She said, child, sometimes someone will approach you on the pretense of bearing a gift, but it will be none other than another version of Death, that old shapeshifter, dressed up in fancy wrapping and a bow.
This happens all the time, she said, and the method is to stuff the box full of sequins so that its these shiny, tiny nothings that fall to the floor when you open it. They are there to distract you from the extraction of your blood, one slow drop at a time.
She said, wait. It is also true that sometimes you will be handed something that reminds you of endings and you will groan and weep and mourn and wish somebody would take it back and tell you it never happened. But hang on, she said, because sometimes those are the places where your life is hiding, buried in the muck they tried to tell you was separate from the living.
We pass them between us, remaking the world one talisman at a time, each gift a salve, investing what we touch with the power of a sacred offering, so that even at a distance, they radiate life to the living.
Knowing this, we still forget. Reacting, it’s common to return to the old conditioning: things as mere tools. Here, one says, catch! A familiar thing, a cast off, a burden, an irritant: easy to forget the weight of these, the unexpected marks they will leave where they land.
We learn to hold and keep holding what makes us ill, sore, dizzy. We were made to carry, and it showed; something in us learned to accept until our legs went out again. The unlearning takes time. We invest new objects with new songs to help us remember, and touch them often, against forgetting.
First lessons in suspension.
We hardly knew it––or ourselves––when we flooded the spaces we entered with memory so completely that to move was to be removed from our weight in invented immersion. What carried us was luminous and dense and had no word we knew. If someone were to ask us what it was, we would say Nothing, but no such questions came, because when we removed ourselves from our weight, we became no one.
On the day of the dead, among this cloud of witnesses, someone here whispers, help me find it again, that joy I once had in looking. Instead of an answer, this space, and the hum of a motor nearby.
We love the old trees of our myths for the spaces they hold inside themselves, but also for the way they know to keep it around them, this cushion of shade made soft by the absence of another tree.
In the eruption of any given birth, a core could easily splinter, and yet here we are, faces dappled by the light and noise of becoming, learning to make room for what would breathe.
She knew something shifted when the plot no longer held her interest. Its pretense of coherent motivation rang false. She shifted her attentions then, to the way the nameless organisms within us would respond to the movements of forces outside, including other nameless organisms. Sometimes they were more vegetable than people, more tree than people, more bird. The stimulus mattered so much less than the effect. Yes, she would think, as she watched them. I know this lonely crowd. Then she knit herself a yarn cocoon. The yarn was the same color as her background. When her work was done, she disappeared. What is memory? Only forgetting, like a poem made by the act of erasure.
Inspired by the writing of Nathalie Saurrate and the art of Bea Camacho.
It was a time of release and collapse, confusion and the search for new bearings, and many painted aftermaths in words. There was much emphasis on resilience. Aspirational? Perhaps. It seemed a sort of mask. Something unraveled.
What is happening now? Someone asked. Attempts at description became profiles in shapeshifting practices: power and truth, dreaming and living, and then language. Interesting uses of words like safety raised questions. For whom and from what and by what logic are these questions obscured?
This is what we were wondering on the morning that we left our homes to walk into the fog. We seemed to be going to its source, but we could not see it. No one spoke at the time because the words were not there. Not yet. There was a humming, deep and low. It was not clear if it came from some hollow behind the heart, or somewhere outside. Perhaps this distinction, too, no longer mattered.
Thoughts on getting down with it.
Here’s an invitation to stomp through the track-lit hallways of an administration building and sing in a waiting room, wailing exhalations of various shapes.
Consider this a reminder not to chase the light too hard, to balance those ethereal divinities with the ever-present nuisances of daily demons.
Against the weight of daggered baggage, here’s the forgiveness of emptiness. Over the round hoop of the ancient zero like an open mouth, weave a nest for the unborn and make it big enough for the recently departed.
A body will reveal its resilience in rest, holding until only spirit is left, leaving calligraphic marks on the skins it brushed.
Song is a mother. She is working in the dirt and it is everywhere.
Inspired by, and with borrowed images from Spencer Kornhaber‘s recent Atlantic article, How to Listen to Björk, According to Björk, regarding the artist’s latest album, Fossora. The title comes from the Latin word for digger.
With Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
If much of sight is the weight of understanding––the weight of the world, as the saying goes–– why not a vision to pull us forward and up, binding us to one another and this earth? What happens when one person and then many––live in devotion to the process of discovering this renewal: its anatomy and breath, its sublimated wants, and how its needs at their core might include us? In an age of crisis, we face over and again the possibility of a coming end, on a road increasingly populated by our dead and dying. What does it take to remember love––even here, and hold it long enough to see a way to its next beginning? You noticed sacredness in imperfection, even pain––because it is, because we are, because we are becoming. Of this age of loss, you suggested, now we are getting somewhere.
Inspired by the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
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.
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.