Terrific collection of attempts at languaging mystery around incarnate language: https://maney.us/blog/2014/12/28/meditations-on-the-incarnation-from-select-church-fathers-and-doctors/
St. John Chrysostom: Homily on Christmas Morning
This is another post I made during Advent four years ago, which bears repeating. I have read this sermon by St. John Chrysostom (late fourth century …St. John Chrysostom: Homily on Christmas Morning
Drunk Like a River in Flood
Swelling my banks,
(or perhaps it’s entire…
depending on who
&/or what you believe,
with their reason…)
Swollen, in flow,
a thundering racket,
flotsam and jetsam
I wail at the bends.
A “bender” they call it.
I’m here, all the while
Drenched (or “besotted”) –
I am home
and I’m rushing
to-ward and away,
instinct with desire,
for which fire
is no match,
I’m a patient
and ill to the bones…
you will see.
But I gurgle
as I pass..
filled with belches
like a river
[too apparent] –
where the poem
Even a blank page
can be beautiful, asking:
Who goes there? What? Where?
Ways of Naysaying
It was funny how she, how I, refused, declining enticing invitations of love. Once.
Then again. Or not.
Still, it happens, rejected or otherwise. Naysaying, that is.
Strange relations. Using yes for no, and their returns and variations.
She says no though. I did.
It eventuates, seemingly regardless of our answers.
Check boxes. Lists. Identities. Likert-scales of experiencing.
Mouths inclining. Decline. A trajectory of eyes. Reclining seduction.
I decided not to go along. (Where do we go instead? Who goes? When?). Each denial an assent.
What did the trees refuse? What was the grass fighting, then? The clouds? I watched… she observed birds.
The dancers’ bodies. A dismissal of space. The removal of sound. Absent silences.
Where was she? I?
We said no.
Do words incline or recline for us? What of the ear, the eye?
Still I smelled her.
“I love,” I thought, “I cannot love. I can not.” She declines.
These are the ways of naysaying, all our doubled negatives, equaling… what, exactly?
I love her. I can not. She won’t. Will not. Negativity in a vacuum. Apparatus.
The squirrel upside down, above the lawn, on the long tree limb. What is it denying? And where is the use of speech?
We cried out, decrying. (What could that mean? That seems always in question).
I asked Beckett and Blanchot. They each said that she said “no.”
Apparently, she says “no.” “I’d really like to, but can not, must not,” i.e. “no.”
It rings out, like bells – so radiant, so silent, such dissipation. Such temporal hazard and warning.
Something refuses the air.
I remember. She traces back. What means “over”?
Sound refusing silence. The first. The second. The next.
What is “last”?
She says no.
I recall dreams from time to time. Unable.
Something may have been said.
“Penelope remembers having read that of all the liquids and fluids produced by the human body – sweat, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva – tears are the only one without any trace of DNA… Impossible to identify someone from their tears, we’re all identical when we weep despite the many different reasons we have for weeping, something like that. Unlike unhappiness, tears don’t set us apart, they make us the same.”
Rodrigo Fresan, “The Invented Part”
Last week I spent with my four offspring at a cabin on the Pikes Peak Massif in Colorado. Mostly I register grief and loss in my experience of living… but interestingly enough, the first entry of my vacation journal begins with the simple sentence “I’m happy.” Unqualified, that’s it – myself + my offspring + a rich world reeking of “no service” and untellable beauty… “I’m happy.” Here are some notes I made throughout the week:
Simple things innerheard during cabin stay:
The stars: “We can’t tell the difference: between light or dark, death or what remains.”
The streams: “Where have we come from, where are we going? / Where we have come from, where we are going.”
Growing things (grass, moss, wildflowers, mushrooms, wild berries, etc…): “Not yet, not yet. Who knows?”
The rocks, the boulders: “Once upon a time. Now.”
The mountain(s): “Maybe. May Be.”
The cabin: “Us. Here. We. With. Hold.”
Phrases of my children:
- “It’s good to live this way once in awhile.”
- “Why do we leave here, ever? I never want to. What is have to?”
- “Dad, everything here is your ‘favorite‘.
- “Nothing is like this. Nothing… Belonging, I belong. Time changes, it’s different here. As if there isn’t. THIS PLACE IS ‘BEAUTY’ TO ME. THIS PLACE IS WORTH MY LIFE.”
- on climbing: “I’m a dad: we ALL make it, or none of us really do.”
- on love: “If I say ‘I love you’ – please don’t hear it as worship, as inordinate. In love we see the ‘too much‘ of the other – that which is always beyond our own reach, the ‘too much’ in each of us we struggle with, and seem to be unable to assimilate or observe in mirrors of our own. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the conundrum we call ‘love’ exists?
