Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fantasy with a John Deere Tractor

The sun at my back, I watch my silhouette slide over the sidewalk, head and shoulders and two swinging arms and think that’s it, that’s ultimately what life is, what being is, the ephemerality of it all, we’re only shadows after all. I’ll leave some books behind that I authored, no kids, just the books, so hopefully a few bookstores and libraries will continue into the future.
What’s real is the sky. That lush blue summer sky. Air and air and air thinning and thinning all the way into space.
Sometimes it gives me a sense of peace to think of myself ploughing a broad field in North Dakota, way up north by the Manitoba border, I’m riding a tractor with a sound system, listening to a Brahms symphony or Shakespeare, Hamlet brooding in his Danish castle, wondering whether to continue living, wanting out of it, oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew, or that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world! And how strange to be hearing and mulling that in a tractor grumbling over Dakota topsoil.  Because some of those tractors have fantastic sound systems, one can make furrows for wheat in a John Deere pulling a disk harrow comfy in a cab with Bluetooth,  CD player, MP3 and Weatherband. Heidy ho heidy heidy ho.
Every time I sit down in a chair I feel the weight of my body find immediate relief, bones and muscles all going thank you, thank you for sitting down. Hard to imagine all this biology gone. And me with it. Whatever me turns out to be. What is me? What is I? What is subjectivity?
Scientists say subjectivity may have begun with insects. Brain scans of insects indicate that they have the capacity to be conscious, that they have something like subjective experience. It’s there in the midbrain, the ancient core of the brain, where memory and perception are mingled, stewed, digested, mulled and woven into a sense of the external world, flowers and dirt and hills and sky, neural simulations of being in space, moving through space, representations of reality from a subjective point of view, subjective being Latin for “brought under,” thrown out into the world under a dome of thought, perception, navigating the problems of the world, predators and prey, hurricanes and dinosaurs.
This all strikes me as odd and marvelous but missing a key feature, which is idiosyncrasy. Some of us are odd. I identify with the odd. Like old William Blake. I love that guy’s defiance. He was true to his imagination. Like in his letter to Reverend John Trusler in August, 1799, “Mirth is better than Fun & Happiness is better than Mirth  -  I feel that a Man may be happy in This World. And I know that This World is a World of Imagination & Vision I see Everything I paint in This World, but Everybody does not see alike. To the Eyes of a Miser a Guinea is more beautiful than the Sun & a bag worn with the use of Money has more beautiful proportions than a Vine filled with Grapes.”
There are boots in the closet that I hardly ever wear. But they’re there.
An actress off to the right of the screen on Facebook catches my attention: Mischa Barton poses topless on a balcony in Mykonas, Greece. Her breasts are mostly in shadow. But it’s not her tits causing all the fuss, it’s that she’s smoking a cigarette. Well, it’s gross, I agree, but it’s her life, her lungs.
Virtue for me has always meant living to the fullest, exceeding limits. Being absurd. Because being is absurd. Tell me it isn’t. Tell me a few brief years on this planet with all these hungry, battling, sobbing people isn’t just a little strange.
There are drugs to help with this. But be careful. Drugs can fuck you up.
There’s also cherry pie and dollops of whipped cream to make you smile a little occasionally.
I mean, some things are obtainable. Water, fruit, shelter, fire, tall kitchen bags, dragons, infinitives, one-night stands and onions.
As Eckhart Tolle says you’ve got to trust the pain in your life. Because there will be a lot of that.
I see Intérieur en jaune et bleue by Henri Matisse reflected in our bedroom mirror and dangle a language over an abyss.
Grammaire française.
Tortiller comme un ver. Squirm like a worm.
I study George Harrison sitting in a chair in a huge English lawn surrounded by dwarfs. I’ve long been captivated by this image from the cover of his first solo album, the one with “My Sweet Lord.” He looks so utterly at peace with himself. He seems to be really happy in those big rubber boots. He took gardening very seriously, says his son Dhani, would stare and stare at the surrounding trees and garden making changes in his mind.
I think he and William Blake would have gotten along just fine.



