Christopher WunderLee

Moore's Mythopoeia

for a muse

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

— John Lennon

* * *

A voice they could all remember spread out over the city. Through it, all things were explained; without it, nothing was known. It is life, and that life is the light of the city. The voice resonates in the bourbon dawn, but the light has not understood it. It is familiar to them all, but no one could say where they had heard it before.

The crowd is listening, they’ve stopped with shopping bags in their hands, with bagels and cream cheese hovering inches from their lips, with Styrofoam cups steaming in the cold morning air, with confused eyes, and whispers. No one will say what they are thinking. This is the voice of an individual, speaking. This is something I’ve heard before, but not in my lifetime. The crowd is listening, teenagers in uniforms, popping bubble gum, shifting book bags, forgetting to think about the way they look to others; tired mothers with exhausted children sniffling over a toy they weren’t able to buy, a piece of candy their hateful parent refused to purchase for them, the women intent on grocery lists, dry-cleaning that must be picked up, children that must be driven to soccer fields, friend’s houses, dinner that must be prepared, appliances that must be received from fix-it stores; businessmen who are hurrying to high-rises and meetings. The street is frozen in time, no one can move. The voice has caught them like the corner of a desk grabbing a loose sleeve, jerking them to a standstill. Car doors are open, but no one’s gotten in. Buses are waiting for their passengers, but no one’s taken the first step into the cabin. A policeman, directing traffic, has stopped the entire intersection, his arm lifted, his whistle still attached to his lip by dried saliva.

The voice is coming from within the crowd. It is on the sidewalk, below a tenement, it’s still talking, still forcing them to listen. They have had time to realize what they’re hearing, time to consider their inertia, time to contemplate the words. And the voice dies away, fluttering into silence like the sound of birds leaving for the winter.

Nothing is ever too late, nothing can be absent for too long. Progress proceeds in a mechanical fashion, there is no morality, no ethics, no considerations. It must proceed for the good of all. If one or two are killed to make a safer automobile, so be it. If a few men fall to their deaths while constructing a bridge between two great metropolises, their deaths were not in vain. If a few thousand people are impoverished so that a corporation can save itself money, continue to build, to produce, than their sacrifice is holy. This is the writ of capitalism; this is the republic for which it stands. In business we trust. Out of many, one.

They move, again. They take steps into buses, trolleys, into buildings and into cars. The policeman removes his whistle from his mouth and signals for a line to go. A businessman throws down a cigarette butt (non-carcinogenic) that burned in his mouth without a single drag and swears to himself. A mother pulls the arm of her child, who stumbles over the curb, and begins to cry again over the shiny lollypop that he could taste in his mouth, at the counter of the supermarket. The mother goes back to the article she read in the tabloid about the famous Graham Greene, he may be a transsexual and has requested a sex change operation. She returns to her revulsion as though she had not been interrupted. A young girl, in a pressed, argyle skirt, with navy blue stockings and penny loafers, smacks her gum, and twists a string of her hair in her middle finger. She looks over to see an ugly boy watching her and she scrunches her nose, spins on her heel, and walks away, muttering to herself.

The movement of the city does not stop again. It had never stopped for anything before, it will forget that it had that morning. The city is an organism, a colony of smaller cells that each perform a function to facilitate its continued existence. The men, the children, the wives, the police, the fire department, the government officials, the service workers who pick up garbage, clean the streets, blow leaves back into the autumn, and clip tree branches that grow into the thoroughfares, contribute to the life of the organism. Each person’s duty is integral for survival, from the smallest act of a child behaving his parent’s wishes, to the city council arguing over a new proposal for mass transportation. The city cannot have dissension anymore than the human body can allow its cells to make their own decisions. There must be cooperation, subjugation, agreement, and coordination. The body cannot exist without the collective functioning properly, in unison, without derision, without discussion. The city exists because of the collective effort of the many, it cannot change without general agreement, it cannot alter itself without referendum.

A voice like that, out here, is dangerous. Be quiet. Do as you’re told. You have your instructions. Follow him and he will follow the one before him, and he the man before him. The line must hold, remain moving. The machines cannot stop, immobility means decay. The voice could turn off the lights, the voice could cause a car accident, the voice could stall the printing press, delay a meeting, confuse, change, pause. The voice is unclean, irresponsible, circumspect. The voice does nothing for the continuation of the city’s efforts, it is for the speaker’s own purposes, it assaults citizens’ ears without asking permission, it is invasive. Can the voice light the street for you? Can the voice provide you with employment? Can the voice protect you from the darkness? Does the voice have a freeway to the suburbs? Does the voice have a phone company, a gas company, an electricity company? Do you think the voice can provide shelter, clothing, entertainment? Move along, now. The voice is over. Forget you ever heard it, it said nothing of importance. Move along. It is over — nothing more to hear here.

