Hit Command + F, type something in, and see what words (if any) show up.
**Note: I’m in the process of transcribing all these notebooks. Don’t be surprised if the words move and change.
I am home when I am close to shore. I believe in the intrinsic good of others, but I’m not so sure about myself. Whatever good is there has been learned, and requires constant maintenance. Nothing in me seems intrinsic but that which I cannot notice.
Matt drops me off at the mall across from the ferry. We say goodbye and thank each other for a great season. There’s an excitable warmth, almost giddiness, in both our voices. Overwhelmingly glad. The van pulls away and effortlessly glides along the harbour front headed home. Eventually a grey-brown blur. I hear a voice behind me. When I turn around there’s a little old first nation man seated on a bench holding a cane. He gently taps the wooden cane against the hard recycled plastic bench in a slow rhythm. Waves hitting the shore. “Where was your trip?”, he asks, having presumably overheard my goodbye with Matt. I recount my travels briefly; Nuchatlitz, Kyuquot, Clayaquot. I mention that I’m a sea kayak guide, but fail to note that I was just working as an assistant/co-guide on all those trips. He’s an elder in the local Nanaimo band. He asks me where I’m from and I tell him Gabriola. Born and raised. I fear that he looks at me as a mere tenant of this area. Thinking: ‘Your real home is very very far away–have you been?’. But I am wrong. He is kind and together we complain about all the Americans that are buying up properties in the area.
I came upon a dead rabbit and took it as a sign. All these symbols, I don’t believe them, they’re just something to live my life by.
He used to build things, now he just walks on by. He’s become a master of simply walking on by.
In Zeballos, a small fishing town of a few dozen people, there is a monkey tail tree with a wooden cross painted white leaning against its trunk. For whom does it wait? Dormant for now, living in anticipation, purgatory, until someone dies? They just need a body, and then they’ll drive down the old logging road to the cemetery. When the crow died in Fair Harbour there was a racket like I’ve never heard before. But I heard such a squabble here yesterday just moments before the eclipse. Every bird, no matter the feather, raised their voices to protest the momentary veil. Bees lost their will and tumbled to the ground underscored with short intervals of buzzes, like a fading baseline. All the animals in the area seemed to panic. All but the humans.
I came off the beach and into the barroom. I forgot what I was telling myself about games and the way we play them. Now I’m satisfied to just watch the pool game. Eventually I play. First I win and then I lose until I stop. I play with some regulars. One is a window cleaner who has a good laugh, a loud and steady laugh–one strong enough to lean on if you got tired. He walks with a limp and his voice is like chalk. He makes dirty jokes and he shoots good pool. Without the limp he’d be real intimidating, bloodshot icy blue eyes staring down at you.
After too long in the pub I went back to the shore. The night was dark, I could see the lights of the city across the strait. They looked so small and pathetic from all the way out here. A little fire on the rocks to change up the light a bit. What is it about summer nights? My memory of this moment will one day become so sweet that it will pain me.
Embers burn brightest when lumped together.
The only means of making virtue tangible is to build it with our own hands. But creation is impossible, only re-creation is permitted. Even then, even when we hold our flat photocopy of virtue in our hands, it will be consumed by time and moths. Re-creation, again. Rather have it be recreation and get on with it.
We must teach ourselves to love what is necessary, for what is necessary is necessarily good. And round and round it goes.
The warmth that I feel while boarding the Gabriola ferry is like no other. Home is just a place and love is just a feeling one might say. The eclipse is today. The moon swallows up the sun and spits it back out again (I hope).
The thing one must love about the mountain lion is that it watches everyone and no one watches it. An invisible fly one the wall. Drinking beer in the sand I can watch it all come to pass, but I am watched too. Perhaps that is godliness; to be solely the watcher, without the ability to interfere, a paralyzed audience. If god could be characterized by nothing else, it would be paralysis.
When we first went out I saw a white rabbit from the window. She had a rabbit tattooed on her skin and she opened her arms and bed to me. We would indulge in all I was starved of while away. Now I’ve called without an answer. Now I’ve seen a dead rabbit by the road. I’m not sad nor am I heartbroken. Nobody cries when a rabbit dies.
Soaring is just falling with a direction in mind.
The weight of just one extra bag of sugar, a kilo bag, on a sailing voyage around the world, can slow a vessel down by two days. Throw the extra weight overboard. It will not sink you, but it may slow you down.
I found the shipwreck on the beach lagoon behind tongue point in the Nuchatlitz. For a moment I think back to a trip in the Broughtons when I cut my palm while splitting a piece of cedar. Maximum hull speed is determined by calculating the square root of a vessel’s length in feet, and then multiplying that sum by 1.4. When a vessel is travelling downwind and down wave, the fish-tailing and weather cocking is called broach or broaching. I wonder what happened to the Greek freighter ship to have it scattered in rusty pieces on a sandy beach lagoon in northern Vancouver Island. Apparently it sank elsewhere and wreck scavenger towed it to the lagoon. There’s a little cabin beside the bulk of the wreckage. The sign reads “Private Property. No Trespassing.” But I doubt it’s anyone’s property. Other signs seem to indicate that the facilities are free to use for the Esperanto community. Esperanto, from what I’ve heard, was a new language developed in the seventies in order to linguistically unite the world. It became a hot topic and cooled right down to sub-zero temperatures. Now nobody really knows what Esperanto is. If we are to have unity, we must be unified in our differences. Homogeny is not unity. Into the rusted and shrapnel scarred hull, with its gnarled fingers reaching out from where explosives blew open the steel walls, are shadows of faded graffiti. One string of chicken scratch letters reads: “Esperanto people rock”. The others are too faded to make out. I can read the faded E S P E on a different section of the scattered hull. My mother told me stories about this area, of when she used to sail and fly with her now dead husband. His surname was Smith, and on a nearby island is the grave of a seventeen year old boy who died nearly a century ago. The headstone, bordered by a wrought iron fence, reads “Edward Smith”. It’s a common name. Smith. Nonetheless, my mother, since widowed, finds it a little eerie to look at the photo of the grave. She snapped it shortly before his accident.
I wonder what sort of people set out to salvage the greek freighter. Were they aboriginals from the area? Maybe ex-navy looking to make some extra cash? Esperantos? And how’d they get their hands on so many explosives? Maybe they were loggers.
I pat the tops of the jelly fish as I move through the water. Paddle stroke after paddle stroke. The morning sky is bright cotton white. It turns the sea into a shivering expanse of quicksilver. The shores are dotted with caves, battered by waves, and my mind is somewhere else, in some impossible future. A boat, a little wooden motor boat, a beach hopper. Throw in a few other provisions, my guitar, my notebooks, and then desire multiplies, giving birth to new desires. They require my attention, demand it, as new borns are wont to do. There is no clean thing, no simplicity; it is a zero-sum scenario. Satisfaction is not the result of action, but rather the result of inaction.
Perhaps creation is the revealing of some sort of omniscience that exists within us all. Prophets, philosophers, writers, artists have all at one point or another referred to their work as the mere channeling of something much greater than their individual existence.
The sun’s departure through the western door brings about a beautifully strange light. If only we were all this beautiful when we said goodbye. A piece of driftwood stands in the waves, unmoving. Silhouetted it looks like Mother Mary.
It monopolizes an otherwise peaceful evening. Music can add to a moment, enhance it. Slithering in it can nestle itself nicely in between all the beauty, not obstructing it, finding space where it can, and lifting the moment up, exalting the present. One person on this trip is incapable of producing such snake-like music. It’s loud, self-aggrandizing, and demands your attention like a wagging finger in your face. Meanwhile all you wish to do is see the water and the land and the way they mingle with the sky. This man, fella we may call him, is somehow unable to find his place. His actions are either painfully earnest or bizarrely obtuse. Some terrible combination of extreme self-consciousness and an utter lack of self-awareness wills him to go on. He is immune to that all-to-familiar feeling of cringing at oneself. Lucky bastard. The slightest social friction that I bring to pass makes me want to turn skin inside out and burry myself deep underground. I must remind myself it is not necessary. This place is devastating in its beauty. I have no other word for it than beauty until I begin to cut it up. But once its cut up by these word knives, it ceases to be beautiful. Living things are beautiful. Words cannot represent living things, cannot be their beauty, they must make new beauty. Words that could bleed, not words that imitate blood. The world is loose sand; the more you grab, the more of it slips through your fingers. The island on which we’re camped has a view of the open ocean and the reefs on one side, and the inlet and ellipses of islands on the other.
This evening, as we were all seated upon the driftwood, letting our minds wander over the mountains and the sea, a pod of transient orca whales came charging right by the beach and around our island to the open ocean.
It’s too cold to sleep any more. I watch the stars until they fade into azure, and then I watch the big star rise over the hills. The moon gets higher and paler as her brother follows behind. The hills are reflected in the water, but not the moon. Perhaps she doesn’t want to see herself in her brother’s shadow of light. No matter how hard we strive or how great we become, we will be nothing beside these hills, or these stones on the beach. Even they are transient, ever-changing, morphing right before our eyes if only we could stick around for long enough to see. But there’s nothing warm about that. It’s the kind of coldness that wakes me up at night.
The truth is always the most poetic and the most poetic is always the truth, one might be inclined to say. But the poets mistake word-images and rhetoric for truth. The philosophers make esoteric what would be common sense. What’s so bad about an unexamined life?
This is my last trip of the season. I miss silence. You’d think these remote areas would provide someone with plenty silence. Not so. At least not for guides. These people seem to want to visit these quiet reaches of the world not to experience the awe inspiring silence, but to fill it. I wonder if I would enjoy a week out here alone. I believe I would. What is silence when you have nothing else?
It was quiet enough this morning when I was too cold to sleep. The lights of a fishing boat drifted down Espinoza inlet to the west, to open ocean. The red light of her port side smiled and the blood-red sliver of a moon hanging over the hills. I watched the early blue roll in and overtake the starry black. Trees that were only flat gesturing shadows became the perches of birds as they welcomed the morning’s arrival with chirps and cheeps. The wind rolled out the inlet from the east like a pinball–odd that it’s coming from this direction.
I haven’t written a song in too long. All that sand that I love to make.
I’ll pick up a pack of smokes, some beer, and I’ll go to Charlotte’s. We’ll smoke those cigarettes and drink that beer with music playing. We’ll laze around in bed. After smoking too many cigarettes we’ll fall asleep on her big dusty futon in some funny position and wake up in the morning with dry mouths.
I can’t wait to go to a bar, shoot some pool, and pass out in my sweaty basement apartment. People too often confuse what is beautiful with what is severe, or delicate, or majestic. Real beauty can be found on the back of a cockroach or toilet seat graffiti the same way it can be found out here in the mountains and the waves.
Starfish clump together in like colours. How do they know their surfaces reflect light similarly? Are they equipped with some other sensory organ that can perceive colour non-visually? Or is their colour merely a symptom of some other similarity that is brazenly obvious to them.
It’s somewhere between alien abduction and rapture. They take their shoes off and open an invisible sliding glass door. They close it behind them after they step through, never to return. He gets on the streetcar. The driver disappears. Everyone nonchalantly shuffles out and boards the next car. It’s packed. People are crushed to death by the relentless commuting crowd. At the café the woman ahead of him is being called, her coffee’s ready, but she’s gone.
I’ve found god knows what.
Everything is due and nothing will be done. We owe too much.
“Sometimes I manage to get a word out of her, but it slips through my fingers.”(like Ana) Some people go through life without underlining a single word. Do they talk to themselves? Do they not dream of something that comes from them that will not decompose?
The morning is a blood-red bird.
Life can be so uncomfortable perhaps because our souls don’t quite fit into our bodies, even the flimsiest of souls. The overflow is art. We are stuffed full, lobsters too big for their shells, but unable to shed.
You never lose your place in an unfinished book. Just look for the blank page.
Do not replace meaning with poetry. Do not try to replace meaning with poetry. Say it simply and say it directly. If there’s poetry, let it arise out of the meaning, not lie atop it, obscuring it. Meaning can exist without poetry, but poetry cannot exist without meaning. The ‘truest’ experiences have nothing to do with words, though words may aid their delivery. Do not attempt to represent, only present. Literature is tapping someone on the shoulder and pointing towards something that already exists in their mind.
No matter what, you’ll do things you don’t believe in. You’ll automatically weave such things into your character, changing yourself and your narrative to fit whatever reality is bold enough to throw in your face. We will find reason in rhyme, even when there is no rhyme or reason. When I yearned for the simplification of desire and found its potential in ‘serving my country’, I would have wasted much. When I write ads I waste much.
Some people hold themselves hostage against the world. They say the world is only true when they’re alone, and so hold themselves hostage and aloof.
Our greatest undertakings are not just a matter of choosing something once, but choosing to commit what it takes over and over again.
Nobody travels as the crow flies. I’ll go to Russia in the winter. There’s an affinity I have with the Russian sensibility, something about their internal extremity. Two ferocious dogs fighting within.
“But when I write—let things be known by their real names.” I know I’ve written these words before, but all this consumption will consume me one day. Autosarcophagy.
Birds aren’t words, but some birds can be made out of words. They don’t know how to fly.
I used to catch snakes in the grass, now I never see them. Whole days, whales of days, sun-filled, roaming around looking for something that slithers.
“As the world gets smaller, the small things take up all your time.”
Stories are born out of tension, one thing is formed out of opposition, as when one raises a bow, it is simultaneously pushed forward and pulled back. Conflict in slow motion. Start not from the gutter nor the stream, but with falling into the gutter from the stream in slow motion. Don’t start with a passive scene in a world. Maybe we start with a grieving family and some artist who claims he can conference with the disappeared ones through his art. Sometimes a heavy lack of tension can serve as tension; there is little more troubling than unrelenting boredom. Pick out an island and choose a chimera to roam. It seems we buried a good deal of the monsters that used to roam this island.
Window on top of window, stacked so high up I cannot see where they surrender to the sky. Where is the value? Chasing depth at every turn, driving it away more likely, forcing my hand to record what I see—does this not bring me a shallow life?
Afraid to put in the time. It’s so hard to keep working, but I feel tortured if I don’t. I’ve amassed a good deal of scribbles and yet I have accomplished nothing. Such is the nature of this world, there is no progress, only pointless exploration. Sisyphus sits at the base of the mountain. In his daydreams he is pushing a rock up the steep incline.
