Tuesday, April 24, 2018


 I like things that support my body: chairs, floors, beds. I like it when my body is resting. Being still is nice. I like being still. If I want something I can think about it and imagine various ways to get it. If what I want to do is nothing but stay still and rest, I'm lucky, I'm already there, I've already reached my goal and can consider my condition a huge success. If I want to go to Paris I can imagine Paris, and that has its conveniences, not the least of which is not having to get on a jet and watch three or four movies, and then shuffle awkwardly down a narrow aisle to get off the plane after the plane lands to go stand in a line and wait for a customs official to wave me through into France, into Paris, but it will not be the same as being in Paris. There are limits to the imagination.
I’ve done a nice job, I think, imagining my trip to Paris, but it wasn’t the same thing as being in Paris, not at all. I didn’t feel my feet on the sidewalks of Paris or feel the air of Paris on my skin or hear the sound of Parisians talking or taste a waffle stuffed with crème brulée at the Bouillon Racine. I can imagine these things but I can’t actually experience these things, not physically. Nevertheless, the ability to imagine these things, to think about them, is a way to unfold them in my mind, to bring them into being, albeit a phantasmal form of being, a perambulation of brain waves based on my memories of Paris.
Better yet, forget Paris. Imagine a mood of pure receptivity, a zone between yes and no, a region which is both an expanse and an abiding, an openness to the mystery of existence, not a place or a city or a landscape but a “regioning,” a coming forth.
I like that word, existence. It’s a word with a lot of resonance, a lot of reach. It comes from Latin ‘existere,’ which means “to step out, to stand forth, emerge.” That’s it. That’s all it really means. But over the years it’s accumulated a lot more layers, stratum, lamina, fold.
All words are palimpsests, but existence grumbles in the corner like an old man wearing a hat with tassels. I think of Rembrandt’s philosopher sitting by a window photosynthesizing the golden light of 16th century Holland.
Existence, for Heidegger, is the ground of presence. It is a mode of being in the world. It is being true to life rather than self, which is really just an epiphenomenon of life, a goofy byproduct that clamors for attention, silly thing that it is. Existence is the brute fact of being. It’s a walk on a country path, the odor of earth after a downpour. The opening out of a solitude released from the noises and distractions of everyday life. Unadorned consciousness. Naked awareness. Existence is lived in orientation towards death. It is lived out of a sense of urgency. It is a preparedness for death. It is an acknowledgement of the finitude that informs our understanding of time. It is a deeply sensitive and welcoming disposition.
Heidegger called it Gelassenheit. Gelassenheit is a German word that means ‘serenity,’ but Heidegger had something much bigger in mind. Heidegger used the term in an essay titled “Towards an Explication of Gelassenheit: From a Conversation on a Country Path about Thinking.” He used the term to refer to a state of openness, meditative thinking. He believed that it plays an important role in contemporary life. You really don’t see people appearing to do it much anymore. Mostly what I see when I’m outside on the city streets are people staring into handheld devices, pocket computers, as if in a trance, barely paying any attention at all to their surroundings. I don’t own a pocket computer so I when I’m outside running or walking I do meditative thinking. What else can you do in your head? I can’t actually be in my head, even though it does feel like that, like I’m a captain of a ship in a wheelhouse.
I don’t even know for sure that I’m in my mind when it feels like I’m in my head. There are nerves throughout the body, including the intestines, so thinking involves the whole body. According to Erica and Justin Sonnenburg, the nervous system of our gastrointestinal tract is often referred to as our body’s second brain. “There are hundreds of millions of neurons connecting the brain to the enteric nervous system,” they say,

… the part of the nervous system that is tasked with controlling the gastrointestinal system. This vast web of connections monitors the entire digestive tract from the esophagus to the anus. The enteric nervous system is so extensive that it can operate as an independent entity without input from our central nervous system, although they are in regular communication. While our “second” brain cannot compose a symphony or paint a masterpiece the way the brain in our skull can, it does perform an important role in managing the workings of our inner tube. The network of neurons in the gut is as plentiful and complex as the network of neurons in our spinal cord, which may seem overly complex just to keep track of digestion. Why is our gut the only organ in our body that needs its own “brain”? Is it just to manage the process of digestion? Or could it be that one job of our second brain is to listen in on the trillions of microbes residing in the gut?

