Saturday, September 06, 2008

Impassioned Rant

“Where I am, his dry logical discourse cannot touch me. I am high above the city, on the privileged rooftops, watching the pastel shades creep out over the sky, watching lovers strolling down the street—no method to their madness, no logic to their lust. Up here I am almost God; I force the sun down with my mighty hammer. Cherry trees bend in the wind and the pink petals of their blossoms seem to rain down all around. From afar, one could say it is a pink mist sent by the gods to quell our fears. If you do something right, it’s like you’ve never done anything at all. Anyway, the cherry tree sways under the wind I brought. A solitary carriage lopes down an unused side-street, bereft of lovers for the moment. The carriage-man is cleaning the gunk of ferocious lovemaking—I absolutely must stress this: unreasonable, madly passionate lovemaking!—off the back seat of the carriage. Modern cleaning solutions mingle with the ancient mahogany benches and even more ancient and very human drives. And the light begins to redden and the light begins to die,” said an unknown person. He was just beating himself up with visions of colours and feelings of warmth. In fact, it was midwinter and the heaters had died; he had not bathed in weeks because the shower was frozen. He was just huddling under his blanket. At first he read, then he just closed his eyes and started thinking. He thought of many things, some just flitting images against the vaguely red backdrop of his eyelids, others were extensive disquisitions on a range of subject matters. He thought of cloud plumes trailing off skyscrapers, of how they were bronzed, throwing back the ashes of burning thousands, all their dreams, all the restaurants they had ever eaten, all their millions of acquaintances, their stories and their expectations among the unexpected. They were all standing on a large plain; the hills curved gently in the background, blue in the atmospheric haze; they bore up candles to the deaths of thousands, to the collapse of the enlightenment ideals, to the rock and roll lifestyle, the bane of each parent’s existence. He fleetingly saw the outline of a children’s collectable character in the distance. Suddenly, the crowd was half composed of animated characters: strong men with thick lines marking the contrast of their muscles against the background: svelte and flawless temptresses whose hair stood against gravity; these were mixed with dumpy, fleshy people of Actuality, people whose hands would turn to ash if those candles started falling, people who were never perfect, but perfectly renderable from all angles. He then thought of the back alleys of his life: the cooking fires of humanity burning and casting a haze over the gravel, the bright blinding sun somehow making everything more sharp and defined, more real and yellow, the child in a yellow rain jacket jumping and practicing his jumping over dried-up salt outlines of puddles. In some strange way, the thought became actuality. The cooking sizzled, and the bells of the mares jangled. The musicians were out in force, making the air shimmer invisibly with flurries of activity. The air shimmered by quite natural means: it was a heated day and in this part of the city the concrete added an extra five degrees to whatever the ambient temperature was. Old rotund day-labourers sat on their porches and yelled macho slogans to each other; their wives fluffed their dresses and compared their floral patterns. The children, once they were finished watching and ridiculing the boy in the yellow rain jacket began spinning hula-hoops down the alley. Nobody could see it, but there were spirits all around: old crabby ancestors complaining about the new generation, worm-like projections of energy, shimmering angels, little blips in the space-time continuum all jostled one another, played pranks on each other and talked about the weather—what a beautiful day it was and how days like this were rare and how we should be thankful to the powers that be and how it looked like rain tomorrow etc. Under the city, some three kilometers under the porches of the day labourers, Odin and Shiva danced a deadly dance of fire and destruction, of enmity and atonement, of fortitude and friendship and forgiveness. Gobs of each of these concepts crashed against the cave walls and rang down the long corridors. Back above the surface, a little boy in shorts and a five-dollar haircut was swinging off a tree branch and spying coyly into the neighbour’s backyard. It was a regular backyard, filled with barbecue equipment, posts to which a guard-dog was presently tied, bent and melted skeletons of bicycles, an ancient samovar from the Old Country, rags of old clothes, blocks of building materials, rocks for the children and plastic balls long deflated. Flakes of rust that had fallen off the fire escape dotted the yard, yet somehow the grass managed to grow in places, sometimes through the concrete, which of course wasn’t much of a barrier, what with its plentiful cracks and doses of rare minerals. Our young boy was looking at the center of the yard where the little girls had gathered. For some reason, they were all dressed in loose flowing clothes, giving the impression that they were mystical ones from the distant orient. They