What about those who do not want happiness and have given up, or never begun, their search for meaning. Such people are truly happy. I live for the hopeless pursuit of something deathless, and yet I am too lazy to do any proper searching. My fruitless pursuit will take me to the depths of sorrow and to the peaks of numbness I’m sure.
I lie about my height every time I look down on someone.
Some days it feels as though I’m swimming through a different, much heavier substance than everyone else, something as thick and murky as mud and as dense as lead. Others swim weightless around me. More than anything else, my life is made livable by the pen. It is the only thing, save for loving and being loved, that brings me peace. One may try to live deeply, holding their breath, ears popping, swimming, clawing through the water, heading down. They won’t know if they’re heading in the right direction, they’re just trying to get to the bottom of things.
You look at the world as if it owes you nothing. You fall asleep in the world’s lap. If I’m just a step along the way, I hope I’m a step in the right direction.
Sleeping with the TV on. Never alone. How sad it is to be trapped in limbo between crushing solitude and suffocating togetherness. A mirror at the top of a mountain.
Her sister has a cancerous tumor in her ovary. Knowledge of it and its cancerous nature has formed a hole inside her, a spiritual ulcer. She’s angry and sad and she has directed it at her mother and her sister. They take it and they don’t complain. Reminded of her mortality so suddenly and undeniably. The undeniability is key. There’s little else on her mind I’m sure. Like the regret of a bad bargain, she goes over it again and again each day. Family is the ultimate cure to lonesomeness. She’s elsewhere, away from family, comforted only by friends and strangers. When life’s whip lashes you hard, family is the only thing that will ease the pain.
We are not a manifestation of the world, the world (as we experience it) is a manifestation of ourselves.
Beside myself and bored with his company.
The whole city pulses towards its centre. Three streetcars pass the stop too full, stuffed, too overflowing to pick anyone up. This type of thing doesn’t happen in our society’s extremities. There are different problems out there. Catching the bus might not be an option for one thing. Here in the city, our expectations have been coaxed steadily upwards, so much so that even the most minor inconveniences take on the weight of travesties.
A small mining town is in an economic slump, as is one of its residents, a young writer. Discouraged by rejection notice after rejection notice, she does something drastic in order to publish her work. She buys a can of spray paint and begins self-publishing over town walls and streets. This creates a booming business for a local graffiti removal service until he starts reading her work. At which time he cannot bring himself to erase it.
Heaven is whatever we love that is out of reach. A little clump of down escapes from my old blue jacket and rides the breeze for a while, looking for someplace to settle down. Finding a home on the breeze, window after window after window until I can count no more.
In reading animal stories, I am struck by the parrot’s faculties for language. I remind myself that they merely imitate, they are unable to invent new combinations of words. But are we any different? We learn to speak through imitation, and then we complicate the matter by making different collages of imitated words. Are we not but complicated echoes roaring through ever more esoteric caves and tunnels?
Where shall wisdom be found? Generally: everywhere, specifically: nowhere. Finding wisdom is not so much the trouble as is recognizing it. But again, wisdom does not share our prejudices; it weaves itself into the most likely and unlikely places; dusty bookshelves, freshwater springs, dark and silent nights, and exploding waves of mirth and parade. While wisdom can be found here, it can also be impossible to find in those places.
Greater knowledge does not equal greater wisdom, acquiring information does not provide tranquility. We must impose diets on our minds; times of no consumption. Our minds are active even in sleep, so take it upon your waking self to merely do nothing. Let all dominion over your mind go, let the reins slip from the rider’s hands, and sink into the closest we’ll ever get to oblivion. We are blessed if we can limit out intake and output sometimes. Simply be. Do it without motivation; do not strive in it, don’t dream all the while of the acquisition of wisdom.
An endless search for something endless. We’re looking for something deathless to tether ourselves to. ‘You should have wasted your time with me,’ you say. It had to be wasted anyhow.
These days my words are slippery, they just slide right out of whatever I try to stick them to. Think it through, follow through.
There is a world where only the moon herself illuminates the days. No bulb, only the mirror. Nothing shines, it only reflects. Something’s got to give. The things that I love to do and the things that I have to do are always fighting.
“Although my eyes were open, they may as well’ve been closed.” Life: the dream I keep returning to; a recurring dream.
Make your life simple. Simplicity is as close as we’ll ever get to heaven.
The current atmosphere has become too inhospitable for our hero, and so she is disappearing. The conditions aren’t right—she simply isn’t needed. People are too distracted, too unthinking, to even be aware of their desperate need for our hero, or at least her archetype. Perhaps the antihero will be shuffled away soon.
There’s a certain urgency that I feel in this world, like it’s constantly slipping away. It turns relationships into train stations—subway stops.
But the mind! Thank god for the mind! It is our means of living even when we have no life.
Simply talk to yourself for long enough until you find something interesting to say (or you hear something interesting). Currently I’m trapped in the ghetto of my mind. A life spent painting doors on walls.
“My very own never-ending search for real.”
Like a beach ball, the harder you hit it the slower it goes, the more it resists moving forward.
“There’s never enough time to do the things you love to do once you find them.” Perhaps it takes not having the time to do them in order to really love them. Maybe we’d feel no love without yearning, no ‘can’ without some degree of ‘can’t’. But any moments of unpleasantness can be swiftly erased by staring at a screen. Like a drug dopamine rushes forth and we spend our days like junkies hitchhiking from one bump to the next. Stressed? Bored? Empty inside? Have you tried staring at a screen? And we do this willingly, with thanks even. When we rid ourselves of the aches, we cease to live, we fool ourselves into believing we are immortal. These screens give us a false sense of timelessness.
The world can be warm and fuzzy when we let it. Especially when we make our vision fuzzy with a few bottles to the head. We all have the Midas touch.
Walk through the valley of the shadow cast by the television screen.
The world has fallen asleep with the TV on.
We are trapped by our own invented gravity. To me, everything is indicative of anything. A few laps inside the rabbit hole and I’m tired and bruised and looking for someone to blame.
It’s all easier when you’re alone, one might be driven to say. But we simply wash over all the immeasurably good times, those moments that we look back upon almost enviously, as if we are in contempt over our own lives.
Devotion is better, reciprocal or not, than solitude. But there can absolutely be a devotion in solitude.
There is a certain time in a man’s life when he has to choose between the regret of what he has done, or the guilt of what he hasn’t. I choose both. Guilt and regret here I come.
If you stand still while everyone else moves on, a divide is inevitable. As with all the inevitabilities I’ve faced, this one became inevitable. I left my family. My children, the woman I love(d?). People say you leave a bit of yourself behind when you ditch your family, but it’s not true. You take a part of them with you. You’re haunted. Harmless ghosts, well-intentioned, but they kill you nonetheless. And I’m not even one of those lovey-dovey dads who have honey flowing through their veins. I’m not a father, I simply have children. Had? Now I have ghosts. People always ask me why I left, why I’m still here, so far from them, and to be honest, I can’t even remember. I only remember the feeling, not the details or the post-rationalization. The feeling was simple: I had to move on. Every jet that I’d see passing overhead was flying to paradise. I wanted that world, but I wasn’t motivated by it. My motivation, my ambition, was fueled by my weariness of my current world. Not the hope of another world. I was a flower, already bloomed and ready for wilting, and so I felt it necessary to close back up and become a bud again. A bud cannot pollinate, and so I saw my children as being part of a world in which I was not myself. Distance from all that I knew. That was all that could restore me to a burgeoning state. But a dying flower no matter how many times it’s replanted, still wilts. “I nailed my guilt to the back of my eyes so I could see it before the sun.” I still see it when my eyes are open, like those clumps of dead cells that float back and forth as eyes shift. I hopped on a jet plane. I thought maybe I’d look down at the gridwork of farmland with the same envy I had reserved for passing jet planes, but I didn’t. I kept the shutter on the window closed. I always knew I was destined for something unimaginably great, something cosmically important. And so I consulted the cosmos. No answer. I enrolled in theology school. I was by far the oldest student there, and certainly the least knowledgeable. Each and every day I looked for something immortal that I could tether myself to. I couldn’t find it. The other students seemed to. I toyed with the idea of being a theology school drop-out, but my pride stepped in. All I wanted was something unshakable, something I could devote myself to. If I couldn’t find it in my own children, how could I find it in God’s classroom? I started writing god with a lower case ‘g’.
“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery.”
“Happiness is never grand.”
“Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons—that’s philosophy.”
On work: it is vital to our wellbeing. Just as a fish must swim so that oxygenated water may pass over its gills, we must work. I’m not sure what flows over our gills, but I know it is life-sustaining. Creation, art, is our soul’s only means of speaking.
Kingdoms rise and fall in an afternoon and our work is not done by evening. If I have learned one thing, it is to waste paper. Fill pages with useless scribbles, waste boatloads of trees. For only after unbridled waste can we see and shape our thoughts. But there are different types of work. Toil, let’s say, is also good for the mind, for it gives the creative mind well-deserved reprieve. The inhale after too much exhaling.
If the subconscious mind is best symbolized in water, it is our reflection in a body of water, even a puddle, which stands before us most accurate. Perhaps it is truer than the shape which it reflects. The shape is only a frame for light to bounce off of after all. A work, a water, a body of work, a body of water.
Nothing but a series of undertakings, no one but a serial undertaker.
Does it matter what we undertake and for whom?
The characters of the story are as follows: work, love, play, spirit, and mind. They’re being interrogated for their possible involvement in a death, a suicide. An accomplice to suicide.
It’s not that he dropped the ball, indeed he never even held it in is hands. He let it roll by with no attempt to catch it.
Like lightning, envy likes to singe the summits and peaks the most. So do not climb the mountain of bones. Rest at its base camp content in knowing that the only difference at the peak is that it’s much colder and hard to breath. The view. It must be breathtaking. Perhaps it’s better to look up than down.
Is there such a ship that slips along forever on time’s current? Or is every ship dashed upon the shoals of destruction eventually. Some sink silently into the blackness. What impossible power mans the rudder of the cosmos?
For the most part people’s interest in a topic depends on their knowledge of said topic. The more people know, the more they wish to converse. Shouldn’t the urge be to discuss topics that are foreign so as to relieve our ignorance? The fella who knows quite a bit about spearfishing will go on and on about spearfishing, but when a topic arises that is ‘out of his domain’, he shuts his mouth and his ears. We must work hard to keep any topic within our domain.
Stockholm Syndrome with our world—over time we either learn to love it or escape. Either way, we are captives.
Do not let yourself get too stuck in your ways. Sure, stay your course, but meander often. Beware of making inconsistency your constant as well.
Give a handgun to the preacher and a bible to the gun shop.
It’s all the doubt in life that both tortures us and uplifts us.
Looking for a light at the end of the tunnel only gives us tunnel vision.
“If the winds did not inhale again.”
Like the lungs of a man who will soon go breathless. Point me toward the light so that I might be blinded. At least for a moment.
Not everything is changed by time’s passing.
He asked her how she performed under pressure. “Like a geyser,” she said.
Life, suspended over the cracks in the sewer grate. Held in place by the parts of me that have not yet burned away. I am the cigarette butt.
Life is a sticky substance, and the more you struggle, the more it holds you in place. Move lightly, freely; do not let the ooze of melancholy constrict you too much.
Just as the briny spray explodes forth and gnaws the sea’s walls away, sounds, smells, and so on, wear away their beholder.
All things are full, nearly overflowing, with emptiness. Void is woven in to matter.
The weekend no one ever got.
The gleam of the eighth day or the shining of the ninth.
Dreams where the big fish swim, black fish, ferocious and swift. I am not threatened.
“For particulars, as everyone knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers, but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society.”
Red like closed eyes on a sunny afternoon, lying on your back, warm rays climbing all over you. Bathing in the water s that hold your reflection. Clouds of iron and lead press their weight down upon our heads.
It’s odd. Sometimes life seems to have a life of its own. Granted, life is very short, but it’s also very long. It depends what part of life you’re living, or what part you’re recalling.
Wings of lead, retribution and mind I carry both of them.
Lined with streetlamps, beaming down happily, materializing my shadow like full moons. A confused morning glory open wide beneath the light. The last leaf on the tree, a southern bird in the north.
It’s been a while since I’ve mined anything worth smelting. I asked my father about guilt. I asked him what he felt guilty about. He told me a story about when he was leaving my mom, my brother, and I. He was all packed waiting for the floatplane on the dock. His backpack had a smaller daypack that zipped onto the back. I asked him if I could have it, implying that he’d have to come back and get it someday. The two pieces fit together. He said no. He said he needed that part of the backpack. He feels guilty to this day. Not because of the backpack. The luggage merely serves as a signpost.
A being divided in two, growing together. That is love.
The candle casts a shadow from the bottle onto the ceiling. It looks like a Mother Mary icon. We lie there, side-by-side in silence…Guilt always arrives with confusion just as confusion often arrives with guilt.
Too much writing stinks of someone else’s mind, instead of someone else’s life.
What is to stop the disintegration of the community? Radical individualism threatens existence and increases rates of suicide.
When the planets formed there was only you and me. We were lighter then and the winds were stronger. They blew us about and carried us through the void like leaves drifting down a river. It all started from nothing. But it didn’t really start. It always was, there never really was nothing, there was always something. Even a vacuum is a something, a void. When the winds moved like rivers and the rivers heaved like oceans, and the oceans were everywhere and filled every nook and cranny. The oceans were the only thing that knew stillness.
Reflections in water: Every ripple that you make finds its way to the shore. Is everything physical? Even sound has a physical manifestation—does the mind? We know of the mind’s house, but not of its nature. Even time is tethered to the physical; do we not measure the days and hours based on the revolutions of our planet? Do our thoughts ripple out like the frog that goes plop in the ancient pond? One goes crazy the same way one drowns; by spending too much time under the surface. Sometimes we must come up for air. However, a life above the surface will make us sluggish and dry. We are amphibians after all.
We paddled from Tofino to Hot Springs Cove. It took us four days. We do not spend enough of our lives underwater. Under the surface is where all the deep and heavy things go. If they are dark, under the surface they are doubly dark. But if they are heavy, somehow underwater they become lighter. Let yourself go underwater, whether it be through thought, scribbles, art, wandering or whatever.
