Monday, June 26, 2006


Wait with bated bardic breath. Wait under awnings for the rain to stop. Maintain your composure. Do what you have to do. Whisper "patience" under your bardic breath. Window-shop the storefront behindd you. Look at that one dress. Probably very expensive, but it seems to shine with an inner light. Must have that dress. Compose some long line incantations. Observe the passers-by. They are varied. They are many. They should construct floats and have an urban pride parade and stick it to the suburbs. Suburbs are gaping chest wounds in our society. Look at the scarf in the storefront. It has seven different colours. Does this make you happy? Or is it only a few of the colours that fire up the passions? Observe the utility pole. Pull out some rusted staples absent-mindedly. Nowadays they use diluted adhesive to promote concerts, meditation seminars, riot grrrl retreats, or rallies. Consider for a minute the number of staples that need to be produced to keep this system rnning. How do they know on a moment-to-moment basis how much to produce? Because you know pretty much all production is done on a just-in-time regimen. Look at the dress again: the height of hipster ostentation: influences from the Orient & Paris, smalltown Canada & functional urban scavenging. Think about this for a second. Do you buy the dress or pay your rent? Or do you buy a bicycle and worry about it getting stolen in the bike theft capital of the world? It's all the more stressful, even if the rides are relaxing in their way. Or do you renovate your windows? But that would entail making grocery runs to the 'rents every week for the next four months. And it's not the 'rents that's the problem: it's the gaping suburban chest wound. Them suburbans want to take my brick facade. Them want plasticized ancient playgrounds. Them want ancient cherry tree rendered for pulp & paper. Them want architecture modern & flat & porches banned & fumes well-nigh noxious. Forget that. Look at the awning. The edge of the awning is the worst place to be both during and after a rainstorm. Gigantic drops threaten to break your neck. Go buy the dress if that's what you want. Nobody will take your house except you.

Consider: "It is with our passions as it is with fire and water: they are good servants but bad masters."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Wine (Part XVI)

A letter to no-one:

I long for the moment where I will be able to describe you in the Pablo Neruda terms that are circling in my head without shame, the moment when I will be able to bring your thighs and buttocks to the table, among other things. This isn't a product of the hours of convo that have preceeded this, but it might as well culminate in this. It's a series of tableaux that capture you and me, frozen to the spot, wedded in the horrifying sucking gravity of the actual. And I am tormented by the fact that I can imagine something more for the both of us. We have variously sold our positions along the way; we have given way to the way things are supposed to be done--and, really, we could not have done differently. We all have to live. We all have to pay for rent, groceries, a few electronics and wine. It had to be tbis way--or at least, the most statistically plausible way, which our coldly rational minds had to push for. But all thought is not cold thought (I would go so far as to say cold thought is recent development, whereas hot thought goes back to the very first lifeforms in the phylum chordata). And because we can imagine our developing faculties could not help but bridge impossible gaps, could not help but scream out in the night against the din of clattering machine, could not help but compose poetry even if there were scarcely more inspiration behind it htan most common varieties of business poetry. Too abstract. I feel I'm getting verbose as a way of avoiding the porblems. Maybe try some symbolism.

I walked the streets today. I scampered up and down the broad boulevard. I tripped on the sidewalk. I bounced a tennis ball against the plastic facades of Chinese restaurants, not out of disrespect, but out of contempt for their not being open at 1 a.m. I might have cried, but I probably sweated in my eye sockets. I might have laid myself down, but I walked on in uncomfortable heelless shoes. I might have made conversation with the hipster chicks coming back the other way admiring the thick frames of my glasses, but I chose to clean the frames of thimbprints instead.

I know this, and know it well. Tomorrow will be my last night of life this free, life lived up here where things and the things Pablo Neruda wrote about could not touch me. Tomorrow I will be acquiescing to button-down shirts, pay raises, nicer couches, thrown-away mandalas and houses with facades not so crumbling. I will be seeking out projects, simply to still the thoughts in my head and on this page. I will buy tires that grip in the wet--innumerable joys to the irony of this reference. Eventually the memory of Howl will fade away to a few drunken hobo gibberish quotes to use in a game of charades. I will laugh at it. I will dismiss juvenilia out of hand, and the great Hebraic bardic breath will be taken from me and cut up into short, punch, clever sentences that will manage to eke out the money to paint my moudlings and windows. And nobody will remember our cleverness, buried on the fairways of golf courses. Nobody will sings songs of people so slightly-above-average they were stricken by the hilarious absurdity of their yen to pursue creative work. Above all, nobody's ideas on relationships will be broken by our lack of success. Perhaps the greatest tragedy out of all this.

I don't know what to tell you. And looking back on it all, I never did.


