John C. Reilly and it is amazing—both the book and the narration. There is so much meat there to sink the intellectual teeth into. I am not quite as enamored with it as I am The Doors of Perception, but I am as enamored with it as I have ever been with any work of fiction.

So here we have forces pushing me hard to ingest The Doors of Perception, then adding as the cherry on top One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest which deals with themes of sanity and insanity; authority and rebellion; repression and liberation; wildness and domestication; mechanization and living flesh. It is also interesting to note that both books are very androcentric, though not in a negative way. They are simply about men and the male experience. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for example, the antagonist is a cruel, emasculating, big-breasted matriarch. I keep thinking how feminists of a certain type I run into in academia and on social media would go into howling, hair-pulling fits over both books. But for me, it’s different. Male-brain is very a familiar, cozy place for me. I have been told all my life that I think like a man and, once I started writing, I have been told over and over in extremely derisive ways that I write like a man. So be it. I’m as comfortable with that as I would be hunkering down in a red leather wingback chair.

I’m eyeballs deep in reality-bending man-books right now, and I am warmly satisfied. My soul feels like it’s getting a nourishment it has lacked for a long, long time. It also feels like I am being groomed for something—that these books and the understanding they engender are the foundation for something else I am set to experience.

I’m staying tuned for the next episode. I hope it comes on quickly.


About M. Ashley

Essayist and poet, my work has been rejected by some of the finest journals in America. Fortunately, it also gets accepted from time to time and has appeared in equally fine journals such as Word Riot, Inlandia, Brew City Magazine, and SageWoman among others.. In 2002, I was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for Vanderbilt University. For no good reason, I possess an unnecessarily dark humor which is why being third generation California Inland Empirian delights me so. My gods are weird. I once received $350 for writing a smartassed essay on “why the wise use of water is important in my daily life”. I am undoubtedly the Greek god Hermes’ special snowflake. I’m pretty sure I got into college via a series of fortuitous clerical errors. When I had to grow up and get a real job, I decided against it and stayed a writer. I have worked many odd—and I mean odd—jobs to support my habit: Commercial writer for country music hopefuls, resume massager, WalMart fitting room attendant and switchboard operator, telephone psychic.
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1 Response to On Man-Books and Mind-Boggling

  1. Black Metal Valkyrie says:

    Damn what nerve to say there is even a “manly” way of writing! All work written by women is written in a woman’s voice. Jeez.


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