What of the fellow who sought immortality by endlessly travelling westward at great speed, never letting a day disappear behind that horizon? He lived a life without night’s gloom or death’s weight. In fact, he never gave any thought to death as he had no metaphor for its explanation (night), and he never stuck around long enough to see someone die. Or perhaps it is the daylight that kills us, and so he opts to remain under the restorative shadow of night for eternity.
People go missing. It happens all the time; they run away, die in some accident, or they get taken by somebody. Most missing person cases are really cases of people getting sick of a place and saying goodbye the Irish way. They get sick of their lives, their hopelessness, and take off. This is not how people go missing these days. Now there are more missing posters than there are telephone poles, bus stops bulletins, and billboards. They are layered on top of each other in such vast numbers that the staples anchoring them to the telephone poles fail to even reach the wood anymore. Stacks hundreds of papers thick. People started ripping the posters of other families off to make room for their own. Pretty much everyone knows or is related to one of the missing persons. None have turned up yet, and nobody knows where they go or why. The official story denies any pattern. But this won’t hold up for long, as it’s not just poor and forgotten people going missing like it used to be. The government won’t release any official count, but the running guess is somewhere around 250 000 people since New Year’s. There have also been a number of unofficial speculations as to the cause of all these disappearances. They range from the conservative to the absurd; a mind-altering viral infection to mass government abductions. Other groups flat out deny the scale of the disappearances, claiming that the only thing that has changed is the reporting of missing persons. They say the term ‘missing’ is too vague to represent an accurate description of most cases. The deniers further claim that the majority of these ‘missing’ people are probably hitchhiking to the west coast or off joining a commune or something. No one close to me has gone missing yet. A couple friends of friends, a bartender at one of the local spots, but that’s about it.
“Feeding the sore will only make it fester and grow stronger for madness and misery grow graver as time goes along.”
What is it that we visit with when our ancestors climb into our astral plain from the valley of the dead? Is it true that dreams do not obey the commandments off time? Dreams break time’s arrow and rearrange its course.
The old man beside me also reads a book with numbered pages: The New Testament. He takes notes as I do, he reads as I do, though my nose is buried in a book with a different cover. We’re after the same things. Whether you ask Lucretius or Job.
Upon light’s shore.
The silt of the cosmos. An ocean stretching forth, invisible currents. The diameter of the sun’s wheel. Why the moon moves backwards.
The best way to destroy a cancer or a parasite is to cause it to cannibalize itself. There is nothing unnatural on the planet. All comes from it, all will stay with it, be consumed by it, and be reconstituted anew. Parasites are foreign organisms. Cancers grow from mutated cells. The host is unphased.
“Nausea” is the unfiltered existence; a flood of immediate experience. What of omniscience? What if all of us, all living creatures, are born with an underlying omniscience? Like an underground river, they are connected to the ocean of things, but such access is usually blocked or only temporarily available.
Whatever we are driven to do, truly driven to do, we will do.
When you’re young you have it all figured out. As you get older things get murkier. Each day it gets cloudier still.
“Indeed, to harness mortal and immortal with one yoke and think they can agree and interact, is but a joker. For what could be more out of tune, off-kilter and contrasting than a mortal thing that’s hitched to something deathless, everlasting, to weather with their wedding tempests furious and blasting.”
I believe we are hitched to something deathless. The deathless thing could be the notion itself. Whether it be within or without, whether it is a cycle, a pattern, or a spirit, I don’t mind. Those are all just words.
“The life of fools becomes hell on earth.”
Without a new page there forms a void. Art’s goal is to illuminate truth, even in fiction. Too much of art veils truth.
My life, hemmed in by days.
Perhaps it is images that project light, our eyes receive nothing. What you know shapes what you understand, or can understand.
Nothing truer than fiction.
What is bigger: before or after? The sole determinant of time’s flow is experience. We have our hand on time’s throttle.
I keep looking for a foundation upon which I can build a story, but perhaps I should be looking for a springboard. Maybe my starting point gets left behind.
Life is vacillation; it is not lived entirely within the self, nor is it lived entirely outside of it. Immediate experience—where on the spectrum does that belong? When the lens through which we interpret the world is almost unnoticeable, almost entirely faded, leaving only a thin pain of glass behind.
If you receive no blessings, treat them as blessings in disguise.
Perhaps the soul is to the body what a sweet smell is to a rose; inseparable yet different, born at the same hour and of the same flower.
The older I get, the fewer living people I admire. The souls of old, the ones that have already been sifted through by the centuries.
The fruit of your labour is the labour itself. Do it for the pleasure of having the sweat form upon your brow. The games we play, the rewards we invent. The faint light at the end of this tunnel-like cave recedes as we approach. It serves us only as a direction, not a destination. Too many people see the north star as a destination, not a compass.
The creation is not only the product of a creator, it is an impossible tangle of all conceivable, and inconceivable factors. The time, the place in which it was experiences, the people whom experienced it an so on. A plant does not grow by water, dirt, and sunlight alone.
“Earthward he sinks, with all his wits at sea.”
The sun sows the fields with light. She sold off her fears for a living room tomb.
Authenticity is not found, or discovered, it is created. We build authenticity around the parts of ourselves that we cannot change. We use our experiences as support. If you find people and places committed to creating it, stick by them. Authenticity is how truth walks. Without it, truth just hangs in limbo.
Genius, it could be argued, exists at the crossroads of discipline and impulse.
Ben was born out of the blue. Some are born into it. He wanted a heart, but now he sees. Sitting in the big blue room. He’s taken the first sip of life, and it was really more of a gulp. He’s worried about how much is left.
There are signs for the suicide hotline in the train station. I think they should call it something else. Once you pick up that phone, you’ve labelled yourself ‘suicidal’. That’s a big commitment they’re forcing people to make.
I used to write to myself: ‘do not sleep until you’ve finished what you woke up to do.’ I don’t know how many nights it’s been since I finished what I woke up to do, but it seems like I’ll never finish a day’s work before I run out of day’s hours.
She is a loose leaf travelling over a soft breeze, where I am a rock begrudgingly tumbling down the river bed, occasionally becoming lodged in this crevasse or that. We both find our spot eventually. One with more ease, the other with more staying power.
Pride, O destroyer of lives. As my hair falls out, so grows my immediate experience of aging, and the slow death that is life. I am vain, and this loss pains me. I look about longingly at the full heads of hair atop my peers and all these strangers. I feel an odd sort of affinity towards all the bald and thinning men. I know it’s pathetic and vain, but those two traits seem to suit me quite well. It’s easy to worry not when one has naught to worry about.
Living in the shadow of future goodbyes. They’re the long goodbyes. They started the other day and they’ll continue until we’re out of reach.
Compose a life that has a rhythm you can follow. Match it to your heartbeat; find the things that bring you peace and keep doing them. Find the people who bring you joy and keep seeing them. I dance with myself all day long, waltzing this way and that. I see myself too much. The choicest moments are when I quit dancing and look around at all that surrounds me.
Things could be simple if we’d only allow them to be. I can smell sweet honey in the air. It is my blood, it now flows slow, lazily, and retains its sweetness for another.
A blade must be forged before it can be honed. It’s not about making the perfect thing—that’s impossible and any attempt will leave you creatively paralyzed. Get something out, get it done, make it good. Only concern yourself with the quality of your work once you have the quantity. Otherwise you will waste away, whittling down a single sentence into nothing, or, as the saying goes, drawing legs on a snake.
The chapters of our lives are marked by the people we were with. I have lost so much time, and written obituaries to only a fraction. There is other time that I’ve killed which I’d like to speak well of. I gain nothing from this, I only lose less.
We are a much a part of the ocean of matter as a fish is part of the sea. It all comes down to where you draw the line.
If I’m going to be lonely, I’d at least like to be alone. In the city there’s more to cry about, but fewer paces to cry. In the country, you can cry anywhere, but there’s nothing to cry about. The city, all its lights and people, and old couples sitting on porches, I can’t seem to find a private place to water my cheeks. Sometimes, and I believe this is true for everyone who isn’t delusional, everything becomes s heavy, as if the entire world was made out of lead. I am made of lead too; I am soft, toxic, and heavy. When it comes to the bad stuff, is it really stronger to share it, or to manage it within? I would consider it weak for a man to burden others with rootless melancholy.
If you keep yourself a shallow tree, replanting won’t kill you. It’s only when you’ve sunk deep and grown tall in one place that you cannot be replanted. I must make efforts to keep my roots from digging in too deep.
As I live on and time builds its momentum, cards get worn faster. It isn’t long before a new deck becomes bent and chipped.
The unusual pedestrian.
In order to become the brightest star in the sky, you must burn. I don’t want to melt my brain, but sometimes my brain wants to be melted.
The flowers are painted last. Furnishings for the poor—a shack with coffered ceilings.
When it is dark, a puddle an inch deep looks like a bottomless pool. The rains purify our notions of having control. We become afraid of the rain as we get older, running from awning to awning as if it pained us to get wet. As our hearts age, so grows our fear of the unpredictable.
Reflection, honesty, and warmth seems to cure all woes. Such an antidote is only administered to me through scribbles.
The fraction of our control is always in flux; growing and shrinking with every experience. A professor told me that he is an amateur. Professionals treat what they do as a career and are determined to affect the world with their undertakings. Meanwhile an amateur finds love in what they do regardless of its impact. I hope to be an amateur one day.
Each day I sit on a bus going eastward. I’m almost late every day. I pass by all the construction, cranes swinging enormous steel beams above the city. The sun sleepily trickles through the leaves of the trees lining the road. Light fills the bus, slips in through the windows, and paints the interior with shards of sun. I can see a man walking along the top platform of a towering crane. The crane is poised like a monstrous bird over a block-sized hole in the ground. It’ll be another condo building. They build more than they can fill, they build them for the future. My future has yet to be built, though its foundation is setting.
The literary community tends to be pretty awful. Many of them are pretentious schoolboys. They make fun of the things they ought to be praising (folktales, fables, cultural stories), and store up their reverence, saving it only for themselves and their own work.
“We are stretched over the rock of time, hoping for the release of eternity.”
Candide’s El Dorado is a state of mind, a way of seeing the world. Blake worked hard to see the world in this way.
There’s a little cedar tree on the bar. It shakes with every step, every chair pushed in, even when I rearrange my feet beneath the bar. The tree records it all. To my left there’s a book entitled ’Why Cats Paint’.
The subtitle is ‘a theory of feline aesthetics’.
Is it just cowardice that pushes me along? Fear of commitment? Why has lack of commitment become a negative trait? Of course I’m afraid to commit to many things. Existence herself has failed to commit to me, eventually she’ll move on someplace else. Why do we cling to loyalty with such might? Why do we expect it from others with such seriousness?
Sticking around. It’s unnatural. Nothing has absolute staying power except for a concept. But even the staying power of concepts owe their eternity to an entity to recognize them. Such entities do not stick around. Even the concepts which we consider to be the unshakable laws of nature still require the recognition of a permanent entity. Things dissolve through the ages, told and retold, translated by a thousand minds, corrupted by a thousand more. The idea cannot be cleaved from the entity. Such ideas depend wholly on recognition. Nothing will stick around, so why should I? Even the stone on the shore, the one that was the afterbirth of the continent, will wear down and become unrecognizable. Is that all we fear? Becoming unrecognizable? Does a stone fear its becoming sand? Aim to be the leaf in the wind, not the stone lodged in the riverbed. But beds are so warm and soft, they can hold onto a stone for a long time. “He who treasures freedom, like the swallow, must learn to fly.”
Stories must destabilize received truth. Dwell in perplexities, not certainties. Be a weaver of dreams.
Knowledge is not intelligence, knowledge is merely the shorthand for intelligence.
Hell is the denial of forgiveness. Hell is a place where those you’ve hurt will never heal.
Don’t sell your soul just to lighten your load. Don’t burn the body just to lighten the road.
Somehow days keep melting into nights.
Eventually people stop asking what you want to be when you grow up.
There are many different roads in this life, and all of them yet none of them lead to the same place.
Poetry is a mirror shaped in the silhouette of its author. Whatever it shows, it retains the shape of its conceiver.
Mother’s hood fits so snug over your head like a halo or a wreath.
“As golden wax melts with gentle heat, as morning frosts are thawed by the warmth of the sun, so he was worn and wasted away with love, and slowly consumed by its hidden power. “
The lament of passing time, each life a swan song. None of life is reflected in words, poetry is a broken pair of glasses. We put them on, we look for truth as unadorned as possible. We do our looking with a pencil lead.
Only fools despair, counting times notches and wrinkles upon their face. See each line as a brush stroke; the painting is getting better, more defined, a master work; the canvas of your life comes closer to perfection. Fill your canvas, welcome the wrinkles, the scars, keep the painful memories and wear them often with pride.
“Life is a path lit only by the light of those you’ve loved.”
We walk down this path, our burdens lightened only by those we’ve loved. Selling your soul won’t lighten your load. You will learn along the way.
We are tailors, miners, millers—there is nothing made anew. We are artists of collage. At worst we are photocopy machines. Each copy, each simulacrum doesn’t add to the image, it only obscures it a little.
Truth unadorned by form or by medium. Make your writing like a collage, make your narrative like a collage.
Why strive? Since we are only apes with angel plans…we are contained within a perishable body. What I write is vague and banal compared to the truth. Compared to truth, even though I pursue it endlessly, my writings are accidental bold-face lies. We will die. But before that we will live. Even if we gain significance in the human world, our life will still be insignificant, a momentary lapse in entropy (or is it even a lapse?). Nothing anyone does or says or writes can change the grand scheme, the river’s flow (why one would want to change such a thing is another question).
What’s the use? All this discipline, all this strife, if it will never change a thing? Do things that enhance the enjoyment of life. The things that bring you a deep pleasure, a whiff of timelessness. That’s why the life of a layabout is not to be envied, nor should we admire the life of a busy backson. I’ve been both. These days I’m too much the busy backson. It’s becoming too much. Insignificant details and expectations are monopolizing my life, forcing me to care for things that will never return the favour, that will never wear my care. I need escape. Crew on a vessel, a full cup, a bottle, take me somewhere remote.
