My father quit school in the eighth grade because the other kids laughed at him for not having any shoes.
Not long after, his older brother Fred found a wonderful place to get free shoes. It was called the U.S. Army.
This was 1948, when the ranks were still thin from recent events, never discussed. They were looking for some fresh blood, and were even willing to take Mexicans. There were three brothers in the family who wanted to go together. The recruiter gave his assurance that that would be acceptable. The two older brothers got in suavecito, but the youngest, my father, was fourteen — just past the cutoff.
The brains of the set was the middle brother, Phillip, a bookish and refined fellow. Back then all legal documents were prepared with typewriters that used inked ribbons. There were special erasers for typewritten materials — hard, rough, round erasers on a wheel with a little brush. So my uncle Phil got one of those erasers and took it to the year on my father’s birth certificate. He carefully wore down the final number and aligned the paper in the typewriter.
Now I was trained to be a secretary in high school at my mother’s insistence so that I could always have a job, despite all those high hopes for college. We spent hours putting pages into Olivetti typewriters and expertly arranging the alignment. Typewriters didn’t have any correction capacities back then, but you could correct mistakes if you tried hard enough. Otherwise, you had to type the whole page again.
It was EXACTITUDE that was the requirement, and that was called penury.
I can just see Uncle Phillip placing John’s birth certificate into the typewriter and carefully testing the strike of the number key so that it looked authentic.
“1934” becomes “1930,” and my father gets his new shoes.
Boots, in fact, and a ride on an ocean liner to a place called Korea.
One day he was out on patrol and came across a farmer’s garden with serrano pepper plants in it. The food at the base was plain American fare with salt and pepper as the only seasoning. My father had no idea how homesick he was until he saw those peppers and began grabbing and stuffing them into his pocket. The farmer came out and asked what he was doing. He said, “I’m getting peppers.” The farmer must have appraised that dark-skinned teenage boy, blown apart at any time. He just smiled and let the kid have a few peppers.
There were nightly patrols to attend.
Dad reports that they had candy and chewing gum for sale at the base for about a penny. But that was at the base. Out on patrol, there is nothing but what there is. My father used to stock up on Hershey’s chocolate bars and other candies and carry them out. When they were out there, he had the goodies for sale for a nickel. If you made it back to base, you had to pay up. Otherwise, you didn’t.
It was a gamble taken by most, and he ran a lively business in candy WARFARE.
He had enough extra change sloshing around that one day when a bomber jacket came available in the informal channels, he snatched it up and wore it to breakfast.
Breakfast, he reports, was powdered eggs, powdered milk, and slimy gruel. It wasn’t the greatest, but it was something. As he was getting his meal, one of the cooks admired his jacket. He immediately took it off and passed it over the hot plate line. The other cooks chimed in about getting jackets, too. He clubbed it up and got everyone a jacket.
From then on, when he sat down to breakfast, there were no more powdered eggs. There were shell eggs from the officers’ mess. Crispy bacon. Cream in his coffee.
And college on the G.I. Bill when he got home.
I do not wish to belabor the point of my ten years as a DARPA moll and what a “victim” I was with all those champagne wishes and caviar dreams, but my life from the age of 36 looks completely different when THE GAME is factored in to an awful lot of what happened, and I did not know it existed.
Now, let me say, it was not entirely unfun! Nor was it the kind of fun we might have had had we been human in those works, or at least, in Graeco-Egyptian magic, foregoing THE WORLD, for that is how ISIS comes to earth and not the BOYFRIENDS to heaven.
It was a giant pile of FOREST GUMP on me that is now FOREST GUMP BACK AT YOU IN DEMONS.
Here I will quote the Master — Flannery O’Connor, that is, everything that rises must converge.
Wait, no, something less apropos, Jake Stratton-Kent’s Geosophia: Volume I, “To return the the path direct: Colchis was probably not the original destination of the Argo, nor was the Golden Fleece the prize. Older versions appear to have involved a quest for amber, a commodity with important sacred connotations in Mycenaean culture. Many places on the route of the Argonauts expedition were associated with this ancient trade. Of particular interest perhaps is the island of Samothrace, also known as the Island of Electra. Electra was the daughter of Atlas and her name means Amber. Samothrace therefore can also be referred to as the Island of Amber. The Ancient Greeks discovered that amber behaved strangely, for example attracting feathers when rubbed by fur, silk and so on. Elektron is their word for amber and we obtain our words electron, electricity, &c. from this. The Latin word electricus refers to the effects of friction on amber. These properties placed amber in a similar class to magnets magically. In addition the Greek word elektor literally means beaming sun, giving amber solar connotations relevant to the themes of this book.”
