Continuation of the Gift that Explodes: In Which the Wood is Entered, Entering

Here is page 3 of my blank-book daughter-gift “The Notebook” (click here for parts 1 and 2)

Notebook - Ida


Notebook 3

and the typewritten text:


In Which the Wood is Entered, Entering

As we grew we noticed things.  The more we interacted in the woods, the more we found in common.  Or perhaps the woods created them – our commons.  In any case, as we examined the woods we came to see ourselves, or began to think we did.  It appeared to us that very little passed us by without record.  Hewing through a heavy trunk we remembered an ancient drastic storm, here marked as darkened whorls, ripples in an inner ring, where many limbs were lost.  Currents of nourishment functioned over years and years, flowing from the core in hairline strands, outlasting generations of leaving.  At times there were traces of trauma strong enough to redirect the growth entire.  Yet nothing was not useful, productive of something in its life.

Environmental fluctuation sometimes twisted us, never to grow “straight.”  Sometimes the changes came from inside – the patterns of our roots, or pockets of dis-ease, a particular yearning for warmth or rain.  We accumulated, and let go.  There were portions of the wood which had been razed or burned, only to spawn shade for mushrooms and ferns in some other direction.  Often the old laid down to serve as hosts – life drawing life as it waned.  We almost recognized a cycle.  We seemed to grow in all directions at once, to haphazard effect.  We found dead spaces and hollows, troubles to be grown around.  In fact some things were incorporated entire, as if a self-devouring, like a snake would swallow its tail if it could, all the while producing another layer.

We came to view the wood with mystery, ourselves.  Through injury, joy and terror we believed our bodies re-stored it.  Swallowing pockets, harboring knots, runneling roots across ages.  We seeped or scabbed where we were cut, at times remaining open and leaking a kind of syrup or salve, at times hardening over in projects of defense.  We began to be known as “the woodsmen,” and, later, The People of the Wood.

We were tuned to the life of the tree, which we revered as The Tree of Life.


Writing the Prompts

All that Remains (inspired by Josh Kramer, for Simon H. Lilly)

In the silence that becomes now, it was undeniably clear – there had been things we considered precious.  Recalling faces, moments, landscapes.  Evenings.  Not like nights or day, but poignant equilibria.  These felt like memories, or nostalgia, even tinged with griefs or longings, but mother said the past lacks such power – that we were feeling presently.  Simon says.  Says “grasping after full resonances” by losing them, turning them to language, participant only always in passing.  Says “left side.”  “Right side.”  “Simon says.”  I, at least remember.  Forgetting, and then the buckled alarm.  The tacking it on at the end.  Too lately.  But not quite.  So that all that remained was the grasping.

please feel free to create responses with this music – visual or verbal or otherwise

I keep rereading this post by Simon. It is one to take in slowly, repeating the lines, offering bounty. I am humbled and honored by the dedication. These places – “(What I cannot grasp – that resonant fullness / of a dying chord).” “Sketched, grasped / but lost.” “Reachable, / Signifying / What is no more.” and yes “Attack, decay, sustain, release” (repeatedly) – a significant writing. Thank you so much Simon.


( for n. filbert)

But up or down?
The heart moves in and out.
Its own rhythm.
Has no memory, no sorrow, no joy
(the wild geese cry, flying away,
Away to the horizon of light).
The heart has no words, no tears.
(What I cannot grasp – that resonant fullness
Of a dying chord).
The heart has no words-
The reason music is.

First words
laid down in thought,
Sketched, grasped
But lost.
The path between breathing in
And moving out,
A pull, a chord
A melody.
Formless form,
Existent for an instant.
Possibly enough to light a light –
A dying arc in the bubble chamber,
Proton, antiproton, quark –
A path measured but no longer
What is no more.
(embellish, embroider, garnish,
In the end all stories are a rope
To cling to in our vast uncertainty).
The beautiful line of that…

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Continuation of the Gift that Explodes: In Which is Entered the Rich Thicket of Woods

Here is page two of the blank notebook from my daughter as it fills:


and here it’s typeset form:


In Which is Entered the Rich Thicket of Woods


In the beginning was the wood.  It took us much time to discover its uses.  We ate its tough skin for roughage, we mashed its soft heart into pulp.  We chopped it to bits, we rearranged them.  We played games with it.  Sometimes it was all that kept us afloat.  Sometimes we structured them carefully and turned to them for shelter.  As we learned what woods could do, we began to comprehend their value.  At times we relied on them for everything necessary to survive – the fruit of a tree gave us sweet liquid and meaty flesh.  The fragility of the dead still warmed us as it disintegrated in the flames.  They grew to be almost sacred – the world as we knew it came to rely on them.  We crafted them into signs and created many sounds from them – enabling us to communicate over vast spaces.  We were capable of traveling quite far, able to reach one another over distances before considered impassable.  Woods made this possible my dear!  Some days I might spend hours simply admiring them – looking them over – taking them in.  Each with its own fine shape, and own specific range of uses.  Some were embellishments, some anchored the whole forest together, some provided seamless access or served as bridges to crawl carefully across great dangers.  We constructed some for fences and walls – they helped us keep the unwanted out.  Others we piled up like babble in the sheer joy of conflagration and release – it seemed they could life our heavy spirits like colorful smoke.  Oh the woods, my darling, the woods!  It is they that really enabled us to become what we are today.  To reveal our capacities, our feelings and thoughts, intentions and dreams.  In woods we could concoct our plans and rest in their leafy comfort.  There are times when all one needs is woods.  Things can seem overwhelming, catastrophic or of unmentionable sorrow or fright, and yet finding the right type of wood, or clinging to a wood that is kind and safe and strong can sometimes leverage us through great storms.  My precious dear, learn as many woods as you can – make peace with them – seek out their countless paths that you might always have a place to go, a world to be.


