12 November 2009

Albemuth Free Berkeley

Posted by Dirk under: been drinking; musings .

We drove down to Berkeley for a day trip of visiting book stores on Veterans Day.

Dorothea loves Berkeley and would like to move down there but I don’t think so for me. Too many people.

Right now, especially, my mental filters are tuned too highly for walking down the busy streets.

My brain was broadcasting orange alerts constantly. So many people that, for whatever reason, set off some sort of mental pattern recognition in my head which tried to demand my attention and point out a possible threat.

And the beggars along the street. Not used to that many. Reached the point of just ignoring their pleas rather quickly.

There was one though, a very old and filthy man, with raggedy long hair, who was sitting on the ground near an intersection, and as people passed he’d say ‘hello’ and look at them with these eyes of his. They looked like the eyes of somebody that wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Almost a child’s eyes.

We walked past him several times and each time he managed to bust through my walls and stab me with those eyes and that plaintive ‘hello’ but I kept walking, even though part of me was trying to get me to stop and give him some money or just ask him if he needed some help.

I bought many books.

When I was younger I had tried to read some P.K. Dick book but it just didn’t appeal to me and I never tried him again. Recently I got the notion, for some reason, of giving him another try.

In one of the stores I found a paperback copy of Radio Free Albemuth, a book that was basically found after Dick died.

I opened it up and read the first page. The first page was about a guy who lived in Berkeley. And after reading that first page I wanted to keep reading, so I bought the book, thinking that it was an odd synchronicity that I had this hankering for reading this author and the first book of his I pick up, while in Berkeley, is about Berkeley.


Later in the car, I am waiting for Doro and I pull out the book again to read a little more. I see that it has a prologue that I had missed when I looked at it in the bookstore.

This is the prologue:

In 1932 in April a small boy and his mother and father waited on an Oakland, California pier for the San Francisco ferry. The boy, who was almost four years old, noticed a blind beggar, huge with white hair and beard, standing with a tin cup. The little boy asked his father for a nickel, which the boy took over to the beggar and gave him. The beggar, in a surprisingly hearty voice, thanked him and gave him back a piece of paper, which the boy took to his father to see what it was.

“It tells about God,” his father said.

The little boy did not know that the beggar was not actually a beggar but a supernatural entity visiting Earth to check up on people. Years later the little boy grew up and became a man. In the year 1974 that man found himself in terrible difficulties facing disgrace, imprisonment, and possible death. There was no way for him to extricate himself. At that point the supernatural entity returned to Earth, loaned the man a part of his spirit, and saved him from his difficulties. The man never guessed why the supernatural entity came to rescue him. He had long ago forgotten the great bearded beggar and the nickel he had given him.

I now speak of these matters.


I wish I had stopped to help that old beggar in Berkeley.

2 Comments so far...

Arcanum Says:

14 November 2009 at 12:43 pm.

There was a time when I was more apt to give money or food to the homeless, beggars, bums, etc. Considering that many of them have made choices to put themselves in that situation, or in fact choose the lifestyle outright, my tune has changed. Throw in the scammers who are not homeless but rather professional panhandlers who make more money than I do (did), and my inclination to give anything away has dropped to zero.

I must admit I never considered the supernatural being scenario. Perhaps you have missed your one shot at salvation! 🙂

Dirk Says:

14 November 2009 at 1:18 pm.

Yah, the professional beggars are the main reason I tend to ignore them these days.

Or when it’s some young guy in his 20’s who looks to be in better physical shape than I am. Get a job dude, ya know?

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