Moving on from the paranoid and ultimately fruitless searching of William Burroughs, another searcher who’s literary style, at least in translation, has influenced my writing is Jalal al-Din Rumi. I first discovered him in San Francisco and then went to Koyna to see his shrine during a trip to Turkey. Two books of his translated poetry have been on my book shelf since they were published:
At the time, I was attracted to the emotional quality of his quest and his use of wine and love as metaphors for his path toward union. The themes of the quest and searching for unity are woven through my writing, including Sea of Dreams.
In addition to the spiritual quest for communion with the Beloved, what attracted me to these poems was their mood. One of my favourite pieces from the Helminski book, ‘The Drunkards and the Tavern’, begins:
I’m drunk and you’re insane, who’s going to lead us home?
How many times did they say,
“Drink just a little, only two or three at most?”
In this city no one I see is conscious;
one is worse off than the next, frenzied and insane.
This dramatic and epic feel influenced the opening of Sea of Dreams:
Even in this age of datastreams flowing into oceans of information. Even with all the tools, human and programmatic, available to find, organize and analyze these datastreams, there are still mysteries. For example, what color the sunrise will be today.