Thursday, February 27, 1992 Austin, TX

After a day of quiet and beautiful relaxation on the sunny lawns of UT with my brain stuck in neutral, I find myself now in the cool interior of an old and oaken bar, stoked on caffeine and an excellent suite of postcards. I have no plan, I have no direction. I'm writing off the top of my head in what is a most intriguingly liberating experience. All my writing of late, all that heavy and detailed critique, was written in a brow-furrowed crunch trying to get out what I wanted to say in a smooth and coherent fashion. All of it was based on scrawled lists I'd made over the course of the intervening days, lists of topics and ideas and connecting phrases, notes to remind myself of what had been happening to me and how it fit into a contrived mental scheme, a record of my ideas as they crossed my head and were filed into the bin labeled "To Write About". And all of it was stuck in that same, heavy-headed tone, that chaotic push to describe points of my existence after the fact. It was constructed and viscous -- and fun in places.

But that's over now. I have no concrete agenda, I have no thick observations, I have no tarry monster pushing out through my fingertips. In the spirit of evolution and meta-evolution, my writing has changed once again, an event brought about by recent frustrations and even more recent pore- widenings, both chemical and visual, and by the liberating ethers of Austin, Texas, a town of unparalleled beauty and vigor which I someday hope to make my home. If it didn't cost $2000, I'd shoot my typewriter.

My corneas cleansed, my paradigm shifted, I embark anew, into the land of enchantment. But with this new freedom to explore real-time my neural shunting yards and use words for no sake but there own comes a terrible responsibility: what to write about. I seem to be doing well so far. Besides, I still have a wealth of sketchily remembered anecdotes and observations -- all the better to surrealize them! -- to fall back on if need be.

For instance, how's this little space-using tidbit: Austin has the largest urban bat population in North America. They live in the crevices on the bottom of the Congress St. bridge and fly out at dusk in immense black swarms like smoke.

Exciting, no? And I bet you think I've seen this. Well I haven't. You were merely fooled by the authority of the written word, my self-produced credentials. I only know of this event, almost non-existent in the winter, through the benevolence of three sources. One was the information board along the river front that explained in biologic detail the lives of said bats. The second was Margaret, a friend of Ed's, who took us on a mild tour of the city and explained afresh, complete with glowing description, the bat situation. The third and actually first encountered was a brief reference in the local independent weekly.

Independent weeklies are a wonderful resource. Pick any college town, drive to the large intersection next to campus and you will find the Student Zone, inside of which you shall find the Coffee Shop, inside of which, oh seeker, you shall find the Weekly, and inside that you shall find everything else you'll ever want to find in that city, including ads for all the hip bars, clubs, coffee shops, and record stores. Movie listings, restaurant reviews, museum shows, all are at your fingertips. In this way Lisa and I managed to hit three of the best restaurants in town (as deemed by our host Margaret) in as many nights, and numerous renowned pubs and caffeinotoriums.

"Not a college town?" you ask. Best not stop. Just kidding -- many a non-institutionalized city has things to offer, though hoards of fascinating, energetic, and often stunningly gorgeous young liberal folks are generally not it. Many cities have a welcome center, and all have Chambers of Commerce, both of which will be more than happy to inform you of the regions prides. Wait a minute, didn't I write about this above? In any case, failing attractions, there's always the universal pastime: peoplewatching. Be careful where you do this, though. If I had been alone at the Houston Livestock Show I might have sustained serious injuries for the staring I was performing. As it was I was merely harassed by the carnival barker's calls of "Hey hippie, come win your girlfriend a bear!" There was a really great spot on campus today with a continuous stream in both directions in the foreground, backed by a large grass field dotted with sunning students. I wanted a wide-angle panaflex to leave there for a couple hours, reels filling up with the endless fascination of people afar.

I've mentioned this endless fascination before, in New York and Miami, and it points to a recent concern of mine. It has become apparent to me that a major factor in my drastic mood changes is my length of stay in any one place. After a number of days I begin to slow down and turn blue, yet the instant I go somewhere new (assuming it's a nice place) I become enlivened and burst with desire and creativity. This is to be expected, I suppose, being that I run out of things to do after a while, so on one level it seems normal. Yet on another level I secretly fear that I'm becoming addicted to travel, addicted to change and newness. I've often used the word 'intoxicating' to describe the flow of a crowd. Maybe this was more accurate than I'd thought. I wonder what will happen when I stop.

Postscript: Well, I like my new writing method very much so far. The lack of an outline allows me to flow between topics more naturally and seems to allow me to express more accurately my mental state. I write for a while, dipping and twirling words that dance around the thought though sometimes never touch it, until I'm reminded of something else, some other related topic. In this way my thoughts, racing and probing in the vicinity of the idea, testing various words and phrases, find a new direction and string together into a continuous narrative exploring (eek!) my current state and store of memories. This is very much like how I've been traveling, too: my plans and route vague in the distance and crystallizing as I approach. To be sure, some good topics are forgotten and omitted and some connections evaporate as I near, but for all this I feel it is a more complete (Kerouacian?) representation of....uh....hmmm.

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Chez Zeus: Writing: No Simple Highway: Austin, TX

Last modified: Wed Feb 18 22:59:48 1998
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