Light Coming Out From Dark


The Big Blonde and her Small Animals

The Big Blonde and her Small Animals



     We’re moving toward  Christmas now; closer and closer we get, my children, my beloveds.  Listen to me, because I have a ceremonial theory that the celebration of death, which begins with the Day of the Dead or Halloween, progresses on to the Day of the Dead Bird – Thanksgiving – in which we eat the dead, finally, (although a dead of the avian kind) and,  saddened by this ritual murder  – and looking forward for one more month or so to steady decrease in light – we begin to manufacture light and therefore hope for our saddened selves in small and colored ways.  We make up elaborate Christmas fantasies, but each at its core has to do with the lightening of dark and not the darkening of light. We’ve finally had enough of darkening.  We want light. That’s my theory and that’s my story.

     When I was a kid in Fresno, the one thing we did each year at Christmas was the piling into whatever car my dad had – he was selling used cars through much of this time – and head for the rich people’s houses on Van Ness Avenue.   For two miles on a street where old people had planted trees tall enough to be lit at night in Decembers, for almost a hundred years, Fresnans had inched their cars with headlights hopefully off down that  tunnel of fantasy called Christmas Tree Lane.  In the Fifties of the late, lamented and thoroughly last of centuries, the cars were as beautiful to look at as were the Santas-in-Sleds or Playful-Elves-Around-The-Chimney or all the lighted mansions. (In Fresno, anything with two stories is technically a mansion.  We are a people of one-story ranch houses, for the most part, and any elevation is looked up to.)

     Out of the darkness come the little lights.  Up here on Mystery Island, it’s now the season of sundown at four-thirty and that just seems to give the Christmas lights an earlier opportunity to shine.  It’s been snowing this week and the little lights glint off the snow and the lightedness is doubled or so. The little lights shine in the dark. I feel much better once the lights are shining and I leave them on all the grey and snowy days as well.  My friend Mrs. Lobo gave us an eight-foot-tall snowman with an orange carrot nose who shines and waggles in the wind and wishes Happy Holidays to everyone who drives onto this island because we’ve set him up in the corner of the pasture that the whole island passes by every day. And night.

Did I mention the part about the little lights coming out of the dark?

52 thoughts on “Light Coming Out From Dark

  1. Robert, I am so, so sorry. Please accept my most profound condolences. I, who barely encountered her, feel as though I have lost a dear friend. I cannot begin to imagine how you feel.

  2. Dear Robert:

    I’m just stunned with this news and Len’s message is mine as well. This place was graced with her presence and is graced still.

    I’ve just re-read your works of Deadalus in the previous post. The tower, the labyrinth, the circle composed of straight lines of infinite smallness, the problem of language, of understanding.

    We all here wish you everything.

  3. First, I think this is the best place to share the following piece of the surreal.

    There is a house for sale that I pass daily on my way to work. One of the many signs in front says, “Inside much larger.” I assume that this house was designed by M.C. Escher.

    Second, while in email conversation with Robber G, he suggested that this might be a good venue for “some denizen of the Unknown should write some words to ‘Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ about ‘Mad’ Madoff the Ponzi Messiah.”

    I hope to post my variation on this theme later today. I thought it might be something that several people could give their takes on, much like we did with Xmas songs on the Jesus theme last year.

    Sir Real Thymes

  4. To Robert and friends of the unknown,
    I too was saddened to hear about your wife’s passing. And rereading your posts this last month – out loud – ideas and images so complex and deep I cannot begin to understand unless I hear my voice speaking these words. We are in Summerland, B.C. for the holidays – It is Winterland however – stood under a winter banana tree yesterday – on snow shoes – knee deep in snow. There were only 8 hours of daylight yesterday but moving now towards the light. Family arrives from Vancouver today to celebrate xmas traditions I have lost along the way. Warm wishes to all of you.

  5. Filaments, threads of conductivity, light of the infinitely small, yes, and, what is it you were saying, Henry James? “We work in the dark–we do what we can–we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” Yes, that’s it, and, as well, the loss that, little by little, lights our way.

    Mes copains: the professions of sadness, stunned and bewildered, are welcome and received with a gratitude profound…I am using them to help line my nest of solitude here. They catch glints from a broken-lighted sun, when, getting a practiced leg-up from my old ancestor pal Ya’akov, I ascend to orbits of higher solitudes—not enough time to design and construct an ‘ark’ to stay bouyant upon the waters of this sorrow tsunami…

    Dana, I, too, provoke myself with those words, to read them aloud and hear them as ‘other’ and from elsewhere. The ‘success’, such as it is, of those doodles, their jouissance and what I like about them, is that they make read them as if they each were written by someone else. And, certainly, after the event of December 15, 2008, they were.

