“The Wise Child” from “Remembering Eternity”

“The greatest of all challenges to be faced in a lifetime, then, was finding one’s way, not only back to a childlike state of innocence, but forward to the permanence of Being a wise and saintly child. A merely young child compares to a saintly child as deep sleep compares to enlightenment: in youth and sleep one enjoys the peace of non-mentality but cannot maintain it amidst the chaotic Sturm und Drang of the worldly illusion. One had not only to rediscover the innocence and expansive immediacy of childhood but to find for the first time Eternity, Silence, and Peace on the very battlefield of daily life.”https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01B9SZ1DW

“Waking Up to California” from “Remembering Eternity”

“All these impressions struck Skylar at once.  Just the sight of the girls playing volleyball on the beach conveyed the totality of this understanding to him.  And no playwright could have scripted this first glimpse of California better than fate had.  To drive in at night—the darkness assuring that even the two boys still awake could tell nothing of the magnificence of the place—and to awake in the glare of day maximized the impact of seeing the Pacific Ocean and California for the first time.  They had not gotten hints of the ocean: scents of salt air carried inland and scalloped hems of coastline seen from many miles away; nor had they been gradually enlivened by the sight of pretty blondes on bicycles and of cars with surfboards strapped to their roofs.  Instead, the full force of the Golden State had been saved for one first amazed stare and compressed into one all-powerful image.  The staging proved so effective that Skylar would never forget it (and California would never lose its preeminent place in his heart) for the remainder of his life.” https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01B9SZ1DW

“The American Elite” from “Remembering Eternity”

“But naturally no one, not even the families who benefited from them, liked to discuss these hidden aids (that put the odds of the game always in favor of the elites).  After all, they dimmed the mystique surrounding the “self-made man,” seeming to indicate, as they did, that he took unfair advantage of those not standing in the inner circle; one inclined to be cruelly blunt might even have leveled an accusation of cheating at these insiders, claiming that they had finessed their accomplishments by overreaching those less sophisticated.  Girls such as Patricia and Cecily grew up with the conviction that their fathers and uncles had gained their positions from dogged perseverance and shrewd intelligence and that other Americans had the same right to employ their energies and skills toward the same end.  The odd element in this naïve article of faith was how it managed to coexist alongside the truth: the girls’ living realities: their status as privileged members of the social aristocracy.  Every day of their lives, they saw others working for them, looking up to them, deferring to them, and currying their favor.  They attended schools with girls from nearly identical backgrounds.  Vacations found them skiing, swimming, and attending parties with those in their set.  While opportunity for all was a tenet of their shared philosophy, cosseted comfort for the few was the axiom of their surroundings.” https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01B9SZ1DW

“A Friend” from “Remembering Eternity”

“As he gazed into his young friend’s eyes, seeing there only welcome and joy, Skylar felt himself unfolding, as if he had been a long-locked jewelry box whose mechanism had just sprung open.  His heart, which had long lain hidden beneath layer after layer of protection, behind shield, armor, and mail, like a cherished princess locked deep within a fortified castle, on a sudden revealed itself: began to walk about in the sacred night like the royal maiden wearing only her white shift and golden crown.  Then the princess waved her hand and all the barbicans, moats, baileys, battlements, portcullises, archers, infantry, and enemies disappeared as if they had never existed—and all that endured, that reigned over everything, was the brilliant white beauty and the glittering golden crown of Her Highness, the Love Princess of the Principality of the Heart.” https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01B9SZ1DW

“1969” from “Remembering Eternity”

“The Vietnam War dominated the attention of Americans and citizens of other nations, but the famine in Biafra generated images (of skeletal children) as horrific as any coming out of the war zone.  Eleven months earlier, in what constituted the largest demonstration in the country’s history, two million Americans had protested against the war.  The first draft lottery drawing, to select inductees to the Armed Forces, occurred in December of the previous year.  April of that year saw the inaugural celebration of Earth Day, with 20 million people in the United States participating in a grassroots display of environmental concern.  Domestic society was culturally spasmodic.  A large majority of the baby-boom generation, in typical youthful style, rejected the conformist values of their parents, choosing fanciful clothing, psychedelic music, anti-establishment politics, open sexuality, and drug usage as symbols of their rebellion.  In the summer of 1969, the Woodstock Rock Festival, the jubilation of that generation—the 500,000-person, living, loving, loud, licentious, and intoxicated emblem of the flower-child culture: mad, rhapsodic, and fantastical—burst into bloom in Sullivan County New York like a  rapid and rank inflorescence of light-gray-blue lupines, lavender asters, and cadmium-yellow primroses.” https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01B9SZ1DW

