the life of richie

PERSEPHONE

Posted in is by Rich on November 9, 2009

His sister moved to L.A. two winters ago now, leaving their mother grief-stricken. She has since tried to negotiate her daughter’s release from that plastic conspiracy of the plutocracy: promised all-expenses-paid education and free room and board here on the east coast, where there are seasons. But his sister has eaten the Otherworld’s fruit already; the produce, she says, is so delicious here, as the juices spill down her chin, as the mud runs down the mountainsides while the fires sizzle from the bankrupt trees; one would rather rue in hell. She has been carried off, sister; but she, herself, first reached for the narcissus plant.

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The Rape of Proserpine

There is a lecture on the Persephone myth at the college on Sunday. Rich and friend Melissa, still here from Hawaii, get into his People’s Car and drive to meet Caroline for Indian buffet lunch beforehand. Rich fills his plate and places a curried egg in the center. He regards the filled plate with the curried egg: stares at the curried egg, which he hesitated to take (and then took), before taking his seat with his two friends.

The professor from Rutgers speaks in a hurried manner (and keeps glancing at time’s wingèd chariot) and does not often deviate from the draft of her novel which she reads to them, not looking up except when temporarily released from the spell of her own textual sophistries. Rich takes frantic if infrequent notes. He does not think he agrees with much of what she says; but does not say. He begins to think of the brownies in the back of the lecture room.

Afterwards, Rich and Melissa take the back way home, through curried Egg Harbor Township, all the lush sleepy trees yellowish and browning with the Fall, the imminent Descent. It is warm today, so warm for November: the daughter must be stalled in packing for her annual pilgrimage. They stop at friend Golchehreh’s, where her cute little dad and mom serve them candy and (yes) pomegranate. Golchehreh, reunited with her mom, will take off back to New York the tomorrow after.

[Suddenly, Rich remembers one party in college at Megan’s apartment on South Park Avenue when Elizabeth wore a nametag: “Hello my name is Persephone.” She had arrived without a costume (everyone else was in costume even though it wasn’t Halloween), and friend Mike had said, “You can be Persephone,” and taken an extra sticky-backed nametag and written it out, the alias, along with a smiling devil’s face.]

Rich, Melissa and Golchehreh meet Caroline and Steph at the Starbucks. They were delayed, Rich explains; there was pomegranate. The talk eventually turns towards the government and the Fed and the folly of a fiat currency. Steph advocates buying gold and silver bricks, tucking them away in a safe for a rainy day when the dollar loses all value and China rises up to declare itself the winner of the game (bingo). Rich had written to Golchehreh, “I try to act all Ayn Rand, but inside I’m just a big old Noam Chomsky;” except that Rich is not yet ready to stop believing in the government entirely; even if to believe in the government may in fact be like believing in a Santa Claus who, after Christmas, sends you a bill for the toys he’s delivered. And he still will continue keeping what money he has in a dissociative bank that keeps changing its name; he cannot sleep with lumpy money under the mattress. It’s true that most of the money is not in circulation (as Steph says), but what does it matter anyhow? When we die, we die, and then it doesn’t matter if it was silver and gold or dollars or Monopoly money or novelty bills printed up with his own likeness (in a top hat and monocle, he imagines). When we die, we die; Rich does not wish to liquidate his life down now to money. What is the value of the gold trees in Egg Harbor; the silver frost on the parkway the morning before? Will these, too, depreciate in value, if Demeter again turns mardy; if the memory of an autumn tree cannot be backed by actual trees anymore? Rich worries about his students who cannot get food stamps to trade for real food; or others who cannot get news backed by any facts. Maybe everything is plastic and fake and without value; maybe L.A., in a strange reversal, becomes the only truth in announcing itself to be an illusion. The world as a movie set only has value so long as we do not peek behind the curtain; the world is only real when reeled on t.v.

For Persephone, even when she returns to the world, is changed (depreciated?); has PTSD from her time spent in the Underworld. A migrant contract worker, she has set about dismantling the season, like a window dresser at Barneys.

At least for now, for one more year; every year she’s been saying, “But maybe just this one more.”

She’s getting too old for this, she reasons.

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