were muttering something amongst themselves. Eventually, they gathered in a circle and Janine, the eldest, held up a tattered, dog-eared book whose front and back covers had been ripped off due to the constant wear from being in Janine’s pocket. She picked it up and read lovingly, with a bright clear voice. She used a lot of words our young boy did not understand, but were vaguely familiar to him from his father’s long talks about the Ancient Greeks and how they were the only truly free people, how the world after them was just a declining pendulum, or some word like that, how civilization’s moral progress had not advance one iota past them, etc, etc. This is why, purely by chance, his interest had been piqued by Janine’s voice, even to the exclusion of the rust shells of burned-out cars he was accustomed to exploring and memorizing at this point in the afternoon. But he was not prepared for what came next. All the girls gathered in a circle, began to kiss each other, and proceeded to reach under each other’s robes. They made sure to be quiet. Our young boy could not explain what was happening to him; a kind of feeling brewed in his stomach, a feeling of thirst, but much more profoundly empty, a kind of sucking abscess in his intestines that was not painful physically, but made him very tired, but also cognizant of the complete uselessness of taking a nap. That would solve nothing. Odd thoughts ran through the young boy’s sulci and gyri, thoughts that came unbidden into his baseball-cap-clad head. He thought of a beautiful prism, which cast the rainbow on the walls of his living room in the afternoon, shattered and thrown into the garbage along with liquor bottles and milk crates and every manner of hollow, cracking pipe. As he watched the eastern pageant of desire evolve under his eyes, he looked at Dawn McGregor, who he had talked to yesterday, who he had really liked talking to, who he thought of today, whose pigtails he wanted to compliment. Now she was lying prone with Janine’s head lost underneath her skirts. He flushed and could not understand. At last, screams began escaping his mouth, and then came the tears, which seemed to burn tracks into his skin, which seemed to flood his mouth, so that he was stuck spitting out the foul substance in little clouds. The girls began to scatter, but not before three workaday men in sleeveless shirts showed up with their bandannaed wives. Calls began to erupt all across the neighbourhood. Wives shrieked and old men just shook their heads. The police arrived and dragged the girls away one by one; cleaning teams arrived and washed down the backyards with life-killing sprays; parents cried. As they dragged Dawn away, she fixed our young boy with a stare and flashed him looks of hatred, which was followed up and made unambiguous by the sharp piece of glass she tried to throw at the tree. She missed her mark, but the boy fell off and nevertheless gored his knee and lower leg on a sharp rock, the very same rock where he had imagined himself complimenting Dawn on her pigtails. The sky oscillated: it seemed to narrow and change colour; it began to explode with multicoloured worms crawling at the edge of his vision; then everything began to blur because of the tears. At last, he was free to cry and shout at the full capacity of his need, free of a paralysis, free to feel the pain, the gore of the rocks, the tearing of his skin, the curvature of his spine, again the softness of his skin, now forever marred by having compared it to the softness of Dawn’s skin. He fell asleep for seventeen hours. In that time, a preliminary investigation was held and all the girls were arrested; in that time, the community was thrown apart: old men and women cried that the day had been wasted, the parents of the girls consumed themselves and their friends with impotent rage and feelings of helplessness and persecution; churches were flooded with human bodies seeking understanding. Newcomers were blamed, a few burning bags of feces were hurled at the sides of houses and tenement buildings. This was the start of the summer of 1936. Our young protagonist was seven years old. Did he deserve to be tormented by dreams of hell kittens for the next ten years of his life? Was he so capable of understanding what he unleashed? The purges, the madnesses? The religious epilepsies of old women that lived on their fire escapes? The tears of the businessmen in their mahogany offices? The depression of capable mechanics on the dockyards, the dread of the labourers unloading shipping crates? The literary angst of the magazine tycoons? For the rest of his life, he could not achieve sexual excitement unless there were at least two women in his bed. One of them he loved dearly, but she never understood; he was always stuck pursuing her through the labyrinthine caverns of life. The others were disposable. They rotated like his material belongings, which he used and cast away without thought. They cost him his lady love, but they gave him pleasure for one night, pleasure enough to have him stumbling to the washroom in the middle of the night and smile in the darkness for nobody but himself, thankful to feel his own power and the needs of his body coursing through him without shame, at least for tonight. Tomorrow morning, the shame and the fear and