05 October 2014

Dispatches from 40.78438° by -119.212306°

I was in the desert last month. More specifically, I was on the dry lake Playa in the middle of the Black Rock Desert at Burning Man. 

My mother, who has gone, has described it as anything you want it to be - a defenition so broad and imprecise as to be applicable to everything and so, meaningless. I would narrow it to: many refined and intense potentialities existing purposefully and by necessity within a specific band of experience. Not much better, but then you would have to desribe the band, which will flumox one by not being handily two dimensional. 

Two things create necessity: the desert (which many say is out to kill you, but like the sea is indifferent) and the mass volume of souls present. On the one hand it is the most crass and twinkling two step bass to which the Eurotrash and their close cousins of the Silicon Valley flock to and beat upon as moths' wings - the faux fur and glitter set. On the other hand it is a locus of mystical experience for those so spiritually rootless and undefined that they must, they cannot cohere alone - the incoherant hippies and put upons putting faith in the universe and not much else - leastwise themselves. On another hand the industrious, the proud, the meglomaniacal welders and beat-uponers who sumon energies and laboring minions and produce labrinous artworks often broad and superficial, occassionally profound. On a fourth hand, the working-man outcasts - bitter and black who strive in self imposed ignomy months before and after, surveying and staking and striking and pulling and directing and always always it was better before. On a final hand, everyone else - the vast majority - the normal to the unreal with toes in the sand and hands on many small sticks and cups and prayers and pills.

And I - who have been three times now, and each time leave with ambiguous sentiment - I am generally of that final camp. But bitterly must aknowledge that, though I have added to the miasma of dwarved art, and though I have helped my fellows as they were before me, and though i sought to express what to me is not ever really unexpressed, to me it really is a very big and very cool party and I share some vulgarity with the flybys (though I do avoid the drum and the bass). 

This year, however, I went undercover with a schism of the fourth group, the Gate Perimeter and Exodus Crew - the guardians between this boundary and the next, always looking out or in, and dissapointed or perhaps relieved of full and direct participation.  Their palatial headquarters is 'the Black Hole' which it indeed is, with the gravitational force of a well stocked bar and surley but convivial codependents. A Cheers for the motley goth damaged with parent issues and desperate need to be capable and to be seen as capable, even at their most abandon - the control factor of anarchy. I felt like Hunter S amongst the Hells Angels, belonging through will and willingness, but not through belonging. 

I took as my nome de event 'Minotaur', which surprisingly was accepted, and to the camp behind me, on who's porch my own tent opened, I believe I was a minor celebrity. My goal for the week was to show up to my (gate) shifts as fully capable as superhumanly possible given the other goals: to willfully participate in the desert's efforts to destroy my body through deficiency of sleep, sufficiency of alcohol and various narcotics, and finally, to do it all with style. It was this last, I believe, that endured me to my neighbors. No matter how deficient my serotonin, I stood straight and clear eyed and happy and well put together, in a sharp suit perhaps.

I went alone. I hitchhiked. I joined no camp. I arrived at midnight and set camp without help. I rutted in spiritual solitude. The people I hoped to see, I did not see. I danced to no-wave for hours in a foggy room. I met the dawn sun at the trash fence with nothing but two bleary eyes and regret. I washed myself of name and titles. I was no thing save Minotaur, roaming neighborhoods with calm eyed curiosity, sexuality clipped to my belt in my trusted hide paddle, throwing cards of mysterious prognostication to strangers.

There was the day the slow build of heavy desert rain woke me before dawn. The beats upon the canvas of my tent set my dreamless sleep to syncopation. When I was finally at sea on a soggy raft I woke and the thunder began its insensate approach like herd bison. 
Rain then thunder then lightening. I got up and slipped naked into the rain. The air had not just taste but density -- I was swimming in ozone. Not a soul was in sight and the intermediate light revealed no time. I was floating in timelessness alone. Then without warning, but with all the warning of the strikes before closer and closer, yet still without warning, lightening broke in half the moment - the former on one side, the present on the other. And I was released and fell to ground under my feet and felt the naked vulnerability in the smoking dawn, air eyes and ears shattered, giddy with nearness to blind mortality.

We taunt the fragility of life and relations. In the face of chance and the arbitrary we lean on the table. We suck at the bones of the earth having scraped off the flesh. We drink-me-eat-me that which would kill us. We smoke we fight and laugh. We venture to create and we burn what we have made.

There was the night I walked among the useless exuberance of humanity burning light and heat and noise. I walked with two friends and held them in two hands. I guided them as they mushroom crystalized the spectra. One, in himself, we set down and he found a small patch of stars. One, with her eyes aflame, skipped across the plain delighted and engorged on inputs.

There was the working day shift laying miles of cones like a cool hand road crew between two broad indifferent skies.

There was the night I howled and slurred with boozy strangers at a bar on a corner and staggered off together muttering plans like shore leave sailors

There was the night, my penultimate night, of the Gate, Perimeter, Exodus Party -- an event that heartened to the way it was before anarchy, in scale, becomes dangerously riotous. I walked the knife's edge between the control and destruction. I ate the wrong eat me and willed within against my valiant heart, my too tired body and those damned fungi. For four hours of palpitation and seamed torn reason I pitted sheer will to be and to appear capable. And then will was victorious, I ramped back up to firecracker laughter and dusty pickup bed rides.

There was the night I found a man crying, crying that he dreamed and dreamed he would burn in hell he was condemned   Dig deeper I said dig deeper than their paltry hell, get cast out of your own garden with your own Adam and Christ. And three day latter he walked out of the desert and thanked me.

A woman fell from an art car and was killed. I went by at night, unaware - there were police all around, lazily. Red and blue strobed in different frequencies. She was a covered bundle.

