Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Treasures of Kenwood House, London

Earth Day, April 23rd, 2013. 9:35 p.m.

I go online and post a paragraph on Facebook, an excerpt from an essay by Walter Benjamin titled “Experience and Poverty,” in which he refers to the joyless properties of glass: “It is no coincidence that glass is such a hard, smooth material to which nothing can be fixed. A cold and sober material into the bargain. Objects made of glass have no ‘aura.’ Glass is, in general, the enemy of secrets. It is also the enemy of possession.”
I add a photo of Dale Chihuly’s Garden and Glass exhibit beneath it to underscore Benjamin’s point. But just to be sure everyone gets the connection, I add “That this aura-less, cold, sober chapel of bourgeois vapidity has replaced the ebullience of the Fun Forest is an injury to the spirit. It speaks to Seattle's sea-change from affordable, art-friendly city to a cheerless, affluent dysphoria of clueless Bobos.”
I loved the Fun Forest. This was a carnival-like zone left over from the Seattle’s World Fair in 1962, the identical place where a 10-year-old Kurt Russell kicks Elvis Presley in the shin in the movie It Happened at the World’s Fair. There were rides such as a jeweled Borrelli carousel, a Windstorm roller coaster offering a smooth fast ride laid out in a multiple figure-eight configuration, Wild River log flume, bumper cars, kiddy galleon, rainbow chaser, and an Orbiter which featured a cluster of cars mounted on arms radiating from a central axis that lifted into a 90 degree horizontal position when the ride was spinning. There were games of skill offering stuffed animals as prizes, stands selling hot dogs and cotton candy, and a Flight to Mars ride whose interior décor was studded with black lights and glow paint. It’s all gone now, replaced with the cheerless Chihuly exhibit with its strong commercial appeal and shabby pretense at art.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2013. 1:00 p.m.

It’s a bright, sunny afternoon and the temperature is starting to rise into the lower 60s. Roberta and I decide to hop on a bus and go to the art museum to see Rembrandt and a few other Dutch masters. I love 17th century Dutch art. Alas, there will be no Vermeer, but there will be some canvases and techniques similar to Vermeer.
And there are: I’m transfixed by View of Dordrecht by Aelbert Cuyp. The delicacy of the ships, the beauty of the clouds, the feeling of reality in the serene water. The effects of the light are like sweet soft theorems of illumination in paint. He has distorted reality to depict reality. He has obscured reality to illumine reality. Cuyp was skilled at altering the direction of light in a painting, bringing it to a diagonal position from the back of the picture, so that the viewer faced the sun more or less directly. The light appears to be emanating from the paint. This also gave a greater feeling of depth to the space. I could dwell on this one painting for an hour. But I continue. The gallery shines with 17th century light.
I see Family in a Mediterranean Seaport by Jan Baptist Weenix, A Canal in Winter by Isack van Ostade, and Old London Bridge by Claude de Jongh. All the paintings on display are from the Kenwood House collection in Hampstead, London, on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath. It must have been there when John Keats lived nearby. The collection was once owned by Edward Cecil Guinness, the first Earl of Iveagh, an Irish philanthropist and businessman. He died in 1927, bequeathing his home and collection to the nation.
The highlight of the show is Rembrandt’s Self Portrait with Two Circles. I’ve seen this painting many times before, but the reality of it, and its immense size, is stunning. Rembrandt appears so astonishingly real and present and soulfully available for meditations on art or philosophy or just the dubious ritual of visiting an art museum that one’s own presence becomes unavoidable and real. Whatever shadows and distractions haven been clinging to you throughout the day dissipate. It is you and this old man.
And he is old, no question of that. His jowls sag, his nose has the bulbous fleshiness associated with heavy drinking, his hair is white and long, his body is corpulent and heavy, an effect heightened by the heavy fur-lined robe he wears, and the white nightcap is a clear signal that he has entered the nighttime of his life. It will soon be lights out and sleep forever. But there is still great light and energy in his eyes and the way he holds his mahlstick and paintbrushes and palette is nothing less than regal. His face is highly expressive. There is great sadness and maturity there. He has experienced the inevitable losses and disappointments of this all too mortal life, and he is burdened with poverty and debt. But he is triumphant. He has his creativity. It’s still going strong. This painting is proof of that.
