Laramie liked to think himself a poet. One attuned, natural, native to his world(s). He liked to think he had unique feelings, perhaps an “insight,” an acute attention – that maybe he saw just a little bit more than others saw. And was able to say so.
A farmer-cowboy type from the upper Midwest, he played a lot of sports and performed muscled labor – at times enjoying the solitude of pasture rides and the company of large mammals. He felt a “care,” not sure for what, suspect he’d call it a kind of “connection” – with crop growth, animals, the waters and the skies. And felt he could say so. And he could sing. Musician, farmer, cowboy, son. Husband, scientist, laboring man. Father, friend, and “poet” (he might say). Laramie James Backstagger, dearly known to Alias.
“When you’re making it – forming words or music – do you feel somehow that you’re ‘getting it’?” Alias might ask, as they ambled the fields chopping at thistles, remedying fence. “Do words add to experience or just chop it up? Diminish? Reduce?” Alias chimed.
Laramie would go silent, plodding along, smelling and listening. Looking.
At times they’d play basketball, tennis (this was all in their youth, Alias having blown out his knees at the pigskin). And careful.
They both went on to cities: education, enlightenment, the ‘experience’ of cultural promises. They still had their debts to pay.
“I mean, when you ‘see’ it, or ‘hear’ it, are immersed – it’s not seeing or hearing or sensing – am I right? It’s just being – and then – ?” Alias prodded, “and then – what happens?” “You hear language, or find it or forge it, dream times or ‘intuit,’ you consider ways you’d be able to MARK it – note it down (letters or score) – recount or recreate it – even extend or rescind it – and that all seems like media to me: communication: expression or history or talk…but reduced. Reduced to what YOU can comprise or compose – not the ‘same’ as the moments, trembling in the web, and borrowing, borrowing, borrowing – from the wind and the trees, weather and bees, family and learning, working and friends – and our culture! – all funneled and cored to some desiccated fraction of bone – eviscerated – ‘HERE LIES LARAMIE’S TAKE’: some words or an etude or painting. Even action. Even sowing or reaping or pruning or care…’HERE LIES LARAMIE’S TAKE’ – wow! Really?! Amazing! One moment made this?! AND WHAT CARES? WHAT MATTERS? WHAT PURPOSE OR POINT, BENEFIT OR CONSEQUENCE…the next ‘now’?!”
Alias could go on and on like this. Often doing what he’d just described or decried.
And Laramie’d slow, maybe stop, often sit, and stare out. Have a smoke (he didn’t smoke, but pretended – his children and wife didn’t like it). And Alias would drink and get wiser. A little calmer and sad. And all might go quiet, save the world always humming.
Laramie Backstagger sighed.
“Well? Whadda ya think?” challenged Alias – “how is it for you when you speak, feel or sing?”
And how would he know, ailing Laramie? Been too many years of conflicting events and results and mixed feelings. Too many miles that worked out without working, or failed for the working too much. “I’m uncertain,” he said, “I’m uncertain.” “But you’re pushing at something in me.”
By now Alias was off on his own like a mammal, had concocted a scent for to trail. Maybe the ache was for sharing the thing they were sharing: agreement. Maybe to get through the whole business at once, simultaneously. Maybe to not be divided and different or just pieces of things – to be doubled or tripled or multiple? Harlequin – pieceworked and patched, back then and now and some future. An assemblage, a collage wanting melding.
“All uncertain,” Laramie said. “I can’t know, just I do it and feelings will follow. New ones. Pains from smashed understandings, joys from promising starts, aches at the poorness I lend them – but something goes on, carries forth – it don’t end with the birds and the breeze. The words have it too, and the voices. The shapes and the meanings and lines. Even tones. It goes on, both the good and the ill, and I’m part, or it seems such.”
“How ‘bout you?” Laramie wants to know. “Why do you carry on and keep blabbing,” he taunts.
“Just to borrow,” Harlequin murmurs. “Just to steal.” “To have something to say. To keep silent. To wish that it might carry on.” “It’s what we’ve got, all these things. Try as I might, I don’t know what else to do, and at times feel compelled, god dammit. Like Foucault or Blanchot or Spinoza. Or Buddha or Christ, Kafka or little Jane,” (little Jane was the crazy old lady – lived two miles from the Backstagger’s farm – she’d sparkle to company no matter the cause and just cackle and croon – mixing nonsense and stories, opinions and facts, just talking and talking and talking. No one knew if it ceased when they left, it never stopped within range of the hearing).
“I hear you” said Laramie, “I see.” To which Alias always replied “But you don’t – I don’t know that. Have no method of saying it’s true.” And they’d keep walking on…toward night.