Sunday, July 17, 2016

Official Anthem of the Ping Pong Litmus Association

Puff my unit. The crack I whisper. This zipper glaze honesty. Slither plunge configurational motion door. The crab lights up. This banana gurgles. This meditates my hirsute.
A thought flutters through a talk. I get behind a hint. It ushers a fuse to you. An ultramarine blaze.
We wear stepladder masks and crumple into frogs. A sloppy movement hefts a blue stigma. Necessitates it. We call the gnome. I scratch myself into henna.
The door gets its space over a batch of weather. My pasting for instance. The painter is innocent from swans. Smooth lake arguing increase. Opium is the pressed medication that opens diversion. If you have a spoon try the granite.
Burst dish. Atmospheric gargoyle chain. Acceptance romance. The hair has presence. The red bursts into robbery. Slouch world pulls its trickles to titbits. The snow steams on my glockenspiel.
Hold these brushes. A fiber dangles an academy. Initiates a Technicolor tomahawk. Hollywood here I come!
I collect myriad indicatives. We thicken enfoldments to marble it all.
I feel a certain wrench. A winch beneath the sun.
This will fill the scratch. The slow hold of pasting. The opened burst my impart. And then I subpoenaed a door. There rattled a crack. It burst its hinges and flew. There is a reason for radar. You know?
What gargantuan space brought meditation to hair?
The zipper puffed in heartwood and remembered the dishes.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Big European Butterfly

We look for fulfillment in different ways, different places, different people, different scales. Me, I find fulfillment in the clarity of silence, the structure of the lens, the experience of silk. I try to escape the burdens of the ego whenever I can, not by assuming another identity so much as letting the idea of identity go, or expand into enthrallment. It’s harder than you think to attain a state of enchantment. This is not a situation where drugs are of much help. I recommend art, goldfish, and string.
The following sentence has gone in quest of fulfillment, folded itself into a parabolic dish, and disappeared. This would be that sentence had it not vanished into thin air. Why is it always thin air? Why does nobody ever refer to thick air? Or disheveled air?
Is gravity truly a force or an acceleration? Is mass a scalar quantity or a soft pillow on a hard mattress in a town without pity?
Where is Ibiza?
How is meaning possible?
And most importantly, where do all the vanished sentences go? The ones that never get written. The ones that go into the dryer but never come out. The ones that are imagined, that float in the mind like roller skates and shaving cream but are forgotten before an utterance gives them structure and poise. Are these the stillborn? Are these the apparitions of a rampant phenomenology? Are these the fragments of popped cartoon balloons or the confused gestation of predicates and nouns in quest of being in groups of other predicates and nouns?
More subtle problems of grouping are presented by what is called scope. Thus take “big European butterfly”: is it to be true of just the European butterflies that are big for butterflies, or is it to be true of all the European butterflies that are big for European butterflies?
Let’s start there. If a sentence disappears, is it possible that the sentence developed a cocoon and became a butterfly? Is anything in the world truly static? Isn’t metamorphosis involved in all aspects of existence?
Nobody can say that a disappearing sentence is not unlike the magnificence of a setting sun. It’s just that every time NASA spots a UFO they cut their feed.
I did spot a few words lying around sparkling, but they belonged to a different idea, a different theme altogether, and were calamities of poorly conceived meaning. This made them all the more interesting, but hard to maneuver into something declarative and bombastic. Some things refuse to cohere. They crack apart revealing gristle and loopholes. 
It’s rare to see a sentence disappear, especially before it’s been written, and is still a nebular cluster of words and ill formed grammar. Webs, membranes, tactile associations.  
The ocean groans with infinite nuance. Let’s take our cue from that. From surf. From sand. From waves pounding against rocks.
I poured a cup of vinegar down the bathtub drain, then boiled some water in the coffeepot and poured that down the drain. It helps unclog the drain. Steam rose scented with vinegar. It seems to work. Day by day the water drains more quickly. It’s a satisfying feeling. Not that I have anything against plumbers. But the last time we hired a roter rooter operation we got taken for $400 dollars.
Goals are fulfilling in their own peculiar way. Even if you never achieve the goal, just having the goal keeps the blues at bay.
Today I want to forge a new objective and distill a moral of helpful orientation in a post-literate world. It’s strange being a writer in a post-literate world. You find yourself making things that will not garner much of an audience. It feels self-indulgent. What is it, you ask yourself, that I’m contributing? And how important is it to make a societal contribution? Is all art selfish?
Yesterday, after watching a French game show called Question pour un Champion, four separate people in four separate locations each recited a line from “L’homme et la mer” by Charles Baudelaire.  

Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemplels ton âme
Dans la déroulement infini do sa lame,
Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer. 

