/ Fiction /
Jottings on my short story, 1970, Release:
Many of my stories have been nigh worshipped by at least a couple of readers, not necessarily friends. Some however got zero reaction, even from those they were acknowledgedly written for: Release, written for Ivan Illich, for example. Ouch, painful.
Illich had commented that capitalist institutions have to grow, there’s no such thing as maturity. Illich pointed out that the Church was a capitalist institutions that had a monopoly on saying masses. Their market was already maxed: masses for every soul, then more than one. Finally, Purgatory was invented so that the soul had to have masses said for them even once they were in Purgatory.
I wrote Release, a story in which a character is maxed out on education, he has a diploma, an AB, an MA, a PhD, post-doc this, post-doc that: he’s passed middle age and is still in school — we recognize Columbia, Morningside Heights. He visits his uncle in a crypt to spend his last pennies on making sure that his late uncles scholarly subscriptions are all paid up. The undle is dead, and still he must have more education. I wrote it for Illich, I mailed it to Illich. He never mentioned it to me. Did he get it? Did he read it? Did he think it was funny? Tragic? Ghastly?
Anyway, I’m just reading Joseph Campbell’s Myths To Live By. He’s contrasting European psychology with Sanscrit psychology. I’ll quote some, quote more later, and develop later:
the freedom of an individual to be what he wants to be, or to do what he wants to do. On the contrary, “freedom” in the sense of moksha means freedom from every impulse to exist.
I also want to say, developing later, that my current experience with a Florida court in Sebring makes me see that US citizens have again been reduced to convicts in a gulag. No individuals welcome. Fit quickly into the judge’s profile or get smacked.
My student, Nadine, who loved me, who had worshipped me, phoned, drunk, from Syracuse once she’d begun her MA there. I mailed her two stories, The Model and Release. She found them “dreadful”. Did she get them? I don’t think anyone did. If she still believe in education, then Release was blasphemy. I fear she did.
Illich should have at least seen the joke, whether he found it effective or not.
I can image Illich not being comfortable with the mishmash I made between Christian ritual and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In my mind I was mocking Buddhism. Illich, the saint, that priest, was always mocking the Catholic Church; why shouldn’t I mock the Tibetan Book of the Dead? all this is very complicated. I sure wish somebody had liked my story: at least appreciated the effort. I may read some of the text in here. All those stories from 1970 should have been rewritten.