Monday, October 03, 2005

"You remind me of the man...(what man?)"

"In hoodoo practice, after one completes a "job of work" or magical ritual, the most neutral way to dispose of remnants such as left-over candle wax, incense ashes, footprint-dirt, or ritual bath water is to carry everything to the crossroads, throw it into the intersection, turn and walk home without looking back. (Alternative methods for the disposal of ritual items include throwing them into running water for get away or moving spells, taking them to a graveyard for hard-core enemy work, or burying them in one's yard for drawing influences toward one.) "
--from this site

"The man with the power...(what power?)"

Can't you just see the crossroads? Robert Johnson's crossroads, where he sold his soul to the devil, the story goes, in return for genius. Oh, what we would trade for our heart's desire.

It's a metaphor, of course.

At least, in the clean light of day, I'm pretty sure it's a metaphor. We make those trades every day, right? Stealing time and energy from families and jobs, to put towards the monster we're building in our basement, or that manuscript we're assembling, or that degree that's supposed to take us somewhere, or...Well...You get the idea.

"The power of hoodoo...(Hoodoo?)
You do..."

It seems so simple and clean, in comparison, just to take your guitar down to the crossroads at midnight and wait for that big black guy to show up and offer to tune it for you.

It's a way of thinking, too, though--what do you want badly enough that you'd trade everything else you have, just for that one thing? Sacrifice everything? I think there are things we think we want that badly, but when the rubber hits the road we don't want it so badly after all. Not badly enough to go find our own crossroads late one night, anyway.

That isn't a bad thing, by the way--it's about balance versus insanity. I don't believe you have to be tortured and driven to get what you want.

"Standin' at the crossroads, risin' sun goin' down
Standin' at the crossroads baby, the risin' sun goin' down
I believe to my soul now, po' Bob is sinkin' down"
(From Crossroads Blues, Robert Johnson)

I also don't believe you have to be tortured and driven to be brilliant.

But if you bad do you want it?


jason evans said...

That ole devil probably gets a lot of easy pickins.

Want to play anything you want on the guitar? An alternative to eternal damnation would be to work your butt off practicing. The devil is the seductive answer--the get now and pay later.

I'm not sure we have to go down to the crossroads as often as we think. If we spent another hour a day on that monster in the basement or that manuscript, what would we really lose? Most often, an episode of Real World, aimlessly surfing the internet, staring at a wall, eating a bowl of ice cream we don't need anyway, etc. Most people have a ton of time and focus to be wrung out of their lives. I certainly do, and I consider myself busy. The very desire to sell our souls to the devil (the easy way out) shows that a certain measure of avoiding effort and mindless leisure is in our nature.

As we start down to the crossroad near midnight, perhaps we should take that right turn instead the left, and put our efforts into choosing a destination and walking there ourselves.

Mac, excellent post, by the way.

Mac said...

Jason--yeah. Definitely. But what about that edge just beyond where hard work can take you? What about that thing that separates the talented and hard-working from the geniuses?

What would you trade for that?

jason evans said...

Mac, that's a tough one for me. I'm pretty satisfied with myself. I've succeeded in a fair number of things I've put my mind to. Stepping up to sheer genius is a frightening concept. If I could have that kind of impact on posterity, I would probably feel compelled to surrender myself. How could I justify doing something just for me when it would take something from humanity? Who knows, Einstein may have preferred to get drunk with his homies. Da Vinci may have preferred backpacking through Scandinavia. Sheer genius would be a sort of altruistic death.

No, I'll stick to being me and the nagging feeling that I should be doing more.

Ms M said...

The sad thing for many geniuses is that it isn't a ticket to being recognised as such. Many of them live pretty tough lives in obscurity. Then again, being recognised as a genius may not be much fun either, as Jason suggests. It can have pretty enormous repurcussions, particularly if recognised as a prodigy at a young age. I have a family member like this. His life seems to consist of brighter lights and darker shades than most other people. Still, it's interesting to wonder what kind of life he would have had without the genius bit.

Mac said...

You know--I don't know if it's about recognition, though, Ms. M--when I consider what it would be like to be a genius, it's more about seeing in a unique way. Having something extraordinary that culminates in an extra awareness.

I think it would be exceedingly uncomfortable.

Ms M said...

Oh, I thought that was what drugs were for. Ah. Only being silly. Plus I'm a bit paranoid now that this will not be received as funny.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Mac, you're my kind of writer. :-) A pleasure to run across your blog, which I found through the esteemable Miss Snark. I'll visit often.

BTW...forgive my ignorance, but aren't these snippets of song from Labyrinth, and if so, did David Bowie steal them from Johnson? I do so love running across Labyrinth quotes!

And by way of confession: yes. Anything. Anything at all for the writing.

Thanks for the's good to know there are others as crazy as me. Looking forward to reading more of you!

Peace out,

Mac said...

Ms M--no paranoia here--you're completely delightful, as always. *grin*

S.W. Vaughn, the snippets are from the Bowie song from Labyrinth, which is apparently or supposedly from a childhood rhyme or jingle--though not one I remember from my childhood.