But that would be Eingewide (guts, viscera, entrails, bowels, innards, etc.) not Gelassenheit. This isn’t to say Gelassenheit doesn’t go on in the gut, I think it does, but it’s preferable, for the sake of simplicity, to stay focused on Gelassenheit.
You could say Ich fühle es in meinen Eingeweiden, which means “I feel it in my guts,” and would be fun to say if I spoke German, but I don’t, so I’m going to leave it alone, and let it digest on its own.
What Heidegger means by Gelassenheit is complicated. Heidegger borrowed the word from Meister Eckhart, a 13th century German theologian who was particularly enthusiastic about detachment: “When I preach,” he proclaimed, “I usually speak of detachment and say that a man should be empty of self and all things; and secondly, that he should be reconstructed in the simple good that God is; and thirdly, that he should consider the great aristocracy which God has set up in the soul, such that by means of it man may wonderfully attain to God; and fourthly, of the purity of the divine nature.”
Gelassenheit means releasement. More specifically, Gelassenheit zu den Dingen: releasement toward things. It’s a litle counterintuitive. When we think of release we think of release from something, something restraining us, jail, for instance, or (as in the case of Engelbert  Humperdinck) a romance gone sour: “Please release me, let me go, for I don’t love you anymore.” Release toward something is a very interesting kind of release. That’s the opposite kind of release. It suggests a desire for contact, but something held us back. Something prevented us from moving toward the thing, event, object, phenomenon that aroused our interest. A guard, maybe, that kept us from going backstage to meet the Freytag-Loringhovens, a rock group I just made up.
Releasement might best be described as an attitude, a state of mind, a disposition of receptivity and openness, a field of maximal awareness, thinking which is open to its content. Heidegger contrasts meditative thinking, the kind of thinking that leads us into a field of intense awareness, with the calculative thinking associated with science and technology. He strongly endorses obtaining a mental state that is non-dualistic, that negotiates the field of technology without being mired in it, trapped. Releasement makes the free air of the heavens available, the open realm of the spirit. It is therefore in conflict with calculative thinking, but there is a between-state, a region between the calculative and meditative where it is possible to maintain an attitude of openness. “Meditative thinking,” he avers, “demands of us not to cling one-sidedly to a single idea, nor to run down a one-track course of ideas. Meditative thinking demands of us that we engage ourselves with what at first sight does not go together at all.”
Incongruity is stimulating and tonic. It nourishes our sense of the uncanny. For this reason, Heidegger also values anxiety. Anxiety is the sign that the world of familiarity has slipped away and what we find in its place is the uncanny. Mystery, enigma, inscrutability.
Without releasement, without meditative thinking, without this capacity for incongruity and transcendence, we become infatuated with calculative thinking, we get mired in the quantitative, we lose the qualitative, and nature “becomes a gigantic gasoline station, an energy source for modern technology and industry.” (Heidegger, page 50, Discourse on Thinking).
The transition from willing into releasement is where things get tricky. If you can’t will releasement into your being, what do you do? How do you get there? Heidegger describes it as both a region and horizon. But there’s no map in Heidegger’s glove compartment.
“The nature of releasement is hidden,” he says.
Hidden in what? Open, and the hidden appears. This is what Heidegger calls “Divine-Presencing-in-the-World.” Achtsamkeit (attentiveness) is crucial. Attentiveness teaches the eyes the philosopher’s gaze. The uncanny lurks among the known. The unknown of the known aches to unfold the map of itself. What falls away is where I have to go. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Truth Of Baking Soda

Start the day with absolute truth. If you can’t find truth, try baking soda. Baking soda has an ontological foundation that makes it perfect for substitution, gentle exfoliation, and alleviating heartburn. When a proposition is true, it is identical to fact. What is a fact? A fact is grounded in further facts, which makes them abundant and public, like baking soda.
