Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wobbly times number 102

A day in the life of a producer circa 2180

His eyes came open in slits. His cock was as hard as a rock. Overflowing toilets—a dream...... A line of light hit his mind. His face turned toward his bedroom’s large, curved, openly screened window and breeze. A black summer bowl of sky was becoming lighter around its edges—the first visible rays from a strong, yellow western Australian Sun. Birds’ voices chirped outside in the still dark morning, a morning chorus. Ever so slowly, his ear began to distinguish the special song of an individual bird. His consciousness was emerging. Despite his best sleepy-time intentions, his short term memory could not keep hold of where his mind’s eye had been. Saving time, even though time kept flowing on; the dream slipped away, like vacuumed smoke under flowing fuzzy black velvet curtains--the swell in the cuddling folds...

Oort Cloud yawned and stretched, like Catto waking from one of her many naps. “Cah-tow”, as she was known, slept a minimum 20 hours a day. Reaching back, then up, touching the wall, as his feet strained toward the open door of the bedroom where his iron guard-toad crouched as a doorstop. Pure pleasure existed in that moment, the excitement of blood rushing through his limbs. Head sandwiched in cool pillow (now cold, after flipping), nude under a warm, clean, sun-dried, black, sewn (haw! Black swan/black sewn) duna, peppered with silver stars. His bright yellow wall was festooned with a painted stripe of scarlet running from ground to ground, kitty corner, across his bedroom ceiling. His child’s paintings and his own, plus the paintings he grew up with as a child dotted the walls of his bedroom—a tiger, some fish, a bear. Outside, next door, a toddler spoke in what he imagined to be Japanese. After some seeming sentences, the voice faded. The mechanical whoosh of distant, electric truck traffic began to dominate morning’s atmosphere, as the collective bird voices greeting first-light began to fade. Suddenly, he heard a flight of white parrots burst overhead with their “ka (as in cat) ka, kaaaaa, bah-jurp”. Fast, they were. He put his hands behind his head, stared, image upon image flipped through his mind, one by one, connection, no connection, connection.

Oort looked forward to his socially necessary labour time. At least today, he was happy about it. Actually, most days, he was. It wasn’t to be like yesterday’s stint in the mine though. Still, the four hours hadn’t been that difficult, just a bit tedious. Besides, four hours counted for eight in mining jobs, physically stressful and potentially dangerous as they were classed. By the end of his four hours in the library, Oort would be finished with necessary community work for the week. Ah, the mine...operating an electric dump truck was something he’d done before and besides, he’d had music with him, which made a lot of the ‘automatic pilot’, back and forth stuff a piece of cake. Sometimes, a miner’s work was all there was left to do on the job board, especially if you got in late to the job pool. He’d chosen library work this Friday, as he had training in shelving before and liked it. He knew how to shelve and shelvers were needed on Thursday, so he put his name in. He reckoned that it would take him thirty minutes to peddle to the Central Perth Library from the train station. With back and forth time subtracted, he’d be shelving a mere three hours, if that was all that was needed; sometimes jobs were done in less time, much less time. On occasion, need exceeded producers’ estimates, not often though. In any event no forced overtime was the rule of thumb. Four hours each for 20 shelvers was an assessment by the day’s previous producers. Not bad. With his mine shift, he’d have enough to live on for the next week and a half. He sometimes enjoyed learning new ways to apply his skills; but today, he just wanted to make his contribution and socialise with others. Who knows? He might meet someone he really liked. A new friend. Who knows?

Mitra slept naked under a large, solar powered fan on hot summer mornings and this was one. Her rem sleep pre-revolution era driven dream still in full subconscious motion:
Cocaine (the power drug) replaced marijuana.

Talk of levelling the playing field was replaced by talk of "getting yours."

And the po-mos replaced talk of history and revolution with a-historical anthropological talk of how everything was relative.

And the unions were crushed....
We used to sell weed for what we bought it know, cut up the kilo into lids and sell it at cost. It was the way. Then, profit started entering into the equation and soon after, coke and big crime syndicates. The general principle of bourgeois culture, freedom as a negative social relation i.e. my freedom is your unfreedom, replaced communal sit downs on the carpet after demos with conversations about 'the movement'. Liberalism crept in via authorities like Todd Gitlan, replacing Marx and other revolutionaries. The left oriented bookstores of Berkeley and beyond began to die. "Jesus Christ Superstar" replaced "Hair". Reagan beat Carter (who'd already started funding what would become the "freedom fighters" of al Qaida) and the conservative air traffic controllers' union endorsing Raygun's election was crushed by ‘the Gipper’ himself, sounding the beginning of the end of business unionism's compact of class peace with the majority of the post WWII bourgeoisie....of course, not to be replaced with class conscious unionism--rather the embrace of a death spiral built on cynical political opportunism, its natural child. 

