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The Fine Print

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I have a very clear memory of a guy drumming NYC, playing the street, anything. But it floats out of time. Was it really 1970? I came back to this post (having not completely read it yet) to reflect on whether or not these pamphlets could one day be interesting in the way that the above alchemy book is. But I already knew the answer. I think the alchemist was an insider, connected to long and rich traditions of culture and knowledge. The outsiders who created these pamphlets are more likely disconnected, floating in a spare world, desperately grasping at meaning. This is not to say the alchemists were right, of course, just more interesting.

John Ptak

I'm very sure it was in the very early 1970's, like 70 or 71. I remember too that his eyes were always raised, looking up. I cannot remember if he was any good, probably he was just scary. I remember that he always wore a black suit and tie. ??

The alchemists were interesting, and had an entire centuries-old system cooking in the kitchen. They just weren't right. Newton was afraid that he was missing something in that cabal, I think, which is why he spent so much time with it. A miilion (?) careful words, trying to get him closer to the mind of the creator to understand other things.

Outsiders today were basically, literally, that, as you say--they also had the deep luxury of having the capacity to print what was banging around in their heads. Hundreds of years ago if was really just the priveleged who had the capacity to find their way into print, or, in a very diminished percentage, the very wealthy (who had not-great ideas) could also find their way there. Going a little further back into the past, the outsider had to worry about retribution, too, in the paths that their theories laid. In the 19th and 20th centuries you could get away with a lot, in print, if you had, um, "challenges" to the basic logics of codified perception. Move them back in time, and utterances like those might find the speaker at the stake.

I don't know how "desperate" the outsiders are, though--they seem a pretty adventurous lot, not worrying about where the edges might be. On the other hand, they may be desperate, because their own very unique perception--leaving them there at the edge--might be the only, lonely, thing connecting them to the world. I dunno. I just scared myself.


The drummer you describe sounds like the guy featured in the movie Taxi Driver.

(the clip is dubbed in spanish...)

John Ptak

This guy looks VERY much like the guy I had in mind, though my (foggy?) memory might make him a little less good looking with a lot less hair. And there wasn't an actual drum involved, though he did look up at the sky like this guy. THANKS!

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