The whole universe, the concept of time, the birth of our world, the origins of life; these are things we learn. They did not exist before we allowed them to. And all these meditations, these questions, take up less space within our minds than the petty little details of mere vanities. Sure, we must stay grounded within the day, but isn’t it a shame that we build our lives around ignoring such colossal topics? If you wish to think about the big things, fill your day with the real things. We get so detached living in cities. There is so little life here. Nature is the garden of meditation, and the guide. Live a life unmediated—one in direct contact with the living.
A smoke break from oblivion. A stock boy in an endless grocery store. He’s working the nightshift. The aisles extend out until the horizon, where they continue. There’s so much work to be done. He’s allowed an hour break total during his shift; a half hour to eat lunch and two fifteen-minute breaks to be taken, within reason, whenever he likes. After his shift he goes to his lodgings. A floor above the endless aisles is a seemingly endless hall. Where the aisles would be there’s an endless river of cots. Under each cot is a box labelled ‘personal’. In this box employees are encouraged to store their personal and sentimental items. Most boxes are empty.
I’ve often had this dream about a chute, an industrial canal, a dike, all made of cement with yellow hazard lines painted here and there. Water gushes forth, thousands of litres per second and I know I’m meant to jump in and ride the chute to the sea. I always find it so difficult and frightening to do so.
Make bridges between islands. We delude ourselves into believing that what we’re doing is significant. My day job has us idiots running around stressing out about how to sell more beer. It’s beer for god sake. There are people, many people, at those very moments, dying or watching others die. And they die from very preventable things. Meanwhile my colleagues and I, a collection of bright problem solvers, are devoted to the task of selling more beer.
Is there ever a time when things get real? Well, yes and no. I guess we have to stop trying to find realness and just accept that it’s there. There are no proofs in this world, only resonant speculations. Even the laws of nature are not enough to guide us. For more than anything, we resist tooth and nail to prove that we are not a piano key. The laws of nature, and those who uncover them, do not account for the individual, and yet individualism is what we all share.
This type of individualism leaves room for fellowship, indeed fellowship can be an expression of the individual. There is a lot to this world that we do not understand, and will never understand through observation and scientific method. The tools that interpret the phenomena are part of the phenomena.
We love freedom, we love how undefinable we are, and yet we try, tirelessly, to provide a definition for what and why we are. We even wish to sum up our actions; we develop routines and schedules that are expressions of our supposed free will, and yet they serve only to rob us of our spontaneity.
We wish desperately to flaunt our freedom at the same moment we wish to surrender it. Like Phaethon we wish to know from where we came and where we belong, yet we wish to prove that we indeed do not belong there. We search for our father and if we were to find him, we would immediately set out to establish that we do not belong to him, that what we’ve become is no thanks to him. We are free from our cosmic fathers and their advice—we are the exceptions to providence, the free agents to fortune.
Free also from expectations, especially the expectations of others. Whatever the expectations may be, it always seems as though we desire nothing short of shattering them. But we break the mould only to shape another. The mould, let’s say, does not break. It morphs, stretches, and mutates.
Life is a slow climb. There is no peak, only more slope. Eventually you have to stop looking ahead into the distance, looking out for the people, the end, retirement. What you do along the way can be pretty fun. Some parts will be gruelling, but those parts will be the most satisfying to overcome. That’s what we tell ourselves anyhow. We are unable to stop and take in the view, our legs relentlessly propel us further up and on. If we do wish to take a look around, it must be done on the move.
I don’t want to abandon anything, and yet I don’t want a life in stasis. I’ll have to choose what I most value and then not look back. I am too young, too inexperienced for predictability. It could be said, I suppose, that everything is predictable if you have the right predictions. Then I wish to lead a life, at least for a time, where I am unable to predict one day to the next. Where no walls exist between myself and the world, manufactured or otherwise.
Words, wielded by a master, can indeed express things, but they cannot fully represent reality. As symbols for the reader, something is always lost. A book is a book of shortcuts. Language only betrays the writer when there is a reader. Language can’t represent the world adequately, it can only express it, and only when interpreted by its creator. Is there a way to transcend language?
The concept of god can be likened to the concept of an army versus a soldier; god is a word which we apply to a collection sentiments and attributes, just as an army is made up of soldiers, one soldier alone has a self, he ‘exists’, but the army is merely a concept. “God is a word and the argument ends there.”
What about Jack? Where is the tension within his character? I used to write to record things, now I write to explore things. I’m not sure if I like the idea of Jack initially losing his vision from smoke. I don’t find it to be an interesting detail. Maybe he saw a sight so beautiful that his eyes just popped out, or perhaps he witnessed something so horrible that he plucked his eyes from his head. Could it be that his eyes leapt from his head to escape the terrible things they were forced to watch? Maybe that’s what happens: Jack is sitting in the park and he has a nausea-like moment where the categories with which we mediate our experiences crumble and he beholds what perception is without the sullying hand of interpretation. He begins to perceive the world just as, or so he believes, the character in nausea perceived the world. It’s euphoric for him—sublime. Half invention, half perception. The author cannot comment on the similarities between our hero’s experience and the experience of Sartre’s character as he has never read the story. You see, our hero is quite well-read, or so he desperately believes himself to be. His enjoyment of a book is determined by the effect his having read it will have on others. In truth, he’s terribly self-conscious about his learnedness, which helps him none in the understanding of the world. Where is the tension in our character? In what way is his soul lacerated? Where lies his dissonance? He daydreams and he night terrors. He is terribly ambitious, but his ambition does not extend beyond his mind and so he is very frustrated with himself and the world. What other characteristics can we pit against each other within our hero? What two dogs fight within his heart? Or is that even necessary? Perhaps the tension is without, not within. Maybe our character rings true, he is hopelessly harmonious. Further, perhaps, he is so harmonious only because he has failed to reflect upon anything at all within his life. He has always held the world at arm’s length, and with such a soft grip, as if it was someone else’s baby.
Writing things down increases the awareness of your experiences. Writing enhances your life.
Does our examination and appreciation of the shadows enhance our understanding of the forms? Do the shadows offer a window into the world of essential forms?
I have conceived a pain behind my eye. I say ‘conceived’ because it only exists when my focus shifts to it. If I carry on as if it doesn’t exist, I’m sure the pain would disappear. But then I might come to miss it. I am helpless when it comes to directing my thoughts. They seem to people my mind without any sort of permission from me.
What makes man different from the other animals isn’t his ability to walk upright, it’s what walking upright granted us; the opportunity to gaze up at the heavens and wonder. Tilted fields.
“Nostalgia from an unknown land.”
Perhaps such a character as the man who is helpless to his thoughts is the progenitor to the daydreamer. It all begins with a pain behind his eye. Soon the pain is replaced by a twitch. The twitch grows in intensity until his eye jumps clean out of his skull. What is he daydreaming about? Utopia? His life perfected? The issue with having him be a daydreamer in the first place is that the catalyst to adventure would change nothing. He was daydreaming all the time until one eye popped out, then upon putting it back, it became lodged in backwards. Now he must spend the rest of his life half in daydream, half in wakefulness. Maybe instead of a story, I write a book of origins. The origin of daydreams, the original of thought.
A sea without shores.
The headrush from a cigarette send his mind careening upwards like the wisps of smoke. He sits on top of the world, on top of himself. I don’t like this aspect.
What he took for detachment was really a numbness that he fostered. Why live if you spend your entire life playing dead? You claim to be after the real truths of living, you stay in the deep end of the pool and you never splash about. Where’s the life in that? There’s a seriousness, an over-intellectualism that is characteristic of young men who believe they’re smart. His eyeball grew tired of all his vain philosophizing, and so abandoned its home within his head.
“Magnets don’t need to understand magnetism.”
We place all our naïve hopes of utopia at the end of the path of rationality. ‘If everyone behaved by the golden rule of rationality, all would be right in the world.’ Unfortunately, there is no such golden rule. The path to the god house does not exist independently of the individual. What propels man’s action more than any sort of rationality is his insatiable appetite for individuality and freedom. We would burn utopia down if it cost us our freedom. But utopia is not burdened by our notions of how to get there. We’re not even close. In fact, people will act irrationally, against what nature’s laws indicate to be in our best interest, just to prove our freedom. We will hurt ourselves to prove our freedom, prove our humanity, for our greatest fear is being indistinguishable. We wish to make generalities, and fear being summed up within generalities.
A future service where aspiring or blocked writers can be implanted within another person’s consciousness in order to give them character inspiration. They become parasites living in character-hosts, feeding off their experiences. They cannot, however, feel exactly what the host feels and may only speculate in that regard. Does one such parasite writer become trapped within a rotting brain for what may be an eternity of solitude? Perhaps the writer witnesses the host’s death and sees what happens as you die/after you die. Maybe the death part steers clear of our story and the parasite falls in love with the host.
Ideas are not created from thoughts alone. Ideas are the offspring of wisdom and method. Wisdom alone creates nothing, and method alone creates nothing worth creating. Only together are robust ideas formed.
The writer is but a daydreamer. This time he dreams of another entity who dreams. The defining of characters is the bestowing of characteristics to mud. Just as the first men and women were created by god, so too a writer has dreamed me, his character, from the clay of his mind.
That’s where the muses live; the overlap between wisdom and method.
Dream made me do it.
Objects maintain the impressions of their use. If the use was consistent, repetitive, and purposeful, the wear is beautiful. We love to see the effects of consistency; the worn down felt on a billiards table forming the shape of a Christmas tree from innumerable pool players racking innumerable games. The marks of consistency…we ourselves carry such marks with pride.
Ambition is the ambush of your goals. Goals are slippery, if you don’t dig your fingernails in they may just slip away like a fish from a fisherman. Dig your claws in, but only when the time is right.
Words, poems, and songs are just twine with which we bundle up a collection of lived meanings.
There was a little black mark by my ankle. Something barely under the skin. I dug and dug and dug and pulled out a flake. It was a scale, like a plant would have, like my avocado plant does have. I crushed it between my fingernails. It’s a bug, but it looks like a tiny piece of armour. Some parts are translucent and some parts are black. I was relieved when I got it out of my body.
Just a twig of lead wrapped in wood maybe some paint over the wood. This tool can change worlds, change minds, shape ideologies, and create stories that transcend the effects of time (at least for a little while). The hand grips the pencil, the mind grasps the concepts, and somewhere in between scribbles are imbued with power. Chasing after beauty, riding the slipping and sliding of a pencil.
Fellowship, love of craft, and pursuit of beauty. Such are the aims of art.
“It’s not where you take it from, it’s where you take it to.”
The conventionalization of the things we see. Such is poetry, such is art.
Courage, hope, and honour. These are things our lives lack. Honour has disintegrated, turned into sand in our hands.
Dreaming of a place where nobody needs me. That is where we think about what we all need, Friday night on the streetcar. It lurches along, crawling on its hands and knees. Every seat save for one is taken. Everyone’s uncomfortable because they’re wearing their thick winter parkas over slouched shoulders. We all dream about taking our coats off and putting our bags down. Some may stay out until three or four. Others might hit the sack at ten or eleven.
The story begins as a letter and becomes an interview. Is our character crippled by earnestness somewhat? A conflict between his means and his ideals? His circumstances and his principles? What of the alienation of labour? Perhaps our hero is the victim of the craft-less working class. Mechanical at heart.
That’s when I feel like I was born to ruin my soul. Only what is can be thought. We contemplate what is not through what is.
How do we prove the self exists? Is it even a necessary endeavor? What is gained by proving, beyond doubt, that the self exists? Perhaps when we can see no gain in the pursuit of a concept’s existential proof, that in itself is sufficient proof of the concept. In other words, our ability to take it for granted is proof itself.
There is a vault in the mind, a deep well perhaps, and access is not blocked by a reinforced door, but by our own ignorance. We don’t know where it is, why it’s there, or how to explore it. It’s dark and, as far as we know, we possess no light with which to illuminate its caverns. In this well, this vault, is some form of omniscience. Not the selfish omniscience of a deity or a narrator, but the memory of permanent oneness, and eternity of oneness. There we see that we are all, everything, cut from the same cloth, and the notion that the cloth has ever been cut is illusory.
My mother’s friend was present at my birth. She was one of the first people in this word to hold me and to look into my newly perceiving eyes. What she saw, according to her account, was an expression of unshackled wisdom, a serenity that was the realization of absolute unity. She watched this expression dissolve from my face as she held me, and I beheld the world ambushing me. That form of consciousness retreated to some dark and hidden place in my mind, and so began the life of simulacrums. Copies of perfect ideas, perfect shapes, perfect objects. The forms of our world are the retarded offspring of the eternal forms. At birth I was borne up out of the world of forms and into the world of their imitations. But such a world is not inaccessible to us here. The world of things eternal occasionally breaks through from the works of a philosopher-artist; those true artists whose chief-most pursuit is truth while beauty is merely the method of delivery for such truths.
There’s a part of me that feels like romance and the pursuit of romantic love is a sickness, one that has no cure. I appreciate what it brings me as I appreciate warming my hands by a fire when it is cold. But when the cold wind has rolled off to someplace else, and the flowers have begun to bloom, I can’t help but wonder whether the constant upkeep of the fire is interfering with my other pursuits. I still daydream about my voluntary sequestration, building a cocoon. It’s a fantasy devoid of proof—would that help me? Would it work? I’d leave the city, establish a more solitary life (more solitary than my current life is verging on complete solitude). Labour with my hands and work with my thoughts and my pencil. Simplify. Living the simplest of lives seems to involve the most complicated plans. Simplicity is not built, it is revealed. It comes with the tearing down of complexities. My current life’s future doesn’t excite me. Of course, I cannot say with any real certainty what lies ahead, but from what I do see, I will be regrettably full of regret. Life pulls us along faster. It says ‘faster’. We try to keep up. Occasionally we trip or we drop something. It doesn’t let us go back to retrieve what we lost.
Everything always. Let that be a title, or at least a subtitle. Or maybe just a line—if that.
My air tastes toxic as it leaves my body. The fumes of something poisonous, something from last night. I set out to drink myself into a stupor and I succeeded. If only I could do just one near perfect thing.
I pissed away 140 last night. He said he lost 150 in a poker game. Nothing will be written on my stone and no words will be said as my ashes are spread. There is nothing left to say. I hope to take care of my own remains anyhow.