Addresses to my children and loved ones:
- To T: “Always beware of logic – our fabricated things. What we may wish toward but doesn’t make matter.”
- To A: “Recall. There are differences. Beware. There are openings for more life.”
- To I: “You have it. You carry your own water. Your own dreams. Your own beginnings.”
- To O: “Heroes also may shrink you, diminish, contain. You are deeply your own.”
- To H: “Never mind. I am not the one who can conquer it in you. I believe someone will.”
- To ?: “I love you. Like literature: the possible of life. Impossible.”
Thank you mountains, rocks, growing things, streams….
3 Short Poems
for the weekend…
I don’t think I have a question;
yet I seem to be
This one? This one?
Is it here?
The breeze is not silent
as many things
that are not
Still I do not understand –
Are you here?
It goes unanswered
along with the riddle
Are we here?
READY FOR SADNESS
I’m often ready to be sad.
Why is this?
What holes are excavated by living?
What sifts through? Falls out? Runs away?
It goes nowhere
Still it goes
where I am not
through all these openings
Instead I seal them shut
I try to stuff them
full of rags
that reek of sin and toxic
What can I do –
will I –
in this cell
that seems my own?
What does one do?
How does one choose
when all is failing,
he asks his father –
buys a car
Untitled – Fiction for Becoming
Untitled Fiction : Years of Birth, Becomings
Jesse’s working up something, so is Jon. I’ve begun working again. Beckett is still dead. Or dead, still – either way he has not concluded.
There was plenty of talk – banter, chatter, fulminations, really – to the contrary, to the effect that the ‘working up’ had ceased, had dwindled, long since dissipated or been simply forgotten…not so. Now I’ve heard from Jon and Jesse, piecemeal though it be, and my own ‘working-on’ (or UNWORKING, as MB always referred to it) is near to its inception.
Something is going to emerge. Jon repeats and repeats that “Someone is going to come” and Jesse appears to have passed beyond the silence once begun, through all his notes of suicide, toward fire and conflagration and some bewildered youthfulness. Nohow On become a MUST. And all of it inconclusive, i.e. not concluded.
I work in, on, up, and ever forward, toward – ‘toward the what?’ Jon keeps asking while Jesse scrawls on napkins – figures like cartoons, clowns and foxes, masters, slaves, and mysteries – our locations go unmarked, our whereabouts unknown. This is How It Is, according to Beckett and MB. FK in the burrow. Plato in a cave. JD taking apart each domicile, meticulously.
We are looking for a place to work at our unworking, the time and space to be for what is not. Beckett named it The Unnameable.
I took to the books and letters, while apparently the others wrote, made messages and codes, secreted the symbols into texts and silences, plays and fictions full of pause. GWFH, another spell of YHWH, foretold this long ago: “the ends are reached and reached beyond, folding under, folding through, reached again, again, and…”
For years now Jon is melancholy and therefore quite abbreviated, unable to go on, full of stutters, repetitions, and always the questions, questioning, questing, the undone. Jesse through his trials and papered rooms, sometimes near and sometimes foreign, never-know, never-mind, never-where, scraping geography and clouds in search of where No Where and Now Here meet. I’ve thus far been unable to locate him. As for Ivan, Ivan and Enrique both stopped working after the library of loss – assembling detectives, interviewing the dumb and victimized, missals here and there, mostly filled of snow and jungle.
I think: crows spread across the overcast, charred ash sprinkling fields, nothing rooted, nothing grown.
The unworking. Almost a throw of the dice. Half of each sentence erased. The subtle coterie of literate mathematicians. Reports from elsewhere. WG’s layered travelogue… in search of… The work of unworking goes on.
“Splitting on difference,” he said, the passage from mayhem to insight – WG described as “Vertigo,” the verge, the swerve, the swoon. You reach an edge or limit, what cannot be undone, begin unworking. Begin unworking there.
At the grave “I can’t go on. I must go on. I’ll go on,” Beckett decries. It’s not at understanding – “splitting on difference” – but in the going-on, turning over/under, inexhaustibly or ad infinitum – convergences coming undone.
From JD Jesse gets a Post Carte, leaves it somewhere in the margins, but we know. We know we have heard, even if we can’t re-member. All variations of death, Jon thinks, Jon writes, Jon says…assembling the book of questions…the interior distance of this fierce and beautiful world filled with women, fire, and dangerous things…keeping MB in infinite conversation.
Some things don’t make sense yet seem imperative. As if there were a realm of the unsayable, a set of stanzas wedding language and death – signifying nothing – that is to say, a world of unspeakable silence that works like clamor.
Exhausting voice and nothing more. The trouble with pleasure, with suffer, with become. None of us trust ideas and yet we generate and respond.
