Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pythagorean Toolbox Teats

Experience is what happens when blood circulates, the heart pumps, and life pops out of the box. Everything goes Technicolor. The room glows. Pronouns assume the private pain of impulse. Various dimensions simmer in space sweetening the nerves with saffron and juxtaposition. Is there anything prettier than a jackknife? Escalators percolate in my skin causing action and growth. I ride up. I ride down. I move sideways to let people pass. I’m polite, a courteous person. This is my attempt to hold the society together. Poetry is my way to blow culture up. Smash capitalism to smithereens. This is misleading. You can’t smash capitalism, but it will certainly smash you. You’ve got to find an antidote. Poetry is that antidote. It’s useless as tits on a hammer. I love that image. A hammer with tits on it. Wrenches and screwdrivers suckling at its underside in the toolbox of life.
Movement deepens my comprehension of soup. Sparrows are brusque but powerfully themselves. I feel incidental and ghostly, but also a little like asphalt, as if I cried on the inside to be a highway joining Nevada to Arizona and poured distance and velocity into the long Nevada night. Here comes Walt Whitman driving a Nissan Stanza. He’s got gravy in his beard and a twinkle in his eye. The stars awaken the thrill of a palpable yearning. It takes some time for the imagination to slide into another form of being, but once that happens, one can excel at adhesion and act like a flap in the flag at the borders of noumenal being. Punches flicker beside the anthology of contemporary poetry. The nightclub bursts into streams of consciousness. Leopold Bloom admires the cutlery. Feeling feels wintery as a paper airport for paper airplanes. Swimming is incongruous and therefore delightful. The mind is but a shadow. Speed bumps are annotations. All of my memories have been cooked in reminiscence. Baby you can drive my car. And maybe I love you. Beep beep yeah.
It’s hard to build a house when the lumber is alive. But you can bungle it like comedy and find something much fuller than a house. You can take all the silence of out of a poem and put it to use as something blonde and geographic. Sprinkle adjectives on it. Jingle it. Put it in the freezer until it turns hard and pragmatic. Cold to the fingers. Like a tool.
Painting is instinctive and reckless. A pile of rags flirt with a harmonica. The plywood conveys vividness. The oak screams in the ban saw. I savor the gumption of construction. Even my nerves bubble their opinions in a slow simmer of being. Sunlight slices through the air like a knife of singing light.
I slide cinnamon into my intestine and digest the world. I accommodate seclusion well. Fingernails rely on time to grow into themselves. The black cord of the hair dryer curls in the humidity.
Sometimes I work late at night juggling giant handshakes. This is what I experience when experience turns experimental. Any language will do, but English is particularly supple. Not enough has been said about that. A mind draws parables out of life. The sound of it is sweet and seditious. Ocher is a friendly color. But yellow, well yellow is yellow. It shouts joy from the bathroom wall. I think of myself as an occurrence of meat. This feeling widens and rivals Wisconsin. A wild energy crashes through the symmetries of science resulting in the experience of birds. Dirt. Obsidian shining out of a mountain.
Is there life on Mars? André Breton arrives in a flying saucer. His eyes murmur oranges. Why is there something rather than nothing? We all wonder that. But André seems especially obsessed. His premonitions seep through the words murdering distance and chattering fictions that are actual whales. Wheels. Weather. Bakeries and postulation. A patisserie filled with maps. Lips. Promontories of frosting. Pythagorean sensations serving the fertility of experience abstractions of invisible empires, the sublime appeal of concertinas and chaos and string theory.
I like words in strings. And when the strings run out there is still a trace of Paris, kitchen lights edged with gold. And down below a kangaroo leaps over a turnstile and catches the M4 to Versaille. Daylight marries the vowels of night and the wedding is twilight and the twilight is a delicate thing. Twilight is what happens when I feel open to everything. Even meaning.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Each and Every Way

