For as many years as I’ve been coming up to The Abode of the Message (say, about six), there has always been bread, butter, and jelly left out on the table in the eating hall. At any hour of the night I have felt safe knowing that if I had an irresistible nosh to satisfy, bread, butter, and jelly would be waiting for me in the big old creaky Shaker house, dubbed “Rezak,” lit only by the most essential of lamps.
So it was when I arrived on the Motorcycle of Righteousness (a CBR600 F4i also known as The Little Smoke, The Hornet, or The Crazy Dog)…
… still hungry after downing two roadside chili cheese hotdogs with mustard…
… that I was greeted by my old friends–bread, butter, and jelly–who although battered and beaten by the impossible-to-be-famished hands of well-fed esotericists, served me well as a familiar re-introduction into this community’s spiritually inclusive ways.
It makes sense to start my coverage of the Vanishing Art Festival by mentioning food as it makes sense when discussing anything Islamic, or in this case anything Islamically “inspired,” as not only do Sufis love to eat, but the event itself comes at a the end of Ramadan when the new moon is just about to non-appear.
Waiting on line to dish yourself vegetarian buffet-style grub is an interesting experience in any environment, let alone in the hallowed halls of an old Shaker house set on the grounds of a once Shaker community, the land of which was eventually bought by a community of post-Be Here Now Sufi-styled Western mystics and beloved lovers. On most of these food lines, and especially if you dont know the people around you, the conversation can be horizontal at best, showing few if any peaks and valleys:
“Man, I’m pretty hungry.”
“Yeah. I can’t wait to eat.”
Change up your company to include a few spiritually rebellious luminaries, and talking starts to become a form of brotherly/sisterly play fighting, each person stirring the verbal pot with excitable and potentially, if academically, explosive speech. Lucky for me I was sandwiched between Peter Lamborn Wilson and Christopher Bamford. This meant that by the time I was spooning out a bowl of homemade organic straight-from-the-farm-across-the-street carrot soup I had been part of a discussion about automated phones systems, the irony of the inherent potential privacy that comes with an unlisted cell phone number, exorcism, wandering Catholic bishops, the difficulties of going through a breakup, and how “the world used to be bigger.”
So, yes, the four-hundred or so acres of The Abode of the Message are breathtaking. Yes, it’s always great to get out of the city and spend your time meandering among bearded white grounds keepers with romantically elevated Islamic names (basically “Love,” “Beloved,” or some derivation thereof). And, yes it’s great to be doing this when a hurricane is about to role in. But all this would be without air were it not for the talk.
And, son, there is going to be a lot of that, along with the rest of ye olde elements this weekend.
Much more to come.
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