I first encountered Loren Eiseley's All the Strange Hours around 1978, when I was a 'morose' teenager. I read it quickly, and for those who know something of me in later life, it's probably obvious how my empty vessel was filled with its sentiments and attitudes. Young men can easily view their ordinary lives as unjust, unsatisfying or painful despite knowing nothing of the world or of suffering; this was certainly true for me, I never lived in any true want. To find the transcribed experience of those who have come before compelling, vital or inspiring, especially in this new era of great variance of experience between generations, is an odd process, involving romance, suspended disbelief, deep longing and impatience with delayed launch into adulthood. Even the title and the sub-section titles of Eiseley's memoir of sorts, appealed deeply to me and I'm self-conscious even now in the thought that my mind so aligns with the connotations therein as to make me feel a stalker, just a little too touched by one work, of one man.

 

Some 40 years later, my prematurely gravel voice pointed me to revisit Eiseley's work, and so I read the lines into a microphone. I often thought that I didn't have the patience to be a painter, toiling for hours or days or weeks or more upon one frame, I, too insatiable for this pace to satisfy some arbitrary rate of accomplishment. So I turned to a motion picture camera, to increase the rate of image production. This illusion and trite analysis may find analog in the audio book, for deriving a screenplay from such a book as All the Strange Hours, and further scheming to produce a film from it, is a mountainous conjecture, for which I most certainly am too old and lazy to consider.

 

As is my way, to produce things that may be described as audience tolerance tests, my general refusal to relent from my natural 'see fit,' to delivery the goods or to back off from an approach or conjure the discipline to round and fill a project, I just here read the book, with my acid tongue, no more no less. I apologize in advance for any errors in pronunciation, or my ignorance to the details of archeology or other niche that Eiseley included, that is beyond my knowledge or experience. I'm not without shiver, considering myself a fan of someone, and devoting such attention to mount such an effort; I wouldn't be so bold as to think Eiseley, his decedents or his publisher would've found this reading acceptable, just or legitimate, but so be it - it, the voice, hereby speaks for itself.

 

I am not an Eiseley scholar, or apologist. He was a man of his era, and I can’t endorse his experience or give him credit for his attitudes or apologize for his language. It doesn’t seem just to point out any particular sections as moving, dated or unworthy in the tests of time. I’ve just tried to read what appears on his pages. If anything can be said about why his experience as written ‘spoke’ or may still speak to me, it might be that he clearly bubbled with a sort of tension, throughout his life, something that I came to call a ‘profound gnawing dissatisfaction;’ a shadow that has also tailed me throughout life.

 

Here posted is the first of the 3 sections of All the Strange Hours, Days of a Drifter. I will post the remaining two sections as I get through them.

 

gibbs chapman

9.2020

 

The Rat that Danced

The Life Machine

The Running Man

The Desert

The Trap

Toads and Men

The Most Perfect Day in the World