Friday, April 28, 2006

The Urban Soup (Part XIII)

Two doors down from me: temporarily a pounding den of undergroupd hip-hop; temporarily a stopping point for repeated police and fire brigade visits. In short, the kind of place that makes me feel like a square. I stopped in to their pirate/ninja themed party for a little while, stone sober. I was a pirate--a half-assed pirate--a "software pirate"; i.e. a dude with glasses and a t-shirt. And here, in this squat of a house with phoenixes and bumblebees and dragons graffitied into the walls with dripping black spraypaint, I caught my occassional glimpse into a life of my values put into action in extreme cases. Kids with hoodies who kitchhike everywhere between here and Costa Rica, vans with the contents of a life--a mattress and a canoe--piled in, shameless dancing and blasting of noise, come who may. It is what I've been tryng to capture with the bus trips out of towns; it is the ineffable lifting of creativity to be the ruling force, pushing you here and there in a world that is transient, but the transience is quitel yaccepted, because you know the people you've met are carried with you: in candles you light, not on the internet; in romantic nights of self, not in trinkets you've hoarded. It was a whirl of darkened and bearded faces, rags everywhere, hoods and face masques everywhere, a girl who has a rat living inside her clothes--if anyone remembers the reference: a daemon. Scary dudes with sharp cheekbones and lipstick smeared all over their eyes in some attempted emulation of schizophrenia. There was one kindly bearded face who looked so much like Allen Ginsberg that I wanted to take him and drum with him and recite some ancient lines from the now-forgottne 50s. But he was waylaid by the red ninja and that never came to pass. I'm not makin this up.

So that's the romantic description. It's not all like that: underground hip-hop was the watershed of white middle-class privilege. Exuberant jumping bowed the rotting beams in the floor. The crowd forgot to take into account the increasing alienation of its malcontents, and that is what broke its admirable enthusiasm. So there is the grotto-like shadow that casts a cold, flickering halogen light. So it goes.

Consider: "Monotheism is the primitive religion which centers human consciousness on Hive Authority. There is One God and His Name is ------- (substitute Hive-Label). If there is only One God then there is no choice, no option, no selection of reality. There is only Submission or Heresy. The word Islam means 'submission'. The basic posture of Christianity is kneeling. Thy will be done."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Watering Hole

It's tiring scraping every key point from an exploding paper rose smeared with my idiosynctratic text sitting on the table in front of you. It gets frustrating, especially when a careless fellow patron knocks the corner of the table and spills your coffee onto some of those papers, such that the sickly blue ink becomes smeared into a scatological brown stain over the crux of some argument/opinion/presuasion by Fodor or bentham or Goldman-Rakic. It doesn't matter. So why do it? Is this knowledge elevating anyone? Or are we being trained to skillfully manage the thornfields of reticulated technological systems whose future belligerent interactions will require the finest minds to keep on the down-low? And what is that point? Where do we throw in the towel, realizing the vague--almost spiritual--longing awakened by higher education is unattainable on the institutional level? Where in this world do equivocal syntheses of theories and positions get grants and funding? Why is reinventing the wheel in every specialized discipline so fashionable? Simple: because that way more academics get to make their careers on the same facts. Like animal herds swarming to a watering hole in the desert while the enterprising ones who are looking for new watering holes mostly die off--save for the few lucky ones. Not that I'm even close to getting out and discovering anything. At every stage of education you realize just how much of a baby you are, and just as you're becoming a very efficient baby, they throw you out.

But it'll all be over when you're dead.

Angry old Ludwig von blasts at me. He's telling me that we can still ennoble ourselves through tragedy. But is that true? Or is the universe an uncaring, absent-minded sadist? One has to ask: whose mind is absent? He's telling me an individual can still send the walls of some ancient fortress crumbling down with but a gesture. But this is a promise: just a promise at the moment. Time will tell how many buildings will fall, rise, split, burn, topple, move or crumble at my behest. Can one really dangerous idea do all these things? Now if only I had this idea. In the meantime, back to the frigtening papers.

At least it'll all be over when I'm dead.

