Friday, September 14, 2012

Effective Life Flow and Smallmouth Bass and Other Gamefish

Little time to fish, but I got an average stream smallmouth bass in the South Branch Raritan. Water's running a little high and turbid, no improvement since Tuesday, and since we've had no rain, it's odd to me; perhaps water is being let out of Spruce Run Reservoir upstream. Last Friday I had no rod in the car, but I stopped to check the river out and it was in better shape than now, even after more recent rain.

Thought I would probably draw another zero. A little bass socked a shiner at the surface about a dozen times, finally got it. I tightened up, nothing there--got the shiner. Then finally a bass took a shiner solidly & when I set the hook feeling strong resistance, hope shot up a bit before I knew it was a poppindocker. Let it jump itself off the hook while I held it out of the water. I sure don't mind catching them, but the chief challenge is to set the hook without gut hooking and still manage to catch the fish, so I miss plenty hits, but seldom have to feel the uncertainly about whether the bass will survive--which usually they do even with a hook in the gut. They are tough creatures; it's good to identify with fish because if you are like them, you can survive almost anything. I've caught plenty fish on the scale of years--trout and bass--with hooks partially obstructing food intake and sometimes nearly rusted out.

But I always have big bass in mind. It's not a big celebration when I catch a two-pound-plus smallmouth, but such a fish satisfies. Anglers are like the fish they relate to: strong, fit, powerful in nature. We are civil beings living in civil society, but we seek our deep, inner nature in relation to fish that arouse our willfulness and interest in living, that inspire our contemplative depth, not simple, direct predation as if we are fish, but the effectiveness of the life flow within us. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Resurrection From the Dead--Do It!

I didn't fish today. Going through North Jersey, I passed over the Passaic, but if I fish below the falls soon, I'm not interested yet. And Burnham Park Ponds remain thickly vegetated, no Hurricane Irene to have blown it out.

Wanted to pick up on a line from yesterday and give this post the outrageous title that might have caught your eye. Alarm, excitement, and awe is banalized, trivialized, and commodified as more and less interchangable one liners today, life reduced to dull and tired expectancies, though the 1960's enjoyed a genuine awakening that had to do with more than the war, not that we would ever go back--that authenticity was a moving forward. People think of the drugs, but those times were futuristic with visions of technogical mastery and joy united. I thought I would plug an ancient idea in cyberspace and if anyone would try to commodify the dead, good luck.

Ever hear someone say, "It's dead," to describe a joyless endeavor or relationship? Nowadays, most people seem to feel this way about life. But suppose that death is no excuse and resurrection necessary, as if a dead life were lived on borrowed time, as if these self-described dead are just fed chips until the dam breaks and they have to run. Suppose that the ordinary man is the dead man, if he calls himself that.

But how do you know you're ordinary? Yesterday, I had no heart to get out on the river and fish, let alone mount the bank and march like a soldier in shorts through dense thickets of briars, breaking past the abrasions so fast they barely scratched, getting to the other side of darkness and down the bank again into water, new water to explore, which returned me to life as I described in the previous post.

If instead of saying, "It's dead"--about anything--you say, "I will," then you are a man, not an ordinance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Delusion Everyone Calls Reality--and Fishing the South Branch Raritan River

I found an immense tree today, walnut, I think, photograph's below. Drove to Three Bridges and trudged directly downstream, never stopping for the deep holes at the bridge, mounting the bank and tearing straight through thorns intent on making time, for I had little. And then I found it wasn't really futile, because I had got out and exercised my will, resurrected the angling outdoors spirit when the hiatus had threatened to enclose me in the delusion everyone calls reality, but the stretch just went on and on into the distance another quarter mile, the water little more than ankle deep, and my time running out. And when I turned to slog back through the water--wow, this tree with the six-foot wide trunk! Hello grandfather! Haven't seen you in many years.