After taking in nearly all the 17th century paintings I entered the adjoining galleries which segued into the 18th century, featuring work by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. I’ve never been too excited about this phase in western European painting, but now that the same disparities of wealth and poverty that led to the French Revolution are in play again, it is particularly galling to see these aristocratic pricks and their progeny. The conventions of 18th century painting with their values of harmony, cool elegance and casual grace, are pleasing to the eye and give one a sense of balance and meaning to the universe, but this is a reflection of aristocratic wealth, the people who employed painters such as Gainsborough and Reynolds. The work of poets and painters such as William Blake during this era give a very different view, a critical perspective that I happen to share. I feel like Jean-Paul Marat wandering these galleries.
My heels are dogged by a tour group that began at approximately the same time that Roberta and I started our viewing. An elderly woman leads a group of some fifteen or twenty people of differing age and sex, though few are younger than thirty. She seems to know her stuff and speaks with enthusiasm about the paintings, parenthetically inserting allusions to the European collections and museums she and her husband have visited on their travels. Her group caught up with me at Sir Joshua Reynolds’s portrait of Kitty Fisher as Cleopatra dissolving a pearl. According to Pliny, in an effort to impress Marc Antony with her prodigality, Cleopatra put out a great feast and at the end plopped a pearl into a goblet of vinegar and then drank it after the pearl dissolved. Reynolds chose this story for a particular reason, and I was eager to hear about it. I was listening to the story of Kitty on the little audio wand the museum provides at the entry to the show, how this remarkably beautiful and charismatic woman rose from a humble life as a milliner to become one of London’s most notorious femmes fatales, known for her affairs with men of wealth, such as George William Coventry, 6th Earl of Coventry, when the elderly woman with her flock of tourists intruded on me and began speaking as if I weren’t standing there. I moved on, and went to find a painting that the tour group wouldn’t reach for a few minutes.
This turned out to be one of the strangest paintings I’d ever seen. Hawking in Olden Time by Sir Edwin Landseer presents a ball of feathers and fury at the center of the picture with a group of medieval hunters faintly represented off to the right margin, riding up a knoll, stunned to see the sight of their falcon bringing down a heron. I couldn’t quite make out which eyeball belonged to which bird, so furious and energetic was this conflict. It looked like a whirling asteroid of feathers. I lingered long enough for the tour group to arrive and listened to the guide explain the nostalgia for the past people felt during the time this painting was achieved, in 1832, right at the beginning of the industrial revolution. I saw something other than just nostalgia. The birds were so engulfed in a frenzy of survival and predation I could not help but feel a high level of anxiety. One world was ending, another was beginning.
I did not expect to see Turner. I did not at first that I was looking at a Turner. When I think of Turner I imagine dramatic atmospheric effects, black engines in radiant mists, imposing buildings engulfed in flames. Dramas of air and light in which the overarching mood is clear as a Wagnerian opera but the specifics of what is occurring are ambiguous. A Coast Scene with Fishermen Hauling a Boat Ashore was highly detailed and offered a very clear narrative: two boats have been run ashore and a third is at the mercy of breakers during a mighty tempest that is pounding the shore with unabashed fury. A group of men struggled mightily with muscle and rope to keep the two boats from being swept back out to sea. I could feel the wind. I could feel the wet salt air sting my cheeks. The dark mingling grays of the sky and the white gnashing waves were sublime and merciless. I was trying to make out the fish and detritus on the beach but the tour group engulfed me and the guide’s opening words capsized my attention. I made for the exit.