Each and every way that I position my regard provides a plurality of relations and samplings from a mass of pure sensation. Each perspective insinuates its own incendiary geometry. Expectation acquires a piquant lucidity. The light penetrates the basement window. A chisel gleams. A ban saw screams like a banshee. Sawdust accumulates on the floor. It smells of pine and oak. A nearby gravel road articulates the convulsions of impeccable clouds. A furious awakening flashes on the horizon. The weight of the sky thrills the bones and unpacks its provisions in a dialogue of thunder. The light is perforated with silver. If I choose to read the world like a book it puzzles me with snow. It dazzles me with pearls. It threads the mind with correlation.
The desk emphasizes its existence in a determination of wood. I sit down and open Ulysses to page 305: “A monkey puzzle rocket burst, spluttering in darting crackles. Zrads and zrads, zrads, zrads, zrads. And Cissy and Tommy and Jacky ran out to see and Edy after with the pushcar and then Gerty beyond the curve of the rocks. Will she? Watch! Watch! See! Looked round. She smelt an onion. Darling, I saw, your. I saw all. Lord!”
Even the rain dripping from the black rungs and curls of the wrought-iron patio furniture in front of Molena’s Taco Shop bear some relation to the rest of the universe. Rain collects in a river which powers the turbines of Grand Coulee Dam which feeds electricity to the arc welder welding the patio furniture. The shell on display in the window was made from proteins and minerals that were created when the planet formed and life first appeared out of a jelly-like glop of lipids and carbohydrates. The rain dripping from the patio furniture was once a wave in the ocean that made the shell that housed the snail that crawled ashore and died on a rock molded by the gusts and pounding surf of a windy shore.
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven / Is thick inlaid with patens of bright gold. / There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st / But in his motion like an angel sings, / Still choiring to the young-eyed cherubins. / Such harmony is in immortal souls, / But whilst this muddy vesture of decay / Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it. 

Declares Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice. That harmony that is in immortal souls is consciousness of the unity of interrelation that is the juice and savor of pure experience. But this would be an experience without the adornment of words. Words are a filtering membrane through which experience percolates before it dances on the nerves.  

The urge to arrive at a pure experience is a journey of bone and skin, muscle and blood. It comes down to the body. Toes, hands, hair, eyes, knees, everything in this envelope of flesh that connects my being in the world with that world as immediate as possible. Sensation is a product of nerves. It gets to the brain in electrical impulse where it’s translated into lettuce, a woman’s touch, a man’s voice, a slice of bread popping up in the toaster, the electric smell of the air in Kansas before a tornado droops from the clouds and begins spinning debris in a whirl of radical energy.  

William James coined the phrase “radical empiricism” to describe his notion of pure experience:
I give the name of 'radical empiricism' to my Weltanschauung. Empiricism is known as the opposite of rationalism. Rationalism tends to emphasize universals and to make wholes prior to parts in the order of logic as well as in that of being. Empiricism, on the contrary, lays the explanatory stress upon the part, the element, the individual, and treats the whole as a collection and the universal as an abstraction. My description of things, accordingly, starts with the parts and makes of the whole a being of the second order. It is essentially a mosaic philosophy, a philosophy of plural facts, like that of Hume and his descendants, who refer these facts neither to Substances in which they inhere nor to an Absolute Mind that creates them as its objects. But it differs from the Humian type of empiricism in one particular which makes me add the epithet radical.
To be radical, an empiricism must neither admit into its constructions any element that is not directly experienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced. For such a philosophy, the relations that connect experiences must themselves be experienced relations, and any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as 'real' as any thing else in the system. Elements may indeed be redistributed, the original placing of things getting corrected, but a real place must be found for every kind of thing experienced, whether term or relation, in the final philosophic arrangement.
Now, ordinary empiricism, in spite of the fact that conjunctive and disjunctive relations present themselves as being fully co-ordinate parts of experience, has always shown a tendency to do away with the connections of things, and to insist most on the disjunctions. Berkeley's nominalism, Hume's statement that whatever things we distinguish are as 'loose and separate' as if they had 'no manner of connection.' James Mill's denial that similars have anything 'really' in common, the resolution of the causal tie into habitual sequence, John Mill's account of both physical things and selves as composed of discontinuous possibilities, and the general pulverization of all Experience by association and the mind-dust theory, are examples of what I mean.
-           from A World of Pure Experience, 1904 

