Friday, September 14, 2018

Strange Business


Today (September 10th) we walked down to Dexter to visit the Pot Shop. I was looking for a balm to help ameliorate the pain from arthritis in my right shoulder. We were carded as soon as we entered the store. I thought that this was strange. The little store was full of items related to the ingestion of hemp and marijuana in all its forms and manifestations. Hookahs, bongs, herbal vaporizers, dab rigs, creams, tinctures and hundreds of concentrates with names like Grease Monkey, Blue Dream and Hindu Skunk. I was helped by a young woman who, as soon as I explained what I was looking for, immediately presented me with several options. I chose a product called Wildflower CBD “cool stick” topical salve, which is applied to the skin like a ball deodorant. The bottom twists making the ointment rise. It contains coconut oil, hemp oil, shea butter, beeswax, ecosoya, vitamin E, arnica, full spectrum CBD oil and wintergreen and has a strong but pleasant smell. Very minty.
I applied some after a run. It is advised to apply the product after a hot shower when the pores of the skin are open and more permeable. Within twenty minutes or so I felt a cooling effect and could move my right arm with less pain. The pain didn’t go away completely but was noticeably diminished. I noticed the improvement most when, after a spaghetti dinner, I put the parmesan cheese away high on an uppermost shelf in a cupboard and had no pain at all in my right arm. Normally, I would barely be able to lift it, the pain would be so acute.
I also felt very relaxed. It’s as though the balm had entered my general being and filled me with a soothing alleviation.
September 11th. 12:22 p.m. I watch a YouTube video in which Hambone Littletail, the persona of a passionate chronicler of the end times named Sam Mitchell, a Texan who lives outside Austin, drives a highway into the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia for a blue grass festival and encounters a terrific rain storm, lightning flashes on the road ahead, his wipers going rhythmically back and forth, as he recounts once again his miserable time in Scranton, Pennsylvania trying to find a gas station and how glad he feels to be crossing the Mason-Dixon line into the land where his southern accent fits in and he doesn’t have to listen to Yankee accents anymore. He titles this nine-minute episode “Virginia Tornado Is Welcome Sight For Survivor of Scranton, Pennsylvania.” 
September 14th. 11:22 a.m. Florence has come ashore and begun wreaking havoc on the southeastern coast. Catastrophic weather events like this are becoming increasingly common. People like to deny them by saying “this is the new normal.” Like the photo that accompanied the text for an article published online by a local TV news show last August of a thirty-something jubilant dad lifting a toddler into the air with a celebratory grin with the Seattle skyline in the background shrouded in ugly haze from the many wildfires blazing in British Columbia and east of the Cascades. The level of cognitive dissonance so fully evident in this photo was breathtaking. There is nothing normal about these disasters. It is abrupt anthropogenic climate change. And it’s disrupting lives and costing billions.
The anxiety and despair I feel with regard to this situation is chronic. I don’t know what other people are feeling. But if I try to gauge what they might be feeling according to the normalcy of their behavior, my guess would be that they’re either utterly ignorant of the crisis we’re in, particularly the ones with babies and toddlers, or they’re aware of what’s going on but have chosen to adopt an attitude of stoic acceptance and hope for the best. Whatever “the best” could possibly be achieved when everything – already clearly unsustainable – goes tits up.
I’ve never been successful at stoicism. Its ultimate iconic image would be that of the long-suffering cowboy biting the proverbial bullet as a bullet or arrow is removed from his body, or the grim look of the pilots in WWII movies trying to pilot a seriously damaged bomber back to an airfield in England, maintaining attitudes of poise and determination, or the women attending to the gravely ill or wounded in incredible conditions in foreign lands persevering with solicitous care and equanimity and tact. I usually explode into rants and tempests of molten language.
Strategies for adaptation are mapped, contemplated, dangled. I keep wondering what action I would take the day there is no electricity or internet or running water and come up blank. Nada. Nothing enters my brain as a possible remedial expedient for navigating the end times. How does one envision such a future? There have been detailed predictions of various dystopias presented in science fiction. But that was always, you know, science fiction. The Twilight Zone. Outer Limits. The Walking Dead. What we’re facing is as real as the hurricane presently sweeping over North and South Carolina, dropping wind and rain in catastrophic biblical buckets, over half a million people already without power.