Is there a universe in which this makes sense? Yes. The universe of baking soda. In the universe of baking soda all one needs is a little conviction, a little butter, and enough energy to power a small frog.
There is no such thing as the absolute truth. Observation is a slippery animal. Perception is inherently amphibious, as it ambiguous, and awkward. Observation may be unpacked in reflection, say in a hotel room, after going through your suitcase for some items pertaining to daily hygiene, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, or at least a credible action figure, Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, a cyborg assassin with a peculiar sense of humor.
Errors of judgment are inevitable in an art form that relies on putting words together. As soon as words are put together, they assume a life of their own. The next thing you know Arnold Schwarzenegger is breaking down your door and a magic black swan is carrying you away to Mars.
Why Mars? There are no vacancies on Venus, and Titan won’t accept pets.
Balancing probabilities revives the milk from its effacement in coins. Start with this attitude in mind and you will end your day with singing. The song is up to you. But allow me to recommend Miserere mei, Deus, by Gregorio Allegri.
And for the sake of what it brings, this milk of humility is a precious gift. When to the sessions of sweet silent thought you summon up a lake and begin floating in it, the wrangling and unseemly disputes in your head will not help the serenity of the surface. Row quietly. Bring a book.
Today, for example, I poured some salt and baking soda into the drain of the bathtub and washed it down with a cup of vinegar and watched as it frothed and bubbled up out of the drain. I do this not only to clear the drain and quicken the flow of water into the drain and so on down the drain, but to amuse myself with philosophy, and the general flow of life, which leads to the cosmos, and diffusion among the stars.
And there is truth in this.
There will sometimes coexist a morbid sensitivity to fog. This may be performed by engines pumping steam into the air, or a chorus of female singers, sopranos with a flair for medicine as well as entomology.
In a majority of cases, forgiveness for one’s failings may stray into stucco and become a blossom of rattling sportscasts. We must be ready, without fear or favor, to call into question our own experience, and let it slip into breakfast like an eyeball, and stare back at us, bubbling with amazement.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Oppose the ablution wallet. Accept the absorption. Shove abhorrence. Reflection. Farm dabs. The stunned embrace of nails. We’ve trumpeted the metaphysics of crêpe within the tangling of violins and now the goldfish just keep dancing on my lips.
Engorge. Contact taproot. Buckles blaze with cartwheels. Furnish the extended treading.
Do you like your shoes? Bend your being to their eloquence.
Hallucinations crawl to the almond. A soft concept bends with gazing.
Assemble a pound of palette. Think brush. Forehead. Hunger. Blazing stars. Stick wheel climbing a waterfall. There is wrestling outdoors and bubbles. Flail the river with a ship. Turn the sculptures toward the east. Virtuosity is spicy. So is summer. Prominences percolate. Twitch the pepper. Aching is a treasure.
Do it with letters. Clatter. Float animals.
Paints in spots of abstract murmur echo the admonitions of the piano.
Drink your travel. The novel is constrained to break. Lament tied by rope to the rattan. The battle is rescued by a convalescing pessimism.
Chrome potato. Energy tilted into canoes. Examples include migration and escape.
Engage the galaxy. String. Faith in brains.
Structure explains the grazing. Paper. Listen to ochre. Shovel the paradox roots. The hole that argues with its shape is called a personality. Push it out of the heartache. Cure it with talking. Appeal to the library. Let the clarinet pump its point. The details of the swan are embedded in yolk. Which is as it shall be and it shall be shiny.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rhapsodies Struck With Steel

Indecisive thermostat terrine. Slices of beat hormone. Squat that arrives by abstraction. Grumble canvas of hot usurping rain. Action gripped by nouns.
Testimony ablaze with forceps. This could be it. This could be a deliverance. Cabbage babies marching in a museum of exotic punctuation. I live in a willingness built by zealots, leprechauns, and lavish conjecture.  
