Thursday, July 25, 2013

Further Proof That The Universe Is Yarn

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.

Friday, July 19, 2013


I want to construct an emotion of such lucidity that it will mediate between the world at large and my own personal perspectives. The emotions I now have are murky and unserviceable. They obfuscate. They stretch out of shape and tear. They leave me feeling dark and unprecedented, like Baudelaire.
But this presents a philosophical problem. Feelings are a response to the world. How can I construct a feeling in advance of an experience? It’s like trying to taste your food before eating it. Before putting it into your mouth and chewing it. Like laughing at a joke before you hear the joke.
A lit candle will paint the walls with a buttery light. That’s the feeling I like. That’s the feeling I want. That mellow, golden light. That’s a feeling where I could linger and daydream. A feeling in which I could get along with the world and speak peaceably and tolerantly with people. A feeling in which I could accept all the burrs and injuries of human behavior. But one cannot ingest such a feeling like a food or a drug. I suppose codeine and Valium come closest to substituting for such a feeling, but they are, after all, synthetic and addictive, a false paradise.
And since feeling has neither form nor substance, the idea of constructing a feeling as one might construct a birdhouse or violin gives rise to a problem that walks a thin wire of flimsy conceit. Its being, its existence as a sensation is partly vibrational, partly neurochemical, and partly a manifestation of language. That is to say, it’s a form of light sloshing around in the bucket of a sentence.
In the same manner that a certain arrangement of molecules will create a certain drug or chemical, a certain arrangement of words will create a particular image or idea, or a rearrangement of letters will create a different word.
The world is in continual flux. Language is a reflection of continual process and modulation. Emotion is an ocean caged behind the ribs. If the metaphor is mixed, it’s because emotion makes a mess of everything, including T-shirts and planets.
There is the emotion of distance, which is an emotion of stratospheric calm and maneuverability. Radical emotions give steel. If I insult a pickle, the pickle will not explode, not because it’s a pickle, but because it’s not a hole. Holes explode because of the sticks of dynamite that have been placed there. In mining, this is called blast design and is a way to minimize ground damage.
The present tense is recommended for enduring pain. Do not put pain in the future. The ideal place for pain is in the past, where it can be forgotten, but this is hard to do without a sufficient quantity of garlic and opium.
Unfathomability can be achieved through the frottage of Max Jacob and eating lots of scallops.
If you slice a bean in half, you will discover a personality. It will help explain polygamy, and the structure of protein.
Grumbling is a good way to attach the truth to gravity.
Rage can be remedied with bromides, brochures, and the syntax of acceleration.
I will sometimes goad pronouns into action, or drift among the skeletons of shattered greed, reflecting on the futility of corduroy.
The circus will hurt your eyes if you break it into jokes. Rise peremptorily during a float. Milk opinion with whatever incentive urges, be it embodiment or infantry, truffles or ratiocination.
Language disintegrates when it eats itself.
Emotion is old and pressed into generation where it must visit cafés and grow thick with excuse. It is here that we must suppose diving into the bald powder of participles. For what paragraph floats unexamined beneath the world without a rudder or frequency? A wade through the small waves striking at our legs reveals the various flavors of consideration. Let us grip the handle and wheel our thought forward into further reflection. The zoom lens merges with the horizon and the emotion emerging in the distance is crumpled and ripped by a storm of livid violet.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Some Late Night Musings

