When I stepped into that old used bookstore
With the entrance just two feet behind me
I knew there was no turning back
Until I chose a book or a book chose me.
The proprietor was perfectly cloaked
By his energy field
To the point of only reluctantly appearing
When he saw me at the register
As if he had much better things to do
Than sell me a book today,
Giving me plenty of time to ask myself
Why am I waiting to pay
6$ for a book that I read 50 years ago?
Is it because I was reclaiming
A little lost bit of my soul?
Shouldn’t I be branching out
Into some new / un-used direction?
But life was cheap but I was broke
But the world was black and white
But it was before barcodes
But I was young and ravenous
Stepping into that old used bookstore
Was like stepping into a cave
Where something was hibernating.
Something big that used to roam the Id.
Hibernating but very much alive
But at a very low vibration, thankfully.
Just pray that the code
Doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
I left with Long Live Man by Gregory Corso.
He writes: “Useless you enforcers of safety
scheming hows and ways to keep out of me;
there is no out, there is only in,
and you are all in danger -”
What do I mean by describing the store as if something was “hibernating” there, “Something big that used to roam the Id”? The Id is the primal mind, the part of the mind in which “innate instinctive impulses” are manifest. The Id is the antithesis of the cultural super-ego and Freud (who coined it) was a bit terrified by it. If we were to give into the Id, which is driven by our base instincts, culture would collapse, chaos would reign. Before we dismiss Freud’s warning (See his The Ego and the Id ) as hysterical and perhaps outgrown, I am here to say, the old shrink was spot on. What he feared could happen, happened. WW2, the holocaust, Hiroshima. Most of the world since WW 2, by fits and starts, has been stuck in the seething cauldron of the Id. When Gregory Corso wrote “and you are all in danger” he was speaking for many of the intellectual and artistic community. Facing the prospect of being drafted to fight in Vietnam, even I knew what Corso was talking about and I was just a high school student. And, basically, in the interest of salvaging my own humanity and pulling myself from the seething cauldron of the Id, I became a “ravenous” reader, and a frequenter of used book stores. Being a slow reader I focused on small books first: Red Badge of Courage, Animal Farm, Civil Disobedience, Lord of the Flies, Eliot’s The Waste Land, Vonnegut’s Slaughter House 5, Cat’s Cradle, Hesse’s Siddhartha, Hersey’s Hiroshima, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Of Mice and Men). Suffice it to say, the “low vibration” that resonated through the books I read and the book stores and libraries I loved, found a sympathetic vibration in me, and little by little, but just around the time I became an adult, I started feeling a little “dangerous”, like I could even do some harm with my words, or some good. I felt empowered by my own mind. Scroll forward 50 years. This is why, when I enter certain book stores I need to leave with a book. 6$ is cheap for “reclaiming a little lost bit of my soul”.