wandering through my own writings, and stumbling on things that surprise me. This seems (to me) to be some of the best writing I’ve ever done, something I can’t imagine being able to do, something I’m not sure I ever did – the bewilderments – something I can’t imagine doing again. Thought I’d share…I wonder who/what I might be.
Greetings all. I realize something now. I realize (today), I realize, sitting in the sun of a Winter in Kansas, on my porch, in a rocker, alone, a side-effect, a remnant, remainder, myself… I realize that I have long dreamt of leaving some legacy, of making some mark, of contributing to the world – the natural world – the world as made up of plants, animals, landscapes, elements, humans… the world dizzied with combinations of atoms and molecules… and yet… and yet… I realize it was all about love – all about being realized by being loved, and realizing meaning in loving – NOT leaving a literary legacy, NOT producing interesting and intriguing offspring, NOT making art or language or objects that would outlast me – NO, no, no… Simply recognizing that I exist, existed, am existing in the world of another, and that the world exists, existed, will exist for me – by my affection and attention to its nuances, details, and differences – its specificity of my attention, attraction and resolve: LOVE.
I found this entry in an old journal, a blue oversized Moleskine soft-covered journal, and found (years later) that it still seemed to speak for me… but as I typed and edited it I realized that it has been outdone, realized, accomplished, in the FACT of BEING LOVED and BEING ENABLED TO LOVE… and so all the hopes remain, all the purposes and visions, all the projected communications and connections… but in a context rearranged, reapportioned, reinvented – that of MEANING derived from LOVING and being LOVED. Thanks to my vibrant partner and accomplice, inspiration and reward – for taking the grave gravity of production and transforming it into action… the pinched acuity of competition and accomplishment into offshoot, accumulation and extraneous luxury – that the hopes, dreams and ideas / ideals of a human existence might be translated into freedom, grace, and potential benefit or gift – possibility rather than necessity; offering rather than identity; potentiality rather than desperation – a giving in distinction from a grasping : so I might still possess similar hoping without the fear and trembling, without a sense of pointlessness, without a perception of failure. LOVING – intricate maneuvers of helping and healing, intimate operations of interaction and reciprocation, finely detailed activities of acceptance and reception – the sigh, the breath, the pulse of BEING… change me. Change and change and change me. As a parent, a man, a partner, a person. Thank you dear love – a wonder, a woman, an incredible human – a person: full and becoming, so generous, so tender, so affirmative and kind, so rich and creative, inventive and becoming, so new – I love you. The world is different now. Its meaning, its point, its aim, its occasion.
This old and rediscovered writing has distinct meaning… because you, and life, and love, and… an evolving and differentiated “I.”
I am using the blue notebook with a blue pen to complement. Why? Because you asked. You said “everyone wants to know.”
In other words, if it’s going to count for what matters, it has got to be specific and special – set apart, somehow more final, more complete. I’ll use it for the whole – for photos, drawings and more – all the blue notebook in blue ink – for you. Because apparently, “everyone wants to know.”
Mom and dad ask in their roundabout, passive-regressive surreptitiously accusatory way, as is their fashion – kindly and quiet, ever with a look of care and concern, yet secretly shouting their “what is wrong with you!?” “What is wrong with US, that you…” and on and on and blah blah blah…
My memory isn’t like that the first five years of life…that I pretend to remember. But all is mostly smells and sounds and light from there. Trees and grass and dirt, how brightness gleamed and glanced and filtered through, with times of wind and rain.
Not that you care… I’m fairly certain that’s not what is being asked for, not by you, by my sibling, children, or lifetime of “friends” and “family” – whoever, wherever they’ve become.
You’re the livewire – and perhaps the children – perhaps they will want to know, at some point, perhaps not. Perhaps everyone’s already figured my story – diagnosed and prescribed me. Perhaps.
Be that as it may, I’ve thought long and hard, reviewing what I thought I knew, how I felt I felt, what it seems I’ve seen, and so on, and decided, for you, for you, really, and maybe a little of a bit for myself (curiously) and a percentage for my kids should they ever seek to know or wonder, or have need of psychological freedom, or give a shit about who or why… I decided to use this damned blue notebook with matching pen and try to learn just what I think about it all, mostly because, as you put it, “everyone wants to know” – (and WHO might this “everyone” be?).