A. D.

Consider the Crux: "with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4 AM and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination--"

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Here and Now

Suddenly every sentence seems important. Urgent somehow. Those pre-linguistic sensory data are growing ripe for posterity: the pattern of the bricks on the facade of a library, the speed with which the mouse bit the bars of its cage, the curious body position of a dead cockroach reminding me of a picture of a swami or a yogi I had seen somewhere long ago, the trembling of a greeen oscilliscope tracing, the posture with which prince Myshkin sat in a third-class railroad car, the tear on my couch, the mandala drawn in preconscious stupor working on a recursive square-diamond-circle pattern, the peculiar inflections of a recovering brian injury victim (the curious fact that I mistyped "recovering" as "recoveting"--there's something to that). Why did I write this? Because in a world of generalities (Boyle's law, for example) we need a counterbalance, so we can go forth and make what sense there is to be made while never forgetting that the real question is whether or not to commit suicide right now. If you stick your mind in generalities, you might as well snuff yourself out of them: you won't be missed. But if you manage to pay attention to anything in your immediate vicinity, you draw yourself back in. It's a matter of keeping yourself here, and that level is phenomenological, not cosmological; phenomenological, not ecological or molecular or quantum; phenomenological, not moral or metaphysical or political; phenomenological, not intellectual or aesthetic or social; phenomenological, not hedonistic or sexually motivated. I'm not saying other things aren't important, but your drive to live comes from here (or wherever you are), not all these other supra- or superordinate structures. This is why we don't beat down people's realities. You're here; be here. Am I sounding like a motivational seminar? So what? It has to be said, otherwise there'll be a lot of talk about the "meaninglessness of modern" existence, which are part intellectual wankery and part failure to fucking pay attention. Try telling me that when you're hungry, or going through creative block, or nervous for an opening night of a play, playing an instrument, dropping acid. Whatever. I don't do all these things, but they give it some fucking meaning. But keep in mind nothing is consisitent and nothing lasts forever. All these things will pass away. Deal with it.

Consider: "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


It's one of those thoughts you just kind of stumble into and have to run with. I said, quite by accident, that existential crises are luxuries. And I will stand by that exact word, because while it does not seem very useful to be paralyzed with cripplig self-doubt, proto-ulcers (our age's equivalent of the scourging whip), and other assorted fun things, it is necessary. Someone has to do it. It is a luxury and a priviliege, and let me just pount out how ambigouous that statement is. So, do we attack existential crises as rich-kid wankery, or do we praise it as something a select few have attained? I have no answer. Actually, all that means is the answer is not very satisfying: it's both. I make my best output in times of fear and crisis, but at the same time I just need to shut the fuck up sometimes. You know, shut the fuck up and do something. Anything: poke a fucking badger with a spoon. That kind of stuff. Throw a tennis ball into a fruit pile. Make bad punk music on an acoustic guitar. Dance. Fucking dance to ghetto-ass strobe lights made by flicking a light switch repeatedly. Drink and stumble. At the same time, what is all that shit for? I like to attach a certain permanence to these impulses by paying attention to them. But I quickly get too abstract and realize there's no permanence. But that's taking the God's-eye-view, and what we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence. So, I don't know: we existential-crisis-having motherfuckers need to participate, and the participants need to geve themselves an existential migraine. By the way, the word existential is totally extraneous to this post.


Consider: "Quand on a terminé sa toilette du matin, il faut faire soigneusement la toilette de la planète. [When you've finished getting yourself ready in the morning, you must go get the planet ready.] "

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Three Visions

The Woman in Black: She is digging by the roots of a large tree. The squirrels cower in their nests and the birds don't dare approach anywhere near her. All that can be heard is the rustling of the occassional ground snake. She is digging for truffles and, finding what she is looking for, greedily consumes them. The juice runs down her nose, cheeks and upper lip because it squirted violently when she bit into it. It eventually runs down her collarbone and into her dress, where it disappears without a trace forever. Her noises proceed from little grunts of curiosity to violent shrieks of satisfaction to heavy breathing. She begins to feel groggy from the gorging. At this the gorund snakes come a little closer. The badgers peek out from their burrows, and the eusocial insects marshal their scent trails, awaiting when she goes to sleep.

The Woman in White: Atop a hill, she is giving birth to a child with the express intention that he be born with the full moon in his eye. Optical illusions make the moon bright on the horizon, and in her mind it has the aspect of a fertilized ovum. She thinks she's crazy when she sees the moon blastulate before her eyes. Insane in the brain. Her pushes are not adequate. There is nobody around but the wolves on top of a different hill. She knows there are itinerant doctors in the valley below, and all she has to do is scream out. But she is afraid: many of the itinerants are new practitioners, and are all too happy to perform scarring Caesarians more for the sake of their reputations than for her. Some of them are also butchers: molested by the council of matriarchs early on, now contemptuous of women, all too happy to use their skills--the only power given them--for vengeance.