Cool house whose aims fall into the logic of interiority, closets operable by nerve, angles hypnotized into string. Cream is pondered with a delicate sky, clouds in a spoon-induced swirl of liquid reverie. There is sometimes a TV in the corner knitting necromantic mittens and a club chair squirming in conceit like an ontological argument for the sanctity of ticking. Dirt stirs with the strange innocence of worms.
I want to change. I want to paint an apprehension. I want to paint it red with a blue centipede and a black lap. Indignation supplies the monotone of grievance with a mezzo-soprano kiwi. But everything else requires muffins.
To weigh a chestnut is an embalming of one’s absorption. It is to spurt out a confession of feeling, the many whirlpools in your neck which result in rosary sweeteners. My pillows are washed in a wooden mailbox. I receive letters that ask for my attention. I savor a gay science in a wild root of translation. I find a cantata to sing, a ball to punt. I answer what I can with a squeamish pontification. A voice like bees. The carpentry of association.
Feeling clean is done by thorn. Cash is muscle and contrariety. An eccentric lung canopy makes the planet foxy. I row a chain of clothes and wear them like snowballs. An open shirt of  Morse code and hilly tickets that never stop craving the company of elves.
Perplexity’s shadow rests on the hard edge of my palm. Blow on the radiation paint as it is chapped and hangs in space pleading for sugar and understanding. Provoke the lavender to bite a cloud. Quintessence is an undecided alpine well-being. The tincture of the ground is still hooked to its ecstasy, the pleasure of seaweed.
What we need is effervescence, not another hypotenuse.
In other words, an intervertebral stabilization assembly for arthrodesis including an inflatable intra-discal member and corresponding ancillary equipment: conjunctions, tropes, isotopes, exotic particles, alloys, block and tackle, glass and rubber tubing, buoyancy, sincerity, vaginal speculums, dipole magnets, proton synchrotron boosters, advanced tongue roots, bound morphemes, clause chains, glottal stops, hortatory discourse and a 4-stroke outboard motor.
I will come and make sense to you as a lump of earth, form considered as a prerevolutionary momentum. Literature is a problem. It always has been. And so the language is lanolin. Heed my contusion. The mechanism outstrips its own intentions. It becomes a moon. A combustible hobby. Thinking is really an insatiable project, you know? Of course you do.
Let’s say it’s the transmutation of a humor. Nozzles enhanced by vascular owls. Fragments of a reality alien to language, which is what? Archaic ratatouille made with ripe tomorrows and overlapping zithers. The kind of clothes that express toads and buckle with secret handshakes. Timeless slop. Road flares. Footprints in the mud. Slopes on all sides and rhapsodies struck with steel. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My Crazy Korean Radio

I have a Korean Bluetooth radio that goes crazy whenever there is a power outage. It doesn’t reboot the way a radio should. It goes into shock. It becomes deranged. It assumes the regal enigmas of all things glinting and supernatural and dead. The settings revel in mayhem. It turns on randomly at all hours of the day and wallows in blatant anarchy. It turns itself inside out and insinuates fish. It grows tentacles. The tentacles wrap themselves around my ears and tickle my brain with Beatles' songs. “I’d like to be under the sea / In an octopus’ garden in the shade.”
When the radio goes nuts I have to reset everything. The day, the time of day, the time of day I would like to be awakened and the kind of talk or music that I would like to awaken me. Every day has its own geography and the morning are the mountains of that geography.
I mean that literally because the sun rises over the Cascades to the east in these parts.
The Cascades are called Cascades because they loomed above the Cascades Rapids in the Columbia River Gorge. It was Lewis and Clark who named the rapids, but the populations that lived there, the Clackamas, Kathlamet, Multnomah, Wasco-Wishrams and Tualatin had other names. The Sahaptin word for the Columbia was “Nch’i-Wana,” the Great River. I will have to look for the other many names. Naming things is a uniquely pleasurable thing to do in this life.
The poet Ted Joans and I used to complain about the name of Washington State. Why such a boring name? They could’ve chosen from so many. They could’ve called it wawtkáwaas, which is Sahaptin for “camping place,” or lawilatlá , which means volcano.
