30 April 2015

Postcard 27

You must remember the origin of life is still a complete mystery
You must remember that your short life, fully chronicled, would fill more books than ever printed, would wreck the internet
You must remember that birds mostly fly for pleasure; envying them is the only healthy envy
You must remember that every work of art, every creation, every piece of scientific fact, every formula, every word, every thought is an imperfect reduction of what actually is
You must remember to stand at the base of tall trees and look impossibly to the top
You must remember pain and its eternal bond with the creative
You must remember the instinctive creature going ahead or left or right for no known reason
You must remember you must die
You must remember (in order) complexity, paradox, unintended consequences
You must remember that unease, anxiety, striving, discomfort are your birthright - marks of evolution's vanguard
You must remember forgetting is ok
You must remember that finally, you are your only judge; endeavor to be a worthy, prudent and forgiving judge -- charity is your watchword
You must remember that charity means love, the glad giving of what is not deserved
You must remember that shit is the richest soil
You must remember to fear the dark, but fear is something carried, not a wall (and to fear the light)
You must remember to laugh in the face of the absurd
You must remember…its all absurd

28 April 2015

Postcard 26

The trajectory of life: is it contingent on being perceived? Is it linear -- an arrow careening among potentials and impossibilities? Are those discarded realities broken -- do they shatter and dissolve or careen off to other lives? 
Perhaps that is too limited a perspective, the deceit of time and proximity. We move through a harmony of waves, redundant but for our place in the wave and we are the harmonic vibrations of the fingers of time across space as a harp! Likely this is the limit of what is measurable -- an infinity of harmonics -- projecting in undulating spiral of expansion and contraction…a respiration.
Is it even important? Does it matter when for each individual living is the forever plunging into the viscous from the clear -- always approaching, always penetrating, always submerged.

26 April 2015

Postcards 24 and 25

I often refer to the limits of reason, to the paucity of our tools to understand the space-time in which we are immersed. Imagine having never left the mother's womb. We would be able to tell many things about that womb and its contents, but not nearly all. We would be able, with our mighty intelligence and reasoning to infer a few things about the world outside that womb But would we know that world was another being, itself moving in a world of apprehending? We could infer that the umbilical cord extending from our own being to the "outside" was somehow sending somethings back and forth -- perhaps communicating, but we could not know what and how. This analogy can apply both to our limitations in knowing the context of our own movement through space-time and to the difficulty in discerning and communicating what I call the sub-rational and the supra-rational with language which is itself a limited tool of reason! What umbilici stretches to us from the outside?
Guard against the hubris of knowing.

Guard against the hubris of 'knowing'. We are familiar with many indicators of the sub-rational and the supra-rational: intuition, paradox, analogy, dream, the joy of animals -- things the dogmatic, the many-trapped-in-the-world would find uncomfortable if not objectionable. I say trapped quite intentionally for trapped by reason we may be. Reason, you see, is a system of boundaries. The building block of reason -- the hearthstone, the lodestone and the cornerstone - is definition. The more powerful the system of reason -- logic, math, scientific method (I should add philosophy) -- the more rigid the definitions must be. Here I am not attempting to discredit these tools, among our most powerful, but to identify their limitations and by striking a mark upon those limits, then to step across them to see what else there may be. If space-time is the limit of our reasoned apprehension, then let us look beyond space-time with our other means and let us reason to deduce what space-time exists within is likely a reality that does affect and inputs into space-time what is not space-time. I call our experience of these sub-rational and supra-rational, but those would be arbitrary boundaries from outside. Science itself, at its most penetrating and acute, seems to be perceiving dimly across those boundaries.
So why is this important? Why do backflips in the amniotic fluid? Because it is important to know when you are using a tool, to know the limits of a tool and to not confuse the tool with the task. Returning to earth we must abandon reason when answering questions like "Should we torture people?" We must because the answer must be No, though reason would equivocate. We must abandon reason's limits when we look to other human beings and move to relate to them not as measurable inputs, but as beings to love -- deserving and underserving at once!

