Tuesday, October 25, 2022

See What I Mean

We go for a walk. The light on the lake is thin. It flirts with the docks and disfigures the water.

New doesn't happen to me often. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm so accustomed to being old that I tend to see everything as old. Except food. Our food is new. We discovered something new about food tonight. R got an app for a food delivery service called Ouroboros. We ordered dinner from a local teriyaki restaurant that specializes in delivery. After R worked out the details and sent the request I settled back expecting a wait of 15 or 20 minutes, quite possibly longer. But no. Seconds later the guy was here. R went out to greet him and get our meal, which had already been paid for, including a tip. This is new. And quite amazing. These services have been truly accelerated after the pandemic. Talk about paradigm shifts. This is one of the better ones. Tremors in the fabric of daily life tend more usually to be demoralizing and discombobulating, but this one is nice. The rest of the evening was modern, indelible, and kind.

I’m full of adjectives tonight but I don't know if I've got the energy to airlift them to safety. The nouns around here can get rough. Especially the hairy ones with fangs and appetites. Nouns like cloak and factory. The mesh of gears in the commission of thought. I get listless just thinking about the principles involved. If you mismanage a rhododendron the entire universe weeps. It doesn't require much. Just a few kind words, a tropical architecture, and a sprinkling of tongues.

Lately, I’ve begun feeling a deep sadness whenever I look at my books. This is not the world for which they were intended. They're as good as museum pieces representing a bygone era. This is not a time of reflection, of subtlety of thought or openness of mind. The times are barbaric. The babble of celebrities far exceeds the mutterings of a wise old man in a chair by the window. But I’ve known this for some time and it didn’t seem to bother me as much. For a few years people would gaze admiringly at them. I’d even have to worry about the inevitable request to borrow one. It pained me to lend books. I’d never see them again. So I learned French. Half my library is in French. Loaning books, meanwhile, has long since been a problem. It ceased being a problem at the beginning of the new century. Right around the time I started getting obsessed with poet Lew Welch. He felt it too. This poisonous obsolescence. For which there’s no cure but more immersion, a defiance in which the flutter of paper whispers light utterances on your face.

I often feel like a monk circa 793 AD gazing out of a window at Lindisfarne and seeing a Viking ship land ashore and the men getting out, a glint of light on a sword and wondering what the fuck, what are those shits up to.

See what I mean? The interface between sensation and image is a transitional zone where the actual, swarming materium of life becomes visceral. One must curve up and down like a wave if one is to expect anything to come of potash, or postulation. Step back, and watch it explode into handsprings.


Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Fall Of Fall

What happened to October? The entire month felt more like late August with temperatures in the 80-degree range, while a ghostly, apocalyptic shroud of wildfire smoke hung – stale and motionless – over the city, forcing us to remain indoors despite the warm temperatures. The AQI just last week was scary. 273, very unhealthy. A reading of 28 more units for concentrations of particulate matter would’ve put us in the hazardous zone. We kept our air purifier going the entire time. Lord knows what the filter looks like. Most of the smoke came from fires to the east, chiefly the Bolt Creek Fire.

“Fire crews cleared out fuels while others bulldozed and hand-cut containment lines. They also relied on and monitored existing barriers like roads, rivers and streams, to act as containment lines.

Small planes and helicopters have intermittently dropped buckets of water on problem areas, Johnson said. The fire has mostly burned freely on the north side into the Wild Sky Wilderness.

As the sun began to set Monday, Kris Pflugh of Chewack Wildfire was using a pickax to pull up hot ash and dirt, exposing orange embers. Beside him, Kenny Dickinson sprayed down the hot earth. They were mopping up hotspots as they made their way down Beckler River Road, north of Skykomish.

Soon, crews like this one from Spokane, will get to go home. Officials hope the rain will subdue the fire until finally snow snuffs it out later in the year.”

-          Isabella Breda for the Seattle Times, October 19, 2022.

I see the firefighters in France, who fight fires with a passion, a ferocity that matches the roar of the fire itself, and wonder what sage design there is to their strategy, as the aggressions of the fire go wild at night, radiating into the sky like the fingers of an insane deity. I’ve never had that experience, that devotion to conquering an entity so huge and overwhelming the trees crack and thud to the ground in abject defeat.

The crisis in which humanity finds itself – endless war compounded by the catastrophes linked to climate change – is one of tentative survival, wholly dependent on the caprices of a gas. It’s an existential crisis, a crescendo of angst in the face of chaos. There’s a weird thrill to it, the lifting of a veil of familiarity in which the reality of forces working in a manner that doesn’t serve our interests has become cruelly vivid. I feel akin to it, it’s what brought me into existence, but also outside it, alien to it, which may be a fault of culture, a moldy, anthropocentric view.

