5. "The One-Armed Man"
"They gave me the cure
"for the floating world."
- J.M. Regan, "Aphasiac"
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by Edward Lacie
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Before this episode begins, two commercials are shown for series I don't remember: "The Young Riders"? "Perfect Strangers"? A western and a sit com. Hmm.
Jim Post coughs in bed. I'm in the living room. We've switched roles? Switched rooms, at least. I shouldn't watch this many episodes in one sitting but I like to get a good running start.
In Twin Peaks, the city,¹ the one-armed man sells shoes. In "Twin Peaks," the tv show, the one-armed man sells shoes.
There's an irony there which I can see, but I don't understand. On "Twin Peaks," the videocassette, I have a special power I can invoke here, and I will. I rewind.
"What did it say?" (I won't reveal which character says this.)
The first clue about the one I abducted: unlike Laura Palmer, it's a male. Who killed Laura Palmer? Should I kill my kidnap victim like originally intended?
The first clue about who I murdered: his name has been in the papers! He is now a corpse singing with his blood.³
So, two clues: it was a man that I murdered months before kidnapping another.
"Bob," the one-armed man moans, letting it sound more like a cry than a real word. (The question Cooper asked was something like "Who killed Laura Palmer?")
Jim Post doesn't know I committed a murder. The kidnapping he isn't in favor of, but he wants to stay out of it. Says it's my business and it is.
Cooper: "In the heat of the investigative pursuit, the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line."
The shoes in the sample case of the one-armed man are right foot shoes only (and/or he sells only to paraplegics with right legs).
Cut-ups, William Burroughs thought, display the true content of the original author's unconscious.
Nor do my actions have to do with Satanism or that Son of Sam soap opera that I inadvertently got tangled up in those many years ago when I was trying to write poetry.
I did consider writing some poetry as part of this narrative ("My name is Leland Palmer...." would be a great poem beginning if the audience knew the complex, dark, hideous character that is Leland Palmer, Laura's father, played by Ray Wise whose previous claim to fame had been starring opposite Adrienne Barbeau of "Maude" in some B-minus "Swamp Creature" movie (directed by Wes Craven) which I'd never seen until after starting this narrative), but I don't remember how to write poetry. It's been over twenty years since I've done anything but read and study the poetry of others.
About the kidnapping, if I knew whether or not I plan to kill him or hold him for ransom, I'd say here. But I don't know yet myself. It's why I write, to learn, to decide. Maybe by the time Laura's killer is revealed, I will reveal who it is that I've kidnapped.
Because the murder came first, I'll reveal who I killed, the vermin. But not yet.
Laura Palmer has a dark-haired cousin (Laura was blond) who looks otherwise just like her. She's come from Idaho, or some such, just for the funeral. She stays a short while. She's just met James Hurley, Laura's secret boyfriend (and mine; I had a crush on him in 1990).
Rimbaud was born October 20, 1854, a Scorpio. Verlaine was ten years older. Jim Post was born February 19, 1958, a Pisces, on the cusp of Aquarius. I was born on November 30, 1961, under the sign of Sagittarius. Poet X's birthday, I learned from Greg Baysans in our e-mail correspondence, is August 3, year unknown.
Greg Baysans was born June 23, 1958, in Dickinson, North Dakota, a Cancer. References to his home state are few and usually deprecating. By 1983 he was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and attending a writers group founded by Phil Willkie. The group began meeting in the spring of 1983. In the autumn of that year, the first issue of The James White Review was released.
That first issue was modest, a 16-page newspaper-sized sort of pamphlet. On the cover was a concrete poem by Baysans in the shape of a silhouette of a man's face, "Portrait of a Man". A poem about cruising strangers, it's distinct in being the only example of concrete poetry in his complete works.
Contributors to the first issue were members of the Minneapolis writers group. The second issue attracted contributors with mainstream published short story writer Donald Hall, and Ian Young, editor of the "Male Muse" series of poetry anthologies.
Cooper: "Gentlemen, when two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry, you must always pay strict attention." Waldo!
Maybe my captive's name is Waldo. This narrative is a sort of "Where's Waldo?" And who was killed before Waldo was kidnapped?
"Is there a connection?" asks Harry S. Truman. Cooper's rule is similar to a "B-M," but is also very different.
Cooper's First Rule: "When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry, you must pay strict attention." Waldo.
Writing the Gnome notebook, which drove me unstable if not crazy, was like a connected series of B-Ms written in poetic style while observing Cooper's Rule.
I'm concerned about not repeating the brain storm that debilitated me after the first writing of this book. But I can't say it won't happen. It helps, I'm all but sure, to recognize now what the components, then unrecognized, were that contributed to the event. It seems natural to want to write "breakdown" but it was definitely not a downward feeling; it was more a "breakdown in the direction of up."
Having put time between myself and my youthful poetry, I wondered if I could regain the sensation but keep it in control rather than have the world rush back at me as forcefully as I was trying to rush at it.
The short version of the formula for having a breakdown in the direction of up is the same as the formula for achieving Rimbaud's "disorganization of the senses": experience a chain of B-Ms while observing Cooper's First Rule, defined above.
Something about Waldo....
Like all pleasant sensations, too much at once is not a pleasant sensation. I wish I could but I can't describe it better than that. I don't want to go there again soon. As I write, there's an insistence that pushes the pen and flirts with that flame, though, wants to go there.
An image comes to me like from a dream. Something about a cab ride....
I need to not use my own life as a center³ for the metaphor. Instead, I look up to see where "Twin Peaks" is:
End of episode.
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