Postcard 23

My week in omens:

  • Handle broke off car door in my hand
  • The following podcasts played consecutively -
    • phenomenology of Hegel
    • Being and Identity in 'Fight Club" and "the Game"
    • Radiolab "In the Dust of This Planety
    • Star Trek episode "Spectre of the Gun" discussion
    • Descartes meditations: What can we know?
    • Marc Maron interviews Ru Paul, discusses identity and being
      } All of these have to do with 
unknowableness and the meaningless 
of existence (or our perception of it) 
and what to do about it
  • At drawing night, I was practicing hand drawing and inadvertently drew the Sistine Chapel's hand of God
  • My horoscope this week first apologized to me then predicted: "Deep sexy darkness and sexy brilliance are conspiring to bring you intriguing pleasures that will educate the naive part of your soul"

In an unknowing way, I can perceive the intent of these omens, these markers. They are first , a verification of all that I believe through experience and induction. They are second, a challenge that I have been preparing for. They are third, a  promise that the thing or experience I think I will lose is actually a poor copy of what I could gain. When meaning is stripped and abandoned, then meaning becomes solely my responsibility and I'll only know it through living.

22 April 2015

Postcard 22

Sometimes, oh I feel like red dust tapped down by the rain. Sometimes, oh I feel so much pain. There is a name for rocks in the salt-flats, pushed nowhere by so much wind. Sometimes I wake with a stone on my chest and from there its all uphill. Sometimes, oh I lack the will. Sometimes the wind and rain just want to rest. There is a bone-white plain, its also blood-clay red. Sometimes its a pillow to lay my head. But I would be a blanket upon it, fine and pure. I was drowning but I'll be dry. Sometimes I have dreams I am flying, but I am falling I'm sure. Sometimes, oh I feel like the rain, and its all coming at me so fast. But there is a downy bed beneath me. Sometimes I don't mind a little pain. I will shatter to a mist, my body will cover the land. Sometimes I don't want to, but I know that I must. Sometimes, oh I feel like a raindrop tapping tapping down. Sometimes I'm tapping red dust, sometime I'm tapping the white plain.

20 April 2015

Postcard 21

I grew up in the Church, capital C, the bride of Christ the redeemer, sacrificial lamb washing clean the humans created in god's own image, too dirty to reside in the presence of the best god, no -- the mightiest god, no -- the one true god. Thats an important preface I believe. Jung said we should work within our own culture's mythologies rather than attempt another. I'm not sure its possible to do otherwise. I do not regret those days or the sophisticated tools I gathered there. I find, though, that I like how I am created. The church wants me to deny my flesh. I like my flesh. I love it and yours and all What is better than intermingling flesh? 
So…the buddhists want me to deny my ego. The muslims want me to deny my art, The unitarians want me to deny my beast. The capitalists want me to deny my community. The humanists want me to deny my spirit. The freudians want me to deny my consciousness. The rationalists want me to deny my beliefs. The socialists want me to deny my individuality. The feminists want me to deny my masculinity. The atheists want me to deny my godliness The patriarchy wants me to deny my femininity. The pacifists want me to deny my violence. The physicists want me to deny my agency. The evolutionists want me to deny my choice. My wife want me to deny my lusts. Money wants me to deny my peace. Reality want me to deny hope. Pain makes me want to deny love. 
So… consider the lilies. Consider the sparrows. Consider the trees. Whatever initiative furnaced those perfect creatures also did you and I. Not a root, a wing, a breath of pollen out of place. Each creature's existence is its birthright -- whole. Same with you and I and all -- whole.

Postcard 20

Hey human being, ever striving, ever dissatisfied, ever desiring! 
Its time to ignore the condemnation and judgement. Eons ago your bundle of proteins and acids pushed a lens into space and looked out, groped through the pull of chemical discomfort and wrapped themselves in a suit of life and moved restless and free, but burdensomely in a new world. Were did it come from? No one knows -- space perhaps. And somewhere in the pattern that governs it, it has a homeward beacon -- always seeking origin and outward. When your mouth runs copper and your legs rustle like dry leaves -- that is what it is. When you stare at a new day like a blank sheet, a new canvas, knowing that the promise is there but unable to will it, to harness it -- that is your holy birthright. You are alive and in your strugglings and discomforts you are a vanguard of life. All those comfortable beings in their chairs and clean conscience so flawless -- they are a dead end. They are like sharks, long perfected never changing. You though, self doubting worrying creating destroying, you are the hiding stressed marsupial, absorbing your offspring until you create something new -- gestation. You are the fish heading toward the tree -- defining the word plodding. You are the mouse-like primate on the grasslands. You are the virus and the cell.