It is somewhat startling to discover that “Love Me Do” was transmitted over the radio waves of England as early as 1962. But that’s not what this is about. This concerns the sternum. The sternum is a friendly and dynamic bone. It allows the propagation of words. It occupies the chest like a driveway and is absent in turtles and snakes. What is there not to like about a sternum? Is there anyone who doesn’t like the Beatles? It is obvious that each of the Beatles had a sternum.
And still do. Two do. Love me do.
The sternum is a lovely bone and its density dances in abstraction while keeping the ribs in place and shattering the rip tide with its bold cartilage and gentle advocacy of bone. In birds it is a relatively large bone and typically bears an enormous projecting keel to which the flight muscles are attached.
But enough of science. Enough of anatomy. It is time now to take your pain and wiggle it. Get rid of it. Understand it. Listen to it. Toss it in the air and catch it. What does your pain say to you? Do you have more than one pain? How many pains do you have? Do some of your pains come close to resembling pleasure? Are some of your pains dull and monotonous? Are some of your pains romantic? Flocculent and Gothic, like the clouds in a painting by Thomas Cole, or more stinging and angst-ridden, à la Francisco Goya?
Name your favorite drug, and I will guess which pain comes closest to resembling Madrid.
I like it when someone takes my pulse. Professionals trained to take your pulse have a way of holding your wrist and arm that feels soothing and has a certain aesthetic dimension like dance or patisserie that is not generally covered in modern medicine. Sometimes even the cold chrome of a stethoscope pressed against your naked ribs can be a calming occurrence. Maybe it is the attention paid to something alive and beating within you that awakens these feelings of belonging to a communal, oceanic life beyond the tiny subjective realm. One feels simultaneously mortal and immortal, ephemeral and enduring.
Sometimes a drug will arrive in the form of a capsule, a powder enveloped in a gelatinous shell, and will diffuse into the bloodstream like a flock of flamingos rising gently into the dawn.
Whatever happened to Iron Butterfly? Do you remember them? If you remember Iron Butterfly then you are my age and you know the true value of medicine.
The true value of medicine is a drawstring on a white cotton gown and begins by standing naked in an exam room looking at a chart of human anatomy. Or the watercolor of a boat moored at a dock in Santa Barbara. The décor of your typical exam room can vary wildly. As do insulin pumps, saline drips and the view from a hospital window. But let’s not get into that. Note the way the fog embraces the city. Is there anything more wonderful than the invention of sleep? Or the incision made in a sheet of paper as poem begins to take shape? The smell of the sea awakening a sense of adventure? The delicious tangents of an artistic ambiguity stretched so far that you can almost hear the apparitions of forgotten words clank onto the stage and distort the odor of wood with their overpowering vibrations and incarnations of crazy hectic sorrow?
Or joy? Or ecstasy? And let’s not forget the Requiem of the Collar Stud, or the spoons occurring together in a rattling old kitchen drawer, or the various forms of punctuation that can crack a paragraph and cause it to wobble into overtime like a drunken electrician on a sound stage.
Have you noticed, incidentally, how much John Fogerty resembles the cowboy in Mulholland Drive?
I demand the release of all six senses. I have a pretty active sense of cellulose, but I need to find the monster within. My Jim Morrison. My Arthur Rimbaud. My William Burroughs.
And what would he have to say?
The air is alive. The hills are darkening with the ache of infinity.
Yesterday I saw Jim Morrison leaning against a drugstore counter. Swirls of hot meaning surrounded his being. He wore a hat of hectic stimulations. Light broke on a ruby at the center of his belt. He held a Mexican skull of onyx with a single eyeball. Imagine living inside your eye, he mumbled. A strange emotion swung through his breath, drunk as an earthquake exhumed from a horizontal bar. Sometimes the heart tells you things that the brain doesn’t want to hear. This is called truth, for which there is whiskey.
There are wounds that take a long time to heal. They become buried in your being and assume the texture of ancient fossils. Branches swimming in the epilogue of night. The dime is a long journey to the eyes. Go, grab someone and dance around the face painted on the floor. It’s the face of a woman. Her name was Lily and she had a voice that was soft and blue.
Reality is awkward, but the English language is easily maneuvered. You can do amazing things with it. You can create battles that explode into poetry. You can create a propeller that throws the water into confusion as it propels the sentence forward into the waters of the unknown. A girl of eight or nine wanders by wearing a Mohawk of flashing colors. She gurgles appliances and paints pictures of mosquitoes bursting with blood. She is a creation of Pythagorean fire and Aristotelian spice. Her name is Rosemary. Her name is Thyme. Her name is Sage.
Examine a reflex and what you will find will astonish you. Afterwards, you will sleep, and the elements of the dream will be wet with emotion. This is called hurt, for which there is healing.
The voltage of vision is immeasurable. Wax articulates the doctrine of light. I made another incision on a piece of paper and climbed into a cloud. There, I discovered the invention of sleep. I discovered that electricity takes care of itself and sometimes assumes the form of lightning. I saw a bikini eat a singing brain and a storm laugh its head off over the gulf of Mexico.
And as soon as I smelled the sea I forgot about everything else and thought only of waves and Cubism and the flap of wings. I saw the sublime in a sternum and words sink into paper impelling and shaping my life.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Brief to the Noosphere