I like what the French call ‘appetizers.’ Hors d’oeuvre, which means “outside the work.” This caramelized onion and goat cheese bread we’re making available for you before dinner is an epiphenomenon, it’s a secondary effect, a byproduct that arose from the kitchen that is not causally related to the meal we’re preparing, the items we will be placing on the table more formally, more ceremoniously, a little later, when it’s officially time to eat.
Because eating is weird. And like anything weird, it needs a ceremony to make it seem less weird. Less upsetting. Let’s face it. Putting things in our mouths that were once living organisms can be a little distressing at times. Some people extricate themselves from this dilemma by becoming vegans. Good on them. But some of us can’t sign on to that. The motivation is there, but the will lags behind. It’s exhausted by the Sisyphean task of day-to-day living, the endless treadmill of making a living.
Making a living: what a strange phrase. As if life required a table saw and a hammer, a 60-volt drill and a bag of nails. I’ve never been particularly good at it. Living, in and of itself, has absorbed most of my attention. I have a set of skills that are better suited for philosophizing and poetry. It takes time to find even a modicum of equilibrium and meaning in your life. It’s a matter of great focus, of great sensitivity and integration. It takes work and concentration. It takes patience and nerve. It’s like adjusting the focus on a telescopic lens. Like walking a high-wire 1,000 feet above the ground without a net. Like delivering a breech calf in a howling blizzard in a smelly barn in Nebraska. Like performing a surgery in a nightgown with nothing but an almanac and a toothpick. Like renegotiating the settings on a crazy Korean radio. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Art Is Cinderella

“The world belongs to those who do not feel,” writes Fernando Pessoa. I know immediately what he means, but I need to explain it. It's a provocative phrase and can be answered multiple ways. The first question to ask is why would lack of feeling favor ownership of the world whereas depth or intensity of feeling would discourage possession of the world?
I’m not going to be very Buddhist about answering this. I’m going to be extremely judgmental.  People who do not feel are free to abuse, exploit, manipulate, mislead, seduce, lure, chisel and finesse their way to getting want they want. A clear benefit of lacking feeling is a wonderful freedom from remorse and its messy cousin, compassion. These people are called sociopaths. In order to coax some level of emotional excitement into their lives they have to do something cruel and sadistic. William Shakespeare wrote a good play about this behavior called Richard III. Other examples include the movie Wall Street, fashion guru Miranda Priestley (The Devil Wears Prada) and the current president of the United States.
And his entire cabinet. Whatever cabinet that happens to be this week.
Doesn’t matter. It’s not likely an altruistic, self-effacing, self-sacrificing guy like Jimmy Stewart is going to show up any time soon and make an exception to my generalization. Power is a very large magnet for sociopaths. It draws everything from war criminals to real estate moguls.
People with feelings have a much harder time in this world. Not only do they not want to own the world, they want out of the world.
Feelings are big mushy things to carry around. They’re a burden. Sometimes you can deaden them with booze and/or oxycontin or jack them up into a nice euphoric blur with coke or meth, but mostly they just slop around in the brain reminding you what a self-occupied, narcissistic jerk you are.
Feelings are multi-layered. They’re onions. They keep peeling away until tears come and the eyes sting. Feelings aren’t blithe paper airplanes we can send shooting through the air. They come with complications. Ethical considerations. Moral dilemmas. Guilt. Remorse. That stuff.
“If man really felt,” Pessoa continues, “there would be no civilization. Art gives shelter to the sensibility that action was obliged to forget. Art is Cinderella, who stayed at home because that’s how it had to be.”
If you want to avoid feeling get busy and do something. Wash the dishes. Mop the floor. Look for a job. And if you already have a job, work overtime. Throw yourself into it. And if you’re in the military, clean your gun. Play a card game. Montage your gear.
But if you’re curious about what’s in there, what’s lurking beneath your skin, whatever it is that makes your heart beat faster or clouds your brain with ugly black swirling clouds of despair, sit down in a chair and let it happen. Let it be. Let it emerge. Bubble up from the miasma.
