Our forms in flight evaded all process of proof, and when they came to measure us, we laughed ourselves into vapor, evading capture. We were solid only when we wanted to be. Yes, we danced freely among clouds, but were neither formless or endless, those ideals that only vanity presumes, and we had none when we were running, streams of selves flowing; would you put a river in a jar?
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.
What knows, perceives, wills, animates––a body, while not of body. Moving a mind, but not quite a mind or of one. Plato considered a soul of the universe, and others saw it in the celestial bodies. Some confuse it with perceptible motion. Where is it before–– and after, this form and these forms? Before understanding, and after? Indivisible, and yet able to multiply, into greater unity, ever greater being, explaining nothing, with no guarantees.
Considering various mediums, and the interfaces between seen and unseen.
Every medium has its own personality. Paper is delicate so everything gets a dreamy fluid quality, light dissolving over the landscape. On paper you can see the smudge of erasure, the changes, the trial and error. Consider the difference between this and something like film, or film-less photos, those bodies of pixellated light in captivity.
With photographs everything looks like something that a crazed nostalgic is trying to freeze outside of time. Oil on canvas: longings laid bare, to hold what will not be held. The time spent anyway, squinting.
A bedside book in childhood: Lives of the Saints, dog-eared at Joan of Arc, because of the way she didn’t flinch, that insistently, cross-dressing soul. I think her gift was less that she heard a voice all day long telling her what to do, but that she listened.
Now it’s art books, too heavy to lift with one hand, propped open across a chest and half-waking dreams of Blake’s Jacob’s Ladder, all the near-transparent souls climbing doggedly into blinding light, none looking as though they have any idea what it may be, but there it is waiting, anyway, pouring over and through their bodies and their steps in a luminous column and you get the sense that they’re climbing forever like a white-knuckled novena, World Without End.
Joan was burned at the stake for three reasons: one, she wore pants; two, she wore them into battle; three, what she said about the voice she heard, even after it was clear what would happen if she didn’t retract. There was a line between what you could see and may not see. She crossed.
Before he painted Jacob’s Ladder, William Blake was getting regularly arrested for bar fights, and after he painted his opus, he died, as the legend goes, amid visions of angels. What did he see in them, I wonder, and how was it different from the eternities he saw in hours, the heavens in his wildflowers, or the worlds he found in grains of sand?
A want to hold it all in an instant, the forever dream against countless suggestions that seeing something is almost always very different than seeing everything, and the end of the world something different than the end of every known part.