Monday, January 22, 2007

Acta Physiologica

You are somewhere in this city. But it's not you I'm so concerned with. It's your ghost. I don't really believe in ghosts, but I find them a useful fiction, much like when people pray but what they're really doing is accidentally meditating. And meditation is its won kind of fiction. As I said: your ghost. Your small, faintly musky, faintly unwashed. It smells like skin flaking off. I can't get it out of my chair, and with this smell here I can't sit and read my PDFs in peace. No, the whole time I'm ruptured by visions. For the fist time, I feel like these eruptions are happening to me. Not like before when I could summon them up (kind of) at will. What's sad is they're kind of bullshit visions. Mountain peaks blowing off and going out to space. Unicorns clubbed to death by mastodons ridden by harpies. The whole scene wiped out by the Tunguska meteor. Stuff like that. Czar Bomba extinguishing all traces that people ever peopled here. Weird arabesque representational art frames the picture. And there you are: the woman on the pedestal in Dali's Temptation of St. Anthony strangled by streetcar wires, writing as superheated coils make me gag on the taste of burning hair and ozone. Saturated fat pops out of its storage place in the things and dribbles down the as-yet-unmarked skin, hissing and popping little bubbles. It makes me want to vomit. And then suddenly I am in a white place. Clean smell of laundered clothes. A gargling brook in the background--in surround sound. A little boy is holding a candelabra, whose flame flickers and turns from yellow to blue and back to yellow. Red Xs in his eyes and a hungry, vampiric look on his face. Behind him an altar with a red tableclothe and gold trimmings spread. A silver bowl stands in the center. I dare not apporach the altar. I back up. It feels mossy. I am spit out through a damp, warm cave into the street in front of my house. It is sporadically haling. Each hailstone is the size of a basketball. From here, I get the impression they are being aimed individually. A man across the street is hit by one in his solar plexus. His torso is mangled beyond recognition. Another falls through the roof of our neighbour's house, and screams can be heard within. Planes and helicopters are crashing out of the sky. A wounded dog drags his two broken legs down the sidewalk. Panicked drivers duck for cover under their cars. To no avail. I can see a bird's-eye-view of myself and the hailstone the size of my head that will hit my neck, severing all contact and blood flow to the brain. I have a few seconds, and I can't help thinking that the moment will just drag itself out more and more, until I realize that I still have all the time in the world.

Consider: "In lieu of creativity, there is an undue emphasis on sexuality."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wine (Part XIX)

Pictures to remember the night by would be nice, but I forgot to turn on the flash, so I'm left with a lot of black-on-brown photos of going down alleys. Plot points which will be lost to eternity. Anti-aliasing effects in my retina making the sidewalk stripy, loopy, moving when it shouldn't be. Grabbing my forehead in exasparation. Lying on a soft armchair? Someone declares me a 3 on the Kinsey scale. My ears hurt and ring from minus 17 degrees celsius wind constantly fluxing. Icy patches I will surely slip on: I descend the staircase showing off the glittering jewels of the Downtown, a brief flash of memory of marvelling at the magnificence of all we have created. This is a busness town, so no cabbie will pick up my drifter form. I want to sleep; I don't want to sleep. Not like this. It feels like the next few days will involve penance for this. Penance for crimes committed in my mind. Penance at perchance violating the societal codes of conduct, the patronage that exists from the powerful and flows in its non-benevolent bounty to the vassals. My landlord, my boss, my progenitor, my supervisor, my teacher, my paterfamilias, my guru. One day they will sing to the memory of those I've met, those who left shitty situations for this place were they could cry on couches, cradled by the vestiges of civilization. Gandhi was once asked what he thought of wstern civilization, and he said "that would be nice". Because for this brief moment our heads are cowned in flame. Thye glow as beacons to the rest of the world, before we collapse with lungs filled with phlegm and other things. It's funny: once realizing this we stopped rolling down the street into the river.

Consider: "To know that there is nothing to know, and to grieve that it is so difficult to communicate this "nothing to know" to others - this is the life of Zen, this is the deepest thing in the world."

Thursday, January 18, 2007


What motivates all this? I know: that one sentiment about how today so many things happened. You know, the one that runs: today a man cradled the head of his presenile mother and for the first time in his life he knew what tenderness meant; today a movie star talked to a shef in a greasy spoon joint to great satisfaction; today a deist lost his faith in God the semantic concept; today a young boy arranged candalabrae in the shape of a mandala in his grandmother's drawing room; today a longhair ponytail stared up at a smokestack and strained to see the top through the smudges on his glasses; today a west indian man sneered at a Phillipino and instantly felt terrible; today someone lost a wig; today someone else found what they were looking for as a matter of random chance; today a lonely accountant consummated his desire with his nighbour's live-in caregiver; today three cars flipped over bridges and went unreported; today a water main burst in a zoology lab, causing a grad student to start contemplating suicide; today a backlit cumulonimbus cloud restored a jaded 24-year-old's faith in God; today a three-hundred-year-old willow tree was cut down; today a little girl will toss and turn all night, confused by what had just happened; today someone will try to scrobble three hours worth of music in twenty minutes and fail; today an unwashed philosopher will be star-struck beyond all reason. If I could express this sentiment in anything other than wild phrases, I would. So far all I have is symbols that point to what must, at least for now, remain mystery. But, pray tell, how else do you want it?