The pulverization of experience occurs as soon as we begin to classify, label, identify, analyze and organize our experience according to a model that we cultivate over time to give meaning to our perceptions. What we lose in pure experience we gain in cognition. All the sensations that comprised that experience lose their acuity but it would be wrong to say they’re lost. The process is similar to the refinement of ore. A mass of unrecognizable dirt and rock becomes a dinner set or a bridge, a car or an Eiffel Tower, a surgical instrument or French horn. It’s a process of metamorphosis. Of transformation. A sequence of events that never culminate in a single definitive end but keep metamorphosing in a network of balances and instabilities, attractions and repulsions. 

A simple example will serve: I have a cut on the inside of my right middle finger. I got it from playing with Toby, our cat. He likes to chase a piece of ribbon, particularly that type of narrow ribbon with the little grooves in it so that you can run it over a sharp edge to make it curl. I swing it over his head, run it over the floor, hide it behind my back as he attempts to catch it with his mouth or claw. He leaps, pivots, lunges. He loves to play with this thing. He got me on the inside of my middle finger with a claw. This isn’t unusual. My right hand is generally constellated with little cuts where he has bit me or nabbed me with a set of claws. They usually don’t hurt. I’m often surprised to find myself bleeding. But the one on the inside of my middle finger really hurts. It feels like a paper cut. Maybe it’s because the skin has greater sensitivity in this area. It also seems slower to heal. The pain has a purity that resists artful assassination by analysis. It persists in exquisite particularity. It resists the attentions of intellect. There’s no meaning to it, no lesson in it, no symbolism or parable. It just hurts. 
Meanwhile I use my index finger to tap the surface of the tablet that brings up the rue du Fauborg-Montmartre, no 7, Paris, France, where it is said that Isidore Ducasse, the author of Les Chants du Maldoror, passed away at the age of twenty-four, November 24th, 1870. I get a street view: the buildings appear to date from the nineteenth century and may be the ones in existence when he lived there. There’s a restaurant at street level called La Rose de Tunis serving Pizza, Panini, Crêpes, and Grilades. Next to it, on the corner, is a shop called Minelli which features shoes and women’s accessories. How much has changed since Isidore Ducasse, a.k.a. Le comte de Lautréamont, lived there and labored at his strange, magnificent book?  

I tap Pandora and get an instrumental song by Johann Johannsson titled, in Icelandic, “Ég Átti Erfiða Æsku,” which appears to mean something like “I struggled in my youth.” The music is simple, strings, bells, drum, a sad, wistful, languishing melody punctuated by the rhythms of bells and drums. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Word Surf