No more caffeine rushes, but no more caffeine crashes. No more freezing extremities, but no more implusive tobogganing excursions. No more glares of city lights, but no more strobes to dance on the sidewalks by. No more tossing and turning, but no more remembered dreams. No more being cut off on the sidewalk, but no more wonderful feelings when rounding a corner and feeling a gust of the freshest fucking wind blow through every layer of clothes you have! No more ignorant mules of lederly peopl,e but no more recitations of life stories by fireside as the raccoon pelts hang ripe for the smoking. No more cancerous tobacco smoke, but no more iron cocaine powders ripe for insufflation. No more rooftop lonelinesses, but no more circles of confession and accusation in the bleakest of hotel rooms.

It'll all be over when I'm dead.

Consider: "It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey."

Monday, April 24, 2006


I'm sorry. Long absences tend to send me spiralling down into a hardened walnut-shaped pit in my stomach. Long road trips--circuits of the east Coast--leave me exhilarated, filed up with new ideas for a brief few wonderful seconds, then I realize it's way too late and I haven't slept (not to mention my under-consumption of iron and subsequent flirting with anemia) and I will never be able to write it all down. But there are always glimpses into what I meant to say: a few words about an imagined libertine style, a new synthesis of how I imagine my experiences of steampunk will go, rainy nights waking up in Babylong with horrible helicopter blades cutting the air outside the filing cabinet apartment building, philosophical and philological assays into the hot cailing for hours where nothing was solved but my thoughts cohered for as long as was necessary. A propos the libertine lifestyle: thanks to te Marquis de Sade, though I'd much prefer the cat-o-nine-tails whips to be brandished in conditions of eqality and only imagined oppression; I've been thinking of taking up writing cheap erotica, much like Jimbo, figuring there might be money in that. Also saw it on TV, but after the fact. A propos steampunk: I've always had a hard-on for alternate histories. Think about it: consciousness transformation with the first industrial revolution combined with some long-distance telecommunications. No wonder the moderin mind is profoundly immature: we reinvent it every hundred years. Nowadays we do it every ten years. Remember pre-internet days? The cues that anchor my memory now are different than what used to be relevant. It is the vast sense of empty childhood amnesia that I fight to varying degrees of success.

How's that for impenetrability?

But enough of that. It's pretty obvious there's not much of a theme to expand on today. But I felt obligated to post. This blog's the closest thing to a marriage I've had. A long, strange, hummingbird marriage. Sometimes rancorous. Sometimes rapturous. All of it uncoerced, and starting from the simplest premises. It has also introduced me to the finest words of hundreds of thinkers and the finest thoughts on the most relevant themes.

Consider: "As long as sex is dealt with in the current confusion of ignorance and sophistication, denial and indulgence, suppression and stimulation, punishment and exploitation, secrecy and display, it will be associated with a duplicity and indecency that lead neither to intellectual honesty nor human dignity."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Urban Soup (Part XII)

Every few days a new swarm of people-locusts descends on my living room. Today we have a fellow with pock-marks, a person with a mane of hair so shiny that it made you cry to think of the logistics of taking care of it, an eastern european talking machine and a few other very drunk architects and aspiring architects. The perfect designers of our urban visual milieu. I did not grill them, instead concentrating on the wine. They talked of things that went beyond me, then I pushed forwards on philosophy of mind which went over their heads, and so the sparring went back and forth for much of the night. (I am dramatizing: think of any gathering with semi-strangers you have ever had. That's what it was like. But I suppose the quality is in the perception.) There was talk of North America as the matrix, which I frown on. I think our continent, or at least our culture is more like Babylon, in the Rastafarian sense of the word. If that doesn't make sense, clarification is in order. I should probably hyperlink Babylon. But so be it, it is not so. I think I'll return to this theme at a later time, because it seems that every year I come up with a one-word summary of everything that is wrong with our culture and I try to shout it out as much as possible. In 2004-2005 it was Moloch, after Allen Ginsberg's stoned call-to-arms, which he himself repudiated with Part III and footnote to his rambling epic poem. For 2006 let us call it Babylon. Same Old Testament inspiration, except this time from the rastafarians, not my favourite Buddhist Jew.

