Holding Out

For the dreamer in a dark night.

Careful with the dark, now; adding to it rarely helps anyone to see––at least not until it is complete and total, but then we’re talking new levels of perception. Finding these, one might notice: though the stars still faintly flickering are distant, there is a way to take root among them––after enough practice in losing it all while still managing to hold the first posture in what might be the organizing element in every dance that has ever reminded a body back to what it was for, to throw it forward into what it does when it moves with the wide-eyed clarity of one who remembers being blind. I mean how it reaches and keeps reaching, toward the next living dream.

A Centering Moment

Body and web.

Thread upon thread to bind us, forward and back in time, and no reason will save you. Given enough movement, a body becomes so unreasonably wound up in it that an old impulse returns, to believe the smallest movement of one affects the fate of all, and what follows is more touch and the grief that comes with it. The child’s glorious maximalism: no master of any fate, only servant to a call that defies translation, which is bound to make its listener seem foolish at best, and probably mad. But there it is again, the music of vibrating strings, resounding.


Inspired by Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

After Dark

The first night of the world.

Something new was happening in the land of light. Suddenly, the world began to grow dark. The birds knew, but people had to learn, this is where you pause what you are doing; this is how you put down mats; this is when you lie down.

Be still, said one who knew.

And do what? Someone asked.

Sleep. But they didn’t know the word, not yet. So, the one who knew said, just wait, and people waited. Eventually, they knew sleep.

Then came a new light, but softer, and the birds sang to meet it. The sleepers opened their eyes and finally, after all this time, they were waking to meet the first day.


Inspired by “Finding Night,” Virginia Hamilton’s retelling of the story of Quat, the solar god of the Banks Islands, north of the New Hebrides in Melanesia. From In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World.

Let There Be

Notes at twilight.

New world, lens flare: the beginning of light is the beginning of time, and who controls it moves the vision of the moment––and its form. What difference is there, at any genesis, between making space and shining into it? 

Seeking, some found light until the dark begat seeking again. A hard time for thinkers, some say, though others object. Reason’s luminescence, which progressed by co-opting fire and then the lives of those deemed fit for its fuel, can only know its debt in waning radiance.

In this twilit hour, something comes. Lurching through a forest of shadows, flickering through an expanding dark, it speaks in long silences now. Given the limits of this human form, and the limits of a word designed for pointing to a nonexistent boundary between itself and other life, only when I begin to know the fullness of my nonexistence as human can I begin to say, I am.


Inspired by Digital Light, ed. Sean Cubitt, Daniel Palmer and Nathaniel Tkacz. 

Freeze Frame

Thoughts on a runaway train.

Now might be time for some realignment, someone says, regarding some speculation as to whether the moment at hand is coextensive with the time since the last ice age, or something of another order entirely, and didn’t Kant observe something awhile back about the gravity of the gravitational calculations that led to the radical separation between the human observer and the Nature he observes, and here we are, full circle or full ellipse, inside the fullness that someone might stop and measure, in a time when the fate of man and nature are again joined––since the moment the steam engine made the muscle of man or his mule no longer a natural limit for what he might do, where he might do it, and with what relentlessness, or since the moment that the soil was first irradiated by the bomb, since the explosion of acceleration of speed, people, pathologies, pollutants, possible beginnings and ends and alternative trajectories of being, but where in this blur of runaway objects emitting time does a body jump off to look, and what are the odds of landing in earth soft enough to break the fall?


Inspired by an observation by philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, that “We are being exposed . . . to a catastrophe of meaning . . . Let us remain exposed and let us think about what is happening to us. Let us think that it is we who are arriving, or are leaving.” In After Fukushima: The Equivalence of Catastrophes, trans. Charlotte Mandel (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015).


The fractured sky.

Glaziers mark to frame the squinting eye, here is what a sky becomes when you wake to the way the moon was always there beside the sun and inside a kaleidoscope of parallel heavens: now blue, now crimson, now slate, now yellow, each breaking into the next, and yet––instead of falling, it holds.