The Woman in Red: On a balcony overlooking the foreign quarter. She is singing songs of old, accompanied by accordion and full brass in her head. (Earlier that day, she was throwing bottles filled with glowing red liquor at the walls of her block and shouting abuse at the young merchants from her carriage. Vomitting on the cobblestones. Incantating ancient words of power to render the cumulus clouds into shifting arabesques and mandalas, much to the entertainment of the local street urchins.) Her Hasidic lover has returned after two years at sea, and as they satisfy their animal lust in every room of her flat, on the balcony, on the roof and in every position he has imported from the mysterious East, they tell tales of the past two years, and also reminisce about growing up in their small woodworker town on the banks of the Dniester. She tells the epic of the rise and fall of the Abbot Parfunty due to his predilection for arson; they laugh as they make profane gestures. He tells of the increible week-long sumptuous orgies in the mosques of Aden, of how the muezzin could only sing his calls to prayer if her was being "serviced" by at three women, at least one of whom had to be a negress.

Consider: "You say I took your name in vain, / but I don't even know the name. / And even even if I did, / well, what's it to ya? // There's a ray of light in every word, / it don't matter what you heard, / the sacred or the broken hallelujah."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Drum Circle

I'm just emerging from one of the worst creative droughts in my living memory, os forgive me if what follows is unreasonably prolix. When I manage to put word to page, or picture to page, or text to screen, is one of the most supremely fulfilling experiences I am privy to.

So presumably we're talking about drum circles. I attended one recently, and being the person I am I couldn't help attaching symbolic significance, which is really the impetus for any writing I do. The whole "rising above the mundane, but through the mundane" thing. Is that a a cliche yet? It very well might be, but that might be a topical cliche. You know the kinds of parallels I will draw: like life, drumming is a group activity; we cover one another's weak spots; doing the same beat over and over, though easy, quickly sucks the magic out; once the magic is gone, the endogenous analgesics are gone, and you realize your flesh has been mortified--fingers like sausages, palms like tanned leather, fingernails registering your heartbeat with fidelity, etc, etc. And drumming is susceptible to mistakes: and the same kind of mistakes get made again and again: you go for an embellishment that doesn't come off, and you might learn your lesson, but other young whelps are just entering the circle, looking to make it big, to strike a fortune, to be noticed by the dancers around the fire. (There was a torch in the middle; the sky was obscured by a thick canopy of trees in a fire pit. There were also torch jugglers; there were castanets; there were maracas. A few people brought their voices. And the dancers brought limb and belly and back and flailing hair and beaming smiles. Was everyone angelic?) This event made me proud to be caught in the great meat wheel. The next day, I had a bruide on my left hip to mark where my roommate's djembe rubbed up against my skin through the shirt. Was that awakening, or only a by-product of something that mabe snapped as I slept? I don't know yet, but what I do know is that my desire to pay attention and actually write something down is back. I have a lenghty absence to compsnesate for.

Gunter Grass put this best in one of my all-time favourite prolix books. Little outsider midget Oskar drums out the follies of 1930s Germany, the horrors of the Eastern Front, the supreme modern boredom on the ramparts of Normandy, the suicides of greengrocers, the duplicity that is the privilege of the atractive, the taste of blood sausage, the crying-rooms of the post-war period and many other things. Being antedated 50 years doesn't bother me. I'll never pull in a living from this stuff, anyway.

Here are some story ideas. I'd appreciate feedback. These are still in the "bit" stage; that is, they are kernels. Maybe I shouldn't say "bit"; that implies some sort of comedy. Which these aren't--intentionally, anyway.

1) A bottom-of-the-barrel autoclave technician tries to humanize his machine by sticking to it a collection of banana stickers.

2) A man hatches a devious plan to sabotage other people's karma: he steals things, and then leaves his stolen goods with notes suggesting they have been thrown out. People take them home, and since in this particular metaphysic there is no difference between outcome and intention, they (eventually) suffer. What would make a person do that?

3) A wealthy doctor is taking the bus for the first time in 20 years. He sees a bus ad for his weight-loss clinic, and is distressed to find its production value so low.

That's all for the moment. We've veered pretty far from talking about drum circles.

Consider: "We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Scribbler (Part II)

So what is good writing anyway? I can say honestly, emphatically, even passionately: I don't know. I'm really concerned with the search, but not with answers I can stuff into a self-written textbook on style. If I had to guess I'd say it's good style broadly conceived. And because of this I can probably defend the assertion that good writing is inseparable from good living. Or maybe interesting writing is inseparable from interesting living, which accommodates all those obtuse wrecks of human beings who wrote the canon. But this is controversial, and I'd hope for nothing more than to spark some debate, the more vicious, the better. Because as I just said: I'd rather have a long, protracted argument than be right. I'd rather have my ass kicked and bruised in conceptual Judo than learn nothing. But this is rare.