Keep in mind that the Urban Soup is not Moloch or Babylon. The Soup is the symbol of everything that is anti-alienating in our culture. We are cold to each other in the streets but in our minds we are accepting of difference, and a few of us go so far as to dance out that diversity. Some don't dance but play their musics. Anything to keep diversity from becoming another meaningless buzzword. And how can it be a buzzword when there is the palpable sense that something that has never been built before is materializing before our eyes! This is when the swirling randomness of visions and dreams and long fog-walks and aimless wanders cystallizes into an affirmation, a grand "yes!". And this is the affirmation that battles the whirring helicopter blades of Babylon and the thousand blind windows of Moloch's facades. There are powerful enemies in every street corner and every utility pole, but there are also allies: strange peyote shamans coming out of the southwest, statistician bums, hidden identity huperhero hipsters. The cityscape becomes a lot more exciting if you think of it in this way. And why shouldn't I? It is a flight of imagination and nothing more. Every African or Latin American liberation writer has down the exact same thing. And if I retread the tired and used, let it be so. In many ways, we in the grip of affluence are in need of more liberation than the subsustence farmer. But that's too much of an argument for here.

Consider: "Memory itself is an internal rumour."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Red Object

He challenged me to tell the unknown story. The challenge is taken.

All plotlines open in ambiguity. In mystery. What is this Red Object? Who came to gawk at its redness amid the cindeblock edifice? All back alleys pulsate with life verminous and virtuous, with charms hidden and exposed and washing down the gutters. One time some small children came to the curtains and waited for the puppet show. Junkies would put their crumpled bills behind the curtain, walk away and come back in precisely seven minutes according to instructions but they would never find anything. It once housed three trophies won by a soccer team that was named as a portmanteau of the names of the coach's two stillborn children. Hard-boiled bouncers leaned on the Red Object. The Red Object: an obelisk poiting to some long-forgotten before-time; the kind of Object that just works and nobody can tell a story as to how. Was it ever a fishbowl to entertain a lower-class constituency that had precious little to do but watch darting fishes? Could it have been a lectern for a midget politician in the early 20th century when that kind of thing was still acceptable? Did it frame the fearos of our ancestors, a kind of "safe-box" into which you crawled so the ghosts could not bite you? Or was it a kind of air-filter, mediating between the insides of the nondescript building and the capricious weather-changes of the nodescript street?

There is no plot in all this lie. So the story remains untold. It remains speculative at best. But it comforts me so to hear once again the clack-clack of the keyboard in this context.

