Thursday, June 21, 2007

Union of Apposites (Part III)

"Tell me a story."

There is a room--not my room: an imagined room. In this room multiple chests of drawers are filled with rocks from beaches all along the Pacific Rim, a few lagoons from Atlantic islands, renovated hotel lobbies and wishing wells disguised to look like babbling brooks. That's just one drawer. The one above holds religious icons of bygone eras, wrapped in cermeonial robes in every imaginable colour of the rainbow (and, incidentally, some colours observable only by bees, certain kinds of phototaxic flowers, and remarkably keen-eyed trichromatic predators), as well as engraved words of "wisdom" regarding life, death, atonement, abashedness, modesty, love, hate, righteousness, lawfulness, Female Genital Mutilation, hatred of Infidels, respect for fathers--unconditionally, respect for mothers and female elders--conditionally. In there, for good meausre, are thrown some of J.S. Bach's finer organ works--probably the only thing, if I were a 16th-century man--that would make me believe in God. How could you not, with an array of pipes blasting the pure voice of the wind directionlessly, but with such (dare I say it?) grace? The drawer above that is stuffed with more secular music: lilting sonatinas from bygone early piano years, an endlessly infuriating memory of inane left-hand accomaniment to decently worked-out melodies, Chopin and Rachmaninoff mixed together, tender then angry. So angry! Bashing that keyboard, but having it turn to harmonic gold every time! In with them, a few bits of 1960s-era optimistic science fiction: the kind that focused on exploring space, before the concept of exploring cyberspace ever came up; before Peak Oil hit the public imagination, before our leaders let us down because we didn't need to upstage the Russkies. Atop that firs chest of drawers I have a pile of rocks very similar to the drawer-pile; except every one of these rocks is a meditation-rock I have carried in my back pocket at some time of my life, training myself so that every time I became aware of it touching my skin I would "sink" into my mindfulness-state: a state chracterized primarily by increased alpha-wave EEG over the parietal lobes. Next to my mindfulness-shrine is a stack of notes with names scrawled, all sharing a rather obvious family resemblance: Salman Rushdie, Allen Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson, Woody Harrelson, The Nameless Guru of Kensington, the Bearded Scotsman, Summer Scarf Guy, The Ponytailed Psychoanalyst, the Guerrilla Gardener, the Chinese Lady Who Takes Cans From Our Recycling, Psychonaut Patty... as well as the names of a few of my friends, who are not so famous to be named here. The walls are crumbling, and so are covered with posters: psychology charts I've found useful, food guides with all meats crossed out, framed portraits of people I will never meet, brain scans, doodles arranged in non-verbal story arcs, transcriptions of organ music, patches, rust stains elaborated on with flourishes, attempting to rescue the rot in the plaster of the walls, dricing it up and out, in and into the air, over into transcendence or, more importantly, attention-grabbing thisness.

Consider: "Peace be with you. Receive my peace for yourselves. Take heed lest anyone lead you astray with the words, 'Lo, here!' or 'Lo, there!' for the Son of Man is within you."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Urban Soup (Part XVIII)

Long lulls are really watersheds. I have, in an important sense, lost the motivation for this series of posts. The only thing really uniting then was the "friendly city" vibe an adjunct of the the "magnificence of the mundane" mindset. But these days a sinister edge has crept in. 4 a.m. shadows are no longer the deep castings of an impossibly unattainable moon, no longer the reflecting depths of my own inward dive that comes with drunkenness or reverie, or loneliness and pining. My pining is has died away. I live a life of immanence, at least for the moment. and how do you deal when such a part of you is suddenly removed. I am happier, but who created out of happiness? I always created out of joy. And I was rarely happy. What do I find? Joy is more renewable but less extreme. Everyone needs both. but how does this relate to that guiding metaphor, the Urban Soup?

The nighttime shadows lose their extra layers. The dark siudewalk becomes a conveyance to an end? A lover's house? A meeting? The terrifying shadows on my walls at night are no longer the kaleidoscopic messengers of something beyond what I can put here in these lines; they are now maple-leaf pinpricks of bad conscience as I heave dry sobs into my sheets--rarely, but often enough. Streetcar wires support balancing fools: the harlequins in search of their fix, spiralling outwards from intersections in ever-increasing arcs, disregarding the rules of traffic, the rules of walls, the solidiry of fences, the normalizing force of "get off the grass" public spaces. Corners are now home to jesters with bottles becoming Molotov cocktails, burning up the Prague Spring. The whole edifice of midnfulness training is now a means to the end of drawing a crowd on a beach, or of being able to juggle fire to the same end. Curiousity about the trees and birds and leaves, and the gulches and swamps, the highway overpasses and stairwells, and even the farms and babbling brooks and ancient ferns and limply hanging caterpillars now becomes channeled into discourse of "altered states of consciousness"; read: getting jacked, seeing visuals, feeling the walls now becoming a part of you, K-holes, nose fun, blacking out. Dionysios unearthed behind the nouveau-art posters. This is my soup now? Not so! Get grounded! Centered! Whole! Immanent! One! Be an agent! Affirm! Condescend your attention!

The struggle is thus laid out in its confusing entirety. But whereas my dialogues were totally intra-psychic before, now they are between two actual people face to face in the swirling noodles and mint leaves and fat droplets.

Consider: "The secret of being a bore is to tell everything."