    “The liberating catastrophe of the Infinite”. Who knew?

  6. Part One:

    Madoff the Barefaced BilkerHad a plan to make some doughIn which he told investorsHe could make their riches grow.All of the other hedge funds,Joined in very happily.Madoff the Barefaced Bilker,Lauded by the SEC.Then a burst economyTook his cash away.

  7. Let’s try that again. And hope that my previous comment can somehow be deleted and digitally burned.

    Madoff the Barefaced Bilker
    Had a plan to make some dough
    In which he told investorsHe could make their riches grow.
    All of the other hedge funds,
    Joined in very happily.
    Madoff the Barefaced Bilker,
    Lauded by the SEC.

  8. …then one foggy trading day
    Maddoff came to say
    “If I put forth with bravado
    your money will come my way”
    so all the rich sheep followed
    and they shouted out with greed
    “Maddoff you awesome dealer,
    you can get us all we need!”

    or something like that.

    Mr. Magolis, I add my best wishes for you. I have no special insight as to mortality; I just know we take our turns in sorrow and departure and things often don’t seem fair.

    Lou Screws

  9. I wanted a new Christmas song- one with a real rambunctious, sleigh-riding sing-along sort of tune:


    I got a new pimple for Christmas
    It’s rosy and rose on my nose
    Shinning bright cherry red,
    It stands out from my head
    And attracts more attention
    Than my new Christmas clothes

    Oh I got a new pimple for Christmas
    It was quite unexpected you see
    Like Vesuvius grand
    Or an over-stressed gland
    And eruption is planned for tonight,
    Christmas Eve!

    Oh I got a new pimple for Christmas
    And in the spirit of joy and good cheer
    I put glitter on top
    Superglue, just a drop
    And I’m affixing a star
    Linked by chain to my ear!

    Oh I got a new pimple for Christmas
    It is keeping me humble and meek
    It looks ready to pop
    And there’s no way to stop
    Three wisemen-like others
    On the rise on my cheek.

    So I wish you a holiday merry
    And a new year of magical things
    Dermatological health,
    A fair share of wealth,
    Enlightened self-realization
    And pimples that pop but don’t sting!

    Les Noticible

  10. Out of the Dark and into the frying pan, as the Mayan prediction of January 12, 2012, ending all ends and the return of the Cleveland Indians, strangely winning the Super Bowl, . . It’s a mix message you know.

    For the time being, dig your way out of all that snow in Fox Island and tell all the dogs to raise a leg to the New Year!

  11. With all the bailouts that are happening, I have to get in my application.

    A SMALL list of New Year Resolutions:

    !.) MORE SUGAR
    2.) MORE SUGAR
    3.) MORE SUGAR
    4.) MORE SUGAR

    5.) LESS BUSH

  12. In the hollow light of Christmas and New Years, I present the following, set to a familiar Xmas tune:


    I saw Mommy drinking alcohol
    Underneath the mistletoe last night.
    First she tore down the twig
    And swallowed a big swig.
    She fixed her glare
    In a ten-inch stare
    Before she muttered “Pig.”

    I knew that Dad was working late last night
    Closely with his boss, Vanessa Brown.
    Oh, they make quite a pair.
    Her legs go up to there.
    Her butt looks cute
    In that pantsuit
    Under flowing golden hair.

    Then I saw Mommy throw her highball glass.
    It splintered into shards upon the hearth.
    And I’m feeling kind of sad
    That the glass didn’t hit my Dad
    When Mom drank alcohol last night.

  13. Phil: I love being around multi-coloured lights at Christmas, even during times I don’t feel much Christmas spirit. I like the image of little lights coming out of the dark. I hope you and Oona and all others near you had a good Christmas, and I wish you a very Happy and Peaceful 2009.

    Recently I received The Firesign Theatre’s Box of Danger, and listened to all four discs driving to and from Calgary to attend the World Fantasy Convention in late October. Loved all of it, including the last, surreal offering featuring you in the solo piece.

    – Randy

  14. Phil,

    Chapter Twenty-Two: Thanks for the such a good reader that you are in your writing. Beauty is in the eye of the Beaver Holder, yes.

