What do words do when nobody reads them? Do they sleep? It takes more than a pair of eyes to awaken them. It takes a mind. A word is only a component in a proposition. A kite. A rag. A feather in which infinity smells of lavender. A sentence is the possibility of an existence. It’s a door. You can open the door if you’d like. It opens to a room in which a fire submits writs of mountain ash. It opens to an operating room in which a surgeon delicately grafts a vein to a blocked coronary artery. It opens to the Baltic ocean. It opens to a warehouse. Books are stacked on pallets. The words inside are dead and black. They aren’t my words. They aren’t your words. But they could be. They belong to whoever invests them with time and imagination. They come alive in the mind of whoever finds patterns and meanings in them. Colors and rhythms. Coils and drifting. Fingers and blood. Gazing and glowing.
I’m surprised I didn’t become a mechanic. Machinery fascinates me. The interrelation of parts, various pressures, the ratatouille of gears, the grumbling of explosion excites my interest. Nevertheless, my attention turns toward language. It’s there that I find the same interplay. The constituent parts that go into making a sentence maintain a similar rapport with the correlation of parts that cause a car to move or the blades of an eggbeater to whirl. But in the case of language, the product is an abstraction, a prodigy of the imagination and hypothetical thought. There are no limits to its expansion and voyage. The result has no empirical reality, though its creation can lead to empirical results. A car must begin as a sentence. A solar panel must begin as a sheen of twilight on the surface of a pond. A sentence thirsts for the form of a river.
The rivers of Washington are gravid with poetry. They murmur equations of water and rock among the forests of an ancient understanding. A waterfall declaims a narration the theme of which is obvious but whose semantics are enigmatic.
The room speaks to itself. And the TV tells me that the forests are returning to France. That certain over-the-counter medications will be available for sale at the grocery stores. That the satellite Gaia which was launched from Guyana on Thursday, December 19th, is now in orbit 1.5 kilometers from Earth and will make a three-dimensional image of our galaxy. That a blind man fell from the New York Metro platform onto the rails of the subway train and that his seeing-eye dog stayed close to his side until they were rescued by a group of Samaritans.
The experience of thought is probably the aboriginal source of our notion of spirituality itself, remarked Hannah Arendt in The Life of the Mind. Her use of the word ‘activity’ is interesting. I associate ‘activity’ with sports and construction, anything involving lifting and straining, gathering, adjusting, running, searching, digging, painting, carrying, throwing, filling, spreading. Bouncing a ball. Banging a drum. Pumping a pump. Activity implies anything deliberate and purposeful. Can reflection upon thought and the nature of thought be considered an activity? It begins with a search and awakens apparitions of noumenal locution. Thought begins with desire. I want something. But maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe what I want is something that I also want to avoid. A complication ensues. A conflict is born. This is where thought gets real meaty. This is where the blood goes. This is what they mean by “food for thought.” Something to chew. To ruminate. Ponder. Revolve. Turn over. Weigh. Stew about. Cogitate. Mull.
There is a feeling at the intersection between life and thought that is bright with catastrophe and the beyond. The truth of existence is being fully alive to the point of exhaustion. And then you have need of drugs and a soft mattress. Or at least TV.
I don’t know what to make of the two deep holes dug into the earth in the little greenbelt along the steps leading down to Lake Union and which are surrounded by yellow crime tape. Some employees of the park department were removing blackberry vines when they discovered human remains - bones - at what appeared to be an old camping site. The crime tape has surrounded the holes for over a year now, but I never see any detectives or police searching the site. There is no evidence that anyone has been trying to seek further evidence.
Skin moves over muscle, muscle over bones. The sounds of the human voice move through the sorcery of language. Everything splashes against a universe of roots and rocks. The mind moves through a junkyard of fabrication making a noise like dolls dancing on the hood of a Buick. Tomorrow is delivered by fog. Blue thoughts on a white background. Pendulums swinging in Asia. Chaos skating on a contradiction. Wheels turning. Old men coughing. Tambourines punctuating sentences overflowing with life. The grandeur of nouns chafing against the secrets of the universe. We dream of ladders. Invincible machines. Caverns full of art.
As for the beyond, it remains darkly and insistently what it is: beyond. Beyond reach. Beyond words. Truth and illusion. Cries and whispers. Elegies and bonfires. Shelley’s pyre, Rimbaud’s furthest wandering. It isn’t here, it isn’t there. Yet it’s intimate as a finger, opposable as a thumb. Corollary to the weird clarity at the bottom of a pond. Alien. Beyond words. Instinct. Chains. It is the place where boneyards dwell in willow, and forests sag with winter rains.