Sunday, May 19, 2019

Inside Out

We all have an inside and an outside. Or so it seems. It feels like that. Out there is the world. Inside me are private thoughts and feelings. Feelings and thoughts that seem unique to me. Maybe not all of them. But a lot of them. My response to the world feels singular. It gives me a feeling of separateness. But I’m not. Nobody is. How could you be?
The world travels through us. As food. As water. As the air we breathe.
When we breathe, the air we inhale travels into the bronchial tubes to smaller air passages called bronchioles to the alveoli, tiny balloon-like air sacs, to red blood cells in the capillaries where oxygen is extracted from the general air and distributed throughout the body. The oxygen helps liberate biochemical energy from food and converts it to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an organic chemical which provides energy for driving the numerous processes that give and maintain life. We’re intimately connected to the world. We are the world. We’re no more separated from the world than the hair on our head or the sensations in our skin or the fluids filtering through our kidneys and liver.
Our feeling of being unique and separate individuals is illusory. But a compelling one. Our thoughts, opinions, ideas, perceptions, feelings and dreams are private. We can share them if we so choose or we can keep them to ourselves. We can let them drift through our minds like clouds or haunt us like ghosts or lick our brains like Iggy Pop.
What are thoughts exactly? Do they have a reality? Are they edible like beans or tangible like spars? Are they heavy like clubs or brittle like stems? Do they produce flowers? Do they expand like balloons? Do they hold objects like trays?
No. They’re not real. They’re waves. Impulses. Electro-chemical signals. What gives a thought the feeling of being real is the attention we give it, the energy that we feed it, the language we use to create it. A thought can burden us and a thought can empower us. A thought can inspire a religion, invent a new mode of travel, or weave a mathematical construction postulating the origin of the universe. It can lead us to insights about a potential romantic partner or tumble around in our heads like a pair of socks in a dryer doing nothing at all except distract us from the purity of a moment. They create as many problems as they solve. They’re a weather of the mind. Epiphanies are lightning. Depressions are troughs. Intuitions are chinooks.
Thoughts may not have anything like a true reality but they do affect behavior and behavior can have real consequences.
For example: in the afternoon I run down a residential street lined with oak and cherry trees. The houses are fairly large, Queen Anne-style residences with fine brick-work and broad porches and dormers and crisply painted woodwork. The people that live in these homes are quite wealthy. This is Seattle. A single individual needs an income of approximately 72,092 dollars per year to live somewhat comfortably. The people on this street – unless they’ve been living here for 40 or 50 years when homes were more affordable – are quite wealthy. Bill Gates wealthy, no. But wealthy enough not to worry about doctor bills or car repairs. Comfortable enough to have a couple of kids and afford their education.
I come upon a man and his two boys playing basketball in the street. This is a relatively busy street. One or two cars can go by within the space of a minute. This is common. There is no sidewalk for much of the way and the road must be shared with all sorts and models of cars and trucks and vans. The man has set up a portable basketball hoop – blocking entry to a little path that leads from the street to a length of welcome sidewalk - and painted – that’s right: painted – a free-throw semi-circle into the middle of the street.
I find it difficult to ignore this encroachment on public space. “That can’t be legal,” I shout. “It’s not,” the man responds. But he’s decided to do this because people drive too fast on the street. If he and his two boys come out and play basketball in the middle of the street, he’s forcing them to slow down and pay attention to their driving instead of texting or watching videos on their phones. I agree that this is a common problem. But this isn’t the way to avert drivers from doing it. Out of frustration with the absurdity of what this man is doing, I submit my prerogative to call the police. This startles him.
“That’s aggressive,” he says.
His answer confuses me. Aggressive? How can calling the police to settle a dispute over the use of a street be aggressive?
The answer that leaps most readily to mind is “aggressive? How is that aggressive? If I -was going to be aggressive I’d punch you in the face.”
But instead I provide a more prudent answer: “if I was going to be aggressive I’d be shouting invectives.”
I don’t like my answer. It’s weak. It occurs to me hours later (as always maddeningly happens the best response occurs when it’s too late, which is why they French invented a perfect term for it: l’esprit de l’escalier) that what I could’ve said is: “aggressive? You call that aggressive? And painting a basketball court in the middle of a busy residential street isn’t?”
Nothing is resolved. Just an opportunity to blow off some hot steam in the face of a wealthy, entitled douche bag.
And no, I don’t care for rich people. They’re generally true to their stereotypes: selfish, arrogant, entitled, narcissistic, avaricious, self-centered and toxic.
A number of things may be gleaned from this. One, I’m not a Buddhist. I’m far too judgmental for that. Two, I’m not rich. If I was, I’d have significantly fewer worries and stand a far better chance of being a well-balanced, calm, rational, forgiving nature and going around smiling in the face of catastrophe with the generous, enlightened spirit of Thich Nath Hanh. Three, my antagonism toward the social environment of places like Seattle and San Francisco steeped in techno-utopian, libertarian smugness, is acute. Rage is a common component of my emotional life.
Sure, I’d like to be broader in my outlook. I’m not proud of my hostilities. They get in the way of enlightenment, whatever enlightenment is.
I’m assuming enlightenment is that ultimate, unswerving awareness of being one with the universe, including the rich. Seeing the good that is in Donald Trump. The potential for kindness in Mitch McConnell. The benevolence that leaked out of Hitler and found expression in his love of animals.
But I’m getting sidetracked as always by my obsessions with evil. The older I get the more I wonder about the nature of evil. Nietzsche’s masterful philosophical inquiry in Beyond Good and Evil does more to confuse me than provide any answers.
At least when I write I get an opportunity to get that stuff moiling and roiling and boiling in the private sphere of my skull out into the open where I can get a better look at it and wonder how many other people share these feelings. Which goes a long way toward mitigating it.
Lovely word, mitigate. From Latin mitigatus, past participle of mitigare, “soften, make tender, ripen, mellow, tame.” It’s a good feeling when it happens, when the hardwood pew of a principled ideological position softens into the cushy generosity of an armchair meditation.
“We are all the leaves of one tree,” remarks Thich Nhat Hanh. “We are the waves of one sea.” How do I get those words into my blood? I appreciate these words cognitively, but how do I embrace them so deeply that they’re more than words or thoughts?
Because in Seattle, a lot of leaves on that theoretical tree are rotting on the ground while a few at the top are getting abundant sunlight. And a lot of waves in that sea are choked with plastic while others are lapping the private shores of billionaires.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Self-Portrait In A Convex Pizza

