This document last updated March 4th of 2019—still have so much newly discovered Jack writings to add, just wrote (see epilogue of March Forth! A March Fourth Mutant Manifesto) a tribute to Jack who Marched Forth! from a dead-end job at a tax office eleven years ago today.
Here’s the epilogue to March Forth:
This manifesto was originally written and published on March 4th of 2006. On March 4th of 2008, a young man named Jack Spencer Savage, eighteen-years-old, about to turn nineteen, who knew nothing of my writings, had what he described as a nervous breakdown that would not allow him to report to his bleak and oppressive job at a tax office in a strip mall. Instead, he “Cast off the shackles of dead-end wage-slave bondage” and marched forth (unaware of the date pun at the time) to the Greyhound bus station and took the first out-bound bus to anywhere. A few days later he met me in Boulder, Colorado where within the first thirty minutes of an intense conversation that is still ongoing, he told me that since high school he had been haunted by the need to write a fantasy story about an elvish boy who lives in a forest and journeys (marches forth) into the city. It was the precise parallel to my unfinished fantasy epic, Parallel Journeys, which has haunted me for decades.
Jack, who marched forth to other worlds than these in the Spring of 2013, never got to finish his version of the story, but during an approximately two-year period of astonishing literary genius he created some of the most beautiful and haunting poems about the light and dark possibilities of the soul that you will ever encounter.
So, since this is a propitious day to embark on adventurous endeavors, as I would encourage you—I will state my parallel intention to seek to complete the story that both Jack and I have left unfinished.
Best wishes on your parallel journey—March Forth!
June 12 of 2018. I promised a few months ago to add excerpts from the second archive of Jack’s writings I discovered, and I do have a lot of it digitized but got diverted from posting it. I’m going to gradually add some of it so the page can keep growing. Here’s the first installment, some journal entries and emails to me from 2011 with one brief email response from me.
Just saw the “Social Network.” It seems the older I become the more I am reminded that I live in a primitive, savage world, more resembling Planet of the Apes, then the philosophically enlightened utopia I always imagined and hoped for. The idea of the false hierarchy i is constantly put in my face; it is constantly reinforced. This is what defines human existence. And it only makes me feel more isolated and alienated from my fellow species than I already am. I am continually reminded that in order to make friends and acquire lovers, I must play this game, I must seek status in this animalistic world. Though it is not entirely a bad thing. This fact serves to hold my feet to the fire, to propel me to achieve, to keep striving.
I woke up this morning and the first thought that entered my head was what am I doing here. I can no longer answer that question well. It seems ridiculous that I am out here at all. There really is nothing keeping me here except my own stubbornness and fear of returning to Minneapolis where I’ve made so many mistakes. I used to be able to answer that question, “What am I doing Here?” with assurance and confidence that I was in the correct climes, that my life here was most conducive to my souls needs and so forth. This, I can no longer do. There was just this sense of emptiness and meaninglessness as I looked about my room while laying in bed. It just does not make any sense, me being here.
I also have somewhat ominous feelings about going back to school in Minnesota. Minnesota is where I am leaning but, I am not yet walking on firm ground with that.
I am 21
I am feeling better. I’ve returned to my duties more assiduously than in recent months. Although it is mostly just typing already written documents. The reading of Novels seems to be particularly important now. When I was in Canada I read a biography of him and feel like he and I are very similar people, though I hope my life is not as his was, filled with sorrow, isolation and despair.
It occurred to me today that so much of life is about breaking the vicious cycles that we fall into. Whether its lethargy, alcoholism, or any addiction, to just refuse once or twice holding up that status quo, so much good can come. Diet is of critical importance and I am glad I am vegan. It just instills a greater sense of purity as you go about your day.
I did an I Ching reading and had some very positive results. It was 43 turning into 1, it was all about breaking through and making energetic progress in the good. It advised personal vigilance as well as tender receptivity to outside impressions and vigorous self-examination.
Jonathan’s niece is in town, so I have been spending some time with her. She’s an interesting girl but strange, draws on herself, wears strange clothes, etc. Though I feel like we get along quite well. I invited her along on some errands I had to run yesterday, and she acquiesced. Though we are not great friends, nor lovers, there is such a profound difference in life when you have a friend. Someone to accompany you, someone to call if you want, someone to sit a talk with. My god I was biking during this outing, thinking of this and it nearly brought me to tears. This has been the state of my life in Boulder since I arrived. My god it just made ever more clear the state of my life here, it is insane. I am 21 years old and I don’t have a life in the city I live in.…
Perhaps this experience of solitude is essential for some later challenge, though at times it feels on the verge of being unendurable.
There is still no clarity.
Depression and sorrow are still with me. I am by no means paralyzed, but at times this prevailing sense of sadness washes over me like a wave, and I cannot do anything about it.
Not long ago Jonathan said that when you are mistreating or ignoring your feminine side it will still control you but it will control you with moods. I would like to hear him elaborate on that notion, because perhaps that’s the mechanism operating in me. Although I don’t see myself as neglecting the feminine. Rather, it seems I have unhappy inner child and inner anima, because of my life, not because of anything I am explicitly doing, or repressing. In either case I am tired of being broken hearted and alone. I am just so tired of it. Of course I would not do that but even the fact that I feel that way and that I could, it is just so disenchanting. And even if I am not paralyzed or depressed by any outward standard, the thing is I don’t have much energy, even though I am young, and I don’t have much stimulation. Even extracting this record of my days has been a challenge.
I am going through a pretty serious revival of interest in Leonard Cohen, yet again. There is just something about the man that deeply speaks to me, something about him that I love. . . I still am riddled with the same urge to have an audience, even a small audience. I wish I had at least some outside encouragement to do my work. This is also another reason I deeply want a hermetic circle, or group of friends, so we can share our endeavors with one another and make suggestions and so forth.
Everyone I talk with says these years are supposed to be exciting and fun. I really ought to make so(me) changes, because I haven’t been experiencing that. I really wish this time of my life was fun I’ve got to make big changes in my life.
I am afraid that I am bound to lose. being on the outside, coming close to achieving but just missing the mark, these have been themes in my life….
(tells story of a great disappointment in love when a friend got the girl he aspired to)
Beginning when I was 16, and to this day I remember lying in bed that night, in tears, falling into darkness, it was that night I to take up smoking, I decided I would pursue… drinking. This episode left a very deep mark on me, which I can still feel ever so slightly even today. And it was this really, that lead me on the course of my life which I am still living out. And this episode really seems to me now as a signature moment for my adult life. Capable of love, finding love, having it reciprocated only to be realize that I missed just barely, and everything I thought I had was slipping away from my grasp, that I was alone, forsaken, and cold. … I am afraid that I am bound to live this fate, while others go about in success.
Still there are moments of grace.
Occasionally life is illuminated, there is clarity, the troubles which beset me are visible in another light. Last night after work, I came home and was sitting in my chair drinking red wine, listening to music and something was lifted from me for a moment. I realized that throughout all my adult life I have actively retreated from the masses, I have always forced myself, sometimes violently into situations of solitude. When I was younger I told myself I did not want roommates or neighbors nearby because I did not want others to hear me sing. I was shy about my voice. Looking back on all that it seems like a cosmic metaphor for me dancing with my soul. But these moments of grace are only moments, and necessarily cannot be more than that. Its best to let them come and let them go, and while they are here, to observe them with a keen eye. Later these little revelations can instill tranquility when recollected.
I have often felt very, very ambivalent about myself being sensitive. In one way, it makes me more appreciative of beauty, of art and people and so forth and it also allows me to experience life more vividly. But I feel it is this same quality which is so intricately entwined with my essence as a human being on earth, is what sets me apart from my peers; what makes me unwanted by many people and rejected by some girls. It is this quality that makes me feel different. I have often felt like I have would be better off as a more of a brute, and have even wished it and sought to expunge these sensitivities. Simultaneously, though I understand that life is constantly progressing, and that the way I experience life now and the actions it leads me to, will perhaps someday take me to a more beautiful plateau than a more ordinary, insensitive person. At least this is what I hope. I have been meaning to send you an email, about your research on NDE’s. Since I’ve been back I spend more time with people who, though not insensitive, are not really spiritual; e.g., they believe our bodies are ourselves and when we die we are in oblivion. Though this is not entirely the way I experience life, I find that it influences me being around that sort of mentality so often. I am afraid that death is oblivion. More than this I am afraid that there are certain lifestyles that allow you to cross the horizon of death fully enact and other lifestyles that ultimately destroy you entirely. I am afraid, in other words that there is something that I am not doing which will prevent me from crossing the great divide. I am also afraid that all of my spirituality is merely a comfort created by myself to ease myself and protect myself from a more terrifying reality
On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM, jonathan zap <[email protected]> wrote:
The irony of spiritual living is that you become more sensitive and subtle. Therefore, you become intolerant of the coarse. There is not much choice in this. If you want to catch the subtle things in life, then you must become refined yourself. But the coarser things will then accumulate all the more quickly. A coarse sieve in a rushing stream will hold back only debris and large rocks. A fine mesh will catch smaller things, but it will also retain the large… —modern Taoist Sage, Deng Ming Tao
So this is the down side of being sensitive and empathic, the default coarseness of life is far more abrasive. A coarse person may be better adapted to thrive in a coarse world. My web site generated this quote when I just struggling to deal with the TV being on while working the front desk.
