Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Hidden Flame

This is where we begin and end ...

On The Air

We emerged onto a narrow deck, only radio antennae above us ...

The City At Our Feet

We came out into the open air and stopped in awe. The whole city was laid out at our feet...

...The skyscrapers and towers of downtown formed an island in the distant haze.

Secret In The Sky

Fire and Gold

We came to the promenade that led directly east to a sunken plaza -- the site of the ice rink in winter -- guarded by a gleaming gold statue of Prometheus, eternally stealing fire from the gods ...

Hermes at Radio City

Radio City

I kept looking at the altitude reading: over 800 feet. That had to be the very top of the tower. The old observation deck. But it had been closed for 20 years.

40°45'33.00"N, 73°58'45.60"W

Diamond Pillar

Pressing on north but not stopping, Horace pointed to a brightly coloured frieze in deep reds, greens and yellows atop a tall building on the east side of Fifth ...

... At 47th Street, at the entrance to the Diamond District, there are two light towers in the form of stylised octagonal diamonds. Horace asked me if I wanted to climb one. I didn't find it funny.

The Twins

Horace led us directly across the street to an white stone arched gate, carved with figures of the zodiac. The Gemini twins at the bottom of the left hand column freaked me out. They looked unearthly ...

In the Periodical Room

“Take a few minutes before we begin and consider these paintings,” Horace said. We sat in silence for perhaps five minutes. I felt Horace holding us in his mind with great love.
...“Like many things, they are not what they seem,” he finally said. “It is all a question of learning to look. Let us begin.”

Signal Tower Detail

Horace told me to take a close look at the top, between the traffic lights. And there again were the spiralling snakes.

Traffic Signal Tower - 42nd and 5th

Against one wall, in a glass case, was a three-foot tall model, in bronze, of what looked like an ornate, Deco-style watchtower. Along the top were three coloured lights. I said if it were lying down it would look like a mummy case. There was a framed drawing of it too, a design plan, on the wall. Terri put her hands on them and concentrated.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

At the Mossman Lock Collection

The cabinets contained an astonishing collection of locks and keys, most of them mind-bogglingly complex... Great iron keys and ornately-scrolled locks from the Renaissance were displayed next to exquisitely-tooled pieces from the 19th and early 20th centuries that looked like code-breaking machines with numbered drums, star wheels and notched cylinders.

Tower of Light

On either side of the tunnel entrance rose Art Deco towers like stylised radio masts, surmounted by powerful searchlights...

...They reminded me of Flash Gordon-era ray-guns. A spiral staircase ran up their core.

40°45'28.28"N, 73°59'48.98"W

Caduceus at the NYPL

“We have five minutes,” Horace said. “I need to jam your mind with things to fuel it. And I don’t mean your intellect.” He pointed to the caduceus carved repeatedly into plinths amid the library’s outdoor decoration.

Room 315

We walked through to the main reading room of the New York Public Library. Under luminescent trompe-l’oeil ceiling paintings of open skies, ranks upon ranks of readers sat in hushed concentration at oak tables

40°45'11.59"N, 73°58'54.06"W

Image Of Fire

He steered me north towards the platforms, and we entered a walkway signposted as the Northeast Passage. “There is a very interesting piece of artwork along these passages,” Horace said ...

... He pointed left to right. “The elements. Earth. Water. Fire, which is what she holds in her hand. Then Air. Then Ether.”

Hermes at Grand Central Terminal

"We’ll see the same thing at Grand Central. Hermes everywhere, and sculpted wheels set with his wings," Horace said. "It’s about speed, you see. The fleet-footed messenger. But what message does he bear?"

The Isaiah Wall

...Neither shall they learn war any more."

United Nations Aglow

Emerging onto First Avenue at the end of 42nd Street, I checked the Quad. It was pointing me left, and began flashing arriving destination as soon as I started walking ... The great green-blue slab of the U.N. Secretariat building and the East River were to my right.

Monday, August 30, 2004

What The Fifth Cache Said To Me

Be your own weather, through intention. Today I understood this line. As we advance along the Path, we must balance the forces of earth, water, fire and air. The point of balance shifts and moves constantly. Clinging to any one point tears you apart. Balance must be constantly reacquired, or it will destroy itself. If we align ourselves with the ebbs and flows of nature, we can acquire the strength of nature and even channel and direct some of nature’s own power. This is the power of ether – seeing the interconnection of all things, and our connection to it. There is a living, shifting border between order and disorder, the point where creation happens. In achieving balance, my will becomes powerful. My intentions come true. I make my own weather. I begin to create my reality around me. Yet the force of ether must not be used for my own gratification, or it will turn on me. Today I felt for the first time that it was possible – no, necessary – to face down Iwnw with a different currency than their own. I saw the possibility – no, again, the necessity – of finding a form of weapon that they cannot convert into fuel for their own strength. It is impossible, but also unavoidable. Unthinkable, but also ineluctable: only a form of forgiveness can stop the detonation of the Ma’rifat’. But it must be a muscular form of forgiveness. I want more than anything to destroy the Iwnw.