the lovesickness would come back, the neckties and automobiles and church ladies’ glances would return, the sun would rise hazy and he would be back at the altar, praying for the halo of his lady love never to evaporate. He really did pursue her down labyrinths. Sometimes she fled to Europe and would disappear for weeks, but he always tracked her down. In one instance he actually met her in a labyrinth below some ancient palace, behind a velvet curtain where they almost rose to sexual climax. But they were alone and thus incapable of it. The scenery of his pursuit was maddeningly diverse: dive bars in the old towns of Eurasia, hills covered in cherry blossom petals, rivers, glaciers, dirt paths through barren mountains, on ancient communal trees in Indochina, in salons and studios once used for the purposes of the Enlightenment, in the backs of sacrificial pits hidden in the jungles, in hells-on-earth reeking of genocide. And when he slept, the iconography of his need came through clear: everything was always grayscale, except what represented her; those items were permanently backlit. Blinding halos poured from above, from below, sometimes from within. He gazed on her in gardens that were dying from their own yearning and the yearning of the weeds, in offices, in ziggurats splattered with blood, organs and semen. He dreamt all these things, and in the dreams, and in waking life, the thirst would return. But it would not be sated. Not without his angel love light and an assortment of grayscale women as backdrop who were necessary. His angel love-light who when he met her was the most uninhibited of free spirits, who was known to him as that waifish and fearful creature who slunk round the backyards, trapping squirrels and laughing to the clouds. Back then she was a legend he had heard from distant sources. How he found her is a story that has long fallen under its own mythological top-heaviness, but it goes something like this: “late one night, lonely & frustrated & sad, greasy & powerless & spiritless I wandered. I had seen too many grey facades; I had been blinded by too many headlights rushing by. I had been brought down by too many cackling jackals on the sidewalks and crying urchins in the supermarkets where incomprehensible orders were barked out to the general population through the PA. Somehow I found the hole in a fence leading to the mid-block parkette enclosure. In the holy & glowing & blessed bushes I heard a rustling while lights played over my face. I peeled back the leaves—golden leaves, scented leaves—to find her, and I knew—and she knew too. All my sad and greasy moments were dispelled. I did not fear; there was no “work” component to it at all. We came together on a picnic table and poured out our poetic stories, sometimes in sing-song, sometimes in prose, sometimes in the movements of our bodies and heads and bellies, sometimes in strict, formal verse, sometimes in enhanced prose, other times with silence. This lasted for three days straight. The buds of the overhanging trees and bushes became leaves; our grotto collected the sweet nourishing spring water beneath us to keep us alive in our monumental task. Milkweed seeds floated by us and seemed to dance in our honour; butterflies and caterpillars both were pleased by our presence and made arabesques among the birch glades. The hungry squirrels and raccoons avoided our nest while we wished. But eventually even we got up and walked off to do greater things. Shiva smiled coyly from the orb of the sun, but my angel love-light had en even coyer half-smile. Her eyes were perpetually bubbling over in amusement. You could have put her in any situation known to humankind and she would have taken something out of it. And she would have survived; she was a survivor. Our courtship began. A courtship for what, exactly? A courtship that would end in spontaneous rapture, white light and white heat and floating over the rooftops from a great height! That is what we did. We ran through the street, our companions trailing behind us with shopping carts filled with sweets and whiskey! We emptied out he gypsy encampments with our celebrations; we drank and gave drink in the rainy streets to random passers-by! We sat in the streets and played out long crazy jam sessions to the legato percussion of screeching wheels and car horns. We hung on the windowsills and shouted at the crowds in the piazzas. We traveled half-way around the world, fixing up a couple in every town we found. We sowed passion and freed the oppressed in the only way we knew how. We splashed graffiti onto marketplaces in Turkey; we made up riotous jokes and made the entire bus laugh on our long drive to Aleppo. We got stoned and wandered around aimlessly, hand in hand, among the crowd of milling Hajjis. We cliff-dived in Armenia until our skins were raw and bleeding. We splayed out and traced the arcane arabesques of a system of everything to the burning stars and riotous drinking binges on the beaches of Montenegro. We made love with commune crowds and then we harvested the wheat under the thunderstorms racing down the mountains, we fucked on the stage at the neon Nude Bar in neon downtown St. Louis, we made love entangled in incense on the altars of Roman Catholic cathedrals, balanced precariously on Shinto gates, rustling