Possibilities for Becoming

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.

Becoming Unbecoming

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.

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.”

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. 

Ask the Oracle

The weight of remembrance.

In the days of constant violence and plagues, when the crops are dead with drought and fire and even the shade trees are gone, the citizens gather. The cry is help, and the answer calls to mind a riddle and a mirror, and who is the most mysterious of all?

––And the mirror answered back with a reflection, the face of the king and all behind him. But what does it take to read a body’s history? 

Ask the oracle, she’ll tell you again: not until there is justice, will you know peace in your homes and shade for your children. The old questions return: whose death continues to echo within the city walls; whose blood stains the soil of these charred acres? What severances between life and the living continue to bleed.

Bring in the blind prophet to remind the assembly of the weight of this knowledge and what it means to have it, where no gain can come except through the death of a timeworn dream. 

Nevertheless, they resisted.

***

I am inspired by the work of Brian Doerries and Theatre of War in placing Greek tragedies at the center of community discussions around central challenges of the moment. I jotted these notes while reviewing his translation of the Oedipus Trilogy and related notes.

Aftermath

In the dark between destruction and rebirth.

After the promise, before the fallen fruit, love was so loud that what followed might be called nature’s reproach. We suspected it was. But our memories of watercolor flights stayed anyway between water and sky, and us gliding in wide-winged pelican formations­­––long after their welcome, ignoring the new signs warning against the trespass of our breath.

After the storm, our eyes fall into these empty hands and roll across the wreckage around us until they are soaked in the sludge of charred remains. 

Only this silent plea between us now, strong and invisible; and time no longer ours, and in the dark hours before dawn, it may echo an inquiring trinity, Love, will you make the world here again? and then Hear, again and Love, here.

Looking Up

With Dorothea Klumpke Roberts.

Since Cain slew Abel, she considered hers a threefold role: mother, priestess, aide. Faithful service to each has meant time spent gazing up to question the sun, moon, and stars in concert with the evolving hour at hand––not as objects or territories to be conquered or subdued, but with the reverence and awe she comes to hold as original truths. Her wish: to be a living torch, bearing these, that tomorrow’s children might see and be awed in turn. To look as she does, it will be impossible for them not to feel the moral impact of the moment and be awed by all that is and may yet be.

***

Today is the birthday of groundbreaking astronomer Dorothea Klumpke Roberts (1861-1942). This post is composed of ideas and images from a 1919 article she published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, “Woman’s Work in Astronomy.”

Magnificat

Song for the unseen.

Let’s remember to hold one another in this moment, reveling in the possibility that what really is, is still invisible. And may we never forget––our dead, our not yet living, and the true purpose of these wild hearts. To celebrate what seems utterly worthless in this world, including everyone bearing witness to the unseen, those other dreamers and the lonely and those crazy fools on the corner––and in the next room, and in the mirror, and all the tiny creatures underfoot and hanging on in the distance. The strongmen and the celebrated seem to hold the world in their fists, but they will lose and be lost amid those who have nothing. Let us remember this always, to remain empty, seeking home with others, hands open and ready to receive what comes––yesterday, today, and tomorrow––not to keep and hold

but to give it away

that we might remain

forever vacant

and ready to receive

the opening notes

of its next

arrival.

***

German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called the Magnificat (from the Gospel of Luke 1:46-55, when Mary greets Elizabeth) “the most passionate, wildest . . . most revolutionary hymn ever sung.” He was executed by the Nazis. This morning, I learned that these verses were considered so subversive that they were banned from public recitation in several countries, including Guatemala, Argentina, and India. Naturally, I was moved to revisit the text. I am also reminded back to a comment by artist Mariko Mori, on Botticelli’s iconic painting of the meeting of these women (The Annunciation), that they appear to her “like two Buddhas bowing.” 

Moment of Silence

Weighing in.

One option, when it comes to dealing with confusion is: promise, announce, proclaim, blame. Another, offering less up front, commands infinitely more. Observing a full spectrum of unknowns, this one points silently with the gaze, to offer no defense. Defenseless, the humble observer can only sway, moving steadily into an unnamed dance. No one teaches its choreography because there is nothing to teach, and no one ever comes running to learn how to wait. 

Against Horror

A time to grieve.

Bodies again, but no words. 

The point was our speechlessness.

Terror: when the body flees to survive.

Horror: parted lips, frozen and immobile, a spectacle of power. It almost always goes by another name, or none.

State: a verb for the creation of complicity.

The method: consistent spectacle.

What heals, then?

The opposite of spectacle is suffering. To suffer is to return from horror with a voice.

Blessed are they who––

Cry against the silence, throw shattered voices into it.

The opposite of order, this is language like broken windows.

The opposite of calm, this is babbling, wild-haired, full-bodied.

The opposite of isolation, grief demands recognition of our common breaks. Its substance is our connective tissue. It flows with the blood of a common wound.

Grief is a voice, and it sounds like the inverse of okay,

which sounds like the reverse of an answer.

Consider this moment.  Against the hum of this machine, let us launch 

a shattering cry. Now is the time. 

Break.

***

Inspired by Christina Rivera Garza’s Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country and by Adriana Cavarero’s Horrorism: Naming Contemporary Violence, translated by William McCuaig.