Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 1 | Spring 1985

ing complexes of omni-interrelevant regenerative feedback circuits.” (Fuller— 1981) After trying to get mental purchase on something like that it didn’t seem nearly as odd to try wrestling meaning from Big Jim’s notion that: “Naturalized Inspiritruth Knowledge Intelligently Womanized Mankind's Supernal Wisdom News, Wisely.” (Jim— 1984) The two sentences seem egually ugly and opaque to me. I can’t begin to decide which, if either, is least likely to conceal meaning. As far as I’m concerned, they both belong in the same drawer, a bottom one in the garage. Big Jim was obsessed by his sdsquipedalion monstrosities which I held to be crimes against the English language and he considered paradigms of spiritual truth. Still, it would be easier for me if I could simply dismiss Jim as another ambulatory word-salad psychotic. I really don’t have any other category to put him in. But I have the same problem with Fuller, so I guess there’s nothing for me to do but keep an open mind, because everybody says Fuller is a visionary genius. People I respect claim to get empowering ideas and enhancing notions from Fuller. So I’m willing to accept the fact that I can’t understand him, or Big Jim, as a measure of my own insufficiency. W^lnether Big Jim went to Bonner’s Ferry or back to Venus, it doesn’t surprise me that I don’t know about it. I never even found out where he came from. He just walked in one day and stood in the doorway looking around, a stately old gentleman about six-foot-three and 80 years old, with a long white beard and luminous blue eyes. He was thin and erect, with clear, tanned skin, and a graceful, self-assured manner. His clothes were plain, working man’s wear, immaculately clean and pressed. I was in thd office, which was the front room of a house I shared with several other people. We put out a newspaper there and the doors were always open. So a lot of people come in, most of them wanting to get something into the paper. Many of them were unusual types, some flat-out originals. Jim, I was soon to learn, fell into the latter class. I looked him over, found nothing to object to, but didn't want to spend a lot of time just then, so I just said, "Hi,” and waited for him to make his move. He looked me over briefly, glanced around the room with no reaction I could detect, and asked: “This is where the paper's put out?" “You got it.” “You a writer?" “Sometimes,'' I admitted from behind the typewriter where I was working. “I've been doing some writing,” he told me. This news did not surprise me. Neither did it fill me with enthusiasm. We got a lot of writers there: dull-eyed fellows with exposes of Scientology, permanently distracted mothers with petitions for the return of beloved sons still missing in action in Vietnam, anti-vivisectionists with tracts, punk rock poets with epics, pro-Nazi social philosophers with polemics, random nerds, nincompoops, noodniks, and now this old guy who reached inside his jacket and came out with a single sheet of paper which he unfolded and handed to me with a mysterious smile. "Look this over," he said. Needless to say, I was aflutter with excitement. It was a photocopy of six lines, written in a rough sort of homemade calligraphy, neat, but without grace or bravura. It said: Supernalife's Zodiac Sensorium Transmits Continuum Inspiritruth Operator Intelligence Knowledge, Which Inspires Complete Potentialiving Wisdom. Who Will Perfect, Word-Makers Skill Now ? Verbalife Perfection Oasis “We hardly ever use poetry." I hastened to inform him as I frowned at the thing I was holding. “Good," he replied emphatically. "That stuff just confuses people. They think it means something. But it's just symbols. Might as well be music for all the good it does." That boggled me so much that I began to wish he were a pro-Nazi social philosopher. Then I could have just got on with the fist fight and gone back to work. This guy had the potential for taking up some real time. Fortunately I had an out. Catherine was in the kitchen making tea, and Catherine was a woman of nearly inexhaustible reserves of patience: also one of the least judgmental people I have ever known. So I got up from my typewriter and said, “I think this is a case for Catherine. Come on in here. We’ll let her look at it.” I marched back to the kitchen clutching the photocopy with the elderly anti-poet close behind, handed the paper to Catherine and told her, “Look at this,” hoping that she would extend her nearly inexhaustible reserves of patience to me as I went back to work. About an hour later I finished a draft of the piece I was hammering at and decided to let it sit overnight. The old party was still in the kitchen, so I walked down the street, met some folks, talked some talk, drank a few beers, and about two hours later went back for supper. The old guy was still there at the kitchen table. “I invited Jim for dinner,” Catherine explained. It was one of those times when I had to decide that Catherine was not an unHe never put anybody down. There was no