She awoke with a start, immediately thinking of food. A brunch of tortillas, beans and huevos rancheros popped into her mind. Her mouth watered. When she threw off her covers, she discovered that it was warm enough to walk around without clothing. Her bare feet touched the carpet, then the cool linoleum floor. Something was underfoot. “A lone, stray pea from last night’s bag of frozen peas”, she flashed. She tossed it into the compost funnel. Before she began to rattle pans and put the dishes away from the previous night, she turned the audio media on the ‘Classic Jazz’ station. The time was seven bells.

“The World Producers’ Council changes for today are the following: Amy Smith has replaced Alan Jones. Trevor Howard has been dropped in favour of Pleasure Ncube. Finally R. Robert Robertson is now coordinating production councils in the North African Region.” And then, the standard message which followed all administrative news: “All councillors are subject to recall. Voting takes place at 11 bells. Tune to the 3D, Cinerama Discussion Channel-Twenty-Four, 24 hours a day for further details on what will be voted on for the next seven days.”
“Councillors kept to what people wanted and if they got lazy or got ideas about political power at the expense of others, they were pretty much removed the next day,” she thought. She reached for her shiny tin kettle and opened the lid and turned on the rainwater tap. “Must clean the screen tomorrow”, Mitra told herself. Democracy was an ongoing matter; it didn’t matter if you missed a little here and there. You could always correct, if things started getting out of hand. They had happened a couple of times in her life—matters getting a bit out of hand that is. Once was that dumb decision to make elephant dung collection qualify for socially necessary labour time status and therefore eligible for draws on the social store. There just weren’t that many elephants anymore; the breeding program was just getting up and away so, elephant dung collectors were just going on hikes, rarely returning with any dung. The other was the decision to allow a right turn on red. This proposal completely forgot the Australian region. The battle over left/right side of the road driving had yet to be settled. Ah, but that could happen. Who could always keep in mind the old senses and days of ‘national’ independence? They still rumbled in the cultural mindsets of many producers.

Mitra was also an accomplished history buff and much in her dreams was stimulated by reading chronicles of the ages. Her passion all started when she was eight and began reading Herodotus. These days, more often than not, she would be caught up in an old problem of historical interpretation. Of late, she was focussing on the arguments which the rebel doctors made concerning what they believed to have been an ‘injustice’ in terms of their post-revolutionary compensation. “How could”, they asked, “how could one hour of a doctor’s labour be worth the same as an hour of at the wheel of an electric train?”
After filling a half kettle, she turned the left-front stove top cooker on ‘high’, putting the kettle down on it. Today, she’d be shelving at the Central Library for a couple of hours. That would suffice in terms of getting what she needed from the social store for a week, at least a week. Mitra used a lot of her free-time to engage in her favourite creative pastimes: painting her dreams on canvas, martial arts, fucking and of course, reading the published works of historians.

The music was back on. Music was also a passion. Artie Shaw’s recording of “How High the Moon” began. She moved her head a bit in time with the rhythm, shovelling three, heaping soupspoons of espresso beans into her coffee grinder from a glass container jar. Capped and pressed, the machine whined, becoming more highly pitched as the bean were being pulverised. A strong aroma of coffee was beginning to emerge in the kitchen. Artie was pushing the envelope while Mitra used both hands, shaking the grinding coffee beans in time with the rhythm like a mariachi. The moment the beans were powder, Oscar Peterson began playing “Porgy”. The kettle was just about boiling as Mitra fingered the last morsal of coffee from the top part of the grinder, into the hemp filter of a glass coffee cone. She used her finger to do this. Long ago she’d decided she no longer needed a brush. She always enjoyed the sensuality of it all. Even this small opportunity was savoured. After all, time was no longer money. Ben Franklin’s face popped into her mind. Her foot tapped to the music as she measured one large mug of boiled water onto the finely ground coffee, filling the cone, a wisp of steam rising. As the espresso dripped, the inviting aroma of freshly brewed coffee grew more powerful. The atmosphere seemed to have thickened in a very nice way. Jelly Roll Morton’s “Doctor Jazz” was next out of the media box.

She poured herself a cuppa and put her nose down toward the top of black coffee steam. Her nostrils swooned. “A large part of happiness was bound up with the many sided joys of slow, of taking your time doing it”, Mitra thought.

At first sip, Mitra began to sail into complete consciousness. Her blood rushed with more force. And the moments came; they flew by. She knew now that the morning had truly come. “Yes, tortillas, beans along with huevos rancheros.”

The walk to the train station was filled with pleasantries, awash with West Australian sunshine. Sunflowers in their millions were being kissed by honeybees. Perthian light was intensely bright, making the place seem larger than it was. Endless blue sky, colours became loud, often making tree leaves appear greener than green. Hot, desert-dry air blew in gently from the east. Oort felt a variety of invisible pollen blasts hit his face. His nose tickled. He sneezed with a loud gushing sound. His eyes watered while at the same time being dry from the wind. He put his knuckle gently into his eye socket and rubbed a bit. He would refuse to consume antihistamines as long as he could tolerate doing so and he reckoned that would be forever or until a gene splicing cure hit the chemist outlet.

