Tuesday, November 27, 2007

To Himself

Everyhting's converging: the classes that consistently, with a powerful rising undercurrent, point to the answer: the meaning of life, the source of joy, the fountain of youth, the Elixir of Life, the Holy Grail. The fiction books plucked from bargain bins at random, from 1920s Germany, from 1970s India, from the timeless mush-world of Colombia, from France sometime after the advent of railroads, from non-fiction piles all also point at it. In different ways to be sure, but each adds their line, their note, their trill in the chorus of exaltation. The friendships are all embrouled in it: intellectuals falling into obsession about one concept or another, about one thinker or another, others finding the practice which enlightens in more mundane concerns, in shopping, in caring, in beers, in wiping old asses. I see it now in the importation of old sanskrit or pali terms: dharma, sunyata, dhukka, karuna, etc. They cluster and swirl together, a strange loop, an attractor, haording all these other ephemera to them. The girl is there too: images in my mind, places, feelings of approach, of sinking, of growing, of expangind. Yes, even the shaken legs, the shivering tears all point to it. A middle way. The stinking technocracies of planes, the false smiles of modern psychopomps, the half-sleep nights, the sense of dissolution of habitual patterns--but dissolution without destruction, without distraction. Awful chamber music points to it; grinding walls of noise point to it; piccolo solos weaving through Pan's layrinth point to it; the laughing immortals point to it; the terar-jerker stride pianos point to it. My conversatonal cup is overflowing at those on the same level as me; it is also beginning to erupt up and down. Counselling sessions are dharma; they point to it. Sobbing fits are dhukka--they point to it. Half-sleep, runination, systems breaking and regrouping all point to it. My lack of paragraph breaks points to it. Strangest of all, elemental winter weather points to it: the barren outsides and the fertile insides; but also the intimation that the inside will rot and grow diseased unless they are aired out.

Hold on to this moment. But never forget to add wings to the "soul"; never forget to plunge into reality and drown your over-dry head. Things will go down from this moment; the can't help but go down. The call-note of aporia can only be sustained for a short while.

Consider: "Honesty is the best policy. But sometimes policy is not the best policy."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Expansive Howl (Part V)

...the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors...

My boss is essentially a page from a magazine. His appearance and comportment, his associates and accessories, his diction and bearing all point unmistakably to his stature in life, all point to his hillside house somewhere outside the city, near a train stop but not too near it, near all the conveniences constantly maintained by the folk pouring off the trans-oceanic boats in the harbours, the grey folk, the shawled folk who don’t speak the good English like him, who don’t in their faces bear the marks of youth, the Nordic marks of power: the chin, the jaw, the rut in the cheek, the straight forehead, the sideburns maintained at geometrically perfect proportions. You can read from his face the house he owns: at least twenty rooms, warm, solid, rising to a third, or even fourth story. He is a human being who has built a granite cave from making other human beings place marks on papers by operating levers dipped in ink. Do you feel as if I’m talking around him? Well, that is how I talk around him. It is also how I behave around him. When he comes, I feel the pathway of my possible thoughts, the tree of possible things I could say constrict and wither. The branches containing the implicit punning rules disappear first, then the question transformations, then the passive ones, then the familiar forms of address, then the clichéd sayings I use to plug holes in conversations, unfairly. Nobody else makes me talk on my toes like the boss: nobody else has ever washed over me that sense of “smarter-than-thou”, that sense of uncaring mentorship, of initation into almost-Gnostic mysteries my troglodyte mind will never grasp. I copyedit for him. I read the hissing waves of his prose as he discourses on great events, as he presses his sage opinion into the public pages, to reach the millions of breathing bodies in this city, which itself breathes with its steam vents, and bleeds out its buses and trams, its cabs and limousines. When work finishes and we’ve exchanged mandatory pleasantries we’ll retire to our respective trains: his the over-ground white train that is cleaned weekly and I to my mostly-underground tube where old organ-grinders mouth-breathe next to me, where old squat men who never mastered the good English since they stepped off the boats thirty years ago, the same men who offer votive candles to polytheistic pantheon of saints back in the Mediterranean islands where their grandmothers covered their heads with black scarves year-round, never mind the heat. Here are the people who bring out my words, who unwrap their academic crispness, who unravel the rules of spelling, all the arcane of one “l” or two “l”s or “ie” or “ei” or extraneous vowels, or “g”s and various other interconnected star-like clusters of meaningless dressed-up bullshit. Here, in the tunnel world of speech, none of that matters. “In the workman papers you don’t see the injunctions against split infinitives, or even complete phrases, or the “bad taste” of having two exclamation marks. (You need only one. How insufferably Anglo-Saxon.) But here with men named Nico or Gino or Xerxes we’ll see the happy medium of human rationality out of the confused babble of the world, and I even deign to feel a little Neo-Platonic, before my disgust responses come online. If all reality were One, then my discourse on Gino the mouth-breathing organist would amount to the highest affirmation of The Boss’ theoretical outlook, that well-fed, corpulent yet disciplined world of lines and angles and the forms of circles. I doubt my sometime master ever ventured into these tunnels—these tunnels that, in their sinews, go against the spirit of geometry.

Consider: "Onward Nazi soldiers, onward Christian soldiers, onward Marxists and Muslims, onward every chosen People, every Crusader and Holy War-maker. Onward into misery, into all wickedness, into death!"

Thursday, November 08, 2007


What may happen if I die? Imaginatively, a great deal. Maybe I'll lie where I drop, and a mass of foodstuffs will expand around me: all the pizzas and tacos I ever ate, all the dust I swallowed, the water, saliva, backwash I drank. Maybe I will be surrounded by people: the inhumanly saurian teachers of the dim foggy past, the bearded warriors that drove my family out of our home, old men that played chess in the parks and yelled at me to get down from the benches. Maybe my friends will be there. Maybe. It's possible a few lovers, requited and unrequited, might show up. But what would they do? Stand? Sing? Lacerate themselves? That's the last thing I'd want. Talk amongst each other? In some ways, while I still have life, I'd prefer to tie off some areas from others. But after death, let the gates open. Let all the causal flotsam and jetsam eddy away into the future, because we all know we'll just end up scattered over the planet, a fine sprinkling of snow that never takes for all that long, that's swept by wind, that thaws or compresses into something different.

What else might happen? There might be light. Chains that bind my being may break. The eternal darkness, eternal bliss free from the confines of ego and grasping. Or maybe just another cycle, a place to guide my grasping all the more ferociously. Maybe I'll wander as a ghost on a mountain, bemused and confused by the world of the living. Maybe I'll stand on cliff-tops and not feel the wind. Maybe places of power which have drawn people since misty immemorial time will have no significance for me. Maybe the stars lose their twinkle, but remain as ideas, as diamonds embedded in the pudding of my thoughts. How horrible it would be to be plagued by the obsessions of life, but all the more so. What if death removed all the possibility of transformation. Hey, the universe may not be just. Maybe resurrection happens, in which case you get no respite. No release. No comforts. No reasons to write self-indulgent posts about mourning masses, the causal imprint on this wide and long World. No reasons to deck out my death in twenty-first century catafalques. No reason to glorify, or to fear, or to hope anything from it.

Nihilism stands at the door, but the door has become thicker of late. And I no longer hide from it as if it were a gaggle of Jehovah's Witnesses driven by their own afterworldly terrors. No, it is here. It is possible. But something in me dances it away.

Consider: "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."