scorn or contempt in his manner. He was indomitably cheerful. And he always had cigarettes, which ! did not. mixed blessing. But she had a good meal on the table, so I wasn’t going to get grumpy. We invited almost everybody and anybody to dinner. There were six of us that night. “We've been talking about Jim’s...” Catherine hesitated, searching fora word, and finally came up with, “...writing.” The rest of the crowd looked a bit bemused. I just nodded and got down to dinner. The conversation was random, routine, except that every once in a while someone would direct a question at Jim. And the answers began to seem a little strange. He was a marvel of elusivity. “You from around here, Jim?” someone asked by way of making him part of the whole. He shook his head, chewing, “Not originally.” “How long you been around here?” “Quite a while," he said, and took another good-sized mouthful. He had a healthy appetite. ’'You a retired man, Jim?” “Oh no, I'm at it every day.” Finally he began to pique my reportorial instincts. “What kind of work do you do, Jim?” I asked him. "This!" he said, peering at me as if the question surprised him. “What's this?" He blinked at me as if he thought I should already understand that. But he was willing to explain it again. He had reserves of patience almost equal to Catherine's. “Just trying to explain all this to people," he said softly, "just trying to get together with people who can understand it, people who can see what it is and what to do with it." Tm not sure what you're talking about,” I admitted. “Well, this', he exclaimed softly, and lifted the photocopy which sat beside his plate. "Oh, that's your work?" "That's what I do, just try to get people to understand this so we can get on with it." “What would getting on with it look like?" By now the conversation had captured everybody's attention. They had all stopped eating and were peering back and forth between us. He replied, as if the answer should have been so obviouias to make the question unnecessary, "Putting this into action!” he said. “It'll just take twelve of us who understand it. We need twelve to make a perfect circle," he explained. “Once that happens then everything else will change." Then he shook his head wistfully and admitted, “But I have trouble explaining it to people. I’ve been trying to perfect this for a long time,” he said, tapping the paper. “I just don't know how I can make it any clearer. But I’ll keep trying.” How long have you been trying to explain this to people?” I wondered. He had to think back and decide just how to answer that. And he seemed to be trying to give us a straight answer as he screwed up his face in a frown of deep consideration and said, “Since I was about nine years old, I guess." He nodded, to himself as if that seemed about right. “I understood it real early. And I tried to explain it to people then. But no one paid any attention. I was just a kid. And it didn't make any sense to them. They just didn't get it. So ever since then I've been trying to get it down to where people can comprehend. I understand it a lot better myself now.” He got a bit agitated as he said, “It’s all right here'." and stabbed at the photocopy with his crusty old finger. Then he grew a little sad. “I just haven’t been able to make people see it.” He shook his head again and turned a determined countenance around the table as he vowed, “But I will.” This was spoken with no trace of bitterness, self-pity, rancor or defeatism. He didn’t seem to blame anyone but himself for his failure. It was his problem and he intended to find the solution. It was just that the problem seemed so simple to him: all he needed were eleven more like himself so he could get on with the business of changing the world. I got up and emptied the scraps from my plate into the compost container, waved to the assemblage, told them I had a date, and left. Missionaries have always made me nervous. few days later I was standing at a layout table musing on a front page for the next edition when Big Jim ambled in again smiling, said “Hi there,” and sauntered up beside me. “Hi, Jim. What’s shaking?" I gave him about a quarter of my attention. “Well,” he said, grinning as if he had a big surprise for me. “I’ve been working on this." He took a piece of paper from his pocket. “You got time to read this?” he asked. There were only five short lines on the page, so I figured I could take the time to read them. It was in the same squiggly handwriting: Who Will Materialize Wisely Maintained Sinless Whole Knowledgeableable Intelligence Wisdom, Enterprising Skill, Now? Zodiac Oriented Zenith Oasis “You see what I’m getting at here?" he asked. There was a faint note of pleading in his voice. I studied the thing. He pointed to the last line. “See, here’s the whole point, right here, Zodiac Oriented Zenith Oasis. There are twelve houses in the Zodiac, a perfect circle, and there's an Oasis at the Zenith. See, both Zodiac and Zenith start with Z, and the letter Zhas four points on it, the four cardinal directions. You see that?” “You know," I told him, “I bet