Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tiny Candles (Part I)

I have a list in my head--a permutable list, a shifting list, an explictly forgotten but implcitly normative list--of a few famous people upon whose deaths I will light a small candle. I will light my candle--or a candle in my mind, if I cannot access candles or sources of fire--and reflect on the fleeting bits of consciousness in the dark, the flickering flame of the creative, consummatory energy that animates and destroys, that sometimes takes us by the shoulders and shouts "no more!" into our right ear until we acquiesce to the voice from without and the voice from below. You may have guessed I'm talking about Kurt Vonnegut (only public figures get names on this weblog). The dead have no need for clean sheets, but we the living have the need to tell each other it was all right: the life of creative output makes up for it, he lives on in our memory, he belongs to the ages. All crap, of course.

This is not a reflection on that one time I met the man, or of how he influenced me in my high school years. I will not try to incorporate his well-worn catch-phrases into some secular equivalent of a hagiography. But I will say this: he taught me about diaspora; he taught me to give with one hand and pull away the other, he taught me the commonalities between uniforms, mantras, gravestones and the oxygen-sucking vortices during the firerbombing of Dresden. He taught me the joy of pluralism and the simultenous realization that that you can't go home to rocking-chair porches and pleasant greetings again. He taught me, before I experienced it, that faith can be experienced differently by different people, and that love and truth sometimes pull in different directions. He taught me all these things viscerally, of course, long before my speech had ever become articulate enough to approximate the sentiment. It still isn't.

This is a running tally of dying heroes.

Consider: "If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? IF HE HAS SPOKEN, WHY IS THE UNIVERSE NOT CONVINCED? If the knowledge of a God is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest?"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Union of Apposites (Part II)

I'm impatient for enlightenment. I'm beaten by the equinox. I'm confused by the roar of engines. I'm jonesing for companionship. I'm dancing by moonlight. I'm terrified of rusty fire escapes. I'm swaying in the wind. I'm blowing in a gourd. I'm whistling for a waitress. I'm complacent by mothlight. I'm relieved in halos. I'm swaying to Sibelius. I'm snapping, cracking, popping at sunset. I'm drinking the second-order pitcher. I'm explicating for my life. I'm frogging at the throat. I'm grating on my own nerves. I'm sleeping for escape. I'm boxing my ears. I'm savoring the pink sunset. I'm lost in a strobe light. I'm buzzing in my insides. I'm slurping the soup. I'm swatting at the mice. I'm gagging on the streetcar. I'm arguing for BDSM. I'm complicating my moral stance. I'm dreaming of nuclear war. I'm praying to Atheist God. I'm throwing shadow puppets. I'm stuffing my stomach. I'm crying over teddy bears. I'm mapping my associations. I'm slipping into poetry. I'm admiring the great backyard tree. I feel like I'm sixteen again. I'm embracing ambivalence. I'm reasserting my prose. I'm emoting on the laugh track. I'm watching anime. I'm seizing up by strobe light. I've been arguing for three hours. I'm unable to recall what happened two hours ago. I lost track of the interrelated life story. I'm head to head with my shadow. I have hunger pangs I've never noticed. I'm bangin on a ride cymbal for dear life. I've memorszed 3,000,000 facts this year. I'm a maven stuck in a gravity well. I want to scalp the sultry temptress. I want to crush skulls. I want to kick the walkers from under old ladies. I want to roll on the ground pickled in ethanol. I wish the lights buzzing outside this room would turn off for just one day of the year.

Consider: "There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet."

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Shadows of moments stick with you but they're hard to articulate. There's a few every day, especially if you actively cultivate mindfulness. But the problem comes for the writer: are these too sublime, too other to ever translate into this mode of smbolic expression, the only thing we have to really influence each other and pushc our interpretations on each other. So where do I get off even discussing this stuff: a momentary glance to find a parking lot onscured by flurries that are gone as soon as they're noticed, thed flitting of a moth on a jade tree that needs to be watered, a blackboard's graceful arc downward through time and space, a cloud on the western horizin looming over the human spires of hospitals, streetcar wires with flahses of arcing electricity, doors on the seocnd floors of buildings leading nowhere, blurs of lighter and darker areas on the inside of your eyelids. I know, I know. My writing is too top-heavy with this kind of stuff, with no real attempt at synthesis any more. I'll try; I promise. But not just right now.

They make me realize I love this city more and more. What if this is the just society we've strived for. Not just in a legalistic sense, but just in a poetic sense? Wat if the skid row rubbish is as important as the north-of-Bloor mindsets and houses. What if they stand in dialectical opposition to each other? This city has a unique ability to offer juxtapositions of all sorts: million-dollar homes across from the projects, subterranean physicists walking amongst bearded and spiked crackheads, Anglo-saxon sensibility permeating the pure life pulsating from the hole-in-wall immigrasnt food jounts, steaming up the windows and threatening premature enlightenment. What about the nihilists, dreamers, Platonists, cynics and theists doing the same strange tai chi forms? Something has to be said about that. But not right now, because it wouldn't turn out well. Besides, I love suggesting, not concluding.

Consider: "It isn't enough for your heart to break because everybody's heart is broken now."