Liberated man, you will always cherish the sea!
The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul
In the infinite rolling of its waves,
And your mind is no less a bitter abyss 

Which reminds me. The wash needs doing.
There’s a spectrum of mermaids and chimeras in the privilege of insinuating imaginary folds of time in the process of writing or achieving just a few of the impulses lying hidden in any given language.
I know this feeling: it’s mud. The memory of a boardwalk crashes through me. I feel the energy of healing in a metaphor reaching for heaven. It’s a symptom of yearning that turns into candy.
Yesterday’s epiphany is today’s driftwood.
I feel the daily sexuality of a gaudy intentionality.  I shake and scratch with unfettered glee. The trembling of consciousness is awkwardly transmitted. Acceptance, however, is enlarged by a rumination of penthouse vermilion. It grows into phrases, phases, blazes. The feeling of a body, or a conglomeration of bodily sensations, becomes a benchmark of phenomenality. What I want is often confused with concepts that will never quite provide the banquet of my dreams. But what it does do is provide a sanctum for my sunbursts and woodbine.
The sentence sparkles. The placenta circulates a stream of blood. It won’t be long now. Another sentence takes form in the bathymetric valley of insoluble fish.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


A description of rocks redeems the afternoon of the throat. The museum of folly hides among its relics. There’s a shadow groaning at the end of this sentence. Can you see it? It’s pulling a hurricane out of a strawberry.
We must learn how to remedy the blunders of agriculture. Let’s become nomads. Let’s sew bikinis for hydrogen bombs. Let’s imitate sparrows in the luster of pure momentum.
The fruit of the hydrogen bomb is bitter and inedible. I prefer watermelon and the whispery honeycombs of angels.
I’m plunged in magenta. I fly through frankincense. My gut tells me that peacocks are representations of angularity. The brain of a bowling ball is discovered sipping the fluorescence of nouns. I encourage the punching bag to burst into description and go light a candle. Everything else which I find critical to understanding the kineticism of Picasso is boiled into candy. Voila! There’s another reflection that we can hold in our stupor and slowly unravel.
My drum is an assurance which I interpret as a spring of blood pressure. As for atomistic materialism, we open the door to the pyramids and drift through a garden of jonquils and rice.
I think of the dust of Mars. Its reddish tints and quivering paragraphs.
Is time an object? Or is it a phenomenon inseparable from human consciousness?
One thing is certain: time is not a river. It’s natural to think this. But it’s not. Time doesn’t flow in one direction. Time meanders. Time is a mosaic of simultaneous events, past, present, and future. It makes me want to languish and roll in a luxurious escape from the hammers of ambition.
Time gives witness to the circulation of blood.
Time is the aorta of beginning and ending, which are apes, and quarrel over touchdowns.
I’ve never really been that fond of punctuation, but it has its places, its comas and colons, its ellipses and periods. Punctuation simmers in a semicolon; then bursts into flame.
This is that flame. It’s written in pronouns, and the architecture is a tribute to maidenhair.
Blood doesn’t like punctuation. Blood is fluent in eight languages, including stunned, invisible, rattle, concerned, photogenic, burning and envy.
Blood just wants the alimony paid and the allegories to be written in Sanskrit.
The grouse are in a taxi and I’m having a conversation with a davenport.
I wander the world in sparks and vapor absorbing everything I can. The invocation agrees with its feathers. The morning opens to its opinions and oceans. Singing is better than money, but all we have is paste, and the occasional filibuster. Is that a door in your head, or just another seashore? I want to better understand the incandescence of worry. Does it turn brown with age? Is it ever resolved? Is stoicism truly an eyebrow or more like a spice at the drop of a heart? I feel better already. I can skulk now, and provide a chair for my pain. You never know what salvation is going to look like until the morning shines on Scotland and swirls of wisdom turn chiaroscuro.


