Saturday Night Sage — the debut literary release from poet, essayist and journalist Noah C. Lekas — is a luminous book of poetry about the journey of the Sage from the back bone of the American Dream to the exaltation of enlightenment, out April 13th via Blind Owl records.
Rory Morison: What is the origin story of Saturday Night Sage, where does it come from?
Noah C. Lekas: The title came from a prosperity preacher I used to listen to, he used to say, “Don’t get lost in Saturday night, or you’ll lose your Sunday morning”. Basically what he was saying is that Friday is the crucifixion of Christ, and Sunday is the resurrection, which makes Saturday a dormant day of endurance, a day we all just have to get through. Growing up in the Midwest, in a blue-collar, minimum wage culture, Saturday night was the night, it was all you had, because Monday through Friday, 6am to 6pm, was just grinding. I thought it was interesting that in this idealist, spiritual world, Saturday night was this waste of a night we all had to get through, and in the blue-collar world it was the one to look forward to.
RM: The idea has its roots in that juxtaposition, an idea of what if you could be the spiritual guru of Saturday night?
NCL: I was fascinated by these jive bar room personalities, these barstool philosophers who had the answer to everything. You could ask them anything and they had the answer but somehow could never use those answers in their own lives. I wanted to create a character that was in full acceptance of the Saturday Night existence.
RM: You reference and expand on many principles and themes of eastern mysticism and western theology in the book, why is this of importance to the narrative of the sage, where does it come from?
NCL: Eastern mysticism was an organic part of my upbringing, my parents were Hare Krishna’s when I was a kid and it became part of my worldview. Buddhism and dharma is also inherit to this idea of the sage character accepting Saturday night. He’s not a character who is content with self-destruction he’s more interested in enlightenment and transcendence. My parents became Christians in my formative years and there is a lot of that in there too. Ultimately, these texts were all powerful for me, sort of an intro and outro to philosophy.
RM: There’s a torturous limbo the sage is juggling throughout the narrative (purity vs. degeneracy, holy vs. damned, right vs. wrong path, etc.), is there a specific struggle or journey in your own life that you are alluding to?
NCL: The larger journey comes down to the Bodhisattva vs. the Buddha, the Buddha finds enlightenment and bails (no longer reincarnates), and the Bodhisattva finds enlightenment and sticks around to help others reach it. The Midwest in that respect is similar; if we all had stayed the Midwest would be in a different state than it is now. Everyone I know who moved out of the Midwest struggles with that feeling of guilt.
RM: Would this tie into the sages perception of blue-collar misery, the idea of the American Dream, and furthermore our society as a whole?
NCL: He’s dissatisfied with it; he accepts the suffering but has a deep feeling of disgust toward the injustices of the system he’s operating in. The dismantling of the union, consumerism and the American Dream; he’s trying to make his life better in a system and society that is void of support.
RM: Then what is the role/job of the sage, is he the poet or prophet?
NCL: Harkening back to the Bodhisattva and the Buddha, I heard a quote once that “the job of a writer is to go into the unknown and report back on what they found”. I think the role of both is exploratory and I think you have to become a trail blazer, you have to do some cutting to get to that place. At its best hopefully you bring back something that hasn’t been seen before, something that lends itself to a new perspective.
RM: Is there resolve in the final line of the book, “Immutable he longs for Sunday morning yet he’s lost to Saturday night”?
NCL: His resolve isn’t an American film it’s a European film. He doesn’t get the girl at the end. What he gets is the reward afforded by doing the work. His seeking brought him to enlightenment and his enlightenment is a solo journey. Part of what he’s trying to reconcile is that moving forward isn’t a group activity – it’s personal. But he gets there with contemplation and a good work ethic. His answer is resolve.
Saturday Night Sage is Available this Saturday, April 13th, at BlindOwlSD.com