College Grounds

Sitting in the grounds of the seminary, so reminiscent in layout and design of the colleges of Cambridge University in England, I found my mind wandering back more than 20 years to the night of the fire, when my life had seemingly become entangled for ever with Adam's, and with Katherine's ...

Along Love Lane

The Quad pointed me further southwest. I walked along Sixth to 21st Street and turned right, past the sad, tiny Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue cemetery ...

... I marched on west, along the old Love Lane.

The Water Door

An octagonal window in the main metal door contained a card giving a number to call in case of alarm malfunction.
“What is this?”
“It’s the entrance to Water Tunnel Number One," Adam said. The image of the tunnel’s course flashed in my mind. Union Square Park. Madison Square Park. Then it would go on to… I saw it.


I crossed the street and walked further along Fifth Avenue, drawn by a flag with a large P emblazoned on it. Just past the corner I saw what it represented: the offices of a design firm called Pentagram, with its name carved right into the building above the door. Another five.

The Second Obelisk

Walking around the obelisk, I read off General Worth’s battles and honours. Contreras, Churubusco, West Point, Molino del Rey… Monterey, Vera Cruz, San Antonio and City of Mexico ...

... “You were a busy man,” I whispered to myself. “They must really love you in Mexico.”

The Star of Eternal Light

I saw the five-point star carved into its base over the words An Eternal Light, and at the top of the pole, a five-pointed lamp in the form of a star. It commemorated military dead in World War One.

Standing Wave

I got off the bus at Madison Square Park. Before me rose the Flatiron Building, the undulations in its long face like ripples frozen in time.

The Stepping Stones

One of the stones wobbled slightly as I put my foot on it. It was a smaller one, a five-pointed starfish. I kneeled and pulled on it to see if it would move further. It lifted like a lid, and underneath was a sealed plastic 35mm film container.

Atop the RCA Building

I closed my eyes and visualized 570 Lex's glorious summit a few floors above us: lightning bolts pulsing from clenched fists, a riot of spikes, like a crown of thorns ... symbols of radio waves spitting and crackling out into the ether.

My Place of Work

We met in a conference room near the top of 570 Lex, several floors away from the sensitive eyes and ears of the newsroom, at nine o’clock sharp...

What The Fourth Cache Said To Me

Sometimes the devil’s water brings life.
I am being torn apart, yet I am growing more alive.
I am beginning to hear and see things I would never have believed were possible.
Since these events began, I have lost my job, and been humiliatingly expelled from among my people. Tomorrow I will reckon with them.
I have been attacked and beaten, and left vomiting in the subway.
I have been almost drowned.
I have been almost blown apart in a gas explosion.
I have had the breath crushed out of my lungs.
I have willingly broken my marriage vows, and lost the ring that symbolizes them. I have insulted my wife.
I have experienced a new autonomy, a new self-respect, then hurt my most beloved one in order to retain it. I have indulged my anger and desire for revenge, and I have dressed it up as honesty.
Yet in facing death, in the play of lust in my flesh, I have found strength I never knew I had. I have turned basic urges – kill it, fuck it -- into spiritual weapons, those of earth and water.
In rejecting blackmail, in asserting my utter freedom, I have added the power of fire to those weapons.
In diving into the crowd to rescue that boy, when self-preservation would have had me stay sheltering and cowering where I was, I have, I believe, added the power of air. It is what I used, without knowing how, to calm the crowd.
I am growing stronger as I advance along the Path, though all this strength is only lent to me, is not my own, is not for my vanity or advancement.
It is for Adam, to help him to resist the corrosion of the parasites within him.
It is for Katherine, to help her on the lonely road I have driven her to. If her being with Adam will help him survive these ordeals, then so be it. But I will have her back.
It is for Terri, to help her overcome the hidden new fear I see in her.
It is for Horace, to guide and instruct me as he may need.
Other people are not hell. They are salvation.
There is a shape in my mind that defies words, just as the peregrination I have been on across Manhattan – the shape I have drawn on the city, the experiences at each waypoint – are drawing a shape in my soul.
I am seeing connections where none were apparent, lines and images of new harmonies.. The capacity to speak the language of the birds is awakening within me.
All this, to defeat those who have caused these ordeals to come to us.
I pray for my enemy, since praying for my friends is no virtue.
I forgive myself, for everything I have done has been necessary. I ask the forgiveness of others.
I am ready. I am alive. I will fight.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Magic Cube

At The Tick Tock, Again

I saw CNN had taken over the Tick Tock diner on the corner for the duration of the Convention ...
... adding its own electric red to the green and blue neon and chrome of the Tick Tock itself and the faded Deco glory of the New Yorker hotel it was part of. The two Tick Tocks were superimposed in my mind: two separate but identical gateways to an imaginary, timeless Perfect Diner.