Friday, July 1, 2016

The Answer to Yellow

Too much coherence squeezes the bloom of solitude. Coherence can lead to stagnation. A swamp. Decay and fertility in balance. But where’s the tempo? Where’s the stir of anticipation? Something must be left out for fulfillment to occur. If I could forge the unpredictability of wind I could sell a wilderness of moods to a strand of dreams and retire in Stockholm.
Despair is circular. If despair had a direction it would cease being despair.
Pure despair answers the call of vacancy. Vacancy has a kind of beauty. I say kind of beauty. It’s not a blunt, indisputable beauty. It’s a subtle beauty. It’s a sign on the prairie at night. It’s a soft light in a blue room.
Pages of a book flap in the breeze as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight crashes and bangs under the Magnolia Bridge.
Democracy meanders through a banana. But why does the bank shatter into seismic parquet?
Luxury drools from a myopic sentence. I salute the garage with a rag and turn to wax a fresh generality.
I like to bring things to a boil and then discover undercurrents interacting with a whistle. The railroad quietly sips a distance and spits its ruminations in coal.
This is why I take care of my fingernails. My blood glows. Butterflies flip the thesis into a landscape. Everyone unites in humor. Meanwhile, the man who lives upstairs worries about a small hole in the parking lot, which was asphalted only a year ago. And now there’s a small hole at the base of the building. It becomes the subject of a robust correspondence. Was the hole caused by a small burrowing animal or a large burrowing animal? Was it caused by erosion or fate? Drainage or hedonism?
I believe it was caused by a urinating calliope.
The calliope flutters in the leaves each time the wind passes through.
Sometimes it’s better to suggest something than to declare something firmly and unequivocally. But frankly, I find that declaration gets things said quicker. It’s clean and Etruscan.
A lot depends on the quality of the charcoal. That trembling and burning you see up there at night is a sure sign of anguish among the stars.
There are agitations at the heart of everything. Life assumes way more forms than I ever imagined. Look at the birds. Write something. Follow your instincts.
Take the color yellow. What does yellow signify?
The totems speak among themselves. The trees bend. Elegance folds itself into mohair. Everyone understands mohair. Do you understand mohair? I don’t understand mohair. I’m just not like everyone. I go for wool. Wool gets me every time. It’s thick and slides easily over my head.
You’ll find, however, that fire rarely requires a zipper. It’s all about heat and nakedness.
The answer to yellow is obvious: five guitar strings equal the fondue of paradise.
Tie a balloon to a potato. Fill it with helium. Watch the pronouns dance.
I crash my mimicry into an imitation life and watch its history unfold in cormorants and afterthoughts. The mind is sometimes a strain to bend into ivory. I’d like a sandwich now. Adaptation lacks coherence when you get to the edge.
It’s always our machinery that we choose to celebrate, never our lust for form and potential. There’s a heart beating beneath this sentence. It yearns for the flair of tusks. Consider this free of charge. Just think of it as a spoon. You know? The kind that tokens honey.


Friday, June 17, 2016

On Getting Old

Existence accumulates like alluvial deposits in a river. Disillusionments, humiliations, hallucinations, manias, aversions, conflicts, chaos, rocks.
Wrinkles don’t help. Beauty belongs to the young. And we all know how that goes.
Do I feel differently now than I did when I was twenty? Yes and no. Some things change. Some things do not. The things that change are mostly body related. It takes longer to heal. It’s harder to get up from a chair. I have to learn how to urinate all over again because an enlarged prostate demands patience. Women have their problems, too. Menopause. That can’t be fun.
What’re you going to do?
You adapt. You don’t have a choice. You’re on a raft. You’re being carried down a river. There are rapids ahead. You get through the rapids. The water gets still. Then you hear a roar. Is that a roar or a hiss? Is that the wind in the trees or something else? Something scary, like a waterfall. Oh shit, you think, there’s a waterfall ahead.
You don’t appreciate being young when you’re young. How can you? When you’re young you’re young. The bones are forgiving. The muscles are limber. The skin is supple. Innocence is an embarrassment you’re eager to be rid of.
It’s because I’m old that I get to speak in generalizations like this. I was young once and I didn’t feel like this. This takes time.
You need to get old in order to feel young. Why is that? Because when you’re young you’re too inexperienced to know anything else. You can’t feel young if you don’t know what it is to be young. When you’re old, you definitely know what it is to be young. Those sensations don’t go away. Where would they go? They become a part of you. They inform you. They school you. They feed you.
La vieillesse est aussi le moment de goûter le fait d’être en vie comme un bien inestimable, et au fur et à mesure que je me rapproche vraiment de la mort, je goûte la vie comme jamais je ne l’ai goûtée, observes 94 year old French philosopher Marcel Conche. “Old age is additionally the moment of tasting the experience of being alive as an inestimable good, and as I gradually and unequivocally approach death, I taste life like I’ve never tasted it before.”
The older I get the more I need a camel. I have a hunger to see the stars. The afternoon lifts itself into my eyes and I realize there is a limit to life but there’s also the flavor of nothingness to consider, the lure of oblivion, the excitement of murdering distance with Switzerland.  
We inherit the decisions of our youth. That’s the sad part. Or was that supposed to be the good part? I made crazy decisions in my youth. No need to go into that now. Suffice it to say, the man who sits here now once read passages of The Iliad in front of a crematorium during breaks as a factotum in a funeral home.
What happened to that guy? Is that guy still within me? Yes, but he has since retired. He now reads Proust in French at an old brown desk and gets invitations to be cremated in the mail.
He has widened his embrace of the universe. He can smell the fourth dimension.
Think about artichokes. How multilayered they are. The older one becomes, the more multilayered one becomes. Leaf upon leaf upon leaf upon leaf. Youth is the stubborn stuff at the heart. 
I drink my coffee from a Beatles mug. The Beatles never age. Their songs sound fresh every time I hear them. I’ve heard every song at least thousands of times. They age. They get better. I look at John. I look at George. It seems unreal that they don’t exist.
We are in the realm of the immediate. No ideas but in things.
Time imitates the movement of stars.
The snowman in Zen philosophy is a symbol of the nothingness that is at the core of Being. I find youth in snow.  We must learn to imitate the nothingness of snow.
I find it interesting that we need permission for certain things. We all carry with us a set of borders, a sense of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. This is what makes you old.
You can learn a lot from sugar. It was while waiting for a cube of sugar to dissolve in a glass of water that Henri Bergson learned the true nature of life, duration, and time. He learned that our conception of time is an artificial construct.  Experience is an active process. Categories are just a form of shorthand. We need them for basic communication.
Creativity is protean. Nothing is ever quite as real as the present moment. It is in the present moment where time is water and our minds are sugar. Dissolution is the start of something new. Each moment is a creative act. And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, and then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot; and thereby hangs a tale.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