The hive is on hiatus but the bees are at it until the dawn convulses on the lawn. The brushwork gargles pencils and the harlequin spits red. It’s one of those kinds of motels. There are spirits in the limestone. Accordions in the curtain. Odors in the bedsprings and an airport on my tongue. You can change a circumference but you can’t change pi.
And here I am driving an ultramarine submarine down Santa Monica Boulevard. The debris of my emotional life is deformed and trumpeted. When I walk in the rain, it seems as if the news is made of gauze and the world is so crazy that even the night wears a blindfold.
I like to dive into books. My eyebrows grasp the forehead of meaning and everything turns upside down. Meaning is always reversible. Metaphors are reversible. Reversibility is reversible. Every little word beats my lip until the components of meaning waddle around like gaudy explanations and write themselves into weather and empire.
Motion has its severity. The brush is goopy with blue. Even the leaves have turned into prophesies. They will fall. Each one will fall. And they know it. How do I know they know it? Knowledge can be hypothetical, yes. But is it still knowledge? Some things I know by touch, some by reason. Knowledge is what you know, said Gertrude Stein. I know that the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, or 100 degrees Celsius. I know that sunlight has no weight but that an equivalent mass for its energy can be roughly determined by the average radiation flux incident on the earth’s surface multiplied by one half of the area of the earth. The formula E=mC2 will thus yield an answer of 2.8 kilograms, albeit measured as seconds, not weight.
I know what time Café Vita opens at the bottom of the hill, and how much it will hurt if I punch the wall. I do not know under what circumstances I may want to punch the wall, but I do know that a feeling of something vague and ineffable can drive a poem to paradise, and if, under the right conditions, a palomino can be trained to embody the Noosphere of Vienna, and stream out of a human heart in a pink cloud of mutual aspirations, and whispered dreams and murmured endeavors, and prayers and pledges and bizarre confessions uttered in anesthetic bliss, then the collective conscience of Grindavik, Iceland will approach the sanguine magnitude of a pumpkin.
How do I know it? I just know it. I hear it in the wind. I see it in the glow of birch on a Rocky Mountain slope. I see it in the feathers of the crow. I hear it in the wisteria.  I taste it in my cinnamon roll. I smell it at the border. I feel it reaching out of my sternum.
Poor Texas. So much distance, so much grandeur, yet so little zucchini. You must garden what chords you can on a Martin N20. This is open to interpretation, of course, because there will always be those for whom the Fauve movement was just plain silly, and those for whom it was wildly exhilarating. See how calculus ruins everything? I am prodigal with resilience. Until I’m out of resilience. Glue is a purpose unto itself. It is its own sticky teleology. This is not a mere metaphysics that touches the heart. This is a call for welding. Think of it as a lamp mounted on the front of a copula. The sleeves are for emphasis. If you find yourself grimacing in the middle of this sentence, then the mailbox is correct, and setting the washer for an extra rinse cycle is the appropriate thing to do. Your grimace will be returned UPS.
The path adapts to the irregularities of the mountain. Amber provides a refuge for the eyes. My reticence to speak was squashed like meadow flowers under a raging medieval battle. The clang of metal, the abdication of kings. I lost all restraint and said things I later regretted but so quickly forgot that it didn’t matter until someone reminded me, and then I had to shoot that person. Think of this as a moody reality eating oats from the hand of propinquity. Fractions are sometimes plump. Fragments are wholly partial.
The siege cannot continue under these conditions. Something must be found to keep the salt and pepper shakers filled. There is a weird coherence to the napkins, and the propellers are flashing principles of motion at the grease.  
Death is a caboose, pathos for a tie. I wander the world ravenous for experience. Jingle your intuition. Sneeze on a rock. There is a hit song for every potato. Even the thumb has a parameter. I think of coffee as the engine that causes me to flex my muscles and experiment with history.
Packing a suitcase is an art. You’re in trouble if you fill it with lobsters. You will arrive at your destination and regret that you did not bring enough enthusiasm. Throw yourself into it anyway, whatever ‘it’ turns out to be. Sometimes ‘it’ is just a pronoun, but even then, it’s important to decorate the room with something sidereal and paradigmatic. Insects are good for medicine and also make lovely pets, though you may substitute a crustacean. Nudity is a custom served best with clothes.
All the totems during our journey strained to evade definition. We saw stains on a blanket metaphorical as a crackling fire and two episodes of Rawhide on TV. We saw minerals push the mountains into the sky and men and women go around in hats with quixotic plumes.  All in all, I would say the hiatus was a success, though our chauffeur turned mournful as a SCUBA diver, and that was uncalled for. Wearing a hot suit and oxygen tanks in the midst of heavy Manhattan traffic is bound to make anyone crabby.
Hinduism is optional. All those semi-nude sculptures making love are seamless as rhythm on a drum. There were peculiarities of aluminum in the shaded picnic area, but the plywood nipple urged conference and plunged us into the surf of conversation, visceral and fresh as a detour.
I just want to say, I relate completely to coffee. It helps me trickle into life and seek abstraction. I cannot describe a calliope without a little pulchritude, and a pulley or two. The world is coiled in destiny like a loaf of French bread. I think they call it a baguette. I can’t tell you how the leavening of evil is purged by singing, but the bread can speak for itself.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Control is an illusion. One day you are privy to rivulets of water trickling down a granite rock in the mountains and the sun is on your back and the world feels warm and perfect and the next day you’re in a hospital bed with an IV drip running into your wrist and a young woman taking your pulse. “The heart asks pleasure first,” said Emily, “and then, excuse from pain; and then, those little anodynes that deaden suffering.”