The wedge of noise that I rattle makes everything sidereal. A gray temerity. An anonymous pagan. Here it all is: sandwiches, textures, wheels.
An impenetrable smack causes time to point. We strain to milk the ceremony of words smeared on the reverse side of a church.
What is time? Bewilderment. Closets. Symbols. Why does it move forward, never backward? Because it’s held in the hands like a bar of soap.
I am words. We are all words. Everything is words. I am words in pizza. I am pizza. We are all pizza. Pizza is the Tunisia of Geneva. Lolita’s amnesia is due to anesthesia, not pizza. The pizza was an arena of synesthesia due to the freesia in the magnesia. The pepperoni was baloney. “I am legend,” said Melissa, who was full of macaroni.
This time it changes the cynosure to a lyric. Until the thin science of subtleties finds its razor we will continue to sweep the floor. I’ll go get the horses. It’s time we got out of here. I smell the law at every turn.
The problem of looking backwards, towards causes, to see if we have done well is that it only confirms the ideas and concepts we had before. This only serves to check boxes but we learn nothing new. If, on the contrary, we invest in movement, things are always new. But who will formulate this goal?
I remember nothing of the path. The armadillos were a minor help. I noticed that I had claws and wings. Was this a joke? Or a new mode of life? The cat sat at my side. Her pupils were dilated. Completely black. I heard the clatter of metal as dawn crossed the mountains. That's when I started thinking about rags. Carrots. Mistletoe. Dreams of an after-life. Christmas in Budapest. Hegel’s aesthetics. The mesas of New Mexico.
I remember caves. Rapids. The sound of water roaring through subterranean chambers.
I remember membranes and amber, exasperations produced by gluttony. I know how to engage the world. What I haven’t yet learned is how to disengage with the world. I know what it is to stand in a garden while the ganglions of one’s brain hoist an idea of free will into cognition. Is there such a thing? Is it possible to powder the face and put on a wig and attend the ball without being recognized? Will anyone notice the look of Cubism on my face?
Certain representative planets offer some good breakfast deals. There’s that to consider, plus clouds and liner notes. Who does those anymore?
I like to wear necklaces of faucets. Old kitchen faucets. It goes good with my wallpaper. Go ahead. Bathe in the flow of events. Do what I do: hire a painter to defend what happens when the wrinkles deepen and the load gets heavier and threading a needle becomes the focus one’s existence. If you can sit still long enough, the result will give you power. The authority to occur at any time, postmarked and naked in the morning light. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Intramural Outlaw Cookies

I’m guessing a dashboard cohesion. Let me introduce you to a nuclear peacock. Unlucky fecund checkers played by portico toys. The masseuse jumps through a geometry book. Fireside figurines obviating typewriter darts. Purple jets for a portable marathon wink. It takes three days to collect a sequence. Lonesome road on which an elf finds a radio whacking a furry garage in a song about macaroons. This is naturally phrased as a form of flimflam, which is always hasty to swing on an insinuation.
Horny smut infusing a delirium of wardrobe refrigeration. Titanic life of a bohemian vaudeville. It could happen to rawhide. Please muster a conduit and tell me what the introspection can confiscate. The brain moved sideways like a crab all the way to the side of the head and sat in a puddle of words throwing dishes at a thesaurus. A porthole sucrose invented itself in butter. The photography had a fierce climate in its knobby linen. We used it to care about a diagonal. Hornets of the underworld wielding gumdrop vaginas.
The moisture of an alibi stumbles into evaporation revealing wainscot and caricature. I taste the flame of a vision. The sweater swoons in its knitting blinking like a taillight on the back of a vicissitude. The weight of a door hides from the street. The moon is old and extracurricular. I feel leavened, as if about to clamber aboard a mountain and ride it into hysterics, places where the rock kisses the sky and the sky reclines in its sessions of sweet silent thought, dropping rain on the robots and making the mulct succeed at spring.
Paregoric garden for a misanthropic afternoon. The python is thick with punctuation. Semicolons hiss with courtly neuralgia. The montage reciprocates with a cacophony of luxurious wax. All the mirrors come together in a rebellion and vomit reflections on the floor of a greasy spoon. Today’s special is a halibut garnished with cowboys. History is a nightmare from which we’re all trying to awaken. The seismograph sponsors an inquisitive tentacle. It wraps itself around a coatrack, impregnating the day with a lisping vulnerability. I like the seats by the window. I can hear myself think. It sounds like the rustle of taffeta in a Texas brothel.
Intramural outlaw cookies overrule the mantel vortex. Pleasantries are always genealogical. I don't know why. Recognition is squalid. I prefer to be crinkled. There is wisdom in soup. We must sometimes look elsewhere to find the proper retort. It's not the weight of the insult that counts, it's the radioactivity of the zeal. Witchcraft is for babies.
The peanut is a perfect star. But the star is not a peanut. The star is a zip code. Aristotle states that happiness is the most desirable of all things. I can’t argue with that. The peanut is a perfect zip code.
A female movie star stumbles around backstage at a TV quiz show wearing nothing but a search warrant. Pencils subsist on graphite, thereby proving the existence of palmistry. Fingers are tabloids teetering on bobsleds. I see no reason not to clean the senses with a Hollywood premier. The longitude of an irritation is ransomed by a ginger snap, while a latitude requires chocolate. I also have a theory about sagebrush, but I’m saving that for a Beatles concert. I live in the past. The rent is cheaper and the landlord is dead.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Staples Steeples And Shabby Proposals