When Roberta and I arrived home E was at work on the front porch, scraping it with a stainless steel palette knife and a wire brush. This was the third time in two years she was painting the porch. It’s been a frustration for all of us in the building, but for her especially, since this has been her project. The paint keeps chipping and flaking, resulting in a calico surface of sour yellow cream and battleship gray. I offer to help. Roberta and I go in, change our clothes, and return, each of us provided with a palette knife from my toolbox. It’s hard work. We spend an hour at it. We tell her we visited the exhibit of Dutch art at the Seattle art museum. I tried to describe the power of the Joseph Turner canvas, since her husband K is a fisherman. E tells us she and K visited the Chihuly exhibit recently. She didn’t seem that enthusiastic. It occurs to me to share my recent posting on Facebook, and my opinion about Dale Chihuly’s glass art, but decide to keep silent on the subject, and keep scraping away at the porch. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


If a dynamic impertinence impels the greenery, than the sensation of flipping will pleat the damask. Rain’s illusionism circulates it. Your pamphlet makes nothing but sense. A stepladder walks the transformation to the end of the wharf and plummets into grammar. The strain of everything emerging brims with chiaroscuro and so confirms the enormity of Rembrandt.
A metaphor fulminates along the next line, this line, and enters the book in the form of a leg, my leg. I have four legs since blazing into conquest. My elevator embarks at dawn. Inventions tease the paint. A paraffin yardstick drips with sexual innuendo. I push it to the back where it educates a knob.
I have the duty to convulse with breakfast. This concerns simulacrams of space. The bikini burns quicker under the hive of antiquity than the oil of hereafter. The proverb has mentally adjusted itself to wax into gravity and assume the camaraderie of prose. The harmonica is an incarnation of rumor.
I am eager to equip our experience with bone. Black manipulates our summer fugue. I scrub the candlelight to believe in yellow. A wave is because fiddles are moonlight. The fat around the sweat of the world stirs with life as it slithers through space stealing glimpses of heaven.
We basket a Corot and split through the lobby. I rattle a spur and the grebes make echoes. I have greased this odor into dream. Religions smear my sand into a life of farming. I rock the garbage to jewel my concentration.
We stab the broken wind and grapple with rain. The mosaic butters its energy in an armchair designed to catch meditation. The brain beneath the drill sews ruffles into banging vermilion. A radical empiricism occurs with the percolation of morning at the forehead station. The train beneath my steering embodies a story of turbulence and spit.  
The monotonous lamp is blackened by burning. I patch my ancestry and carry the spin past the resilience of history. There is an upheaval at the car wash. The nails snatch a door and grip a new frame. The flower is incidental to its seed.
Poke purpose and it will splash the orchard. I fall through a paradigm cooking rice on a blue fire. Your tongue is a blade. You cut the air and a sentence falls out. This is how we talk.
The wind grieves for the paint flaking from the barns of Montana. I happen to clapboard a house I imbue. A mountain circles its telling of rock and I believe it. The bitumen is new. I agree to haunt the abstraction until it projects an airport.
The gulls are funny. They stab the sky to watch the sublime. I stiffen from what I feel is real and brood in cogitation near the trash bins. There is a description of boxing that has been sewn to a wedge of library storm. Some debris has been added to make the clouds look cut and bleeding.  

I have dangled scrupulously above this paper causing words to come into being and be here and describe something, anything, a feeling or grosbeak. This spring I shake with papier collé. I stand on the locomotive and rub. Here I must excuse the trembling. We are all enigmas of insult and yearning sailing out of subtleties of gabardine and mind. 


Friday, April 19, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Efferent

The sound of the rain can be heard through the cracks in the windows. These aren’t actual cracks. There are no cracks in the glass. The windows are open a crack. This prevents condensation. But there are cracks. There is a crack in the drywall of the window frame, and another in the northwest corner of the bedroom. I will fix it later.
We decide not to move. Taking on a mortgage is too scary. Roberta adds an article in the New York Times today to our “favorite” list. The banks are at it again, creating dubious financial products, such as “collateralized debt obligations” which evade the few regulations imposed after the collapse in 2008. The old excesses are creeping back into the market.