There are no existentialists in utopia.

* * *

“I can’t get all that. And you know that. You’re very reasonable, not like certain people. You know I can’t get all that, not with a bag this size. You’re reasonable, the both of you are.

“You’d never expect me to get all that. I’ll just bring it along, some of these things I’ll be able to get but not all of it. I’m not even sure we need all of it. You’re very reasonable. Theo, I can tell you’re a little judgmental, I can tell by the way you look at me, but you’re not unreasonable, not by any means. Your judgment is sound. I know I don’t play with you enough, the litter boxes do get a little out of hand before they’re cleaned, I know you feel trapped, stifled here. That’s all very reasonable. Being judgmental and unreasonable are to very different things, very different, indeed. But Theo, you have the qualities of a very reasonable kitty cat. You don’t expect me to get all this stuff, not by any means. You’re a very reasonable kitty cat, the both of you are and I appreciate it. I appreciate it very much. That’s why I’m going to feed you before I leave. Yes, I might be back in time for dinner, but what if I’m not? Who’s going to feed my two lovely, very reasonable kitty cats? Not the wind, not the unreasonable people who make these grocery lists, not by any means.

“So, thank you for listening, Theo and Casey. Thanks for your patience, thanks for being reasonable. Now, I really must go if I want to be home in time for dinner. I’m going to feed you before I leave, but it’s not a reward. It’s just for being the best two cats any man’s ever had, for being listeners and not the authors of unreasonable grocery lists.”

* * *

Joseph Moore, a fellow nearing forty with an emasculating lack of hair (despite the topical solutions), which is not to say that he is bald but simply has a weedy scalp, with one eye a mahogany brown and the other a fresh water blue, a chrysanthemum shaped birth-mark on his left hand, an orphan of the ardor of life (i.e. distinguishing love without knowledge), like so many men in their late thirties, who have seen the spirited thoughts of youth pass up the ladders of the purgatory of time, where life sits like an ancient craftsmen whittling away their ignorant fancies, and apart from the true consciousness he’s willing to recognize, for it is of the most human of minds to cling to notions of purpose and meaning, was plummeting down a gorge head first, his chest thrust forward as if he had the clavicle of a bird or a prehistoric raptor preying on dinosaurs long forgotten in the preservational sediment, after crossing a bridge he knew all too well and deciding, on a whim, to jump. He was smiling as he fell, for this was the answer to a gnawing question that had interrupted his sleep, taken away precious moments of reflection, raged within his mind as he attempted to concentrate at work, filled half bites of sandwiches and mighty gulps of sugary cola as he did not enjoy his lunch any longer at a park near the industrial complex and employee recreation center on the mock community campus of the goliath pharmaceutical, multinational megacorp where he was the Director of the Continuation of Isotopic Inhibitors (recognition of his ponophobia), a task that had been placed rather roundly upon poor Joseph’s shoulders as a weigh-station, rest-stop, and waiting room for the rest of his phantom career, as though he was a paranormal witch-doctor prowling the ornamental hallways of a dusty mansion searching for not only evidence of a haunted wardrobe closet, complete with a peignoir that appeared to float on its own and seduce invisible lovers, but also static-electric vortexes where the visitor suddenly felt a draft so chilling it was though a low density tornado of wind gusts had collided with a high density air-stream carrying snowflakes the size of space saucers.

These were his last moments, symphorophilic, almost… arms spread, legs reeling, like Hermes hurtling over clouds, the erection, a long forgotten involuntary response, spewing life’s sap because of its final accomplishment, remembering all the insides it had conquered so long ago when he had such nightmare expectations and thought all the days were going to be spent in the marital bliss of a full-time vagina. Dear Joseph, he had unknowing prescribed his future, that murky bathwater distance he was propelled into without constraint, a rather romantic, intolerably Byronic, although by no means definitive, neophilic paradigm and when the limp crescent roll between his scrotum perked his ugly little eye to cry into a woman all his hopes, the repulsion and leakage that streamed down her thighs, coating perfectly clean bed sheets, signified the dead end of her womb, the repetitious nature of his origination was pool of pearly fluid that would be the sticky tack on his backside the next morning, and for this, as Joseph listened to the mechanism of air whistling around his crucifixion pose, his knuckly lobcock weeping after too many nights of rolled over backs coated in polyester bathrobes, just the faint hint of a warm canal for his little pee-pee to graze in through the soft wrinkles. He’d try to stroke her fleshy cheeks, ignoring the flabby rolls that jiggled like cottage cheese in sausage wrapping, only for her to slap his hand like a little lad caught in mid-reach for a dangerous propane canister, his only memory of the hospital, the old lady surrounded by the aura of stale smoke and the sound of a ventilator’s intricate valves striking plastic, but that was not his mother…

Oh Eve, had you fought off his biastophilic advances, only to be hand-cuffed to your own bedpost and ravished into submission, had you mistakenly accepted a stranger’s kind words and been fooled into giving up the unwrapped gift of your fuzzy womb?