“You sit here for days saying, this is a strange business. You're the strange business. You have the energy of the sun in you, but you keep knotting it up at the base of your spine,” observed the Persian poet Rumi.
Yesterday R and I went to a marijuana dispensary in Fremont, on Stone Way, to get a couple of packets of Deeper Sleep capsules containing 45 mgs of cannabidiol and 75 mgs of tetrahydrocannabinol (Indica cannabis concentrate oil). It also contains myrcene and linalool terpenes, ashwagandha, theanine, passion flower, white peony, magnolia bark, and chamomile.
I had difficulty sleeping and so I got up and took one. Within an hour, I was feeling quite relaxed, my whole body felt deliciously sedated. I had an overall sense of well-being. I enjoyed a few vivid images that emerged and disappeared from consciousness as I entered a pleasant hypnagogic state and eventually fell asleep.


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Welcome To Planet Earth


I don’t see birds anymore. During a run of about four miles, I might see a single bedraggled crow hop about on someone’s lawn or shrubbery or a swift or a swallow dart suddenly across my line of sight and disappear just as quickly over the houses and apartment buildings that constitute our neighborhood. That’s it. This is disturbing. It’s early September. The days have been sunny and warm. There was a bit of haze yesterday from several wildfires to the northeast in the Cascade mountains, but it wasn’t that bad, not as bad as it was last August, which was horrific. So what’s going on? It’s as though a spaceship from another civilization in the universe kidnapped all of our birds. Sucked them up. Why an extraterrestrial civilization would be inclined to do that, I don’t know. I’m just wondering what’s happened to our birds.
I wrote to the Audubon Society here in Seattle but they never answered.
If I google “where did our birds go” I get a lot of responses, a lot of people wondering what’s happened to the birds, not just here in the Pacific Northwest but all over the world. The answer is simple: climate change. Species haven’t been able to adapt to warming temperatures, or the radical changes in atmospheric gas that we breathe. Birds have tiny lungs. CO2 has risen above 400 ppm for the first time in the past half million years. Methane, much of it from ruminants, forest fires, landfills, wetlands, rice paddies, waste water treatment facilities, peat fires in southeast Asia and multitudes of ice age bacteria and planktonic foraminifera bubbling up from the seafloor and melting permafrost in the arctic is now greater than 1800 parts per billion, an increase by a factor of 2.5 and the highest value in at least 800,000 years. That’s a percentage increase of 150 percent since 1750.
Nitrous oxide (a.k.a. laughing gas) has risen dramatically by 20 percent since 1750 due to the largescale use of nitrogen-based fertilizers such as anhydrous ammonium nitrate. Over the past 800,000 years, concentrations of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere rarely exceeded 280 ppb. Levels have risen since the 1920s, however, reaching a new high of 328 ppb in 2015.
So where’s the euphoria? Why aren’t we all dying of laughter?
A few days ago R and I saw a dead crow. It was lying in the grass, its two legs sticking up, not a single feather scattered or torn. There was no sign of attack or struggle. It looked like it just keeled over.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I don’t think it died of laughter. The crow remained there, intact, for several days. Why were no other animals scavenging its remains?
On the third day, the crow’s head and legs had been eaten away. Why just the head? Why just the legs?
On the fourth day, the crow had finally been removed by someone. There were no birds at all in the area. No squirrels. Nothing.
I usually bring a small plastic sack filled with unsalted peanuts to toss to any crows I might see along the way when I’m gong for a run. The last few days I’ve just been putting peanuts where a crow or a blue jay might find them. But I’ve seen no actual crows, except for the one crow I saw in the shrubbery by the grocery store at the bottom of the hill on Mercer Street. He looked old and tired.
I check the air quality index for today, Thursday, September 6th. It is considered "moderate," with particulate matter measured at 90 parts per cubic inch.
I notice the headline “Washington has underfunded efforts to control wildfire burning, despite smothering smoke.” No shit Sherlock.
People are disgusting. They’d rather have money than clean air to breathe. They’d rather have a big house full of shit they don’t need rather than songbirds visiting their backyards. The imbecility and selfishness is off the charts. I can’t find adjectives to describe our species anymore. Words like ‘selfishness’ and ‘greed’ just fall flat. They don’t go far enough. They don’t fully reach the insanity.