Must we produce in quantity in order to produce something of quality? Or does quality just show up at your door every once in a while no matter what you do. Need we create all this sand in order to create the gold? Perhaps the gold is not of our creation, it somehow appears, impossibly, amongst the sand.
Find something to stop the tears from flowing. They’ll be there no matter what, we just have to find what keeps them from flowing, even if it’s only fleeting.
Just because you think you have finished something, does not make it art. There’s nothing wrong with craft. One’s handiwork, craftwork, is beautiful and vital, but do not misname it. Why elevate it needlessly? If something is created, you may step away from it. Step back, let it breath, otherwise, it will surely suffocate.
No art exists in what is incomprehensible. Where is the feeling? Why can’t I feel it? Or is it numbness and indifference and shame for my peers that you wish me to feel? If you do not successfully communicate feeling from creator to viewer, you have made craft and not art. Craft is beautiful! I love craft, except in times when it persists under the guise of art.
Some days it feels like a dam was built far upstream. The river that once slithered its way through my mind, my property, has become a riverbed of dry sand. The sand is soft, fluffy, very dry.
What do the landscape paintings at the gallery infect me with? The best ones, the impressionists, infect me with a sublime reverence for all that lies before me. Just how much is out there. It is all infinite. Everything is always.
A grain of sand is a mountain, and a mountain is the universe. Significance, more and more, seems arbitrary, and yet that’s all humans seem to be capable of; measuring significance. It cannot be measured, or rather, measurements are always off. We’re all using different rulers, with different units. Meanwhile, Art is the only thing that can bridge these hopelessly distant islands.
I don’t understand how we can have sculptural work in a gallery and not be permitted to touch it. Is that not the beauty of sculpture? A tactile medium? We understand so much of the world only through touch, our eyes just make something up when they see something that we cannot understand.
The ideal life would be one where I am recognized for my writing, but financially supported by working with my hands. I’ve always found pleasure in the meditative state that can be accessed through physical work.
Perhaps the remuneration for one’s art, one’s vocation, kills passion for work. Makes work a matter of paying the rent, makes our work a job. Keep your work and your job separate—though both should bring you joy. One’s work should inspire a deeper joy than ones job. Compensation for art kills any sincere desire to create art. It corrupts the artist’s intentions, creeps inside intentions of pure expression and sucks out the life, like a tapeworm. Compensation for sincere artistic expression is the parasite, keeping the host in a state of limbo between life and death.
There are other such parasites in life; pride, selfish ambition, envy—they keep us from living and they keep us from dying.
Love is a ship named revenge. All love takes is commitment to love. Even in loving ourselves, or what we’ve created, or what others have created—It requires commitment. I commit to trying to piece the world together. For when I was born, it shattered into pieces. No one else seems to notice the mess I’ve caused, so I sweep it up in the dark.
“I don’t know anymore, whether I am living or remembering.”
I dip into the sea, suspended there by some words or a tune, and when I climb out, drenched, the world has not paused. It has continued to turn, and I am just as confused, a state of constant.
I respect the sincerity of a song, and only the technique in so far as it does not obstruct the sincerity. Technique must compliment the sincerity of expression. Virtuosity is uninteresting without sincere sentiment.
The measure of a person’s greatness is with the alignment of their beliefs to their actions. If one can manifest their inner truth in action, those actions will be of sincerity, and will therefor be of greatness. Sincerity: heart manifested in hands.
Perhaps it is best to hold your heart in your hands, though it may get in the way of work.
The state of the world is so intuitively wrong. It seems our only options are to watch it burn and mourn, or light a match and sigh.
My dreams are filled with questions, curiosities burning and consuming. I wake up each morning with scars and burns from their fires.
Sometimes I have faith in the humanity of humans, other times I do not. Superiority disguised as altruism. Neon disguised as stained glass.
I am a spiral and I will always cover the same ground. Revolve and revolve, the only change is the size of the revolutions; they become smaller and smaller, more and more specific.
There are those among us who never stop dreaming of their own success, but are too scared to define what that means. Here there is a fear of success, not of failure. Failure is easy—in failure there is no height from which to fall. You are already at the bottom.
My dream is to try. I don’t mind much if I fail, for I’ll be failing at the right thing, the true thing. It’s better to fail at what is true than succeed with what is untrue.
Consumed by thoughts of a book I had finished reading, I walk in the cold and snow towards my home. On the curb, at the end of a pathway to a house, sits a box with sharpie scrawled on one of the flaps. It reads: “Free Books, Theatre and Film.” Despite having little interest in either genre, I paw through the stack of books inside the box. Second from the top is a book with a pink cover. Inspecting it, I see that is the same book I had just then been thinking about, though a different printing and seemingly a different translation. Flipping through it, I see doodles on the back page, and sandwiched in the appendix are little cutout illustrations of different kinds of birds from some magazine. A coincidence far too coincidental to be considered a coincidence.
Condemned to describe what it’s like, never how it is. I am blessed by the thoughts I have. Though they bring no value, they bring joy. Watching them is what I enjoy most in this world.
[Meaning presented in a way unburdened by method.]
I cannot enjoy poetry. At least the poetry within those books in the poetry section. With only few exceptions, it is incomprehensible to me. The poetry of song, however, moves me. Sometimes I wonder whether people enjoy poetry because it is indecipherable, because they can nod and clap and pretend they see the emperor’s clothes. People tend to look up to what they cannot understand, always blaming the reader, not the writer. Elevate only that which gives you great feeling, powerful feeling, that which moves you. Even if it’s not literature or art on the wall of a stuffy gallery. Elevate it, even if it’s just a bird, or a flower, or an old dog with a limp. My mind is simple.
The walls of my room must be tired of hearing my voice. I am sorry, keep ignoring me, for I will go on like this. There are some thoughts so universal that there is no point in even speaking of them. I’d list them, but I don’t see the point.
The world: maybe I misunderstood you long ago and you never bothered to correct me.
I am deeply pious, though, without faith.
“I people the universe with forms of my own likeness.”
It’s all so malleable and indifferent to our moulding. Heaven’s burning curtains lie somewhere between the light from the burning arrow that I plucked from my back, and the flames of hell growing tall enough to engulf the clouds. “Fullness without tears, peace without joy.”
Camus so accurately translates experience into feeling and feeling into writing that the reader can feel what he has felt. Words steeped in the blood of a heart. They set you out on a track, one that carries you, the heart’s locomotive. Your trip is dependent on your wheels staying interlocked with the tracks. Sometimes I can feel mine slipping. As you scream along the tracks, you see how much world extends out, inaccessible to you with the tracks that you’re on. Perhaps it would be wise to let the wheels slip. I’m not certain whether you can get back on the tracks once you’ve slipped away.
It’s paralyzing to see how much is beyond these tracks, how much is inaccessible, no matter how they are laid. Some trains only look at the rail ties as they travel, determined to hit the next one, unaware that reaching the next tie is inevitable.
The blue sky turns so pale near the horizon, almost white. I will reach such a sky one day, where the clear sky, all its blueness, becomes as white as clouds.
Loves that I am confident in are the ones that come back to visit me. The ones that just reappear. I know there is something in such loves. Bread and wine, monks of bread and wine.
Most of the bridges in this world are crumbling. Nothing will replace them, islands completely cut loose.
On the street I see two hawks, in the park a woodpecker. The park—across the pond I can see her house. I wonder if she’s watching the birds from her window. Maybe I spared her from my rot, my jealousy, my pettiness. And if you, her brother, attack me for how coldly I left her, I would feel so sorry. My leaving her has made me worse, and I would hate for my descent to cause yours. Do not stoop, birdwatcher’s brother. Do not worsen yourself just to punish me.
I have yet to learn to accept all that I cannot possibly learn. My ignorance depresses me. My ignorance will always linger no matter what I do. My ego, its size, makes this hard to accept. My ego will shrink but my ignorance will not.
There’s nothing quite like the city park, the bird’s call mingling with the siren of an ambulance, all this sound skipping over the pond like a stone.
Intelligence doesn’t seem to increase with years. Years add only experience, and to a mind incapable of gleaning insight from years, intelligence cannot be grown. Focus not on age or years, but on the ability to interpret feeling from all the indifference the world offers.
A lack of light kills things. Usually it takes a little longer, but my flowers died within a day or so. I live underground, and so there is no light. The little pot-windows have a coating on them that prevents passersby from looking into my room, and it also prevents the sun’s light from looking in. And so my flowers are dead. It’s odd: flowers smell so sweet when they are alive, and absolutely vile once they have died. Like people I suppose.
Halfway between good and bad, we are liable to be both, occasionally at the same time.
All this reflecting has perhaps turned this place into a room of mirrors. Last night I dreamt that I was in a room with all the different parts of me. I was the only one sitting. The place was a mess—garbage everywhere, food scraps, ripped pieces of paper. There was a huge window, and outside, the horizon was ablaze with the light of a disappearing sun. We had all been bathing together in a big tub. At first, there was some segregation, the women and men of my self were not to bath together, but the ruling was ignored and we all slipped into the water. We reminisced. One complained about being poor, having no more money, while another just pointed out the window to the sunset. A third commented on how enjoyable the bath was. It seemed like a goodbye party, but it wasn’t clear whether the person they were saying goodbye to was there. It was a real send-off. Maybe they were leaving, or dying, or had already died.
All this self-pitying…these groans and wails, can they turn into beautiful melodies if howled with sincerity? We wander through this world trying desperately to ignore all that surrounds us, especially the people. Occasionally, however, someone is impossible to ignore. Lately I have seen too many of these people.
It cannot be undone no matter how many times you undo it. The rope retains the memory of the knot.
The pure idea: is there some empirical measure of quality out there? How can a room full of dispassionate strangers be moved by the same spectacle? What moves a person? Why is it impossible to define? If I knew where to begin I wouldn’t have to. However, we must start somewhere, with some distant trace of a notion. A notion of where we wish to end up, and the hope that our wandering and rambling gets us there. It’s the simple matter of finding the edge of the world, for only when you leave something, when you step away, can you gain perspective of it. It’s that place way out there where the sky ends.
“We all have these thoughts, so what’s the use in talking about them.”
A book in my back pocket full of aphorisms—to what end? What I find fulfilling seems to be so divorced from what fulfills others, what others find valuable. The bridges in this world are crumbling. Just build bridges. Even if all you have to build them with is sand.
We hate our own ignorance and cherish the ignorance of others. I have somehow convinced myself that the only lovable things are invisible. I’m still learning how to correct this, how to clear the dust from my eyes. The things that we can see, and smell, and touch, and hear, are always so much harder to love. They are, to our minds, imperfect. In truth, it is our minds that are imperfect.
Man loves and fears most what he cannot see.
The world is a sermon falling on deaf ears. Do not mistake convention for truth.
Walking through the city with my father, we talk about my brother. I believe that we must knock everything off the table, let it all fall to the floor. Have a clear table, and only then, one by one, can we begin putting the items back on. Start with what is most important, put it in the middle. Your vocation, your wife, whatever it may be, that’s what you dedicate your life to. Once that’s done you may find you only have room for one or two more things on your table. I don’t think my brother has ever tipped his table over. If you ask yourself ‘why’ enough times, you’ll get to the root of things. Why do this, why do that, why think this, why be here; eventually some notion of a path appears, and walking it becomes unavoidable, impossible to stray from.
I have spent almost my entire life leaving the ones that I love. I don’t think I’ll ever stop. Sometimes I fear that I am driving myself towards some cheap brand of insanity. I have a growing respect for the visibly insane, I attribute some sort of clarity to those people yelling in the streets.
If you drink alone, you never have to fight to cover the bill.
It has occurred to me that what I consider progress may be a mere twiddling of thumbs. Perhaps I am in total stasis, progressing no where, daydreaming of a meaningful life. Surely meaning cannot simply exist upon my attributing of it, but experience would indicate that it does.
How do I define grace? I can see it, I’ve had it (though only a handful of times throughout my life), but I can’t describe it. The concept can only be referred to by its corresponding manifestation, by a graceful gesture.
Can wisdom be created in method, or is it always the other way around? A painter touches brush to canvas and all meaning and content is created within the process, perhaps? Times when it is not the result of some formula constructed in the mind, prior to the idea’s delivery.
I am my parents plus the time in which I lived, what else? Not so much do I wish to know my own identity, as the meaning of identity itself?
To feel the weight of everything you cannot know, and be not crushed by it, finding strength in the hopelessness. Identity is found in the death of self.
There is a sourceless sadness that sinks deep within my gut. It isn’t painful, though it strangles me—from the inside. I feel like a child trying to hide his tears from his father, a child who hasn’t seen his mother for so long. No self-pity, no wallowing, no misery, I do not wish to sink. The pleasure that numb sadness affords me is overwhelming, as a man being strangled slowly loses feeling and then consciousness.
It’s hard to like anything we make. We must keep building so that one day our skills line up with our tastes. We must make work that’s better than ourselves. I have said this before. Remember the things that you deem worth repeating.
Keep walking until you find the country where the sun never sets. A few more miles—it doesn’t always feel so close. Even the shadow of a cross is in the shape of a cross.
There is a bridge where I could spend the rest of my days. A few highways, a few train tracks slither underneath. On one side is a city on the other is a lake. You can see the hot exhaust rising through the cool air over the highway, and the sun slowly setting into a murky horizon. Thin strokes of clouds in the sky, as if painted by a giant brush. Birds, now just blackened silhouettes, drift over the highway, and the moon is nowhere to be seen. The long tails of jet airplanes destined for elsewhere streak the sky. Two such tails form an ‘X’ above the sun’s nascent light. Maybe it’s there to mark the spot, or to warn us that it’s prohibited. Why we only look up when a star rises or falls I do not know.
Do we kill pain, or does pain kill us? Do we outgrow pain, or does pain outgrow us?
A crazy old Serbian man started talking to me as I was walking down the street. He asked me where I was going, and I told him I didn’t know, that I was just wandering. He said that’s good.
My hands, fingers interlocked, look like a pile of snakes.
The laws of free-will; they are strict and their punishments are severe. The judge, jailer, and prisoner are one.