Let me tell you about those little anodynes. They’re fantastic. But you can’t get a prescription for them, and you can’t find them on a shelf at the drugstore.
It’s not they’re rare. The anodynes I have in mind are the things you hear, things people say, or write, things that you mentally digest, so that when the meaning comes clear, relief comes with it.
That is to say, life can be so sad at times. It is necessary to invent things. And sure, yes, absolutely, this is where rare comes in. It’s rare to invent something as liberating as an anodyne.
It comes from the Greek, anodyne: anodynos, “free from pain.”
Morphine, valium, xanax, heroin, ibuprofen, St. John’s Wort, skullcap and wild cherry bark are all forms of anodyne available as pharmaceuticals and herbal medications in the material world. Some are habit forming. Some are not. Some are effective, some are not. Morphine works. Skullcap does not.
The best anodynes are the ones that occur naturally in the spirit world. The world of the intellect. The world of dreams and affections, vowels and consonants. Whether there is actual division between the external world and world of idea and emotion is questionable. There does seem to be division of some sort, because when I choose to be warm on a cold day I tend to remain cold. Willpower alone does not make me warm. I must put on a coat. It might be argued that the willpower to put on a coat is an indirect action of my will upon the environment, but the environment itself remains unchanged. The breath coming out of my mouth is vapor. I am changed in my relation with the environment when I put on a coat, so that it is the coat that becomes the anodyne, and my willpower which is the expeditor of the coat as anodyne.
The coat is a material with a material effect on my relations with external reality. But the machinations to bring that event about are internal in origin, and are therefore the eyes of an inner vision looking into the subterranean chambers of my being.
My neighbors leaving for the day is an anodyne. Albeit an uncertain anodyne, because I don’t know for sure how long they’ll be gone. But for the duration that they are gone, I won’t hear their scrapes and crashes and thuds on the floor, or B sloshing around in the bathtub, adjusting the faucets, squeak slosh splatter splutter splash. I’ve never heard such an array of sounds emanate from a bathroom. I wasn’t aware that a combination of pipe and water could produce such a variety of sound. It is not pleasant. At first it’s a bit curious, then it becomes annoying and worrisome. Because it sounds as if water may come leaking through the ceiling at any minute. It sounds like our neighbor is giving a walrus a scrub bath. And the pipes groan and hiss and howl like they’re expressing all the maledictions of metal. Like they’re hydraulic odes of bathtub anguish. Pathologies of insatiable hygiene. Gantries for the stellar winds of madness.
The cat purring on my lap is an anodyne. Until he decides to get aggressively playful and bite me.
The sloshing of the dishwasher is pleasing, though I’m not sure it’s an anodyne, as there is always a measure of worry with mechanical things, worry that they may break down, flood, go berserk, eat your house, eat your children and pets, destroy the neighborhood, bring lawsuits.
Meditation: anodyne. Mushin: anodyne. Chocolate Chip Cookie: anodyne.
There are times when pain has value and it’s valuable to experience pain. Not sciatica, certainly, not that kind of dumb, meaningless and chronic pain, but the sting of rejection. Here, in order to soothe the psychological pain, you must inject yourself with the heroin of your own self-knowledge. Who you really are. Hand and eye. Seeing into nothingness.
I would go further, and say that pain may contain its own message of healing. Pain itself can be an anodyne. It is a wonderful paradox. A heightened awareness of a pain can alter our response to the pain and transmute the pain itself from a leaden weight to a golden illumination. This is putting a very positive spin on it, I know, but I can see where it might have some reality, and have, in fact, experienced such transmutation, at least a little. Enough to think it might be real. Enough to call pain an anodyne, and revel in the paradox.
But ultimately, I agree with Emily. Deadening pain is the best solution. Feeling its power not as a malevolence but as a genius, a prodigy awakening us to the brighter kerosene of our personal wick, requires tremendous personal commitment and hours of determined self-possession. An almost preternatural focus, which may cause us greater pain by the failure of our efforts and the chimera of the quest. It is noble, yes, but it may also be deluded, and there must come at some point a surrender, which bears its own essence of sweetness. And really, what is that feeling after the codeine or vicodin have diffused in our blood stream? It is the feeling of detachment, it is when that formal feeling comes, as Emily expresses it, “and the Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs.” The state to attain, the recommended psychological stance, is one of death in life.
Emily doesn’t mention morphine or laudanum. Morphine was first isolated in 1804 by Friedrich Sertürner and commercialized by Merck in 1827. The hypodermic needle was invented in 1857. Means were available at the time Emily composed her poetry to alleviate pain. But she is referring to another way to experience pain, in which the pain is respected, felt to its fullest, until it becomes a numbness akin to freezing, “First - chill -  then Stupor  -  then the letting go  - 
Nor does Emily refer to meditation or eastern philosophy. She presents pain just as it is, bald, unadorned, “an Element of Blank” with no future but itself, or ability to tell when it did not exist. She associates pain with eternity and spirituality and there is just a tint of Christian piety. She most broadly suggests that pain is synonymous with fullness of being.
And you can’t get around that central fact: pain is inevitable. Life hurts a lot more than death, said Morrison. “At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah, I guess it is a friend.”