17 April 2015

Postcard 19

When I do finally die and wind up at the pearly gates, Saint Peter will be there. He may be surprised to see me; I'll certainly be surprised to see him. For a moment he will be white robed and regal, but blink and he'll be the earthy bearded amorist he truly is.
"What is this?" I will ask him and he will reply. "An accounting."
"But I don't believe in any of this!"
The clouds and gates will vanish.
"But you believe in this. Be quick you don't have much time."
"An accounting, huh?"
And he will peer over the book that is suddenly in his hand, through the bifocals that appear on his face (I had not noticed, but I will be naked. Whether it feels natural or like a bad dream is up to me I suppose)
"Says here you spent nearly two weeks watching Gilligan's Island for instance. Theres only two days of programming!"
"You've seen it?" I stammer. Saint peter frowns at me.
"I'm not here forever. Ten years of your life watching this television. How do you account for that?" I will shuffle my feet and look down at them.
"Just tired, I guess. Its easy."
"Well its all here: the internet, television, pornography, books! Why have you not lived your life? You only had the one -- did you think you had more?" And I will well up with tears at the wasted pages in his book, "Why did you not choose a purpose, an action, a creation, a nurturing? And here you have in almost every day the most egregious waste: thinking of what you should."
And I will sob and he will look on me with compassion.
"Its all too common," St peter will console," and you don't have…."

(as is often the case with inspiration, the lynch pin gets lost in the fringe of memory, or here on the fringe of the post card photographed. Who know what wisdom Saint Peter had, finally, for me)

Postcard 18

At the table to my right, a young girl with braids is making eyes at me. I wink -- all children remind me of mine and of each other. Distilled, life may be children, sex, and death. On my other hand, some students study comparative religion. All children remind me of me. Surely -- children, sex, and death. We, though, self aware, need work, learning and meaning. We are silly with our self-awareness, our words. Is it possible to compare religion with a book and a class and so little breadth of life? Can you know the penitence of redemption without calloused knees? Can you know the reverence of power without words you cannot speak? The brilliance that shines through the pain of ritual like white bone exposed by flame, the mad clarity of the ascetic fasting? A man sets himself aflame, protesting the pain of others with incommunicable pain, with the embers of his life. What is to compare? The knowledge is in life and death. When meaning transcends distillation, what is to compare? It is in those moments when the individual becomes the manifestation of what they have been practicing (as religion is practiced, so it is realized). The practitioner manifests themselves as what they have practiced -- becoming the god, the power, munificence. The extra-universal or intrinsic-universal. Like every failed prophet and holy teacher, they would fail to teach or instruct what is subjective mind steeped and clarified in experience so objective as to be inimitable to language and logic and the other meager tools of human understanding -- objective to each other perhaps, but certainly subjective in the scheme of the universal. So, ultimately, we can compare the framework of the practices of any religion but is there any point in doing so when when the manifestation is only individually knowable? No. But there is a much more powerful lesson to be extrapolated and studied. If we become the ideas we practice, if we have practiced successfully, if the ideas do not drop out and fail when immolation occurs, then what powers do we have as our own gods  to frame the days we live, the way we touch others as gods might -- blessing, cursing, forgiving with compassion and grace or with wrath.

14 April 2015

Postcard 17

The wife desires (I should stop there. The wife desires. In my experience through the lat three decades and then peering beyond through whatever means, I see that women are much better at naming their desires and asking for them. Maybe men are accustomed to the idea of violence, of taking things) So -- the wife desires to go to Hawaii, even to live there. I acquiesce to a future visit, though it makes me uneasy for some reason. I would like to go to Cuba though. The reason I mention that is they are both islands and I'd like to defeat my argument before I make it. I feel that the idea of being on an island is what makes uncomfortable but you see that doesn't make any sense even if we compare the two and say that Hawaii is about as far as you can get and Cuba is spitting distance from a continent. For practical purposes -- a man swimming in the ocean -- it would make absolutely no difference. To attempt any of the meanings of the ocean on a postcard would be difficult, and here we are with a third only -- impossible. But the word itself does not suffice -- a round full word that coats the mouth in vowels. The O full and deep, up from the bowels stating itself deep and complete. All the mystery is held in the O and whispered in the C, the sound, the only sound soft or loud an ocean can make. Gently crashing rolling and running up onto the soft consonant N. The soft continent ever present, ever crumbling, to the ocean.
Yet hardly as evocative as the Sea.