On April 12th of 2017 I discovered a second (and last) giant cache of Jack’s writings as I did a final sort of a storage unit I had in Boulder for 21 years but just closed out, finally moving all contents worth saving to the house I now own in Boulder.
Some of these new writings have given me a key to a much deeper understanding of Jack’s poems.
I intend to post some of this newly discovered content, including a couple of finished visionary poems I never saw before, as soon as possible.
I would also like to write out this deeper understanding and add it to: Savage Reflections—the Poems of Jack Savage.
I wrote “would like to” instead of “intend to” because I also realized the unlikelihood that I will find the time and energy (needed for other long- term writing projects underway) to write out the sixty or so pages it would take to do even a decent job of turning this interpretation into text.
A moment after I wrote that sentence I realized that I could do it, however, as a recorded talk and I intend to do that in the near future and post it as a youtube.
Anyone who was close to Jack or is close to Jack, should feel free to contact me, especially if they are coming to Boulder for any reason. [email protected]
Note added in December of 2015: A few days ago I discovered a gigantic cache of Jack’s writings in a neglected corner of my storage unit. I had completely forgotten that these existed. At some point Jack must have asked me to store these for him and I put them away without looking at them. He never asked for them back. When he returned to Boulder with his brother to pick up his stuff from the Boulder International Hostel in January of 2011 there was plenty of room in the family car for these, but he never asked for them and I had already forgotten. He also never asked for them back in the remaining 28 months of his life. I’ve been talking recently to a few of Jack’s closest friends to figure out what to do with these extremely intimate, revealing and often beautifully evocative documents because some people would be hurt by what’s in them and not in them. There are poems not included in his poetry page, numerous alternate versions of some of them, and voluminous journal writings that reveal a great deal about what was troubling him and what he found inspiring. It took me several hours to read all of it so there must be 20,000 words or so. It’s also possible that I may find more. During the years I spent with Jack he was in a writing phase, sometimes working hours a day. I remember that he had a whole stack of folders organized by subject that he showed me often and some of the writings look like contents of a couple of those folders so I wonder if the rest of the stack might be somewhere else in storage. There are also some insightful and well-written passages on his approach to poetry and relating to the creative muse that I will add to his poetry page. I was also startled to find that there were many pages where my handwriting was interspersed with Jack’s —-Socratic dialogue between us in written form which I had no idea that Jack saved. There are also many pages of notes that Jack took of things I taught him and ideas from our talks, etc. I had completely forgotten that Jack often took notes during our intense conversations.
While talking to Eli yesterday it occurred to me that maybe the best way to handle this archive is to post this note about its existence on this page where others who knew Jack may return. Anyone close to Jack should feel free to contact me about the archive to help me figure out what to do with it. I know that some have writings of Jack from the last year or two of his life that I haven’t seen and I would like to trade access so that if there are late poems or other excerpts that would be appropriate to post here or on his poetry page that can be made to happen. I would be willing to come to Minneapolis to share the archive and see handwritten documents others have (since none of us are probably willing to trust such things to the mail and might prefer to handle originals rather than digital artifacts). Any interested party close to Jack should feel free to contact me: [email protected] As I go through the archive, I will update this page and the poetry page with excerpts that seem appropriate to make public, so please check back. In general, it seems like Jack has more to say and new things about him keep coming up.
Yesterday, Nora, after hearing about the archive, said Jack had been greatly on her mind the last few days. I also noticed that “Elk” left the first new message to this page (by anyone) earlier this month stated that Jack had been on her mind. I responded to Nora:
Jack has seemed extremely present, especially the last few days for me. I was remarking on that yesterday afternoon to Eli, then later last night I invited Sierra, the partner of my closest friend Daniel (who was also close with Jack and their two boys also knew Jack stay and the whole family lives with me) When Sierra saw the giant collage mural I made in honor of Jack, she asked cheerfully, “How is he?” Daniel had never told her about the suicide. I was struck by the present tense of her question, since I had been remarking about how “present tense” (I used that specific phrase) Jack seemed earlier in the day.
I hope to hear from others who are also still learning new things about Jack. Please check back here and on Jack’s poetry page for further updates. If you scroll down to the bottom of this memorial page, just past the infinity sign, you’ll see where I’ve started to post excerpts of the “lost archive.” It begins with a touching holiday mediation, timely for anyone reading this in December.
Jack Memorial Altar —Leaves of Grass book he gave me, the glowing green tortoise represents gradual progress on the spiritual path
As the photos on this page illustrate, Jack was a young man of many moods. Whatever side of him he showed you, there were always other sides. Luckily, Jack was more gracious and patient than most of my friends with my ever-present camera and my endless picture taking.
See two videos I made of Jack at age 21 that really capture his essence and the immense charm and wit of his mercurial personality: https://plus.google.com/+Zaporacle/posts/
Jack, in a Boulder Canyon
Among other talents, Jack was a brilliant poet. After spending more time with the poems the last few days, I believe Jack was, and is, one of the greatest poetic voices of his generation. It’s not that I’ve read so many millennial generation poets, it’s a general feeling I have based on the power with which Jack’s poetic voice is the voice of the soul. Sometimes this poetic voice is celebratory, at other times it is struggling and even tormented. But it is always profound, authentic, accessible and deeply present with the reader. Jack’s voice has a presence, an emotional immediacy and intimacy with a sympathetic reader that is comparable to Walt Whitman, who was Jack’s greatest poetic inspiration (Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan were huge influences as well). Jack’s poems, even the ones that he wrote when he was 19, do not seem like an awkward, adolescent attempt at being Whitmanesque. They are alike, because both poets are voices of the soul. To experience these poems is an opportunity to hear the voice of the soul, a voice that gets drowned out by the noisy bustle and haste of modern life.
The voice of the soul is not always happy. It can experience glorious ecstasies and transcendence—Jack’s poems are filled with jeweled and glowing examples of this sort of divine exuberance. But the voice of the soul can also be the voice of the dark night of the soul, and Jack had his share of those to tell of too. As he puts it, “And I am divine in my worst hour as much as I am in my best.” When you read these poems, draw close to them, sit across from his voice with a glass of wine or tea, it will be a very deep and intimate conversation
For a while Jack had a section on this website called “Savage Reflections” which he allowed me to build for him with some of his best poems. Later Jack asked me to take it down, but I kept all the poems. I think the unexpected request to take down the Savage Reflections online collection was one of the first formal statements Jack made of withdrawing from life. At first I posted the poems here, but when I finished I found that his poems totaled more than 12,000 words and realized they should really be on their own page which you can find here: Savage Reflections—The Poetry of Jack Savage.
Once again, the quality of the poems is outstanding, and so many of his lines are visionary and haunting. The poems reflect the exuberant ecstatic heights of the soul as well as its suicidal depths. If you read his poetry collection you will see into some of his deepest thoughts and hidden selves. I left just a couple of his poems in here.
Like the poetry page, this is a living document with new comments being added and new content being discovered. So check back in the future to see additions.
One of the first things Jack told me was that he had a history of lashing out at people he loved. So if Jack loved you, you probably experienced that at some point (or at many points)—those impulses that came from Jack at moments of painful inner conflict and torment. If Jack lashed out at you, it probably meant that he felt safe with you and that ultimately there was a bond that could not be broken. The empathic and compassionate side of Jack was very real and allowed him (at times) to peer deeply and appreciatively into people. But when Jack was in a state of inner torment, that same capacity for relatedness became an instinct to find out your deepest vulnerabilities and go after them. In his moments of inner chaos, Jack may have wanted others to feel what he was feeling, and so he felt compelled to try access the most vulnerable parts of us that we might have under control at the moment, but that he didn’t. Don’t hold onto those moments or take them personally. To love a tormented soul is to sometimes be tormented. While Jack is still divine in the states in which he was eclipsed, hold onto the authentically radiant moments where Jack expressed his deeper self, the loving, playful, soulful and creative Jack (that also comes across in his poems and in some of the photos).