Towards the end of yesterday, a heavy illness set over me. It felt like I was being buried in dirty snow, felt like my skin had been peeled away, and my flesh exposed. Even my clothes moving over my skin caused me pain. My appetite disappeared without trace, and my lethargy grew by the minute. Eventually I boarded the train heading home, a trip that felt like it lasted the better part of a day. The train paused at each stop for much longer than usual, leaving the doors open, and the cool air rushing in. Sickness and pain were joined now by frustration. Eventually, and without ease, I got home. With urgency I have never felt before, I went straight to bed, and lay there aching and unconscious for the next twenty hours. My dreams were vivid and intense, and I wanted to write them down, but I was too weak, and so as my slumber forgot me, I forgot the dreams that slumber brought.
Illness clears your mind of the usual trivialities. If it is not one pain it is another, until we begin to feel pain from things that aren’t painful. In those times, real pain is an angel saving us from self indulgence. We are at the mercy of our environment, not the other way around.
One need not be cruel to be serious, and one need not be earnest to be sincere.
Why is it that folk art, the most minimalist in technique, is the most moving and profound? Perhaps the artist’s expression is less burdened by context and form. The form is whatever is available to him at the time. There is something added when so much is taken away. We are pushed into more interesting realms when our limitations are staggering. Perhaps I see superiority only because I see what is relatable; comradery among the unskilled or untechnical.
It is exactly those types of artistic expressions that are so difficult to create. They communicate very deep and human feelings so beautifully and succinctly. Too often technique is is emphasized more that a craftsman’s sincere and communicable feeling. Perhaps there is no such thing as a feeling that can be communicated—at least without bastardization. No such thing as translation without loss.
I dreamt that there were two hats hanging by my door.
The wind blows up and down the city streets indifferently. It whips up my nerves as if hitting a flame, and I can feel my shoulders ache from hunching over in the cold air. Street signs shake and those trees that line the streets in neighbourhoods that tourists like to visit, are bowing down to where the wind will be.
What if I don’t wish to tell a story? Is this merely a feeling of intimidation, or of laziness? What about collecting interesting instances, sentiments, is there value in that?
I guess when someone doesn’t show up to their own goodbye party they have already left.
When the cafe brings out the candles it becomes a bar, and I trade in my coffee for beer. It’s my favourite moment. The tavern’s twilight, the dawn of an evening out. The candles are lit and anything porcelain turns to glass.
One ought not to be timid when putting pencil to paper, but ‘measure twice cut once’ also applies to words. Good writing can only come from good thinking. However, where do we do the measuring, only in our minds? Surely some of my most accurate measurements have been with words on paper. That’s the beauty of words: they can convey meaning, but they can also create it.
Some paper is for measuring, while other paper is for cutting. And, consistent with the axiom, there is twice as much measuring paper as cutting paper. I yearn for a day when I am done my measuring, when I can trust my hands to cut freely and accurately. Such dreams are dreams of mastery. A day when I can begin to cut my paper and throw it out the window.
To finish every interaction with another in such a way that they feel like they’ve gained something from it. They feel indebted to you, though you insist there is no such debt.
Being shoved is only bad when it’s in the wrong direction.
I wouldn’t say that I drink too much. I’d say that I drink the perfect amount. Rarely do I drink to ridiculous excess, but often do I drink.
Do not mistake my always for sometimes and my sometimes for always.
We say these things without dispassion.
One could easily say “find out what you don’t like in this life and do its opposite”. Such things are likely to be agreeable. I agree with the initial sentiment; find out what you don’t like. I would also say that there is no use in looking for its opposite either. All it amounts to is what you don’t understand and what you think you understand. We understand neither. The arctic and the antarctic are equally inhospitable.
Anything but dread is an illusion, but there is joy in illusion. Even our notions of the end are locked up in the middle. One cannot reason with it.
Her skin is milk and blue snakes swim through it.
Some people are simply miserable, and their misery causes misery in others. Keep it locked away, up there in a tower, inaccessible; sometimes even to you.
Like an animal who has driven itself into a corner and from there threatens anyone who walks past.
The sun swings through the sky like a blade and cuts up the otherwise indiscriminate time into days.
“Time was like water and I was the sea.”
The priorities of others, of strangers, seem to be unreconcilable with my own. I’m sure that to many my priorities are the same. But they are so familiar to me that I’ve learned to live with them, live amongst them, like the grout among tiles.
Shall we ask what we’re looking for before we speak? I hope to be as clear as glass, and so I am as fragile as glass. Another voice echoes my song, it is only the little voice of woe, trapped in my ear.
Young men wander the street looking for a neon shepherd.
This illness, with its incessant and painful cough, has nearly subdued me. I hardly have a breath between the fits. What is the point in having a bottle too delicate to use?
Walking out of the ceramics museum this evening I was struck by the beauty of the lights shining against the wall of the Royal Ontario Museum. Across the street the lights cast shadows that danced atop the limestone flourishes. Life is beautiful enough to find fulfillment in mere perception. The sky of twilight glowing with a deep, dark, navy blue emptiness. In my eyes it is almost grainy, like an old photograph. As I look on at the lights illuminating the old wall, I am reminded of how warm this city can be if you allow it to be. The world is not generous, though it can seem it sometimes. It is not selfish, though it can be it sometimes. It’s too much to ask to live a life where all we do is think of falling. Life is too hard when all you see is descent.
Rank and title stifle a person’s ability to speak to what they can do. To demonstrate, with strong character, who they are and what they do. Reducing oneself to a title is easier, but as is often true with things that are easier, does nothing but denigrate the hard work that earned you such a title. Do not be a collector of titles, be a collector of will, of experience, of insight. Spoken like a man poor in titles.
The process is always incomprehensible. That’s when you know when something ceases to be process work; when your work is comprehensible in the simplest terms. Many mistake their process work for publishable work, work that is ready to be thrown out the window and into the street.
See people as the little children they once were. Do not do so in order to belittle them or reduce them, do it to maintain solidarity with them. For despite their alienating actions, they are just children, we are just children, and children are much easier to empathize with. Children are much easier to forgive.
Everyday, more and more, I grasp my ever growing insignificance. It’s very frightening and also a relief. It’s a relief when we realize how low the stakes really are. They barely come up off the ground. That’s the purpose of our conscious minds: to escape into a realm where the question of significance is insignificant, and we are left alone to invent our lives without it.
The finest sieve is always at the bottom.
Glad to be living, even when it is in the bondage of all these chains I made. The cold steel against my skin wakes me up. It sharpens my good sense—if there was any. You bring me into a world where I am condemned to interpret and yet have it so all my interpretations fail me. Where is the ruler, and with which units do we measure our significance, and against whom? The significance a pig feels within a slaughterhouse.
I am a tree with shallow roots. They say that God is good. Perhaps what is good is God, and so he was created, but our perceiving the evidence of his existence.
The only conduit is our senses, allowing us to understand and interpret goodness.
I have been leaving the ones I love for as long as I can remember. It is good practice. Eventually I return, not the same in my eyes, but the same in the eyes of everyone else.
May I never be quenched until I drink up the sea. We must let ourselves go, even if occasionally that means letting ourselves go under some sort of cloud or shadow. It can be good for us.
Forget everything for a moment. What do you want? An eye filled with night? Or choose to see light more brightly.
This odd pair of eyes I have so severely distort the world they absorb. The world seems immeasurable. Even the most wholesome, or intellectually wholesome creations—a book, a song—are trivial distractions, seemingly. It’s all the same; the man playing games on his phone, the woman reading on the subway, it’s all the death of time, and how it’s killed seems to make no difference.
Toasting to a ship, faraway, reaching a shore where people do not talk like this.
Bright-skied overcast, light drizzle, the kind of days that nourish my soul.
Don’t let story get in the way of a good truth.
I am utterly overwhelmed and financially unendowed. My margins are all, there will be little room to wiggle in coming months. Somehow I find a way to wriggle myself into the dead of night anyhow. It’s my nature, I am a worm.
I refuse too often to see things for how they are, instead I opt to see them for what they mean, and what they do. It’s an unfortunate way to look at the world, but it’s so common. Like the reflection in the stainless steal draught head; all the lights and faces of the bar bend and twist as if they were reflected in quicksilver.
Here I go, each day, pushing my luck. When will it stretch and break?
I’m pulling my own teeth. Sometimes that’s what this writing becomes, pulling out my own teeth, one by one. Spitting them on the ground, at first proud, then comes shame. I still have daydreams of the Navy, of a simple life. If there as such a thing I’d like to have it. Sailing out, constantly leaving, returning only to places I’ve never been before. Dreams of distant ports, of long days. My days become shorter and shorter, blinking makes another pass. Daydreams of pubs in foreign lands with local debauchery. Carousing amongst so many with opposite natures to mine. Pride, not blind pride, but a sense of responsibility for everything I say and do, maybe improving.
Rolling through each day, behind the eight ball. Rolling with the punches, rolling out of bed. A stone in the pavement of this never-ending road. It’s always under construction, and with each new stone it becomes more unfinished. There’s no sense in asking ‘where will it lead’?
Some days it can be very hard to have love for strangers. Good things. For I am not a mouse, otherwise I would’ve long ago been caught in a trap. I am a little devil, I look at every girl I know, every girl I see.
I don’t know where groundedness comes from, but sometimes I have it and other times it leaves me without so much as goodbye. I miss it when it departs.
Wave a little paw and withdraw, recoil, slip back into some hole. A mouse who talks to himself as if he were a lion. “An ape with angel plans.” A mouse will chew-off its own leg to free itself from a trap. A lion would never do such a thing, they are too proud, too honour-bound. I am a mouse, and I would jump at the opportunity to chew off my own leg.
I yearn for loneliness more than any warm body. The kind of loneliness that doesn’t yearn for a warm body, the kind of loneliness that is complete. Loneliness thins my blood, making it flow faster. A mouse finds strength in its timidity. Do not mistake it with humility, for the mouse is not humble. He is a proud lion until he meets the trap.
I live on an island. It’s very small and I am unable to swim. I dip my toes in the water often, and the fear of drowning gives me pleasure. There are many other islands strewn about the sea. I can see them in the distance. They move and disappear, and new ones appear. They’re so far away. Many are bigger than mine, and if I could swim I’m not sure I’d make it, whether I’d want to. Maybe I’d swim to where the ocean ends, to the falls, where the basin turns over, spills over.
I’m selfish and I’m proud and I’m lonely. At this moment, and any other, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Death is a whole lot of sand. I need to know: is there an immutable, indisputable good that exists outside of interpretation? Can it really be that the only empirical knowledge is that there is no empirical knowledge? We say that one cannot have perspective enough to ask the accursed questions and also live well. Such questions cannot be answered and so they drive us mad and consume our lives. The very questions that concern living well, when asked, make it impossible to live well. We belong in the bondage of freedom. They are medusa questions, they turn a man to stone.
Would it be better if I had never thought of such things? To live forever under a blue moon? To save reflections for calm streams and bar windows. Just keep asking ‘to what end’ until you meet your own.
A place so cold that even the pines shed their needles. What doesn’t kill us makes us want to kill ourselves. We have to make time for our joy.
Before she described her dream, she asked me of mine. I was on a large street, the sun was shining down, I was warm. A few paces down the road was a crosswalk where a family was crossing. The family was all grown—mother and father quite old, sister, son and wife. The son started beating his sister and dragging her along the dry pavement by her hair. Her hair was brown. There was commotion and screaming, but by the time I caught up to them, night had fallen. The darkness was so thick that I couldn’t see my own hands. There were others searching for him too. I could sense that he was close, watching us, but I knew it was hopeless in the dark.
Our lives are stones tossed into a pond; we don’t know if we’re the ripples or the stone now gone. The stone must’ve caused the ripples, but we’ll never know. The stone is somewhere below, rock-bottom or sinking still. The ripples are impermanent and they will reach the shore. They dread the shore. Who hurled this stone?
One must keep a finger on the pulse, on the source. Always stretch back to the trunk, to ensure we don’t collapse. If you let anything inform itself, a branch learning from a branch, it will break. Read the pulse from the neck, not from the finger. Look at people, their behaviour, their philosophies, their creations. Ultimately, we must study what we believe to be good and what is moving.
“The sign then makes us forget the thing signified.”
We don’t know where the stone has sunk to. One must have patience with this world, for it will constantly test us.
Discipline is the heart of creativity. Genius may seem like a spark to others, but we have no idea how long such a genius has been rubbing those two sticks together.
The cold breath of winter hits this city like breath hits a window. The breath of winter angers me, the wind is an invisible obstacle that torments wanderers without warning or apology. Do we not have enough invisible forces affecting us as it is? Must we suffer in more insufferable ways? Must a short walk be painful? Bring back the slow and blissful rains. If I was only embers I would be glad for the wind.
Music is as much about silence as it is about sound. One must learn how to compose silence in order to compose beautiful music. The moments without are just as important as the moments with.
Thoughts in the mind are like birds on the wire; fleeting glimpses and constant departures.
We come to truth with a leap, and so we are unable to trace our steps.
I have found peace in the company of strangers. I have not yet found peace among friends, strangers are easier to love. It is love within your mind, love of your mind. It is auto-eros to love strangers as strangers, striving to keep them that way.
Potential is the fire, not a fire of destruction, but a fire of creation and devotion and work.
I have heard things. Sometimes I tell you about them, but I do not know anything. I can’t seem to know.
We operate within a world of shells, of hollow things, and the shells are only filled when we touch them. Their essence climbs inside like a hermit crab.
A woman at a bar gives me a piece of paper, she looks like an old painting; stuffy, British, beautiful in a dignified sort of way. She looks like an old painting of a gentlewoman. I prefer the paintings of the prostitutes, they always look so awake and mortal.
So many women have perfect skin. It seems their birthright. Mine is weathered and scarred from acne, prickle bushes, the careless use of knives, and god knows what else. I once wished that I had none of these nicks and scratches on my surface. Now I have both the nicks above, and all the scars beneath. My body is the envelope to a letter that I am still composing. It will be worn out by the time I’m done.
A woman I met at a bar tells me that she’s given up on answering things and finding things, trying to trap them in rules and allegories. She sees that her pail is full of holes, and is setting off to repair those before she returns to fetching fresh water. She is filled with anguish, she strives to know but her mind has given up.
