What features are the essential, as opposed to merely accidental, attributes of a given object?
They’re rioting in Cairo. But this is Nebraska. A giant eyeball floats over the prairie. Sunlight dazzles the terrain. Arapahoe and Pawnee. Wounds and feathers. Perpetual change. This is, after all, a prairie. The prairie cannot be reduced to an essence. The prairie murmurs the breath of angels. Odors are proposals. There is hunger in the wind. Wolves and abandoned farmhouses. The sky floats on purpletop. A flower yells back at the sun.
Do you own a hibachi? A sawmill in Alabama? Fill yourself with the world.
If I dangle a piece of space, gravity squeezes it together into a glockenspiel, and flowers pop out of my mouth.
Sometimes a little propane goes a long way. You can push a thought through the loophole of a sentence, but a puddle of light forms on the wall, and the sky turns black.
Other things exemplify soup. The rants of a cynical wizard. Drugs on a hardwood floor.
If you can fill a paragraph with descriptions of raw sienna, you will be greeted by soft bare arms, golden women on a silver boat. And everything warm and gentle will counsel your heart.
Essence is insoluble. Life is insoluble. Life is an essence.
It is viscous and smooth. A formula for making hand lotion.
It is rough and convulsive. A Brahma bull chafing under a saddle.
Each thing has a presence. A thin yellow sun on a winter horizon. Everything implicit in blue. Everything revelatory in green. Onions. Ghosts. The art of translation. The heart of a lobster. The transcendence of eggs. Amber mounted on a copper ring. Clay and wood and chains and nails.
I have decided to shave. You can pull a language out of a thirst, but you cannot pull a thirst out of a fish. Sometimes you just have to accept the sawhorse as a demonstration of support. And the razor as a supplement of hygiene.
There is a dimension that eludes science. You can, for instance, bend a flashlight beam around a corner. But you can only do this on special holidays, or by further developing the autonomy of sleep, so that it resembles Portugal, and pulses with parables.
I have conducted experiments on language and discovered hysteria and ice cream. Brush your hair. Life is changeable. Write everything down. If a set of adjectives clash in a painting by Georges Braque, I ask you to consider the light and its full spectrum of colors. We express ourselves with napkins. There are bones buried beneath this sentence.
Try to find a little innocence. There are paths that lead deep into the forest. One is not required to be religious, but it helps to cultivate a sense of reverence. The process is blue, with nuances of red and white and green. There are almonds in the snow, and kumquat and milk. Boiling art. Auguries of spruce.
Marie Laurencin hides under the table, giving birth to strange ideas. Circles and waterfalls. Glens and neurons.
Sound waves create eyes in the air. What is visible is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. A mouth moving on a canvas. Density, volume, weight. Color, design, texture.
Some things that are present to the mind do not have palpable form. Yet there is something essential about them. Intuition, premonition, perspicacity. A blowtorch made of thought. And blue flame. And metaphor and art.
A face falls out of a mirror, bitter and full of juice. Do not look at it, even as it tries to talk. Merely go on combing your hair. Listen to the sounds of the concertina someone is playing in the street. Assemble a sentence. Applaud vigorously when Polly Peachum finishes her song.
Since, therefore, of the things that are predicated some signify what a thing is, or quiddity, and others quality, and others quantity, and others relation, and others action or passion, and some the place where, and others the time when, to each of these the being of essence signifies the same thing. A shining incontrovertible whatness. A glowing. An aura. A saw blade gleaming in Alabama sunlight. The smell of sage. A Pawnee brave riding a roan stallion out onto the prairie.
Wrinkles tell stories. Realism is elementary. I remember the gunrack in my grandparent’s farmhouse in North Dakota. The beauty of those rifles made you want to fire them. Load them. Shoot them. Fill yourself with the world. Hit the wall if you must. Contradictions can sometimes be more than you can bear.
It is a delicate situation. Colors persist after the sun goes down. There are a dizzying number of stars. Diesel locomotives. The scream of a butterfly. The ghost of Jim Morrison.
And Buffalo Bill. And Sitting Bull. And Aristotle.
What is emotion? Describe gravity. Describe a jellyfish washed ashore. The gleam of the sand. The sound of the waves as they curl, tumble, hit the sand. Crash into rocks. How many adjectives do you need? There is a stepladder in the closet. Form is a form of definition. Apollinaire walks by eating a sandwich. Cubism, he says. I’d call it Cubism.
I call it the noise of a café in the afternoon. Heat, attitude, clouds. A sack of potatoes. A plane taking off at noon. Divinations. Conjectures. Black feathers. Salvation Army desk.
A giant eyeball floating over the prairie.