Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dispatch From The Front: Day 29

Robert Duncan and the Initiates of the Cult of Seth.

Seth the God of Chaos.

John Tranter impersonating Ern Malley.

Feargal Sharkey as a Tawny Frogmouth on the cover of his first album.

Devin Johnston was twenty four hours late. He’d been held up at Central Station waiting for the train to Budgewoi as there was track-work in progress. Devin got to know a fellow traveler in the crowd by the name of Feargal Sharkey, a singer from Dublin. Devin told him he was going up to the central coast to help W.B.Yeats who was stranded with a group of poets in a Masonic Hall. Feargal was having a break from his tour so decided to go along with Devin so he could meet up with the great poet.

W.B. Yeats had been on the phone to Devin early that morning, he told Devin about the Black Drop outbreak, that everyone who was staying at the Masonic Hall had sampled the Drops and were now too intoxicated to help Robert Duncan proceed with the ritual he needed to perform. Everyone was completely out of control except for Duncan himself and Richard Tipping. Richard was there on a fellowship from the Returned Mystics Association to film the transmigration of the soul ceremony and generally document the event for the future. He had already set up his hi-tech lighting system and had cameras focused on the stage and other strategic positions. He was pacing around looking for unusual angles. Richard followed Duncan everywhere asking questions. Duncan told Tipping how he loved one of Richard’s conceptual sculptures - a red brick that had the words ‘trick-brick’ stamped on the top and bottom. The Budgewoi Masons wanted to commission Tipping to make a huge quantity of these bricks, enough for them to build a project, a shrine to the ancient god Seth or ‘Set’ as the Egyptians called him. Set was the god of Chaos  and was often depicted in a human form but with an animal head. Some say this is the head of an aardvark - Seth has a curved snout, erect square ears, and a long forked tail.

The ancient Greek myths contained versions of Set but called their god of Chaos Seth - the Greeks’ idea of the transmigration is similar to reincarnation and yet different in some aspects. If, for example, the transmigration occurs after death, the person’s shade has to dwell in Hades and drink from the river Lethe until he looses all memory of his or her previous life. When all memory has drained away, the soul moves out from the underworld into another human form, and is then reborn.
Duncan explained to Tipping that this is very simplified version of the process, but it would do for the moment because he would soon be a witness to the real thing.

There were stories of transmigrations gone wrong. If even a tiny trace of a previous memory is retained, when the soul is reborn it becomes a troubled soul forever. There were other stories of souls that had transmigrated into the bodies of non human creatures, sometimes into birds, and at other times even fish.

Duncan set the date. The ceremony would be in two days. This would give them time to clean up the mess left behind in the wake of the Black Drop binge. It would also be enough time for the effects to wear off and for the poets to sober up. 

Devin Johnston and Feargal Sharkey arrived with John Tranter who they had met on the train. Tranter had his whippets with him, Jet and Blondie, as he was aiming on doing some rabbiting while he was staying in the country. Tranter was impersonating Ern Malley but none of us were fooled, although we went along with his charade out of kindness.

Devin took charge of things at the Masonic Hall. Before long he had Herbert Huncke booked into a detox program in the Woy Woy Hospital. Herbert was too far gone to even know what was happening. This was a good thing because he didn’t believe in a life without narcotics, and Devin had to think of the welfare of the whole group. There was no alternative.  When Huncke came to, he was going to be a handful, however this was a district with a high rate of addicts and the crew at the hospital would have seen all types and would know what to do. Devin also arranged a de-briefing session for Bob Adamson who was still convinced Anthony Lawrence should be living on green weed to boost the iron in his blood.

Johnston went down to the river and he soon took up with the old golden codgers who pledged their help with the preparations. A few weird things kept happening for a while - probably the oddest thing was when Philip Salom turned up on the dark of the moon and claimed that he was the Red K himself. He was dressed in a bright red silk jumpsuit and carried a big basket of vegetables he said were harvested in accordance with Rudolf Steiner’s gardening philosophy. Salom made some wonderful jokes
about Herbert Huncke and had everyone in stitches for hours. This totally blew his cover because, as everyone knows, the Red K has absolutely no sense of humour. We were never convinced by Salom’s mimicry but we were now in the habit of going along with the identity crises the poets were all going through.

W.B. Yeats had been laying low, he had been keeping to his room practicing a recitation of The Second Coming for Duncan’s ceremony. He decided to jump back into the eye of the action, he wanted to go out into the night and look at the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere. He loved seeing the Southern Cross and watching the shooting stars and the tails of the space junk as it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere and burned up. He walked along the banks of the Budgewoi and noticed the mullet were jumping, he watched the night herons preparing for the night’s hunting forays.

He was dressed in his finest grey Connemara cloth and wearing his new R.M. Williams boots. He ran into Ginsberg by the river who was trying to sober up by singing Dorothy Hewett’s song On An Island In a River accompanying himself on his trusty old harmonium. Ginsberg looked across to Yeats and said: “Ah Willy, this is a sweet life, and this is a place where peace comes dropping slow, just remember this now because in two days when Duncan gets to work on raising up that old red beast of a god, we’re going to need peace. Call him Seth or Set, whatever the name, he is the God of Chaos!”

There is one more very strange occurrence to report. When W.B. Yeats was strolling back from his walk in the night sky by the river, he heard the tinkling of little bells, then a flapping sound and then a chuckling male voice. Yeats walked out onto the main road under a street light, and there was Feargal Sharkey, swinging on the telegraph wires. He would swing and then move forward by passing his hands along the wire and moving an arm-span at a time. He was totally nude but his body was intricately painted with the full plumage of a tawny frogmouth owl and he was uttering the chuckling call of a male. He swung along for about ten metres,  and then slid down a telegraph pole and landed on the footpath. He walked out into the middle of the street and, looking like a huge nocturnal predator, shivered in his feathery skin then started reciting Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s poem A Wintery Manifesto. W.B. Yeats listened in amazement and then shook his head, thinking ‘The Black Drops’.
G. Lehmann.

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