To listen through soil is to be reminded of the inadequacy of words for sound, the curious choral cacophony of those out-of-sight creatures so easily out of mind, the soundtracks of springtail, of mellifluent moles mirroring the melodies of mice amid mesh of mycelium; these reverberating roots a revelation, calling a body back to unknowing. This is what the birds are turning their heads to listen for, plainchant of these porous depths, resounding.
Inspired by Ute Eberle’s recent Knowable Magazine article about the emerging field of soil bioacoustics, which some prefer to call biotremology or ecoacoustics.
What ephemeral forms may expose.
Along the shores of a great lake, often without witness, a northern wind shapes and erases forms in ice and sand. There is a moment when they hold. To bear witness is to be reminded of the pairing of reverence and suddenness, of beauty unexpected because it is so rarely seen, and this because it just as quickly goes, swallowed by the same hand that lifted the veil. Is this a force of time and weather, or their temporary pause? ––as if to call into question all descriptors, all limits, to fit the beholder with a set of melting wings.
Inspired by the photography of Joshua Nowicki.
And other directional challenges.
If Dali’s thin silver spoon with its offering of arrested time can bend around a dark mass and still hold; if Magritte’s mountain can levitate and Chagall’s village can highlight the illusory nature of common words for direction: above, below, top, bottom––then there really are no end of possibilities for how a given story may move, fictions of today, tomorrow, and yesterday only rooted in the old habits, which are sometimes shorthand for myopia, and we could hardly help ourselves when it was still possible to paint time in a straight line and call it real.
Inspired by “Weightless Forms, Gravitational Forces,” Ch. 23 of Leonard Shlain’s Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light.
A mycelium-inspired montage.
Be the hero, we say to one another, of your own life. The logic encourages these rampant proliferating fantasies, each body the focal point of motion. It’s something else to assume a body like a riverbed. One logic trains heroes for noble departures from known worlds across manufactured thresholds, through theme park underworlds and back again, and in the retelling a people can learn to take as given idea of the world as something to travel through––in order to finish on top. It would be another choreography entirely if the crossing in question was over forbidden mountain ranges of the calcified remains that stagnate between the origin of music and the sound of a single voice, bereft of chorus, learning to hear again, a call across hemispheres of knowing, waiting to respond until fully immersed in the dirt, each limb stretching from self into selves into another body entirely, vast and webbed across acres of time, humming Here.
On prospects for sense and sensibilities.
Many practitioners of questions find psychic activity important, as far as consciousness goes. When it comes to the unconscious, credibility varies. Maybe the prefix is to blame here, the “un” negating whatever follows. Maybe this comes from a bias toward consciousness as an individual experience. By this logic, anything not organized in some way by a self can’t be known. Better words might help to clarify. Extraconscious, perhaps: knowing from outside, or intraconscious, from deeply within. Or perhaps a permaconsciousness, parallel to permafrost, which has a way of thawing out in times of flux and rising heat, revealing long-buried bodies as well as toxins. The idea calls to mind a need for a refinement of the interconscious, that which can only be held in the fabric connecting us, in the interstitial ether between bodies.
What descends through the center of radiance into light so completely that it empties into a well so remote that none in its fabric can emerge, revealing nothing except in absence, as if to humble fledgling presumptions of sight? Shell of unknowing, invisible creatures of the deep, each disappearing body of snow, fold this becoming cortex of time, our next collective memory, already an echo.
When chimera feathers fall.
Guards at the gate confiscating dreams demand our reasons for wrapping them to chests. Why this one? And this? But messengers, like so many winged creatures, are stunted in captivity, and we watched the feathers fall. With those forevers beyond language, how much of our time? Now muted by motion and moved, the assembly of permanent particles dispersed again.
The knowing unknowing of stormy hearts.
The Doctor says, look at these images, notice the noise and chaos at the heart, the lacy kinks of energy, bubbling near the buzz at the center.
A black hole with the mass of four billion suns.
What are these glowing filaments around it?
Each is a hundred light years across, the Doctor explains. Then leaves.
What does a body on this planet even make of a century of light years?
––rather, this body. I suspect cats already understand, along with whales.
In my case, there’s an instinct to set the idea aside, like I do with some mail I don’t intend to open. How about a cat’s eye nebula, or even the eye of Jupiter? Violent storm that it is, at least someone can point to it and say “there,” pretending to wear knowledge like a child playing dress-up in costume jewelry.
But there it is again, this veiled center, this electrical storm not unlike the beating of a heart, a sound we prefer to imagine as gentle and distant, a low murmur, like the now-dated images of galaxies as soft clouds of distant jewels and floating lights, swirling in slow motion like the mobile above an infant’s crib.
Inspired by (and borrowing phrases from) this article in yesterday’s New York Times: An Electrifying View of the Heart of the Milky Way
Regarding certain questions of form and matter, an old, wise one observes, beyond earshot, there’s no joy in what doesn’t exist. Meaning certain illusions, such as righteous selves, but these are too busy saving to hear. Who else is saving? There’s a dragon somewhere in one of those caves, guarding what some would call fortune, but there’s another myth.
Imagination is another thing, a vital series of high-powered lenses for seeing what the naked eye, long dulled by resignation, will commonly miss, especially in moments read as ordinary time and especially in moments of crisis, where matters of life and death are prone to changes of direction before reaching orbital velocity.
I wanted to know more, so asked. The wise one said, it doesn’t matter, and then waited until we were both done laughing. Then said, Beware hallucinations of rote perception. Sight without surrender is only illusion. Then we kept watch together until we were both done cracking up. Our eyes were wet when we parted, washed into a state of fleeting and magnificent clarity.
The observation, “There is no joy in what doesn’t exist” comes from Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation