Having my way with Ulysses

Seems a long way off.

The strain on the mind is formidable; the element of time drops out of one's consciousness altogether: the building hand gropes for a pawn in the box, holds it, while the mind still ponders the need for a foil or a stopgap, and when the fist opens, a whole hour, perhaps, has gone by, has burned to ashes in the incandescent cerebration of the schemer. The chessboard before him is a magnetic field, a system of stresses and abysses, a starry firmament.

No-one is anything.  I am a ghost.  Well, I haven’t died yet, no need to look at me as if my mind is off in some happy hunting ground somewhere.  I mean I have moved to an atemporal state without ever having died.  This is not resurrection, not metempsychosis.  I have translated.  You’ve done this too, occasionally.  You’ve lost track of time, before, yes?  That can happen when your world speeds up, when so much is happening that the whirlwind around you speeds time forward until you say you were so busy, had so much fun, were so distracted with it all, there was so much, so much, that time took flight.  This is not translation.  Translation comes from a deliberate slowness.  A stretching of the nothingness between full moments.  A pulling apart of discreet events until you inhabit the eventlessness between.  Time cannot reach you there.  Try it again, you’ve done it before.  You might make it happen for short spaces of time, short times of space with practice.  Like a muscle, the more you use it, the more supple, the more pliant.  Begin by cultivating your vision.  Practice seeing without seeing:  use your unseeing eye.  It helps to develop an idée fixe.  Find something with symbolic power.  For me it is chess.  Ah chess.  It contains the entire universe.  All of being and non-being, ever facet of the soul and the spaces between the facets beautifully composed onto 64 white and black squares.  I found chess in America.  I went after an American war to purchase land cheap, thinking I would grow cotton.  Instead I grew peaches.  Peach trees need little care.  Plant them, they blossom, then they grow.  Then peaches.  All they ask is we permit their becoming by staying clear of their being.  Then one harvest and endless solitude.  While my trees grew in Alabama I went to Atlanta and played chess.  The beauty, the harmony, of Zarathustra’s great invention!  In chess our adversaries move according to our moves, and we to them.  We form a helix coiling in a beautiful deadly dance, a rhythm of infinite possibilities.  64 squares, 8 X 8, infinity times infinity.  8 is the number of judgement.  And 64, 6+4=10, the perfect number.  The first triangular number to have a center, and the only one whose center is half of its total.  Balance.  GOD MEND THINE EVERY FLAW!  A onelegged sailor with an idée fixe crutched angrily, translating himself from the sidewalk into a jagged alley.  CONFIRM THY SOUL IN SELF CONTROL!  Symmetry.  The number of the soul.  10 represents the wheel of destiny and of retribution.  This is the number that governs returns, reincarnation, transmigration, metempsychosis, and most especially translation.  Judgement in delicious tango with destiny.  Ponder it, hang your gaze over a chessboard, and you can translate into a ghostbright existence where nothing is wanting, nothing is required, and the only fear is the hell of dreaded stalemate.  And the joy!  The joy of creation!  Each game a new universe.  Each chess problem (oh the composition of chess problems!) a microcosm of temporal harmony.  Each piece on the board a representative of stillness and force.  I left America, and the glorious atemporality I found there, to become a politician in support of my younger brother.  I was his pawn in a greater cause.  We are all pawns in a greater cause.  Just what is the cause, well that is not the pawn’s business.  Pawn’s have to earn their power, to kill, to rule as Queen; that is the glory of being a pawn.  Most remain powerless.  We serve our purpose quietly, in a waking sleep, then translate to the side to await our next use.  The halls of government contain chess rooms and in my political service to my brother I played chess.  I spoke on record 13 times in five years.  My brother hated and feared the number 13 although I found it immensely satisfying to open my mouth and make 13 utterances, speak questions I didn’t care to have answered, and then stop altogether.  I played chess.  I play chess.  I thought to master it and instead learned that my salvation, my translation to the infinite, comes when chess masters me.  Elijah is coming!  Elijah, a crumpled throwaway, sails closer to the three masters, bound to its translation.

He halted and growled angrily

Drive on. It don't mean nothing. My children love me but they don't understand. And I've got a woman who knows her man. Drive on. It don't mean nothin. It don't mean nothin. Drive on. AMERICA!  AMERICA!  GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE motherfuckers.  Uncle fucking Sham.  Sham!  The fucking shit I had to go through for what.  GOD SHED HIS GRACE!  Try having your best friend die in your fucking arms if you still have both of them.  It don’t mean nothin.  Lazy jerks.  I have to crutch myself around for all eternity.  Try saving a five year old from starving in Iraq then watching him walk twenty yards and be blown to fucking pieces because there was a landmine planted there no one knew about.  It don’t mean nothin.  Fucking kids starving right here.  In AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.  Most of us just tried to get by.  FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA!  Get shot at you’ll do what you have to do.  That’s the fucking tragedy in it.  Not my damn leg smeared all over hell, thank Christ for it.  Got me out.  Even if I have to beg every day for the rest of my damn life.  AMERICA!  AMERICA!  MAY GOD THY GOLD REFINE!  Not every nineteen year old too poor for life joins the army and automatically becomes a hero.  GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE.  Shed his grace on my ass.  Reformatted and deployed.  Obey the order to occupy a LZ.  There are grid coordinates I couldn’t find again if I was pissing on them.  What am I a fucking hero because I played the biggest video game of them all?  It don’t mean nothin.  For a bunch of fuckers who promised to take care of all of us.  Serve and you’ll be better off later.  Even trade.  Jack came right at the wrong time to work out a deal.  He needs money, you can see it just looking in his face, and I need a favor.  Now be a good little hero.  Worse fucking off now I’m back.  Uncle Sham. Takes care of his own.  People making billions off this shit while I trade my invisible leg for change.  I’ll go to the singing woman’s window again.  Unfurnished Apartments and I can’t afford to live under the stairs.  But she’ll be good for it.  And I’ll keep coming back for more TILL SELFISH GAIN NO LONGER STAIN THE BANNER OF THE FREE!