Sunday, December 1, 2013

Never Left The Farm

There probably isn't a more Rockwellian moment in Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie, a film that owes plenty to Norman, than that early morning when Ma Kent is about to prepare breakfast in the kitchen, yells for Clark and eventually looks out the window and sees him on the horizon, at the edge of the farm. The boy is ready to leave the farm for the city, where he will pursue his destiny. What if Clark never left the farm?

In his most recent film incarnation, a strong emphasis is placed on how old Clark is when he makes his debut because the filmmakers apparently felt the Christ allusion had never been made with the character. That is literature, though. Being thirty three when you decide to make your big move is simply awesome. Jesus was thirty three when he died on the Cross! Let me just tell you. This blogger is less than a month from his thirty fifth birthday. Any gesture as grandiose as aligning myself with the timeline of the Messiah might have crossed my mind two years ago but I am just sane enough to know that ole JC and I don't share a common destiny. Now, very little is told about what Christ did up until his big moment. That, I can relate to.

There really is nothing to say. That is not to say that I am deeming my life up until now as being bereft of meaning. I am just saying that I am still standing at the edge of the farm. I have imagined the story of Superman as if he never did leave the farm and instead remained to tend the land. In fact, it is one of the many stories filed in my noggin for future telling. All I can tell you that I do know there was a very specific mission laid before me in my dwelling, not straying from my origins. The mission required me to infiltrate a system of indoctrination that would intimidate even Brainiac: the school system. 

Certification turned out to be no different than any of the long list of marks, grades and accreditations I had always seen as passes I had to earn in order to be left alone. Bear in mind that that list includes not one but two bachelor's degrees. Believe me when I tell you I am not bragging. I simply want to give you a sense of the stakes of this mission. It was deep cover, a rescue mission. An unknowable number of individuals may or may not have been granted access to a special message I carried with me, a message that freed them from prisons some were born into and others constructed themselves. It was a cup I had wished to pass off to another plenty of times but you could say that a Friend of mine finally relieved me of.

So I have returned now to the edge of the farm. I have prepared my parents for what it is I wish to do with my life. Ma Kent, of course, said to her son: "I knew this day would come" .  She does this with the grace and wistfulness that goes so well with the tableau she and her son are standing in the midst of. That is not Ma Wilkey. Ma Wilkey will remind me of the worries and fears obvious to all living creatures, until her dying day. What she hopefully knows now is that I have surpassed her in the lessons of resilience and determination she has taught me all of my life. Pa Kent died of a heart attack because superheroes need that sort of thing to happen.  My dad is in better shape than I am. Besides, we know I am no superhero. I do want to tell stories about superheroes. So that's what I will do right this moment.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


September 11th. Impending war in Syria. Suicide Prevention Week. It's only Tuesday. I have to teach sixth graders tomorrow for what will be my third interview. All of my dreams at the moment are mere intellectual properties. To quote Big Gay Al, "The whole world's gone to hell but how are you?".

Seriously, how are you doing? How are you coping? Let me tell you about my "crazy button". I will instantly admit it will probably prove to be quite an inappropriate name for my coping mechanism but then again I could have referred to it as what you may know as Fukitol, which I believe comes in pill form, liquid or Flinstones chewables. I just know that Im looking to my crazy button because my last stand of defense, humor, is clearly running out as evidenced by these two paragraphs.

When I was in high school, I used to run cross country and track. I was pretty good at it. My mile time was 4:52. For three seasons, I was varsity, including the last one when I had torn the IT band, a ligament on the side of my knee. I was 5'10, 128 pounds and 5% body fat. The ligament tore because there was no fat to cushion it. A sports doctor said the only reason I hadn't had an injury sooner was because I had the perfect gait when I ran. Martial arts training, which I had started at age 10, included lessons on running properly. I know this because I was already teaching it at this time. All of this had absolutely nothing to do with my success as a runner. I was not an athlete. This whole operation was ran from my skull. I discovered that if my body had nothing left, I could just flip this crazy button like a nitro switch. By the time I was 17, I was hospitalized after having a mental breakdown.

Now I am approaching 35 and hovering around 220 pounds. I don't run. I don't practice martial arts. In fact, I don't move very much at all. The crazy button is still there though. Where does it come from? What role does it serve in my life now? For one, I no longer need to press it. I just know it is there. When you have an arc reactor for a brain, let's just say that I know more than I will ever understand or be able to express because my thoughts have travelled to the ends of the Earth. My day only begins when and if I get all that under some semblance of control.

