Monday, February 7, 2011

rockets and/or the occult

Gram Parsons, GP
George Pendle, Strange angel : the otherworldly life of rocket scientist John Whiteside Parsons
John Carter, Sex and Rockets: the occult world of Jack Parsons
...And They Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Tao of the Dead (streaming on Spinner)

I was overcome with an urge to hear Gram and Emmylou's version of "We'll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning" and immediately associated it with my friend Terry who passed away back in May. I don't really know why I'd associate it with him; I don't recall us ever talking about Gram Parsons and he wasn't much of a country music guy or much less a country rock guy and probably, if he'd been in the mood to do so, would've congenially pointed out the obvious bullshit radiating from GP's Nudie suit and maybe that's what I miss the most about him.

I do know why. I was similarly overcome with a want to read a biography of Jack Parsons, the founder of Jet Propulsion Labs who also notoriously dabbled in the occult, so I got two from the library. The both have their problems at first glace: Pendle goes a little far in setting the scene; Carter seems to have a conspiratorial, transgressive glee gets in the way of the story, but then I haven't read either enough to say for sure. I do know that I would like to talk about this guy with Terry because it was right up his alley, a rocket scientist who founded a Crowleyite cult. Work in some Nazi angle (there always is one when rockets and/or the occult are involved) to the story and it would've been Terry gold.

And in putting this book finally together, I'm looking for anything else to focus on and Terry was aces for that, taking you out in the intellectual waters way past the breakers to little islands where things were different and then, late in evening, eventually back to shore with more to think about.

BTW, I like the way the East Baton Rouge Parish Library plays fast and loose with title capitalization. The campus library does the same. If all that extra capitalization a dinosaur like the two spaces after the pyramid period. Why did I just type pyramid? Am I dabbling in a darkness I'm ill-prepared to handle? And why won't this guy let me embed this YouTube video? Terry loved YouTube, like more than anyone I know. He would sit at the coffee shop right across the street from where I am now and look at a YouTube video on his phone through his cupped fingers like they were a camera lens, like a tube, so he could focus on it. I could go on. I can't go on. I'll go on. I'm not sure I ever talked with Terry about Beckett, which seems weird. I'd've thought he'd be all over it, especially with Beckett and Joyce being friends. This from the Wikipedia article on Finnegans Wake:

Samuel Beckett collated words from foreign languages on cards for Joyce to use, and, as Joyce's eyesight worsened, wrote down the text from his dictation.[182] Beckett described and defended the writing style of Finnegans Wake thus:

This writing that you find so obscure is a quintessential extraction of language and painting and gesture, with all the inevitable clarity of the old inarticulation. Here is the savage economy of hieroglyphics.[183]
Hieroglyphics. Pyramids. Friends. Distraction. YouTube. I'll go on. I don't know why. I do know why. I'm getting back to Work.

Ed. to add: I also had a snippet of a song in my head all weekend that I just realized was from the ...And I Know You From the Trail of Dead album that apparently only I liked, and here is their new one Tao of the Dead popping up in my feed... trip on that!

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