Friday, July 5, 2013

How to Read a River

Think of a river. Any river. The Mississippi. The Missouri. The Snake.

The Zambezi. The Yukon. The Paraíba do Sul. The Tigris.

We are all rivers. We vary as rivers. Rivers energize our romance and float our regrets and caress our words.

The word is held in my mouth but will not stay. The word is massive and must continually meander.
And the word is river. The word is red stick of merry diversions. The word is romance understood as emotional candy. Life in a pyramid sewn to a pillow. Hieroglyphic grammar sprinting across the stars.
The trickle of silver in sunlight. Railroad eczema. That first incision in the skin.
Map of my heart performed by crayfish in violent disruption.
Despair is only natural. It accelerates our ideas of transcendence. Flowing is primarily a horizontal business. It’s important to absorb things, indulge yourself occasionally, have a few opinions about things. Success isn’t money or property or power success is the ability to hold on to someone or something and endure.
Ask me about percolation. Percolation is a tin shoe on a tin floor. Percolation is hot water poured over a cone-load of freshly ground coffee. Denim trousers drying on a barrel. The first few drops of rain to hit the dirt.
I feel a compilation coming on. I’m all wrapped up in language like a Christmas tree on a houseboat. An insect of a peculiar color walks to the edge of a roof and takes wing and disappears out over the water until a fish jumps up and takes it in his mouth.
Her mouth. Who knows what gender a fish is until you see it up close and look it in the eye and drink in its energy and see the sky in the jelly of its eyes looking right back at you?
The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend, said Henri Bergson. Who also said: To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.
Far off from these a slow and silent stream, sang Milton, Lethe the river of oblivion rolls.
Drifting down the river, looking up at the stars. Does the universe have edges? What is time? What is will? What is death?
A reality and a hole. A little give and take. The final surrender. The big compromise. What else can we discuss?
I believe in reflections. I believe in reflecting and I believe in the images that are reflected on wet surfaces. I believe there are reflections on the surface of the water even when the water is moving and there is a face down below looking up at you.
You don’t want to catch a fish full of hooks. You do want to accept what is given to you in a spirit of friendship. Your engine can burn up if the current is too strong, but the human mind is charming, and there are solutions to almost anything, except what keeps a river from tumbling over a rock or doing a weird dance on a bed of sand.
Open a book and study the life of ancient Egypt. Tell your muse to get busy.
My story is simple. I break the water with one arm while pushing the water down with the other arm and kicking my feet and carving a stick of wood when it’s over. If I feel like falling up I will fall up. Or not. It all depends on one’s perspective. For some people down is up and for others what is up is down. Up and down are relative. Write this down and stick it on your toolbox.
You can experience almost any kind of food by putting it in your mouth and chewing it but you can’t describe how it turns to muscle or enriches the blood unless you do the math and sample a strawberry on the Mississippi. There are immense subtleties in the fold of a napkin and the rills and dimples on the surface of a river have important things to say about the bottom. I can grasp the meaning of a fistful of words if I put them together a certain way. But as soon as I rearrange them they mean something else entirely different and that, that my friend is how to read a river.
Perception is a form of thought and the river does not need pushing.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tendencies to Exist