Meanwhile, there is a project going on up the street, a massive undertaking involving several steam shovels and a colossal drill, ton upon ton upon ton of cement, for what appears to be a gigantic retaining wall and landscaped garden. I see this a lot, someone with a great deal of affluence using their considerable wealth to put forth a pharaonic construction project, putting more stress on the planet, using more of its valuable resources, for a section of ground that was doing fine as it was, needed no repair, for what will essentially be nothing more than a mere vanity project: “look how wealthy I am.” The selfishness is staggering. A species that behaves like this can only go in one direction: death.
Maybe I’m being unfair. This level of ostentation might be representative of a pathology more serious than vanity. Some psychologists are suggesting it is a form of existential anxiety. An article titled “The Urge to Splurge” from a 2004 issue of the Journal of Consumer Behavior explains this behavior as a form of “terror management,” and argues a way to “understand how the human awareness of death affects materialism, conspicuous consumption, and consumer decisions.” “The pursuit of wealth,” it goes on to say, “and culturally desired commodities are hypothesized to reinforce those beliefs that function to protect people from existential anxieties.” Evidence is provided that explains “how intimations of mortality increase materialism as a way to enhance self-esteem and affects consumer decisions that support one's cultural worldview.” Not surprisingly, this pathology of materialistic and consumeristic worldviews has adverse consequences. I would cite one of those consequences as being the “sixth mass extinction.”
Ironic, isn’t it? Existential anxiety leads to aggressive consumerism which leads to dissatisfaction which leads to frustration which leads to aggression which leads to more consumerism which leads to dissatisfaction, and so on. A vicious circle.
And then everything on the planet drops dead and the delicate balances to keep everything stable and working fall apart and volcanos erupt and typhoons and monsoons and tycoons and dragoons and baboons rip the rest to shreds. You can’t eat shreds. Shreds are shreds. Skinheads warheads bloodshed. It’s a mess. Radioactivity everywhere, plastic everywhere, fish and whales and seals washing ashore dead, species everywhere rapidly going extinct, crops failing, the soil dying, dust blowing, hailstones crashing, cars washed downriver in floods, people desperately fleeing war-torn countries smitten by years of drought, crossing the oceans in overcrowded inflatable rafts hoping to find food and a modicum of comfort.
Welcome to Planet Earth. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Corona Hum


Trek an anonymous testimony and shout. Float electricity. Aim at incandescent change.
Necessity spout. Bandaged snow.
Recognition and disavowal are thus inseparable from one another and basically mean the same thing: a look at the "structure" of the unique. Analyzing the illusion that some subjects are bouncing through their perceptions and have the impression of living somehow twice is pure paleontology.
Do the fleece in the net basement. Knowledge is a wire of diamonds.
Once in the mode of the present and once in the mode of memory, Bergson does not fail to find the theme of destiny: "What is said and done, what one says and what one does oneself, seems inevitable.” This is similar to the tamarind of craft.
Wallowing planets stir the universe.
At any moment, we will have to deal with that, and with nothing else: that the circumstance is gay or sad, whether it triumphs or dies, it is in any case cornered by beauty.
Flex the shaking wind. Purpose shoves the snow into meandering streams of butter. Swim through the steam. Drop an organic thought on the piano keys. Collect paraphernalia. Echo dollars of eyeball tumble. 
The metaphysical dialectic is fundamentally a dialectic of the here and the elsewhere, of a place of which we doubt the geography or taste the bittersweet overtones of chaos until something like a hill or a canyon makes us wonder at the vitality of it all, at the oleander and rhubarb.
One recuses oneself from pumice and brings a fire from elsewhere whose salvation is discounted. This immediacy is given at first: but would not it be rather second? Would it not rather be an orchestra? Or a mushroom?
Smoke the flake disaster.
Leaning muscles shine during the robbery. Build a choke and pull. Glaze the pungent skidoodle.
Rumble on a tour of plants. Pepper the area with pulse and cries of personal liberation.
Swallow the day. Sip the night. Hack at reality with a large recognition.
Wear a goldfish coat. Box the spoons until they fork into knives. Perception makes the artists want to draw the delicacies of the forest. Most feelings are elemental, but some are more like fights.
Gallant pin cough. Subtlety pitch. Empty expansive mirth.
Hit think. The cardboard messenger stands among his own gender groaning like an idea.