Do not confuse catharsis with purpose. Do not confuse the good with the pleasant. The pleasant can be good, but the good is not always pleasant. Sometimes the good is very unpleasant. My purpose seems to be creating placeholders—boxes to fit meaning into. I try to make my boxes out of words, but often they do not hold the things I wish they could. Sometimes what I set out to clarify only becomes cloudier. Who are these boxes for? Me and me alone? Can they hold anything that another may see? Or is it that when a stranger opens one, they merely see an empty box? Will I ever water the garden of another? To me it is a clear pond, deep and still, but to another it may be a shallow and murky swamp infested with leeches and rot.
Composition is such a daunting notion. All my “and thens” are easy, and I fear my life has become a run-on sentence. Sentenced to run on.
We ought not to speak too openly about what we do by moonlight. Keep your correspondences with the devil and the angels to yourself, otherwise they won’t talk with you anymore. Even drunkenly, if I refer to my writing, I rob myself of future satisfaction without even having completed that which gives me satisfaction. Counting chickens when I don’t yet even have eggs. We are animals and we need validation, but do not seek it for what you do by moonlight, until you bring it into the day’s light, complete.
A correspondence that I keep, but my pen pal never writes back. The written word is not meant to be spoken, for if I could speak it, I would have no use for writing it. There’s a reason why writing and preaching are separate professions. The two practices find their source in different organs, though similar ones.
My walks have become too purposeful, too aimed. The clearest clarity seems only to arrive when we stop striving for clarity. It often escapes me—such speed—before I can transfer it to my mad notes. Any note then, exists on the cusp of truth, for truth is only in the mind, and words can only remind us of it; only signify it, not be what the sign is signifying.
Ramblings of an idle man. This is a fools notebook, so if you do not wish to hear the thoughts of a fool, stop now.
It’s not that my life has become any less shameful, it’s just that I have ceased to feel shame for it (for the most part). Faith justifies faith, belief supersedes and creates its own belief. I have felt shame, but I believe in everything I’ve done, for it has been done. Religion, faithfulness, a predisposition towards faith seems innate within people. It’s a pervasive and unavoidable gene, and its worst arrangement is blind faith in oneself. One either finds a religion or becomes one.
There is a state where everything you touch becomes gold, because all that your eyes see is golden.
Human decency will never be defined. In lieu of the American Presidential election, it is especially important to remember this fact. Decency is a sense, an entirely subjective sense. People have gotten so far away from the source, from any notion of the original ‘why’. Politics may well be boiled down to whether you prefer the colour red or the colour blue. Meantime, those who are painted red or blue can never strip away that paint. Be careful not to let yourself be painted by another. We have drifted so far away from a government that was invented to serve its people, that now all it serves are punishments.
Believing that words will uncover, blow away the dust and pigeonhole the truth. What are our thoughts made of? Words? Perhaps something in-between words and images—what is such a substance? thoughts I suppose. If books are the lanterns to the dark room that is the human world, do they not shine through a filter? Glass stained by the conceiver of such words? Ancient light that leaves much of the room still in shadow.
My mother sent me a note. She does not approve of my plans to join the navy. The ripples of fascism become waves and strike the shores of the world—she is scared. I don’t blame her, I am scared too, but I am more stubborn than I am scared. The stubborn goat always seeking higher ground. Is it to look down on others, or to better see them? I see a sign in the distance.
I cannot live at the mercy of my doubts. I must dive headlong, heals up, into every decision. There is no toe-dipping in a life. A stubborn goat looking for higher ground—not for transcendence, merely for the view. I hope there is no fog.
Does the thing signified exist, or is it only signs? If we could takeoff and fly above all this what would we dream of next?
It is only in retrospection that I notice any pattern to my life. Living presently or looking ahead into the future I am blind. It is from the patterns of retrospection that I assume my own character. Suppose we give no credence to such assumptions, is it there that lies freedom? I think not; there is no freedom in obedience to inconsistency.
“The things I’ve done in my past, that’s exactly what they are.”
Self is a tricky notion, one that we should maintain a loose grip on. Do not let it go entirely, and do not grip it so tight that it suffocates. A version of ourselves exist in every mind we have impressed upon. A self that lacks a certain dimension, but a self no less. Some of those selfs I have left behind I am not eager to visit. To be sent back, reduced, trapped within a former self; the old impressions we have impressed. Strangers are the best company besides the friend.
Replace the desire to dominate others with the desire to dominate your practice. Be of use to yourself. That which you strive for, you become. A pursuit is a chapter, and I must complete it, otherwise anyone around me will suffer from my bitterness.
How can anyone keep themselves from carousing, from walking the streets at night hoping the world will be different than it is? Carousing is my rest from work. In sloth I do not find rest, only stress and self-hate. I like to watch all these evenings unfold, hoping I can be a part of one. Watching lives intertwine.
On the way to an interview with the navy I notice the stillness in the streets. There are fewer people around and there is a sort of insulated feeling, like I’m wearing earplugs. It feels as though there is something mediating the world for me. Everything is distant. I’m wearing my grandfather’s suit, and I reminded of my days working at the bank. The jacket now seems too small in the shoulders.The stillness, almost stuffiness, sustains.
Typical, I am an hour early for my appointment. Killing time is what I do best, why waste time at home when time could be so sweetly killed here in the world.
People are so good at building facades. I don’t mean that metaphorically, I mean literally building the front facades of shops, of houses, too often over representing what’s offered inside. Even inside, things get so separated from their function from their original purpose. We find ourselves operating in a world built for the observer, the passive, nothing made for interaction or purpose. Why have a screen over a chalkboard if it remains static, why the waving flourishes on the ceiling. Anything else would do just as well.
As I wait for my interview to begin I overhear a conversation: apparently there is a influx of new recruits in the forces all across Canada. I wonder why, and I wonder whether I have been caught up in the same wave, swept away in a mass, reacting to something too big to understand. Frustration, young men will forever be frustrated and their actions will always be drastic it seems. Something big and invisible and nameless influencing all the young men across the nation.
Identity, to a great extent, is history. I am this way because I am this time. What of those that transcend their time, the great ones that examine our natures so closely that their discoveries, whether poetic or scientific, are not subject to the effects of time.
I continue to wait. Sometimes time can magnify your nerves. I wonder how far I will go into this, whether I’ll see all this through. Will they be able to defer my entry until September? Each stake seems higher when it is punctuated by forms and appointments. A code, a set of practices for every action—no room for intuition. I’ll just save all my intuition for myself, for my evenings, for my evening’s work.
This could be the fodder, or it could be the pail of water. I feel, in my soul, that this flame is eternal. Eternal for as long as my immortality lasts—for as long as my mortality takes.
Some find a mirror in the looking glass, others create it through their work. Is it not the pursuit of seeing your own reflection in something that is not yourself?
Fear is a seed that grows quickly once planted. Anything motivated by fear creates more fear.
There is something that makes this world, any part of it, easier, and even joyous. Think of the world, everything that happens within it as concerning you personally. Like you are the owner of a shop, the finest sieve catching what your staff misses. Strive to be the finest sieve, to feel responsibility for the world, and you will bring yourself joy. It is a certain breed of awareness and I am not endowed with it. I have met those that are, however. It doesn’t much matter what your role is, or even more so, what isn’t your role. Everything is your role. Live that way and joy will come easier.
There is an arbitrary framework around everything, so do not lose sight of the ‘original why’. Walk through the world as if you own it, as if you are its servant, as if you are personally responsible for all that takes place. Service to this world, to reality, to your fellows. Marry wisdom to method.
A truth concealed in clarity. Sometimes you must muddy the waters a bit to stir something up.
Perhaps a man is at his best when he is at his most idle. A self-inflicted idleness. I don’t mean idleness in being free from work, I mean idleness in being free from a ‘job’. Jobs shorten your life, work lengthens it. Some people spend all their years at jobs and never do any work. Work can be done in idleness. Work is purposeful, work is passion. Idleness forces us to give thought to what we really are. Idleness is not work’s opposite.
Fighters are admired, among other things, for their ability to take a punch, to withstand a blow. We ought to value the same resilience when it comes to other pain. Insults, take them, get good at taking them. Learn to like them almost. Let them go, but first let yourself go.
We must take the punch, even punches to the heart. Bask in it, feel at home as it hits you and it will disappear.
Semantics: one of the worst diseases of man.
Such vivid dreams of such old feelings. I’m worried; I drink too much too often. My nights disappear without the usual midnight mirages behind eyelids shut. When I do not drink, my sleep is deep and my dreams are exhausting. Dreams of fear and shame and jealousy and lust. Dreams of people of past times, feelings for people long gone. I don’t want to depend on the bottle in order to protect myself from my unconscious mind. I numb my mind, I chill my roots in a drink. When the frost hits, I am free from what they may absorb. I let my leaves fall, not thinking of where they land.
The more familiar I become with the world around me the more alien it appears. The more impossible it seems. It cannot be this way, but I know of no other way.
The young lion and I were separated by glass, I felt safe there. It looked at me with confidence, but I stared its eyes into submission. It’s young, not yet fully grown, my dream tells me without having to tell me. I have power over it, a power that fills me with guilt. Another wave of guilt upon seeing its weakness, its youth. Guilt and the pride.
We are dying for a cure.
It kills them to look for the cure.
There is a certain pleasure in destruction. I’m convinced of it. Cigarettes serve as a great example of this feeling; it is a form of self-flagellation, self-annihilation, the pruning away of a dead or dying part of ourselves. How clumsy we are with the sheers, we cut the body when we mean to cut the mind.
Why else would I keep up with this poisoning. At least, while I’m young, I can bear it, afford it, somewhat. I’ll postpone the costs and keep spending, keep spending my time in bars and beside bottles. My future self has much slack to tighten.
I am my father’s son I am my mother’s son, in almost all ways I am of their ways.
I feel only guilty for my future death. Guilty like when we fall asleep before completing what we woke up to do. Some people see me as quite whole, look closer and you will see that I am full of holes, many of which I bored myself.
I suck my lemons dry. Take what is ripe and good and drain it.
Do not let your identity affect your perspective. Who you are should have no intentional bearing on who you are.
God help us, for we do not help ourselves.
One who is one person to one person is one to many.
Do not mistake being specific with being interesting. Those who are consistent are interesting. Do not confuse identity with depth.
Some women have power, you can feel it, see it. Such power is intoxicating.
“All of my pain found a partner in that room.”
Pain that is indescribable, so elusive I’m not certain it’s even painful, and I wonder whether the shelters I’ve built protect me or just numb me. Is this pain, the driving wind, is it happiness? For happiness cannot be found in shelters.
The plant and the stone: may its roots only grow when it outflanks the stone. Heavy floods will not tear the plant from the soil, for its obstacle has become its anchor.
I take back all that I remember and let down all those that I have forgotten.
The light is only created when it is given. So give light, and later look back and see a path illuminated.
Truth, truths that I feel, none that I know, appear like birds in the sky. Not to me, but before me.
Does the lamp glow in order to draw attention to itself or to the world around it? Is the desire to glow, to use up ones oil, in the pursuit of self-illumination, or to illuminate the room? What’s my rush? Is my lantern to last the week, or am I to burn it up in a single night. I was given only enough oil to last the week, and I burnt so much of it that it only lasted the night.
I’m not sure whether I’ve never prayed or whether I have always been praying. Revering always. Always in the face of such potent immensity. We are naturally honest, we have no choice in the matter. Lies do not exist, for the truth is always communicated, even in lies.
Symmetry is correspondence; balanced communication between parts. We chronicle our search for truth. We love to see how elusive and obvious it is/has become.
Is the truth created, or clouded, by belief?
Last night on my way home from the bar I noticed a woman trying to awaken a collapsed man. He was lying in a flower bed beside the side walk in front of a care facility for the mentally unwell. He was drunk, sick, and looking like he was about to choke to death on his own vomit any minute. I stopped to help. It became immediately clear that this woman did not know the man. We pulled his limp body upwards so that he sat, wavering, on the edge of the flower bed. I rubbed his back so that he would puke, which he did. We asked for his address, as this woman’s friend was driving and offered to drive him to wherever his home was. He could hardly speak, and what he managed to get out was incoherent and aggressive. I called the ambulance and they took it from there.
Truth is indescribable it seems—just babble. We cannot use thoughts to illuminate truth, rather truth illuminates thoughts. Truth is not collected or found, or identified. Truth is only experienced, and it cannot be revisited in memory. We may only allude to truth, try to drum it up in the minds of others, with anecdotes and stories. Otherwise truth will only be felt by the writer, for he has reached it only through his own story.
That which is unwritten, what is left out, is as important to a composition as what is left in. Few understand this. I know of this as fact, but I don’t yet know whether I understand it.
We make the mistake of supposing our minds are somehow ahead of our bodies, that the mind is able ascend to altitudes our bodies simply cannot. This is not the case, for there is no separation. Altogether, without distinction, do they compose our reality. Our thinking mind often has to catch up to our mind-body. To align the parts is to live well. Such is the nature of truth; when something’s essence matches its manifestation.
An idea in the night swoops by with such speed, like a bird made of lightening. It often seems hopeless to try to capture them. The most I’m ever left with is a feather. Occasionally ideas are created by method, so that the mere chasing after creates that which I wish to catch. The pencil’s stroke illuminates the mind again with another bird. Maybe I ought to leave myself alone for a while, stop all this prying and prodding.
It seems I’ll never be able to open the box. I’ll pry and pry until the box becomes a pile of splinters.
The subway comes to a halt on the tracks. We’re above ground and there are houses and gardens on my left. It’s beautiful. The weather is mild though bright, and there’s an insulating wetness in the air from the morning’s rain, though I only know this from my walk to the station earlier. Now from the window of the train, my eyes are the only organ left to take in the moment. The other passengers mind their own business, noses in books or eyes locked to screens. A few take the occasional glance out the window, sighing audibly in protest of the holdup. Someone has jumped onto the tracks, and has likely been crushed to death by the train ahead of ours. Chopped up by the dull guillotine that is a train’s wheels at 100 km an hour screaming over the steel rails. Such a beautiful day.
To every bird soaring up there in the sky, there must be a very real earth to return to. We consider air as the absence of a thing, though it is just as water is to a fish. It is the ocean through which every human swims and lives out all their days. We are all in the same ocean of air, underwater, slowly drowning in what sustains us. The pressure is immense, and it increases as we sink.
We require distance in order to obtain perspective. I must forget one of my songs for a time, in order to discover it again, and truly resonate with the feeling I intended to communicate. Is completion only to honour the process, or is a sense of completion an invention of the ego? I have an ego too big for my room, I’m sure, but I have never completed anything in my life. Completion doesn’t exist in this world.