But what then am I? A thing which thinks.

A thing which doubts, tries to understand, conceives, affirms, denies, yearns, wishes, strategizes, defies, refuses, negates, squats, scrapes, scrawls, and can use a fork in the proper mode, pointing the tines down in the continental style.

I interact with a body and do what I can to satisfy its needs, give it food, slather it with soap and keep it clean, exercise it to prevent it from getting fat and frail and allow it repose when its muscles ache and – this above all - keep it dry and warm when it rains and the air bites shrewdly against the skin. Reproductive interactions come and go like snow. At first you’re not sure if it’s going to snow, you sense it, and then one by one a flake falls, and hours later the world is white and soft and uniform. Some form of magic has occurred. You don’t know how it happened so that the formula may be repeated again, at will, and this is life, the errancy of it, and emporium. 

In exchange for these services, my mind is given a room at the top in a spherical dome called a skull, two windows with which to view the world, a tongue with which to mold and chisel words, ears for hearing, and a nose for breathing and smelling.

Sensations are ephemeral as mosquitoes in Mukilteo, but when they rub shoulders with the muscle of knowledge, they agitate – wildly - like the flapping of a scarf.

When particles with one or another degree of spin interact with the nerves of the retina, they cause those nerves to jiggle in a certain way. This jiggling is conveyed to the brain where it affects the animal spirits, depositing these things into the brain where they lay around like puppets and stuffed animals until the mind stops rowing its ratatouille around in a never-ending circle and extends its annoyances into furrows of color. This causes light particles to spin into sensations of shape and jelly. The mind grows wide-eyed with wonder, catches a train of thought to New York City where all the museums are, and delicious Reuben sandwiches, and flickers like a hiatus high on medication. When the theatre is closed, the mind (which has been asleep for some time now) is asked to leave, informs the body of these intentions, which is somewhat slow to apprehend them, and together they rise and make their exit into the world, where there’s significantly less traffic due to the lateness of the hour, and philosophy in the sting of the air.  


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Rain Dance

Chewing is fun. Almost anything to do with the mouth is fun. Especially talking. Talking to someone with whom you feel comfortable talking. Talking requires that qualifier. Talking to strangers, especially in the U.S., can be a chore. People don’t open up readily. They do in California. You can talk to almost anyone in California with the kind of ease and daring that the language appreciates, it’s everything a language lives for, the spontaneity of speech. Among friends. Among strangers. In bus depots. Airports. Conversations in airports are always a little subdued. It’s the high security. All the humiliating things they – the powers that be – force you to do for security. It’s not working. These measures don’t augment my sense of security they erode it. They give me the heebie-jeebies. Bus depots and train stations are much more conducive. Music explodes it. You get people around music and they’re either going to dance or talk a lot. Shout things. Most people trying to keep the mood buoyant and avoid touchy subjects. I don’t. I can’t. I’ve got an allergy to small talk, but even in social groups where I should know better, I end up saying something that provokes, inflames, disturbs, causes people to walk away. This is why I like writing. There’s nobody there to offend. You’re not going to disturb anyone. But if you do (and yes, it’s a distinct possibility these days) they can just put the book down and go elsewhere. This is a disappointment to language which wants everyone to join in no matter what and bring as much opposition and nuance and difference of opinion to the mix as possible. Homogeneity kills. But what can you do? Gavage is unethical. You shouldn’t force-feed people one’s opinions. But hey. You can climb into a sentence anytime and go on a journey. If you use the same kind of attention as going down a wild river in an inflatable raft you’ll be amazed at what a few words can do. Right now there’s a lot of drought. Think of this as rain. A rain dance.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Here Come The Organisms

Here come the organisms. All creatures great and small. Led by Captain Beefheart. You can’t keep a man like that down for long. The Beefheart organism is choc-a-bloc with organelles. Donkeys with doubts and doings and dongs. Guinea pigs pirouetting on the backs of elephants. Ichthyologists swimming libidinal waters. Shy quiet pools of turquoise ringed by Sonoran desert toads. Zebras in skirts. Giraffes in drafts. Crows in ice cream bowls. Mosquitos with proboscises as big as phonograph needles. The Animals. The Monkees. The Eagles. Iron Butterfly. The Stray Cats. Blue Oyster Cult. The Byrds. T Rex. Government Mule. Grizzly Bear. Atomic Rooster.

The joy of a vinyl record is a groove. Sad movies make me cry I don’t know why.