John Michael Greer recommends the use of a piece of amber in magic as greatly intensifying its effects.
Or, to put it bluntly, ANYONE ON A MARKER FOR A MAGICAL CAREER IN SOLOMON IS KRAMPUSED ABOUT IN OIL MONEY. It is a grave world of science and technology as well as part of the past lives of many in the lodges who in this life can work only mentally or in dreams, whereas the Aztec Jewish lady needs the work in full fancy dancing with witch spirits. ANIMAL GODS.
Perhaps I sold out the NEA grant shacking up with a defense contractor, perhaps I didn’t. It is not that anyone really had a choice ALL THE INFORMATION, and we sat there like Renaissance courtiers being polite to each other for a decade.
The grant itself was snagged during the Iraq War when I was traveling up to Canada every month, and sometimes more, to participate in a Rosicrucian lodge, but also to get away from that horrible war energy. I would hole up at the hostel on Barnard Street and think my thoughts in clarity.
My father, brother, and four uncles were in the military, as was my old boss. It was a giant pile of the Kshatriya class, and I did not screen out that handsome physicist with the garage shop in the DOD. Three guys working out of the house. That was what I signed on for, not the fabulous wealth that was yacked about and did come later, though through a decade of 80-hour work weeks after long stints of similar type at Intel. It worked out. For them.
Ironically I now have a career in science and technology with similarly long hours and am not in the least a malcontent about it. It is a flow that is an ecstasy, and, in the end, I do like a little more money than vocational theatre can afford.
My boss at the theatre company told me overtly not to go to the highlands of Guatemala on a chicken bus with guns. It is not worth losing life or limb to write a play when you can sit here and read some books like a chump.
What you got was protection. A bit pricey, wasn’t it? IN RETROSPECT. Everything always works out.
As an amateur classicist, I would never underfund my big moment in the arts by neglecting to study the NOUNS and the VERBS, but not only that, to engage once more in the great culture that is the Academy. I did not choose to be an academic, preferring instead the muscle world of ART. It does not do to be too bookish in generative creativity. You have to be with people, not just academics, who are often monsters in polite society.
This GAME is becoming their magic. It comes naturally to their job.
I know, I know, language emphasis is not how THE GAME does the classics and it is neither possible nor advisable to go back and get everyone in rote repetitive memory — though if one is to try, I recommend work with the planetary energy of Jupiter. That is how JMG does it, and, with proper application, significant memory does come in, at least, in John Michael Greer’s Cabalistic Golden Dawn ritual magic-and-meditative-practices. The Golden Dawn itself is turning progressively into a vision magic with high powered necromancy. I fear we are losing our fundamental RUBRIC of language. A fast stream of ideas and images is not the same neurology.
At the same time, the contemporary wizard approach is a fantastic thing. Read forty books on Greece and dream your way into it if you have the cash. We have computerized translation. Everything is everything — the effort to memorize all of those objects is not as worthwhile as the gorgeous explanations in archaeology, the primary sources meditated on translated by OXFORD, the trips to Greece, which I should do more of, even if the nature of human thought has changed entirely in my lifetime.
It is my understanding that language class is discouraged because it runs into the Church, the synagogue, the lodges, and the dark arts, where it can turn into regular old human endeavor. Yet I have noticed a Zoom class in Ancient Greek at the University of Washington, so perhaps with much study and work, in the end, THE GODS can draw their acolytes up to Mount Olympus.
LIFELONG LEARNING is the requirement of the classics. It keeps the discipline together.
Hic, haec, hoc. Húius, húius, húius. Huic, huic, huic. Hunc, hanc, hoc. Hōc, hāc, hōc.
The classics in magic constructs a neurology that does not require so much debauchery, and, combined with its traditional magic the dark arts, can create a concentrated mental world to rival in due measure the new JUNKET. Can we perhaps save the next generation of GAME wizards the mindless and dreadful destruction that has come to this one? No doubt two in three swim, but what about the one who sinks? No doubt even the one who swims could be better. For that is what we are on about in BUILDING THE UNDERWORLD.
YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY, but I would like it to vary a little more in the direction of traditional magical training.
It is only now, with all of the pieces of the puzzle assembled, that I can see what happened to the grant, to my magical career, to my love life, and to my money.
“The grave’s a fine and private place,/But none, I think, do there embrace.”
Powder eggs or shell eggs?
LUST WAS INVOLVED.