13 April 2015

Postcard 16

Eagle or Sun: How to be a god -- guidelines or parameter
* Hold paradox in both hands tightly *
* Where do you live? Comfortable? *
* Determine what frightens you about yourself. Is it destructive or creative? Is that a trick question? *
*  Are you a trickster? *
* Shoes soled with obsidian -- you walk on razor's edge * 
* The Wilderness Maker: the maker of his own wilderness; the maker of his own mountains; a singer for all existence *
* On what do you subsist -- wailing of mourners? unleavened fruits? virgins? menstrual blood spilt in ecstasy? teeth on shoulders? divination of birds? *
* If someone asks if you're a god, say yes *
* The Totem creep; the owl over the sun; wear a mask, do anything you want to *
* Wrap yourself in bright perpetuity *
* It does not matter if you are angelic or demonic. Claim one anyway *
* Be unchanging in nature.  Be mercurial in action.  Be omnipotent in appearance *
* Be inescapably fated by your nature *
* Run through the desert of night -- arms out and grabbing -- lacerations are the letters of your new language. Whatever you grab is your medicine *
* Stare unflinching into the eyes of beasts and men * T
* Turquoise daughter; she has so much to reveal; she is always concerned that your heart is not open enough; this is your only judgement of yourself *
* Do you drink water or do you dry it up? *
* All gods drink wine *
* With one hand you are immortal -- wear a ring of fire or light *
* With one hand you are death. Here are some ideas: forgetting all, spear in the side, torn apart in seasonal orgy, turned to salt, lost at sea *
* Remember, immortality has proven boring *
* Surely this way lies madness, as does the other and any other *
* No matter the case, there is a devil with whom you will have to recon *
* Revel in dark and unknown, but don't get comfortable *

(italics are from a draw of divination cards by Obi Kaufman.com)

12 April 2015

Postcard 15

"Life is a jest and all things show it. I thought so once, but now I know it." You may have seen that tagged around the bathrooms of the Bay Area. It is the epitaph of poet/humorist John Gay, who lived, bemusedly it seems, in the seventeenth century. It is appropriate I feel, for bathrooms, where many of the more absurd qualities of life present themselves in harsh light -- the ridiculousness of sex, the final stages of digestion, the actual you facing the drunk you. As God is dead, meaning stripped from the world for good, this has been my mantra and my nihilistic gift to pissers everywhere. As all politics are local, then all morality is personal and that is the great galactic step one must take first to be free (=responsible). As my four year old daughter marvels and repeats, "Do you know, we are made out of stars? You are made out of stars!" This ceases to be a platitude when our random and meagre, but hereditarily grand assemblage is apprehended. It become an answer to the realpolitiks and every manner of conservative (nothing can be conserved). It is fatal to the most insidious sentiment which is nostalgia. It is a belittlement to the powers we serve or that hold power over us. The ubermench is not then a clear and dialectical giant among humanity -- a manifestation of objective logic. The ubermench is a person who has destroyed meaning completely and endeavors to rebuild it based on objective and subjective truths. But that, my friend, is the easy part. The challenge is to maintain and to adapt through compassion and willpower. What is the meaning? For each person it is unique, for each moment it is unique,. But it is not random and chaotic. It is the house we build to protect us from the cold of space and of nihilism, It is the soil we enrich with our degeneration and death. We who are thinking and feeling bundles of chance.
A new scrawl will appear in the bathrooms I visit with black felt pen: 

11 April 2015

Postcard 14

I was talking to a girl the other day, kind of flirting a bit. As the conversation meandered along, I became increasingly aware of how diminutive she was, small and slight. I mean of course in stature, not person -- spirit, place among souls. I thought about this girl among her fellow humans, alone and free in  the world, the hostile world. It occurred that even I, a small and peaceful man whom she did not know, whom she trusted as we talked alone outside the bar on a foggy midnight, even I could take her up and destroy her like a bird. That was not a dark recognition of my intent, an acknowledgment of the beast that slumbers, but a mechanical reality. This person, this bright girl existed in a hostile world in which she had no defenses. I wish I had the temerity to begin this conversation with her, but time and etiquette precluded it. I suddenly wanted to shake her hand to assure her that she could perhaps exhale and let her shoulders fall. The inner sentry might relax for at least this time, this once. I endeavored to be on her side - the side of the weak. Is that patronizing? Is it patriarchal? I believe so, but there is the inescapable fact that we exist in a world of violence at the hands of man. Man, man and I am that man and I am the hand of violence.
I had a friend who I was sleeping with and one random night she told me that she had been raped many times by many people, dates mostly and late night bar flirting. I did not know what to say. I hope that when we were together she felt safe. I wish I had said, I am on your side, one hand love the other violence,  for you and on your side.