But what the hey... the chooks were cackling and crowing along the paddocks which sat next to the path which led to the railway stop. Oort could hear them from his home, especially the roosters. “A great way to use land”, he thought. Some, did not like it. There were other neighbourhood cultures. He also saw some sheep and goats munching their way across a field adjacent to the Queens Park Community sidewalk. The land was used well.
The housing question had been settled 50 years ago this month. Maybe, there would be large parties organised to celebrate. Oort would be there, if there were. He resolved to suggest a party to as many as he could on this day, get the ball rolling so to speak. Maybe, the night would end up as merely another block party. No matter. The point was to celebrate freedom from want of a home.
Everyone had their own abode to live in until they died. Well, at least these days they did. The landlord class had dissolved with common ownership of the collective product of labour. The size of one’s abode depended on need combined with the producer’s own need and desire. Sometimes, desire wasn’t often satisfied completely. Still, the housing question had been solved once and for all. The more people in a household, the more bedrooms were built into the home—a no brainer, but one inscribed upon the living consensus. They could grow annual vegetables and cultivate fruit trees, have dogs and cats around, anything really--as long as they didn’t make their neighbours suffer. For example, the ability to enjoy enough quiet for a good sleep was considered sacrosanct with regard to the question of suffering. If suffering happened then, they or their neighbour would pull up stakes and go to another home or settle the matter with a ruling from the community consumer’s council. Since the housing question had been resolved, homes were no longer commodities—they were allocated by the community consumer council on the basis of need. The production of housing had finally met need; but it took a social revolution to reach that level of human decency. And that was something to celebrate. At least, Oort reckoned so. When houses ceased to be for sale, they became homes and homes only, places where people lived their lives; where they slept; where they gardened; where they made love. Nobody much bothered moving to neighbourhoods where people lived a lifestyle or culture which irritated them anyway. There were restrictions. Neighbourhoods were self-governing; but had to conform to the main principle of the Commonwealth, “to live in harmony with the Earth”, a principle which was given force by the universal producers’ council, the primary governing structure, the one within which the general populace had just replaced Jones with Smith by universal vote.

Oort got to the station just as the train did; hopped on. “Art had to be meaningful to those who appreciated it,” he thought. “No. What about pure pleasure? Didn’t that have meaning? Could the word ‘meaning’ have the exclusive definition, ‘reasoned’ attached to it to some?”
Two stops later, Oort was no closer to solving his own ethical puzzles, but he was on a public bike, peddling toward the Central Library. Birds crowded the branches of gum, oak and jacaranda trees. Life was a song, he thought as the wind whistled through his helmet and his legs pumped. He would not use the solar assist today.


In the meantime, Mitra had been sopping up the last bits of her enchilada sauce with a lightly pan-fried corn tortilla. Breakfast had been satisfying. Now, she just had to shit, shower and get out the door. Parker was playing “Now’s the Time”. Mitra’s mojo was working full speed ahead.
Few people used their labour time cards to get private bikes anymore. The public bike she had taken from the station was still outside her door, along with two more in the rack at the sidewalk. She flipped the solar switch on and was off down the bike path at 20 kph, heading down Albany Bikeway in the direction of the City. Maybe, she’d try for bike maintenance work next time she needed vouchers. Of late, there was something attracting her to an appreciation for the cold, mechanical precision of flying vehicles. She was also becoming interested in the social aspects which, in part, led to mechanical engineering failures, in very great part before the social revolution. Mitra knew her way around a bike, not an air vehicle--well not yet anyway. She didn’t want to start a course right now because she wanted to be firmly committed to her path and that, she was not. Not yet anyway.


“You can never explain it in a sentence or two.”

Mitra liked that kind of answer. He was sure of himself as well but not dead sure obstinate. She wasn’t in to idée fixe kinds of guys. Fortunately for Oort his brain was always examining the contradictions within any particular shower of positive conceptual projections. He lived closely to a kind of quantum awareness informed by a consciousness firmly rooted in his libido. She’d met him here before, shelving books at the old Central Library. She decided then and there that she wanted to fuck him.

“And most people get bored when you start so, you don’t,” he said smiling.
She turned to look at him looking at her from down the aisle, twenty books away, “You like?”
Oort continued smiling. Friendly connection was in the air. The next step could be where they both wanted to be.  


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wobbly times number 101


(no wonder they're half-mad)

She loves me
He loves me not
He wants me
She wants him not
She hates her
He needs her not
She hates him
He hates her wot
Separate them
Each gets a plot
Like gravestones
before they rot
They're dead
as is their wont
Don't tell them
it is their lot

Wobbly times number 100