“Colorado Foothills” from “Remembering Eternity”

“As Interstate 70 traced its course through the foothills, the landscape showed, under high magnification as it were, that its colors flowed one into the other as smoothly as did the curvatures of the earth.  A crescent of silver-blue stream bordered by tightly packed spines of grayish-magenta canary grass, clusters of Spotted Ladysthumb blossoms colored like radishes, cattails poking up like hot dogs on sticks: all melted into impartite perfection.  Along the banks of the watercourses behind the rushes grew narrowleaf cottonwoods shaped like slender vases, box elders, squat and bushy with deep-grooved trunks, and the open crowns and shrubby, copper-hued, lenticeled boles of the water birches.  From oxbows, gentle bends in the streams, narrow inlets forked off to create near-islands of vegetation.  Larger trees grew on the mounting slopes: some in intimate compactions and others isolate and lonely.  Outside Vail the now-excited group passed above the Eagle River whose sage-green flows flared into tufts of whitewater as they raced past boulders in the riverbed.  On one bank of the Eagle some partially dried out bushes reminded Skylar of wickerwork and others, completely desiccated, looked long dead, while on the other side, at the foot of the mountain, a thick fringe of foliage hung lush over the water.”

“The Artistic Laboratory” from “Remembering Eternity”

“My laboratory was also that of an alchemist, and from my stored treasures I sought, as he once had, the materia prima, whose discovery would bring the Great Light to my being.  My alchemist worked with the physical elements of my body and the ideational vapors of my mind.  In his retorts and alembics could be found, in bubbling boil, the four humours: black, earthy, irritable, and melancholic bile and its xanthic cousin, fiery, angry, and choleric; sputum-clear phlegm, watery and calm, and red, aerated blood, amorous and sanguine.  Across many pages of rubricated and miniated manuscripts were written events and memories from the present and thousands of past lives.  From scriptures hoary and foreign, from poesy of the sojourners of kef, from stray secrets captured from the mouths of hermit saints, the alchemist worked.  From oiled visions of masters, from the stark dreams stolen from their wandering nights and carried back like pillage by a bloodied warrior, from woven multiverses and figures of gods and their consorts sculpted from aromatic woods, he sought in urgency, even desperation, for the required answers.  Wandering into tangled, clinging, sweating, howling jungles, and struggling to stroke over watery walls the height of buildings, swallowing briny mouthfuls, fearing circling fins as slimy forms slithered past his legs, he searched for the alkahest, that pure solvent able to dissolve every impurity in man and object, leaving only the pure, the true, the divine.  No aqua regia would satisfy him.  The search must yield perfection or must fail.  In his laboratory, my alchemist would discover the quintessence of life or die bent over rows of fuming elixirs, canisters of terrene matter, beakers of foaming solvents, carboys of corrosive agents, and crucibles of glittering powders.”

“Rara Avis” from “Remembering Eternity”

“From the first, it was obvious that they would not interact as males and females typically did.  With her there was no formality, only an easy being-together straightaway.  Other people seemed to lurk back somewhere inside their faces, to be removed at least one step from Skylar’s being, but Ilona shone right there, directly in front of him, unmistakable for who and what she was.  Others were in costume—only rarely did one meet the actress without her makeup, elegant gown and shawl tossed aside, so that one could see the blemish by her nose, the perspiration on her brow, and the run in her stocking.  Ilona strode boldly into the world unclad.  She may have worn a skirt and blouse—contrary to her natural preference for feeling the elements against her sense-acute body—but she still traipsed the living earth in spiritual nakedness.”

“Natural Wonders” from “Remembering Eternity”

“Angled rock faces formed immense rusty nuggets.  Low, shallow formations could have been Aztec pyramids.  A Parthenon in red ochre stretched far across a mini-plateau.  Talus-skirting fringed great tables of sandstone.  A sphinx figure towered over what looked like an ancient city’s battlemented walls.  One of the most unusual carvings showed a Chinese warrior with his long, thin beard and top-knotted hair.  Paired with this soldier was a helmeted Spanish Conquistador facing in the opposite direction.  A box-shaped, golden-ochre butte had at each of its corners a telamon in the form of a saint with crossed arms and benefic smile.  One skyscraper-sized and pinnacled monolith had wheaten horizontal stripes and must have stood over a thousand feet tall.”