When my daughter Gaby was small, I used to read her my favorite children’s book, Charlotte’s Web. it was a gorgeous allegory about right and wrong by E. B. White. It gently explained the mystery of the life-cycle without all of the punitive religious horse-shit. Charlotte’s legacy were a hundred little parachutes with her babies tethered to the end of them with silken threads. Charlotte is alive through her children and the kind lessons she bestowed upon her friends in the barn-yard.
I am still kind of a pussy about spiders, but I don’t immediately kill them like I used to. Now I sweep them out of whatever place I am inhabiting, but I don’t stomp on the poor fuckers like I used to. Spiders are among the most useful of creatures; eating flies, mosquitoes, nits, centipedes and other harmful bugs. Still, they give me the willies; especially the big fuckers–they still spook me.
In Japan, of course, spiders are looked on with favor, as useful makers of silk-like thread and as nature’s artists. Much Japanese art references the glistening geometry of spider-webs. It appeals to the Japanese sense of elegant order. All through the wood-cuts and etchings of Hiroshige and Hokusai there are hints of spiders and their webs as benevolent elements. In haiku, Issa, Buson and Basho all write of spiders and the rigorous mathematical poetry of their webs.
My friend, Steve Earle, told me a couple of years ago that after reading a lot of haiku that he didn’t want to kill things anymore. He used to hunt deer and fish for trout for eating. Now he is content to merely humiliate the cutthroat trout he catches and lets them go. After visiting Japan and reading a lot of Japanese poetry, the reverence for life is something I share. I don’t want to kill anything either. In New Orleans recently I let a cockroach saunter by me without stomping his ass. He was a big motherfucker and he walked by with no urgency. It was if he were daring me, like, “Hey….Want some of this?” In New Orleans, they want to pretend cockroaches are something else, so they call them pretty names like “palmetto bugs” or the banal “waterbug.” Bullshit. They are cockroaches. Granted, they are the size of a Buick and they fly, but they are still fucking ROACHES.
And I still have no desire to kill them anymore.
And this is something.