A Prompt for all

This song compels me into verdant places imaginatively again and again…any and all who would like or be willing – it would intrigue me to see what you each might blog/create or what is evoked for any and all of you when you engage in this beautiful piece…

Intro to the Gift that Explodes

photo 1
daughter Ida – aged 8

Holidays have a way of obstructing and crowding out creative time for me.  Oh we find ways to express and produce – Holly’s making candles with all sorts of found objects downstairs as I type this, paper snowflakes, new stories and pictures from the children, new compositions sounding throughout the house, but for the snail’s pace of reading/writing processing/producing I prefer…well… I often find the compounding of anxiety-inducing public spaces and family gatherings, people and lights and jangling music and cheer, busying trips and spendings and time limits to all but obliterate my ability to bring anything out of the scraps.  Last Saturday, my daughter Ida, who is forever cabbaging papers, pens, markers and tape anywhere she can find them, metamorphosing them into handmade notebooks, letters, scripts and stories to read and share with her lucky family and friends, handed me the following with the message: “this is for you.”  So today, amid projects and budgets and organizings and so forth…when I was just about to write off the next two weeks for personal creativity…I grabbed this and took it to my desk…

Notebook - Ida


…and so it begins…

Notebook - Ida2


In case you can’t read my mumbling handwriting – here is a typed copy: (have to click a couple of times for some reason?!)

Introduction to the Gift that Explodes

Essential Ignorance : Hypotheses : Possible Worlds

“As I was saying perhaps ignorance is the key.  We all of course know what’s going to happen next.

Only artists don’t know what’s going to happen next a quirk of ignorance they share with history and the weather.

This is the key quirk of the quirky mind that produces the work of the artist…

…Stories don’t have reasons.

Or if they have them they have them after the fact like the weather.

Then the reasons become part of the story.  

The mind is like the weather and this is the reason that everyone likes a good story.”

-Ronald Sukenick-

“For, in effect, the humanities have as their implicit agenda the cultivation of hypotheses, the art of hypothesis generating.

It is in hypothesis generating (rather than in hypothesis falsification) that one cultivates multiple perspectives and possible worlds to match the requirements of those perspectives…

…the language of evocation substitutes metaphors for both given and new, leaving it somewhat ambiguous what they are substitutes for…

the ‘relative indeterminacy of a text’ that ‘allows a spectrum of actualizations.’

And so ‘literary texts initiate ‘performances’ of meaning rather than actually formulating meanings themselves.’

And that is what is at the core of literary narrative as a speech act: an utterance or a text whose intention is to initiate and guide a search for meanings among a spectrum of possible meanings…

…the author’s act of creating a narrative of a particular kind and in a particular form is not to evoke a standard reaction but to recruit whatever is most appropriate and emotionally lively in the reader’s repertory…

…set forth subjunctively to allow them to be rewritten by the reader, rewritten so as to allow play for the reader’s imagination.”

-Jerome Bruner-

ELSE – Aziff : Prompted by Comments

(a continuation of Else  – Erasure : Beginnings)

Aziff : Prompted by Comments

Once begun, and begun in You-ness, though perhaps not – indeed probably not in any way! – in Newness, you take leave in the middle.  Or if not the middle of this brief engagement, somewhere, alas, in its midst, you set out.

“The place I really have to get to is a place I must already be at now” Ludwig Wittgenstein said, which you almost remember, and in any case you think of now, triggered by its inscription among the paper scraps scattered over your writing desk.

Already you’re sick of it.  The You-ness you hijacked in hopes of Newness.  Your playabout with something Else.  Attempting to trip or trick yourself into some place else, somewhere other than where you “must already be at now” – the Else you set about pursuing, by dissecting and deconstructing it on your desk.

You come up short.  Feel foiled.  A stray comment from some other immediately exposing a cheap and shoddy sleight-of-hand you yourself could not perceive.  The danger of others, of else.  The dangers of self-encounter in dialogue.

In any case, you create, or you go on making with all that is already tired and old.  Namely, yourself, and whatever is at your easy disposal, fearing in advance what might be required to move.  Toward what could be New, into the unknown of the Else.

You tackle the pieces, a limited arena of shuffled scraps – quotations, emotions, experiences – in hopes a pattern emerges, an inventive cohesion.  Unlikely, or forced.  The banality of meaning – a fundamentalist smallness of purposes or cause.  You vomit.

It’s a discomfort – as if from some trauma stored throughout your body and brain – a fear of what you cannot identify, having experienced it (“suffered” is how you put it, and “endured”) as an unspecified complexity of connectivities too slender to hold or locate – the incomprehensible self – that atomistic and invisible dot-point in a universe of flickering.

Whereas you are able to imagine others and else as substantial – entities with agency – in all the vastness.  What you can observe with less participation, seeming more real to you, somehow.

Else – you just get lost in the dissection.  Labyrinthine traces of fact upon facts, ad nauseum infinitum…  The searching for cause and impact in a loop within a web caught in a net stranded among strands inextricably interlocuted in endless structures and systems imperfectly operational.  And so forth, you consider the sources.  Always coming up missing or bereft.

Cease.  And breathe like a statue.  It doesn’t.  You don’t.  Else.

Not what you thought you were looking for.

New probably just meaning something different, you repeat yourself, something Other, something Else.

You set out.