10 April 2015

Postcard 13

"Some would ask, what are we to do in a world that crumbles to the touch. In a world that skins and dies where it stands like trying ain't enough. To family is all you can do. To family is all you can do." B. Callahan   
Greetings from my family reunion on my mothers side, solid and stolid people and oh so boring. There are at least three insurance men here and two small time business magnates flew in on their own planes. What is this thing called family? My two sons get further and further from me into themselves as young men. Not estranged but who can know another person - even one you cradled into this world even one who runs hot with your own blood like silver. I don't know their days, their festering thoughts into the world, the little objects dear to them like talisman, special in a drawer of clutter. 
My own father, what was his life before and after me. My grandfather - 90 years old today - how do I know him? "Start at the beginning…" and 90 years later I would only have one version. He was my age in 1959 and he sits right in front of me and soon, like my grandmother, will be a treasure lost and my own grandchildren, if I raised mine right in a certain way, and they theirs, will say, "You knew my great great grandfather. What was he like?" 
A good man, solid, an elm tree with shade.

09 April 2015

Postcard 12

World, I give up world / I don't want to read you anymore / I give up / Take my hands from me / and empty them of effort / World take my hands / shake them out and hang them up / World let them empty / World you've got it all / its just too much World / pincushion babies, rattletrap old men / woman hollow incidentals to perpetual violence / World? I give up hear me / an elephant does not care world / a whale a frog all the birds all the fish / forever going they do not mind / crack it and spill it finally / World mind that it is clear / of every day and meaning, every motion it can direct / here World is my white flag of truce / I'm only here to make terms -- desperate terms / I petition you world be merciless/take my last strivings and my cares / take this me I trundle / that hurts where others hurt / take me World and do as you do / take no prisoners, wash me and beat me dry upon a rock / dry me world so 'I' am only 'it' / and even that I surrender

05 April 2015

quarryings and striations

I am backpacking with my two sons, snow is on the ground. Lake Basin,  high in the Sierras  -- glacial grind, snowmelt and landslides.

The two of them are excited, or more specifically enthusiastic -- bear their burdens gladly, only it is too cold. They know, though, the worth is in the work. 
What if, asks the younger, we were just dropped off and all our stuff was already there and set up? 
It would ruin it, replied the older, shifting his pack on his shoulders, thats what its all about. 

We look over a sheer slate wall down to the rippling lake blue like a jewel. Hold on, shouts the younger, I'm sketching you in my notebook. He makes us hold onto poses we did not know we were striking. He draws with immersion. His tongue seems to be concentrating.

I can see how excited they are to be men with me and I am filled with a sky-blue delight. 
The setting sun marks the next day's goal, marks the sharp peak red as dragon's teeth.

I am watching the fire die while they two are all drowsed away in warm and downy sleep

I watch the fire die. I keep company with paper and pencil, pipe and whiskey. The moon creeps full. I pull a card from the deck: The beginning of all things. God's magic thunder-light. Alpha.

I am terrified of the cold of the world in the dying light, but tonight I will rest in downy peace between my two princes.

 King of what's left.

Postcard 11

The cup is a small sacrilege, the ladle, the gourd. We may be forgiven it with only the purgatorial cost of longer, more secure lives. Plumbing though, is a true heresy and we are removed finally and totally from grace through it. Each river seeks the sea to pay tribute. The bay and the willow cast themselves over in solemn prayer. These are the cherubim and seraphim. And each creature that must return to the source bends its neck for the honor and with a crack and a strike the holy blades are bared in teeth and claw and ivory and an offering is made.

So see, ashes to ashes, dust to dust is the rubbish of a sun god. First , most truly the breath, then the substance the water, and what is left -- dust.

Get down on dirty penitent knees. Smell the air for fear that must and should be felt. Push your hands into the loamy boundary and feel the infinite deaths beneath you. Lower your head and submerge into what sustains, and give yourself a moment. Fragile open ribs. Neck as to an executioner. Eyes, ears, all receptors closed but to a still moment on a razor's edge of potentials. Drink.