Front St. Arts


Hunt for Steel

Center City



Socratic Men

Wild Heart




The 1960s


Memphis Woes

Exalting Towers



Man of Earth

Preface & Reader Response

Most of us are nobodies. We become somebody only as we realize the marvel of insignificance.



Phases of Astonishment


Chapters: i | ii | iii | I | II | III | IV

by Jerry Murley

The act of publishing a periodic journal induces one to consider doing things one oughtn't – or things one is hesitant to do. That is if the individual acting is at all aware of the larger world – literature and social arrangements and norms – and one's relative place in it. Assembling and releasing an autobiography – or any personal material – is one great, treacherous step for mankind, especially man of the less significant and capable kind. I have known for 41 years that I would one day eventually step into it. An event back then marked my life in ways that I could never have predicted.

At the age of 20, I was born. Or more accurately: that is when my afterlife began. I am not unique in this process. I would venture to say that most everyone whom I hold dear has had a similar passage. Life before and after the age of twenty are of equal importance to me. But it makes sense to start this project, which may or may not reach full development, at about the age of 21 and a half.

Along the way, I have taken note of my experiences. It would be tempting to exhaustively revise one's expressions from early times to fit one's changed perspective and self image. From assumed and acquired maturity, wisdom, and responsibilities, a battle-hardened analysis and plain words are expected. Yet I will resist that temptation on some counts, for having known I would tell my story, I have committed fragments of it to paper since the age of 20 and trust their insights as equal to studied phrases. It would be near criminal to excise and soften the naivete, the exuberance, the grandness, the wonder, the sheer witlessness, and yes, the absolute arrogance and error of those more florid youthful expressions.

One beauty of writing as a nobody is the logical assessment that what one writes doesn't matter anyway. Yet, I am not so taken with writing that I would commit all of a lifetime to paper and publication. I will not tell all. That would be no fun for anyone, especially me. In addition, I will not try to tell all because I do not know, remember, or understand most of my experiences; therefore, how could I reveal all. With characteristic presumption, I might say that art is in revealing and not revealing at the same time. A life is as much a fiction as it is a literal truth. This is in part because of humiliating ignorance: the gift given all who hazard storytelling so as not to deter them. In equal measure, this is because a life is always viewed through the imagining eyes of a nobody. Most of us are nobodies. We become somebody only as we realize the marvel of insignificance.

This perilous venture will be parceled out in installments. This opening is the official down payment. Whether it will lead to a bankruptcy of worthy subject matter, or an overdraw on energy and ability, will one day be obvious. Letters linger longer when let lie in wait. The waiting has been over for nearly three years. Now is but acknowledgement of what has long begun.

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