To that end, I went to a reading of book excerpts in a place I will invariably associate with "hipness" forevermore (you who started that association: you know who you are). And I learned nothing. I was milsly entertained. I reluctantly provided a couple of critical barbs at the writing exhibited before me. That was totally not what I wanted to do. I wanted to be overshadowed and dominated by superior minds who would give me ideas for new conceptual directions and combinations, plots beyonds the Standard Seven, narrations beyond I-you-(s)he. Sadly, the only idea I got was and approach for defining what my style strives after.

Essentially, I feel that I have not yet solidified any kind of style out of all my meanderings. But when something unified peers out, I am often displeased. It comes across at worst as vain, pedantic, or worse, so insecure that it has to hide beyond complicated sentence structures and a ready supply of ten-dollar words, otherwise the reader will clue in. At best, it completes the world-view of a specific group of people. Let me explain. When I open my eyes in the morning, what greets me? It's almost never a fresh visual scene. All I get is regions of colour (usually green from the trees outside my window). Once the glasses come on, I get specks of dirt, streaks, little etches in the glass. And then there are the entoptic effects: long chains of floaters which twist and turn like earthworms or a little scum pond right inside my vitreous humour. And on top of that, my retina likes to flare brilliantly bright colours in tiny dots at odd times. Why did I veer into this discussion of my personal optometric and opthalmological history? Because this filters my impressions of the world. And it probably affects my style and preferences in ways I can't understand but can't deny. I know some people who write vividly: long discursive passages on little details. And that's great, if done right; if it explores aspects of objects from thought-provoking or unusual ways. But most times it's not done right. One of the writers I heard today spent too much time on thrown-in irrelevant details which added nothing to the theme. Sorry, hon. We've already got cameras for recording every little detail. They're a legitimate art form with a well-recognized niche. You can't compete with them. Besides, for a myopic person like me, details have never been essential. I'm not blind, but I have heard that blind people are more inclied to gaze beyond. For me, therefore, it is the concept that motivates the work, not a scene. I try my hand at gritty realism sometimes, but that is subordinate. Another of the writer punctuated too much of her reading with "he said" and/or "she said": it shows an unsureness of voice, which is particularly egregious in a reading. But I can't blame her: I'm obsessed with the voice I have never found. For a long time, I wanted Allen Ginsberg's, but he can have it, though so much of him remains in these posts, I can never acknowledge.

Enough for now.

Consider: "With our concept making apparatus called "mind" we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us. The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see "reality" differently. It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tao (Part ??)

A Jungian therapist (if such a person still exists) would approve of what I'm doing. They call it active imagination, which is the self-therapy I've been doing for years. Of course, having said that, I have to opine that Jung was part brilliant and part full of shit. Still, one can learn from the master, if one can endure his frequent excursions into some obscure point of medieval alchemy or the occassional phrase in greek writing. But it's neat, noticing the archetypes welling up from the subconscious, the archetype being just a tendency to think a certain way; generally, a tendency to organize experience in a certain way. Think of it this way: why is it that every bad teenage poet uses disturbingly similar, cliches, light-dark imagery, self-absorption, phrases, themes, etc. Certainly not from any non-existent literary training. One could say it's kind of wired into our psyche (except, of course, modern mass communnication confounds the picture, so if globalization succeeds in dissolving cultural barriers, we may never know for sure, just like the near-extinction of our closest primate relatives, if it happens, will hopelessly obscure the origins of "humanity" evern more than it is now).

Talked to a friend about one of the most popular and well-known archetypes: the anima. That is, the man's "soul-image". I don't know what that was supposed to mean, but I take it to be this powerful constellation of ideas that a person (almost always a man) seeks. It is characteristically hard to describe, but it involves essentially developing the faculty of feeling, of being able to assign value and quality to the constituents of experience; the idea is more extensive than that, and I don't have it grasped in my mind sufficiently to write about it at any great length. Suffice it to say that it pops up in literature all the time: it seems the poets come closest to pinioning it. Dante always spoke of Beatrice with such passion--there was his anima baring itself, imposing itself on him. I don't know what mine is, but I feel some of my posts have been attempts to chase it through the receding corridors and blind alleys of my mind. It only seems to manifest itself attached to specific people or seemingly arbitrarily chosen attributes which I need to list or write up in some long, discursive monster of a paragraph or semi-hallucinated run-on sentence. But not just now.

Consider: "“There is a time to stop reading, there is a time to STOP trying to WRITE, there is a time to kick the whole bloated sensation of ART out on its whore-ass.”