Famous hero Nero, who played the exalted lyre, not the common fiddle as oft maligned, and played it well, loved a roaring fire. He was a visionary who suffered from extensive ennui first. He could maintain a near total state of denial without unsightly stressing. The grand sybarites of European culture will never forget him for that. Those who came after never got the rigid pose quite right. Nero liked to watch cats chase mice while eating. His tiny dick would nearly disappear in a chill. He was the first to wage fiery warfare on bed bugs. He was the first arsonist in Europe to hit the big time. He maintained it inspired his music. His plunder, too. What superb European doesn’t know what that’s like? It was not easy being a rich and famous emperor, after all. Decisions were hard to make. Soft skin tended to peel when exposed to harsh light. He preferred to be lounging in a satisfying position. Nero could deny all day long like one sick, flabby motherfucker. Wouldn’t you?
I said to the tawny owl, “I’m concerned I may be lacking context here again.”
“Well, yeah, like…duh.”
“What happened to the indigenous tribes from Saskatchewan and those chill falcons I was hearing about? Was that yesterday? Am I missing today as we speak?”
“I’m not finished.”
“Maybe it’s the missing fiddle that threw my loop today.”
The tawny owl continued to speak above my head and station in that way of his that employed loads of high flying consciousness. “Owls,” he continued, “flocked at a seemingly safe distance to observe the fires set by Nero, although no beautiful bird could feel really safe. A number of pygmy owls postulated the theory that fire did something to improve the tiny stature of the dick.”
I said, “As if.”
The tawny owl, it frankly seemed to me, was milking the subject. Unless that was padding the subject. As far as I could tell, my precarious state of consciousness appeared to be ebbing. Was that oomh-pah muzak and boot stomping I was hearing?
I thought, ick. And as well, eww. Hoping to move the topic right along at a more simpatico human pace, I ventured, “Sure, we all know by now that history gets told by the victors and the spoilers and the apologists. But, all this gallant European slaughter makes me a little bit queasy. You’re not going to subject me to Freddie Mercury again, are you?”
Then he hit me with, “Pink Floyd next.”
I said, “Eww.”
He said, “I may be laughing my ass off.”
I said, “I may be passing out from too much vacuous ennui.”
He said, “You should be getting used to it by now.”
“But, is it sanitary?”
Okay, I get it. Or close enough. My fingers are cramped from taking notes. Or should be. I’m a lowly student of the multiverse. Logically, I need to know this anachronistic shit. Viscerally, too. Beautiful birds were murdered by venal cats pampered by human enablers for the first time. Fucking enough is fucking enough. Imbalance after imbalance sucks and blows. I know carrying around a tricky bag of infectious bullshit has historically been an asset when subjugating natives and slaves. I know that what comes first doesn’t just disappear without a fight. I know that being first to carry flaming catapults and honed steel into battle against unarmed children was important. But, when do we get right down to the real nitty-gritty and shake all over to James Brown in the promised land calling for revenge?
Here on the elevated green campus of the Thee Tawny Owl Institute of High Flying and Rising Consciousness under a redwood tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the curriculum is surely all about getting right down to that real nitty-gritty, right? And sure, that takes effort. And who am I? Another mere human, right? If not that, what? I dig, I do, I wrench, I take, I get it. But, still. Is so much blah, blah, blah really so necessary so often? I have precious water to boil and toasty hops to stir without causing a sticky toxic spill on my polished hardwood floor. There are many mere humans that require more than a modicum of brown beer from time to time on a guaranteed regular basis, along with constant practice in the art and science of balancing figure-eights to the tune of Taj Mahal or Stevie Wonder or Bob Marley or Marvin Gaye, when it’s not Junior Walker or the Reverend Al Green, in order to achieve higher learning, not to mention rising consciousness, even if there will never be flying.
I said, glibly armed with hope, “No harm, no foul, right?”
The tawny owl scoffed, “As if.”
Sure, the animals are getting restless. It’s not only the marauding scorpion currently wreaking his havoc in the Santa Cruz Mountains who has been wrenched from a sweet home in a banana tree by hulking masked men. And sure, it’s as much my fault as the next jerk-off with a feed bag tied on tight with balls and chains. But, still. What’s the rush at this precious moment? I’m in no hurry to become another lemming. Or wait, am I? Is that where all the frenzied helter skelter is leading, accompanied by much crying out loud? Is that why the hour is already too late? It’s usually so easy to ignore inconvenient facts that may require a change in icky attitude and yucky behavior. I’d better not ask if I don’t want to know the answer. Someone said that first a long time ago. Maybe it was Nero. It sounds like him. Now, the answer might suck big time again. Who wants to hear that? Who needs it? And not only for me. Sure, I get it now. First now will later be last.
According to the tawny owl, and unbeknownst to the commonly oblivious human, revenge from the animals with a more expansive version of time and space in place has been proceeding apace for many hundreds of years. It has taken a stunningly average myopia to miss it, a human specialty. Many humans remain proud that they cannot see a tree falling in a forest or a bear shitting in the woods. No other species has managed to survive for even a paltry fifty thousand years with such poor eyesight. Hasn’t that been the true salvation of possessing such a potent least common denominator?
Maybe you have begun to notice your pipes beginning to clog, your resolution clouding with the smoke rising, your whites turning inwardly dull and dim, your colors fading to a muddy shit brown, your knees chronically stiff from bending, your skin cracking under the stress. Or perhaps not. Denial is still big on the hit parade all over, not only in Rome, or Mecca, or Moscow, or Guangzhou, or Alabama.
“A thousand years,” the tawny owl maintains, reasonably, “or perhaps two thousand, tops, …and poof…, just like that, you’re gone.”
I did not want to say what I was thinking in my average sort of self-serving way, which was how such a somewhat startling notion did not sound too bad to me, because as a simple matter of fact I won’t know anyone still hanging on by then. You can’t tell me that the average myopic vision doesn’t have its advantages.
But, then I realized the tawny owl was reading my mind again. It was hard getting used to. Though I managed to coherently think, uh-oh.
“Don’t tell me you believe I’m just a lemming, too?”
“You’re the one who’s worried, not me.”
I said, “But…”
“Look at those scabs on your knees.”
“But, I said don’t tell me.”