He lived in a world of books, even as he was just getting up in the morning, his head full of dreams. Even as he hadn’t read a book in about a year, trying out new things, new ways of changing his life, shaking off the stiff habits of his days, the cycles of smoking and writing, the writing of new poems which were just deteriorations and repetitions of old poems, poems of his own, influenced by the poets he liked, those poets so distant to him now, like so many philosophers and novelists.
What did books mean to him? Getting lost in a world, only to realize it was the same world he had left, the same condo with the same shelves, in the same city of the same planet with so many other cities, built and rebuilt, planned and eradicated, wrecked and restructured like so many novels in the bookstores on that same planet, bought and sold again, the shelves laid bare.
So the world spun, and he wrote, anyway, giving up the past, spinning a new web of words, about new things, which were just the old things, perceived in a new way, through the repetitions and the rotting away of the old ways.
He dreamed of the city, how his life had changed, how his books had changed, how the city had changed, the city of his life and his books. The books would go on, even as the city would go on, though his life may end, and this is what mattered. It was like a river, taking on changes of tincture, resisting pollution, taking on tides and currents, but always the same river, reflecting stars and city lights, flowing between banks and towns and mountains. This was all brought to the sea, as the river became part of the sea, the city overlooking it, the city of his life.
The city had changed. The changes of the city were part of his life, as the changes of the river were part of the city, vast, stretching to other continents. So his life stretched to other continents, as his writing would, in coming decades, in coming centuries. This made him happy.
The city was on a river, the River Charles. It had been there for centuries, the wood houses burning, replaced by brick, but always the same knotty, awkward grid of streets, narrow, and quaint, and charming. It was a neighborhood, really, but it was like Rome, with one culture built on top of another, and then another, with glitzy stores and boutiques, young girls strolling the streets with the Italian feel that still defined it, resting comfortably around the colonial signs of its founding.
The city of his life, the writer, seeking the poetry of the Renaissance in the Italian streets. The decay, the ends of so many things. The fitful beginnings. The poetry of acceptance, of what would always be a cauldron or crucible, mix of what he loved and what he could not get away from, the poetry of knowledge, of dwelling, of being. The happiness of a home on a lively but quiet street, sweet, with its share of ghouls, always the low hum of drama.
The books he read gave him dreams, the books he read in the city, with its low hum of drama, the drama of books, the drama of his dreams. He dreamed of the future. He dreamed of the city, the city of the future, which his city was always becoming. So much of his life in it lay in shadows, dismal memories of dark days, but always with keen beams bursting through, threatening to light up the entire scene.
The scenes were the scenes of the drama, the drama was the drama of music, always more alive than books, bringing him into live contact with real people, in bright places late at night. This is what he remembered, the music, the Jazz of the city, the rock of the backstreets. But still it was the books that preserved his memory, so still he lived in a world of books, the world of his music, the world of his dreams.
When he wrote about music, it brought him in touch with a cosmic force. It was much more than his writing on the page, more than any single musician. It was an infinite, thin line of light. It lit up his eyes as the music entered his ears from the stage. A laser energy transmitter itself both ways, from him to musician, and back. He was really part of the music, and the music was part of him. Yoko would smile as he flashed his iPhone camera at her, at the Yamaha piano in the Japanese fusion restaurant, Cale Israel would high kick from his eclectic keyboard, in his band, Cult and Leper, in the Allston basement.
But he owed this all to books, however dusty and musty, archaic and out of date. These were what gave you style, the elegance of an ornate staircase up which you strode to the eyes of the musician. These were what you created, in the chain of writing going back through the ages. These were what stayed in your dreams, the foundation on which the music stages were built, in the new city, laid upon an older city, and one before that, all one city, all one series of serious music, however, silly, wild, or loud, as all music, even the most sublime, was.