Here is what I can do for you: nothing. I can't do a thing for you until you tell me what it is you want me to do. I can be a boxing partner or float you into the trees with my ambient charm.

I want to be like a wilderness of snow and provoke the jingling of reindeer.

I want to be rocks. I want to be sleep. I want to be a tree that rocks in the wind like sleep.

You want language to attain music. It attains the sense of music not in sound but in its attitude. Attitude in aviation means orientation to the horizontal plane. It is much the same in music, as when the rhythm mimics the landscape of the human heart, and all the buffalo scatter as the train moves down the rails, the ties still reeking of creosote, I’m guessing that odor may have been in Neal Cassady’s nose before he collapsed from exhaustion and died. There is music for this and the music is inconsolably sad. But underlying all music is a sense of defiance. Music is not of this earth and it knows it and flaunts it, flaunts it beautifully in the angelic voices of women and the source of all voices which is breath, which is air, which is so thin and delicate you can’t see it, but it’s strong enough to support a cargo plane weighing over a ton, and that’s just the wind.

If it’s Lizst it spits if it’s Bach it’s back to back and if it’s Mozart it’s more than art it’s linen.

Down here in the dirt nothing hurts. The music of dirt is a music of worms. Roots and mushrooms. Correspondences. It’s a big all-encompassing melody sewn with the stars in the still of night, Juliet in the mausoleum, on her knees with a knife. This is the music of yearning. Tim Buckley's “Song to the Siren.” Sung by Elizabeth Frazer. The call of seals on the shores of Moray Firth. Music isn’t mere sounds. It’s a zone, a place where nothing hurts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Philosophy Of Furniture

I subscribe to suede when it rains in Paris. Gargoyles dance around my knob. People wander by like minstrels in a penal colony. The corn is hulled in voluptuous neutrality. All the solids are pulverized by description. Nothing is so familiar it can’t be transformed into crystal. Containing water teaches insects how to profit from sudden sharp pain. This came to me in a dream dressed in bird claws and wheels. Now I know what it means to write a novel underwater in my pajamas.

The story begins at home. A man with a vampiric intonation and a transparent body finds an eyeball in his martini and hurls it at a wall where it explodes into kangaroos. The clock paddles forward on grooves made of family picnics. I think I understand glue now. It coheres in silence and sometimes reveals tiny bubbles, each of which contain an empire of haiku, and rudiments of something I call suction. The tinier feathers are from a presupposition. The teeth are a narrow part of otherwise, which just happens to have a mouth all ready, carried on the arm like a tattoo.

I write this out of jealousy for Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote “The Philosophy of Furniture” 182 years ahead of me, when I was still dead. Not fair. Tonight is going to be different. Tonight I ignite all the phobias, each pinch of privilege, and give myself to you. I feel a multitude coming on, and some opprobrium, which I will use to season my chagrin at all these interruptions, which waiters are really good at, but what was I thinking, before I was interrupted? I’ll have the cognate supreme with a side dish of quarrels. Life is so lonely without spying on my adolescence. I still see it, off in the distance, working hard on an essay about Poe, the bastard.

One day I will finish with regret and it will leave a trail of absinthe and lilies, otherwise known as French symbolism, which is central to the idea of fetish, a pretty Indonesian hat made of abrasion and implication. The sunlight got me started. It stirred my chlorophyll and I blossomed into a sweet sticky substance with a hammer-like head taught by Heidegger. It felt like wool and fur during a hard Bohemian winter. I questioned an isosceles with a whirlpool and the answer provided medicine for everyone in the lobby. Foreknowledge is a rooster. But we can’t have eggs without chickens. I feel useless surrounding summer like this, but winter is still distant, and I’m in need of a conveyance to get these planispheres to the villa, late at night, in my sleep.

Now. About the furniture. The idea of inventing something insincere finally crossed my mind, and I set to work at once. I built a table made of brooding inflammation and a chair that wandered through itself celebrating inertia. A carpet is the soul of an apartment. If anyone gets vertigo they can lie on its plush tenderloin and fall asleep. Pots of mussel shells, arranged marriages, people cut from magazines and turned into puppets enliven the salon, where I also keep a parakeet, a portrait of Benjamin Peret, and doilies which have lost control over their feelings and resemble the random utterances of a vagabond. The player piano plays Booty Wood. Undue precision spoils the appearance of many a room. Therefore, everything will be chosen for its vigorous asymmetry and riotous coastline, & the mirrors reflect nothing but naked artifice.