R and I went to Staples to have a guy check out my printer. It was on the fritz. It would either fail to set up because – as the machine alerted me in the little menu box – the ink cartridges were empty, or there was a seemingly non-existent paper jam. I very rarely print anything anymore. I think the ink had just evaporated. I’d gone to Staples earlier following a dinner at Chinook’s overlooking the docks and fishing boats at Fisherman’s Terminal. We had hamburgers instead of our usual fish and chips, which are now $23.00. Nineteen dollars on Monday. But the portions have been getting smaller. I spent thirty bucks on a new black ink cartridge and inserted it into the machine. No go. I did manage to get it to run briefly, but the printing was bad; every other line was faded. So I had a dilemma: do I spend another thirty or forty dollars on color ink cartridges and see if the machine still works or just give up and take it to a shop that does recycling?
I called Staples and spoke with a young man who said he’d take a look at it for no charge, but they don’t do repairs on printers. So I brought it in on an unusually hot day in May and the young man took a look. He grabbed a packet of color cartridges off the shelf and inserted them and printed the cover of a brochure. It looked pretty good. A few sentences had lines running through them. He inserted some device that cleaned the machine and ran it again and the print job came out looking even better. The colors were vibrant and the text was legible. So I spent another forty bucks on the color cartridges and brought it home and printed out some documents. There were flaws at first but eventually everything printed fine.
The young man remarked that the machine was pretty old and may not have much life left in it. The machine was nine years old. We live in a such a funny world now. When things get to be five or six or seven years old and they cease working we don’t find that strange. Nor does anyone look to have them repaired. We just toss them into the landfill, or bring it to a recycling center if there’s one available. The waste is colossal. Is this capitalism? Is this what capitalism wants? Stupid question. No need to ask. Yes, of course this is what capitalism wants. Built-in obsolescence so that people are forced to spend more and more money and equipment that’s not designed to last more than a few years. It sucks. No one values much of anything anymore.
Saturday. 11:01 a.m. I look to see what’s going on with Notre Dame cathedral and discover the hideous plans for replacing the roof and spire that were destroyed in the fire of April 15th, 2019. One, from designer Mathieu Lehanneur, would be a “gleaming, 300-foot flame, made of carbon fiber and covered in gold leaf, that would be a permanent reminder of the tragedy.”
Yes, and a permanent reminder of how crass, vulgar, and imbecilic our age has become.
Another ridiculous proposal, from Alex Nerovnya, a lecturer at the Moscow Architectural Institute, suggested “a roof resembling a diamond around a rebuilt Gothic spire.” It looks more like a greenhouse, but at least the spire more closely resembles the graceful lines and Gothic embellishments of the original spire designed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc which began construction in 1845 and was completed in 1865. It takes time to do a good job. Cathedrals evolve slowly. There’s a reason for that. They embody the more transcendent values of a culture and are consequently liberated from the usual pressures of finance. The emphasis is on beauty, not money. God, not Mammon.
Emmanuel Macron moves in the opposite direction: this is a guy obsessed with money. He wants the cathedral repairs to be done in five years, in time for the Summer Olympics in Paris scheduled for 2024. Given these restraints and pressures, the ultimate design will be based on speed and ease of construction. It will look like a cheesy piece of space-age junk at a garage sale.
R says she will divorce herself from Paris if these plans go through. I feel the same way. It’s deeply upsetting to see this remarkable building so abused by the greed and negligence that has come to characterize these times. Notre Dame cathedral is the heart of Paris. It represents the higher aspirations of the human experience, a move away from the drearily pragmatic toward the sublime, which is often vigorously and pointedly non-pragmatic. “Like other beautiful things in this world,” proclaimed John Ruskin, “its end (that of a shaft) is to be beautiful; and, in proportion to its beauty, it receives permission to be otherwise useless. We do not blame emeralds and rubies because we cannot make them into heads of hammers.”
Is there anyone resisting Macron’s impatience and these shabby proposals for Notre Dame’s restoration? 
Yes: a group of restoration experts published an open letter in Le Figaro to Emmanuel Macron urging him to be more prudent and reconsider his proposal to have the work done in five years, stating that “these choices must be made in respect of what Notre-Dame is, more than a cathedral among others, more than a historical monument among others, by observing a scrupulous and reflective approach, one of deontological ethics.”
Deontology is a term from moral philosophy meaning obligation or duty. It espouses the theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether the action itself is right or wrong rather than the consequences of the action.
Macron, however, is a man well-known for his arrogance and patrician attitudes. It has taken months of vigorous protest against a militarized police force by the yellow vest movement to get Macron to budge even a little in his neoliberal economics shifting wealth to the upper tiers and impoverishing the lives of the working class.
I don’t think there’s a way to stress just how coarse, barbaric, and loutish this current age is. Can there be anything more ominous than a cathedral fire to underscore just how pedestrian and stupid everyone has become?

Friday, May 10, 2019


Drift. Engage a heaven. Humor Corot. Consider a crumbled year. Wear a house. The epilogue will have virtue if it’s effervescent. Therefore, luxuriate.
I is a dot. We extrudes. My candy glorifies the landscape. It has your obduracy. Your plurality. This is plunged in words. Play with the thought. Think about a lotus. Put it in an aggregate. Age is largely dribble.
This ceremony runs on pure redwood. Our cab is biased toward mingling. My gossip fails to detail the digestion of further particulars bearing on the planetarium spoons. There is a story about this called “The Arthropod’s Arthritis.” It stars Robert De Niro and Jessica the Sorceress.
The web is the result of a spider’s thought. The web is a thought. The strands are sticky, like words. Minds get caught in them.
Is this prismatic? Well, it should be. The mutiny is underway. We need every hand we can get. Including pertinence, cash, and back rubs.
The more you struggle the tighter the cylinder becomes. It’s braided, like most bathrooms.
Nocturnal emissions paint a happy picture of fire. The coffee is acting silly. It crawls around in my mouth like a violin. The usurpation is doing well. My tarantulas are completely binocular. A town in the Midwest has been flooded by a horde of descriptions, some of them wearing orchards.
Kineticism is exhilarating. You should try it. Move your arms. Move your legs. Move your bones. Move your blood. Let your bones and blood move you. Crack open. Empty yourself. Abandon all hope. Eat a pickle. Punish your sweater. Light a floor. Rain assertion on a senate.
Hysteria smells pretty. I wonder what the garage looks like. I hear the eerie cry of a bird flying over a desert. We’re surrounded on all sides by other dimensions. And quite possibly a lawn mower and boxes of Christmas ornaments.
My innocent dish, my smashed obligation, squat in this syntax and enjoy the distribution. If the verticality digests the horizon there will be thunder in our tea and aluminum in our tears. I have a flirtation with which to argue the yearning for heliotrope. It harnesses bats. The jump into clover. The harmonica’s flowers of sound.
My drift grows into stone. I can feel the metamorphosis about to begin. The urge forges itself out of enchantment. Pure enchantment. The way a stiffening turns almond, or a word sparkles with squirrels.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Flutter Of Invisible Entities

I want the Christmas trimming to drive into Easter carrying a load of dirt. If dirt isn’t prominent in this sentence, then it must be a moon. I feel the flutter of invisible entities. The fairy kingdom dancing around the big toe of my left foot. This is the one with the scab thrashing around like a shoe polish. I’m going to create a winter oil that whistles and a stubbornly slow desire that becomes monumental in its explanations. We all try to convince the world that our desires are worthy and require satisfaction. Much of life tumbles into these excesses. The quintessence of an abandoned fence is the scuff of the real on the dusty entrails of a derelict explosion. And guess what? It proves precisely nothing. Except that quarks are elementary particles and a fundamental constituent of matter, such as barley, or the cornfields of Iowa.
The kitchen sink tracks the night. It’s an old story told by an emissary from the back of the bus. The foliage in the bathtub rocks back and forth in maniacal nudity. The cathedral lights the world with stained glass and allegory. We open a drawer in which to place folds of candlelight. I’m going to see if the undertaker is still alive.
The novel focuses on the substance of the wall. I think the poultry is humming. Can you hear it? It sounds like chickenpox. I dig the redness of the magnet, the fresh laziness of the snowball. The jelly provides consciousness and the fire gives us personality. You can’t go wrong hemming a paragraph with muscle. The abdominals are peripheral to the way I might hug you. It’s how I lift things. Think things. Muscles like doing cartwheels. It’s more fully evident in the cold. I like to imitate snow. The power of it is in its profound delicacy. The way it covers the limestone formations of the desert and floats in our eyes is nothing less than sanguine.
The house is a sleeping disaster. The blue windshield adds a twist of stoicism. It’s nice, but the reptiles are agitated, and the reservoir is dry. Stoicism can only go so far. This is why we need flint. We need to sharpen our chisels. We need to carve some shapes out of the air. Make the invisible visible. The prohibitions are troubling. Who needs them? There’s always some discord in seeing a benevolent pope wave his hand over the crowds at Vatican City. The character of tomorrow clatters into being, bringing amusement parks and rides. The ghost of Marie Laurencin juggles spheres of color in a corner of the living room. None of us resort to abstraction at times like this. The mood is too wonderful to ruin with horoscopes and long division. We just sit back and signal one another with winks and nods.
The mimosa displays its knowledge of summer. We walk the lava through the cathedral singing Neil Young songs. The search for ocher offers us its own brand of speculation. Even the telescopes are paper. The carpenter has abandoned the kite and places the sauerkraut in the wind where it is eaten by daylight. The kite, meanwhile, mutates into a Gila monster.
I embrace the silence of granite. My trajectory topples the muffin. I never fully understood the Futurists. The carrot is a web of equations. But is the bull of oblivion a chasm in the wall, or a peacock strutting across my tongue like a planet? Is it sometimes emptier to say something when nothing needs to be said, or is it the overpowering fragrance of lavender that finally acquits us of our inarticulate demands? I just place the nouns where they’re most needed and hope for the best.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Legends Of The Mailbox