Happiness? Sure. That happens occasionally. I don’t know what it is; a moment of well-being? I don’t know. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt a single feeling that wasn’t a blend, a mélange of contradictory ideas and attitudes.
Pessoa again: “Every man of action is basically cheerful and optimistic, because those who don’t feel are happy.”
Well, you argue, isn’t feeling happy a feeling? You could say that, yes. But it’s not what he means. Happiness is that delightfully buoyant feeling of not having any feeling. It’s helium, not water. Water coming out of a tap is one thing. Wading into the ocean is something else entirely.
Back in the day we used to say “heavy, man,” if somebody said something significant. Something significant generally sparked some deep feelings. Deep feelings are heavy.
Anger is an odd emotion. It feels more like energy than mass. Dark energy, to be sure, but accelerant, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, butane. Anger can get you into trouble really quick. It’s a mad brahma bull kicking at the chute.
Despair is a tough one. That one can swallow you whole. It’s a black ugly hole. Your best way out is to go all the way in. Lean into it. The more you allow it to come into being the easier it becomes to live with. But don’t listen to me. I’m not Eckhart Tolle or Pamela Chodron. I meant it when I said I’m not a Buddhist. I’m judgmental. Being judgmental is like washing a big piece of cake down with a vanilla shake when you’ve got diabetes.
So why do I do it? Don’t ask me. I just live here.
I like to put my fingers on the warm pages of a book and feel the world that way sometimes. Words have a greater presence when they’re tangible. Of course, it’s not the words that are tangible, the words are on the surface, ink, it’s the medium that has tangibility, the book, the magazine, the texture of a journal in the hands, the weight of an anthology. It’s the medium that makes the words seem palpable. Words on a computer screen are never anything but digits and algorithms, ghostly pixels in a world of electronic circuitry. The laptop on my legs right now is warm and tangible, but it does not have the feeling of a book. Why is that? Why should a book feel real and a computer feel…what? I don’t know what to call the feeling of the computer. It’s warm. I worry about the electromagnetic energy. I could say it’s got a pulse. It’s living. A book is a tree that once lived. But the book isn’t living. The computer is, in some way, actually living. I’m not being fair. Being judgmental has its hazards.
Why do we want things? Desire is the center around which everything turns. And is never satisfied. Never. The constant need for attention, the fear of seeing things decay, disappear, the continuous adjustments that must be made to adapt to a world in constant evolution, growth and decline, decline and growth. This is the fascination of the swamp. These places of teeming, fetid life, of drifting, miasmic odors where rare and delicate orchids grow. And the eye of an alligator appears on the surface of the water, infinitely watchful, infinitely alert.
The world belongs to no one. That’s the biggest mistake humans ever made. The notion that the world is there for our well-being, our kingdoms and odysseys, our pleasures and sports, our thoughts and speeches. Our thoughts are nothing. Our speeches are the chattering of birds.
But there is also the sublime. Let’s consider that. There are sensitivities that crave transcendence. That yearn for the ultimate well-being of non-being. That wrestle oblivion. That fear the abyss. That dare to walk on a rope across a canyon. That will spend a lifetime pursuing poetry in a society that cares only about money, that judges everything against the gauge of money, that sees everything as commodity, which is material that is bought and sold, which is amazing as paint, as millions for a painting, a Pollock for $140 million, bought by a Hollywood mogul. I find that baffling. And weirdly encouraging.