in the stacks of the underground record depositories, quietly to avoid the square businessman and rapist junkie in New York. We spliced out vacation photos of second-rate landmarks into humanoid shapes and laminated them and copied them thousands of times and dropped them on festival crowds while our friend piloted the helicopter. We dined at the finest houses run by the most generous matrons—and made love in the beds of these matrons while they smiled and sweated just outside the rooms. We covered our clothes in patches proclaiming the ultimate holy orgasmic OM, and the next day we moshed and destroyed our higher hearing and lost all the patches in an orgy where we became drunk and generous. The day after that, we held each other through the vomit and blood and despair of junk-withdrawal. Her eyes were cloudy with drug, and mine as well. We put our feet together and wiggled our toes for three days as our torsos shook. We asked the impossible questions to entertain ourselves. We pushed under the warm quilt. I could not get it up that day. But in the ensuing weeks every orifice of yours was open and red like a cave found by archaeologists for the first time: shimmering with floodlights driving the clouds of bats on the ceiling crazy. We composed folk ballads while hitchhiking. We ate everything we were offered: tongues, eyes, feet, tails, fur, unnamed mystery slops. It was mostly the religious people who fed us. In the later days of our trip, we hunkered down at universities and studied the science to song and one day we woke up and moved from the couch in the wrecked basement (water dripping from a crack in the ceiling, single faucet missing its sink, rafters like gap teeth), and we just knew! We celebrated by sniffing out some yage in a friend’s (non-cracked-and-leaking) basement. We danced dervish dances to the straining of an accordion and slide guitar, shouting out the constellations on some tenement roof. We proselytized the morning rush-hour cars with off-the-wall, off-the-cuff poetry that was drowned out by a thousand radios blaring out Jazz FM, which we cared nothing for. We went and washed up the cheese and spit and crumbs staining our clothes and attempted to shred our leftover bottles with exacto-knives and make a statue of them. We ended up making two: a transparent, spiky crustacean of some sort, and something that was supposed to be an effigy, but turned into a dangerous, dangerous punch bowl. We talked long bullshit conversations with mathematicians and when confronted with something we did not know, we became infuriatingly subjective. We would begin making out just as our interlocutors were about to reach the crux of their point. That took some of the wind out of their sails. In other places we stood out of place in uniformed crowds. We took whirlwind tours of factories and the dusty grime settled on us and made us vomit yet again. We dyed our skin many different colours on our trips. We received piercings weekly and removed them in fits of regret and propriety. We stayed up four days and nights straight talking bullshit talks that swung spasmodically from one end of the so-called philosophical spectrum (a phrase taught to us by a skinny, shaven prophet in the streets of Aleppo) to the other, sometimes in the same long sentence. We dined at haute couture restaurants and furtively flung potato salad under the table, making little lumps of food for the Old Duchess-type’s little well-groomed dog. Oh, how we coaxed the primal feeding trough out of its gypsum façade! We wrote poetry on balconies and in the bathroom stalls, and occasionally returned to some to witness the breakneck evolution of language. Through it all, we never forgot about snapping photographs of the people, with 200-words synopses of their characters on the backs of them—a hopeless task, really. So each had a unique identifying poem. No, a pome. We never forgot about sexual tension and relieved the hopeless glut: on seashores and in basements, on streets and in caddy shacks, on the roofs of palaces and in their luxurious, heated pools, on chain-link fences rattling with evening gusts and with my maddened thrusts, in bird sanctuaries, hidden in the savannah grass, in truck stops, on broken-down assembly lines, in clamps and in handcuffs, on boats, in beds made of straw and silk and wheat and coils, in the library stacks and in the middle of lecture halls long emptied, in crumbling rotundas and behind nationalistic statues, in temperate heat, in sweltering, in monsoon and sea storms, in every habitation except and igloo or maybe yurt. But that wasn’t all: we talked to whoever gave us notice and found that everyone itched with conversation and opinion, stories, hatreds and loves. Everyone dreamt and pulled passions from behind their backs where they were a little too soaked with back-sweat but still quite recognizable. Everyone was unlucky and exploited, though. Everyone but us during that time. We escaped dens of tears on our bicycles, we sometimes vanished down transportation tunnels and entertained ourselves in alcoves as the trains or busses or trams or trolleys or carriages whooshed past to unbelievable clatter. We shouted koans over haggling hubbub in Marrakesh and got an old man to screw his face up for us. We found loveboys and funboys and thugs in the back