Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How Plywood Happens

The bulb flickers, disrupting bedroom shadows. There is nothing so elemental to the mind as light. If thoughts are shadows, what is the light of the mind? What lights the light? What is the source of the light? Is it a candle, or a sun? Is it a wick, or a constellation? Is it God, or a homunculus holding a kerosene lantern?
The orchard is a fiction. Forget the orchard. The orchard is insoluble. There is no excuse for the orchard. The orchard leans into itself causing fruit and exemplification.
I am open to anything except exemplification.
In fact, here comes an example now. There is nothing I can do to stop it. It has a certain aplomb, a singular weave, an unparalleled warp in the fabric of being that demands expression in abstract terms. It wants existence as a sample of what might be rather than what is. This is what gives it power. Pea soup. Plain and simple. Not a bowl, but a sip. Not a spoon, but a zone. Let us give it thought, and say it is an example of thought, and that if it is thought, as we might think a thought, or as we might think a sample of thought if we did not want to commit to a thought in its fullness, in its entirety, which would be broad and expansive in scope, maybe white like the snow of the Himalayas, or swirls of purple and gray like the rain of Cameroun.
Or not. Let me describe it: it’s brown like Rembrandt and smells of opium. It could be an example of differential calculus. It could also be an innkeeper. Examples of things are hydraulic and creamy. 
Examples are jars of abstract glass that spill their specimens in ovals and trapezoids.  They may be described as morsels of property which, properly labeled, offer a glimpse of icing on the general idea of paper. Paper is where I like to put things. Things like words and paradigms. When I think of a thing I like to find a sample of it and write it down so that it sticks to the paper in ink and serves not only as a mode of transport, but of symbolization, a rattling of beads, a curl of incense, a glass vial and a sample of sand. The sand is from a nearby beach and exemplifies beach, or shore, if you prefer shore, it shall be a shore, a combined odor of rot and salt, the splatter and heave of life, of things that swim, things that fly, a salvo of feathers, gulls mainly, which have just taken to wing, and are making a lot of ruckus.
I think I may have used a little too much butter this morning. It happens. Butter happens. Doctrine happens. Resource happens. Plywood happens.
Plywood is an example of butter. It is butter that has become wood, and then clenched its constructions using nails and verbs.
Resources are available for the construction of crickets. Anything else that may occur within the radius of this paragraph must be considered hysterical and immense. Thank you for your cooperation. This paragraph is hitched to a large old horse named Achilles. Let it go its way. It’s time now to enter a fresh new domain.
Can you smell it?
Precisely. It is the smell of existence.
This is how plywood happens: it begins as an odor then scratches itself with a metaphor and inserts itself in an inference inflamed with chaos.
And cellophane. Let’s not forget that.
The issue is one of transparency. Some things are transparent and some things are not. The interchangeability of opacity and transparency in artistic works illustrate the sway of shadows such as they might exist in a banana or gun. Coffee, to use another example, is best when it’s been freshly roasted. Mathematical expressions are often shown to be short and thick when in fact the sum is in the box marked mushrooms. Who would’ve guessed that spring is a subcontinent of hockey? The aurora is loveliest when the sparrows percolate from the ground and the animals vanish into the forest. We see a woman mount a ladder and dive. Her arms spread against the sun. Her body glides into the depths after penetrating the water.
Artifice is always assumed to be stiff and pretentious but sometimes it’s runny and stucco.
A woman surfaces, gasping for air.
The very alphabet is an amalgam. What sounds might be focused into the birth of a new feeling? Who made the first sound that meant me, or sunlight, or heaven? The idea of heaven must come from our dreams. We become unconscious and travel elsewhere. We do this every night. And in the morning the feelings from yesterday reemerge in languor, expanded or sharp, fractious amid shards of dream.
Plywood’s laminated structure distributes loads over a larger area than other building material, reducing tensile stress and surrounding the dream state with the sound of passing cars.
Therefore be glad. Let our gaze call forth the travel of tenpins, the gargoyles of Saint Jacques and the splash of rain on midnight streets. Memory is a form of exhumation. My youth is buried somewhere in my age. A certain kind of music will awaken it. I can feel better versions of myself echoing among my bones. Reality is mostly breath. Everything else is either a form of fish, or crucifix.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: all bath towels are bilateral, it feels good to be clean (however there is nothing wrong with being dirty if the dirt is prehistoric and topical), and the giant sequoia comes from a tiny seed, which is marvelous and strange.
Like plywood.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Large and Swollen and Blue

The arabesques of a fugue scurry before the windows of my eyes embodying the grace of persuasion sparkling in a blood stream. Basically, a middle-aged woman standing in the rain in a leopard-skin bathrobe waiting for her dog to take a shit.
Because, you know, who doesn’t have a bloodstream? Blood pertains to everyone. It is our common denominator. More so than TV, or what is on TV, tits and dragons. 
