The FINAL Episode: The Olson Strikes Back
It is years in the future. Twenty to be exact. Charles Olson is at a potluck. Yes, he is actually at the potluck. Participating. This may be hard to believe, but times have surely changed. He is talking to a new circulation student.
“Let me tell you a thing or two about Benjamin J. Shaw, The California Poet. I created him, you know. That’s right. He was nothing before me. He didn’t even have a real name. It was B.J.! Hah! Imagine that! I created Benjamin J. Shaw, The California Poet, a catalyst title, in order to inspire the man. It did it, really (well, I did it), the title, you know, turned him into an author.”
“Who?” Circ Student questioned.
“Listen here. Shaw knew not to interrupt me. He let me speak. He knew that if he spoke, my digression (because they all are digressions from the only important thing: Truth, man) would only digress further into a diabolical diatribe, a rantatious spewing of nonsense…or, should I say, as he labeled it: Charlespeak…but that’s another story.”
“You are out of context…” Circ Student knew he should not have opened his mouth, but he was new and did not know better.
“You don’t even know what the context truly is. Shaw did the same, you know. Always changing the original context in order to best suite his argument. Sad, really. A juvenile approach to argument. And why are you even talking?”
Circ Student motions to talk, but Olson stops him.
“Let me tell you about Texas Radio and Linear Plasticism. Yeah, that’s right, I invented that too. Again, Shaw is, in a sense, me. His ideas have been so influenced by mine that they are in fact merely extensions of my ideas. In a truly plastic sort of way. That leads us to our final argument.” Olson pauses like he always does, always in deep thought, always looking to save the world from itself.
“Yeah, we argued all the time. Sometimes just to argue. Sometimes there was a point, I think. We were a regular Tweedledum and Tweedledee. I was Tweedledum, of course, although Shaw would tell you different. That was another fight. But our final battle centered on his origin, if you will. See, he had the habit of telling me I couldn’t talk anymore. Yes, I admit it now, that that would set me off. Can you believe it? He had the gall to tell me, the world’s ultimate windbag, I couldn’t talk anymore…and that’s when I sprung it on him like a mousetrap:
SHAW: That’s it, Olson, you can’t talk anymore.
OLSON: No. I am your father. SHAW: No. No. That's not true! That's impossible!
OLSON: Search your feelings. You know it to be true.
SHAW: No! No! No!
You might be lost now, that’s okay. Shaw was lost too…until he found me. Until I gave him a purpose in life. I made him who he is. Totally. After all, what would he be without me? Nothing. A fake at best. One of those writers who points to a stack of books or papers and says, ‘I wrote that!’ Hah!
“And let me tell you another thing. Shaw was off his rocker. Obsessed with men’s beards (although I never recall him talking about bearded women [although I wouldn’t hold it past him (oh, the things he’d get away with!)]), especially that of one James Douglas Morrison. Always talking about respecting facial hair. Hah! How lower brained can a person get? He practically lived completely in the lower brain, Shaw did. Obsessed with sports mania and the like. Truly sad. He thought basketball and football were noble sports. Hah! Everyone knows tennis and baseball are the best, not that I truly enjoy either, but I must say so, for the record, that those two are sports that stimulate the über brain, not the lower. Not the grunt and drool portion of the brain where most men (and, yes, women) reside…chest thumping in rhythm to ‘Bad to the Bone’ or ‘Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room’ (the Brownsville Station version, of course).”
Olson paused for a moment, as if to exclude the following, yet, out of weakness (perhaps due to old age), he continued, “It wasn’t until about five years after he retired that I realized what exactly he had done to me. See, I was a simple man living a simple life, then Shaw came in and screwed it all up, I tell you. I lived a Spartan lifestyle, one that involved 1) Crock-pot cooking and 2) The mastering of nature through weed eating and chopping wood. I was one of those typical hermit-loner types. Never went to meetings and potlucks. Never talked to anyone but my supervisor and the occasional patron who dared to engage me at the circulation desk. Now look at me. I’m at a potluck eating Ed’s meatballs talking to some punk kid I don’t even know. What happened? That’s right, Shaw happened. He made it his personal mission to, as he said in his article, ‘The Hermit is Human,’ ‘personize’ me through his constant teasing and the so-called battles we used to get in. It’s crap-crud.
“As I was saying, he published this article about personizing me, pulling ‘the hermit’ from the cave and forcing him to communicate with normal people, ‘evolving me,’ as he stated in his article, yet all he did was force me to enter my lower brain from time to time with his blatant attacks on Jim Morrison and The Rolling Stones, then talking about how Aerosmith and Kiss are the greatest bands ever. Hah! I found out in his article that he, at all times, had a Doors tape (not even a CD…that’s how long he’d had it) in his car, he actually liked the Stones, and hated both Aerosmith and Kiss. Hah! All to try to get me to engage in the lower-brained thinking normal people do. All to personize me. Let me tell you something, it didn’t work at all no sir whatsoever. Would you like another meatball?
“As I was saying…Shaw was great only because of me. He even had this place figured out…like me. He knew not to be on committees because nothing ever gets done (all because of politics and personal agendas) and he knew to not make a lot of suggestions because all they result in is the pain of rejection…although it is quite satisfying to be proven right years later, yet no one even remembers that you in fact said not to do this, not to do that…yet they did and everything ended up screwed up…just the same as it has always been. Shaw knew. I know. See the link? I made him. And it’s because of this that I pitied his unmitigated acceptance of both the lower brain and sports mania…as if both are a part of everyday life? Hah! What was he thinking? He needed to separate from the masses in order to complete his hero’s quest, not embrace them (although I now see both the validity and danger of his actions, making the hero’s quest even more dangerous, the road ‘home’ to writing even more perilous than before).
“Yet in the end he was able to string the bow of writing and shoot his arrow through the twelve ax heads of publication and win his prize…all because he listened to me. No, he became me. An extension. Through Linear Plasticism.” Olson pauses, smiles, beams with delight, and then looks directly into the new employee’s eyes. “1) I am his meme machine, 2) I was (and still am) his muse, and 3) I am his father. Goo goo goo joob.”
~ Thus Spoke the Olson ~
*DISCLAIMER: This in no way whatsoever at any given time or place, including in any and every known as well as unknown dimensions, should be confused with THE Charles Olson…but it must be stressed that this Charles Olson was in fact genetically engineered by who “normal” people call aliens (Olson tends to call them “flying saucer spacemen”)…from a compromised DNA sample that was allegedly taken from the alpha Charles Olson, that weird old guy who hides in the back of the Circulation Department. It must be stressed that this alpha Olson is my mentor, teaching me far more about writing than the CSU, Sacramento Creative Writing Program ever taught me.
Here are the links for the complete series of the Olsonic Digressions by Benjamin J. Shaw, The California Poet: Episode One; Episode Two; Episode Three