Physicists speak of “tendencies to exist.” Matter at the subatomic level does not exist with certainty at specific locations or definite times and in identifiable form, but rather show “tendencies to exist,” “tendencies to occur.” The tendencies are expressed as mathematical quantities which take the form of waves. These are abstract mathematical waves, not the kind of waves that slop over the edge of a boat and get you wet. They’re the kind of waves that give reality a certain feeling and flavor and happily elusive character. You get wet, but you get wet in a different manner of wetness. The water is wet. Blood is wet. Coffee is wet. Reality is dry. Dry and wet simultaneously. At particular points in space and at particular times you will see a creek glitter and frogs plop and trout jump and the mauve outlines of mountains in the distance.

Mountains with fireweed and shooting stars and fairy trumpets. Mountain harebell, blue columbine, wild geranium. Tendencies to root. Tendencies to pollinate. Tendencies to iridesce.
I speak of semantic blooming. Action bursts into a slammed shadow and gets reality rolling. I present scribbles so that boiling has a presence and bouillon is a soup. If my unclenched proverb glorifies the landscape the wall will vivify the cause behind cubes. I sweep the bistro to symbolically radiate a bashful talk. Speech is a painting that I need to bring outside like a nail or popcorn. Experience is cinnamon and the reason is a studio that opens to moss. Mallarmé arrives by bus.
The smell of an accordion serves to admonish the bitumen if a sound is discovered among its syllables to be raining. My strain is this paragraph I build with flaming rumination. I’m not kidding. The history is green and smells of chowder. I feel the process branching into rattan. Bone can support life if our confusion is bruised by too much logic and the semantic candy bursts into itself.
A life moves toward a confusion of snow. A feeling of electrons evokes Grand Forks and a vision of icy particles on the windshield turns the wipers into a court of appeals. Bob Dylan sings "Queen Jane Approximately" on the radio. Metaphor is stuff that fattens meaning by folding two separate realities into avoirdupois. Despite anything corduroy, the radio has two dials with a soft blue glow and a potter's wheel insouciance for Minotaurs and slackers. There is a labyrinth, but it's not in the radio. It's out there on the prairie glistening in the moonlight. Trails in the snow. Trails leading nowhere.
Peter and Gordon. Who remembers them? “A World Without Love.” “I Go to Pieces.” "Lady Godiva."
The ocean has hills and busy pronouns carpenter syllables out of wood and rope so that the sentence may sail and the canvas flap and make its grammar clap hands with the wind. Can you hear the curls and mirrors? You can argue the shadows if they rise. I see a gull that sees me. Infinity behind the taxi.
A mindful awareness of bone remedies the sticky cognition of struggle. Yawning hops along in a semantic seashore ornamented with mountains.
Shake my arm we need to walk into the understanding that our language provides by speculation. There are charms in wrestling. Incan jewelry shining in the Andean sun.
Every cause has a version every version has a tone. Wiggle and rub what shield you have. The sky above is not what you think it is. It anticipates our visit. The mind will plough it. The concertina will linger it. The particles will make it big and blue and polynomial.   
Angels and clouds. Winds and benedictions. Forces of density will rub my face and make it into a situation. A little henna combined with churning arranges the curled sounds of a fiddle into a song understood as an embassy of air to a world of mythology and bells.
Have I left anything out? Yes. I have forgotten the glow. The glow below. The glow above. The glow inside. The glow of glows. The glow of stars. The glow of morning. The glow of snow. The glow of grace. The glow of syllables shifting in space.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Pulse of Experience