I even fished a shiner in a cut where I previously caught two on a Senko, then posted about three weeks ago that I felt September would be real good. My apologies on that count; I really feel them because I may have misled you. It's almost mid-month and I've hardly fished, let alone caught a lot of smallmouth bass in the South Branch Raritan. Innocent hope, but I try to become wiser yet.

Yes, shiners and certainly enough time to have caught a few bass--nothing. The cut yielded only a chase by a very small bass, and as usual, the bridge--which I have passed up in recent times--was dead. I tried it today on return with hopes. I felt refreshment because I fished hard, but caught nothing.

I have managed to get around the river this summer and feel accomplished. So far my largest smallmouth on the South Branch is two pounds, but I've attempted one about three-and-a-half.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Joseph Campbell and the Great Adventure

Perhaps very few of us do what modern mythologist Joseph Campbell describes as a great adventure, his claiming that those who pursue a path through life are following in the footsteps of others and are not on an adventure. That's how society is; obviously we could not have civilized values without pathways, and most of us are happy to earn rights to follow the lead of competent others. but this order includes the very rare as well. Those who go their own way. They either wreck their lives failing return to what Campbell calls the common light of day, and they are marked for that, or they achieve a great "boon" as Campbell names the productivity of eventual exchange among others. 

Sound results recognized by others to have cultural value after the adventurer's going off the beaten path don't begin to become evident on the broad scale until he has returned, although this doesn't so much mean he adjusts and conforms, but to a great degree may transform the old order in need of new life. Even chaos is an extremely subtle order he must confront, survive and move beyond as he makes his way through a return to the future. Lives are threatened by this, that and the other thing every day, and while few of us intentionally place ourselves in harm's way, some us who do so seek to gain the experience, knowledge and wisdom to make good from what could have killed us. The successes are surely much more rare than failures. A schizophrenic may tell you about an adventure, and if any were to tell me so, I would grant the individual's word. But his or her return to normal dealings with people in a world with a difficult market for success, I would doubt this eventuality, though not rule it out as impossible.  

For my Recorder Newspapers syndicated column this week, I wrote that angling may be a difficult way to approach success in life, but what you can learn from offering lures to fish is analogous to making contributions in human society. Fishing is light fare, however, when it comes to cultural contribution. Nevertheless, we anglers participate in nature: this is the primary process; civilized order is secondary to it, and it is always our best pride to add value to our human community. 

Everything manmade is nature rearranged, including what we take from our re-creative experiences, which are personal resources for empowering our responses when we return to ordinary society from an outing. The great boon, as Joseph Campbell wrote, comes first from abandoning the world as we understand it. I think of Izaac Walton's abandonment of the British Civil War and Oliver Cromwell's rule, and there's no doubt he left the ordinary world and bestowed the boon of the most bestselling book besides The Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, but fishing, at least for me, serves as a lesser reminder of adventure I had in youth. It's too much to relate in a blog post. I sought the secret of nature, wanted to know the inner truth of matter and attempted to fully enter the world's natural process in a way much more profound than I do by fishing.

Philosopher Ayn Rand would never have approved of Joseph Campbell's "mysticism," but as a youth I admired her profoundly and followed her philosophy along with so much else I studied. She stated that a man cannot long survive in a state of nature. Rather than avoid a test of this, I did what poet and literary master T.S. Eliot suggests: "Only he who risks going too far can know how far one can go."

I wrecked in the end but never quit the effort to pick up the pieces and move into this world we share. Had I not ruined my life to such deep degree, I never could have experienced my life's source in nature to the degree that made me fortunate rather than dead. Nor could my mind and imagination have opened to what is deep within and high above. I don't regret having walked out to discover what obsessed me so intensely, not even at the cost of having to work wage jobs thereafter, but I hope not until I would retire.

It's not for any but a very few to try the likes, and people are always there to help these few--by discouraging them. The best I did was get far away from people so I could hear the undiluted tone of my own voice. But they were almost right about my ways leading to the impossibility of normal life.