The medium is the baby. Squeeze the elbow until a visible detonation tingles with subtleties of afternoon. The conspicuous flourishing of a stray light. The implications of prayer.
A slice of lamp black harmonics.
An unrivalled prodigality propelled by the power to ponder a speed bump.
The crowd grows restless.
Daylight bumps into a conspicuous species. They’re called libraries. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Structure Is Just The Howl Of Ooze


Structure is just the howl of ooze. The heave of the oboes tells us how to fade. For how to you put into words an experience said to be ineffable? Our brains are prediction machines optimized by experience, and when it comes to fairyland, they have bodies of expression combined with a tiny sample of daybreak.
Photogenic oasis. Guzzled audacity. Duodenum is a dream and must remain one in order for a modicum of illusion and a stage of the imaginary to exist.
Energy impels us to run. And so we run. Reality can go on like this all day, running on its atmospheric scorpions, each screw in place, each totality a songbird made of cork.
Imagine a polymer. A compelling molasses of sunlight’s oddities.
Plot of an elegy’s elegance.
Jump the tea. The genre trickles wind.
We have nothing but vats. Nothing but space for the wife’s new horse.
Glide a pound of rain. Do it for wealth.
Sip glass. Pack a mood. Confusion’s gaze is gospel’s gauze.
Squeeze the lobster for milk. The teats are soft and poignant. I tell you this for your own good. The lyre was never so sweet but when the stars began to burn hysterically in nuclear girls.
Take the cartwheels to the beard dump. Then invade Norway.
The spices sputter into structure and charmingly adjust to the chewed bomb of a flourishing window. It’s orgasmic. But mute. High like a wall of rock. Silent like the water at its deepest point in the fjord.
Frequency is the mermaid of style. We grow nails to ponder our languish.
Drive truffles to generate a swollen loop in time. I’ve explored the sob wallet and it was breathed out in stories. Paint twinkles in its churning eagerness. The horizon oaks sigh in space.
Smash the word rattle. Crackle flirts sifted in meridional fruit.
Buffalo Bill was forged in seclusion. He is not to be confused with Sylvan Goldman, the inventor of the grocery cart, who was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1898.
The abalone blasted the magician’s iron. That’s how souvenirs were invented.
We sewed a bashful face. Finding parrots is reciprocal. It bears repeating. Sidewalk moo. If you say the right things, I’m capable of being navigated, but you will never know the true destination of my return. The zoom answer glides through its rabbits and pulls back revealing declension. And that, my friend, is called a transition. Someday I will find the confetti to learn you.
The raw sienna of metaphor is considered a joy. The tongue is plough to the goad of knowledge. Existence is a genuine property of icicles. Think of being as a sympathy. An octagonal pharmaceutical. Force discussion. Otherwise everything just dangles in the air like a presumption.
Expansive taste of warped emotion makes me empathic to the burst of gunfire. I don’t know why. Sense is often intuitive. A sky galvanized by the hope of employment is not always equal to the resilience required to detonate a sink. There are always pieces to pick up. And later we are stunned to find our trousers under a skull of clay.



Friday, August 24, 2018

How Fugues Are Born


Nothing is single. Everything is an aggregate. I’m a composite of molecules. The pronoun ‘I,’ which is ‘me,’ am a gathering of atoms whose collective agency creates a sensation of personhood.
How does that happen? I don’t know. It’s like trying to figure out what makes water wet. Where does its wetness come from?
Approximately 99% of the human body is an aggregate of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorous. 0.85% consists of potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. All eleven are necessary for life.
Why is that? Does this mean that if I collect all these elements and put them into a blender and mix them all up really good out pops a baby?
A baby milkshake? A baby Slurpee?
What is it that turns inorganic elements into organic elements? Elements with eyes and ears and legs and arms. Elements with hair. Elements with eyebrows and fingernails and desires and preferences and dislikes and hatreds and loves and passions and wonder.
A sense of awe. Where does awe come from? Is that the missing .05%? And where does awe go when someone uses the adjective awesome in a completely inane and stupid way? Is a true sense of awe disappearing?
I believe so.
What happened to awe? To discover what happened to awe means we have to figure out what consciousness is. What is the overriding sense of being alive that permeates all eleven elements? What is it that gives a sense of importance to being a unique individual? Is there such a thing as a unique individual?