I get something going in my brain, something like blood, a bloodstream, and I can’t stop it, it becomes a thing. A phenomenon. An entity that enters my consciousness and spins around until I give it more thought, which is what it wants, it wants thought, or is the blood itself the thought and I am the carrier of the thought, carrying the thought here, to this sentence, where it can slosh back and forth?
Bloody hell, as they say. Bloody this and bloody that.
If muscle is the horse blood is the spur. If blood is the spur bone is the ache. The concept of aching is important here. It swims in affiliation. It elevates grace.
I ache to play the glockenspiel. It is not enough to say the word. I do not own a glockenspiel. I do not know how to play a glockenspiel. And yet there exists a reality in which I might own and play a glockenspiel. So that by saying that I ache to play a glockenspiel I raise my antenna to the possibilities of playing a glockenspiel in order that they may be grasped as frequencies, which they most certainly are, waves and oscillations, vectors and fields, tuned keys and mallets, and understood to be hovering in the air in a hectic spectacle of play and plausibility.
There now, I said it, play and plausibility. I’ve been aching to say that all day.
I invoke a glockenspiel. I stand in the moleskin of a new reckoning. I knot the air with words. I hit slabs of shiny metal. I make music. I rehearse for a play that has not yet been written. A play in which a man and a glockenspiel are together in a room for the first time. And there is no regret. And there is no compulsion. The smell of a gargoyle turns vermilion and the larynx dilates to confess its diversions.
I sense the twirl of concern, the thrust of opinion. Concern is soft and green. Opinion is barbed and reckless. Concern is marinated, opinion is tossed. Opinion floats the myrrh of the market. The barter of suet, the murmur of silks. The souk is full of opinion. The man in the back sitting alone in the dark is full of concern.
If I find spots rattling with necessities of angelic fur, I murmur and sway in my iron steam. This is the result of propitiation, or hammers pounding the nails of persuasion.
The personality of a sound whispers its length to the drift of a towel. A word takes its time to form in the mouth and then crawls out of a paragraph triggering curvature and background.
The word is ‘towel.’ The meaning is wrapped inside. It will make appeal to the warmth of your blood in a drone of fiber and shape. The skin receives the world on its surface. The world penetrates the skin in a reverie of nerve and constellation. Water drips to the floor. Reticence is discarded for a swirl of embroidery, the grasp of a hand, the pulse of a wrist.
And if the letters fall in a certain way, the frequencies stir, the sounds are bright lucidities of sensory wave, crested in white and rolling, rolling great distances, large and swollen and blue.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Rags of Fever

The rags of fever are thirsty for absorption. Mania defines the moment. Rags define the coast. Rags of rock. The rage of the sea. Rags of water. Rags of foam. An image that can slosh around in the mind like water in a bucket. Like the twang of a guitar during the rag of a moment. An e minor oscillating through a room. An e minor in rags. Like Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor. Like Niccolò Paganini’s Caprice No. 3.
Stickiness eludes me. What makes a thing sticky? A thing is sticky when it sticks. A thing is metal when it’s literal. No metal is metaphorical. Except gold. Gold is always metaphorical. That’s what makes it gold.
Gold is imperial. Silver is empirical.
Gold has a reach beyond the temporal. The halos of Christ, Mary, and the Christian saints are often gold. There is the golden ratio and the golden rule. Gold is the shine of the divine in the cold creeks of the Yukon. Gold is the face of Tutankhamun staring out of eternity.
Silver is the metal of propriety. It belongs on the dining table. It shines like gold, and is regal like gold, but is humbler than gold, less grandiose than gold. It’s worldly. It’s social. It’s convivial and polished.
Then there’s platinum. Platinum is a rare and noble metal. It deserves some mention. It doesn’t ring in the mouth like gold, doesn’t dazzle the eyes like silver, but it’s fun to say, pleasant to say platinum, amiable to mutter platinum, plausible to put forth platinum. As, for instance, “our album went platinum.” Platinum is to silver what silver is to gold: a humbler version of luxury. Not really luxury at all. Who thinks of luxury when platinum is mentioned? Platinum is enduring. Platinum is the enduring metal, the perennial metal, the stubborn metal, the metal of perpetuity, the metal of  everlasting luster.
The Rolling Stones have 36 platinum albums. Out of Our Heads went platinum and so did Aftermath and Exile on Main Street.
Goats Head Soup: platinum.
It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll: platinum.
Sticky Fingers: platinum.
The word platinum comes from Spanish platina, diminutive of plata, neaning silver. The Spaniards thought platinum was an inferior form of silver.
The communion of spheres is a resistance to the rigidity inherent in order. The spheres are silver and are in continual motion. This makes everything tidepools and arms.
Disorder is a form of order that has gone all iron and war.