Let’s say that description is created by a bas relief climbing into itself on paper. This is a sample of thought but because its behavior is somewhat larger than a harmonica it might also serve as a version of exploration. We swim in the sounds below our life. Some of these sounds emerge to the surface and get written down as the wet sheen of an octopus crawling from one tank to another in an aquarium of the mind. For the mind is a house of water and consciousness spills on the table where it breaks into the foam of stupefaction. Life is erratic and conversational. A place like New Orleans occurs when space is concentrated near a river and brocades of smooth brown water indicate the contours of the bottom. The streets and sidewalks of Paris are in better condition. But if we ask ourselves, à la the Pixies, where the mind is the answer may appear at the edge of the night shining like the rails of the Kansas City Southern as they cross the border into Mexico. My existence on paper reaches for your eyes. I salute your blood. I’m familiar with the great gift of milk. But how can anyone know if they’re being ironic? Language is hallucinatory. It’s hard to be sincere with one large blood red eye and a white T-shirt that says “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes inform the receptionist.” Poetry is a form of resistance. I can smell its geography. We spin books into its shadows. Luminous emotions bathed in camaraderie inspire me to be a better addict. I’m addicted to words. I’ve attempted withdrawal on occasion but even my skin insists on participation, telling a story of labor and pain in a scripture of epidermal honesty. Sometimes you can’t escape the traffic. You can attack the duplicity of politicians or drink their elixirs while the rest of the world performs its fusions and expands in our eyes tart as the present tense of a martini olive. It’s your call. Me, I want to exercise my rights as a citizen of the sun. The sky leans over the horizon leaking light and water. Our only real duty is that of a moonlit puddle singing its silent lucidity to the indifferent stars. Wrap your pickles in incendiary nouns. Let your inner anarchy out of the proverbial bag. Whenever I feel my life hanging like a rag from the faucet of the kitchen sink I strain to excite a crisis of words plunged in their own diversions, teasing a thought or two like a single blue orchid asleep on the escritoire. Words incarnate the tangle of the mind. But once they get going even the parrots turn capricious and say things no one could’ve predicted. My sad green desires turn Pythagorean and yesterday’s muffins languish in Euclid. I hum algebra. I crackle. I cackle. I postulate mosses and dips and eat potato chips. Shadows gather in accommodations of mood and weather. The world turns. I ride a comet like a washing machine. Churning feels romantic and pleasantly awkward, but the rinse cycle is fully discursive. And then it happens. Language simmers in its unfolding like a fist unfolds in fingers or a seashore gushes onto the land.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blatant Taffeta

You could say that a word is empty but if it cuts the air and rides on a tongue there is an incentive to say something abstract, something wet and automatic, like rain. Blood is awkward. But desire is French. Therefore, say something consummately sincere. Say it is snowing in Asia. Say the door is pushed open and the insects are scattering into the cracks and corners. Form is the beginning of structure. It is there that the shadow pinches the light and pharmacy hugs its drugs. Push forward despite the evident virtuosity of leather. You won’t regret it. Life is better than television but not as bathetic. One must learn to accept the heaviness of the traffic. Forget about the woman honking her horn behind you making you feel embarrassed because you were daydreaming when the light turned green. Engage the clutch slowly as you step on the gas. Language isn’t entirely a matter of traffic lights. The heart is a dark genius. Its accessories twinkle under the weight of a transcendent sympathy. I begin with the charm of flowers and end by sitting in an attic leafing through old National Geographics. By the end of the Cretaceous the continents had roughly taken their current position. But why dinosaurs? Well, why not dinosaurs? There’s a drug that offers miracles and if you pull it along a fire escape it will activate and talk about seeing things before you even swallow it. Next time you see me I may be wearing a necklace of little bronze hats. Before I became the philosopher king of my living room I pondered taking up plumbing. Some oil had formed on my chin and so I removed it and pasted it to the desk where it steamed and smoldered like a kerosene lamp on a humid night in Anchorage. What was it, I wondered. I figured it out later: an amalgam of words I’d forgotten about had assumed meaning and image and turned itself into a paragraph when I wasn’t looking. This happens a lot. Let a dime shine and a nickel will entrance you with a parable of value. It’s rather astounding. You should see the bulge in my pocket. I’m lazy about spending change. I just shove dollars at people, clerks and automobile salesmen, just to see what will happen. I now own twelve cars and a mountain in China. I feel foolish, but I’m also an authority on the symbolism of groceries, and that education wasn’t cheap, brother. My advice: tailor your success according to the ancient saws. A penny earned is a penny saved, that sort of thing. Explain swimming to an extraterrestrial. Grammar is a muscle. Meaning arrives later dragging its attitudes behind it. Some things beg to be expressed as imagery and straw. This is why we name our emotions Larry, Moe, and Gravy. But if a fly could talk we wouldn’t be able to understand its language. Until then I’m just energy, a pair of ears waiting to hear something from Mars, a sad sweet song about the winds blowing over the deserts, or a powwow in my pillow, scents and refinements expressing themselves in the streets of Paris. This happens every time I read Proust. I sit down and put words in a sentence in the next thing you know I’m lifting thoughts into blatant taffeta.