alleys, but we survived.” He talked in this way long and passionately. But eventually, the progression of their relations naturally took somewhat of a tumble. Months of jumping enclosures and sitting and talking philosophy or smack or jive followed, months of evenings played out on grassy knolls or hills or drumlins, months of love-lorn glances under the influence of X or weed or ‘shrooms, months that could never live up to the expectations raised by the beginning. (Expectations that looked something like a transformed world and a transformed method of interpersonal relations.) Indeed, their subsequent comfortable and witty and amusing conversations were never even close to their initial opening salvos, where a life lived was shared in its entirety. When he turned to other women, she—normally so amused—exploded with rage instead of creativity. He retorted with effusive self-abasement, the content of which is too cringe-worthy to relate here. It involved copious references to sunlight streaming through the could layers, the spring rebirth of life, the wind caressing the prairie grass, the milkweed of their grotto, the humid Earth smells, the chatter of the animals, voices uplifted in joyous thirteen-part harmony, white light bleaching the known world, doorways, innumerable lays, endless orgasms, flowers, the nervousness that would rend his stomach contents to a disappointingly bland soup gushing over out of his throat, his soliloquies to a dumpster piled high with the garbage of their lost love, crazy night marathons to strange parts of the city with a death-wish, probing the impenetrable alleys for the Man with a trenchcoat and a machete and beard whose only soul was money, who bled smelted nickel. He related to her in even more effusive tones the weeks spent not raising a finger from his bed, the weeks of pissing on his sheets and letting his sphincter loose every which way, caring not one bit for it because she had been removed from him. For her he had banished every trace of disingenuous false hopes and needless idols, and was left as a junky without his junky fix, with absolutely no cares but for her. She was his perfect drug, his Soma. He continued in this fashion for several more hours. She was pinned to the couch and quite unable to intercede; she had the impression that he was no longer talking to her, almost as if her were bargaining with invisible spirits all around him, as if his loveless pleas were pleas for clemency. She stayed out of pity at first, then out of weariness. At some lost hour in the middle of our protagonist’s diatribe, she had resolved to herself, very simply, to never see this man again. He went on: he told her about Dawn and the girls in that early spring morning in Brooklyn, how it had bent his life-path from the pursuit of her, how she was the diamond arch measuring out the time, the tallest building in the world made out of diamond-encrusted gold, how she was the essence of the opal greed that drove people to trample one another, and many other worthless insipid similes. He had always had a fondness for overmodification and flights of fancy, but this time it cost him everything. Of course, he would not give up quite so easily. After an entire night of pouring, he realized that he would have to accomplish some self-care if he were ever to return to the game. He returned to his box apartment in the overcrowded inner city. He stared for a long time at a stack of three tea bags, the only thing she had left behind. He was in a stupor for a long time, letting his natural oils water the couch. But he could not sit here indefinitely; he raised himself and concurrently raised a fetish onto a spike. The tea bag, now the symbol of her and her ever-flowing, ever-present grace and bestowal flowing out in musical notation from the center of her mandala, from the Unnamable. It smelled of resorts in the summers, the kind of floral-print places they had visited many times on their madcap journey around the world, their sampling of all the irresponsible pleasures for those in the know. He continues. “This is where all my words go: into the burlap sack of the printed page. It is where I unmask the thousand golden idols carved in your image for what they are: needless luxuries of the august emperor. This is where spiderwebs gather as once you gathered floral-print patterns. This is where the word “arabesque” gets shit out and begins its precipitous decline into the darkening pit, falling somewhere below the water’s surface in pitch blackness. This is where the idea of you comes to rot in worldly concerns, where your rents and boardings and lodgings are not paid for, where your lovers are not pre-inoculated against AIDS, where even the trees entangle your mad lust-frenzies in the humid mornings in the riverside copses, where your eyes were once blue but have been reddening over the weeks, where there are no more veins left for the needle and the eyedroppers have been confiscated by the union workers, where athletic tracks are blocked by water buffaloes and you are pouting and powerless before the herd mess, where you and I no longer kiss and make up every time I go out and end up crazy, where whiskey is not the drug of angel trances, where vodka will not bring us in contact with the rotten potato of Eternity in Orgasm, where