I can see agitations of air rustle the plastic in the windows of the apartment in the house next door. Someone no doubt left a door open, so that it is full of cross currents, and dialogues of air, but it looks like the house has filled with a spirit that isn’t so much trying to get out as to spar with the soul of interiority. None of this is real, of course, but is a perception gone awry on a summer afternoon, filling in those spaces formerly occupied by logic and watercolor. Don’t ask what your perceptions can do for you, ask what you can do for your perceptions.
The woman that lived in the lower unit moved. We never got to know her, but liked her. She had a quiet manner. She was tall and heavyset and middle-aged and seemed to have a profession that paid a lot of money, which you would most certainly require for the high rents G charges, but lived humbly, graciously, serenely. G has been working in the apartment, burnishing the floor, painting, patching, redoing the moulding. It’s hard to imagine why so much work is needed. The woman was so quiet. It’s not like she had wild Holly Golightly parties every weekend.
We hope the new tenants, whoever they turn out to be, will also be quiet. I am not that hopeful. I tend to fear the worse. I run narratives through my mind that involve bratty kids, barking dogs and meth dealers. Loud professionals that like throwing big shindigs on the patio. This is my tendency, my curse. I try not to do it. I try to keep my mind empty, clean, void of silly, telescoping worries that tire my brain with the weight of their doom-laden postulates and limitless capacity for mayhem. I long for a state of mushin, the term Zen masters use to designate no-thought or no-mind. Mushin, a Japanese word, means “mind without mind,” and refers to a state in which the mind is not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. I think of the apartment next door in its empty state, free of furniture, bills, occupancy, the floors freshly burnished, the breezes blowing through willy-nilly. I imagine a mind, my mind, free of furniture, overstuffed chairs with broken springs, worries tossed through the window and carried away by truck to a landfill of vexations and torments.
It’s harder than I ever imagined to keep an open mind. Suspending judgment is difficult. I feel the hammer of an inner malaise. I am continually constructing patterns. The drive to make sense of things is irresistible. This in itself isn’t a bad thing, but my tendency is to veer toward the dark and calamitous. The compulsion to make forecasts based on barometers of gall and isobars of bile is obsessive. The eye swallows a landscape and a pattern stumbles out, a Danse Macabre or Garden of Earthly Delights.
Not always. The patterns are sometimes just that: patterns. Neutral as a logarithm. Impersonal as an improper fraction. The process, as Whitehead described it, is a composite of changeable entities considered in term of singular causality, about which categorical statements can be made. Each experience is a synthesizing process of feeling this wide environment and bringing its factors to a new head, self-enclosed and privately enjoyed. He borrows William James’s phrase, “drop of experience,” to describe this phenomenon as a cause with observable effects. He also uses the phrase “pulse of experience,” because experiencing is an active process. A capacity for the spontaneous introduction of something not present in the environment is part of the structure of every experience. Each pulse of experience occurs as an atom of process, integrative or confluent in shape. Added to this is an internal principle of self-creation. Our experience derives from a natural world of throbbing actualities, into which we put our individual paddle.
The central hypothesis of cognitive science is that thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures. But this isn’t what happens. What happens is the concentration of emotional energy upon some object or idea. A nude woman swims with a Beluga whale near the Arctic circle and I strain to feel what that feels like. But can’t. Not entirely. The main problem isn’t imagining myself in that situation, but in imagining the sensations coursing through my body. I find that it’s easier to do that if I empty my mind of other distractions. Ideas. Assumptions. Suppositions. And leave a bare, open space. A flock of grebes. A biology of attraction. A nude woman swimming with Beluga whales near the Arctic circle.