Monday, October 3, 2022

For All The Louvers Of Cubism

My hat beside my hand bundles in the throat teasing out a description in scruples and jars. My bacteria are mostly friendly but my grasp chops anchovies into little green words below my goad, which is either a blood bank, or paragraph. It all depends on the wind direction and our collective temerity. A creeping suspicion has shaken my rib. I do this for the splendor of your grape and rip it into gravity. We feel a boom in the wheel because it echoes distinction among the organs. I obtain ecstasy from brushes. We crash Yeasts into velvet. My bang has a clap to sculpt. The boat is for folding our thoughts into water. Examine pyramids. Their geometry is unraveling now that Egypt has airplanes. Everything wise and beautiful happens in shoes. Writing is more like agriculture. It needs dirt. It needs sunlight and rain. It needs to be ploughed and seeded. Think of the pen as a tractor and a laptop as a grain elevator. The pepper has been tilted to lament the murmur of the mosaic plunged into art like a chandelier. The hills cause us to strike against the pumice, which is soft, and crumbles easily, like compliments. I will send a pulse to the headland if it abandons its denial of a source. This is a parallel that I can put down on paper and grow into knives. I’m beginning to feel the circulation of things. Perfume is a muscle. It lifts the spirits when it's sipping glory from a well of memory. The fence tilts toward the fire. This is our future. A fountain in me chokes the smell of common sense in order to see everything as it is. The logic of balls inches toward remembrance. The engine yells at the garage with fiery sideburns. I feel the weight of nails in a paper bag and am propelled at last into experience. Our noses twinkle with it. I like to carry a belief to its natural destination and then untie the rope and let it go. The rattlesnakes strain to become morals in a world of balconies. And this turns to zoom like so many other prickles, which just goes to prove the louvers of Cubism.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Meaning Is Expensive

Bitter can be mechanical. But the bitter is frail. It's a frail machine. As felicity. Or neon blinking in the Kansas night. Vacancy. Vacancy. Vacancy. Things have meanings. Tables are gallant. Chairs are supportive. Embryos are guests. They develop into autonomous beings who will later start out in life doing the hand jive and then getting married with champagne dribbling from their chins. The eyes are the chaos of vision shaved by the smell of fever. The huge overflow of muslin in a frontier clothing store. The feeling of being subjective when it turns into a wild energy you can't understand. The enduring softness of a woman’s voice coming from a late-night bar near Alamogordo. I hear an element in the needle. The melody of water in the Rio Chama.  Unlike the casino. Some things don’t have meaning. What they do have is geometry. And bank loans. If something has a cost that’s not a meaning that’s a price. Meaning is expensive.

Whoever invented Hawaii was a genius. But whoever invented tourists must’ve been bored to the point of sadistic. The torpor is seismic that spends all day in a pharmacy. That happened to me once and I got wrapped up in comic books and stamping liquor bottles. Later in life I discovered joviality. This was mainly in California, long before half the population began living in tents under bridges while the other half watered acres of golf course. They say water seeks its own level but sometimes it doesn’t. Water does what it wants. And that’s how swimming was invented. Robert Mitchem and Marilyn Monroe arguing all the way down the river of no return.

Terrible how uncertain everything feels right now. I see icicles in Europe’s future. People freezing. Pubs closing. Children too cold and hungry to study. Horseshoes on doors mermaids in black ice. Oboe in the corner too cold to play. Adagio and rondo for glass harmonica crystalized in someone’s breath. Dead to the world. Wood is the new gold. Gold is gold. Still can’t eat it. Can’t burn it. Can’t cuddle up to it and expect a kiss. Can’t wear it. Well, no. That you can do.

A white octopus in black depths swims toward you, tentacles undulating in greeting. Hug the void it wants your love and understanding. The gunslinger will sleep in the barn tonight. We’ll group together in the living room and listen to Arvo Pärt. I make this in a forgiving presence. The past is on my heels. The future is full of zeal. Or is that madness glinting around the eyes? Heaven is all about mercy and peace. Hell is about military strategy. And weaponry and size.

I work in a language where I claim nothing as my own. Ownership is a strange idea. Being alive is hard enough without those kinds of complications. If you’ve ever been fired you know how that feels. Adam and Eve fleeing the garden. Though no job I ever had came close to paradise. It was mostly mops and buckets and unadulterated tedium. I hated the day I was born sings John Lee Hooker. My God what a thing to say. But the way Hooker sings it it’s not hate is that hate no it can’t be hate the song is too beautiful. Whoever it is playing piano the notes swirl around like a big ocean wave crashing into a colossal rock. That isn’t hate that’s exuberance. That’s transport. Get out of jail free card. Bass guitar like an ulcerated windmill eating a slice of wind. If you listen hard it will make you present to the voluptuousness of honey on a loaf of warm bread.