A few years ago I wrote a brief document called Defying the Dragons of Doubt that was about a difficult evening of trying to counsel Jack during a dark night of the soul. Here’s the most relevant excerpt:
A friend was struggling with doubts about the value of life and even talked about suicide. While I tried to counsel him, and point out aspects of the glass that were at least half full in his life and in mine, he lashed out at points of vulnerability in me, aspects of my life where I am most likely to have doubts and insecurities. The doubts that he directed at me had the sharpness that can only come from someone who knows you well and who can, for example, quote private doubts expressed in confidence to them by other people you care about. At times the onslaught of negativity had me on the ropes, and raised Dragons of Doubt in me. But I also realized that I was counseling a soul in torment and I worked to regain my center, to stay calm and not take the remarks personally, and to be a compassionate presence as my friend struggled with his doubts and inner demons. As I regained my center, the doubts were directed less at me and more at life in general, and he became quieter— still angry and defiant of the cosmos, but not quite as tormented. When he left my house it was close to midnight. But even after he was gone, the sulfurous atmosphere of doubt we’d wrestled with lingered, and I doubted if I had done any good, and if it was worth it for me to have attempted to help.”
Jack has no more barbs to throw at any of us. Whatever doubts Jack raised about himself or others, whatever bitter thoughts or feelings he may have stirred up, should now be laid to rest. We need to be at peace with Jack and forgive him for any painful things he did while in states of inner torment.
The photo above (and just below) is of Jack with his backpack and guitar about to go off on an adventure. I put that image on top because I feel it is best for Jack to hold to the image of him at his best—loving, adventurous, talented, brilliant, creative and funny.
Once again, there is a comments section below. Feel free to share any feelings you have about Jack’s passing and any memories or reflections about him.
In a college application I was helping Jack with, he wrote about what writing poetry meant to him. Here’s the rough draft of what he wrote and sent me in an email dated 12/3/09:
Writing Poetry has been a hallmark of my adult life. When I began reading Walt Whitman at the age of fifteen, I felt a profound connection and union with the words on those pages. Leaves of Grass introduced me to a world of much broader horizons and much greater depth. While discovering Leaves of Grass I simultaneously became aware of a great river within me; that urge to create. Ever since that time my studies of the great poetic and literary minds of the past has been continually expanding, and so too has the scope of my understanding, as well as the sense of nourishment I derive from writing. Yet often times I resent this urge to create. When I spend my time, many hours, devoted to the creation of art, working with a diligent work ethic a question frequently arises “what good will come of this” “who will experience this” etc… Yet I have come to the conclusion that in order to live a fulfilling life, you cannot resist the currents within you.
Amidst my Catastrophe
by Jack Savage (first published June 14, 2011)
Amidst my catastrophe
(The one my hands crave)
Among the ruins of my loss
Inside the windowless chambers of my awful defeat
I will do this as long as I live
Until my living changes
The beautiful ones,
The mean spirited ones too
I’ll learn to live and love among them
I’ll live alongside the unrelenting horror of this chaos
Knowing the fires of my pain
I’ll let myself be known to those who love me
As well as those who don’t
And I’ll struggle to love with a heart that’s true
And give them all my love mercifully
Mercifully as I’ve given the multitudes of it to you.
Inside this world
Its minor annoyances, fiendish desires and fortresses of hate
Amidst my catastrophe
(the one my hands crave)
Among the ruins of my loss
Inside the windowless chambers of my awful defeat
I will do this as long as I live
Until living changes
And I will let it be a part of me
Until my letting emancipates me.
Free from slavery,
Free from strength,
Free from the petty,
Free from rank,
Free as the gracious air
Graciously, reverently, humbly,
So graciously, all for you.
Jack (and the one above with the glass bricks) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art cafeteria in NYC
The Naive Urgency of Man
by Jack Savage (first published June 16, 2011)
My old life was a sanctuary
Where every flower grew
And love, she was my mistress
In everything I’d do.
All roads were open then,
Sprawling across the land.
I destroyed that monastery
With the naive urgency of man
Jack, in a Boulder canyon
This is the rough draft of a college application essay Jack sent me for editing in an email dated 12/3/09. I haven’t been able to find the finished draft unfortunately.
Since leaving university originally I have undergone a great many experiences. When I first left I tried my hand at the more traditional fields of work, taking employment in a tax office as a secretary and accountant’s assistant. After the tax season had ended, I decided it was time for me to leave my home and venture into the great wide world. And since my departure, my education has truly begun. For a great many months I devoted all of my energies to the writing and studying of poetry, which I realize is a dead art. Sometimes this feels like a fruitless labour as poetry is so neglected in the 21st century. Yet this it is one of the most nourishing forms of art I have found. But this is not the extent of my education. I have further examined literature in a broader sense, including traditional American and classical world literature. I find the Russians and French of particular excellence. In addition to my literary endeavors I have delved very deeply into the field of psychology. I have read the foundational writings of Carl Jung and more contemporary Jungian perspectives. I have grown most fascinated with this subject as it so directly relates and dictates human life. Furthermore I have studied various world religions including Zen Buddhism, mystic Christianity, and Islam. This last religion, Islam, is of particular interest as for the past while I have been working for a non- profit organization called the Women’s Assistance Fund, which provides refuge for abused women in the middle east, whom have been subjugated as a result of Islamic fundamentalism. All these subjects have captivated me since my leaving university. But what is perhaps most important is the studying I have done on myself. I have examined with a rigorous eye the inner workings of my own psyche and probed into the integral question of “what is my true will?” I have come to understand what are my deepest concerns and truest interests. For many years of my life, pervading all situations, both solitary and socially, I found myself within a hazy fog. I was unconscious of the forces at work within me, unaware of the contents of my subconscious, and unaware of the profound complexity of simple living. Since leaving university, after having immersed myself for many years in the unconscious, allowing myself to be animated by them, I have come to identify the many forces at work inside of me and inside of people generally. In this way I have strengthened myself and in increasing my field of awareness, have increased my own free will. In short the time spent away from university was spent lifting the fog of my life, thereby allowing myself a greater clarity of vision.
Jack, showing me some poetry on a hike in Boulder
Jack, with one of his favorite books of poetry
Jack with his mom as we walked through the CU campus
Jack, climbing in Boulder
When someone leaves in this way there is always guilt and a feeling of unfinished business, a wish to have tried to do or say some thing more than what we did. I believe that Jack’s soul found too much alienation and torment in this life but that he is still journeying and still able to benefit from our love. I know that many of Jack’s friends and relations don’t believe in the survival of the soul, and efforts I’ve made in the past to talk to at least one of them on that subject didn’t go very well. But for those who wish to consider the strong evidence that consciousness survives the body, I respectfully offer the following: Life Lessons from the Living Dead
The unfinished thoughts and prayers we have for Jack, I believe, may still reach him. When I learned about his disappearance this morning (an hour or so before I learned about his passing) I wrote him the following email. The subject heading was “Praying for You” I will paste it in here, and hope that others who have messages for Jack or remembrances of him will leave them in the comments section below.
Praying for You
This is still what I pray for. I pray that Jack will find the wholeness and fulfillment that often eluded him in this lifetime in the next phase of his journey. I’m probably always going to wonder if I should have tried to reach out after the two recent dreams. I wanted to, but I also felt I should respect the space that Jack had asked for and that I had promised to respect.
Two and a half years ago, just before Jack left Boulder, Jack gave me a copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grassas a birthday gift. He added a letter that really could have been addressed to any and all of us just as the poems were. In one line of the poems Jack wrote:
And I am divine in my worst hour as much as I am in my best.
We should all remember this. Jack was a complex person, and all of us who knew him well saw both the light and the shadow, the brilliance and loving compassion as well as the bitterness and rage, the self-hate and anger toward those who loved him the most. So when you hear the words he wrote me, keep in mind that he cut off all contact with me for almost a year before his passing. For reasons he never really explained he was unhappy with me, angry and frustrated, and at times others who were close to him felt similar such bitterness, anger and rejection from Jack. But another part of Jack also still loved all who were close to him, and these excerpts from his last hand-written letter to me I believe expressed his feelings to all he was close to (despite the times of disaffection). If Jack ever expressed bitterness toward you, know that another part of him also felt toward you the way he expressed himself here, so if you are open to it, consider these words as standing in for the words Jack would have expressed to you during a moment when the higher angels of his being were present and he was not caught up in inner turmoil:
It is now almost completely certain I will be leaving in a short time. The past several years spent with you as my primary companion have, as you know, been varied. Still I believe that as the years go on I will look back on these days as some of the most wonderful and interesting, no matter where life leads me. I will always hold gratitude and love for you for emerging from the chaos of this world and helping me to find my strength at a particularly turbulent and chaotic time in my life. As the years go on I will continue to consider you a friend and advisor no matter where I am geographically.
I can only hope that you feel these years, in spite of all the wildness and battles, were ultimately empowering and nourishing. I can only hope that you feel as enriched by knowing me as I feel by knowing you. As my gift for your 53rd birthday I am giving you perhaps my favorite book on earth, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, a man I consider to be my spiritual grandfather.
I know you do not have much time for reading these days and I do not expect you to spend all day reading it. But perhaps someday down the line you will open it and think of me and smile and be pleased. I especially recommend “Song of Myself” and “To Think of Time.” Forgive me of my faults and forgive me of my sins. You have my love and admiration and I hope good fortune finds you and blesses you as you deserve to be blessed. Love, Jack
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
I peeringly view them from the top.
The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom,
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.
I know I am deathless,
One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.
My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite,
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.
I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,
The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,
am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases.
Partaker of influx and efflux I, extoller of hate and conciliation,
My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach,
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds.
To be in any form, what is that?
(Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,)
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself,
Distant and dead resuscitate,
They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the clock myself.
Eleves, I salute you! come forward!
Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.
The friendly and flowing savage, who is he?
Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mastering it?
Wherever he goes men and women accept and desire him,
They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to them, stay with them.
To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the knob of the door.
Let the physician and the priest go home.
I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will,
O despairer, here is my neck,
By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me.
I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you up,
Sleep—I and they keep guard all night,
Not doubt, not decease shall dare to lay finger upon you,
I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to myself,
Not objecting to special revelations,
And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is so.
The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of the supremes,
The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the best, and be as prodigious;
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator,
Putting myself here and now to the ambush’d womb of the shadows.
Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life,
Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death.
Know my omnivorous lines and must not write any less,
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.
Not words of routine this song of mine,
But abruptly to question, to leap beyond yet nearer bring;
Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five thousand years,
Waiting responses from oracles,
Drinking mead from the skull-cup,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded,
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten’d, atheistical,
I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief.
I do not know what is untried and afterward,
But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and cannot fail.
Each who passes is consider’d, each who stops is consider’d, not a single one can it fail.
It cannot fail the young man who died and was buried,
It is time to explain myself—let us stand up.
What is known I strip away,
I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.
The clock indicates the moment—but what does eternity indicate?
Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there,
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.
Long I was hugg’d close—long and long.
Immense have been the preparations for me,
Faithful and friendly the arms that have help’d me.
Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen,
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings,
They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.
Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me,
My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.
For it the nebula cohered to an orb,
The long slow strata piled to rest it on,
Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,
Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care.
All forces have been steadily employ’d to complete and delight me,
Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.
O span of youth! ever-push’d elasticity!
Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace of dying days!
Every condition promulges not only itself, it promulges what grows after and out of itself,
And the dark hush promulges as much as any.
I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems,
And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of the farther systems.
Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding,
Outward and outward and forever outward.
My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels,
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit,
And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them.
There is no stoppage and never can be stoppage,
A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic leagues, do not hazard the span or make it impatient,
They are but parts, any thing is but a part.
See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of that,
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that.
My rendezvous is appointed, it is certain,
The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms,
The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine will be there.
I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.
I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.
Sit a while dear son,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.
Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.
I am the teacher of athletes,
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own,
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.
The boy I love, the same becomes a man not through derived power, but in his own right,
I teach straying from me, yet who can stray from me?
I follow you whoever you are from the present hour,
My words itch at your ears till you understand them.
I swear I will never again mention love or death inside a house,
And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to him or her who privately stays with me in the open air.
many seek me, and I do not fail them,
On that solemn night (it may be their last) those that know me seek me.
I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.)
I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.
And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me.
And as to you Life I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths,
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)
There is that in me—I do not know what it is—but I know it is in me.
Wrench’d and sweaty—calm and cool then my body becomes,
I sleep—I sleep long.
I do not know it—it is without name—it is a word unsaid,
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.
Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on,
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.
Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is eternal life—it is Happiness.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.
Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
Source: Leaves of Grass (final “Death-Bed” edition, 1891-2) (David McKay, 1892)
Think of Time
Have you guess’d you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
Have you fear’d the future would be nothing to you?
Not a day passes, not a minute or second without a corpse.
The dull nights go over and the dull days also,
The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over,
The physician after long putting off gives the silent and terrible
look for an answer,
he faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the
The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying,
The breath ceases and the pulse of the heart ceases,
The corpse stretches on the bed and the living look upon it,
It is palpable as the living are palpable.
The living look upon the corpse with their eyesight,
But without eyesight lingers a different living and looks curiously
on the corpse.
Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth—they
never cease—they are the burial lines,
He that was President was buried, and he that is now President
shall surely be buried.
Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell,
The gate is pass’d, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight,
the hearse uncloses,
The coffin is pass’d out, lower’d and settled, the whip is laid on
the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel’d in,
The mound above is flatted with the spades—silence,
A minute—no one moves or speaks—it is done,
He is decently put away—is there any thing more?
He was a good fellow, free-mouth’d, quick-temper’d, not bad-
Ready with life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled,
ate hearty, drank hearty,
Had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited toward the
last, sicken’d, was help’d by a contribution,
To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie
beyond the difference.
The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,
The earth is not an echo, man and his life and all the things of
his life are well-consider’d.
You are not thrown to the winds, you gather certainly and safely
Yourself! yourself! yourself, for ever and ever!
It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and
father, it is to identify you,
It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be
Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form’d in you,
You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.
The threads that were spun are gather’d, the weft crosses the warp,
the pattern is systematic.
The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton
has given the signal.
The guest that was coming, he waited long, he is now housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy, he is one of those
that to look upon and be with is enough.
The law of the past cannot be eluded,
The law of the present and future cannot be eluded,
The law of the living cannot be eluded, it is eternal,
The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded,
And I have dream’d that the purpose and essence of the known
life, the transient,
Is to form and decide identity for the unknown life, the permanent.
If all came but to ashes of dung,
If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray’d,
Then indeed suspicion of death.
Do you suspect death? if I were to suspect death I should die
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward
Pleasantly and well-suited I walk,
Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good,
The whole universe indicates that it is good,
The past and the present indicate that it is good.
Slowly and surely they have pass’d on to this, and slowly and surely
they yet pass on.
I swear I think now that every thing without exception has an
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have!
I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for it,
and the cohering is for it!
And all preparation is for it—and identity is for it—and life and
materials are altogether for it!
For the last couple of days I’ve been going through a vast archive of Jack’s emails. After hours of working my way forward from the past I’ve only just gotten up to December of 2008. Those who know Jack may understand why this was the year we got along best—we were in daily contact, but lived in different countries! Jack was going to the University of Manitoba in Canada and I was in Boulder, Colorado where we originally met. The geographical distance was helpful in mitigating Jack’s volatility. Even so there were still some tempestuous arguments.
One of the things we made a lot of progress on that year (2008-9) was Jack’s writing skills—prose and poetry. In December of 08’, the month I am just up to in the email archive, there were numerous emails with drafts of a college paper I helped Jack with. The theme he came up with was the road trip as a somewhat uniquely American rite of passage. One relevance of this theme is that I met Jack through a rite-of-initiation road trip. In March of 08’ Jack had what he described as a nervous breakdown and quit a job he had at a tax office and took off on a Greyhound bus. I met Jack when he showed up at the Boulder International Hostel where I was working the front desk. Jack had set off on a walkabout, seeking transformation. The paper was about this exact theme.
At the moment that I came across the last draft of the paper John Nemes (also a former hostel employee) left comment #6 in the comments section that begins with the line,
“Well, Jack, I guess you decided to continue on your journey and take your leave of your earthly form. “
Another excerpt from John’s comments:
“…There is some talk of an intermediary period after death, in which the recently departed can benefit greatly from thoughts and prayers in order to reach their next destination. Some Buddhists and Hindus adhere to this, I think it might be a 49 day journey, somewhere thereabouts…. It might seem weird to others that I would write something like this on your memorial page, but this is how we talked. “
John is remembering accurately because Jack did believe in the survival of the soul and afterlife journeys. John’s comments revolve around the theme of death, and an after-death experience as an initiatory experience.
Here are some excerpts from Jack’s paper, the paper I had just gotten up to when John’s comments arrived, which had the working title of “Road Trip”:
“Adolescence is one of these definitive and key times of change. It is neither childhood nor adulthood, a state betwixt and between (Turner). It is a transitional and transformative period, often very tumultuous, violent, and confusing. Rites of passage are employed to guide a person through these difficult times. In Arnold Van Gennep’s groundbreaking paper “the rites of passage,”Gennep identified three key moments in this ritualistic time: separation, in which the individual becomes detached from his/her previous status; the marginal or liminal time, where the individual passes through a structure less realm which bears no resemblance to either the previous status or the coming status; and finally the aggregation when the individual re-enters the society as a transformed person. Rites of passage have been used in various periods throughout history and are widespread…”
“The journalist Bill Moyers has been quoted as saying “Modern society has provided adolescents with no rituals by which they become members of the tribe, of the community. All children need to be twice born, to learn to function rationally in the present world, leaving childhood behind (Davis pg. 2).” With no real formal practices of initiation adolescents often seek their own rites of passage. But with little guidance they may easily turn violent or unhealthy, and provide no real value. “One reason for the great demand for psychiatric services for adolescents today may be the lack of socially sanctioned rites of passage (Geyer, Mahdi, Meade pg xvii).”