I escape into language where the words sag with hope and valentines. I boil the vapor of appearance in the spongy mass of a wool piano. The syntax squirts. Palominos rip the sod. Gravity hammers a stone guitar.
What paradox is the art of manipulating objects with signs which are exterior and alien to them! and of which even the correspondence with them is altogether arbitrary! It’s necessary that each thing be doubled by a phantom where the sign attaches itself, another phantom. The signs combined, combine the phantoms  -  and a special machine permits the return of phantoms to things  -  and by their imposition on things, awaits the same fate that the accommodating phantoms have endured in that bizarre location where they’re slaves to the signs. So writes Paul Valéry in his Notebooks.
Syllables: everything is syllables. For instance, here is an emotion: it tastes of clairvoyance, but looks like a stew. There are no monotonous odors in our house. This is why I prefer wearing denim. I write for the sheer pleasure of folding my opinions into quadrilaterals and bagpipes. For the exploration of nothingness. For adapting my grammar to the grammar of the world. Or not. I press my ear to the blood of a cat. The biology of a consonant glides through the anatomy of a dollar and gets hooked on a murmuring phantom. This results in insemination.
I move my hand across a sheet of paper. Words come out of my hand. An elevator arrives and its doors slide open revealing a shepherd and his flock. I scrub the distance between a bistro and an explanation for light. The definition for twilight is warped by fatalism. The flowers all thrive in a sulky anonymity. I search for your caress as aggressively as an asterisk in a liter of swallows. The waves unroll their scripture of foam on the absorbing sand. A sense of autonomy collides with a stain of adjectives spread across the giant nipple of an acoustic emotion. Faith runs across the Mediterranean and delivers a granite baby. You might think that none of these sentences are connected but I assure you that they are. I’m braced for anything. The death of a planet. The strain of a glockenspiel. A pile of words writing themselves into rooms and embassies.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Looking Back at Don't Look Back

Last night Roberta and I watched Don’t Look Back. I hadn’t seen it in a few years. The movie still has tremendous energy, though now it’s a different energy, not the revolutionary energy that galvanized me when I first saw the movie in 1967, that revolution had long ago fizzled out, but the dynamic flux of a singular event caught on film in a manner so raw and natural that it doesn’t seem so much modified by time as intensified by time. The movie hasn’t lost any of its freshness or pizzazz. It’s not like looking at something that occurred decades ago where everything is quaintly dated and irrelevant but looking at something in a parallel universe where the events are occurring simultaneously, a bit like the time disruptions in Chris Mark’s La Jetée, and still have the thrill of consequence.  
I get that sense from the way Dylan is marketed in general. It’s not uncommon to enter a music store and see an array of Dylan’s image as it is morphed and mutated over the years, beginning with the tousle-haired fresh-faced Dylan of Greenwich Village when he was first starting out and modeling himself on Woody Guthrie to the saggy-faced pencil-mustachioed Dylan in his mid-60s to early 70s with his louche carnival huckster foxiness, one part hustler, one part desperado. There is no sense of linear progression to these images, they all seem to be occurring at once, as if time didn’t matter, as if time were a malleable, unstable element in the cosmic roulette wheel. Wherever that little ball randomly plunks is the Dylan you’re going to get. They’re all the same man, or are they? Even Dylan is mystified by his transformations.
The movie kicks off with the energetic “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” defiant, witty, provocative, Dylan holding the lyrics to the song on cards he lets drop as the song progresses. He is standing in an alley of what appears to be lower Manhattan; off to the left margin a bearded and rabbinical Allen Ginsberg stands under a rig of rickety scaffolding in a heavy overcoat engaged in conversation with Bob Neuwirth, who walks jauntily on screen as the song ends and the conversation ceases and Neuwirth and Ginsberg each go their own way. Dylan himself looks frail and androgynous but also curiously diamond-hard and indomitable. You wouldn’t want to mess with him. He is wearing a pale, long-sleeved shirt, black vest and a pair of slacks. His hair is thick and wild, exploding from his head as if from too much amphetamine, or sheer excitement. It’s an odd 19th century look, a nod to Whitman and post-civil war America.