There had been those snatches of women in his memory, those little pimple tits, but, for the most part, dear Joseph, who’d never been a real player in the game of love (not with his rather Wundtian demeanor), more like a novice spectator trying to commentate on the acts of others, had really loved the idea of her, having never truly met such a deliriously lovely mother, having been passed between deflated women as barren as patches of Arctic tundra, with only the footprints of passing life left in their bare skin, took the hand of the first woman who cradled his soft tears in her thighs. Later, in the bath-tubs of five different residencies, with two children belched from a torn crevasse between his beloved’s viselike legs, after initiating themselves into the qualification program for adulthood, bearing the difficulties of beginning a household, unveiling to this barely respectable man why all his preconceptions about the open-door policy of marriage, the reliance on another individual, the merging of lives into one cohesive, if not corrosive, purpose, was such a social fallacy. She had accepted him for the same reason he had accepted her and he was failing her for the same reasons she was failing him: disappointment based on superlative mythology they did not know was based upon a dead pantheon, the way things never were and this was the bathwater reflection Joseph glared at as he dropped leaden from the bridge. Now those bathtub, moist eyes were on her face as well, asking him in every demure look, even when she allowed that tricky snake access into her, even when she was cackling over something he had said. Joseph read this from her mannerisms, she did not leap off bridges, like he did, but she was a kitchen sink crier, that was her comforting place for a purging of all the failures she knew were absolutely apparent to everyone for her choices and her husband. She had been shoving him off the bridge for years now, he whose entire life was statically caught at the paracme. She was imploring him to it, with those careful rappings on the bathroom door, that disappointed and unemotional whisper asking him if he was okay, with those long soliloquies about his inabilities at dinner parties, with those hilarious jokes about him, at friends’ houses, while Joseph smiled meekly back at the other couple who carefully looked into his eyes before bursting forth in utterly abandoned laughter, they were all small nudges towards the gorge.

Joseph’s maternal great15-grandfather Thomas (“innocent beard” as he was called on several different occasions) was beheaded by King Henry VIII after he refused to accept the unification of church and state on the ‘nowhere’ (ou topos) island of what was at the time called England in the midst of festival of speech that guided the audience from their own reasonable salvation. Thus began the selfish disillusionment of the More family line, who orphaned more smiling babes than the hundred-years war and poor Joseph was of course the recipient of an additional ‘o’ in a superstitious attempt over two-hundred years before his birth to avert such a nasty habit, although not exposing them to church hospitality in the form of the Jesuits had robbed them of their ability to comprehend dear grand-pa’s Encomium Moriae and Joseph could not see the irony of his own abandonment in a long line of Detstvo i Otrochestvo (as Tolstoy would have it, but probably closer to Turgenev when it was explored thoroughly, which it never had been) or Atom formulation influenced by climate, nature, and the weather of the warrior island, with such an unhalcyon atmosphere, Nordic sieges, Roman occupations, the invading brewers of stupor ales, Scots, Highlanders, Dutch royalty, all the way down to the dreary Battle of Britain by the V-2 lightning of the Nostradomian prophecies. Which was a very particular reason why Joseph (despite his wife and her family and all the frequent adverts [quite convincing in their pitches about branding oneself {“think of yourself as a unique product, with your own individual slogan, logo, design scheme; think of your person as brand recognition that represents the embodiment of all the information connected to you, as a product and services, which will create associations and expectations; your brand is your logo, your color schemes, your symbols, your sound, developed to represent implicit values, ideas, and even personality”} and seeing income increase with each signature, every roll call, every business card, every introduction] pleading with him to do so) couldn’t fathom releasing his name and signing on, despite the revenue one received when that last name was bought by the highest bidder, a walking, talking, living advertisement for Moore Air Conditioner Repairs, Moore Aeronautics, Moore Sealants, Moore Pavement Supplies. Joseph, who did not have the benefit grandpa had of discretio spirituum, had struggled like Hercules’ second in a duel with Hades with his straying life, which had colorfully been woven into the fabric of neural fantasies by an asthmatic old caretaker who gave him a Moses-like genesis, complete with baskets in rivers, kingly family seals (bought with usurers’ cash rather than public taste), and ambitious nobility supplements.