Mitch would be interested in this.” Mitch was crashing with us. He'd been hanging around all day with nothing to do, and perfectly happy about it. “Hey, Mitch,” I yelled. Then to Big Jim I said, “He's probably back here. Come on." I copped out again. J 'm didn’t seem to care as long as he found someone to talk to, as long as he was doing his work. I set him down at the kitchen table with Mitch and let them have at it. About half an hour later I went back to get a cup of coffee and found the conversation going something like this: Big Jim: “Whole Knowledgeable Intelligence... that's something everybody's got already. But they don't even know what it is, so they don’t know how to use it.” Mitch: “You mean sort of like extra-sensory perception?" Big Jim: “It's ESP all right, but not the kind you're talking about. It's Knowledgeable'. It's knowledge that you're born with. It’s nothing you have to learn. It’s just something you have to learn to use!" Mitch: “How would a person learn to use it?” Big Jim (tapping the paper with a forefinger and emphasizing every word): “Just like it says here, by materializing wisely maintained sinless whole knowledgeable intelligence wisdom, enterprising skill, now.” I got my coffee and wandered into my room to review the sentence which had put me to sleep the night before, Fuller again: “If the realistic thinking can conceive of technically feasible options facilitating satisfactorily effective human fulfillment of its designed functioning as local Universe information inventorying the local Universe problem-solving in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative Universe, then the accomplishment of that realistic conceptioning is realistically effective in satisfying Universe that human mind is accomplishing its designed evolutionary role.” (For those who have not tried reading Fuller, I swear I’m not making that up.) I went back into the kitchen, looked over Jim’s shoulder at the paper and began to wonder just who would materialize wisely maintained sinless whole knowledgeable intelligence wisdom, enterprising skill, now. But I figured it probably wouldn’t be me, since I was having enough trouble with the layout to keep me busy for the rest of the day. So I just went back to work. I t wasn’t that easy to escape Big Jim. He became a regular feature of the household and spent long afternoons at the kitchen table giving satsang to anyone who cared to listen. The bulletin boards around the house were festooned with his messages. I confess that I never understood two words the man ever put in a row, but I got to like him. He was simply a nice person, relentless but never pushy. He would listen respectfully to other people's opinions, nod, and then' go back to his rap. He never asked for anything but an audience, though he would accept the odd cup of coffee or glass of beer and an occasional meal just to be sociable. He was always polite, almost formal. He never put anybody down. There was no scorn or contempt in his manner. He was indomitably cheerful. And he always had cigarettes, which I did not. So I spent some time at the table listening to him, smoking his cigarettes, and trying to make some sense out of what he was saying. He saw it so clearly that it was a mystery to both of us why he couldn't explain it. It always seemed to me that I should be able to grasp what he meant whether or not I was prepared to believe it. But I never did. And like I say, I don’t know why he stopped coming around. The last time I saw him he seemed as intent on converting us all as he was the first time. But he stopped. Then a few days ago I was at a press conference where a variety of local peace groups were announcing a joint effort. Representatives from each of the groups spoke briefly. Not all of them knew each other, so nobody thought anything about it when someone that no one knew got up to speak. But this guy was on a slightly different wavelength than the rest. His message was brief and unemotional. He simply wanted everyone to know that the Venusian missionaries who had been working among us had been called home. This information left everyone in the room muttering to themselves and each other. Say what? The fellow did not explain why the missionaries had been removed, what they had been doing, or how he happened to be in possession of this information. And, believe me, no one asked. Anyway, that's how I got the idea that Big Jim might have returned to Venus, although I’m still not ruling out Northern Idaho. Wherever he is, he has left us a legacy, whether of lucidity or lunacy, I don’t know. But I look the stuff over from, time to time and wonder. Universal Supernal Aptruth Alliance United The Word-Maker Species Unique Sensorium Allegiance Union. You're Invited To Quicken Your Live-Right, Inalienable-Right, To Live-Right Now. Equalifestatenterprise Sensory Perfection Oasis ESP Oasis I miss Big Jim. I really wish they'd send him back. Gary Stallings is an editor of the progressive Portland publication, The Alliance. Marly Stone is an artist living in Portland. 46 Clinton St. Quarterly