Should I start with the hands, the head, or the heart? I suppose the limbs and loins will come into play as well – god knows the guts and the goiter.
I remember an opening. A time I was touched, in the rain, and my suddenly skin, my obvious self-enclosure – as opening, margin, and veil – a fabric of me, and a screen.
I wanted to make a difference, you see. Make something, I don’t know, construct an element everyone could hold on to. Take in hand, heart and head. Keep or repeat as needed. Something like that. I knew I wouldn’t last, none of this, none of anything. “The center cannot hold” sort of deal.
I ought not begin there. They’re all wound up together like knots – the head looking down, arms wrapped around, concealing and revealing the heart, the guts, the loins and moving limbs. I can’t take a one without other, thinking and feeling about it, my actions, ideas, and sensations all.
Perhaps I’ll pretend. (Just what you’ve all loved so well about me – to discover pretense – how I’ve molded myself to imagined desires). I’ll pretend I’m an aged man seated on a stiff wooden chair, children / grandchildren gathered all about me – a specimen or model – something to be taken apart and examined. I lift off my shirt and my body is read – questions asked – we all get somewhere in this way.
Let’s see – here – along the shoulder – a self-portrait by Egon Schiele (self-tormented asylum brother) and a snake that is eating its tail. “Le Ouroborous,” I hack out – “don’t you know it?” Sign of doctors, ingenuity, medicine and art – creation, destruction intertwined round and round. Self-devouring while birthing its form as it alters. The mastication and regurgitation of “I.”
A young one might say “what’s that? – the curlicues and elaborate spiel?” Garcia Lorca I’d sigh. Yes. The grand leaping bugger of light. He’s yellow and lemons, crickets and birds! You know the stuff that sends you! Portal moments of sight or song and ‘wham!’ all the crap pelted into your brain and body get shaken and stirred together like surrealist still life. Incongruity making sense. Opposites attracting, no, better – look at your aging mother and I – a juxtaposed spectrum, paradox and carnival!
They say that you wanted to know.
Yes there’s Kafka, Blanchot, Cixous and Lispector. Jabes and Beckett now seeped in my veins. Dostoevsky, Bakhtin, Rilke. Gods and angels, drink and demons all carved in the skin of their names. Nietzsche and ridiculous happiness. Wittgenstein and the torment of words, of meanings, of none. I’d be a working inscription, at surface.
The corridors – head, heart and hands.
Are you sure anyone wanted to know?
The sounds of piano? Coaxing the keys in steady patterns – mimicking rain; or poems – yes, we forget Giacometti’s “Man Falling” – a perpetual stumble on the back of my hand, hoping neither knew what the other was up to. But they did and they do – I see that now – all parts of same body, stretched with same skin. Poems as stripped-down sculptures, some essential chants or song – just a gaze or a wisp of caress. Droppings of blood. Miracles that something remains after we’re through with our twisting and grasping.
Is this what you wanted? Does it explain – anything? I doubt it. Hardly think so.
Here at the ribs. The cracked and the lumpen. There was a time. Times I thought maybe risking and danger – a reach at euphoria – some panicking life – might make one feel much more alive. How do you think you all got here? Desperate plungings into the unknown, oh dear ones, like mad scientists messing around in the lab! The edges of cliffs, clinging to limbs, insecure at wits’ ends, going for broke.
And break we did.
But just look at you fertile seedlings, good eggs. I never meant to be rough with you all. To risk what is fragile in you. Ribs, here – cave and cage for the heart.
I can still breathe you. Charred and chortled, this was one great pleasure – to know I was breathing, in-spired. I know you all despised it, and it caused me to smell stale and rotting, but the rush of smoke down this pipe here into the bellows of slimy flesh…that let me know I was taking it in, not an automaton or senseless machine – no, I was hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling – BEING – I could feel it in my ashen lungs. Sometimes it hurt. What we ingest. But it really goes in and visibly comes out – everything – for good or ill. I needed to know it tangibly.