“Subterranean Homesick Blues” is the only electric number in the movie’s songs. The other songs, most of them from the very early stretch of Dylan’s career and rooted deeply in folk tradition and the intensely original poetry that was the core inspiration for these songs, are performed solo on stage in black leather jacket, harmonica and acoustic guitar. This is Dylan just as he was beginning to morph into the Warhol Factory cosmopolitan Dylan of Blonde on Blonde with its uncannily vivid imagery and intense amphetamine surrealism. He had already begun to play with a band and electric guitars but for this concert he was willing to appear as the Dylan people had grown to recognize and beleaguered him with labels such as prophet and protest singer. This is apparent during the scene in which some very young girls with the heavy accents of northern England question him about his new way of performing and Dylan responds with with goodnatured, non-condescending wit and tells them, “You know, I have to give some work to my friends, you know. I mean, you don’t mind that, right?”
What amazes me throughout this movie is Dylan’s frailty coupled with his abrasiveness, his confrontational style. His movements seem odd and out of balance, are heavily concentrated in some self-conscious manner that causes him to move awkwardly and affectedly when he's without his guitar, coupled with his diminutive size and overall delicacy. It did not seem at all strange to see Cate Blanchett play this phase of Dylan’s career in I’m Not There, he was truly that androgynous, that good looking in a dark, defiant, electrifying Jean Harlow kind of way. There is a mystique to it. It’s exotic and freakish and thrilling to watch, though it amazes me he doesn’t get the crap kicked out of him, considering his open mockery and disdain for a lot of the people he encounters outside his immediate group.

There’s the famous scene in which he goes ballistic over some broken glass in the street outside his hotel and gets into an argument with a drunken man roughly his own age. The rage appears real, and you’ve got to wonder if he isn’t exploding out of the tension of a grueling performance schedule and the demands of a very sudden and colossal fame. The other point of interest in this scene (besides Donovan; in fact, contrasting heavily with Donovan) is the old folk singer Derroll Adams, who looks down and out, a true hobo, rider of the rails, the real deal. Adams willingly takes a backseat to Dylan’s punkish pole star, sits on the floor and settles back against the wall in the crowded hotel room and comes across as genuinely humble and raggedly authentic and not a little drunk. He had, in fact, taken Donovan under his wing and seems better aligned with Donovan’s evident innocence than Dylan’s edgy surrealism. Perhaps in actuality he wasn’t all that destitute, but you can see the aging man needs dental work and new clothes and wonder how he’s managing to get by. He seems to be eking out an existence and earning just enough money from busking and doing gigs in the hubbub of England’s pubs to feed himself and buy a little booze. And you realize this is the true fate of someone who takes up a guitar and sings songs for a living. It is a fate far closer to the life of a poet, struggling to get by outside the sheltering walls and income of academia. This would have been Dylan’s, and Donovan’s, fate had not the weird moment in time that was the 60s made it possible to reach a giant, highly enthusiastic audience in at least two continents, if not all of the western world.
The question that always goes through my mind and grows larger as I age each time I see this movie is: what happened to this guy, this particular Bob Dylan, the iconic Bob Dylan? Where’d he go? The body of songs Dylan composed up until Nashville Skyline is stunning. The poetry is incandescent. The songs on John Wesley Harding are not as intense or nearly as expansive but they’re still intellectually appealing, simple yet enigmatic in the way William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience are deceptively simple parables about social injustice, hypocrisy, oppression, and the moral fiber of the universe. The music and lyrics since then are spotty. There will be, occasionally, a work of genius like “Blind Willie McTell” circa the 80s or “Not Dark Yet” from the late 90s, but by and large, take the music away and the lyrics on their own are often quite bland and cliché-ridden.