How did the Arctic get to be a circle? The present tense has an unshakable certitude. It is raining. It is not raining. It is everything motivated by a carefully maintained illusion. Wild toads pull me to Oregon. There is a chair that talks and a chair that flutters its wings. Once an openness of mind is achieved, everything wants to be in it. Everyone wants a starring role. Objects suddenly assume character. The dim interior light of an airplane at night becomes a theory of rain dripping from the mouth of a gargoyle.
I decide to go for a run. To walk is to swim in the mind, but to run is luminous. I go up McGraw. There is always that splotch of white paint on the sidewalk that resembles the head of an extraterrestrial. I get to 15th Avenue West and notice that the former brown bear and her three cubs have been replaced by a fully erect Grizzly bear, fierce and imposing, with claws of gold. There is one cub, which the Grizzly is ostensibly protecting as she claims her position on the rock.
I get to the Myrtle Edward trail and smell the unmistakable odor of the sound at low tide. The smell consists mainly of rot but also desire, turmoil, and the pull of the moon. There are two huge cruise ships moored at Pier 91, one of which is called Celebrity Solstice. I Google it up later and discover that it has over a thousand cabins and staterooms and ten specialty restaurants, basically a floating city.
A container ship glides into Elliott Bay. The water is quiet this afternoon, hardly a wave on it. It has a deep blue color and complements the blue of the sky with an occasional flash of white or squiggle of foam.
I run past Michael Heizer’s Adjacent, Against, Upon, a dramatization of words in four giant granite slabs.
Chrissie Hynde sings “Brass in Pocket” on an acoustic guitar in a crowded Manhattan bistro, but that’s going on in my head, and is not in external reality. It was in external reality, but now it’s a memory. It is the mental residue of an event that took place earlier in the day when I was watching YouTube.
I arrive at the Seattle Center’s International Fountain and see hundreds of children playing around the central hemisphere bristling with spigots. Water shoots out at different intensities at different intervals while music plays. Today a Middle Eastern song is playing with a male singer who sounds astonishingly like those calls to Mecca heard from the towers of Amman and Bagdad. It is as if the Kaaba of Mecca had been replaced by a bright silver hemisphere shooting arcs of water out of an array of nozzles, the white-robed worshippers of Mecca replaced by hundreds of screaming children.
When completed, this paragraph will weigh 55 pounds and will house an olive grove and have very little to do with anything else other than its own internal drive to exist, to be a paragraph, an organism of words, a translucent membrane teeming with words, living forms, thought provoking thought into infinite ramification, pretzels and zippers ironic as pharmaceuticals apologizing for all the pain of existence, ameliorating the ache of existence, ideas of paradise percolating through the sediment of its sentences as it continues to grow, like the blob, into a pulsing gelatinous entity of alcoholic predicates and lambent nouns.
Meanwhile, life goes on, ob-la-di ob-la-da, the pipes behind the kitchen sink are making loud clicking sounds and the refrigerator is leaking. I had to put a pan in the frig to collect all the water dripping beneath the freezer. I suspect it’s a frozen drainpipe. I suspect more than that. It’s as if the apartment somehow sensed that we were saving money and preparing for a trip overseas and didn’t want us to go. No, you have to stay here and take care of me, buy me a new refrigerator, rip out the kitchen wall and give me new pipes, new sink, new faucet, new ob-la-di ob-la-da.
Here comes a new paragraph: there is a string dangling from it. If you pull the string, it begins to grind into motion, little pulleys and gears creating a fern whose fronds are inundated with golden summer light. A towering cypress sags into meaning. Black tentacles surround the Wine Spirit boutique and pull it into the water. A giant squid gets drunk and listens to the Beatles. A Viking drakkar glides past the base of a high rocky cliff in dead silence. Elevators graze in a public square. A shattered perception turns moody and enters the paragraph, penetrating its syntax and becoming a large cumulus cloud on the verge of thunder. An eyeball drags itself along eating words. The play of light and shadows congeals into a meaning. A philosophy of fern. The dreams of a gluttonous king. The ghost of Brian Jones. And I can’t help but feel that if I pull the string again something new will form, something large, something sublime, something bold and approaching from the distance under a huge blue sky beautiful as an open mind.