o gadji beri booboo (guardian of our being)

SHE IS RUNNING ABOUT here there every­where at once making a noise be­tween a growl a meow a touch of purr hel­terskel­tering off the walls fur­ni­ture things hu­mans can’t see bounding from room to room back again be­tween my legs Berni’s legs around our legs with no ap­parent goal ex­cept the run it­self all the while grounding us Berni and me guarding our being and just who is she!

In 1971, I did LSD for the first time. The ex­pe­ri­ence left me in­tel­lec­tu­ally, emo­tion­ally, and spir­i­tu­ally flum­moxed. No—wrong word: I’d had an epiphany, an in­sight into my uni­verse.

Only what did it mean in the scheme of things?

Had I pen­e­trated the macro­cosm or the mi­cro­cosm?

I sought to grok my ex­pe­ri­ence, so I pur­sued un­der­standing.

This started me on a course of study, mostly reading books—after all, that’s what we West­erners do to con­vince our­selves that we are learning, nein? I haunted Wilkes-Barre’s Os­ter­hout Li­brary and, when I ex­hausted their re­serves, turned to the li­braries at Wilkes and King’s Col­leges, all three build­ings within an easy mo­seying of each other.

 

EvgenyKiselev PartyGirl 600

This piece of con­tem­po­rary art is ti­tled “Party Girl” (a title I do not care for, as it seems to me to cheapen the image) and is by Evgeny Kiselev, one of my fa­vorite con­tem­po­rary artists ex­ploring the realms of psy­che­delia through com­puter art.

What am I doing with Hindu visions?

I started with avail­able LSD and re­lated lit­er­a­ture (there was little then) and me­an­dered wher­ever the ref­er­ences and bib­li­ogra­phies took me. This in­cluded a re­mark­ably vast array of sub­jects, no­tably Zen Buddhism—despite the im­agery of my first trip being Hin­duistic, of things—and Jun­gian psy­chology and Sur­re­alism. 1

The latter took me to dada—and my studies led me to a life­long need to al­ways spell the word with a no caps as dada and to NEVER refer to it as an “ism”—it’s just dada.

While Sur­re­alism ac­tu­ally was more per­ti­nent, dada cap­tured my imag­i­na­tion. Coincidentally—and, we all know there are no coincidences—shortly after my ex­pe­ri­ence, Wilkes Col­lege (which I had just dropped out of after turning on and tuning in) of­fered an ex­per­i­mental course on dada and Sur­re­alism.

As I knew the teacher re­spon­sible for the course—a woman who prided her­self on her outthereness—I re­quested per­mis­sion to “audit” (or sit in without grade or credit) the course.

When I ex­plained why, she was very en­thu­si­astic to have me in her class. I didn’t last more than few classes: I found her and her co-teacher very non-dada in their ap­proach and at­ti­tude. But that’s an­other story.

While ul­ti­mately I came to dis­miss dada as ir­rel­e­vant to my needs at the time. I did come away with a life­long en­joy­ment of some of the “po­etry,” es­pe­cially that of Kurt Schwit­ters and Hugo Ball. Even more im­por­tant than their sound-poetry was Tristan Tzara and his ex­tra­or­di­nary book-length L’homme ap­proximatif (Ap­prox­i­mate Man), of which more in a fu­ture post.

 

HugoBall illo

Gadji beri bimba

German Hugo Ball au­thored a per­sonal dada man­i­festo in 1916. In it he wrote, “How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one be­come fa­mous? By saying dada.”

“I shall be reading poems that are meant to dis­pense with con­ven­tional lan­guage, no less, and to have done with it. I don’t want words that other people have in­vented. I want my own stuff, my own rhythm, and vowels and con­so­nants too, matching the rhythm and all my own.

It will serve to show how ar­tic­u­lated lan­guage comes into being. I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat meows. Words emerge, shoul­ders of words, legs, arms, hands of words.

A line of po­etry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this ac­cursed lan­guage, as if put there by stock­bro­kers’ hands, hands worn smooth by coins. I want the word where it ends and be­gins. Dada is the heart of words.

Each thing has its word, but the word has be­come a thing by it­self. The word, the word, the word out­side your do­main, your stuffi­ness, this laugh­able im­po­tence, your stu­pen­dous smug­ness, out­side all the par­rotry of your self-evident lim­it­ed­ness.”

