It begins with a Big Bang proposing handsprings and nutmeg and an interpretation of morning as a form of hat. And mind and balsam and the singular beauty of clack valves. The rigorous languor of the waiting room reveals a vague apprehension of parakeets. But it is the occurrence of nails in a birdhouse that so resemble the syntax of diversion and the feeling of nudity I treasure beneath my clothes. Here, see this? It is a soft white cloud of wool fulminating with closet utilities. Its theoretical absence helps identify it further as orthogonal in shape and potentially environmental. I have seen epitaphs behave in a similar manner, appearing first as a nebulous suggestion of shaving lather, then morphing into words and coconuts.
It is not enough in life to have a chin. One also needs a tongue, some teeth, a jaw and a good, soundly worded petition. The search for truffles crackles with an inner radical pleading. We see it in our eyes. The need for fungus. The need for experience, and rupture, and freshly dug earth. The morning is soft as the thumb of a physicist. And who is not, at heart, a physicist? Who has not, at least once a day, considered the heart of the universe beating in a syllable? A consonant? A vowel? A gloriole, a thistle, or a bag of nails?
The physicists arise at dawn. Each finds a pound of water in their head and identifies it as the pronoun “I,” a forbidden planet, or the fetus of a new idea. Sometimes it’s a song. It’s always a wonderful thing to hear a song. It dilates the mind into favorable condition for delectation, the enjoyment of metaphysical perfection, which is different than gauze, especially at amplified levels. I am authorized to say these things, if anything because of my enthrallment with eyes, and the way they adjust to the light after stepping out of a dark room, or cave. Experience, as John Dewey said, occurs continuously, because the interaction of live creature and environing conditions is involved in the very process of living.
The words flow through the story creating mayhem and fabric, sometimes sand, sometimes paisley, but always insoluble, irresolvable as anything other than a forge, the clank of metal, the glow of a red-hot iron, the lowing of cattle or the various moods that impinge on the air in places like Naples, or the University of Heidelberg. Failure luxuriates in bricks. Colors are dreams, unbridled feelings pitching themselves willy-nilly into a harmonica, and coming out the other side large and wet and blue.
One needs feathers and all the proper drugs for a spectral experience of animals. I’m not necessarily recommending the collection of bric-a-brac, but it doesn’t hurt to go swimming now and then. I remember fondly those occasions when we wandered the roads and byways of Germany discussing the phenomenology and benign irregularities of skin. If an idea is not worth pursuing, wrap it in cellophane and put it on the black market as a form of illegal furniture.
Is anybody truly here, truly available and open to their lives? We swim with appearance. But how many people have chained themselves to a workbench and barked into the sawdust? Wortaufschüttung, vulkanisch, meerüberrauscht, said Paul Celan.
Events tumble in the mind and find no peace until we construct a car made of snow, and start it, and watch as it interprets movement as a form of water, and the pistons go up and down bathed in struggle, while the world proceeds toward its shadow, which is called the night, and is full of stars and couples collapsing on the staircase, wrestling one another into ecstasies of foolishness.
The so-called singularity of the kitchen faucet is three dimensional when it drips slabs of granite. Otherwise we don’t see what it is in its entirety. What we believe is shape and chrome is the movement of nouns in a sentence, nouns and pronouns driven by a predicate, whose sole mission is to drive things forward until they become images and ideas, and incubate a warmth so interior and secret we don’t recognize it as the people we are, until we close our eyes, and drag our mind for lost impressions, sensations from a distant past, and anguish folds into versions of butter.
I was not present at the Big Bang. I was in Philadelphia, attending to some legal business, forming a constitution, signing documents, making speeches, and taking certain precautions so that no mildew formed in my wig, which had cost me a pretty penny, and was now so perfect in its waves and curls I had to stand backward in awe, and tripped over a shoe and fell to the floor. The carpet, I noticed, had a Persian design.
I want these words to keep moving, keep going, keep on keeping on, until all my memories have been unearthed from a gallery of sandstone and Utah dangles from a string. We must on occasion tickle our coordinates. What is true north? Does anyone really know? North is where you find crisp red apples and the golden hunger of the tundra. This is a hunger so ineffable in its condition that you don’t know whether to eat the sunset or chew another mushroom.
The shed ruminates among its tools confessing the strange violence of webs and rust. Desires are unpacked in private rooms. They appear to us as canyons and algae, but that’s only because our limited senses distort reality. If you punch the wall as hard as you can, or hit it with a hammer until the plaster crumbles and you can see to the other side, you will see the world as it truly is, a large round ball packed in junkyard shadows.
A crawling king snake controls nothing, but the truth is full of hallucination. There are, of course, alternate paradigms, the quality of light in a Cubist’s studio, knobs of light exhibiting themselves as sensation, as dreams, colors on a palette, fish moving back and forth in an aquarium, tree branches tossing in a storm, a feeling of introversion deduced as a lake. The universe must be expanding. It is the only explanation for toys. For spurs and rubber. Daylight can seem like an intrusion, but the reality is far more cardboard.
This is why representation requires a museum. One indulges oneself in paper and metal until evocation gets completely carried away and we discover that language is not like money at all but more like buttons. Buttons on a shirt that never button in alignment, but button oddly, crookedly, so that the collar is lopsided and some of the bareness of the chest shows. Which, in the circumstance of men, is mostly hair. Cleavage, in the case of women. Tattoos in almost all other instances, provided there is ample skin. Tattoos are the colophons of the new century, emblems for the stain of experience. Snakes, scorpions, roses.
Black dragon breathing crimson flames.
Mass truly is energy. Now punch the wall. Punch it again. And again and again. Can you feel it? Sense it? Smell it? The dust of ancient imagery? The thud of a giant walking past the window?
No, it is not God. Not unless you want it to be.
None of these words actually belong to me. They don’t belong to anyone. Which is further proof that the universe is yarn, and expands out of a bag, which is not so much paper as the word paper dreaming that it’s paper. Words dreaming that they’re cracks of thunder. Poppies and bottles and birds. The sky, the earth, the sleeping soldier and the scurrying crab. And, finally, they become things themselves, or rather the black heart of things. Ghosts. The eternal reach of the subjunctive, which is as long and wide as desire, and prolongs indefinitely its modest blossoming, its elusive attainment of the real.