Consider: "Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?"

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stoa (Part I)

SCENE: A wall with an overhang. At the end of the overhang, about two meters from the wall, columns hold up the overhang, forming a stoa. MATTHIAS is leaning in front of a door on the wall. Enter WOLFF.

MATTHIAS: I heard scratching coming from your room last night.
WOLFF: I don't know what that was. All I know is it woke me up several times in a blind terror. What if it was a rabies-infested, filthy raccoon?
M: You know, they are more afraid of you than you are of them.
W: So I've heard, but try explaining that to me at 5 a.m.
M: Well, that's something you're going to have to cultivate.
W: I hear you, but you haven't given me any way to do this.
M: I keep telling you, all you need is some time for refelction. Once you have that, all else follows.
W: I don't know, man. I'm not falling for this over-analyze everything, pseudo-intelllectual, detaching oneself from the world shit. I like my passions. Don't you know that they point to the loci of what is really important in the world? And they do this in a way utterly inaccessible to your reflective mind. Take these past weeks: without the ups and downs of emotional disturbances I would have been bored out of my skull. But it so happened that we had a series of hopes, expectancies, disappointments, hot temper flashes, deep depressions, hammer-blows of inspiration. I got some creative output from that. And what will be left for people to judge me by except that output?
M: Yes, but you had no time for your meditation practice. And what you've just described sounbd like you're riding the ups and praying for the downs to finish. Wouldn't you rather steer steadily in your pre-determined direction.
W: But that's not how it works. Maybe for some meanial tasks where you have to bash through, I can see the value of being somewhat in control, but what about inspiration? I need to grab huge heaving dollops of imagery from that I-know-not-where area of my psyche and bring it back here. It's my mini-hero-cycle. Each time is a little apotheosis, or sacred marriage. If I were in control, I'd lose that struggle.
M: But you know yourself. You descend from the mountain, or rise from the underworld with something precious, but then you never follow up with it. You sit there, bash out a few creative things in feverish inspiration, and then never flesh it out into anything that your peers would view as possessing quality. This is why you need your meditative practices. I'm distressed you were unable to do them.
W: I don't know how you can live like this. You live in increments. A little of this, a little toward this, never experiencing real transformation, never having to reframe, never having to use your intelligence to overcome some corner you've backed yourself into. I like that process. Try to understand that.
M: You only like it if it's working out. You're a flea riding an elephant. You should strive to be a human riding a horse.
W: ...

Consider: "Everything is right for me, which is right for you, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early or too late, which comes in due time for you. Everything is fruit to me which your seasons bring, O Nature. From you are all things, in you are all things, to you all things return."

Friday, January 05, 2007


The past few weeks have made me realize I overuse phrases like "transcranial magnetic kaleidoscopic mindfuck clutter", because maybe I don't want to face the fact that whta I do is juts the same as what everyone else does. What did you do for the holidays? Oh, I did something similar. What are your aspirations? Mine too! Skills? Yup. Fears? Don't get me started. So because I will never be famous, because you wouldn't pick me out on the street, I retreat into my head, where phrases such as "backlit phosphorescent kaleidoscopic movement" (or whatever) have some sort of applicability. I have said it again and again: most of how I live is personal. But this being personal is much more profound than being a reclusive shut-in (which I'm becoming less and less)--it's my belief that the question of what it's like to be me, or you, or anyone, is deeply misguided. In an important sense--and I'll just asssert it here--my point of view and yours, I and thou, are incommensurable. I felt this more strongly as a child, but I still get those inklings. How did you manage to solve that problem? Why are you so stubborn? Why do material objects make you happy? Why do you clean so obsessively? Why do you radiate an aura of loneliness? I can't predict when I get this way, but it tends to ruin everything, because I really want to hold that understanding is posible, in that grander Buddhist assertion that ego is simply the ignorance which prevents us from seeing there's no such thing as self. While I don't want to dismiss this idea as bulshit (because all I know about philosophy of mind is kind of leaning in that direction), I can't hold it now in a non-contradictory way. So then I get depressed, because this means loneliness in a crowd, loneliness even within my own consciousness--system 1 and system 2 are bickering again. And then, the real bombshell question, the thousand-dollar one that demands but never receives a satisfactory answer with all the force of eons of evolution (birth, grow, eat, shit piss, fuck, eat, shit piss, fuck, repeat, die) behind it: why won't you love me?

Consider: "Last time I saw you / We had just split in two. / You were looking at me. / I was looking at you. / You had a way so familiar, / But I could not recognize, / Cause you had blood on your face; / I had blood in my eyes. / But I could swear by your expression / That the pain down in your soul / Was the same as the one down in mine. / That's the pain, / Cuts a straight line / Down through the heart; / We called it love. / So we wrapped our arms around each other, / Trying to shove ourselves back together..."