The sound of planets in orbit.
Every poetic center has its gravitational pull, multiplying repercussions between these miniatures and their attendant skies. Here we go again, pivoting around the lamp sun at the center of an ariel table, and she keeps us moving by the music of her pen. Without this, we would be permanent invalids, plunging ever away from some distant possession, our placid faces dumb with belfry daydreams pretending to be lessons in solitude. In this concert hall, these skies, we hear the saplings grow green and the crawling trellises; the bitter rain on the long road until the high wind yelping names of the dead finally expires into the silence, the axis on which she turns us with the next opening notes. Wait.
Inspired by and with borrowed images from the section on miniature in Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space.
In the country of lost borders, where hills squeezed from chaos and sculpted by wind rise over the blue haze of narrow valleys, it is not hard to forget that everything looks closer than it is.
In the land of lost rivers, where dust devils dance, there is so little to love, but try to resist the urge to return. Given enough distance, a body will dream the unimagined help, nearby, within reach of the mesquite roots, heralded by the vivid green of creosote.
It’s easy to wonder who lives here but stick around. You’ll soon learn how it can trick your sense of time, so that you always mean to go, but never do. This is what it’s like in the land of lost travelers, waiting with the legends of treasures long buried in these sands.
In honor of the birthday of American writer Mary Hunter Austin (1868-1934), today’s post is composed of images and phrases from the opening pages of her classic, The Land of Little Rain.
Welcoming the unexplained.
We’ve all heard and held some fixed ideas, but what is up for grabs? If it is true that there can be no knowledge of the impermanent, can we be so confident in our ideas of any knowns––or of their position in the hierarchy of seeking?
When so much is up in the air and out of the blue, these fragments of mind and their attendant doubts are percussive in the right hands, against the right drum––and the left. Handled well, they sound ovations to unknown galaxies, hidden chambers, and the neighbor on the porch.
There can be no point of reference when the point remains at large, dancing among us, the ache and the torch by which we seek, by which we chart these territories, and the greatest virtue of any map is a commitment to presenting a decidedly incomplete picture, with most of the details missing. It’s enough to read by, passing through.
Inspired by an introduction to the work of philosopher Hilan Bensusan.
Undoing: an anti-manifesto.
In the spirit of helping, we began to work together, and in the process, unmade ourselves. Now we live in a hall of mirrors of our own creation, accompanied by nightmares and jokes. Some of these are our creation, others not, but there are no guards at the door. There are no doors either, so you get all kinds.
Don’t walk through here barefoot. There are shards of utopias all over the floor. If you look at certain times of day, the light playing in these is a wonder to behold.
If there are any unbroken ones out there, you can keep them. Heroes, too. We are done with all of that. Keep your mastery, your individual agency, your sense of your own significance. In our madness, we think human beings would be a good idea.
Let us play. The game is you are not yet and neither here nor there. The game is care. The game is adapt. The game is laugh. Let us begin. Begin by stopping right here.
Inspired by, and with borrowed phrases from, the opening of Hyposubjects: Becoming Human, by Timothy Morton and Dominic Boyer.
Suddenly, it happens: a tear in the fabric between the real and the virtual, blurring the distinction again. From the messenger, an unbidden memorandum of old photos, remember this?––and you don’t, and who took these, and the answer, you already know, is any one of the someones in your circle, keeping constant vigil on the eerily mundane, to send it back to you in surprise morsels like this, to knock your balance slightly in time like a friendly hip-bump on a moving train.
Another call, appearing local, heralds an automated voice. A mixed sense of betrayal and vague remorse after hanging up. Surely there are better directions for these sentiments.
Open the screen at your lap, looking. How many windows open simultaneously in this chamber and what gale comes to rattle the lamps? The curtains are gone since the last storm, a pretense anyway. The office party returns to the bedroom. See the frozen faces, pixel blossoms and broken voices, seeming to speak. One emits partial words, something like a sentence, beginning with We and ending with Here before the screen goes dark.
Inspired by (and with borrowed images from) the opening pages of Nathan Allen Jones’ Glitch Poetics, Open Humanities Press (2022).
Imagine a world of your dreams, people will say, as if to conjure some vision of attainment, as if this is not the world that stops you in the night to hold you in its grasp, its hot breath in your ear, a ceaseless whisper.
There goes Death again, walking into the sea. Meanwhile the clock tower burns, the sleeper exits through the window, the hermit takes a first step. At an altar, lovers wait. Now comes a covered chair above the river, bodies pulling it in opposite directions. The cloaked rider holds a small flame straight ahead.
It’s a wonder the rider continues. Wouldn’t it be easier to walk than to reconcile these opposites, using nothing but posture, mind, and force of will? But this is how it happens in the world of dreams.
Inspired by an encounter with the surrealist photography of Nicolas Bruno, particularly his Somnia Tarot.
All he wanted was a change in the human condition. They can laugh at me, he said to the mirror. When it came to the question of what a human might be, he didn’t claim to know. Over time, he grew distant from those who did, and these were many.
All he could say, when it came to describing his predicament was, it’s possible. He sought reconciliation––between matter and mind, body and soul, fact and idea. But people loved their borders, and he kept being detained at the boundaries of his body.
Then he turned on words, preferring only sound detached from the old symbolisms, and he let these run through him, imagining that their resonance, after all, might affect some inside-out change.
Really? Someone asked.
It’s possible, he seemed to respond, and he did not say a word.
In honor of the birthday of French artist, poet, dramatist, and writer Antonin Artaud, I spent some time this morning in Naomi Greene’s 1967 article in Yale French Studies, “Antonin Artaud: Metaphysical Revolutionary.”
When the towers built in triumph have crumbled and getting on together is all that is left to do, it’s hard not to wonder what becomes of all these accumulated objects, the stuff we made and gathered to us, floating among these indeterminate moments of porous inheritance. Maybe then we will prefer what has been passed from one hand to a second and the next in ongoing fragility, a reminder of our own impermanence and the way that there is more that can be made of wearing what was torn and then mended, than to lament that it is no longer new.
Notes on shadows in time.
A white screen waits at the drive-in, illuminated promises unknown. Give me the absent past, someone whispers, and a stream of yesterdays flow in. A scene, the bodies in it, may be utterly artificial. Once photographed, they become real. To the tall silhouette waiting in the hallway, absent the rush: sing in praise of shadow in the empire of light.
Inspired by the photography of Hiroshi Sugimoto and also his Coffin of Light.
Once, I dreamed of a future. I was on a train and it was yesterday. We moved from this eye pinching light to somewhere beneath a canopy at night, a velvet plush of shadow. There was nothing like it, wild beast. Nothing.
Look at you. I watch you like a tiger and when you wake it is a welcome to my world look. There’s a cacophony now, a demented white nose machine.
Remember yesterday? We looked for each other in the wet earth beneath the canopy, among the beetles and leeches, imagining their applause.
Here is where a warning should come in, regarding the volume of the gaze––don’t. But you say it’s language you’re seeking.
I am always in these machines on wheels, looking back.
I love it when an actor looks awkward, letting you see how they are trying.
Why do you think you enjoy that?
Because it’s a little off, missing all the marks we’ve come to expect. But if you look, you can read a new rhythm.