“….In the beginning of the book Kerouac informs the reader that before he began his road trip he had the sense that “everything was dead.” This is the symbolic death of the child, which leads to the birth of the new person. And from this point Kerouac and Cassidy embark on several road trips across American wildernesses. This transformational journey was never pleasant or easy…”
The idea of Jung’s concept of synchronicity is that events happening in the same moment of time may have a relationship that is meaningful, but acausal (not mediated by cause-and-effect). Many parallel occurrences, like this one, can be dismissed as coincidence or interpreted to be meaningful synchronicities. In this case, like most cases, no one can make an incontrovertible case for one over the other. It comes down to the interpretive choice of the individual. I choose to see them as meaningfully connected. The upsetting dream I had about Jack two weeks ago seemed to show him struggling, confused, vulnerable and a bit paranoid in what I felt, even in the dream, seemed like a Bardot, a difficult after-life place.
Jack’s paper seems prophetic of his continuing need for transformative rite of initiation. Geographic travel didn’t quite work for him because as Emerson put it, “The problem with traveling is that you take yourself with you.” When Jack discussed suicide with me a couple of years ago, he saw it that way—as a chance for total transformation. In Jack’s own words from 2008:
“This is the symbolic death of the child, which leads to the birth of the new person….This transformational journey was never pleasant or easy…”
My feeling is that what I choose to interpret as a synchronicity further confirms my feeling that Jack is on such a transformational journey, but that it may not be pleasant or easy right now. The painful concern for what Jack might be experiencing, what he suffered in life, and my own feelings of loss greatly lightened and turned into enthusiasm following the synchronicity. A debunker, of course, can dismiss this as wish-fulfillment thinking, and that is a reasonable alternate explanation and I respect their right to choose that interpretation.
What people from various cultures have said is that we, the living, can help those in such liminal zones by our encouragement—our positive thoughts, images, wishes and intentions for them. If you are open to this interpretation, please help Jack through his journey of transformation by holding to the image of him at his best and wish him well on his continuing journey of transformation.
Highly improbable (from the POV of ordinary causality) and symbolic-seeming events around someone’s passing are classic and almost ubiquitous. Often they involve animals, especially birds. I experienced an optical anomaly and was able to photograph it last September, on the morning after my dad’s funeral. I was fortunate to have my Iphone in hand when the image you see below appeared on the inside front door of my parent’s house:
To find out how this extraordinary image appeared go to my dad’s memorial page and scroll down: In Memoriam, Nathan Zap 1919-2012 My mom, who met Jack in 2008, sent me an email this morning that something like the optical effect seen above (but without the figure) recurred for the first time (since the morning of my dad’s funeral) just this morning.
These sorts of anomalies related to death are common. For example, I document another one I experienced a few years ago, that like Jack, related to the death of a young man: http://zaporacle.com/card/survival-of-the-soul
“You must have chaos within yourself if you are to be a dancing star.”—-Nietzche
Based on that, Jack, you certainly have the credentials to become a dancing star.
Jack, on his strange journey. This photo dated June 4, 2008. It was used in Zap Oracle Card # 483, Adapting to Life in the Babylon Matrix Ah, just disovered an even earlier oracle card inspired by Jack: Zap Oracle Card # 405 Monitoring the Inner Pressure
Tears, goosebumps going through Jack’s emails, they are so prophetic. We have to stop thinking of Jack’s life as tragic. He expressed his intention to awaken through death so clearly and so many times. In an email dated 3/25/09 (close to his birthday) which had the subject heading “this should be to your liking” (yes, Jack, now more than ever) Jack copies a poem and then writes one of his own:
I count each day a little life,
With birth and death complete;
I cloister it from care and strife
And keep it sane and sweet.
With eager eyes I greet the morn,
Exultant as a boy,
Knowing that I am newly born
To wonder and to joy.
And when the sunset splendours wane
And ripe for rest am I,
Knowing that I will live again,
Exultantly I die.
O that all Life were but a Day
Sunny and sweet and sane!
And that at Even I might say:
“I sleep to wake again.”
After the above poem, Jack wrote,” and this is one of my own.” His poem follows.
The Man Who Dreamed He Died and Woke Up Dead
And so his careful thoughts,
Detailed with a cold baroque elegance,
Crafted an entwined complexity,
A sculpture of disgusting failure
And in it bore a promise
From which he could not escape
And the precious wineglasses
Of his dreams
Entrapped within the sinews of twisted, deformed limbs
Had been shattered
And so the sun laughs malevolently
From its condescending throne
And he can smell tomorrow’s grotesque hands
Hovering above the fever in his head
And the nightmare of today still lurks like
A lurid mist behind his eyes
The landscape becomes impure passing through him
So he laughs alone in the solemn twilight
A miserable laugh, a poisonous smile
And his acquaintances all hate him
No one shall greet him
In this desolate desert of days
He is buried alive
And suffocates inhaling the sand
And so he sleeps a sleep
Less generous than death
He commands the supreme alchemists of his sky
To pound their gavel upon his mind
Emitting ringing lies
Of overcast skies throughout all of time
And a church, with its holy cross, sank into the marshland nearby
When he awoke
He was dead
A memorial altar to Jack’s death and awakening I put up the day I learned the news. The Leaves of Grass was a birthday gift from Jack, the glowing green tortoise represents gradual progress on the spiritual path.
4/27/13 Saturday. Just arrived at the Minneapolis International Hostel which is located right next to a giant art museum. Another Jack related synchronicity just occurred. But it will take a bit to develop it. I know I keep talking about synchronicities and not everyone really knows what that’s about so here’s a little intro I wrote several years ago: http://zaporacle.com/synchronicity-very-brief-introdution/
Last night I was up till 3am in another of the stages of grief. This time I was feeling haunted by the ten months prior to his passing in which Jack had severed all communication with me. To work my way through it and find a stance that wasn’t all about me and what I was feeling I wrote the following into the comments section:
Some may feel reluctant to leave comments because they feel that a grand summation of all they feel about Jack is called for. It doesn’t have to be. It can be ongoing. Barring some disaster that brings down the whole web, this page won’t go away. I’ve made arrangements for this site to continue past my lifetime. So feel free to come back as often as you want and even years from now to say something more. As you can see from the number of comments I’ve left– and I hope their number is not burdensome or irritating to anyone–but I find that my feelings and thoughts about Jack are too many to get closure on and there are drastic mood shifts. There are peaceful moments when I feel like Jack followed his soul’s plan and where I feel blessed to have known him. At other times all the many words Jack left in my care only seem to highlight the terrible silence of the last ten months when he severed ties with me, even used the words—severing ties—and never said or wrote another word to me and with no explanation. I’m grateful that a few weeks into the separation he reached out for two crisis phone calls when he felt really lost and I felt I was able to give him comfort and good advice. He was polite, but very firm in his messages severing contact. That rejection is very difficult for me, and I’ve been struggling with it since it happened and now, at times, it can seem to have a devastating finality. But I also realize that this is egocentric pain. What matters is the love we can give to a suffering person, not getting anything back from them. Jack gave so much back to me in the past, and to all who knew him, but there were also darker times when he may have lost his love for himself and had no love to give to others. Jack is not to be located in any one moment or place or even period of time. Jack’s most loving moments, the moments when he offered appreciation to us are eternal. They will never not have happened. Although Jack’s waking personality said he wanted to severe all ties, the ties were not severed. The two dreams I had in the last week about Jack that located his suffering indicate that deep ties remain. What a person’s waking personality says or does to us often does not reflect the soul ties we have with them. The dreams I had about Jack show that Jack is not in one time or space, none of us are. This is why I located him in the dreamtime, the time of day when I, and most of us, are most unbounded by space and time.
In one of the last phone calls I had with Jack, he brought up some slight or wound he felt someone had given him years in the past. I gave the usual response about the importance of forgiveness. Jack said to me, “I’m not a forgiving person.” I was shocked by his statement. I never heard anyone actually admit to such a thing. I asked him if he really meant it and he said he did, that for him it was visceral thing, he couldn’t do anything about it. I felt terribly worried for him when he said that.
As much as we might want Jack to forgive us, what is more crucial is for us to forgive him. In the same phone call Jack also said he was thinking about changing his name back to John and that maybe it was a mistake to have ever called himself Jack. This also made me feel extremely sad and concerned for Jack as I realized how deeply wounded his sense of identity was. At his funeral, Jack’s close friend Eli told me that Jack left behind a note that expressed deep forgiveness to everyone he knew, including people that he felt had hurt him.
