Monday, June 27, 2011

Circles within Circles

May 5, 2010
I circumambulated the parking lot on Passyunk. Walking around the perimeter. With my spirit cane. Observing. Attending. I had no plan in mind. Was not sure whether I would walk the circle once or more than once. I noticed so much the first time, so many details… things… that I was drawn to beginning again. Splatters of paint beneath the mural. Oil stains. Cigarette butts. Shadows cast by pebbles. It was like flying—looking down over the earth from many miles up. With the first repetition I was impressed by how much was new. What I’d not seen the first time. The same for the second circle. There was also now repetition—though it wasn’t quite, as what I’d seen before was companion to newly observed details, and so existed in changed patterns, and being overlaid with memory, I too felt I had been changed. The first three times I was aware of number. This was my first time around, I heard myself say in mind, this is the second… this is the third. Then the numbers fell away. When I was finished I could not tell you how many times I circled the lot. I would guess—more than 12, fewer than 20. Around the edge of the parking lot. At some point I reversed my direction. Would this be like unwinding, I wondered? But it wasn’t at all. More and more I would see what was familiar from before… other things would be lost to memory and seen as though for the first time. Familiarity seemed to have the power to erase some things and heighten attention to things I’d not noticed before. There was a stone lying near the corner of a square of concrete. I’d seen it several times. Missed it several times—when I felt a weak impulse to kick it… or nudge it with my stick. It was the first time I’d felt a wish to intervene—to bring about change. This seemed strange to me, the desire to experience agency. So much was happening by letting it go. I could tell how that alters the mind.--letting go, or acting. Different minds. I picked it up. I carried that stone with me for many yards after… thinking about it, remembering, wondering about this business of agency. What did I miss because of that? The more we do, the less we see, the less we are present in the world.

                                 Walk      Remember      Record
June 2011
It was like that, I thought. Everyday I sat in the same room. The same view from the window. The West Hills. My sister slept. Nurses & doctors & technicians came and went. I opened my laptop and checked email. Sometimes I read. I played chess on line. I took the elevator to the café & sometimes a bagel, sometimes soup. They wrote orders on the glass on the door to the bathroom. Erased them. Wrote new orders. The names of the nurses changed as their shifts ended & began. Once an hour they opened the valves on the catheters to drain the spinal fluid. 10 cc every hour. More and she would have terrible headaches. Less and she would lapse into confusion. This is my sister, I told myself.. How strange that I felt nothing. And then I would -- remember something. Water striders on the surface of Bass Lake. And it would wash over me, pull me under. & then I would look out the window. A crow would fly past. She would wake & I would stand beside the bed and talk in a loud voice, slowly, carefull to enunciate each word. It gave me pleasure. When I spoke she seldom asked me to repeat as she did with others. Repetition and change. Walking around the parking lot. Picking up a stone. A feather from a crow to put in my hat. This is not vanity. This is not magic. This is.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Homo homini lupus

... but to the rest of creation, a lost barking dog

The real sexual perversion of our culture...

In this article on rape in the holocaust, what I found most profoundly disturbing, or most immediately so, as it has to do, not with the past, but with the present, with us, we who participate in the cleansing and altering of cultural memory, was the reaction of the male historians-- in diminishing the significance--under the guise of scholarly duty ("where is the evidence?")--so shockingly, transparently defensive--like a child discovered in a 'naughty' act.

Related to this, the reactive need to "protect' the victims from shame...that is, ATTIBUTING shame to them (it's a shonda)--this is what reveals the truth they don't want to face... What is the REAL shame? NOT to the victims! Not of the women! But of a complicated set of assumptions and dispositions rooted deep in our cultural unconscious--about sexuality, particularly, male sexuality... that sets rape--and violence against anything that is taken as deviant from the mythical 'norm' ... when it is this very disposition... which those historians so desperately want to deny, that is the REAL sexual perversion, the real violence-begetting sickness... that they want to PROTECT and COVER up and HIDE!

A cultural disposition to shame victims of sexual violence--to ATTRIBUTE shame to them, is in actuality, a defense of the RIGHT to rape, the right to commit such acts. A simple equation that needs to be writ out in BIG LETTERS.

Is it time to begin weaning ourselves from web dependency?

This article from the WSJ makes me wonder if it's not time to think about exploring older alternative to the Web for organizing and for the distribution of radical ideas. Should we be experimenting with setting up print-&-reprint hand-to-hand networks to begin supplementing and sidestepping web dependence? Might be fun testing this out with all off-site flash gatherings.

I was asked in a FB comment how it could be in the interest of copyright lobbyists to restrict speech, as they are in the business of selling speech. I see no conflect here; copyright lobbyists will let themselves be used for a price. That's their job. So-called intellectual property that makes money (the only kind they're interested in protecting) is not likely to be perceived as a threat, while control of commercial property provides a convenient lever to restrict anything perceived as threatening.

To the degree that radical ideas and organizations become effective, control of the web will become inevitable & unstoppable--keeping in mind, that control may not take the form of repressive censorship, as the snoops would not want to give up such a prime platform for involuntary informants. Whatever the form, we should get used to this idea. Big Brother has been around for at least the last 27 years!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Last night I invented a companion. A real companion... as an invention is real, as an invented thing is real before it fledges. By telling you of_______, who I will call NoOne because NoOne refuses a name... and will not accept pronouns of possession, will not admit of this sex or that... no his hers him her he she... & so, in telling...  NoOne grows in power

& now NoOne IS
NoOne counsels me to know what no one knows but me
leads me into dark places
leads me through narrow corridors of ruin &
leads me into invisible rooms
rooms with invisible walls of sleep
I will look for NoOne in strange places
NoOne will be with me all the days of my life

I told NoOne I would tell you
& in telling, NoOne is real in a new way, and will grow in power like Spirit Stick, like Poem Tree, who are two of the forms that reveal NoOne. Shhh, NoOne is listening! Be true!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Fail better"

From This Space, on the misappropriation of Beckett's 'fail better'

'Try again. Fail again. Fail better', surely the most misread sequence in all of Beckett. He would have been horrified to see it appropriated as a catch-all stoic maxim (e.g. 'OK, you're destined to fail, but never mind, keep trying, keep failing in such a way that your failures come closer to success'). Beckett would have poured scorn on this sort of chocolate-box philosophy. The intended meaning is, directly and literally, 'fail more fully, more catastrophically. Absolutize your failure.' 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

If there is no Being apart from Things, than the fragility of Things is the fragility of Being itself