Friday, April 6, 2018

It's A Wrap

The hunger of the elephant bends the light. The landscape expands into buttes and canyons. And since the planet is a sphere, we nail the fencing to the brow of its resonance and stiffen into erudition. Dollop bloom on all the paths. Maturity is the prominence of living in a heaven created by ewer and cordiality. The concertina lies in the street abandoned to its rumor. This gets the ideas going. The leaves are rustling because we twisted the available space into henna. The ooze of battle must be flailed or it will be defeated by the softness of alpaca. I slouch through the landscape looking for God knows what. I exceed every vanished future and gaze at the drizzled vermilion of the setting sun. The mirror is tied to its shape. The oboe’s impenetrable body shoves music into thumbs. The skull is packed with idle thoughts and plywood. It’s tangled inside the subject, which hasn’t been decided yet. We’re all still waiting for a topic. Something like an airplane, or the infinite possibilities of the guitar. Sometimes inciting a cause draws applause and sometimes the rain comes down splattering plywood. Imagine. Pepper running a salt scheme. Timelessness sympathetically crushed into clocks. The orchid spreads its being delicately into the quiet speech of the bayou. Listen to shape doing a volume. Beam paints at cracked walls. The candy glows on a hill. The engine that is the eyeball is wedged beneath the brow where it can visually digest a hot visceral pronoun. You can name that pronoun. My arm extends and begins to itch. This focuses my performance on sandstone, which is coordinated by wind and becomes a species of language. I can taste the distance. It’s swirled in the stars. They come out later, when I’m curled on the ground. Embodiment is emphatic. The light stirs the words into calculus. We use mathematics to chalk the kinematics. Dynamics have their own mathematics, which is an energy distilled and dedicated to the unmitigated realism of the lobster, which is a crustacean with a preference for murky environments, efforts such as this, this endeavor to create a semantic island, a body of words that make reference to things such as they were before they burbled into being, which is to say potentialities, eventualities, instrumentalities. Mutinies, euphonies, lunacies. The elbow is in control of its own reality. But the lobster equals its characteristics and does this by growing its own furniture. It’s a wrap. We can go now. The shapes are beginning to mingle with the dark. The fractious lies down with the monumental. The bistro opens its doors. The oboe is still at it, still simmering in its valves like a boat drifting down a river of sound. When sound is patterned it cracks. It becomes another sinking sun and one more lonely night.  

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What To Do

 I hold a sparkler of thought in my hand. It entertains the guests. Cognition is largely heuristic, but also energetic. I can build a flower out of sound. But how do I explain water to a fish? Thoughts wiggle in a tidepool mind, slosh back and forth in a tray of chemicals, Arthur Rimbaud doing photography in Ethiopia. Sometimes I feel gray, sometimes violet. I don’t understand any of it. I hear voices issue from the radio at night, all sorts of people trying to explain things, espousing theories, opinions, ideas. One thing I do know: perception is a creative act.
How could it be anything else? It could be a pumpkin, but it’s not. An imagined world must have something in common with the real world, or it will just seem bombastic, and lean to the side and create more business opportunities, more pamphlets, more meetings, more tables and chairs, more violent and foul-smelling eructations. There is nothing so dangerous as the pursuit of a rational investment policy in an irrational world. Even the clouds refuse to rain.
Nothing will serve the common interest except linoleum. Arthur Rimbaud will drop photography and try his hand at merchandising rifles instead.
It doesn’t go well. He will resume writing in Cairo, Egypt. The year is 1887. It is mid-August. Arthur writes a precise, dry, fact-filled article for Le Bosphore Égyptien about “the actual state of things” in Abyssinia. And that’s that. He returns to a life of dromomaniacal wandering, ridden with rheumatism in his back and seventeen pounds of gold in his belt, which he will deposit at the Credit Lyonnais for six months at 4% interest.
He is a very strange man.
The individual who classifies facts of any kind whatever, who sees their mutual relation and describes their sequence, is applying the scientific method and is an individual of science. But what’s a fact, and what is it doing here?
A cloud obscures the hill. Flamenco dancers echo in the forest. I feel a stirring in my blood. Time hops around like a kangaroo. There’s no way to remedy existence except by accepting it on its own terms. Successes are few, failures are many. Poetry is a symptom of what has so far been kept silent. Failure is the form life assumes when it concentrates too zealously on achieving the impossible.
And then it squeaks like a rack in a gift shop.
I can hear the heart of the mountain beating. This could be a haiku. But it’s not. It’s a fist blossoming into fingers. Pancake breakfast in a firehouse. Ingots of light on the tables.