(1/31/18 I would dearly love to see the text of that note. I wonder if it would be appropriate to publish it here as a separate issue. In 2017 Eli told me that it looked “crafted,” was beautifully written and that there must have been multiple drafts for it to have been so eloquent)
While we may suffer because a wounded person has lost their capacity for love for a time, it is more important that we keep loving and forgiving them. It is also good that we ask for their forgiveness, even though there may be no perceivable answer. I know I never intentionally did anything to harm Jack and I feel that I did the very best I could at the time to help him, but I also know that flaws in my personality, places where I needed, and still need, to mature were hurtful for him to be around. If I were further along in the very slow lessening of my narcissism I would have been better able to help Jack. The insecurities that would cause me to want to show off and impress people Jack misinterpreted as me trying to compete with him, or show that I was better than him. As many times as I tried to explain to him that this was not the intention of these neurotic tendencies, I’m not sure I was able to convince him. Finally I wrote Jack the longest email I ever sent him, explaining in great personal depth where the need to show off came from in my past and present psychology. Jack praised the authenticity of this email, but a couple of weeks later, not too long after the phone call in which he said he was an unforgiving person, Jack initiated the separation.
Jack misinterpreted so many things from other people as slights, as people trying to insult, degrade or humiliate him. Usually, these perceived slights were just people, like me, who didn’t have their neurotic aspects contained. Through carelessness and our own struggles to become whole I, and many of us, caused Jack unintentional pain. Jack’s wounded pride and wounded sense of identity and persona were such that slight missteps we might make were hurtful to Jack and became painful and haunting memories for him.
Forgive me Jack, forgive all of us who hurt you in these ways.
Sometime in the Nineties an eighty-year-old woman, who was a Jungian analyst, gave a talk I attended in Boulder. At the end of her talk there were questions from the audience and the first one came from a young woman. “Now that you are an elder,” asked the young woman, “what can you tell me as a young woman about love?” The elder woman replied, “When I was your age I was desperately trying to be loved. But now I know that it is better to simply be love.”
A terribly difficult part of the grieving process for me, and I’m sure for others, is that Jack isn’t here on this plane for us to get his love in the ways we would want and might miss from the past. We might also have painful memories of when Jack was alive and we didn’t feel like we got the love we deserved from him. The way to help Jack now is to struggle to rise above our need to be loved and to be love, to be love toward Jack wherever he is. To forgive him even if he wasn’t always able to forgive us. To ask for forgiveness for the imperfect ways we tried to love Jack.
M. Scott Peck has an interesting definition of love: “I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
Many profound and deeply spiritual cultures, especially Tibetan Buddhism, say that some who die struggle for a time to find their way. They say that excessive grief from survivors can be confusing and burdensome to them. This is why I am struggling to summon my will not to feel bitter or rejected or hurt by Jack, not to reflect on the love from him that feels so missing now, not to reflect on the way Jack left us as a rejection or punishment.
In my case, for example, whatever bitterness or anger Jack might have felt toward me in his wounded state is not what matters.
What matters is the will to be love, to send love to him, to hold in our hearts the image of Jack at his best, and to have the generosity of spirit to forgive anything Jack did in his wounded state that caused us pain. As you said Jack, you are as divine in your worst moments as well as in your best. Let both your light and dark inspire us to be more whole and to have the courage to be love.
Three hours after I wrote that I had to get up to catch the bus to the airport.
Going through the 2010 archive of emails with Jack on the bus to the airport (to catch a flight to Minneapolis for the funeral) I read an email I wrote in which I saw evidence of serious mistakes I made with Jack. Unreliable memory had revised things to make me look better, but now the actual words, my own forgotten words, were convicting me, the cold light of morning glaring off the laptop screen, glowing words revealing serious mistakes I made, caught forever in time like flies in amber.
So often you were right, Jack. In wise, compassionate and diplomatic words you pointed out ways I was failing to be the friend and mentor you really needed and I was too caught up in my own grievances with life, my own sorrows, and egocentric neurosis to really get what you were saying. I never fully comprehended until the dream of two weeks ago the depth of your suffering and fragility. Yeah, I realize that overall there was more good than bad, and its not like I was the cause of your trajectory, etc. That would just be still more self-importance.
I guess I’m left with that classic human lament: If only I knew then what I know now….Sorry I failed you so often Jack. All I can do is draw lessons from this to be a larger person going forward. Sorry man, I was one more person in this cold world who didn’t fully see you…
I wrote the above words at the Denver airport feeling guilt and deep remorse (which I still feel). I was trying to unload the confession into the comments section but the plane was already loading and there was no time. When I got to my assigned seat I saw that the middle seat was empty and in the window seat was a very young guy who looked remarkably like a slightly more diminutive version of Jack when I met him (a few days before his 19th birthday). Take it with as many grains of salt as you want, but I immediately felt the presence of synchronicity. He introduced himself as Max, a young German who has been volunteering for the forest service in Colorado and was going to Minneapolis to catch a connecting 13 hour flight to Hamburg and then to his home in Eastern Germany where he was soon about to go to university to study biotechnology. I asked him his age. “I’m 18, but almost 19.” he replied in excellent German-accented English. In other words, he was Jack’s exact age when I met him. For the hour and 20 minute flight we had a great conversation about numerous things including the future of biotechnology and virtual reality, the causes of Germany’s high obesity levels, the meaning of synchronicity and some psi experiments, the East German Stasi and some slightly humorous discussion of the Weimar Republic, the rise of Hitler, Nazis and the Jews, etc. He was obviously brilliant, talented and full of potential just as Jack was when I met him. I bought him an airline box lunch and it was overall, a multilayered image of forgiveness. A young German and a middle-aged Jew from the Bronx, who carries the Hebrew name of a relative who died in the holocaust, joking a bit about WWII. His age and rather Jack-like appearance and body type felt like a gesture of forgiveness from the cosmos. Yeah, I wasn’t as good a friend or mentor to Jack as I thought I was, I failed him in some key ways, but by human standards (not a very high bar, of course) I wasn’t so bad and would be given other chances to be a mentor….
Here’s a photo I took of Max for you to judge whether there is a resemblance to the Jack I met at the same age
So if you also feel like you failed Jack in some ways, welcome to the fellowship. Instead of wallowing in guilt, I interpret the synchronicity as an encouragement to take the very next chance to do better next time. Jack, you broke our hearts, but also broke open our hearts to feel the suffering of the world, the fragility of people and how easy it is to say or do the wrong thing and fail to take care of people as well as we could. Let’s hope there are new chances for all of us, including you.
And Jack, just in case you had any hand in pulling off that synchronicity, bravo, nicely done….
Note added 5/3/13 Actually the degree of guilt I feel keeps fluctuating as I’m sure it is with others. I think a fair appraisal that could easily be adapted to others is that the way we treated Jack directly related to our level of development at the time as we interfaced with his level of development. Most of us are not fully realized masters, and Jack no doubt bore the brunt of our less developed areas just as we bore the brunt of his. All sorts of things in my personality were not helpful to Jack at all, just as they weren’t helpful to me. The me at 50 (the age I met Jack) was in a much better place to help Jack than the me of 45, 40, 35, etc. Sadly, in some ways, good and inevitable in others, is that the me of 55, especially me at 55 plus the last 9 days, would have been able to help Jack so much better, and with my own issues better contained and with more respect for his suffering and his genius and the list of different attitudes and ways of doing things that I would do different now is endless. I did the best I could with where I was at developmentally, but feel sorrow that if were further along I could have been more helpful to Jack. Meaning can be given to Jack’s sacrifice of his embodied self if we use it as an impetus to be more careful and compassionate going forward. (1/31/18—-that process continues and now at 60 I feel I understand Jack far better than at 55, especially after the last several weeks after doing a more careful reading of the nearly 600-page lost archive Jack left with me and other work and reflection with his presence—)
The above sign except for the ”need ride to Boulder” I did, was created by Jack when he was looking for a ride from the 2008 national rainbow gathering. As simple as it is it captures his personality and sense of humor.
I just published a document I was working on the morning of April 24. It mentions Jack and some amazing synchronicites connecting Jack to the Invisibles by Grant Morrison:
Notes added Dec. 3rd, 2014
The main way I’ve been working with Jack’s continuing influence on me is via writing a fantasy epic entitled Parallel Journeys. I’ve been creating different versions of it since the 80s, and the intention to write it dates back to the summer of 1978. In the first hour I met Jack he told me that he was haunted by a story he had worked on for years about an elf boy who comes down from the forest into the city. I was shocked when he told me that, because it contains central elements of Parallel Journeys, which is, among other things, an elf origin story where a boy who has potential elf genetics is forced to leave an intentional community in the woods to come down into the city. Jack expressed enthusiasm for working on my version of the story with me. Now it feels like he is. Any resemblance to any person, living or deceased, is purely coincidental, but I don’t think you will have any problem seeing Jack’s influence on the new version of Parallel Journeys I have been working on since September of 2013. A rough draft of 183 000 words was completed September of 2014. Since then I have been working with a couple of editors on a long revision process which could easily take a year or more. I plan to dedicate the book to Jack.