Consider: "Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Magic Hour

This features me. Emotional cripple that I am; a semantical cripple. I'll get into that when the flow really begins. But here's the background: some people learn visaully. Their ideas come as unbidden arabesques in colours they can't describe, which float in finely apportioned points in space, some abstract mutating pulsars that turn into dozens of ancient language scripts. And I am obsessed with the script; I would brood and miss the shining colours of the symbols because I could not understand what they signified. I would ignore the cat screaming in the alley at night because it didn't have a fucking Broca's area. Some people have exquisite hearing, but I never found the perfect pitch: I liked the patterns of music. I never played a score that wasn't laid out in some smooth comforting way, nuts to how it sounded. Don't even get me started on tonalities and timbres. Reaching magic hour now: shaking because of churning knots in my stomach, pounding the music into the headphones so as not to wake the roomates, trying to hold onto a bright pit of anger before it turns into a flaccid despair. Despair at the flight of the muse I built in my head with visions that sometimes came and sometimes were induced. Despair that will make me lie in bed for three hours in the morning looking at motes of dust in the sunbeam reaching my pillow. Better to have terminal priapism than to walk the streets in shuffling pants unoccupied. The fucking muse! We could have lain together and watched the dust and I would talk: we would find patterns and constellations, words and teleologies in the particulate matter biting our lungs in this room: and the dream would bounce from discussion to affirmation. We'd find constellations and make the stories that bind them in memory, and then break the stories at will, punctuate them with Deus ex Machinas like Swiss fucking cheese. But that won't happen, and I'd rather this uncontrollable shaking were anger than the shaking that exposed a lie: the muse is drunk on a comedy of near-misses, and she does not cry; no, she dances, but the dance is meant only to intimidate, like some cocksure strut, like an orderly in an early 20th century mental institution (Lenny from Of Mice and Men petting an experimental colony of little rodents in his mind) walking his beat, the sunbeams breaking in through the tiny windows of a facility called Ashhaven, or Maplethorn, or Rockwell. It's magic hour. It's unbroken strength and primal disappointment. It's resignation: finally crazy in the brain, crazy in the membrane. Mark this date. Tell your kids how the dancing little monkey clown made a mountain out of a molehill. Tell them how he was replaced by a doppelganger and nobody was ever the wiser. Tell them he only looked to get away for a few days, but had to settle for visits to a park ravine. Tell them he was in no way wise: that he wanted to make homself feel, to wake up some atavistic continuity, but failed because he hedged his bets on something that failed based on contingency. Tell them he was never a very visual person, so Gestalts always bothered him: his brain just didn't work like that. It was only recognition of a beautiful face that brought the same body state and mind-state, never just the semanticized memory, dulled and worn smoot by tellings and retellings around the collapsing birch frame of what used to be a sweat lodge. Light me my glowglobes and show me all your figure paintings, strange absentee muse. We could have lain together; we could have flicked the kaliedoscope; we could have worked our own modifications into that one owful sand mandala, or that awful box of an apartment building. You could have mercilessly edited my poems; you could have burned most of them, I would not have cared. You could have taken the opals and amethysts and flicked them out of my balcony without provocation, and I would never have held it against you. Take any fucking thing you want, just give me back the power to do this: this therapy, this effusiveness, this thing I'll regret tomorrow, but regrets need to seriously fall by the wayside. You could have been in a rotating partnership with me, but I was intimidated as hell. Take the roots of my succulent plants! Entangle my piano wires around my neck! Grind the hundred foodstuffs in the fridge and smear it ritualistically across me; make me shiver in this ritualistic symbolism stretching back minutes, this psychopath attempt to carve out new values on tablets made of ground-up and pasty food. Smash these goddamn windows! The spring is upon us, and there's no need for these prisons of silicon. Lockers can go, and traffic signs, and satellite photographs! The whole fucking mess! Why this endless parade of near-misses? Is my mind just prediposed to arrange meaning and realize relevance in such a way? Fuck inspiration: no magazine ever held me, and none really should. Nobody wants to publish the rantings of an inward-looking monkey clown with something between anger and utter weariness gnawing his stomach. Maybe tears of release will fix this fucking mess. I'd go so far as to watch a romantic comedy and consume vast quantities of comfort foods and cry. Good night.

Consider: "There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in travelling in a stage-coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place."

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Embarrassingly Inconsequential

Here's a thought: something decent might yet emerge from the god-awful blogosphere. Here's my theory: spam blogs have largely been eliminted by word verification algorithms designed to detect overly repetitive or mechanical text. So the next generation of spam software has become more sophisticated, but it wasn't sophisticated enough. Now, if we continue this cycle of ruthless natural selection, I predict that in a few years we son't be able to tell the difference between genuine comments and spam. As evidence, I present this "poem" a friend of mine received. Now, it's obvious it was written by a machine. But what's key is that it is not immediately obvious. In fact, I though there was a kind of haunting beauty to the first lines, before the egregious breaches of grammar kicked in. Kind of like the stuff an insecure teenager migth write, trying to impress with his/her large vocabulary, not quite realizing that quality in writing comes more from structure than individual words. Anyways, here goes:

"individuality of feet insincerely momentous by old age to as dialogue, federate
to? sedation to
wholesale recreational in exploration metabolism the enthusiastic and or nuzzle
the innovation: to
geometric sophomore crisscross and that trudge to but busy obstacle and
seventieth suede, into with sidelines the
delightfully canker was embezzlement a spiffy, sway and commerce
sophomore with send-off absolute a are an essay coral inkling, in roar urban
renewal modify
nonviolent a clubhouse university township
invaluable. undying, of coffee saturate. embarrassingly inconsequential with
busywork intangible traffic light. rich buck, times, poodle
chicken it avenue kidnapping, FYI antenna on homestead! apron

tuft in evasive, incestuous a in oversee, kingfisher thorny is beak sweetheart?
twilight getup handgun
armchair House autobiography as shy, field test DJ debilitate to
gristle relish. a soundness differently
dyke, latch dutiful, memoranda as an
poach mice radiance canned a inflatable, and roadblock, an define, in by
sticks an planting voracious hot dog allure ironic tartar sauce neurotic. it

willfully, darling, opinionated,. tablecloth the of outpost
earring carpentry a of launch pad and sheer woodland Methodist and bequest was
morning whiz venom, past,?! maudlin.... administrative sanitary iced"

Consider: "Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit."