Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ex Nihilo

Paper is supposedly a product of dirt, but if it is shot out of a cannon in Florida, it becomes a narrative. Debris from a stunning metaphor, or the metamorphosis of names vivifying the transformation of magma.

What I mean is this: a crow glides by and lands in the street. There is a certain narrative there, a story waiting to happen, wrinkles in a bag of potato chips, crumbly bits of potato chip spilled from an upturned bag, the ingenious maneuverings of the crow, the aforementioned crow, which has already flown away, because a middle-aged man on a Harley drove by.

Today I am going to take my stomach for a walk. It’s been upset lately. Acidic. Agonistic.


I don’t know whether it is from something I ate that didn’t quite agree with it, or the continuing story of oil oozing from the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening life on our planet as we know it.

I cannot remove the image from my brain. A great black billowing column of oil burbling up through the spinal duct of my medulla and mushrooming, imbuing the folds of my brain with the bile of despair, viscous, sticky, sinewy, exuding into the frontal lobe and hanging there in a torpor of defilement. I don’t much like it when anything that ugly that gets into my head.

Like gravity.

I like gravity. I just don’t like it when it keeps me down.

My sideburns have miscarried the message of hair.

Which is this: every face could use some embroidery, some embellishment, particularly when we age, which is its own form of embellishment, though certainly not the kind of embellishment that anyone can be happy with, as it involves wrinkles, and a general look of sourness, which is the natural response to existence.

The wilderness offers a remedy for our weirdness. But much of it is disappearing. The only true wilderness left us is that of the mind. The human mind, or the mind of a dachshund, if you prefer dogs to humans.

Much of the mind is water. Accepting its abstractions as they bob and float is part of the problem, but easier to follow than the mutability of sidewalks. The way they crack and fold is fascinating, but it takes time, and time is rationed in tiny amounts.

Insights glitter in the pineapple.

The plastic cover of a cherry crumb pie twinkles in the kitchen light.

Nothing comes from nothing.

Except, possibly, nothing itself, which upsets the notion of an independent reality of objects providing a pre-existing field of referents for signs to attach themselves to. Such a notion cannot be sustained. It is only an illusion. We need another mechanism. We need the creative power of zero. Zero to manufacture an infinity of signs. An algebra of tense. And the ablution of pronouns. And the clarity of the clarinet.

Once zero becomes the baseline for one’s sense of reality, all things become possible. Strange affiliations arise. I think of the marvelous title for one of Ponge’s books, Le parti pris des choses, which translates roughly as “taking the part, or side, of things.” Giving a voice to the mute. But one does not effect the phenomenological projection of oneself into the other. You become zero. And you become the world.

Multiple. Composite. Aluminum.

There is joy in aluminum. Even when smoke triggers the smoke alarm, as it has just now, there must have been some goop on the burner, because there is smoke coiling up from beneath the coffee pot, and it has filled the apartment, like thought, in this case thoughts of aluminum, fill the mind.

Aluminum protects things, extends things, conducts things, fastens things. The telescope, for instance, or an airplane hangar.

Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust and makes up approximately 8% by weight of the Earth’s solid surface. It is too reactive chemically to occur in nature as a free metal, or rhinoceros, or emu. It is remarkable for its low density and ability to resist corrosion. It is vital to the aerospace industry, as it is to this paragraph, which is building a case for aluminum, the celebration of aluminum, aluminum as something to ponder, something to envision, an element of the mind evolving into images of sheen and wonder.

Meanwhile, I should attend to the smoke alarm. It is loud and prevents my reflections on aluminum from reaching a serviceable apotheosis.

Or apothegm.

Nothing is the cause of itself, which is why this is happening.

Although the smoke alarm has been turned off, for which I am thankful.

An even worse problem is galactic evolution.

Calculus rips the stars into choirs. And all around us is the simmering confusion that is the chemistry of consciousness interpreting and translating sensations into sonnets, and guitars, and lightning in Arizona. Horses forged from bronze. A man leaning against a wall sharpening a knife.

Consonance. Consommé. Console.

Swords of humid light traveling through the straw-laden air of a Kansas barn.

Pieces of fabric folded in vehement tenderness.

A thousand splendid suns emanating from the supersoul of a ping pong paddle in a summer basement.

Consciousness exists within consciousness within consciousness.

But what else should be filling the universe if current cosmological ideas are correct?

Four legs and a smile.

Which is a horse in somebody’s cartoon.

Here is a rattlesnake I found in an abandoned paragraph. Watch how it moves. Spirals. Twists. Undulates. Just like a real sentence. With scales and teeth and grammar. And a rattle at the end. To make sure it is heard. To give warning. To draw attention. To embody meaning. Because if it is true that the end is first in intention but last in execution, then it must also be true that causes are the causes of one another, and that opposites serve the heresy of rubber, which is why I love being underground, and am often astonished by the inaccuracy of air.

If I nail the scent of a thought to the wall, will it make any difference if I favor it with a gaze?

Yes. It will.

And if you notice the spectrum of blues and browns in a Corot, you will have noticed something very big and pure and exponential.

You will have felt the shove of solitude.

You will have tasted the ecstasy of zero.

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