Think of a lung. This is where it all starts. Words. Breath. A membranous sac. Two of them. Nature does everything in twos. Two legs. Two arms. Two ears. Two eyes. Two lungs. Almost all. There’s the matter of the nose. A singular organ, mounted importantly in the center of the face, protruding imperially and irrefutably into the oceanic dominion of space and time like the bow of a ship, but with two little nostrils. Two little holes. One of them – the cavities around the nasal passage, a labyrinth of thin-walled chambers (labyrinthus ethmoidalis) interposed between two vertical plates of bone (nasal septum)  - is often clogged. If I’m in bed trying to sleep, the air begins to burn in the good one. The free passage. It helps to turn, lie on my other side and breathe through the other nostril, as soon as it opens.
Words are made of breath. Air is the central ingredient. It becomes breath as soon as it enters the lungs. It enters the aveoli (air sacs) and passes to the surrounding capillaries, which moves oxygen into the blood, and so nourishes the brain, which is always hungry for news and adventure. It becomes a string of words as soon as the mouth and tongue shape the breath into currents of meaning and the larynx gives it all a vibration and the cerebral cortex bothers itself with pertinence and meaning. The proper sounds. The proper structure. The proper weight and inflection. If you're lucky, someone might actually be listening. They may sigh with acknowledgment. They may nod vigorously in agreement. They may look quizzical, or irritated. They may concede to your desires, or slap your face. Who knows? People are weird. Their language makes them weird. Which came first? Human beings or language?
I believe that language shaped our destiny. Our physique. This whole bipedal operation. Two legs carrying us forward and backward and jumping to put a ball in a basket. It’s a belief. It’s a conception I have. A mindset. A position. A caboose on my train.
Who hasn’t been swallowed by a belief? You find it in all kinds of correspondence, at least from the past. People articulating beliefs in letters. Ideas, declamations, unicorns. A good word: correspondence. Meaning connection, alliance, accord. Exchanging letters. One imagines an inkpot and a quill. The lone rider of a pony express. A guy like Charles Bukowski delivering the mail on a hot Los Angeles afternoon. It seems dated. Obsolete. People don’t correspond anymore. Correspondence has gone the way of the dodo.
I miss correspondence. I miss getting letters typed on paper. I could feel the letters. The impact of the typebar on the ribbon indented the paper. When you held a letter in your hand you could feel the impact on the other side of the paper. I could almost read them like braille. Language was tangible.
Although letters were most often written by hand. It seems so quaint now. You could see the fetus of an idea evolve by longhand into noodles of wishful chitchat.
There are correspondences to all sorts of things. Externalized. Thoughts were materialized. They had substance and tread. Telephone cable and horse hair.  
I miss corresponding to salt. To bread. To the heat of an idea. To the things of this world. Phenomena. The slosh of water in a bathtub. Waves are sequential occurrences of energy. The same way an airplane venerates the air with the shape of its wings.
Shape is essential for the reproductive success of cells, and the obscurities of the Fun House. These include distortion mirrors, snakes, aliens with laser guns, flying pigs, and the tendrils of declension: noun, pronoun, or adjective. We get entangled in them all the time but you can’t assemble a semi-coherent idea without these instruments. Soliloquys make good house pets. But you’ve got to feed them words or they wander into darkness and are lost forever. An unkempt intolerance is sometimes better than a woeful compliance. Thinking makes the head speak. The words come out into the light of day and startle the houseguests. Does anyone want pancakes? Pancakes are the metaphysics of breakfast. But butter is the birth of meaning.
So much for the Fun House. It may not be fun for everybody. There is a sense of things that some people have, and many people do not. You know who you are.
There’s an area of the garden where I can feel my senses rise to the occasion and fill me with cadence. There’s a rhythm in the way the earth yields its luggage to the grip of our attention. We step back and consider the white chickens beside the wheelbarrow which is glazed with rainwater. So much depends on a curandero with a sparrow in a red sombrero. What I find in the past can sometimes be applied to crystal. We often get dappled during our ensemble. It looks pretty. Oh well. Here comes the night. I can see it striding over the mountains to the west. Its phantoms already walk among us, legends of the mailbox, the faint scent of heaven commingled among their letters. 

Friday, May 3, 2019


I wish. I wish for this, I wish for that. I wish death and war and diseases didn’t exist. I wish I had a silver buckle and a golden sleigh and a slingshot hat. How simple it is. How simple it is to wish. I wish I was rich and young and a highly regarded numismatist.
What is it to wish? It's desire. It’s a form of desire. A shade. A nuance. Not the full deal. Not a lust. Not a craving. Not an ardor or longing. Those are strong. Those have power. Intensity. Wishing is softer. Wistful. A fantasy while gazing out of a window. A woman braiding her hair in front of a mirror.
Why is it even worth mentioning? It's always a boost to the spirit to at least appear interested in life. Wishing is a confirmation that life sometimes lacks the right spice, a satisfying response to an elusive flavor. A debt paid in full. Wishing isn’t like that. It’s just a confession that this is what might make things better, but it’s not within the realm of the possible. Or it’s possible but is it worth doing? Not currently. Perhaps never. This is why people gaze abstractedly at the ground. Or the sky. Or the view out of the window. Which is quite often shrubs. Trees. Pigeons in a parking lot. Trash bins. A drunk cursing the traffic.
Wishing is a glass of wine. Ambition is thirty gallons of gas and a red Silverado.
Wishing is wistful and pensive and doesn’t hurt anybody. Ambition pleases the stockholders and puts 5,000 people out of work.
When desire doesn’t take itself seriously we call it a wish. When desire takes itself very seriously we call it Richard III.
Writing is feeling increasingly like wishing because we live in a postliterate world in which millions are captivated by a social networking service called Twitter in which statements are limited to 280 characters, which is death to literacy. Death to thinking. But a boon to wishing. Wishing is quick and evanescent and walks around with a glass of chardonnay admiring all the artwork on the gallery wall without being able to afford anything. Wishing is tweeting and tweeting is fleeting.
Let’s look at more granite kitchen counter samples when we leave the party. That’s wishing. Nimble and carefree. You can be starving and wish you had a slice of bread to eat but that’s not really wishing. That would be the wrong word for that situation. If you’re starving you’re not going to wish you had a slice of bread you’re going to be murderous and desperate to get something into your stomach. You’re going to be haggard and dangerous.
That’s not wishing. That’s staring daggers at a couple dining on Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras at Per Se on Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan.
And wishing you could write like Chekhov.
You could be in jail and wish you could be invisible and had the ability to walk through walls. You could be in jail and so desperate to get out you carve a handgun out of soap. This is what the spectrum of desire looks like from a human perspective. On the one hand soap. And on the other a gun.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Monocle Of A Mockingbird