Else­where, Ball de­clared that his aim was “to re­mind the world that there are people of in­de­pen­dent minds—beyond war and nationalism—who live for dif­ferent ideals.” He was also founder of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, the most im­por­tant center for the dadas of the time.

He was working on a new po­etry: “I have in­vented a new se­ries of verses—verses without words, sound poems—in which the bal­ancing of the vowels is gauged and dis­trib­uted ac­cording to the value of the ini­tial line.”

The most fa­mous of these is Gadij Beri Bimba (and I have added the caps), the first line of which reads: “gadji beri bimba glan­dridi laula lonni cadori.” This bit of non-sense was meant to be read aloud, with drama and zest and humor, per­haps ac­com­pa­nied by cos­tuming and even ef­fects, which would have been crude. 2

 

Gadji 2

The meowings were very close

So why am I telling you this? Be­cause six months ago I went to the front door of our second-floor apart­ment at 6:00 am to get the news­paper. As I stood there, I heard a kitten me­owing, the sound very near.

I looked at the steps leading up to our deck, but no cat.

I leaned over the railing and looked down and under the deck and still no cat.

But the me­ow­ings con­tinued and they were still very close.

Then I looked down onto the deck: to my left against the railing were sev­eral planters with ferns and flowers. Looking up through the flora was a tiny ball of grey fur with HUGE eyes me­owing up at me (to me?).

I reached down and scooped her up: she had medium length, light grey hair with or­ange tor­toise­shell mark­ings. She sat cupped in one hand and stared at me, still me­owing.

There was a raspy “urr” sound in her “meow” which I can’t do jus­tice to with spelling. (“Me­owurruh”?)

I took her in­side, waking the Burn from her usual deep sleep. She was in­stantly alert and we sat in bed with the kitten, al­lowing it to roam around in the sheets. Then the purring began.

The purrs did it: we were in love with our new kitten!

But was she ours?

When the com­plex’s of­fice opened at 9:00 am, I alerted them that a beau­tiful, healthy, clean kitten had shown up at our doorstep. Surely someone would be looking for what was ob­vi­ously a well-cared-for cat. The of­fice took the information—and never called back.

I went to the neigh­boring units and in­quired about a lost kitten. We tacked up little signs.

No one claimed her.

Now, this is NOT what we wanted: our last cat had died sev­eral years ago and we had de­cided NOT to have an­other cat or dog until we moved into our own house.

Our motto was “No Pets, Yet.”

After a few weeks, we re­al­ized that we were stuck with her.

Lucky us!

She is af­fec­tionate, funny, talk­a­tive. Her light grey fur has gotten con­sid­er­ably darker: even from a short dis­tance, she looks black. This only high­lights the or­ange and white mark­ings.

And she plays fetch! My cat plays FETCH! But only with a wad of rolled-up paper—she has little to do with ac­tual cat toys. I could go on (like how the latest vari­a­tion in fetch is her leaping sev­eral feet into the air in an at­tempt to catch the wad of paper be­tween her forepaws), but I won’t. I have to get back to dada and Hugo Ball but first.

 

Unicorn hoodie 800

So what are we gonna call this kitten?

Naming her was an issue. Granted that it’s not like naming your dog: dogs do re­spond to their name being spoken by a human. Ap­par­ently, cats do not. (Or per­haps they do and choose not to re­spond so as not to look or act like a dog.)

But still, she had to have a name.

As she batted the wad of paper about, we batted names about.

I sug­gested Greye, which re­flected her color and the added “e” made the name seem both fem­i­nine and spe­cial. This did not move the Burn, who opted for Grey Booboo—sometimes with a “the” (as “The Grey Booboo”), some­times without. This did not move me: I have tried thinking like Pepé Le Pew and hearing it as Bubu—giving it a French touch, oui?—but to no avail.

Then, last week, some­thing trig­gered the Ball non-sense verse and I simply said aloud, “O gadji beri booboo.”

Voila! I wanted to call the kitten Gadji.