I believe that button is really more of a landmark. I have always said I can sense the very beginning of this mad dash. Since the big bang of my consciousness, it was like opening new tab after new tab on the highest speed internet way before there was such a thing. There was no way I would ever be prepared to be told there was just this crazy shit you all call the 'real' world'.  I took one look somewhere back there and wasn't impressed. Maybe I just planted a beacon so that I could always return to my earliest mind when things really didn't have to make sense. You do know that when a baby arrives, it just came from The Big Answer. Maybe by preserving this one trick, I gave myself a fighting chance against what was to come.

So why am I telling you about this crazy button? This beacon. I believe if you are spiritual or were to consult someone gifted in that arena, this would all make a hell of a lot more sense, for one thing. Our motivations is the same though. If we find truth, we are obligated to share because it belongs to us all. In this culture I live in, the America I believe in, we are watching the ship of conventionality go down. Most are still on board and fighting over the captain. It is my belief that the silver lining is that more and more people may begin considering alternatives to conventional thought. I know that my crazy button has gotten me out of a lot of jams. As eccentric as this blog entry may seem, I am merely trying to share with you a coping mechanism. And while I know that there is a seemingly inexhaustible list of these offered by conventional thought, I thought that maybe you might be interested in mine.

So does this mean I want you to find your crazy button? First, I certainly don't want you to call it that because I never liked the name I gave it but really I have bigger problems than thinking of a better name for it. I did like referring to it as a beacon though. Call it what you will but let me leave you with this. You all come from a point of origin that was fabulously free of conventionality and gloriously ignorant of the real world. You were a child. You may not have as strong a link to it. There may be no beacon or button that can take you back to a state where the fact that the world makes no sense and is scary as fuck. But it is still in you. Please seek it out. Find your crazy button so that you can stand up to this crazy life.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wilkey Prime

Fear. Outcast. These are words that feature quite significantly in the trailer for Man Of Steel, the new Superman movie coming out this summer. As a lifelong fan of the big guy, I worried something like this might happen for the wrong reason. Christopher Nolan's success with The Dark Knight Trilogy might have given the studio execs the idea that their Superman reboot should be given the 'Dark' treatment. After the debut of the first full trailer for Man of Steel, I realize I should have trusted the fillmmakers. This brings me to my ulterior motives for writing this blog post, my first in a while. I am certainly the guy to write at length about movies, comic book characters or movies about comic book characters. However, those who know me,  know that Superman is the character I return to time and time again to make some sense out of my life. You may smirk at the need to seek comfort and understanding in the world of fantasy and fiction. When this world starts making sense, you let me know all about it.

Let's return to the word 'fear'. In the case of this new portrayal of Superman, Pa Kent believes that the world will ultimately fear and reject Superman for his unique nature. Let me skip over the many years of doing my very best to stay on the right side of that world. How about right now for a start? After plenty of wrestling with the concepts of self and duality, where has it gotten me? In my ceaseless quest to understand the roles both my 'Clark Kent' and 'Superman' sides play in my life, I HAVE NEGLECTED THOSE THAT CARE FOR ME AND LOVE ME. I am not as good a person as I thought I was.

Christopher Nolan's interpretation of Batman added a third aspect to the character. There was still billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and his nocturnal counterpart but there was also a Bruce Wayne Prime, if you will. Christian Bale's versatility as an actor allowed us to see the composite, the one real human being at the center of his rather complex life. For all my gusto in bellowing to all who would listen, about my hero's journey, I have lost sight of the one real human being, John Wilkey.

John Wilkey is the son of JoAnn and Charles Wilkey. Charles and JoAnn adopted me from a Catholic orphanage. Before they could even take me home, they were carefully reviewed and interviewed. They had to swear before a judge to raise me in the Catholic faith. My father worked multiple jobs and went to school at night so he could become an accountant and be able to provide for his family. He did this for over thirty years. My mother? Typing with tears is never fun. She just gave me her whole life. Her heart. Her health. Her sanity. And just about any peace she might have had. I have not been grateful enough.

Growing up, my best friend and I were outcasts. My ability to laugh and feel like I had a brother were his doing. Our friendship was the standard on which I based most of my understanding of myself and my life. I betrayed his trust. Wherever he is, I would want him to know that I still love him and wish him happiness.