I don’t understand any of this. And I’ve been around a long time. Seventy-one years. In seventy-one years I still haven’t figured out why I’m here, who I am is, who is this ‘I,’ who is me, what am I doing here, why am I writing this, and where will it lead?
R and I walk to Safeway. We’ve been cooped up in our apartment all day and it’s hot, 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The air quality index has been around 185 all day, unhealthy. This is wildfire smoke from eastern Washington, chiefly the Methow Valley and north Cascades. Our apartment is stuffy. We’ve been keeping the windows closed. I fill a sandwich baggie with peanuts for the crows. The walk feels good.
I don’t see many crows. Nevertheless, I toss a few peanuts in the places where I usually find them. Hopefully, they’ll discover and eat them before the rats get to them.
It’s very cool inside Safeway. It’s always quite chilly in there. I’m in the habit of bringing a cardigan when we shop there. Outside, I buy an issue of Real Change from a heavyset black man wearing a chullo. He asks how I’m doing and I say fine, except for the smoke. I noticed that as I said that, he was lighting a cigarette. I’m sure he understood that my reference was to the wildfire smoke and not his cigarette. But then I began to wonder about all the people I saw, manly construction workers, smoking cigarettes. Taking in smoke on a smoky day. It seemed so cavalier. But I can understand it. I once smoked. It’s a powerful addiction, though one I never understood. Cigarettes never made me feel particularly good. They made me feel foggy and listless. But if I didn’t smoke, the craving became almost preternaturally intense. If you were to ask me what, precisely, I craved, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.
Also, a young woman running vigorously up and down a steep flight of steps connecting Galer to Fourth Avenue North. It both puzzled and inspired me. It was exceedingly unwise to be running that vigorously on day when the particulate matter from wildfire smoke was so thick. But she seemed to be doing great, really enjoying herself. The physicality and energy of her being radiated a singular joy. It was Blakean.
August 23rd, on my 71st birthday, the air became better. The air quality index map showed Seattle in the green with a reading of particulate matter at 58. I could go for a run on my birthday.
Later, we went to Chinook’s. I had a birthday coupon. I took my constellation of organs and organelles and sat them down in a booth with a view of fishing boats. Signals of light passed through the lenses of my eye to the retina where photoreceptors called rods and cones converted the information to electrical impulses that my brain interpreted as boats and water. As people strolling by. As two eagles spiraled over Salmon Bay. I could barely see them. But there they were. Slowly turning. Turning and turning in the widening gyre, as Yeats would say.
Home again, we watch Henry V, the fourth play in The Hollow Crown series, with Tom Hiddleston as Henry V. Swords, powerful speeches, blood splattered everywhere. A great play.
11:00 p.m. I finish reading Michael Pollan’s How To Change Your Mind and relax watching some YouTube videos, W.C. Fields exchange digs and insults with a sullen, overweight waitress in a hard-boiled diner. The Rolling Stones, “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” “Cry to Me.” “Monkey,” written by the indie rock group Low and sung by Robert Plant and Patty Griffin.  
I listen again to a nine-minute interview with Georges Bataille on YouTube that fascinates me. The chief subject of the interview is his book Literature and Evil. I’d never made this association before, but intuitively I anticipate what he is about to say, which is that writing, in order to stay interesting, in order not to bore readers, must forefront anguish, must advance things that turn out badly in life, that go sour, that turn to shit. It must break taboos, make transgressions. I’m not sure I agree entirely with this, I believe there is room for ecstasies and raptures, for revelations, for illuminations in the visionary sense of the term explored in Rimbaud’s Illuminations. But I get what he’s talking about. I’m not sure how to put this dynamic in the context of current reality, which is that of a world on the verge of catastrophic extinction.
The problem that’s been nagging me is the usual one: meaning. How to find meaning, how to maintain meaning, how to deepen meaning, how to destroy meaning, how to create meaning. Why this obsession with meaning? The question answers itself. The more elusive meaning becomes, the more obsessed I become in its search. This is how fugues are born.



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Simmer Of Simulation


I like food. Who doesn’t? What’s not to like about food?
Some people like everything. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, beetroot, cabbage.
Not me. Not yet. My preferences lean toward pasta: fettucine, spaghetti, tortellini, penne, rigatoni. Preferably with meatballs.
At the moment, there is all kind of food in the local grocery stores. But that may change soon. I’m hearing reports of further ice melt in the arctic. That isn’t good. This is an indication that temperatures will rise globally destroying crops and habitat.