Here is a link to Chapter One: http://zaporacle.com/parallel-journeys-beta-test
In the last few months I published two Reality Sandwich articles that included Jack photos and inspiration: Savage Reflections—A Portal into the Soul’s Most Intimate Thoughts (an introduction to Jack’s poetry) Accepting the Hazards of Relationship, Reaping the Unexpected Harvest
Another young friend of mine, Brandt Kempin, spent some time with Jack and although they didn’t have long together they immediately found much in common as both are highly intelligent, musical and skillful with words. They were very close in age (Brandt is 27 this year, Jack would have been 26). I got both Brandt and Jack work at different times at the now defunct Boulder International Hostel. Brandt and Jack met up when Brandt came back to visit and then met up with Jack again at the 2008 Rainbow gathering when we were all camping together. In 2014 Brandt wrote a song about Jack entitled “Beneath the Teeth of Time.” I should warn you, as Brandt did me, that it is a bit dark, but it is also quite powerful and original. Another song on the same album, “Wrong Things Grow” is also inspired by Jack. The same day that I learned that the studio version of the songs were complete I found that Brandt’s band, Little Father, was going out on tour and would be coming to NYC the same time I had a week there. On October 11, 2014 I got to see Brandt play at a venue in Brooklyn. He dedicated the show to Jack and I got to take some photos of him performing the two Jack-related songs. Here are some photos from that show:
Jack, Thank you for leaving us so many haunting and beautiful poems. When I read them, you are so present, so available. Hey Jack, here’s my attempt at a poem about you. If it’s any good, it’s because for the last several days I’ve been learning from a master:
Emanations of Jack
The emanations and ripples of Jack are everywhere,
Surrounded by plates and bowls that Jack ate from,
And cups and glasses that he drank from,
Still thinking about Jack and remembering so many moments,
Nothing about Jack will ever not have been.
Jack, everything you said, thought and did—
Ripples forever through eternity.
The Lost Archive
Painting by Nathan Zap, 1951
December 1st, 2015 (I’m just starting to add excerpts so check back for more)
In journals from late 2008, which reflect many inner struggles, there are also (as in so many of Jack’s writings) passages of lyrical appreciation. This one is seasonally appropriate and quite moving. I’ll start with an image of Jack’s handwritten page and then transcribe. I’m taking the liberty of correcting a few minor misspellings and punctuation issues. In one case here, and in any future instances where I have trouble deciphering his handwriting I will put a question mark after my best guess of what word he meant or a _____? if I’m not sure at all.
That two weeks in winter right before Christmas and stretching until after the new year has been ingrained in every child’s mind as perhaps the greatest two weeks of all. A long, long, absence from the prison term, them being unwilling prisoners of education. Days to sleep, and the sleep on those winter days is the most luscious and beautiful. Waking to crystal frost clinging diligently to the window with refractions of sunlight bursting through being refracted into magnificent colors splayed across the room subtly. Hearing the wind hiss, taunting you, believing you will be sulking outside into as usual? ah but then pulling that enormous quilt up to your chin and rubbing that smiling face into the pillow and being gently wrapped in slumber. It is quite simply wonderful. And atop this celebration, feasts, gifts. The reunion of family around large candle-lit banquets, the cheering and anticipation of the new year awaiting.
And this effect, this thought of these weeks as the all-time greatest most blissful weeks has a lasting quality for most of one’s life. In spite of the eternally overcast skies and blistering air folks get together to smile and laugh. Friends and family of old. Everyone was a-coming home to celebrate together. And so in spite [of] worried beehive inside my mind, I consoled myself with these thoughts, the thoughts that really everything was going to be alright, that as long as I didn’t forget to love the ones I loved and sit with them contentedly in simple conversation things would turn out OK. Looking back now it wasn’t so bad.
So I thought about all the friends I had here, and wanted to see them, to have a great reunion…
Many poignant journal entries, poems, and occasional class notes in a thick spiral notebook that Jack brought with him to the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg both times he went there—-when he was 18 and then after dropping out for a while when he was 19. No entries in this notebook or elsewhere are dated, and rather than filling the notebook page-by-page in a characteristic way he apparently picked blank pages at random. For me the lack of linearity and dating adds to the feeling of timelessness, and the sense that I’m reading letters from the soul, and not from a chronologically-bound ego. The consistent non order a precise reflection of Jack, someone who could not live comfortably bound to a schedule or long-term commitment but was relentlessly driven by the promptings of his restless soul.
The following poem comes from this spiral, spiraling notebook overflowing with messages from Jack’s restless soul. It was probably written in Winnipeg when he was eighteen or nineteen. It looks like it was tossed off in one take and yet, for me at least, it as a deceptively simple, soulful masterpiece.
Sometimes I feel a tug
pulling me forwards
My feet stumbling over on another
This tug, this transient, ambiguous
Unbiased and unconcerned
and you too
Many times I find myself confused, scared,
a squirrel with his precious acorns
Sitting frightened in his nest,
heart pumping, eyes jumping
When all the while this tiny
little see-through striving
is pulling me along
A poetic journal entry on restless longing from the same spiral notebook:
I can’t quite say why I left.
Nor can I say what I was looking for or have been looking for.
And surely I can not know if I have found it. I suppose I was just thirsting for drink from a new well. All my life I have felt moved and dictated, at least to some degree, by outside forces. Most all my life I have more or less walked ground pounded down by many feet and known well by many people. I have lived on a certain timeline which is the norm for most people but can so often be so unsatisfying. Tongues controlled by gossip, feet aimed at fruitless ends, shallow mindedness.
I wanted to live more completely and hear more stories and see other lives. I wanted to see the vast land which is my country as she is. I wanted to touch the world and feel it as it is not with a glove or protection. And I wanted freedom, obligations no more than what is necessary to sustain life, I wanted to breath this air that surrounds every body and object and let the wonder of this land sink into me, on some bustling Chicago street during a business day, or some warm and lazy Memphis afternoon or the crisp inhale of mountain air when only the immense collection of stars are your company. To sing with my voice regardless of the idle carelessness of them dining at that most expensive restaurant, I wanted absolute freedom, I wanted my brain to cease trembling.
Reading an old collection
by a poet long gone
from a generation long past
I sit and wonder
The references in this poem, tossed off in one take, tell us that it was written when Jack was 19 and living in Winnipeg in an apartment.
These are the words
I am writing on this empty night
in this empty apartment
when I clap my hands
these are the words
I am writing
in this lonely city
blustery and wind swept
ancient and forgotten
I cannot disappear into death
when knights of hazard
strike to avenge lost battles
and so I write
words like this
on nights like this
Another page from the spiral, another one-take poem from a lonely night in Winnipeg. There was one word I couldn’t quite make out.
The sunlight pours in
Soaring through the sky
Vast impassable (loving?)
Grandfather continues to use
his buttons while
meantime the curtains are closed
Whose hands are these
and when can I command
Whose blood pumps through
What are these demands
I am a captive
On a night like this
alone and sitting
in the absence of
my previous life
where I walk
all night and all day
along its desolate
what led me here
what led me astray
from my golden garden
No it doesn’t matter
and would be impossible to trace
my feet are aimed constantly
at the horizon
Another tossed off Winnipeg poem that describes smoking a cigarette while taking a bath. There are three stranded lines Jack left in the upper right hand corner of the page, with no lines to indicate if he wanted them inserted into the poem anywhere:
Vaporous mist rising from this
infinitely clear pure water
only this instant
soaking deep in these
mercurial steaming waters
steeping in this molten
liquid wrapping me
it will soon exhaust itself and cool
exhaling a cloud of hypnotic smoke
silk, gliding, as on ice, carelessly off the tip
of this cigarette
dispersing like fireflies into the
of this still,
a collection of writings
from a poet
many years dead
A page of song lyrics, that appear to be a Jack variation of a song by Blind Boy Fuller http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=155865 Definitely the sort of thing he would have played on his guitar and sung.
Keep on truckin’ baby
truckin’ my blues away
Keep on truckin’ baby
truck both night and day
Reckon what the elephant
Said to the cat
got a belly full of booze
I’m tight like that
Keep on truckin’ mama
truckin’ my blues way
truckin’ my blues away
Keep on truckin’ mama
truckin’ both night and day
Keep on truckin’ mama
truckin’ my blues away
One notebook is filled with poetry, much of it drafts of what is already published on his poetry page. The contents appear to be written during 2008-2010. He left some interesting comments here and there on his approach to poetry.
Poetry is precise dealing with raw content, employing metaphor and symbol and subconscious association to depict, illustrate and portray life. It is a manifestation of ones own personal world. My poetry comes from deep self-reflection, from journeying deeply inward and howling out what I find to examine it in clear light.
Poetry should have vitality, it should come alive and transfer, only by intuition, something powerful.
Poetry is like harnessing the wind.
Have the courage to let go, let things go release, relax.
Free from abstraction!
There are a number of beautifully written travelogues in the archives that begin with Jack reflecting on his restlessness and why he had to leave situations that he found too confining. Here’s an example:
I had left school for inarticulate reasons in search of vague dreams. The kind which were like butterflies on a cool spring afternoon, the kind which are dazzling and enchanting but impossible to pin down or capture, regardless of the persistence of the enchanter. All my life, my carefree and romantic ideals of how life should be lived free and easy were cast off as were childishness and irresponsibility which would be cured with maturity and commitment. Growing up through these traits proved quite challenging to me… (omitting a sentence here that wouldn’t be appropriate to post–J.Z.)