Flakes are sadder than knots. Snowflakes, for example. They fall mournfully from the sky. This isn’t an emotion they actually have, it’s an emotion I have that I’m giving them. Which has the greater reality? Snowflakes, or emotion? Why should things appear that they have any kind of emotion? Why should a flake appear sadder than a knot? Knots always appear angry. You have to fight them to get them loose. They secure things, but they also trap things. Knots, in and among themselves, are neither good nor bad. They’re beyond good and evil. Sometimes they’re agencies of good, and sometimes they’re agencies of evil. Which makes one wonder what’s actually good and what’s actually evil? Can something be equal amounts of good and evil? This is convoluted. This is a knot. I have tied you in a knot of words.
Our cat has developed an almost supernatural attraction to a library copy of Gravity and Grace by Simone Weil. She keeps sniffing it, rubbing her head on it and nibbling the cover. We had to put it up high on one of our bookshelves to prevent her from ruining the book. We can’t smell anything on the book. We have no idea what it is about this book that has so obsessed her. It could be worse. It could be a copy of Charles Bukowski, or Cioran. It seems oddly appropriate that our cat is so attracted to Simone Weil.
“All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity,” she begins. “Grace is the only exception.”
That’s quite fantastic.
Gravity is an invisible force. It is linked to other forces, such as energy-momentum density and the curvature of space-time and my body reclining on the bed writing this.
Grace is a freely given power that exists outside the framework of a mechanical universe. It is supernatural. It is a twin to gravity in its universality and invisible quality. It is an opposite to gravity in its liberating capacity.
Is this what our cat senses? The smell of salvation? The balm of a divine presence?
There’s a frog on the kitchen window sill with his mouth wide open. He appears to be singing. But no sound is coming out. Why would it?  It's a ceramic frog. The idea is to put things in his mouth. Pencils, screws, a set of keys. Anything that is part of the community of things that serve a small purpose, fulfill a modest goal. I feel a cold draft on my hand and my arm. It's late April, but it's very cold. The polar jet stream is broken. It’s weak and wobbly because the Arctic is warming. The jet stream is driven partly by the temperature contrast between masses of icy air over the North Pole and the warmer air near the equator. Now that the air in the Arctic is warming faster than the air to the south, the polar vortex – all that swirling cold air – is reduced in strength. The diminished force of the jet stream droops and meanders dragging the colder air to the south. A trough of cold air squats over the Pacific Northwest. The kitchen window is open a crack to lessen condensation, water dripping down to the glass onto the wooden sill. The air speaks to my skin in the language of pure sensation. A song.
I listen to Éclairs sur l’au-delà, Olivier Messiaen’s last completed composition. It translates roughly as “Lightning Over The Beyond,” or “Bright Glimpses of the Beyond,” Messiaen poured it on thick. The work is scored for an orchestra of 128, including piccolos, flutes, oboes, English horn, two clarinets in E-flat, six clarinets in B-flat, bass clarinet, three bassoons, a contrabassoon, two trumpets in D, three trumpets in C, three trombones, two tubas, glockenspiel, xylophone, crotales (antique cymbals consisting of small, tuned bronze or brass disks) tubular bells and marimba.
Messiaen – who was appointed organist at the Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, a post he held until he passed away in April, 1992 – was deeply Catholic. When asked what expressions he wanted to champion by writing music in one of many interviews with Claude Samuel and collected in a book titled Olivier Messiaen: Music and Color: Conversations with Claude Samuel, he responded “The first idea I wanted to express, the most important, is the existence of the truths of the Catholic faith. I have the good fortune to be a Catholic,” he continued,

I was born a believer, and the Scriptures impressed me even as a child. The illumination of the theological truths of the Catholic faith is the first aspect of my work, the noblest, and no doubt the most useful and most valuable – perhaps the only one I won’t regret at the hour of my death. But I am a human being, and like all others I’m susceptible to human love, which I wished to express in three of my works that incorporate the greatest myth of human love, that of Tristan and Iseult. Finally, I have a profound love of nature. I think nature infinitely surpasses us, and I’ve always sought lessons from it. I love birds, so my inclination has been to examine bird songs especially; I’ve studied ornithology. My music, then, juxtaposes the Catholic faith, the myth of Tristan and Iseult, and a highly developed use of bird songs. But it also employs Greek metrics; provincial rhythms, or “deçî-tâlas,” of ancient India; and several personal rhythmic techniques such as rhythmic characters, nonretrogradable rhythms, and symmetrical permutations. Finally, there is my research into sound-color – the most important characteristic of my musical language.

Messiaen was also an extremely methodical and careful ornithologist, painstakingly noting bird song, which he later incorporated into his composition. “It’s probable,” he said, “that in the artistic hierarchy, birds are the greatest musicians on our planet.”
“Personally, I’m very proud of the exactitude of my work,” he avows. “Perhaps I’m wrong…

…because even people who really know the birds might not recognize them in my music, yet I assure you that everything is real; but obviously, I’m the one who hears, and involuntarily I inject my reproductions of the songs with something of my manner and method of listening. All the same, I have to arrive at certain combinations. I’ll explain: it happens that one hears a soloist and, behind it (usually at sunrise), quantities of other birds living nearby. The ensemble might constitute a counterpoint of thirty to forty simultaneous parts! Well then, the epode of my Chronochromie for large orchestra contains a counterpoint in eighteen simultaneous parts, all of different qualities, rhythms, and modes; obviously I didn’t note down those eighteen voices all at once. I transcribed, for example, a blackbird, but I know that a chaffinch, a whitethroat, and a nightingale were singing at the same time; I indicate this on paper and note very precisely the song of this blackbird. Then the next day I come back to the same place to transcribe the nightingale, and so forth. Finally, after the event, I combine these five, ten, or twenty songs. So you see, the combination is realistic even if it isn’t exact.

