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.