plaits begin to strangle the ants of the senses, where telephones shoot needles into hapless ears. This is the world of Actual Fact, something we ran from on a six-month-long world-spanning dissociative episode. This was our hope: that every unpaired child bathe in warm water at least once a week, that every garden be worthy of its innumerable teas, that every bathtub overcome the scorpions, that the three noble philosophies stop fighting and shredding each other’s manuscripts, that the train conductor have a little drink to loosen up, that the arctic driller has a good night’s masturbating to his sweetheart in Helsinki, that the mud dries up for the feast of the cloves, that fences topple and teams of factory workers bring down the sunroofs of their prisons, that back-hoes become Dharma-bodies. Was that so much to ask, inamorata? It appears so. All we know is that that arctic driller’s prick dried up and fell of from exposure. Our advice bent the bars and killed hundreds and maimed me in my center. This romp left only you to walk the streets alone but not lonely. To me, there will be no other restaurant. Flickering neon lights will always have more than the “regular” significance. Forevermore: that is, until this cranium dries up and falls off from exposure. Catatonia and the smell of strange cheeses—they haunt me. The city’s broadcasting antennas are converging their signals in my hypothalamus. I can feel the noise on the airwaves: they shriek pederast screams that even we could not match. So much passion locked inside the poor machines squeezed into the Actual and maintained by ignorant technicians who bob their heads to the radio clatter of some forgotten musical mode. This is your lower neck, child. This is where I reigned once, where I laid my redoubt and braced all my forces against the bats clawing at my back. So long as my face was safe, blood could be let. But this is not what you saw.” He lost the thread, as all real threads get lost easily. He went back to making lists. The List of Attributes Associated with his Social Circle: literary, ironic, soporific, chemically imbalanced, sometimes unwashed, status-conscious. The List of Fruits and Vegetables: squash, tomato, etc. He finally hits back onto the main tack. The List of Descriptive Phrases for his Passion: a squeamish affair, a twitch-inducing series of events, a disaster, beams of light from over the right shoulder, infinitely regretful, temporarily energetic and unabashed, ironic yet solid, stolid and sweaty, humanistic in the morning, vitreous in the afternoon, gently undulating, cerebrospinally sweet, vibrantly colour-contrasted, the death-cry of a thousand Dawn McGregors, the bane of the insane latter-age Betty Wenderly who developed a dissociative disorder of some kind and would spin long yarns about her travelogue writing adventures to the walls and the cats and the goldfish and the occasional neighbourly well-wisher. (This is no longer a list, but has graduated to some sort of higher plane). (The stand-alone plane? Golgotha? The ninth circle? The lock in the mind?) (Bear with me here—it can’t all be good.) But no: we shall continue the list. The List of Times the Protagonist was too Lazy to Keep the Passion (II) Afloat: her vomiting into the industrial corner (he failed to hold back her hair to stop the spit and partially-digested goods getting in), the hundred temporary sleeping arrangements (he was too hell-bent on tucking in his feet, and in the process stripped her of the occasional blanket), the sea wall in the anonymous Turkish village (he had pushed the pushing game too far and dashed her elbow against a jagged rock—her left-hand motor control had never been the same afterwards), on the esplanade in Toronto (he got too chummy with a crackhead who insulted Her viciously)—these lists always burned out after a pathetically small number of entries. Who was he talking about here? The past was uncertain—Dawn or the nameless grotto girl? Which protagonist is making these lists: the peering boy in the summer backyard (who witnessed the lesbian love-in), or the drunk Okie who found brilliant dissociation and a dozen romantic benders in a grotto as the squirrels watched (we did not know he was an Okie, but he was not a typical Okie)? Is it the Author, or is it Shiva yet again channeling through the Author? Or is it the Author channeling Shiva? (But wait! Our author has a Ganesh ceiling-hanging cloth; does that interfere with the channeling? Does the pantheon even pretend to exist? What about the maidens of the world-tree?) But why tell? This is not a story about Tables and Chairs. This story is an attempt to the Grand Story: the story of every tightening in the chest and every hardening of the gonads and every breath drawn too quickly or too shallowly or too deeply, every opportunity taken and every regretful hurting hazy bar, every mindless conflict between Reason and so-called Passion, every dollop of ethnic bullshit and every structural inequality, every unoriginal hurtful story, (of course the Author falls short! Every Okie knows that! Shiva never objected! The Author will go to drink, don’t you worry!), every batted eyelash and every sweat lodge bar bewitched with perfume, every casket of ale dying passionate deaths in the worms of the bowels, every city burned for