The phenomenon that is crumpling is a quality inherent in grocery bags and cardboard boxes. I won’t mention these except in passing. Consider them passed.
And crumpled.
I feel myself increasingly chilled by the frosts of the zeitgeist. What is desired, what is most strongly needed right now, is an art that generates itself out of the yolk of the moment. Out of the nucleus of sensations and thoughts that surround an arch of sandstone, a Mongolian yak, the smell of soup in a yurt, the heft of a sack of potatoes, a knowledge dropped on the mind like moonlight.
Like the integrity of a rag.
The lack of any immanent necessity for being produced makes art a rag. A shirt once worn and now soaked in paint and turpentine.
Yet the impulse to make art continues. It can’t be stopped. It’s as vital as a pulse. As natural as a pulse. The rag is stiff and frozen. But it smells of sacrifice.  

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Twenty-one days after dislocating my shoulder it still hurts. It heals very slowly. My body is old. My cells are probably wondering why they are being coaxed to repair damaged membrane. I'm too old to hunt for mastodon. It was my mission, as it is with all living things, to reproduce offspring. I didn't do that. I chose to make art instead. Whether this was of service to the future of humanity that is for others to say, if they're still around. Things appear a little dicey. And my shoulder still hurts.
I was carrying a new laptop into the bedroom when Athena, our cat, cannonballed between my legs, causing me to lose my balance and fall to the floor. I concentrated my attention on protecting the laptop and preventing it from dropping from my hand but did so at the peril of my right arm for which I had not prepared to catch my fall. I came down hard on it and felt the acromion (the bony tip of the scapula) separate from the clavicle. I could not move my arm. It had become a tree limb. The pain was excruciating. I went to the top of the bookshelf to get a spiral notebook in which the phone number to Roberta’s bakery could be found. I thumbed through it as rapidly as I could, called Roberta, and within minutes she came home and drove me to the emergency room. Meanwhile, I’d managed to maneuver the arm back into place. We filled out a brief form and waited in the lobby of the emergency room. The pain had subsided considerably but was still a shrill presence in my shoulder. A large man complained of bronchitis. He coughed continually. The receptionist, a middle-aged woman with long dark hair, asked if he could cover his mouth when he coughed. Indignant, he went outside.
X-rays were made and the doctor, an amiable, energetic man a few years younger than me, examined the X-rays and did not see anything fractured or damaged but did notice some arthritis. That made sense. My shoulder frequently hurts when I sit at the desktop computer moving a mouse around. I was given a sling made of some sort of silky material with a number of belts and fasteners and a pouch for my arm. I have to take it off to shower and eat dinner and we have a difficult time figuring out how to get it back on. It’s a complicated device. When I have it on, I’m forced to do everything with my left arm, including signing things like credit card slips, which come out very badly. My name is barely recognizable.
Shampooing my hair is difficult. I can’t lift my right arm, even without the sling. It’s amazing how awkward my left hand is. What has it been doing all my life, just hanging at my side?
Well, yeah, pretty much.
It’s like an understudy who never really expected to take over a part due to an emergency. None of the lines or choreography have been properly learned. Everything feels clumsy and dumb.
My right arm really likes being in a sling doing nothing while my left arm does all the work,  handling cutlery, brushing my teeth, taking the garbage out, scooping the litter box, moving furniture, turning the radio on and off, opening cupboards and doors, wiping the table, brushing my hair.
My left arm is thinking of starting a union. It is, after all, my left arm, not my right arm, which has strong convictions and delusions of grandeur. My left arm believes in collective bargaining, free healthcare and Dunkin’ Donuts. My right arm believes in free market capitalism, private property, & the right to bear arms. I give both arms a big hand.
My left arm is getting a little better at doing things. It sparkles with radius. It wants to increase its reach. I try teaching it how to bioluminesce like an octopus and frighten people. My right arm is getting jealous but prefers lying in the hammock that is my sling. My left arm is happy doing things. But it is still clumsy. I promise it a future of exoticism when my right arm returns to full activity. I will let it be a bayou, an arm of water that goes astray and languishes in cypress gloom, a world of orchids and Cajun jumbo. And really, the two arms work out pretty well together when I need to squeeze something like an accordion or an orthopedist. Chop wood. Carry water. Dance on a keyboard. Two arms, up in arms, armed with bravado and fingers.

Monday, January 2, 2017


There are shadows embedded in the embryo of a meaning. This is how it begins, how thinking begins. There is an energy in the head demanding expression. If you take a large swig of whiskey and let it slide into the blood it may happen. Expression may happen. It may not be a good expression, but expression of some sort will take place. It may be a wink, a laugh, a punch in the face, or an impassioned, impromptu speech about epilepsy.
Everything has a tendency to expand, to extend, to ramify.
It’s called cytokinesis: the physical process of cell division. The spindle apparatus spindles out chromatids. Some cells become neurons and some cells become kingdoms.