Need­less to say,Gadji didn’t make the Burn’s freak-flag fly. So I now call kit­ten­Gadji and she just calls her­Booboo. And so we have Gadji Booboo. And that is the reason for the mini-history lesson about Hugo Ball and his dada sound-poetry! And I have to get back to dada and Ball but first.

 

UpsideDownKitty 2017 full 625x1150

I found this won­derful image of the up­side down kitty while searching the In­ternet for some­thing else ut­terly dif­ferent. At first, I thought it was an al­tered image achieved through Pho­to­shop or GIMP. But then I re­al­ized that in fact, this pussycat had found a way to stand on its head long enough to pose for the pho­tog­ra­phers. (The tail is the give­away.) And I mean pose: look at that face! That is not a cat in dis­tress and wanting out—that is a cat in a state of zazen.

All of them cats

The Burn and I have come to re­alize that someone who knows us fig­ured we would make a good home for an oth­er­wise un­wanted kitten and placed that wee ball of grey on our porch. There is simply no way that she man­aged those steps by her­self.

We are baf­fled as to how we lasted so long without a pet around the house grounding our being! Given that the little day-to-day stresses ac­com­pa­nied by the “slings and ar­rows of out­ra­geous for­tune” tend to ground one’s being into the ground, this is a blessing in­deed! 

As for grounded be­ings: the mo­ment I saw this image of the up­side­down kitty I thought of Eck­hart Tolle’s ob­ser­va­tion, “I have lived with many Zen mas­ters, all of them cats.”

I have since made this image a kind of totem for my blogs, where it can be found near the bottom of each sidebar. Tolle and Patrick Mc­Don­nell col­lab­o­rated on a book that will put a smile on even the most cur­mud­geonly among us. The book is ti­tled Guardians Of Being.

Patrick Mc­Don­nell is the author/illustrator of the long-running Mutts syn­di­cated comic strip (and guess what it’s about). He pro­vided the il­lus­tra­tions, a cross be­tween his car­toon work and his chil­dren’s book art. 

Eck­hart Tolle is a best-selling au­thor (The Power Of Now and A New Earth) and was named #1 the Watkins Re­view of the 100 Most Spir­i­tu­ally In­flu­en­tial Living People in 2011. He con­tributed the text, which con­sists of pithy say­ings and ob­ser­va­tions which work as cap­tions for the il­lus­tra­tions. Tolle’s web­site de­scribes thus:

“More than a col­lec­tion of witty and charming draw­ings, the mar­riage of Patrick McDonnell’s art and Eck­hart Tolle’s words con­veys a pro­found love of na­ture, of an­i­mals, of hu­mans, of all life-forms [and] cel­e­brates and re­minds us of the wonder and joy to be found in the present mo­ment, amid the beauty we some­times forget to no­tice all around us.”

I would de­scribe the book as an at­tempt by the cre­ators to make the reader pay at­ten­tion to how our pets—notably dogs and cats—ground our being to the re­ality of the world around us, both ma­te­ri­ally and spir­i­tu­ally.

 

Gadji behindrock 1500 crop

HEADER IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is Gadji be­hind a rock in the grass in our yard.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   The image I chose for the header at the top of this page is one of many im­ages of Shiva. “Shiva is from the San­skrit Śiva, meaning the Aus­pi­cious One. Also known as Ma­hadeva (Great God), Shiva is re­garded lim­it­less, tran­scen­dent, un­changing, and form­less.

Shiva has many benev­o­lent and fear­some forms and is also re­garded as the pa­tron god of yoga and arts. The main icono­graph­ical at­trib­utes of Shiva are the third eye on his fore­head; he is usu­ally wor­shiped in the an­i­conic form of Lingam.” (adapted from Wikipedia)

2   I never did say all that I wanted to say about Hugo Ball and his sound-poetry (not that I had any­thing new to say), so I have listed the com­plete poem in a sep­a­rate post fol­lowing this one—titled “hugo ball sound po­etry o gadji beri bimba”—which means that it will ap­pear first on the web­site.

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Well, thats in­ter­esting (Zzzzzzzz) and it re­minds me of a saying that one of my wise ed­u­ca­tors once shared with me, “Some things you do for a living, some things you do be­cause you are living”. Ei­ther way, my guess is that the kitty didn’t give a shit.
Love to all, Looney.

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