A men fell of his motorcycle was killed coming around a bluff on the highway. A pair of rez police directed traffic either way. The man lay on his side resting on the asphalt uncovered.

It is always there rushing at us, God absently raking his fingers across the face of time. There is always a blind curve, a misstep. But now, in this moment with this choice, I can take my will and apply it. I can destroy on my own terms and I can feel it and love it.

07 August 2014

A Distance is a Silence (perhaps this is a song)

Ten years my Father travelled,
Travelled stony island shores
And I my twenty on planted lines
 - Pennies on the track. Love.
Love is copper over eyes.

Orphaning boats on murderous seas,
Jealous beasts charge tons of steel.
The feral death a mile back -
Love, love is the stopping,
walking the cold wet miles of track

I kick. I push. I thrust myself
Upon dark miles of static
To love. To love is laying hands
On warm and humming rails
Distance is time gone, like songs of long gone lands

How far Sirens, can you call?
Across these prairies wide?
To love, to love is to feel
where the fingers were, the rot
The rot of dry bone in the soil

Look back. Watch distance disappear,
A single point of gone.
Rolling from cool intimacy
Collapsed to empty space
Love, love is wrestling with speed.

And I, who've lost grand fights to silence,
belt unbuckled at a nod -
Each sense painfully aware -
Beyond the smell of food and light.
To Love is to give without care.

How long have we been traveling?
Glad the air is shared and stale
To Love is a slow stirring
Like age a desperate silence
A slow and plodding hurry.

07 February 2014

05 February 2014

Park Haiku #1

It finally rained.
My Favorite gate, when closing,
no longer makes its sounds.

03 February 2014

About writing, about drying out, about rotting

Each day here is more of a season I am creating. Autumn internal. As a mature adult,I have been - and continue in the flesh to be - a remorseless Dionysian. Show me purity and my first impulse is to pull it up, show it the soil on its roots, make some new soil. There are many people who have me in their lives for just that need - a steady, quiet, irrevocably innocent corruption.
I quit drinking two weeks ago, committed myself to a year of alcohol related sobriety. I love revelry. I have a taste for wine, beer and whiskey. I embrace darknesses and I loathe the concept of abstinence of any kind. The totality. Two reasons Have led to this decision then. I have been blacking out - something embarrassing to admit - more and more frequently at lesser and lesser thresholds. Waking to nulled debauchery, good and bad, is too much darkness for me, or maybe too specific a kind of darkness. I have had some remarkable experiences and done some shameful things that I do not recall.
All this that I have talked about so far are adult experiences. I take joy in challenging purities but there is the other half of my life, the stable external, the sweet Apollonian faces of my young boys and the naive huntress in my daughter. That part of my life shows me that some purity must mature. I must over the course of husbanding them to adulthood, guide them to a maturity of complexity and paradox, but I cannot force it. Cannot push it on them with my actions.
So I back off and internalize. I nurture the introvert in a quiet bed of fiery autumn leaves.
That this coincides with autumn helps
That i had begun, without intent, to read poetry helps
That the woman in my bed is a brandished fire I must nurture and appropriate at arms length helps
And as my mouth goes mute and the impresario withers, my third eyes opening slowly and aged.
I am committing verse to memory and reciting aloud to myself while I work in nature and in public. 
I am writing a novel - wading into a dark and mad sea. I had been fleshing out a play, a surreal morality farce set in the exhaust of the civil war, but caught tied up in themes and characters. Like a doomed general I was plotting and strategizing and mapping while William Tecumseh Sherman - not even appearing - marched straight and through and overwhelmed with daemonic strength. The play was lost and I was left to wrestle with him. 
Sherman is of course famous for or infamous for burning a mile wide path from Atlanta to the Atlantic. An act of what he called Total warfare. He was Lincoln's avenging angel, killing first borns and salting the earth for the righteous cause of the union. Total warfare because he recognized the enlightenment idea that the governed are ruled over only at their own consent. A nation at war does so only with the collaboration of its populace. 
There is an episode of Star Trek where two planets wage war by computer proxy and though the citizenry are subject to randomized casualties, the horror and destruction are bypassed. This is rather a topsy turkey version of our convention of waging war on others by remote mechanical proxy. The bold Captain Kirk called for a total war and for an experience of horror and consequence. I find myself agreeing with this despite a developed sense of pacifism. I see the most effective deterrent to mass human violence is the horror specific to it. Now, we neither see nor feel the violence we inflict and so commit to it at our leisure. How do we release ourselves of casual violence so addictive that even our language of peace is infested with it?
So shook, i commit to my novel, tied by this tortuous link to a tether held by a man who is not even a character in a derelict play. I have found the secret. We must give up some things that we love and are committed to. We must give up decency and morality to commit to war. We must become destroyers. We must give up causes and interests to commit to peace. It cannot come with our security and luxury intact, nor with our force to power cohesive. We must give up comfort and nurture to commit to love. Because all violence is related so is all peace. 
The secret to writing that I have found is to move straight ahead without thought or pause. To write horribly and incoherent. to forget characters' names and develop nothing. To not step out of time but cease to consider it. To carve a swath wide and merciless with bull feet raging. I have turned the ritual madness and ecstasy inward toward the page and given it up so that I may cultivate cool and brightness. My children, my wife get an even-headed man, head of house and bringer of fortune and grace. Me - I get a fecundating compost of maenads and minotaur and tree roots. I get to make up a man a subject him to a total collapse of love as cognitive dissonance, to abandon, to spiritual ecstasy, hedonism and immeasurable violence, immerse him in a mad ocean and wash him up on a strange and hostile shore - a reborn human.
I saw Bill Callahan twice this weekend, right up front. He opened with White Light/White Heat. He closed with this song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F44qDHAMw2M