It was in the 80s. I was crashing on someone's couch in the Bronx. One night, I wanted to see Don Pullen pianoing at Lush Life in Greenwich Village. I got on a train at White Plains Road and got off when I was sure I was in Manhattan. I didn't pay any attention to numbers, and wasn't sure what to do, other than continue walking aimlessly down X Avenue or Y Street. Hailed a cab; "Take me to Lush Life", I said. We got there in X minutes. The cab driver asked for his $X fare. Trouble ensued...

It's not laziness, not really another example of my ram-headedness. I say i can't remember dates, prices, phone numbers and it's true. Unless the words can be sung, repeatedly; i am more likely to remember them as a progression of mouth sounds.


What for? How many how much? It is the hallmark of the practical mind. And practicality has got us what? Bodycounts? To the moon? Emissions tests and taxes?

First forget what time it is
for an hour
do it regularly every day

Are we too at home in a schedule, too permissive, allowing a clock to tell us what is now and who to answer to? Do these numbers amount to a convenience that outweighs freedom?

I can't pretend my numerical disability makes me at all superior in any way. It makes me frustrated. "Oh, what did that cost?" such a practical answer to a practical question should be easy to remember. "How many students were at your college?" - I'm not being petulant, i'm being tripped. Ok, i'm being petulant. I want to not need these. It makes me critical because i am afraid.

follow these by forgetting how to add
or to subtract
it makes no difference
you can change them around
after a week
both will help you later
to forget how to count

I want to imagine an alternate world where these numbers aren't needed. We can name our streets. We can do away with fees and fares and incomes and tarriffs.

until everything is continuous again

The good thing about experiments - they do not have to be practical, unless you are on a payroll. Thought is play. And from it can be built grand worlds that can leak into ours through your each action.

poem-sections from Exercise, by W. S. Merwin, which i originally posted here in its entirety, but which is certainly in thrall to copyright lawyers. Go. Read it.

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