Here’s something else I think about: the night The Rolling Stones woke Mary Clayton up to come and sing her part for “Gimme Shelter.” Pregnant, curlers in her hair, ready to go to bed. She gets a call from her manager: “there’s a group in town called The Rolling Stones. They need someone to sing.” So, two in the morning she goes to the studio in her silk pajamas and mink coat and a scarf on her head and sings along with Mick: “rape, murder, it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away.” They do a second one. This time she wants to blow them out of the room. And she does. She blows everybody out of the room.
In silk pajamas with curlers in her hair.
Birds have a vocal organ called the syrinx which is located at the base of a bird’s trachea. It doesn’t produce sounds via vocal folds like mammals. Sound is produced by vibrations on the walls of the syrinx (same word in Greek for the musical instrument called panpipes or Pan flute) and another organ called the pessulus (Latin for ‘bolt’), which is a delicate bar of cartilage connecting the dorsal and ventral extremities of the first pair of bronchial cartilages.
The nightingale produces far more notes than any other species. Much of this has to do with its neural biology. It uses its higher brain function – the cerebral cortex - to assimilate, invent, or embellish a song. They’re better at learning. Better at listening. Better at creating. Better at storing information.
Crows don’t sing, but I love them just the same. I like the crudity of their caws. I like that racket. That raucous funk of raffish insistency. Harsh, grating, calamitous. I like the way they take a position on the ground, tilt their head back, open their beak wide and let it all out: caw! caw! caw!
Crows aren’t musicians. They’re poets. They’re poets like me. I can’t sing worth a damn. I can’t make music. I can’t tell an octave from an octagon. I wouldn’t know what a semitone is if it was standing on my foot. I don’t know a C sharp from an E flat. A key is something you use to start your car or open a door. But I know that if you put your mind to it you can say something to make somebody’s head explode. I believe there’s music in language. Any language. Who needs melody when you’ve got thrombectomy.
Expectancy. Complexity. Open sesame.
The monocle of a mockingbird swimming in the ambiguity of a naked moment. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Inimitable Thimbleful

Incendiary this walk on your hook. Creosote hugged there opposes a predicate with which I feel discursive and shortcake. Gloves it novels the chain. Butter this I tickle the grapple until fate summons a condolence. I grow my letters in Africa. The tin I grain to morning. Paddle punctuation if a house is about you. Enfold the echo that you are under the need for explosion. Wheel what treads the airplane across the tarmac. After you I flowed and swelled into my injury like a grapefruit. It was imprecise to disintegrate but the incandescence was superb. I occur among myself fencing a happy distance and deepening a raw sienna that I argue with below my suffering. I’m the painter of the compass I encompass in ensembles of wapiti. Infringe the sternum put the key into a monsoon. Corner the allegory in your breath since your hair is something awaited in cocoa. There I scatter where I endeavor to be the rain I walk through believing maidenhood to be a form of debut. The firmament runs on beginning and is manufactured by a glandular overshoot. It’s deformed to construct the bobble we throb. I climb into death with my pounds of musk-ox. I’m a cloud to myself, a tableau of urges. I shine by a suitcase of garlic. If gravity lingers in this I will poke the technician into platinum. A cherry what? I dribble secretion when I shave don’t ask why. This coordinates the thesis I’m yelling at a jilt. It happens that a frill swings from a veteran and makes it all wicker. And this is my banana.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Beckett 88

I’m looking for a good exoplanet. Earth is finished. It’s been trashed by humans. I need to get out while the going is good. We may get our first blue ocean event this summer. If you think the weather is crazy now, you haven’t seen anything yet. Goodbye food security, hello famine.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found any listings at Red Fin, Trulia or Zillow. The best source I have right now is Wackypedia. Wackypedia is the wackier version of Wikipedia. The information is roughly the same, it’s just wackier. Wacky is good when you’re looking for an exoplanet. The margin is wider, the ceiling is higher, and there’s less resistance to the restraints of logic. Logic isn’t going to get me where I need to go. I need to travel long distances. For that, I’ll need lots of logorrhea. A Winnebago RV capable of space travel and a ton or so of pepperoni sticks.
A recent review ascertained that the exoplanets Kepler-62f, Kepler-186f and Kepler-442b were currently the best candidates for being potentially habitable. But habitable by whom? Habitable by me. My wife and cat. A murder of crows and a washing machine. There are few restaurants or laundromats in space.
By space, I mean outer space. The cold black void on the other side of our atmosphere. Once you get out of Earth’s gravity, hold on to your hat. There’s not much out there except neutrinos, asteroids and comets. I’m hoping we might discover a Motel 6 on Pluto, but once we get past the Kuiper Belt, it’s doubtful we’ll stumble upon a Denny’s or Applebee’s. And the likelihood of a Best Western of Four Seasons is abysmal. Outer space is long on distance and short on amenities. We’ll need plenty of fortitude, ingenuity, and towels.
Kepler-62f is 1,200 light-years distant from planet Earth. I’m guessing I can do it in about 1,500 light-years if I can get the Winnebago near to the speed of light. I won’t have to worry about detours or traffic.
Kepler-62f has a radius and mass bigger than Earth, so we’ll weigh a lot more. That’s important to consider when building a house. A rambler with no upper floors might work. The equilibrium temperature on Kepler-62f is a chilly minus 85℉. I’m definitely bringing a coat. The good news is that it most likely has a rocky surface. It receives roughly the same amount of sunlight as Mars, which isn’t a lot, but if we stay indoors watching whatever reruns are drifting around in outer space, who cares.
Kepler-186f is a little closer at 582 light-years from Earth. It has a radius similar to Earth’s and orbits a red dwarf. I’m not sure how I’d feel about orbiting a red dwarf, but it’s got an orbital period of 129.9 days, which means more birthdays.
Proxima Centauri b is the closest, at 4.24 light years away. It, too, orbits a red dwarf. As yet, its radius and mass have not been calculated. This is discouraging. It also gets 2000 times the stellar wind pressures of Earth, which is enough to blow any atmosphere away. I’m guessing Proxima Centauri b is just not what we’re looking for in a potentially habitable exoplanet. We’d have better luck in Arkansas.
Kepler-442b is more promising. It’s 1,206 light years distant in the constellation Lyra. It’s got a radius and mass bigger than Earth, meaning surface gravity would be about 30% stronger. It receives about 70% of the sunlight on Earth. These statistics are not filling me with excitement. I’m beginning to get that feeling when I go on virtual tours of homes for sale and cheesy rock posters are still on the walls and toys and socks litter the floor. It’s as if the realtor was too demoralized to stage it properly.
I think we can do better than Kepler-442b.
Steppenwolf is a planet in the Triangulum Galaxy. It has an unscrupulously rocky surface and a fat shiny atmosphere of whisky and Benzedrine. The climates are nuts, but the oceans are lush harmonies of jelly and hallucination. It orbits a red giant reeking of garlic and motor oil. It is among the closest of exoplanets, only a magic carpet ride away from all that is holy and vivid and born to be wild.
Wishful Thinking is an opulent ball of congenial rock and clay in the forearm of the Dumbbell Nebula. This is a fixer up planet. The drywall is crumbling and the orbit is decaying.
Planet 9 is actually my index finger in an astronomy textbook. I’m trying to understand celestial mechanics. I thought it had something to do with belly dancing. I was wrong. It’s all about prairie, convenience, and fondue. Community is so important. Unless you hate people. That’s the beauty of space travel: the isolation. The long hours of navigation punctuated by quiet interludes of masturbation.
I like Beckett 88. Beckett 88 is a planet in the Molloy constellation. It glows like a candle in the pineal gland of a chipmunk, alluring and gloriously unscientific. It has the mass of a black opal and a radius similar to the hormone of a beautiful green wind. The surface varies from the bald round head of a granite Sibelius to the soft white sand of an unnamable soap. Water is abundant and forests of fluorescent beauty wink and glimmer in the light of a giant red moon. It orbits a white dwarf named Smutty every 400 days and each day is 400 hours long and four days wide. Temperatures vary from 65℉ in the far north near the pole and 82℉ near the equator. I think this may be the place. As soon as I get there I’ll plant the flag of indolence and claim it in the name of all that is good and lazy. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

