"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

04 March 2015


Down in Patagonia we live in a canyon without the possibility of television reception, and a radio that attracts only a few Mexican stations.  I don't see the newspaper until noon, which is too late for it to have any real part in forming the day's thought patterns, and magazines are forwarded once a week with the mail.  If you are a lifelong news junkie this vacuum can become vertiginous.  None of this was planned, mind you.  Thoreau wasn't looming in the ideological background, nor were the Zen hermits I revere before flicking on the late news.

The game I have devised to counter or encompass this reality came to me while I was sleeping at the foot of a desert canyon.  There was a layer of frost on the sleeping bag and all night the stars kept on moving, as they will.  Here comes Scorpio, and only the week before Venus had nested in the cusp of the new moon!  Sleep was erratic due to owl calls, coyotes, snuffling javelinas, and the fact that my pockets were full -- including a monocular, pliers (for pulling out cacti thorns), car keys, and talismans; and all this useful junk had lumpishly embedded itself in my flesh.  It didn't occur to me to correct the discomfort by depositing the stuff in my nearby boots because I was in the midst of a Cosmic Wine Trance.  Assuming you're interested in the prescription, drink a bottle or two of good Tuscan wine, eat quite a bit -- in this case rib eye steaks broiled over mesquite coals, folded in a tortilla with red onion, tomatoes, and salsa -- then chase the wine and food with a little Herradura tequila.  The upshot is that you'll fall asleep at nine and wake up at 3:00 A.M. with mild indigestion, frost on your face, and the soul of a nineteen-year-old poet stuffed to the gills with incomprehension.  Before you drifted off and the moon waned, you could see a thousand-year-old petroglyph of a half-man, half-lizard above you on the canyon wall.  Now the only information that will console you is in the stars above your head. Lucky I got only one eye or I'd be keeping track of twice as many. 

Jim Harrison

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