Monday, May 17, 2021

Prometheus Bound on the Magic Mountain

Channeling Holden

From Prometheus to Magic Mountain. 

Gowanus and a waterfront in motion. 

We met at Barbes for a quick drink.

Hadn’t seen each other for years, since Clearwater, when the kids were young and the parents still around.

How are you, I asked.

Worst two years of my life.

Lost both my folks.

After Mom died, Dad moved in.

He’d ask for mom every day, he told me.

Where is she, he wondered. I lost her.

He was 91.

They'd been together forever.

Where is she?

Every day he asked it, repeating the panic and horror, myth of the eternal return.

Telling him, I felt like Prometheus.

He'd feel like shit for the rest of the day.

So finally, I started saying,

I don't know.

That’s an honest answer I replied.

Who of us really knows?

I could swear it in a lie detector test.

Riding home from Barbes to Big Tiny, I thought of Prometheus.

“For it would be better to die once and for all than to suffer pain for all one's life,”

wrote Aeschylus.

On the surface, all looked well, the city alive, people getting vaccinated, less masks about.

“New York to adopt new CDC mask guidelines effective Wednesday,” announced Cuomo.

Still, a great white roamed  along  

 NY, NJ WATERS..,said the papers.


Back on Smith Street, Catherine and Caroline chat at Big Tiny, friends dropping in for crawfish.

Bands play across Brooklyn.

Jazz @bigwrenchpiano...the whole neighborhood was sitting outside on Hoyt Street,  greeting, commiserating, chatting away, listening to tunes.

The virus still raging, Brian was collecting coins for India.

“@lukemarantz with @mattmarantz, @allanmednard and Rick Rosato. This is a great quarter for a great cause, India Covid relief through @give_india.”

Everything changing.


The sun greeted us Saturday,

Hungry March Band at Venice Beach, democracy and beats.

A full day, community event on ranked choice voting with bands in motion.

Out to Nostrand we rode to see the African Record Store.

For pints on the street.

Bands up and down Union Street, at Grand Army,

on 5th Ave, in the street.

The little one was at Prospect Park.


Sunday, the teenager and i walked to Red Hook.

Playing Holden Caulfield, walking the streets, finding a new voice, gender play, a twisted dandy, plaid on plaid, as Holden buying a “"Little Shirley Beans" record for Pheobe on a Sunday, walking the same streets, dad filming not so successfully for the school project.

Times changes.

Kids move.

They find something.

They push us away.

It’s their job.

We’re just like each other, with mirroring intensities.

We see each other trying, growing, separating, expanding, searching, finding something.

Street clashes and stories.

Parents are Prometheus Bound,

Trying to do the right thing, not quite able to avoid the hurt.

Repeating and repeating, back and forth, clash, regret repeat.


All afternoon, we talked about the Magic Mountain a place where we all seem to be navigating

Covid long haulers and vaccinations mixing, separating the healthy and the sick, vulnerable and the well, the worried well not sure what to do with it all, masks off and on and off, not sure where it is all going.


Thomas Mann writes:

“Space, like time, gives birth to forgetfulness, but does so by removing an individual from all relationships and placing him in a free and pristine state--indeed, in but a moment it can turn a pedant and philistine into something like a vagabond. Time, they say, is water from the river Lethe, but alien air is a similar drink; and if its effects are less profound…” 

It makes me sleepy reading it.

They all have TB or do they?

Are they really sick?

COVID is the Magic Mountain, a place where people are still depressed or languishing, some coming out of it, others still caught in the meaningless, slow movement of time, fluid, passing, not quite on top of things.

It gives birth to forgetfulness.

“Can someone truly be the intellectual master of a power to which he is himself enslaved?  Can he liberate if he himself is not free,” wonders Mann.

On hiatus, Micah lists his symptoms, months after contracting, thinking he had recovered from COVID:


 “I have a nearly constant headache that is at its worst in the morning, but continues throughout the day.

- I suffered from mild, manageable tinnitus before COVID, but now the sound is much louder, often deafening.

- Brain fog is real. I have difficulty remembering dates, times, names, and details. I often can’t track conversations or follow my own train of thought or make confident decisions or find the words I want to use...

- I am always short of breath and I always carry a heavy, hollow feeling in my chest…

- I can only sleep for about three hours a night, even though I am fatigued all day, every day.

- I have daily body aches and gastrointestinal issues.

- Whether it is its own long-haul symptom or whether it is a product of dealing with all of the above symptoms, I am experiencing some deep mental health issues. I have been lucky in my life to have never before suffered from depression or anxiety. Having had no experience before this, along with trying to maintain a reputation for sunshine and glitter, makes it hard to admit that I am mentally suffering now.”

Micah is on the Magic Mountain.

A lot of us are.