I’m fascinated by an interview Dylan gave to Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes in 2004, in which he admits that he can’t write the same quality of poetic intensity now as he did back in the day. “Those songs seem almost magically written,” he confesses. “There’s a magic to that….and it’s not the Siegfried and Roy kind of magic, it’s a different kind of penetrating magic, and I did it at one time.” “And you don’t think you can do it today?” Bradley asks. Dylan mumbles no. “I can do other things now, but I can’t do that.”
I don’t know what he means, exactly, by “other things,” but although his more recent songs lack the lyrical ferocity of his early years there is still something often very quirky and fascinating about them. The lines taken individually are sometimes flat as can be, neutral in tone, bland and prosaic as a bag of nails or a cotton swab, but the way the songs are structured they can compass a very broad and evocative range, evoking a terrain not unlike a short story by Larry Brown or Raymond Carver. For example, in Duquesne Whistle, are the lines “Can’t you hear that Duquesne whistle blown’? / Blowin’ like the sky’s gonna blow apart /  You’re the only thing alive that keeps me going / You’re like a time-bomb in my heart.” It isn’t great poetry, but taken as a song, these lines are pretty damn interesting. They have a timeless quality; they could be a song from the late 19th century. But they’re also modern, quietly eccentric. Nobody really talks this anymore, and the very name Duquesne, with its French sounding syllables, seems to reference a time and place more akin to William Merritt Chase than Oprah Winfrey or Jon Stewart. But the outrageousness of a sky blowing apart, as an image of goofy urgency, romantic crisis in a cockeyed mode, suggests a milieu of colorful distortion like the work of Red Grooms.
So no, the Dylan of Don’t Look Back didn’t disappear entirely. But he did get old. Old in a funny way. There is still that unmistakable gleam in his eye. The often cocky, arrogant prick of Don’t Look Back, openly mocking and insulting people, is now the strange old man police officer Kristie Buble had sitting in the backseat of her cruiser one rainy New Jersey afternoon in August, 2009, picked up for vagrancy, for being an old man in the rain, an eccentric looking old guy wandering around in somebody’s front yard. He gave her his name as Bob Dylan, but this was far from the iconic Bob Dylan we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing, the man with the penetrating eyes and hair exploding out of his head. And he wasn’t carrying any ID. She took the guy in black, soaking wet sweatpants, floppy rubber rain boots and two separate raincoats, one with a hood pulled over his head, to be a crazy homeless man. A complete unknown. With no direction, or home. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Adventures of Drukpa Kunley

How does one reconcile reason with divinity? Drukpa Kunley’s erection stupefies a demon, while I pull a buffalo out of a retina. I’m equipped with sympathy and shirts. Personality caulks the leakage of wool, and forms a court plaster for the inelastic and Pennsylvania Dutch. I see life as a long emblem similar in quality to wind, though with messages written on it for one’s progeny. Imagine Drukpa Kunley at a Home Depot. Crimson dilates the birth of desire and Christmas lights festoon Drukpa Kunley’s dick, flashing on and off in an ecstasy of zeal, as if a drop of sound could be shaped into a word, and that word was ‘hydrogen.’ Or ‘pelican.’ Or cambium.’ Or ‘Ishallassoboundbewilsothoutoosezit.’ Success is a lure that never succeeds. Swans are signs and semen is warm and medieval. Language is simultaneously interior and exterior, as is consistent with faith and reason. You are in a cathedral of tools. Wheelbarrows auger bits edgers chainsaws caulking guns trowels cutters wire strippers pliers drop lights hammers. The shovels swarm with emotion. The vespers of eyebrows brews the cause of a livid tacamahac. Why does consciousness choose to annul itself under the form of desire? I see what I see, not what I want to see. Why does this keep happening? This entropy, this innovation, this Ptolemaic stepping stone to Dionysia? Once the world has been renounced, the desire to possess it is accentuated, which is the very meaning of the world. The adjectives awaken to pain. Cheddar mollifies the slap of eternity. The problem is always uncertain and can turn on the tension of a moment. There are certain pharmaceuticals for this, and they look like beans. The strange beans of fable, in which the sound of the rain is charmed and delicate and charged with life. The truth of the noun