    I have always loved the title Recherche du Temps Perdu “Search for Lost Time”. Which, it turns out once again, is the fictive, or fictious, present, and the fictions of the present, that most intensive of tenses in which one needs all the loss and lost memory one can get. There were two ‘be’s and knots-to-be. Then, the snow came early, all the roads not taken got taken, the miles to go gone.

    The story at a loss, you are right to write of lost time and as if lost. The Narrative and the Narrator, wherever they go, they are the loss-road less taken.

    – Time Waits

  15. What about the Martha Glueit Bailout?

    When everything else is falling apart,

    it’s the one thing you can stick by and

    the determination of stick-to-atness

    in holding our Johney Cups high.

  16. It’s one of those. Thinking of really a good idea to work from, it suddenly left town, never to be remembered again. Not even saying goodbye and why there just wasn’t enough time to hang around and flesh out on a page. So distinctive, you could have picked it out from a list of ten, the first time. Never-no-mind, who’s second in line?

  17. I don’t think a Proboscis Monkey face looks like my genitals, I think my genitals look like a Proboscis Monkey, face.

    Thelonius Monkey

    While the above post is more out of context here than where it came from, I thought it might have resonance aqui also.

    Salvador Donkey

  18. This is the information age; all we need is more information more often. There is no longer a need for any sense of decorum or personal modesty. Conduct yourselves accordingly.

    Link Array

  19. Was Dick the puppetmaster behind the “accidental” oath bumble? Is it a conspriracy with a sense of humor or a real stick to the ribs? I’m feeling a draft from my mine shaft gap. I hear there is grainy footage of Dick getting out of his limo sans panties and he doesn’t even try to hide it, due to his “back injury.” So many ways to say goodbye.

    Vejayjay Singh

  20. If he floats he’s a Dick; if he sinks he’s a pollutant. Anybody see Shakira covering Van Morrison without any thrusting and playing her harmonica at the Neighborhood Ball? Could be proof of a shift in the fabric of time and space.

    Leif Gozonbetter

  21. Has the dark overcome the light on the Blog of the Unknown? Where did everybody go when the lights went out? Mama? I’ll be good.

    Noah Leit

  22. I am disproportionally mad and getting madder at the misuse of the word “less” by radio and TV announcers when they should be saying “fewer.” I recognize that this absolutely doesn’t matter but I can’t seem to let it go. I can excuse football players in the heat of their big interview only.

    Can anyone recommend a book by John Updike? I managed to live my whole life without thinking about him, until this week. Then I heard Terry Gross’ tribute show to him and he sounded very smart and funny and then I saw Charlie Rose’s tribute show and he sounded exceptionally deep and funny so I would like to read some of his works.

    You know what else bothers me? When, on the news they say something is only a fraction of its former self. Well, what fraction, damn it? Is it half of itself or a tenth? Damn lazy journalism. OK, I feel better now.

    Ben Stewen

  23. From what I’ve been reading, the standard for Updike readers is the Rabbit series, starting with Rabbit, Run. There was also a collection of his early short stories that came out a couple of years ago that die hard Updike fans would recommend. Personally, I’m not that crazy about his fiction (but what do I know?) and much prefer his criticism.

    Fewer people know anything about fewer and less. More people know less than they ought to. Being aware of such things can be a lesson in fewtility.

    Rare is the journalist who is worth the name these days. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that the decline of journalism has paralleled the ascent of the journalism school.

    Mal Content

  24. Gracias- I hear Rabbit will get me in touch with my suburbanity. Garrison Keilor said he likes “The Centaur” (ooh, I hope that sounds like he and I chat) by Updike so I bought a nice old musty yellowed paperback of it. I will submit my book report by the due date. It has been quite warm here in our drought t so I have been getting in some good hammock reading time.

    Per Agraff

  25. Firesign performs on April 24th in Monterey, California. I’m wondering if Time Waits, Lief Gozonbetter and Mal Content will be in attendance?

    Gramma Toobee wants to know.

  26. Dana,

    Time Waites is…out of joint. And there is Danger of a different genre here, the Danger that it won’t be put right. Much that my wife and I made together could be lost to me, or rather, more accurately, I would be forced to lose, easily and as if it never were. I won’t publish the details lest that devil who so loves to counterfeit them comes to defecate in them. The loss of my wife is a total rupture and I am hemorraging life through my pores. I have a year, I expect, I hope, to find a way and the means to not be forced to do the last of the things I don’t want to do. I cannot go anywhere I cannot go. I can only thank you for what your question (as I read it) implies.