In All The Right Places

I agree to use punctuation whenever the staircase glitters. Punctuation is galactic in its applications, broadly universal, most carbon-based organisms will recognize a colon when they see one. There is something natural in the formation of a thought, if we think of thought as words, hard to think of it otherwise, but I’m sure it exists, a cat leaps up to a cluttered table without spilling anything, no books toppling, no glass of water tipped over. The fluidity inherent in language is helped by a gentle, momentary restraint, a sudden burgeoning of ideas is saved from exploding into bedlam, a contagion of words are given a retreat from the catastrophe of their own making, a mastodon may pause in its ruminant abstraction to study a hummingbird, the wedding builds in energy as a comma’s insertion saves the tumult of a dress from total disaster, stem-loops and quadruplexes stabilize DNA, all this theology and juice of existence in our chaotic lives unpacked in an instant, a burst of emotion, often calling for a comma, sometimes a semicolon, to make a point, to emphasize a belief, to clarify a meaning. It’s a form of musical direction. The words are flowing along, perhaps too fast, they could use a pause, here it is, a drop of rain on a leaf of mint. It’s often the small seemingly inconsequential things that promote balance in all the right places, traffic lights preventing death and collision. This makes punctuation magnetic, a hypnotic osmosis, a blessing, a penetration. From Latin punctus, past participle of pungere, to “prick, pierce.” We might think of it as a pollen, a tattoo, an added value, a neuroscientific tool, magnetic resonance imaging or positron emission tomography in the pursuit of an elusive symptom, or perhaps just an afterthought, jute wrapped around a bale of cotton to keep it clean; it’s wedged between words or inserted between phrases in order to pause, break, suspend, pull the seminal beginnings of rock into the fullness of cypress surrounding it at the edge of a cliff, which I have just now imagined, calling it forth from a memory, a road trip to Big Sur. Punctuation arrives by stream, twigs and branches from a storm, the litter of a windy day on a surface of flowing water, we’ve all seen something similar, a sentence flowing along until it greets a period, and the ideas come to a rest, a still pool reflecting the Taj Mahal. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Angle Of Attack

I like the word ‘cope.’ I like its brevity and scope. I like the palatalized ‘c,’ the long ‘o’ and the bilabial ‘p.’ I like the palpable quality of that sound. Its certainty. Its affirmation.
I like the idea of ‘cope,’ of coping with a situation. It’s not an acceptance. It’s not an indulgence. It’s not a concession or an acquiescence. It’s a way – a tool, a tactic, a mechanism - to deal with something unpleasant, something onerous and toxic. It doesn’t mean you’re “coming around” to a contrary behavior or situation; it doesn’t mean you’ve decided, for the sake of the so-called “team” to be pleasant and conciliatory. It just means you’re doing your best to put up with something without going crazy or shooting anyone.
In aviation it’s called an Angle of Attack. This is the angle between the body's reference line (on an airplane this would be the angle between the chord line of the wing and the vector representing the relative motion between the aircraft and the atmosphere) and the oncoming flow of air that gives the aircraft lift. Stretching this somewhat into the vector of the metaphor, it means that whatever angle, slant, bearing, outlook or perspective I bring to a given situation will affect my ability to rise above it.
I’m always coping. Trying to cope. I’m rarely successful at coping. I’m much better at ranting. Flipping people off. Avoiding people. Fantasizing a life lived in a cave in the Himalayan Mountains.
I don’t cope, I mope. I brood. I stew. I ruminate and hatch. I chafe and mull and issue declarations and f bombs. It used to be jobs. My employment history is less than sterling. I’ve endured jobs long enough to feed myself and keep off the street. Afford a six-pack of beer. Benzodiazepines. Marijuana. These are drugs that help you to cope. Cope with the jobs that helped me acquire the drugs that helped me cope. This isn’t a successful coping mechanism so much as a jacked-up squirrel running a hamster wheel. 
My latest conflicts are with western culture in general, particularly in its bloated, kleptocratic phase of free-market capitalism and postliterate hooliganism.
There are philosophies that can help you cope, most notably the Stoics of Hellenistic Greece. Philosophy – like theoretical physics - is intrinsically abstract, an intellectual exercise that may not translate well into real situations, but the stimulation that thinking philosophically provides is essentially empowering and beneficial. The right philosophy can, at the very least, buoy you up a little. It doesn’t need to resolve everything; just providing a course of action is in itself of value.
Coping with life’s unpleasantries was a special focus of the Stoics. There was no shortage of opprobrium and vexation in Hellenistic Greece, nor – it would appear - in the golden age of Classical Greece that preceded it. That’s the age that brought us democracy, theatre, the Olympic Games, geometric axioms and lighthouses. A lot of good stuff. But it wasn’t all men saying important things while wrapped in bedsheets. Politics in Classical Greece did not always engage in ontological and ethical problems. It had its measure of dogma, armed conflict and targeted repressions. If you don’t believe me, ask Socrates. 
Epictetus, a leading Greek Stoic philosopher who was born a slave who – thanks to his wealthy owner, Epaphroditos, a secretary to the Roman emperor Nero – was able to study philosophy under Gaius Musonius Rufus and rose to respectability. When, about 93 AD Emperor Domitian banned all philosophers from Rome, Epictetus founded a philosophical school in Nicopolis in western Greece. One of his main tenets is that all external events are beyond our control. Therefore, we should accept them calmly and dispassionately.
Ok. Sounds sensible. But it’s not easy. It takes discipline. A lot of discipline.
I find the use of the word ‘accept’ troubling. I take the meaning of this word in its broader sense, not tacitly endorsing something but simply not reacting against something. If it begins to rain during a spring picnic, you can shake your fist at the heavens and curse like Shakespeare’s King Lear, or quietly and calmly put everything away and run back to the car and wait for the rain to dissipate. And if the rain keeps raining, enjoy a conversation in the car. Or go elsewhere.
“People are disturbed,” he observed, “not by events but by their opinion about events.”
I like that. Nothing could be simpler.
Or more difficult.
Emotions are often the result of assumptions we make about the world and the people in it that are so visceral and automatic that they lead a life of their own. Presumably, our beliefs and emotions are things that we have control over. I have to think about this a little. I try to remember the last time I had control over an emotion, especially a negative emotion. I can’t. I can’t remember a time in which I thought “feeling this way isn’t doing me any good, so I think I’ll just stop feeling this way, and feel another way, a better way.” That dog don’t hunt.
I have – to my credit – managed to go this far into life without strangling, stabbing, shooting, or assaulting anyone. This hasn’t been easy.
The CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) community have latched onto this strategy as a coping mechanism. It seems to work for a lot of people. I, however, find troublesome aspects about it. It’s designed, mainly, to help people continue working at jobs with people with whom they may despise, or with whom they have such marked differences of value that they feel a deep, inconsolable alienation, resulting in a lot of social anxiety. U.S. culture is particularly hard on sensitive, intellectual types, the Blanche Dubois’s and Ichabod Cranes of the world. Historian and social critic Morris Berman warns against engaging in conversation with Americans. Five minutes in, you’ll want to go shoot yourself.
If one’s attitude toward a society or a culture in general is negative, there may be good reason for this. I happen to believe that most societies are inherently toxic.
I find myself in much more agreement with Erich Fromm. The values of the western world are despicable. They’re centered around greed, power, sexual bullying and toxic masculinity. Militarism, imperialism, capitalism and the destructive, an-hedonic bullshit of the Protestant work ethic which helps feed these toxic ideologies.
No, I don’t have control over any of this, but willfully assuming a passive and agreeable stance in their midst doesn’t boost my self-esteem, it obliterates it.
“It is naively assumed,” observed Fromm, “that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing is further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing whatsoever on reason or mental health. Just as there is a folie à deux there is a folie à millions. The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same mental pathology does not make these people sane.”
Here are some more words I like: ‘malaise,’ ‘rebel,’ ‘flawed,’ ‘defective,’ ‘perverse,’ ‘eccentric,’ ‘insurgent,’ ‘seditious,’ ‘malcontent,’ ‘incendiary,’ ‘firebrand,’ ‘mutineer,’ ‘renegade.’
In the words of Beck Hansen, “I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me.”
Here’s another person I really feel an affinity for: Henry Miller. Who – in his opus of cultural mutiny, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, observed:

I had the misfortune to be nourished by the dreams and visions of great Americans -- the poets and seers. Some other breed of man has won out. This world which is in the making fills me with dread. I have seen it germinate; I can read it like a blueprint. It is not a world I want to live in. It is a world suited for monomaniacs obsessed with the idea of progress -- but a false progress, a progress which stinks. It is a world cluttered with useless objects which men and women, in order to be exploited and degraded, are taught to regard as useful. The dreamer whose dreams are non-utilitarian has no place in this world. Whatever does not lend itself to being bought and sold, whether in the realm of things, ideas, principles, dreams or hopes, is debarred. In this world the poet is anathema, the thinker a fool, the artist an escapist, the man of vision a criminal. 

I prefer the word ‘outlaw’ to the word ‘criminal.’ Politicians are quite generally criminals. I don’t want the faintest whiff of association with that bunch. But when it comes to coping, I like think of coping as the grim determination to get through a day incurring a minimal amount of damage, to myself or anyone else. And when I finally get that spaceship built, I’m out of here, baby. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Data Dump

Whenever I travel elsewhere I alter my inner kaleidoscope how do you take a picture of a black hole welcome to Alaska a voice of scarlet awakens the elves cooking sockeye salmon on Chilkoot Lake surrounded by behemoths of nothingness I need to bend this ink into bells a big vibration in which the universe sweats with chaos
I’m worried about the ice in the Arctic the gospel choir sends shivers through the fabric of space and time I drool meaning on a napkin of metaphors yellow letters on the sidewalk sometimes saying anything at all is like throwing a stick of dynamite and running
To assemble time from the data dump I want to be nicer to people perhaps it was language that brought us into being words constantly weaving between three planes as extragalactic beasts leap about under a tempest veined with lightning two Australian researchers hypothesized that an elemental form of consciousness in the form of a neuronal representation of the universe was born in insects 500 million years ago
How do I get off this planet what led to this turning point history bends under a burden of details inorganic molecules came together to form organic molecules nights in white satin the sexual freedom claimed by feminism and the gay movement has become a way of resexualizing female bodies through what I call scopic capitalism the one who exploits bodies by the look
Were we preceded by consciousness if you’re never disappointed with reality it’s because you’ve fallen into a conspiracy atmospheres relationships self-knowledge I could use some flamboyance we can’t know entirely what a body can do the feeling of living days that are more like a frenetic list of obligations than a deep and meaningful existence the wind opens the door to the church and walks in there are shops selling cups photos stuffed animals on which are written messages tailored to all affects joy sorrow love depression happiness
When you whispered in my ear it was like putting a fresh cold strawberry in my mouth life and culture have a complexity that can’t be reduced to the symbolic
Bazaars of objects thrive in introspection I’ve got a flair for finding good pastry divine protein in hepatic neon appreciate the flashlight dirt it’s particular and rural few things in life are as good as a jelly doughnut
There are moments when I want to be detached with the accentuation of family life love cooked up celebrations Mother’s Day Valentine’s Day we express them as emojis likes hashtags on Twitter which are then sold as viral data
I worry continually about farming communities Polynesian knee tattooed with diamonds a flame above a bronze Buddha talking a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it love has become the indicator of self-worth which is why it has never hurt us so much
Making a statement of any kind can be like forging a pattern welded Viking sword I feel weirdly powerful when I ask myself to explode
Into matter space and time vanish like a dream an iron house beating in a rib cage full of lightning this is the essence of my thinking there’s a clear sense that we’ve botched our time on Earth
Social reality is intrinsically ambivalent I try to avoid the bad breath of politics I like to growl my emotional life into ecstasy our highways are falling apart as hot dense gas swirls around a black hole my own approach to reality is just as important the prodigal allowance of a pretzel means the garage is tilted this is why capitalism gives the feeling of being unsurpassable because it has redefined subjectivity itself not by authoritatively drawing norms but by fitting into what is most essential to it I see hummingbirds occasionally they seems almost preternatural and this is related in some way to the invisible forces of the universe nonlinear processes like gravity thermodynaics harmonic generation and electromagnetism that cause energy to squirt from either side of the nucleus of the galaxy rolling through a restaurant in Thessalonoki that is on the opposite side of the word for gas (αέριο) the dazzling honey of thought green letters extruding into oblivion the subtleties of travel are written in faces people in lines at the airport passports in hand
So fatigued they seem more theoretical than actual the time grows centrifugal the helicopter hovers over the flood victims farms and barns of Nebraska and Iowa and Minnesota I’m a stevedore of the discursive and compound I personify miscellany in the hullabaloo of the barnyard I fling manure at the old suffocations the superficialities I can’t stand them anymore I’m done with this place I envisage horizons where the angels have their own capricious inclinations the planet below speckled with presentiment a brontosaurus lifts its head dripping swamp water the poem brings a wide eye to the vagaries of international capital the curriculum at last splashed with patois the windshield wiped clear of rain