Inspired by the stained-glass sky collages of photographer Alex Hyner, as described here.

Arrival, Departure

The visitor.

There is a visitor in the doorway, both inside and out, with no movement except turning the whole world, reminding anyone who cares to look, just how close it is––the possible entrance, the potential to end.

Who are you? Someone asks the visitor, and the visitor replies, I’ve been here the whole time.

Nonlinear Equations

Exercises in conversion.

Translate fragility. One part the substance that allows anything to exist and another part the accident of its coherence.

Translate explosion. The wavering world collapses.

Translate yourself. I am. I am not myself.

Calculate the distance between the essence of the thing and its appearance. Assume a rift between two sides of a coin. Now assume the rift collapses. Calculate the length of time between distortion and consistency.

If x is a mortal wound and y may alternately represent either the why of an object’s existence or its possible death, what is the circumference of xy^2? 

Show your work.


Inspiration: Timothy Morton’s “Magic Death” again, in Realist Magic: Objects Ontology, Causality. This post is not intended as an accurate representation of Morton’s ideas, which are worth reading in the philosopher’s own words. 

Where Art Happens

With Allan Kaprow.

Here’s an idea: painting as performance, art as ritual. The focus shifts from the object to the process of creation. Against commodification––of all objects, here is an act of resistance.

After a long illness, the unreachable, maddening, metaphysical itch. It points to some connection with the art, but why? The finality of form, some speculate, casting it tragic. But look again. Notice the balance in these compositions. Unable to step back from the work, the artist is in it.

This is not a painting, but an environment; not the caged pheasant, observed at some remove, but the deafening scream of all beings in cages. If the price of admission into art’s space is surrender of distance, the loan of consciousness, then only a participant may observe. When this happens, there are no free hands left for clutching any claims of objectivity, and there is nothing to do but leave these scattered on the floor like the debris from the blown-out fourth wall. 


In honor of the birthday of artist Allan Kaprow, (1927-2006), I spent some time with his 1958 essay On the Legacy of Jackson Pollack. Kaprow is known as a pioneer of performance art who staged many one-time immersive events, or “Happenings” which were inspired, at least in part, by Kaprow’s interpretation of Pollack’s legacy. The caged pheasant is a reference to this 1956 Kaprow painting.

Oy, the World

Chance encounters.

The world was naked except for the appearance of a sudden shock of cloth, flown in from the direction she was walking––toward tomorrow, we assumed. She had batons as for marching or magic, and a circular wreath. She was ending and beginning. Four figures around her kept watch: lion, bull, angel, eagle.

“Hello, everyone!” we said to the world and her creatures, “You’ve come back! We thought you took off on us eons ago.”

“We were just laying low,” said the angel. “Poachers.” The eagle nodded, the bull gave a snort, and the lion stretched his mouth in a tremendous yawn.

“Well, it’s a good thing you’re here,” we said to the world.

Suddenly, she was gone.

“What’s happened to the world?” we cried out.

The angel, looking bored, moved his chin in the direction where she had been standing. “It’s your oyster now.”

We looked, and there it was.

The eagle, who had been preening, was suddenly alert.

What happened next happened very quickly. Later, we would replay it again and again, stunned that we had not moved more quickly. But that’s how these things go.

As we watched the eagle fly off, no doubt digesting the world he had eaten, the angel cupped his hand to light a cigarette. Then he said, “Yeah. He loves those things.”

That was yesterday. The eagle has not yet returned and the other three are asleep in a large pile of soft snores, the angel’s head on the lion’s torso, the lion leaning into the bull’s flank, the bull’s ear’s twitching.

They look cute like that, like one of those images someone might post, of a box of new cats. It’s funny to be here still noticing things like this, even after the world is all gone.


Inspired by a chance encounter with The World as depicted in a tarot deck.