How will our populations react when there’s no food available? People do not react well to this. We’re facing a terrifying situation.
Let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about illusion. I love illusion. Though I also hate it a little, too. Because it’s illusion, and people often use illusion to hide themselves from ugly truths that could use some mitigation, some alteration.
There’s nothing illusory about an illusion except the illusion itself. It’s a bubble with chandeliers. It’s a Disneyland of the soul. Remember childhood?
I’m assuming that everyone had a pleasant childhood. A lot of people didn’t. I apologize for my presumption.
Let’s not fool ourselves (though fooling oneself is at the heart of illusion) illusion can hurt. Illusions of worth based on commodity are toxic.
Jean Baudrillard famously argued that the commodification of everything is powerfully alienating. Illusions of self-worth or public esteem based on what, and how much, you own. Never mind what you did to own it, what you did or do or didn’t do to own it. What matters is owning it. Land, houses, cars, politicians. You can be an exquisite maker of speeches, a shamanic spirit √† la Terence McKenna, giving tremendous insights, mind-boggling, paradigm-shifting illuminations of colossal import, all of it embedded in gorgeous, voluptuous sentences and phrases, and none of this, not a bit of it, will matter if you’re poor, or even just modestly situated with a two-bedroom cottage and a rattle-trap car.
But if you own a number of luxury cars and live in a mansion with thirty-four bathrooms with golden faucets and handmade Italian tiles, people will hang on your every burp and fart.
Also, don’t forget, people love mediocrity. Don’t get too smart. Don’t be too eloquent. If you don’t dumb it down a little, people will throw tomatoes at you.
And goop. People love goop.
Goop and simulation. Simulacra. The simulation of goop. People love “worlds.” Places of artifice and amusement. Mirrors, selfies, reality TV. Christmas. Pumpkin spice latt√©. Jesus riding a triceratops.
Simulation has, according to Baudrillard, replaced the real: “Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal… It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real.”
Celebrities are the inhabitants, the true replicants, of the hyperreal. Our current president is a hyperreality of a blonde Aryan comb-over that looks like the hood of a car, a terminally fake tan that makes his bloated face appear orange, and a flagrantly pornographic relationship with women. He likes fast food, doesn’t read, and worships money. I can’t think of a more perfect president for the United States in its current manifestation.
Paradoxically, simulation has killed illusion. “Illusion is no longer possible,” says Baudrillard, “because the real is no longer possible.”
Reality itself is too obvious to be true. Nothing is entirely explicit without becoming implicit. Meaning has imploded. There is no meaning. There’s information, we live in a world inundated with information. When the capacity for reflection has been undermined, when the triumph of anti-intellectualism is so final that a book is a cause for embarrassment if it’s discovered in somebody’s home, information assumes the form of an anarchic, ongoing fiction, a sensationalized pablum of electronic banality. Information proliferates like toxic algae on the surface of a dying ocean. There is more and more information and less and less meaning.
I crave the illusion of meaning. I crave the illusion of transcendence, of a public, or at least a tiny fragment of the public, that continue to appreciate art. Real art. Art in its most intense, most subversive, most imaginary form. This is a futile ideal. It’s like hoping for a spaceship and a habitable exoplanet to move to. The public is told what to like. Not overtly. It’s subtler than that. But with the right trickery in the popular media – the superficial patter, the toothy grins - the herd instinct kicks in and the next thing you know the art museum of a major city is featuring a miserable hack like Andrew Wyeth.
Public taste follows the line of least resistance. People are lazy, especially when it comes to anything the requires sacrificing a sense of normality.
“This is what implosion signifies,” Baudrillard elaborates. “The absorption of one pole into another, the short-circuiting between poles of every differential system of meaning.” There is no longer a mediating power between one reality and another. The medium and the message have, at last, homogenized. They are one and the same.
Baudrillard calls for a “pataphysics of simulacra.” I’m not sure what he means by that, but it sounds good. “…only a pataphysics of simulacra can remove us from the system’s strategy of simulation and the impasse of death in which it imprisons us.”
Pataphysics, a term coined by the French writer Alfred Jarry, is “the science of imaginary solutions.” It’s a branch of philosophy that examines imaginary phenomena that exists in a world beyond metaphysics.”