Why? you ask, why?
Look at the cranium stooped and weighed down. That sucker was a burden of liquid fire. All curled over like that the entirety of my life – looking in, at, in. What’s there? How does it work? For “whom”? When? Is there even a why? Examining, dreaming, recording and imagining – listen – say it back, say it forth, combine and copulate, shake it and stir – use that heavy weight, whirr whirr chrrr and whirr. Profile the shape of some jagged question mark, dotted where the heart must be.
And look at it now, nearly buried into the chest. It happens. Weather-systems, signsponge, it all will run its course. It once was aimed upwards and outwards, into fantasies, hopes and abstractions, and for years I kept it aimed straight ahead – horizontal, seeking directions – but slowly and surely its drug down toward the heart, pulsing muscle, plug for the cords. Everything up and away, everything out there or behind, it’s all happening here – in the mix, filtering through, circulating the circuitry of head, heart and hands – latching up or breaking down in the system.
What was it you wanted to know? Limbs and loins, head and heart, I’m acknowledging and exposing, affording view – I’m aware description does not explain a thing – the wonderful views of science still unable to explain…
The waste gets processed below, legs running away now knobby and stiff. But there, clinging in its corner like a core – my erratic, agitated, beating beast. Entire web of inexplicable drives and energy, fears and misery, desires and dread – my heart. Does this explain it? Does this explain anything? What anyone wanted to know?
Gasping there like the mouth of a landed fish, pulsing purplish like an aroused member – my heart. If I poke and coax it, tear at it or wring it onto this blue notebook in blued blood – will it explain?
Here, whomever, look. Here it lies, cheats, and steals. Here it gives and it aches and breaks. Here it prolongs and stops itself short. Pulpy mass of living meat – humana – the am therefore am. Take it, read it, test it – heal it if you wish or can. I’m open.
Is this what you wanted?
What everyone wanted to know?
HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!!
which, as my wife’s card to me pointed out, cannot be incoincidentally unjumbled into:
HE FARTS! HAPPY DAY!!
oh the gifts and joys a good father offers!
and the unmeasurable joy and delight brought a man by fathering.
Fathers Day gifts arriving early….
trusting always that these might inform…
all of us
link to previous:
suggest reading accompanied by : Home Again by Keith Kenniff
“we live in accumulations of the actual / with so little understanding”
I believe that it is possible to make stories out of anything, with words. Even wordless ones.
Stories on the move, within movement, perhaps even moving.
Accumulation and erosion, not addition and subtraction, multiples or divides – not mathematics, simply or complex.
In relations – part of related systems of relations, related further on, in, out – there are no statics, numbers, letters – even hypothetically. When you fix one you’ve simply entered another system of relations relating to other fixed (or agreed-upon) relations, lifeless but for you. Until employed. Then your letter, number, static sign or symbol dissolves right back into what it came from – the roiling motion of temporal patterns and relations – change processing itself.
The meanings meander through like liquids. Each part spilling its own glass. Watch it flow, divert, tumble and pool. Percolate. Evaporate. Stories.
Describing them, no matter how many points of view or entry, how many semiotic systems employed, internal or external – observation is evaluation, almost objectively subjective – merely mean a story, embodying an absorbing and evaporative spilling of change. Eddies a bit, branches and drips, absorbs here and there, ever morphing form and content.
I can only ever tell you – in this system of systems of relations, this language – what I do not know.
The fathers, the mothers, their partners and pasts, the living of nine children to this moment – refuse to be snap-shotted still, photographed, imagined, or defined. They are unknowns, rife with variables, and related. Related to relations and related systems of relations related further out, in, on…
Genuinely incomprehensible. Evaporating almost as soon as precipitate, incalculable with options and openness – far more than this system can relate.
The fathers love their wives and women, their sons and their daughters, and sometimes it’s even perceived that way. The women, mothers, partners, also love – and everyone’s love is conditioned and conditional. Givers, receivers, assertive, supportive, neglectful, abusive, indulgent, and free at a price. Relational acts in related systems of relations – addressors and addressees, perceived and perceiving, at once.