Is the ego an egg or a useless burden? I think it’s a question that can only be answered by the swallows living under the Aurora bridge.
The wound of existence requires the balm of philosophy. A wiggly squiggly slimy thing in the hand. Tools. Fools. Spools and jewels. Schools and pools and stools and rebels. Tassels and gorse and Hamlet. Fjords and swords and the drip of gargoyles. Shoes in the hallway. Water clicking through Danish pebbles.
When thoughts enter the air they assume the color of rain.
I was a once a cowboy on TV. I had money. I had two sets of keys in my pocket. I was complicit in lies. I created fictions. I created myths and illusions. And then I escaped. I joined the Beatles in Hamburg. I grew a mustache and named it Sly.
One night I found myself sitting in a cold Mexican restaurant to meet someone who called too late to let me know they weren’t coming. Ladies and gentlemen this is life. This is the wind rustling among the reeds in the mournful delta.
Let’s do that. Let’s evolve into reeds.
Arthur Rimbaud in Alexandria.
The ancient coals of history walk through my heart. What happened to the world? Spiders happened, then birds, then bears, then the comforting timbre of Michael Moore’s voice on NPR trying to explain the inexplicable, trying to explain how we are about to be cooked in our own prodigality.
We need to abandon our cars and get out and breathe the air.
That still leaves a lot of ambiguity in the data, I know, but we’ll get there, we’ll arrive at a conclusion soon, something that makes sense, even if nothing is resolved, we will watch the aurora glimmering over Barrow, Alaska, we will ride a horse across documents of sand. What if silence could be bottled like alcohol? Wouldn’t it be the perfect solution, the perfect ablution, the sweetest resolution?
There’s something creepy going on in the garage at the top of the hill. The rich man’s house. What’s going on in there? Fans creating the perfect dust-free environment for his jaguars?
I sneeze in front of the cash machine. I think of a seed with a giant sequoia in it. Think of that, a seed as a word. Every word has something giant in it. Something dynastic. Something infrared and exponential. Personal as thumbs. Impersonal as time.
I find a friend in the rain. Meaning the rain is my friend. Meaning the history of anything has roots and neurons. The bells of Notre Dame exploding into metaphors. Even a thermometer has morals. This is your cue to enter the stage. Bring your preferences. Are there any facts you find questionable? Are there creatures like us elsewhere in the universe?
Galileo used little bells to demonstrate the law of falling bodies. All I do is fall. Let’s give a cheer to falling. We’re all looking for a way to lessen the pain of being alive in a time of conflict.
What time was ever free of conflict?
A woman in Texas seeks to rid herself of bees on her porch without destroying the bees. The honey bees of Ethiopia are endemic to a volcanic dome system. The bees in the Ukraine produce 75,000 metric tons annually. Bees are amazing. Bees communicate by the waggle dance and navigate using magnetic abdomens and a keen spatial memory. This is why we need prepositions. It is good to be prudent but better to be wise.
It’s not the way you smile that melts my heart it’s the mystery in your eyes.
I’m temporary, a library book with a due date. We’re all temporary. Ephemeral. It’s a cause for sorrow and a cause for joy.
I’ve got a wart with eight arms and a stratosphere. I’ve got an answer for everything and proof of nothing. I like to swim underwater. But will it help to attain enlightenment?
It will help me understand water. The body is a parliament of organs. The truth is sometimes stranger than money. Have you ever borrowed a burrow in Barrow?
There’s a tool for everything. There’s a tool for writing and a tool for making music. You take any stick and make letters in the sand. And that will do for the moment. Sometimes I even enjoy taking the garbage out. You never know when a problem will unravel or a third eye shine back at you in the mirror. Listen to the audacity of the underworld. The ocean of blood under your skin. I like the taste of coffee but I can’t tell you why. I sift through my thoughts looking for oblivion. It’s pretty easy. It’s one of the easiest things there are. Everything in nature is fundamentally interrelated. How can you go wrong? You’ve got to move. At the very least. If you want some soothing tea you’ve got to boil some water.
So there you are. Now you know what to do.