On Knowledge

Knowledge is what you know, said Gertrude Stein. What do I know? I know that kaolin is a fine white clay and that black is a color and energy is a capacity for action. I know that true substance develops in solitude and that the nervous system of a crab pursues the architecture of independence. The slide into essence hustles my sense of warranty. It begins with my sense of alienation and mutates into a longing for monarchy. The ooze of existence turns green with semantic lamination. Fluorescence summons the caress of choice. The hives are full. The plays illustrate our lack of control.
I know what gravity is, that is to say, I know that it exists and that I can feel it, I experience it, but I don’t know what it is, what makes it work. I know that it has something to do with space and mass and forming stars out of hydrogen and the curvature of the spacetime continuum. I know that it’s why coffee doesn’t float out of my Beatles mug. I know that it’s why I can sit here typing this and that time moves more slowly in a job you hate and that it’s notorious for drawing bodies together. I know that it is a fundamental cause of formation, shape, trajectory and methadone treatments.
I know that if I lift an object the object has weight. My body has weight. I know that I can’t fight gravity. What would I punch? I’ve already tried flying. It doesn’t work unless I get into an airplane. Flying in an airplane isn’t the same as flying by my own willpower like Superman.
I wonder if one day people will be able to take a pill that makes you weightless? Wouldn’t that be a gas.
I know that poetry is, in a certain measure, like gravity, since so much of it remains a mystery. Poetry is a form of dark matter. That is to say, it holds the eyes like a hill holds the sky.
The night sky.
I know that friction and hunger are a major cause of war and that gymnasiums are often noisy. I know that there’s a certain charming rapport between mohair and oak. I know that I know more than I know is a possibility but I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t know how to court and marry a crocodile without coercion and shoes.
I know that my life has a purpose but I don’t know what it is. Or was. Or could be. Or might be. I imagine most people have that same instinctive feeling. But is it instinctive or just necessary? Why else would anyone endure the pains of existence without a little occasional pleasure and a reason, a sense of destiny, a direction. I guess if you’ve got kids that takes care of that problem. You live for your kids. But if you don’t have kids you’ve got to have faith in something. You can have faith in your own skepticism.
This is a knowledge that mingles well with corollaries and finance. It’s difficult to know what motivates people to do what they do. I’m often surprised at how little I know myself. I often do things without knowing why I did them. I do them and then I wonder why, why did I do that? Why did I say that? Why did I fall in love with that sidewalk? Why do I like to pop the bubbles in plastic wrap?
I know that if a nation charges a lot of money for education that it creates a structure of sharp class division and will not hold together as a nation.
I know that if I express an opinion the chances are that more people will disagree than agree with it. How do I know that? I have a lifetime of expressing opinions. My opinions generally piss people off. That’s because I took at things from the perspective of art and poetry, the acuity of wild horses or the audacity of froth. I have a difficult time finding the perspective of a more commercial outlook. This makes me highly qualified to rob banks or regret lost opportunities but poorly equipped to manage a rock and roll band or supervise a customer service center at an Ikea store.
I have no idea how TV, radio, computers, electricity, or light work. But I do know how to eat soup with a spoon and build a correspondence with a fellow writer.
I know the meaning of control and try not to lose what little of it I have within my possession.
I know the joys of possession also invite misery.
I know that Neil Young was born in Canada and that B minor is a sad chord.
Don’t ask me about relationships. I wouldn’t know where to begin.
I would begin with a thermometer. And end with a sigh.