Each its own glass spilling. Each its own refilled. The sharing of endless waters.
Shagg dribbles fluid ice-cold onto a young one’s burn. Rather than soothe it stings. Recoils. Mother in attempting to quench a thirst, drowns it instead. A child spills that all might see, might hear, might feel. Instead it’s absorbed deftly and quickly – instinctively – by inanimate terry cloth, a dish-towel, a bathrobe.
A possiblitiy of endless supply, of infinite, is foreign to all but dreams. We know nothing unpolluted or immeasurable. We must not write what we know. Nothing there but an emptying glass.
Instead, perhaps, to offer and receive – these fluids, this language – of unknown origin and imperceivable limit – spilling together compounding toward stories. Even as it spills. Even uncontrollable and ill-perceived.
Families of stories. Write what you do not know.
The story to now…
and part the sixth…
“I propose description as a method of invention and of composition. Description…is phenomenal rather than epiphenomenal, original, with a marked tendency toward effecting isolation and displacement, that is toward objectifying all that’s described and making it strange…Description then is apprehension, ‘the act or power of perceiving or comprehending’ and a motivating anticipatory anxiety, expectant knowledge…the very writing down seems to constitute the act of discovering it…but also and problematically an act of interpreting it.”
What is “normal” or “traditional,” what forms remain (for long) in a universe of chaos ever emerging and expending? Convergences, then. Bloodline here, bloodline there, cross it through and pull it taut. Cultural collage.
The parents lead the way, though not as masters, more experiments – of brother linked to sister linked to brother step toward brothers veined by half with sister same as brother. Not personal or by choice until fixed in the same installation. Could be called art, called family.
Other halves and steps by three with partners of their own yet bleeding half their blood. Where are they? A sitcom cast of lesbians and addicts, the wealthy and the poor, the liberal, constrained. Kaleidoscoping styles and beliefs – “it takes a village” – and they’ve settled one.
Working well enough – a jalopy needing constant tinkers. It most assuredly breaks down. Imagine society. Or the size of it, extended. How many grandparents can a child acquire? Its fine for rituals like births and holidays – multiplying spoils – but where does one belong? With whom? Family-by-affinity? Reunions become a game of pick-up-sticks or jacks and marbles (except with persons). Arbitrary circles depending on usable space.
The family tree she drew for therapy’s a forest. Cottonwoods and pines, baobab, bonsai. An oak thrown in for measure, and barely identified shrubs. What base is there to touch?
Parliament versus monarchy, troubling the court of appeals. With manager-types and generals, gurus, debaters and clowns. Stir in deconstruction and some faith for emotive stew. It’s a kinky chain of command, yet all are bound by it. Children vying a vote.
And if infected by the peacemaker-pleaser-gene, the torsion becomes a complicated interpretive dance. A surplus of baggage with all the due fees. A lot to saddle on young.
They’re resilient. Navigating democracy and other octagonal squares -awkward parallelograms – never quite losing site of Atlantis. Lost kingdom, utopian, buried deep under vast emotional sea, at times nearly glimpsing a spire. At least some strange stirring. Dreams of a large enough house. Solving nonsymmetrical fusion equations. These children are smart.
If an artist paints the picture she performs mixed-media collage with inks and clay and dozens of paints, incorporates cloth and wire and found objects with hopes enough resin or wax will contain it. Hold it all fast. And still let everything – everyone – be seen. The composer creates an erratic symphony – arrhythmic with regular dissonance, whelming moments dramatic with harmony and occasional measures of quiet resolutions. The scientist keeps figuring on emergent chaos, open-ended systems like weather and complexly variable algorithms. Author writes it down and edits, erases as much as inscribes, constantly losing track.
Each makes their own scribbled lines, overlaid. Its sketchy and messy and thick. Kids jumping ropes, fingering string figures, string theory, Spiderman-webs. It gets made.
“Ten times a day you must overcome yourself. You must want to burn yourself up in your own flame.”
“the lesson is clear: one is multiple, the same is different, the representation is the negative of the person…both original and copy, identical and different, they are the same and the other, interchangeable and monumental…In the dark room of his studio, Warhol develops himself. In so doing he ‘unmakes’ himself.”