a woman, every sheep herd stampeding toward the Cult of the Lady, every tear-rivulet, semen-rivulet, hepcat Golgotha, every lachrymal river joining into the eventual Amazon or Ganges or Yellow or Danube or St. Lawrence or Mississippi or Elbe or Thames or (and now we’ll do it systematically) Dnieper or Dniester or Tunguska or Yangtze or Yenisei or Parana or Irtish or Congo or Amur or Lena or Mackenzie or Niger or Mekong or Missouri or Volga or Madeira or Purus or Sao Francisco or Yukon or Rio Grande or Brahmaputra or Indus or Euphrates or Darling or Zambezi or Toccantins or Murray or Nelson or Paraguay or Ural or Oxus or Japura or Salween or Irrawaddy or Orange or Orinoco or Pilcomayo or Xi Jiang or Columbia or Don or Sungari or Saskatchewan or Peace or Tigris rivers, every blood droplet dissolving in the rivers above, every river ending up in the same eventual world-spanning ocean bubble in an abstract wreck of an attempt to merely channel Shiva, every boring afternoon, every spousal argument, every hellish airplane ride, every drop in atmospheric pressure sucking out the milk from the teats of the Cow, quite against her will (Shiva aghast! What could Shiva do but dance?), every toppling tragic barn, every author caught on one particular sentence, every attempt to channel, to foresee, to hindsight better than the usual, to mend the broken parentages, to straighten the bloodlines, to unclog the pipes, to rebuild the scruples, to find the notes of the chorus in front of 400,000 rabid critical jaded fans, to find direction to fat wreck repetitive sentences, to join the disjoint and un-define a hundred thousand definition terms via Universal Philosophical Refutation—“that’s what you say!”, every other passionate affronted pain in the chest, every circling vulture and every fragile ripped-apart Mandala on every toppling melting hillside, every oration leading to riots, every oration leading to increased human dignity, every suicide in every ruling dynasty of every nation-state or empire or commonwealth known to present human scholarship. (It is too grand a task, but every story is but an aspect of the Grand Story.) But the point remains that our protagonist (the prot, as the kids say) could not keep up the passion. (The entire wreck that is this “story” is an extension of the “can’t keep up passion forever—but oh baby it’s good while it lasts” ethos.) He had a few other infractions of which we may presently speak: thirteen times he used sexual thrusts as merely a means of pleasuring himself; he lied extensively about his views on love and angels, on politics and what he really thought of some people (for his purposes: everyone was holy and every story holy—parroting Ginsberg, channeling Shiva, &c., &c.), sometimes he orgasmed just to get to sleep…

Consider: "Aesthetic martyrs ought to kiss the stars, rejoice in being totally rejected, and work away like disregarded beavers."

Thursday, September 04, 2008


We seek to have our finger on the pulse of the city. Not in the urban-planner variety of pulse-checking--nothing so summary, informational, statistical, surface-based. (But that's why it's hard to talk about). We seek something more ethereal without being supernatural--I suppose something hard to notice, something you have to strain your attention for, something you have to aspire to, to train your perception and conception for. This is why we're still poor, why we stagger around like kids in fourth grade still not ready to emerge into the glaring sun into the yard where bullies stick out like buoys on a calm day.

Who are we?

The seekers of the city's spiderwebs; those gossamer strands of connection that break whenever some hulking creature set on its course bursts through them. We all see them from time to time: in a pastel sunset that looks like a Monet, in the suddenly and inexplicably radiant gaze of the bearded alcoholic, in the vertiginous stepping-back during conversation to take in all the bustle and realizing you're one toehold closer to the Good. And they fall away just like that: the shriek of a fire engine pierces the orange of the sunset, the directional gray ooze of wine-besotted volition, in the rendering of one conversation from the bustle which bursts its seams in vacuity.

We are they who climb and fall. We're the inexperienced but determined. No ascetics; not anymore. No uncontacted mystical tribes. No amor fati. No more hero-worship. No more anxiety of influence. No more future-oriented gaze. No more myth of progress. (Symmetrically) no more myth of regress. No more perfectionism. The sand-mandala's our model.

Night. Oh, night. A few nights ago I wanted to sing your rooftops in words. I wanted to feel the pulsing of starlight on my skin and hear the rough breathing of Orion's chest; I wanted to touch the volitional impulse of Ursa Minor as it reels there, in the center of the carousel. I dared in you to be. And in the leaping out of my normal skin, I could not fall asleep. I ran the same mission twice just so I could feel your heaviness. Just so I could stand on your rooftop.

(This passage betrays anxiety of influence. Disclosure: the theme of Night's from Rilke. The theme of heaviness is from Kundera. The bit with the carousel and Ursa Minor was me.)

Consider: "I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."