Immediately after watching Going Clear, I drew a hot bath and cracked open Sean Brijbasi’s amazing act of wordamithing, The Unknowed Things, to the page at which I had last abandoned it. I immediately came across a passage containing the declaration, “The War Is Over!” Frightening callback (in my mind) to the powerful Nazi-esque scene in the film at which Miscavige presides over the victory celebration after the IRS caves on their tax-exempt status. Those exact words are projected in larger-than-life characters on a larger-than-life screen as pyrotechnics are detonated and fists are pumped.
I friended two old friends on Facebook the other day. One was from my first high school, he’s one of the people responsible for my introduction to punk, and I’m pretty sure 100% responsible for my introduction to dub reggae. The other was from my second high school, miles away, and was part of a relatively small circle of “alternative” friends in a school full of normals. They both accepted on the same day. They don’t know each other, I’m pretty sure.
However, their facebook “cover photos” generated a sublime spark of coincidence:
Then tonight, when I got into the bath, and reached to pick up Sean Brijbasi’s One Note Symphonies (I believe I blogged about this earlier this month), the Grateful Dead song Ramble On Rose was in my head, and in my head the chorus was playing, “Did you say your name was Ramblin’ Rose?” Just as it reached that point, I opened the book to the dogeared placeholder from the other night, and it was a new chapter: “Among the ruins, a trembling rose” were the only words on the page.
One Note Symphonies, by Sean Brijbasi
I like to support my friends in the arts when I can. I believe it’s a person’s duty to leave something in this world that is an artifact of you, that will live on long after you are gone. Something someone can hold in their hand and say “I knew this person.”
I have a surprising amount of paintings, books, CDs, etc. from friend that I have collected over the years. Some of it marks moments in time, and some of it is burned into my soul.
I didn’t know Sean. I mean, I went to school with him, so I knew him, but I never “knew” him. And that was a long time ago. In school, I was in my head. All the time. Very bad at being social. Even now, I know him about as well as I know Thomas Pynchon. And like Pynchon, I can maybe get to know Sean a little bit better through the words he committed to paper (and Kindle).
Reading this book was startling to me. The first time I started, life got in the way, and this book was put aside in a stack of books, along with another Brijbasi title, while I dealt with those other things, and then of course life just kept on moving along and the stack lay undisturbed. Also in the stack were three Lawrence Wright titles. When you have the exuberant and sometimes haphazard passion for life that I do, combined with a busy work life and social schedule, it can be difficult to find time to just sit and read.
Recently, I finally made the time to attack these books again, and was startled all over again. Reading this book was like exploring dreams I had a long time ago. It was as if these other people in other cities were having some of the same tiny little moments, or tiny variations of them, that I’ve known in my own life. His observational skills are excellent, and he describes events in better detail than I would have remembered them. The nuance is impeccable. Emotions are transmitted. Most importantly, he enables you to share the mysteries, because at its core, it’s all a mystery. A mystery of coincidences and near misses.
I just ordered his more recent title, and I’m looking forward to making time for its consumption very soon.