filters life through the ovum of withdrawl. I write because it’s perverse. And trickles with brass and scholium and comedy and puppets. My hand is a frenzy of filaments. I tremble to affirm this fever. There are hundreds and hundreds of cows and cowboys slouched on their horses, sleeping in the rain. Today’s social paradigm kills the Quixotic urge, but your modern cowboy stays true to his rope and saddle, lassoing the stray doggie when the herd scatters and the wind howls. This is demonstrated by the swaying of feathers on the back of a snake. Life is complex, contradictory, and laced with fugitive sensations. Dagwood sits down beside Drukpa Kunley and utters a truth so large he turns paler than yak milk. The tension between faith and reason is resolved by absurdity. It surprises me how much I’d like to get in a car right now and speed away into the night listening to old Rolling Stones songs. Mineral rights are ticklish. It helps to think of everything as a form of grammar, an iron emotion obtruding from the tongue of a Pythagorean sombrero. Shadows amuse the irregular shapes of purgatory. Consciousness comes into existence when it is conscious of being conscious, and Drukpa Kunley goes for a walk in the morning, his heart like an open drawer stuffed with the drug of language.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Fool on the Hill

April 1st, 2013. 9:05 a.m. I drink five mugs of coffee purchased the previous week from an herbalist in the International District, which is strong as cast-iron and proves to be a fine substitute for personal existence.
9:20 a.m. I’m being followed by pillows. Big, paisley pillows and cushions the size of kangaroos. I shoot one with a double-barreled wheellock, a gift from Charles V, and the pillow drops to the ground, hemorrhaging xenogenetic slinkys.
10:17 a.m. There can be no question of easy faith. I study the plants at the window and realize that there is no empirical method for determining the molecular velocities of horripilating zithers. Even if I grant James Maxwell some justification for the Clausius virial equation that holds for macro-particles in an enclosed vessel will also hold for molecules, any zither matted with hair such as the one I used in my experiment will naturally tend toward cashmere. This includes the complicated charges and currents employed in the Chicago-style metaphor, particularly those employed on the south side, where the field of magnetism tends toward the space-time formulations of Buddy Guy. Transcendence is crucial when the scientific method fails. Here is where faith becomes an emancipation from the tyrannies of empiricism, and flexes its resistance to the banality of fish like a bicep on the arm of a Russian Bolshevik.
10:47 a.m. I notice my watch is upside down. The world is upside down. The kitchen and cat and bookshelves and neighbors and exhalations and exhilarations and napkins are all upside down. The floor is now the ceiling and the ceiling is now the floor. I revert to modes of perspective and horizon to stabilize my sense of hygiene. I turn upon the poles of incarnation and invocation. I try to distinguish between what is true and what is apparent. As soon as I collapse into sheer arbitrariness, the raging discord between art and truth thereby seems to cease. But how am I related to my body, is that not a continuing problem? It is. This is what I do. I move my arms, I move my legs, I turn my head. This releases the unconcealment of Being. Being itself is determined by Being itself. If Being is allowed to reign in all its Questionableness, the roots draw up more water, and a fragrance reminiscent of hyacinths will pervade the atmosphere.
11:15 a.m. I drink more coffee. This is the way I see it: the world of experience is a standing invitation to deny or ignore my transcendence. But I will not do it. I will not deny my transcendence. I will not ignore my transcendence. I will, instead, seek attainable felicities, and pull meaning out of the world wherever and whenever time and space may permit such inquiry.
12:03 p.m. It is wonderful to talk to Mick Jagger in his hotel room. He is absolutely charming, and the women filling the room seem as natural as the sound of rain or the play of sunlight. We discuss the dynamics of gas, and confess a need to discover within our actual world a primal other world of ideality. Mick says he feels the same way, and begins singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and points directly at me. I blush. We converse until late in the afternoon, after which I stop at QFC, and pick up two four-packs of Virgil’s black cherry cream soda. This is a new flavor, and a deviation from my usual root beer, but I like it a lot.