Friday, November 14, 2014


There’s  a pretty density which grips a sock, makes it a sock, socks it into sockness, soaks it in the energy of sensation and parachutes it through oblivion. This is the reality of the sock. The quiet weave of the sock is its unity, a continuous union as in association and thinking. If the phenomenon of the sock is established through the form of time, then the phenomenon that is consciousness is a unifying activity. We see that the relationship between consciousness and the sock represents a transcendent, unchanging reality apart from time. The life of an individual is the development of consciousness that constitutes a sock. But which sock? For there is a left sock and a right sock. The right sock is independent of the left sock and the left sock is independent of the right sock. For when one sock is lost in the laundry the other sock loses the penetrating force of its utility and becomes a rag-like thing whose only saving feature is that it may join forces with another sock, a sock that it may or may not match imperfectly, or with enough conviction that it may pass as the other sock’s true mate. There is always a certain unchanging reality at the base of the sock. This reality enlarges from day to day until it develops a hole and a toe pokes through. This is the reality of the toe in conjunction with the reality of the sock. One might wonder about its form and how it maintains itself. The form of the toe and the form of the sock form a conjunction by which the hole itself becomes an entity, a hollowness whose integrity comes from an absence of material, acrylic or cotton worn down until it is nothing, and a toe appears, that is the fundamental fact emerging from another reality. All people believe that there is a fixed, unchanging principle in the universe and that all things are established according to it. This principle is the sock that unifies consciousness. It is not possessed by mind or matter but establishes them. There, in the laundry basket, or upon one’s foot, tugged into place, toe poking through, where it is an object of consciousness, a cotton or acrylic form occupying a certain time in a certain place, and may be regarded as singular, however imperfectly it matches the other sock, the other lost sock, given a place at the extremity of one’s leg, joined together by linguistic signs, by words, these words, which I have offered to fill the sock, and make the sock a sock, and not just the word of the sock, but the sock itself, as I sock it to you.




Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Talk had thermometers to mirror. The water to twist. Labor its jackknife by wafer. I understand the handstand by cleavage, triumph which infinity melts. Fruit and zippers in jigsaw antifreeze shows the incidental sugar of the tangerine in summary of a day’s orchids. There is a fire that anneals in scope and pine to become the umbrella that minarets dirt by the plywood molecules of a ghostly dog. Infinity hangs from the lip of the jackhammer glittering with enough stars to intone an omelet into lassitude. The oboe sparkles in the delivery of its music. The lacuna that dreams it is a bench at a bus stop detours to tongue the veil of a moment and make it wax like a vegetable, tactical, Thursday, and romantic. A ripple in the broth. A twilight coughed up by a sun as it hums on the horizon like a comb in the garbage. A red comb. The squid gets carried away in its own rhythms and the kayaks are laminated by analysis. An intrepid zero bristles like a sore on the chicken. The mathematics of warmth gets crabby and the scarred photographer takes her picture with a piece of language called a forehead. The obelisk is lambent with doorknobs. The closet bounces through its clothes on the border of a new reality where the hangers shine in distinction of themselves and a winter coat dawdles in nirvana. You can engender a storm quite easily by getting angry and shouting. But meaning something is different. For that you have to chew particles into calculus until an apocryphal clam comes whittling its way along the beach and confuses you with its goofy handshakes. An X-ray pauses long enough to show you its bones in veneration of the flesh it has chosen to ignore in celebration of the skin of the tongue. The tongue which is near to itself in asphalt and by gargling civilization embarrasses the apocalypse by naming experiences and waffling around in daylight wherein the bleachers are calm and Norway is unnatural for a day. If any of this makes sense you must call your doctor and tell her that Mick Jagger is dancing in your bathroom. By that I mean glistening, which most of us have some familiarity with, our laws and our roads being made of energy and bricks so that horsepower will have some place to perform its paroxysms and the jet may undertake its takeoff.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Heraclitus in an Inner Tube