Everything, in Pataphysical terms, is a unique event with its own singular laws. It insists on a universe of exceptions. Homogenization cannot exist in such a universe. Imitation is quintessentially imaginary, and therefore impossible. Imitation cannot be imitated. The inimitable is illimitable.
Pataphysics sounds great, sign me up, I’m all for it, but I’m not entirely sure a science of imaginary solutions is what I want to be relying upon when my stomach starts growling. Imaginary solutions don’t go very far in the real – that is to say the un-simulated – world. The world of food. The world of fruit. The world of meat. The world of wheat and rice and fennel and mint and avocado. My fantasies extend outward toward other planets these days. Because this one is about to go tits up. Geronimo got it right when he said: "When the last tree has been felled, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught, then finally we will know that money isn’t meant for eating.” 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Moo


David Hume promulgated the idea that the fact of ourselves is only a bundle of things brought back from daily experience and patched together for a time. It disassembles as easily as it’s assembled. Selfhood is a potpourri of herbs gathered in the meadow of the quotidian. We teem with a collection of ideas and sensations that alter pattern like the bits of glass in a kaleidoscope. Our time of birth, the culture into which we born, its period of history, our very species are all matters of happenstance. I could’ve been a spider or a crow for all that matters. I reached the fullest blossoming of the person I’d be carrying around in its various guises during the 60s. That would include being atomized by a strong dose of LSD and immersing myself in Led Zeppelin. And oh yes, an afternoon spent with Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac. Roaring creeks and cataracts of language all upsidedown and strange. My head became juicy and my hand busy writing words of nothing, because nothing means nothing, and that adds up to nothingness, which is noumena front and center, and chipmunks and bears. Later, I learned that what I desire is not always good and that what I avoid is not always that bad. 
I used to make great sandwiches for work. One sandwich was composed of thin slices of corned beef or ham slathered with butter and adorned with lettuce and pickles for maximum juiciness. The other sandwich was all peanut butter and butter and strawberry jam. They were delicious and made the work day slightly more palatable. I see this now as a species of jurisprudence, or trying to keep my head on straight, which is a circulation of fluids, and a tongue for injecting or projecting liquids.
Mornings I wake up with a sense of dread, that awful feeling that not only can anything be done to save the planet, it’s too late, stop industry and we lose the haze of pollution diffused over the globe so that the sun’s rays hit us directly and raise the temperature by one degree Celsius thus killing off everything, but nothing can be done to even raise a general awareness of how dire the situation is. And I go on scribbling poetry which is just fucking weird.
Well, why not, as they say. There’s a kind of providence to weirdness. It’s a superpower with a soft light and a present participle.
Since the future is scary I spend a lot of time mulling the past. I picture John Fogerty sitting at a kitchen table working out the lyrics to songs in a seedy apartment. “Green River.” “Fortunate Son.” “Born on the Bayou.” “Run Through the Jungle.”
The present isn’t so great either. Seattle has become a city of sociopaths, narcissists and nail salons. But there are things you eke out of the present moment to make it pyrotechnic and less pustular. Light a candle and study the undulation of the flame. The scent. The melt of wax.
Pain is an awakening. Emotional pain especially. What divining rod do you use to find reality? To find what is of value? I use pain. Sonatas of blood, the grammar of bones.
If it’s raining I stab gravity with an umbrella.
Moo is the sound cows make and is the Japanese word for nothingness. Life doesn’t have a meaning and that’s its ultimate meaning. I like to sit and listen to whatever sounds are out there. A blue jay, a crow, a power saw, someone hammering nails. I’ve attained that age when nothing matters because I’ll be dead soon. My biggest worry is the loss of electricity and running water. The paper towels in the kitchen window.
Who is this person I see every day looking back at me from the mirror?
We live in an age of gigantic egos. We deploy them like dirigibles. I can’t tell you how a television works but I know an abyss when I see one. I know that the catastrophic existential impacts of the 21st century are unprecedented for our species. That truth isn’t something you can squirt from a garden hose. Most food is literal, but sometimes it’s sublime. Sometimes a truffle can lighten your troubles. Narrative involves an ego. Drop the ego, and the narrative keeps rolling, but it’s less linear, less encumbered. It expands into vineyards. Heat and Hollywood.  
Everything becomes silent before a storm. That’s where we’re at now. Hanging on till the next minute. As always.