Bricks of Light

Dulled glass bricks were set into the floor of the pavilion, suggesting there was a chamber below, though I could see no steps down to it ...

... Protestors were swirling around the pavilion, but for the moment none entered. I was alone, at the still point of the turning world.

Burning Snake

I found the edge of one of the patterns, pushing protestors gently aside as I moved, staring intently at the ground and not at their faces. I wheeled to the right and then to the left, back upon myself, towards the park and back again … I realized I was walking a labyrinth, a painted spiralling snake in green and yellow and red.

Time Flies, Again

I looked south at the strange steam-emitting sundial artwork on the square’s bottom side, occupying the full wall of a building above the Virgin Megastore. A set of digital numbers flashed in a sequence I’d never been able to fathom.

The Compass Rose

Look Down at your Feet

“Welcome to Dead Man’s Curve,” Terri said. “Right where you’re standing.”
“Hell of a name.”
“Hell of a game. It’s where the cable cars coming up Broadway used to crash or send people flying as they tried to negotiate the bend. There was no way to decelerate. Sound familiar?” 

Pyramids at Union

As I emerged onto 14th Street, at the bottom of Union Square Park, three pyramids appeared on my right, floating on the horizon. I walked towards them ... Off in the distance, I could hear drums in the still air, chanting and whistles and shouts.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Goodnight Moon


I crossed the street to the triangular plaque in the street outside Village Cigars, commemorating the refusal of a former owner of the site to sell 500 square inches of his property to the city authorities...

Chess Table at Washington Square Park

“Tables for chess and checkers only. No loitering,” a sign said. “Two hour limit per table. Free for public use. No gambling or fees.”

... I sat and loitered, waiting for the next call. I knew what I had to do. It was time to take control.

The Hangmen's Elm

I inspected the Hangmen’s Elm. Only a tiny green plaque on its trunk identified it.

... I stepped over the low railings onto the grass to look more closely. Explored around the roots.

Triangle Fire

... the awful sound of women screaming, falling through the air, some hand in hand, like the poor people who jumped from the Twin Towers, and smashing into the pavement on Greene Street ... Young women trapped behind locked and blocked doors on the top floors as the flames tore through the factory, driving them to the windows. An inferno at their backs. Leaping to their deaths. I could feel it. I could see it. The pain was unbearable. The street resonated with violence.
40°43'47.32"N, 73°59'43.34"W

The Bell of Doom

The bolts meant something to me too. Indefinable images rushed at me. I placed my hands on the bell, closing my eyes, hearing again the chanting in my dream. Fat Mary Fat Mary Fat Mary

... I couldn’t. I willed the images away, and with them the fear.

Emmet's Vault

Emmet’s vault was a stone slab in the paved churchyard. The image of an empty chamber beneath an obelisk teased at my mind...

An Amiable Child, Again

"They Were Earth's Purest... Children Young and Fair.

The Hare Krishna Tree

I found a plaque on the fence nearby. It was an American Elm. Ulmus americana... On October 9, 1966, it said, AC Bhakhtivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his followers sat beneath the tree and held the first outdoor chanting session outside of India of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare…

Chess Table at Tompkins Square Park

Someone settled into the seat behind me.
“Don’t turn round, Robert,” a man’s voice said. “It’s time for us to talk.”
“Just don’t turn round.”
“What the hell?” 
“This is a place of great holiness and great loss, you know? Terrible sadness. Lots of homeless people, lots of desperation, lots of lost faith, lost hope. Then there’s some joy, too. Dancing and singing. If you know where to look.”
40°43'34.00"N, 73°58'59.10"W

Red Square

As soon as I had a fix on the waypoint I half ran along Essex Street...

... There was a giant clock face on the side of an apartment building as I approached Houston. All the numbers were screwed up: 12, 4, 9, 6… I looked again. They were still screwed up.

Friday, August 27, 2004

What The Second Cache Said To me

Today was the trial by water. Find God in the sea of sex. I have never felt so fully known, so fully electrified, so fully comfortable with another human being. Having her utterly in my power. Being utterly in her power. But my sexual desire cannot be for Terri. It has to be for Katherine. I have to fold it back toward her.

The Treacherous Path

"You want to know what kind of path you're on, Robert...?"