Way Station

Posted on November 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

The one persistent fantasy he had over the early years was to have an observatory on the side of a hill. He found something achingly romantic in the notion. Was it the sequestering from normal life, the telescope and the shack which contained it acting as a conduit to the stars in some esoteric way? He knew from hard experience that it wasn’t the science of astronomy per se that was so attractive but some form of mystical kenosis, not being filled with a divinity but being filled with the excruciating and ecstatic sense of infinity and strangeness, even a pagan sublimity of otherness, something radically different. 

One of his favorite science fiction writers then was Clifford D. Simak, Simak’s specialty was a certain wistful pastoral melancholic setting for his stories and even a sort of domestication (a modernist might say kitschy) of the most far out themes by locating the action in farmland or forests or some other sort of pastoral setting. A favorite was the now largely forgotten (although can anything be forgotten now that we have the megabrain web?) Way Station. the story rotated a farmer Noah Wallace, whose small farm house was used by aliens as a transfer point for aliens to travel between worlds. In return the farmer, who had been on the land since before the civil war, would be given immortality as long as he stayed in the cabin most of the time (which, given his perpetual youthful appearance, begins to raise concerns with US of A intelligence agencies). The aliens provide for his needs and the farmer educates himself with a steady stream of books and subscriptions to scientific journals. He is an ascetic devoted to otherness and fluidity, like a tube connecting the furthest points, a relay. But even here one can see Misissippi seeping underneath the seal of the spacecraft’s door. The texture of time and space crossed with Kudzu and Wisteria as autumn begins to edge around the seasons again, burnt umber and pine straw, under overcast stars…
Something is always coming, bypassing law and kith and kin