“He was found lying on the ground. No one had missed him. No one was looking for him… An old woman found him.” (Beckett). We somehow set out to search. “That seems to hang together.” Jon, Jesse, WG, myself, scouring the globe for more – who, what…- “But finally I asked if I knew exactly what the man – what exactly was required of the man, what it was he could or could not say. No, was the answer, after some little hesitation, no, I did not know…” and so we keep on.
“A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.” JD post carte. Beckett’s own death, still. GWFH, WG, FK and MB’s left messages, notes, recordings. “Only a small part of what is said can be verified”…if any. We are left, bereft, full of fragments, thoughts concluded, forgotten, ignored, but still unworking – in journeys, in dramas, in fire. Hanging at the limits of ropes. To strangle or drop, and what then? What next? Splitting on difference. It comes apart, what holds together. No one knows. Nowhere, now here, very difficult to say. Meticulous dismantling, decode – recode – Unicode – uncode.
…Jesse’s working up something, as is Jon. I’ve begun working again. Beckett is still dead. Or dead, still – either way he has not concluded. Piecemeal as it may be, we are all working on (or UNWORKING, as MB liked to refer to it)…and nearing some inception.
Laramie & Alias & possible ways to end
“Just find a way through to an end,” Laramie thinks, fallen there, and hurting.
“the void is waiting for vocabulary,” Alias reads, and ponders alone what the void might be comprised of. “Perhaps the void is composed of perhapses,” he writes, “combined with some organization of relations we are incapable of imagining, cannot begin to fathom. Awaiting and constraining possibilities, likelihoods and unforeseens in a kind of complex and chaotic equation or balance.” Irreducible, inexhaustible, and unsayable, he marks on the wall-sized whiteboard in his office.
“If I figure how to end…make it to an end,” Laramie whispers, hoarsely, internally, excruciatingly, silently. He cannot sense his horse, nor smell the fire. It will begin to rain.
“Perhaps,” Alias cursives at his desk, dire, lonely, remiss. “Perhaps each motion, feeling, thought…perhaps the shaping of an ‘a’ instead of an ‘I,’ perhaps this particular curve or flutter of line, this pen rather than another, the way it sits in my hand, perhaps the letter-to-word conjured depends on so much more than I can conceive or dream: smoke rising to atmosphere in some African desert; a precise selection of neurons inhibited and allowed in my body; the varying flow of blood and calculus of cells active in my thighs, my ankles; the trajectory of wind – its velocity. Perhaps what registered itself in my synapses and muscles 17 years ago is playing out in curves versus straight; what she said; or his coughs in the night. The amount and location of sperm; exact army and height of each dandelion stem; the president’s breath; engine ignition in China; the current temperature of Jupiter. Perhaps.”
Laramie works to focus on his breathing, attempts to concentrate his eyes. Seeks localization and diagnostics of injury. His vision is “impaired.” His legs have gone numb. Some liquid burn fires through chest-shoulder-arm. He cannot wriggle his fingers.
“Perhaps every ‘moment’ or movement, influence, decision, activity, intention, expression truly depends on everything else – EVERYTHING…since ANYthing occurred – however that may have become. And the motion of my arm, its difficulties, my emotions and thinkings, what I am able to perceive, just as much participates in the perhapses and perchances as EVERYthing else – directs them accordingly while equally or ratio-reciprocally affected and determined by. Some inexhaustible, irreducible, assemblage – unsayable from my specified and fluctuate limitations – my finitude, but imaginatively infinite (perhaps not) in chances-are,” Alias furiously scribbles.
Attempts to roll over. Effort towards sky. Finds himself clutching left arm, his legs akimbo but working into a ball. Breath harsh and labored. Sight unseen. Somewhere far, separate, Laramie is suffering. Finding a way to an end.
“Perhaps,” Alias drones. “Perhaps deaths and births, seedings and desiccations, galactics and atomic behaviors, cheetah-screech and egg-breaks, politics and business transactions, theories and documents and artifacts, particular weights of the world and all of their unformed-formings gather every instant to become again, particularly. Planar, scalar, interactive and recursive, never still, never stable, not quite patterned – ever potent, ever determined, ever possible, ever realized – EVERYWHERE + HOW + WHY + WHO + WHAT – always possible and continually actual – without possible worlds – just IS. Just IS. Just IS, again.” Alias slumps. Decides again to drink. Looks at porn. Longs for intimacy, for desire – to be craved, wanted and longed-for. To be satisfying, satiating. To be some whacky, untellable, sort of “enough.” Wishes and wishes – 15,000 things.
Nothing now but distress, pang, shards, fire. Something like the neigh or whinny of a horse. A coyote yelp or yip. Dying insects, a squashed ant. Sparks fizzled in mist and wind. Harsh, hard, and consuming. Consumptive. Agony. Laramie unable to locate his body, his voice…himself.