In college, I found two more surrogate brothers to add to the 'family'. These were my halcyon days, before that betrayl that remains my greatest regret. I had made my decision to attend Rutgers while I was in the hospital, at the end of my senior year of high school. For nearly four years, I showed no sign of the tension between the 'real world' and life as an outcast. I may have even ceased being one. How could I be? I had three brothers and we had formed a band. It was all I thought of. One of those brothers will tell you how good a friend I was then. That same brother is who made me realize what has happened to me after all these years.

So what has happened to me after all these years?  Where do my alter egos stand at the moment? I am unemployed so I would say that 'Clark' is back in Smallville with Ma and Pa. Superman? Well, Superman feels his best when he is doing what he is supposed to be doing. In his case, it is saving people, mostly strangers. I also tend to do great with strangers. Though, I wonder if Superman's loved ones feel neglected.
It would seem that all of the above falls to Clark Prime. Because I am also an adopted son, I do not consider Kal-El to be a part of his identity. This flies in the face of a lot of Superman afficionadoes but this is my theory and it suits my purpose for writing this. See, it could be argued that Kal-El is the third aspect to the character. Here's how I see it, from my own experience.  Clark may have been born on Krypton and given the name Kal-El but he was adopted and raised by the salt of the earth, Ma and Pa Kent. I know far less about my origins than Clark does about his but it doesn't matter. Clark Prime was raised to be a good person. His work as a superhero is certainly important but if he were to neglect his loved ones, the Kents would certainly be disappointed and his life as both Clark and Superman would be affected as well.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Superman's first appearance. I am sure there will be plenty of discussion of his enduring appeal. The most prevalent assertion is that he represents our aspiration to be better people. That sounds about right to me. Up, up and away.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fight Unseen

I am a fighter. Yet the most devastating battles will never reach the surface of my skin or find their way to the world of the senses. If it occurs to me to breathe in my surroundings, that may be the sweetest victory I will know for that day. Others may be enlisted in the battle and, with only the best intentions, they will attempt to take command. Or will it just seem that way as their thoughts join the melee of already swarming brain-flies?

Each day I wonder if people recognize the comfort of knowing, at the very least, that it's just another day and they will live for another one? Don't get me wrong. Somewhere, where it counts, I know that. If I didn't, the fight would be over or postponed indefinitely. However, I can forget. Thoughts are just thoughts. They're only as real as I make them. They become more than real when I attempt to strangle and destroy every mental intruder that shows its face. These fights take their toll and no one even knows they happen.


How long has it been since I first realized that we are on a ship without a captain? Now that that ship is clearly going down, the response of the passengers is not really changing, only becoming amplified. Those without a clue are more lost than ever. Those who rely on their grasp are only gripping tighter. The perennial marginalized seekers of truth are already underwater. Their message is not 140 characters or less.

Since there is no point in attempting to escape this ship, I can only look forward to the logical conclusion of our current trajectory. Yet how can I do that when I cannot even be sure I will see that conclusion? Will I only know an infinitesimal angle of descent? There is only distraction and that bus left the station for me long ago.

How else am I to react to the image my senses are forming? What sound can I produce other than a scream? How many stories will sit untold in my daily dreams? The question mark must be banned. All punctuation must be affirmative and definitive. Potential energy must be measured. Weapons must be inventoried but I must clarify said weapons are metaphorical. I should have said tools. After all, this is the Garden of Gethsemane and I am not Jesus. I am just a friend waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Leave the crucifixion to someone else but don’t count me among the doubters. Any moment, I merely intend to give an uphill surge everything I’ve got. When I reach my apex, it is there I will set up camp. No matter where or when this occurs, it will be an act of insanity for another to join me and an even more absurd notion to create something new in this context. If you agree with this statement and are female, maybe we can get some coffee.

The voice of distraction is my only counsel. When I am going this way, it is distraction that tells me to look the other way. Dry ice or condensation, the fog must be maintained. Our eyes are now acclimated to the smallest of screens. Every conversation is an invitation to a conclusion already jumped to. Allegorical science fiction is now a self-defeating concept. Big Brother now conveniently fits right in your pocket. Innovation means bulletproof clothing for children. Being clever once brought me joy. Now it is beginning to disgust me.

We owe a massive debt of experience from which nothing has been learned. The damage sweepstakes have long since ended yet so many seem to still be competing. If there truly ever was a point, we started gaining distance from it the moment we were born. They say we spend nine months trying to get out and the rest of our lives trying to return. The quintessential limited comprehension of this concept ends up vulgar and clearly limited to the existence of males. A far more inclusive conclusion to this essay would be that the point is to return to Creation.