“Death follows artists around like their shadow and I think that’s one of the reasons artists are so conscious of the vulnerability and nothingness of life.”
Children singing choruses. Joyous chants and rhymes. Distant. Repetition forming memory.
Chasing shadows, or running from. Self-same body blocking sun. To be sought, to be feared. Identical and strange.
Known alone in traces and reflections.
I say that “I” was young once. That it’s only patterns of light, only the passing of time, only angles of vision.
I repeat myself.
Each day reassembling, developing, dissembling, to reassemble again. My body a gathering post.
Mirroring image has gone from the closest thing to self-awareness we might uncover to a flat reflective surface full of nothing. Ephemeral and changing by the second, dependent on the looker, a vacant mirage.
Shadow has proceeded from a designator of real presences to an outline of actual vacuity. From a measurable symbol of substance to a vague hint of objects passing.
Voices like a bag of small bells and grass. Something shaking and stirred. Snippets of a tune, the catchy parts.
What I can tell I read, observe, attend and consider, opening a dialogue of days. But I only get to see in glimpses and portions. A hand moving, holding an instrument here; flat feet from crossed legs there; a shoulder, some hair of a beard, the frames of glasses. I don’t see myself seeing, nor see myself as seen.
There’s the mirror and the shadow – intangible, eminently interpretable and malleable “things” – emphases of the transitory. Receptacles like language – merely signs or indices – pointing back at absence.
Moment, moment, moment…now then now then now…endless fantasies of dissection moving round the room, faster than shuttling clips of film. A self presenting / representing itself after again, appearances only, shimmering skein mingling veils of light…
While they sing like breezes dreaming – “Who sees?” and “What is seen?”
He who has ears let him hear,
in marks and gestures
to browse the gist of things…a little where-its-coming-from-where-its-going, start here:
otherwise, here’s the newest particles:
There being always more sides to the stories.
Building blocks of broken bones.
Families at bone-splintering nearness. Whether abusive or conditional; assertive, supportive, overindulgent or neglectful. The pressures in an atom wiggle and hum, each entity squeezed and redirected into another, without foregoing elemental ingredients.
Why drawing so close hurts so much, compounding all the bruisings.
Take seven shattered anatomies and circle them into a hug. Ouch, oof, shrieks and tears. Sounding like sport or war. Ahem. The game is designed to figure out where it’s safe to rest and heal. Together. Every press accentuates wound, but may also set the fracture.
The littered trail. Fragments, chips, and joints. Ankles, ribcage, skulls. The longer held together, dwindles the percentage unharmed. Increases deformation, reformation, and strength in the bindings. History makes the call. Families get made this way.
Alpha male’s left-side stress-fractures filigree – he brings them in close to the mama. Pain ensues globally, harder gripping cuts and tears her. Dislodging hip and rib, she wails back, threatening to come undone, wrapping and withholding fragile loins. Glass-cracked between the eyes evincing wince, he lumbers to the bottle – an anesthetic, fog-inducing ICU.
Boys pummel and cling on trampoline. Superheroes blasting at their foes, setting right the world. Divine ninja tricksters, eluding all blows, fending sacred space from viral intrusion. Morphing Jekyll into Hyde. Two-against-one turns to three-on-three, searing yelps and hollered rage compound the fractures and spread the lesions until a fuming heap of shame remains.
Emotion rivers throughout a system. Elaborate table-game of chance, every draw altering rules. And conditions. One discretion cheats them all.
Resistance (fear) and just revenge. Creating hypotheses – infinite dis-ease.
Tuck them in with tender warmth. Dabbing sores with salve. Reconnoitre, reassemble, holding court, calling assembly. The luxury is not repeating childhood, home is not a corridor of labs. Parent positioned now as doctor; infected all the same.
Blood is issue, possible transfusion, tearing tissues. Don’t ignore, curing is a share. having invented them in this inventive world, they must also be wriggled through. Calls for help, from any corner, equate a demand.
The family as quarantine.
To serve and protect.