12:22 p.m. On the way home, I hear the singing of millions of ants. Or is it laughter? I cannot decide. Sometimes it sounds like singing, sometimes it sounds like laughter. It is ants who built the hill on which I live. Millions of ants toiling millenniums to create a hill of sand, grain by grain. Their laughter is an alloy of sand and plurality. It’s the laughter of ants. It’s the laughter of the marvelous.
1:01 p.m. The rest of the day is open, and serves as a common pasture for my thoughts. There are those that gambol, those that wallow, and those that suddenly take wing, and fly to other lakes and ponds and places of sweet reverie. Many dark and sleepless nights have I been a companion for owls, separated from the cheerful society of men, scorched by the summer's sun, and pinched by the winter's cold, an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness. But now the scene is changed: peace crowns the sylvan shade.
1:05 p.m. How fleeting is the peacefulness occasionally afforded us. My quiet is broken by Bronson, the asshole who rents the duplex next door, having a cell phone conversation within my hearing. He paces back and forth, blah blah blah blah, presumably dispensing information for his next tenant.
2:02 p.m. I feel peculiar sensations, like many creatures on earth at the approach of violent atmospheric changes. The atmosphere is evidently charged and surcharged with electricity. My whole body is saturated; my hair bristles just as when you stand upon an insulated stool under the action of an electrical machine. It seems to me as if my cat, my fond companion during these convulsive and ominous afternoons, the moment he touched me, would receive a severe shock like that from an electric eel.
3:05 p.m. I go for a run around the crown of Queen Anne Hill. The view is a majestic. I see an airship hover Elliott Bay, and what appears to a giant squid, a marine organism of tremendous size, its tentacles reaching for the airship, as the people look down photographing this anguished monster and its frustrations with their smartphones. A man leans too far out from the railing of the gondola and is snatched by the creature’s beak and instantly swallowed. The glimmer of smartphones recording this for later YouTube viewing maddens the creature further. It crawls up Pier 57 and attaches itself to a giant Ferris Wheel, rides around five times, then slithers up Seneca Street eating pedestrians and leaving a trail of black, viscous bile. News at 11.
4:30 p.m. Roberta returns home and we sit down to a dinner of Veal Soup, Veal Collops, and Bacon and a brace of Partridges, roasted, and Apple Dumplings. We watch a demonstration of skill on television, in which a man riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle around the walls of a cylinder, lets go of the handlebars and leans back, wrenching the handlebars at the last moment to prevent a crash at the bottom. This is followed by a Lobster Quadrille, in which the lobsters, having been well fed, take their partners by the claw and daintily maneuver themselves across the floor.
7:05 p.m. I retire into my laboratory to do research on the effects of metaphor and magnetism. The existence of a pervading medium, of small but real density, consisting of nothing but sounds and letters, capable of setting the mind in motion and transmitting ideas from one part to another with great velocity, is irresistible in its application. Inasmuch as this medium can transmit undulations with exquisite power and invisible force, it is useful in a literary context, though not that of minimalist prose, which has become the norm in writing, the byproduct of Facebook and Twitter and a generation of people for whom literacy has become anathema. Today’s poet must learn the hermetic discipline and approach of the medieval alchemist. Philosophy, as Karl Jaspers said, can nerve the thinker by reflection upon the conditions of thinking to dare to think that there is a reality which cannot be thought. In that case, Being can be experienced, indicated, attested, but not represented and possessed. It does not have the sweep of religious faith, nor the pliability of amphibology, but can, with the application of the right metaphor, extend into elastic spheres and become oblate spheroids like the earth, each one populated with tiny animalcules, and elves.
11:00 p.m. We retire to bed, and linger there in the dark until sleep arrives, and folds us into its easeful realm.