You have to feel what you write. What a strange thing to stay. I have an odd feeling about that statement because I write to escape feeling. What I desire most is to transcend my emotions. I don’t like my emotions. Not all of them. I like feeling happy. Who doesn’t like feeling happy? But happiness, which runs the gamut from intense euphoria to a mild sense of well-being, is difficult to maintain, much less invoke. A lot of books have been written on the subject but no one has yet discovered a sure fire method for inducing a state of happiness at will. There are certain drugs that might lead to a brief state of ecstasy or euphoria but when they wear off they leave one feeling much worse than before one swallowed or injected the drug. Drugs are not really a good solution.
If the rent is paid, the mortgage is amortized, there’s food in the refrigerator, the water and electric bills are paid, one’s work is agreeable, there is plenty of positive feedback from friends and family, one’s health is good, and there’s freedom to do what one wants to do whenever and however one chooses to do it, there’s a strong possibility that something like happiness might be perpetuated for a respectable period of time. Days, weeks, maybe even years. But these things are no guarantee of happiness. A lot of people have such things in abundance and still feel unhappy much of the time.
Happiness is an odd and elusive animal. But it is only one among thousands of emotions, species unnamed, unrecognized that have yet to prowl one’s nervous system and embed themselves in the heart. And really there is no one single emotion. All emotions are blends. I have yet to meet anyone who has felt a singularity of love without also feeling frustration, confusion, bewilderment, betrayal, perplexity, urgency, adoration, turbulence, intimidation, dread, triumph, mystery, discord, ambivalence, ambiguity, temerity, endurance, effulgence, effrontery, excitement, derangement, and lust.
What I feel most of the time is anguish. Dread, anxiety, worry, disillusion, remorse. These are not pleasant things to feel. If these were the emotions that inspired me to write I’d be in real trouble.
But the fact is they are my main inspiration to write. Because I write to get away from these feelings.
How does that work? I’m not sure. But I have some theories.
First, language is a medium without limit. As soon as I enter into the field of composition I feel an expansion, a dilation of being. I feel the joy of limitless expansion.
There is also a very satisfying feeling in seeing one’s nebulous inner turmoil crystallize in the regenerative pharmacology of language. Words have a wonderful way of making one feel a little more distanced from inner discomfort. And if one is writing out of a sudden ecstasy, words make it shine back in the pellucid jewelry of linguistic abstractions. The very word ‘ecstasy’ is pertinent to the business of writing. Ecstasy comes from Greek ekstasis, “standing outside oneself.”
This is precisely what writing does: it leads us outside of ourselves.
Writing is a form of pharmacology. It has healing properties. And these properties are based on a principle of combinatorial process. Diverse elements are mingled together to create a symbol, an idea, an image. Language is inherently, strongly associative. Its actions are primarily chemical in nature, drawing on a dynamic of dissolution, distillation, and sublimation. Writing is synergistic. Emotion ceases to be a static condition. Feelings flow. Vary, fluctuate, metamorphose. Heraclitus goes floating by in an inner tube.
Ultimately, what is felt in the pursuit of escaping one’s feeling is another feeling. A bigger feeling. The feeling of sublimation. As one moves from a feeling of stubborn solidity to a state of vapory abstraction one feels the euphoria of displacement. Of buoyant reflection. One can feel the grip of an emotion loosen as soon as one begins to reflect on the feeling. Or out of that feeling. It’s not a position of ‘on’ so much as a position of disposition, the consciousness of being in relation to other things.
No emotion feels the same after a deepened analysis. It becomes less substantial, less imprisoning. It becomes a pale mist of tingling sensation. It drifts in reverie. It becomes an energy, a buoyancy that leads to music. A warm immersion in water, a narcotic camaraderie in a copper California night. Equations of sugar. Quakes of anarchical joy. An ecstasy of arroyos and turquoise auroras. The glide through an ocean of words variable as waves on a sweet Pacific tongue.