A great deal of my life I felt a heavy guilt with my lack of bourgeois ambition or desire to fulfill the life style which a good well-rounded college education will provide. But time and time again the standards to which I was to live my life stifled all the life out of me and left me, lifeless. The plain and undeniable voice of practicality never was able to illuminate a clear and pleasant path to me despite all the reassurance of everything I was supposed to value in life. And because of this I was deemed a fool, mentally unfit, and even mentally ill. No, it’s not easy choosing to go your own way, to cast aside your upbringing but neither is living a life which would above all hold you captive in a castle of your own stagnation locked in by walls of inescapable and entirely too sensible security. And it took a great long while of conflict with my self to realize that in the face of an unforgiving and mechanical world I have no other choice than to follow my own feet. Regardless of what everyone else will deem it, it is the only law that I understand and the only law I can follow. Though this is easy to speak it is much more difficult to truly live out. Facing resistance at nearly every turn, in an infinite number of situations and finding wills? which seek to destroy it at every corner of the earth. It is a difficult in a world with infinite regulations, unwrit standards and precise formats for which each being is supposed to subscribe and retain as their fundamental grounding. To be your own man. The only true, pure, and meaningful life is the one which seeks its own roads and refines constantly its individual and unique doctrine. So against all resistance I had chosen to leave university… (omitting a few words—JZ) So rather than live in a sate of eternal purgatory with absolutely no lust or zest for life I chose to leave.
To find all the grandest adventures that had always lived in my mind. To search for far off exotic places to sink into my eyes, to dance on new grounds, to breathe new air, exhale new ideas and back in the warm wondrous story this world is always setting forth.
At some point in most of these travelogues, Jack seems to come to the realization that Emerson did in the 19th Century: “The problem with traveling is that you take yourself with you.” No matter how much you keep moving, you can’t outrun inner demons. Jack and I talked about this at length, especially when I helped him with a paper he wrote (while he was in school in Winnipeg) about the American myth of going on the road as a secular pilgrimage and rite of initiation. Jack was clearly trying to write his own version of the on-the-road novel and the archives are filled with numerous promising attempts at that, with profound meditations on travel as well as brilliantly descriptive scenes with well-rendered, memorable characters and a poet and song writer’s acute ear for idiomatic dialogue.
Jack always framed his travel as a departure from a mundane, confining world. Sometimes that departure is depicted as an ecstatic call to adventure and other times as a self-imposed exile from what Jack saw as a shameful failure to adapt or thrive. When in that vein he would refer to himself (and you see this in a number of the poems) as “defeated.”
Although it might be easy to see these departures and restless travels as “dysfunctional,” and in darker moods Jack sometimes saw them that way, I think it is also legitimate to see them as classic expressions of the visionary artist who cannot find peace or an ability to thrive in the mundane world. Many of Jack’s comments remind me of parallel sentiments expressed by William Blake, “I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” Other prophets and visionaries say similar things: If you give birth to the genius within you, it will free you. If you do not give birth to the genius within you, it will destroy you. — Jesus, The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas
Jung said something with eerie parallels to what Jack wrote above in a passage that I encountered through a stunning synchronicity twenty years ago when I made the decision to leave my teaching career and go on the road. I wrote about this in an essay on creativity, The Path of the Numinous—Living and Working with the Creative Muse. Although this might seem like I am indulging too much of my own thoughts and words I am trying to make a point that could help you to help the next struggling young visionary you might meet. I have been the mentor to young visionaries both before and after Jack and the most classic and difficult problem to navigate is the need to help them find a practical, viable adaptation to life and the simultaneous need not to clip their wings and to encourage them to pursue their visions no matter how unlikely that pursuit is to help them make a living. I have been on both sides of the equation myself—as the one giving advice and as the one needing it. Here’s the excerpt:
On June 17 of 1995 I went on the road, officially taking an approved year’s leave of absence from teaching. The decision wasn’t irreversible at that point; I still had about ten months to decide if I was coming back. Despite all the messages from the muse, this was no easy decision, as I had a tenured teaching job in the highest-paying county for teachers in the United States, where I made close to 60K a year (quite a lot for a relatively young school teacher in 1995) and was provided with health insurance, an excellent pension plan, etc. My parents, and every voice of middle-class common sense and practicality, were urging me to return to the economic security of a profession I once loved.
I had been on the road ten months when the school district called, pressing me for a decision. I was traveling with some young friends with whom I had done volunteer work at a Navajo reservation near Big Mountain, Arizona. The little bit of money I had from cashing out my retirement fund had long since been exhausted, and I had been living close to the edge. We were camped out in a mesa near Sedona, Arizona, and the morning had arrived in which the decision had to be made. With my friend Jordie as a witness, I did an I Ching reading that seemed to strongly support leaving the teaching job. As I was finishing the reading, another member of the group I was traveling with, Seth, who knew nothing about the decision I was facing, came over to show me a Jung quote he had just encountered in a book on mountain climbing. The quote turned out to be stunningly relevant. This was the second time in my life when it felt like Jung had stepped forward as a spiritual grandfather to give me his blessing. Here is what Seth read to me:
The fact that many a man going his own way ends in ruin means nothing, he must obey his own law as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths. There are not a few who are called awake by the summons of the voice where upon they are at once set apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem about which the others know nothing. In most cases it is impossible to explain to the others what has happened, any understanding is walled off by impenetrable prejudices. ‘You are no different from anybody else,’ they will chorus. There is no such thing, or if there is such a thing it is immediately branded as morbid. He is at once set apart, isolated as he has resolved to obey the law that commands him from within. ‘His own law,’ everybody will say, but he knows better, it is the law.
The only meaningful life is the life that strives for the individual realization, absolute and unconditional, of its own particular plan. To the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his being, he has failed to realize his life’s meaning. The undiscovered being within us is a living part of the psyche. Classical Chinese philosophy names the interior way Tao, and likened it to a flow of water that moves irresistibly towards its goal. To rest in Tao means fulfillment, wholeness, one’s destination reached, one’s mission done, the beginning, end in perfect realization, the meaning of existence unique in all things. —C.G. Jung
(end of excerpt from The Path of the Numinous..)
But in fairness to those, like my parents, who emphasized practical adaptation, and pursuit of vision in leisure, it was easier for Jung to go off the rails and stop seeing patients as he pursued visions because he was lucky enough to have married the second richest woman in Switzerland. And it’s easier for me to pursue my path because I have some inherited wealth too. So if you find yourself in the position of trying to help a struggling visionary, as I found myself when I met Jack, you will have to struggle, as they will, with these two hard to reconcile needs—practical adaptation and faithfulness to the creative muse. I realized that this was Jack’s struggle when I first met him in 2008 and in the first month wrote a Zap Oracle card, Adapting to Life in the Babylon Matrix, that was largely inspired by Jack’s struggle. He humored me by posing for the card images and since the time I knew Jack and the time I wrote most of the 664 cards of the Zap Oracle coincided, there are quite a number of cards that have images of Jack or were inspired by our interaction. You can find some of them linked elsewhere on the memorial page. With so many people interacting with this oracle on a daily basis, these Jack cards, which include links to his pages, have been bringing new readers to Jack’s poems and interest in his story.
(Many of Jack’s documents are fairly readable in his original handwriting. I decided, where possible, to stop transcribing and instead put in photos of the originals.)
A theme that emerges from the archives, is one that also emerges from the poems and from interaction with Jack. As much as he is capable of probing darkness and giving voice to alienation and bitterness, Jack also far surpasses the ordinary in his capacity for divine appreciation. It can seem hard to reconcile, but makes perfect sense when you realize that Jack felt everything more intensely than ordinary. That is part of what makes him a great poet. And it is something that he was aware of and that he crystalized in one of his most memorable lines, “And I am divine in my worst hour as much as I am in my best.” Here are a few excerpts that capture this aspect of Jack, his immense capacity for divine appreciation:
An appreciation of an elderly cat and the unconditional love of pets.
Jack had great appreciation for both people close to him and sometimes strangers he passed on the street. Because of the extreme range of Jack’s feelings, if you were someone, like me, who could be the subject of Jack’s anger one moment, you were also likely to be someone Jack intensely appreciated during other moments.
Jack’s intense ambivalence about reality applied to people and also, sometimes to places. While he could eloquently probe the dark side of places, especially Winnipeg, he could at other times celebrate places and seasons.
Here’s an appreciation Jack wrote of his dictionary:
A consistent theme in Jack’s writings and life is his commitment to self-awareness. An aspect of this that turns up often in the archives and the poems is Jack’s awareness of himself as a multiplicity of personalities (as we all are).