Put a blot on a piece of paper and I guarantee the mind will make something of it. The mind craves meaning. And the field expands.
Whiskey is unpredictable. I used to drink it a lot but now I don’t drink it at all. That doesn’t mean that I wearied of being drunk and falling off bar stools and so switched to a regime of less volatile beverages such as ginger ale or milk in order to become staid and dependable. Yuk. No way. It doesn’t even mean I’m sober. It means that I made a conscious decision to be conscious, especially when operating heavy machinery (which I never actually do) or do something ticklish, like shave. If I cut myself I will bleed. Blood is real. The cuts, when they occur, are rarely very serious. Yet the blood does appear. We are, essentially, sacks of blood supported by a framework of bone. You want to pay attention to that. Avoid war. Avoid guns and knives. And when you shave, be careful.
There is a chain of cause and effect. First there is an intention to shave, which is routine and somber, a serious moment, which is due to my face being in a mirror looking back at me, which is always a little disconcerting, then (as the day before yesterday) there is suddenly a sting, which is a cut, which is a form of incision, which is due to a slip of the razor, which is due to inattention, which is due to a wandering mind, which is due to the ebb and flow of consciousness, which is a feeling that is oceanic and universal, which is a light I don’t pretend to understand, which is understandable.
I might be lost in a reflection of power, the mysteries and vagaries of power, of charisma, of dictators and demagogues, of prophets and poets and actors and priests.
I think a lot about things. Who doesn’t? At some stage of my early existence I was a creature like a salamander, a frog or a muskrat. Look at me now, an old man approaching 70, a literary guy preoccupied with strategies on how to be a more inventive person when I’m playing with the cat, which requires a spirit of spontaneity, a dynamic of feathers and string.
The cat is most responsive when I’m unpredictable. When I create the illusion of unpredictability. The cat really gets into it then. We’re in a state of nature. Primal, primitive, and fast.
Predictability, like death and taxes, implies a static universe cluttered with cause and effect. This won’t wash. Nature, concluded Heraclitus, is change. “We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.”
Revolutions are unpredictable. Time is unpredictable. Markets are unpredictable. Storms are unpredictable. Fires are unpredictable. Earthquakes are unpredictable.
Colorado winters? Unpredictable. Grizzlies? Unpredictable. Great ideas? Unpredictable.
Language is unpredictable. If words are distilled and aged in a cask of charred white oak, they will assume the fragrance of spirits and violate the laws of sense and courtesy. They will aurora in folios of carp. They will make a language that dollies. Delays. Dillydallies in daisies, disperses in purses.
Watch as it tilts into infringement.
If I moisten my elbow in the parlor it is to invoke the crows of time and space. Cohesion does not occur naturally. The skin of a balloon produces sparks when it’s rubbed. It will stick to the ceiling. It will house the dialogue of characters. It will ramify into amber. It will liberate the bridegroom. It will liberate the bride. It will be a bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even. It will be glass. It will be cracked. It will be on display.
Nothingness will not wrinkle. You can leave it in the dryer for as long as you want. But should you choose a hiatus whose prospects are clasped by obscure Russian dialects, then work becomes a glorious distraction and should serve to buoy whatever phenomenon penetrates the mass of this unearthed galleon, this structure of canvas and pulley, this semaphore of shadow and spark.
Mimicry is a coin that we pay to the gods of combination. There is nothing in life with which I do not argue, do not shake to hear if it rattles, do not open with a knife, do not batter with words until something gives, something slips through that hasn’t yet been visible, hadn’t yet breathed in the open air.
Who doesn’t like garlic?
Conversation will often reveal the most amazing things. Conversation has fluency, a quality that writing often lacks. Writing, however, offers self-effacement, an oceanic largeness in which the agonies of a conflicted identity give way to the larger elements of the deep.
Consider the banana. It has an amiable smell and taste, peels with ease and celerity, and helps in our nourishment and understanding of the world. But it is not deep. The banana is more of an actuality than a concept and for that reason needs to be appreciated as a steward of health and digestion rather than as a sophist of fructification. A philosophy may be found there but since the banana is not an argumentative fruit like the artichoke or apple, the philosophy will lack the clairvoyance of grapes. Nevertheless, the banana is a marvel of clarity. Peel it, eat it, but do not lean on it. It will nourish the body but not support it. For that, you will need oak and nails. You will need a hammer. You will need a saw. You will need planning and concrete.
Begin with an embryo and end with a feather in amber. Language is slippery when it enters the world. The essential thing is the clay, not the shape of the clay. Clay may be shaped into anything. But the origins of clay are as elusive as the springs and tributaries that feed the river that moistens the clay. A vowel without a consonant is just a vowel, a naked sound. But a vowel enclosed within a sack of consonants will develop a spine and walk.