  27. Dana–

    If only. The spirit is willing, but the wallet is weak. I even tried to come up with a scheme for going–did a budget and all–but couldn’t make the numbers work. Should circumstances suddenly shift so that I can attend, I will set off a flair and let everyone on the Blog know.

    Bud “Jet” Lowe

  28. Robert,

    My big brother Steven died tragically at age nine when I was five. My parents moved the family to Tennessee for one year a few years later, they to weep through the night and we young children finding adventure and mystery in the swamps and changing seasons. I wrote this poem at fifteen (with my mother’s help) for a 9th grade English class. I was already terrified by then to speak up or out, feeling pain as I did then but not understanding where it came from. I can only comprehend your loss from the loss I felt so long ago.

    Tennessee Procession, 1957

    We marched across the gravel road that turns toward the East,
    Into a yellow meadow, wet and slushy from the rain.
    Our private cemetery was our object once again
    (My brother bore the cardboard box and Peter was the Priest.)

    The youngest had the shovel and was told to dig a hole,
    While we recited prayers for those who rested in this vale,
    A skunk, a snake, a squirrel; and now a tender Mother quail
    Was buried with a cross to mark her liberated soul.

    One phone call won’t a funeral make, in spite of Forest Lawn.
    We seven children knew the secret recipe of grief:
    An ounce of awe, a cup of tears, a ritual for relief,
    When something you have found and touched and fed and loved is gone.

    Dana and Annie, circa 1964

    Warm wishes to you, Robert.

  29. We wouldn’t want me to try to add or help much here I don’t think. Updike was saying that the burden of our big brains is that we are saddled with the knowledge of our mortality and the sense that whatever our life is, it should have been more… that we never get everything right enough. I do wonder if I’ve done too much settling. I should have taken that juggling class, damn it.

    Here’s a slogan: “Len- sending things up with a flair since 1967.”

    Maybe I should buy a ticket to the Monterey Grandpop Festival for April 24th! After all, it is a Friday night which, if I remember correctly from back in the olden days, is party night. And my wife has been wanting to go to the Bay Aquarium for quite some time and since we don’t know if we are moving or not, why not? If it doesn’t work out I can always give the tickets to some Homo Habilis during “Random Acts of Kindness Week.” I wish I could give you all a RAK gift… including Phil, who must be working on the presentation with hopefully only the right amount of stress. I can just hear Eric Burdon singing, “…down in Monterey!” Perhaps it could be three days of understanding and grooving with one another.

    Evan Dacops


    One must have a mind of winter
    To regard the frost and the boughs
    Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

    And have been cold a long time
    To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
    The spruces rough in the distant glitter

    Of the January sun; and not to think
    Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
    In the sound of a few leaves,

    Which is the sound of the land
    Full of the same wind
    That is blowing in the same bare place

    For the listener, who listens in the snow,
    And, nothing himself, beholds
    Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

    – Wallace Stevens

  31. It could have been the Winter, but no excuses now. We have all been stimulated and no less from our representative polly-a-ticians(multi-tishes) from a District of D. C., but not the state of Washington, Tell them four-legged furry creatures, Phil, to raise a leg of chivalrousness and sign their name in yellow in the Fox Island snow.

  32. OK we did it! Me and the drummer and this other guy got the tickets for the Monterey show in order to do our part for the stimulus of the ecomedy.
    We are in the orchestra (does this mean I have to learn to play violin?)rear center, row O, seats 112-114 in case you want to stop by as it is on the aisle on your way to the bathroom. Now we are trying to rent a house in Pacific Grove that says it features a Balinese headboard and Dr. memory foam mattress just a stone’s throw from Cannery Row. Your boat. They claim you can hear the otters smack their tails in your bedroom, which sounds very Beavertoothian.

    It feels very patriotic- a great way to help out all the little people who are struggling in Pebble Beach, Carmel and environs. I hope to see you there.

    Luka Head

  33. The other guy has never heard Firesign Theatre.

    I will be sending him some CDs to help him crash a course on the 4 or 5.

    Should be an interesting sociological study for me and the Trail Marker.

  34. Pingback: Phil Austin Blog of the Unknown Blog Archive Light Coming | Hammock Stand

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