I created a love that is infallible. It’s for a stranger, one that I am unable to convert to terms of familiarity. Oh how my heart jumps at the thought of a madonna that can only be seen in the distance, out of the corner of my eye, disappearing down a hallway. I torture myself, creating stories of female perfection, pasting over the agreeable silhouette until I have created a woman after my own mind. I invent my own nervousness around her, my hands turn cold and my heart goes on pumping its blood loudly. I speak to her, not even sure what I said. I know I did myself no justice, probably ranted about something neither of us care too much about. Painfully interested in the idea of someone, but incapable of converting that idea into reality for fear of sullying it.
Eyes like the edge of a thin cloud, you can still see a bit of blue sky in behind. An odd longing. It has nothing to do with her, and that’s the most pathetic part. It’s merely a longing for a break from myself, but there is no such reprieve.
Without the bottle these past few days, without drinking myself into exhaustion, I awake each day with a certain excitement. It’s uncontrollable and I feel like screaming—and so I feel an urge to sedate myself once again. It’s not joy, nor is it sorrow or anguish. It’s a sort of “well then”.
Why go on doing anything, why toil, why tally, why explore my vague ideas of meaning, if it means suspending my enjoyment of all that is before me. These notes, these songs, soon I’ll have mountains of them, and I’ll be no closer. A collection of stamps without ever having sent a letter. A collection as vast as it is pointless.
Trapped within our own opinions of ourselves, for whatever we truly expect of ourselves we will become. These are not desires, these are expectations. Desires do nothing but shelter our minds from our realistic expectations.
I love the tiles at the subway station—blues, greens, reds, some just that hospital wall yellowy white. Some mornings they are enough.
With the darkness climbing over everything in the afternoons these days, my daily walks have become less than daily. It may explain the cloudiness of my mind. My whole life is about trying. I try and try and try. Whether I am a stone or the water, it doesn’t matter. All that seems to matter is what I do as I sink to the bottom.
“My heart’s in the strangest place.”
I am a stone. A hollow stone, though I still sink. I haven’t changed, forgive me for being glad. And the sea touches the moon, but you already know this. You knew it when the moon was born, you knew that it would meet the sea. Sometimes the moon vanishes, only returning when it melts the cloud. My moon is gone, and clouds. The branches of the tree become twigs further out. They all mingle with the sky.
The fact that it has been said before won’t stop me from saying it, even when my voice rings out anemically and my guitar repeats itself.
Why have I invented this predicament? I suppose it’s a release form the clutches of boredom.
“Glory, lovelier to desire than to possess.”
Those eyes aren’t blue, they’re silver. Silver reflecting a room of blue.
Life on a train: it keeps going down the track, occasionally you come up above ground and see the sky. I’m not yet sure why. I’m waiting for one of those moments now. The city is still lit by the sun, streetlights turn on anyways, eager to shine their light, even when it is redundant.
“Imagination: unveiling what is invisible to itself, without rubbing off its nature.”
When you record the imagination, through art or prose or music, you rob it of is nature. It becomes a reflection, it becomes a message. It becomes sent. There are too many messages in this world, too many have been sent. Too many voices, though I hope to hear them all.
Operate on the assumption that everyone around you is more intelligent and more knowledgeable. You will find that, given the chance, people will surprise you with their minds. Every mind seems beautiful and masterful in some way or another. This practice will ensure that you never stop learning, for their is nothing closer to death than killing your curiosity.
“Not so much to be loved, as to love.”
We must allow our minds to have empty spaces, full stops, like the space between the notes of a composition.
“Too often we use our findings as a drunkard uses a lamppost; for support instead of illumination.”
Never have a full mind. Leave room in your cup.
“During our youth there is often something in us that is better than ourselves, I mean better than our desires, our pleasures, our yielding, and our inclinations. Our soul is good then, even though our intelligence and will are not.”
To make wise men mad men. Aren’t all things better to desire than to possess, not just glory? Maybe so, but glory is after the fact, after the letter has been sent. Glory is the result of possession. The pursuit of glory is lovelier because it is full of possibilities, full of potential. Glory’s realization robs us of additional potential within whichever undertaking brought us such glory.
The word ‘potential’ is beautiful. To be potent, to have power, but potential is not the possession of power, it’s the possibility of power. It is ‘thou mayest’, not ‘thou wilt’. What an exciting notion.
One could daydream for an eternity. Perhaps I should refrain from plucking these things out of my daydreams and dissecting them on paper. But then I will be trapped in the paralyzing safety of inaction. What a bizarre heart I was given.
Take some time away from school, step out of my echo chamber for a while. I was impressed by all the places his mind could go without actually being there. Merely an imaginary spectator, and yet he knows how the deed felt. The truth is that I can never leave this echo chamber, I can only expand it, making my echo take more time to respond. It seems, more and more, that every experience, every sight is an echo. Its source disappeared long ago, when god swallowed his tongue.
How is it that the bare branches and the sky mingle as they do?
My mind is a pasture, a field, fallow. Nothing to break up the horizon. This way I can see what’s in the distance. Then a shrub here, a tuft of parched grass over there, and eventually a young tree with outstretched arms. What I would’ve seen coming before is obstructed by what I’ve let overgrow. There is a fence, one that is old and rusted. One section is bent down from a wandering school boy. He trespasses here regularly, bringing with him all my memories as if they were old friends. The property is small and uninteresting, besides a low river on the west side. That’s where the tree grows. The river’s waters come from another region, from another time, one more rich and lush than I’ll ever know or see. Nevertheless, this is my property, though I hold no deed. It is mine because I am the only one who cares for it. The river brings me life, some kind of connection to the world beyond this property. The waters run clear unless the silt at the bottom is disturbed. In which case the river becomes murky, waters from it must be filtered, and some time passes before the silt settles and the waters sluggishly run clear again. In a rowboat, I glide over its surface, creating rows of ripples with every stroke of the oar. The river flows towards the ocean, though I don’t know which direction that is. Standing on the bank, it doesn’t look like it flows at all. The river is my only passion. Do the surrounding properties have access to it, or does it flow underground at the edge of this property? I can’t see that far anymore.
“To be the soul of a body, but not the head. That is a noble ambition.”
Suppose that the two sisters of time, past and future, must be symmetrical in order to exist, must be twins, what then is to be said about the fixedness of the future? Or better yet, that the past is as malleable as we consider the future to be. Ah to hell with symmetry anyways. Have we not been taught by this life that a-symmetry and entropy are its only constants? How I wish the walls around me would crumble down. The sign for Ricky’s Autobody Repair is gone. I will miss its faded colours and chipped paint. Maybe I’ll dig a deep hole and sit this one out. My fear is that someone would trip and fall into such a hole, both of us now trapped.
I lope beside the river and wait for the waters to splash inside my mind. Keep your dreams to yourself, otherwise it will be the death of them. Or so we tell ourselves. What isolation we subject ourselves to for the sake of manifest destiny. I am selfish, and so selfishly I see my path only illuminated by the light of others once I’ve shown them how brightly I can shine. Such insolence in the minds of youth like myself. Again, is something repeated because it is worth repeating, or is it worth repeating simply because it has been repeated?
I have found nothing to be as valuable as emptiness, and in this realization I have gone about crowding it.
If you are hungry you will eat, if you are full you will love.
How is it that we, all people, have a similar and comparable notion as to what is good? What is this seemingly innate sense informed by? Is it harmony in relation to nature? The overlapping of nature and our natures? How can we have such vastly different perspectives, and yet share such specific notions of quality? Are such things really innate, or informed by culture? Even thoughts are subject to such appraisals—they must have symmetry, they must have beauty and tension in them. Appearance, manifestation, seems to be inseparable from the core meaning, the essence, where one cannot be without the other. Yet nothing exists in this world that is perfectly round, but we can conceive of such a thing. How can we entertain an idea that is not tethered to the physical world or any experience we have had within the world? How can concept exist without its manifestation?
Nothingness; its essence always crowded by our notions of it. The hermit within my own mind—he does me no good. He only leaves when he checks the mail. What difficult and confusing lives people inflict upon themselves by insisting their individuality. The individual ought to strive for sameness, for fraternity among all things. Alienation, to alienate others and to be alienated by others, is the original human condition, a condition which we must strive to transcend. When we forget ourselves we become ourselves. Plunge yourself into your centre, for there you will find that we all share the same centre. It is only when we move our mind out to our limbs and skin and husk that we seek individualism. Allowing what is good inside us to kill what is evil only causes what is good to become evil. Let your mind’s Cain live in peace with your mind’s Abel, for they are brothers, family, and the the object cannot exist without its shadow. It has been said before, said better before, but I must say it to move beyond it.
My mind is clouded with thoughts of you. I don’t want you to be standing in your kitchen alone, I don’t want your pain to be only your pain. Give me a piece of it, break it up and give me a piece of your pain and grace. No one can replace Atlas. I can see the weight on your shoulders, I’ve felt such weight before. Give some away, share it, and take some of the weight from others.
I saw the geese flying south.
Sorrow without name is the most paralyzing. I fear nothing more than living a meaningless life and so I invent my destiny, acting as if the whole world rested on its fulfillment.
What is just? Does it have any bearing on what is true?
“Madness affects the brain, not the mind.”
Write only that which gives you feeling when it is written. Write only that which moves you. Write through pleasure, through pain, heartache, injustice, sorrow, and joy. Write as things are, write a letter to the world; write a prayer, a poema. Remember that hindsight adds no clarity, only finality, and finality is compromise.
Part of the beauty in the setting sun is in knowing it is the last shard of light before complete darkness.
I’m as shallow as the sea can be, an inch of water. Facedown, one can still drown.
Somedays a sort of exhaustion sets in, a napping of my character, a slovenliness of self. It has swallowed me up like a wave. It would be welcomed if I had no work to do.
The restaurant I work at has extended its hours on the weekend until two AM. A part of me is glad of it—it keeps my nose clean, keeps me out of the bars, aimlessly carousing, looking for someone to aim at. Young men: they feel too alone and too incomplete to stay home. I can’t blame the bartender from drinking himself into clumsiness towards the end of our shift. I have the same itch, chasing some sort of finality to my actions. Nothing finalizes things as well as poison does. It’s in our blood. I have the same desire for finality when it comes to my music. The compositions are easy to consider finalized, especially with an untrained musician like myself, but the lyrics rarely bring about a sense of satisfaction or completion. The words are always too much something…too much myself perhaps, too close.
In a little restaurant I sit at the window and wait for my food to arrive. I love windows, love watching—the greatest pleasure in being alive is being able to spectate, to see things without having to affect them. A fly on the wall of this world. The city folds and unfolds and I watch complete and completely alien lives drift past. There are so many lives.
I can hardly understand the tips of the trees; how specific they are, how delicate, how deliberate and detailed. Again, how the twigs cut up the sky, they mingle together so perfectly, almost unfathomably.
I’ll go to the witch’s bar tonight and I’ll drink and have a thought. Will my mind ever catch up enough to understand what motivates me to do the things I do? Will I ever understand, or is that not important? When I think less I think better.
Beautiful art can persuade us to feel. It’s not the strategy or the concept behind the expression, it is the truth of it it. It is the alignment of essence and manifestation—the manifesto does not betray the essence. Young artists and the art of young people, I see no love in it, no powerful emotion, no fealty. I see, I feel, only spite. Even if that is the emotion they wish to evoke, there must be love in the hate, respect for your own hate. All I see is dispassion and disillusionment. And so all I feel from this art is boredom. Too many confuse baseness with interesting expression. It only appeals to the lower self, there is nothing lofty, there is no respect. It is art of the self, art for the self.
It is wise to care; to care about every impression, every change you inflict, for it seems the purpose of man is to inflict change unto his environment, so make it change for the better. There is so much glory in conviction, and in patience, but there is none in recognition. Doggedness is the only path to genius. Why must we long for recognition then?
We must first consider all things to be beautiful in order to see beauty in them. Everything has its beauty. First comes conviction, then patience, and finally recognition. By that time you will have no need for the third.
Self-aggrandizing is like scooping out your innards so that all can see, leaving your body hollow. Do not yourself become hollow, as hollow things are more liable to collapse. I hollow myself out a little more each day. One day I will collapse.
I will never see the world like these men in grey flannel suits, with silver hair and black cars. They are above me and have a better view it seems. Were they simply born at higher altitudes or did they climb all the way up there? Polished shoes and beautiful daughters, they know of things I will never know of—expensive wines, engraved silverware—I am not bitter or envious. I resign to poverty. We all have our things to know. I’ve known a nail gun, and industrial dishwasher, and stained pants.
Loping; the only place to go is on.
It’s in our nature to love culture, and it’s in our nature to love nature. The problem arrises when our culture is based around destroying nature.
The written word is the ultimate mode of expression because of all mediums it is most similar in composition to our thoughts. What is the currency of thoughts? The pen is the most direct cable to the mind, to my mind.
Do not take one place to be your home, feel at home wherever you may be. I make a new home with every footprint.
Academia’s structure seems somewhat backwards. One may understand the course, understand all the works referenced, understand, even, the essence, the thesis of the course, but fail because of forgotten terms, or forgotten dates. Why memorize signposts for a day, so I can forget them the next. Intelligence is impressionistic, but knowledge is not. We put more emphasis on the signposts than we do the land for which they represent. I know the land, I just forgot whose name is upon the mailbox.
If thoughts are birds, words are bricks.
All of the grey of this world excuses my actions, if it were black and white I could be a very good man. Government only seems necessary to govern the worst of/in us. Utopia, so it has been written, would require no government, and no government can carry us towards such a utopia.
The tree, months ago, that I could not name and that others could not tell me, was a sycamore. The tree’s skin is smooth and too delicate for Canada.
Remember the face visible in the clear-cut mountainside off Little Espinoza Inlet. The inlet is close to where my mom lived in a little cabin many years ago, in Nuchatlitz. Has anyone else ever seen it? When I went back next year it was no longer visible. It looked like the face of a native, noble and stoic. Was it made by the hands of men, or by nature’s hand?
Empty thoughts lead to full ones. One cannot have one without the other. Let that be the axiom for all things: one cannot be without the other. Up from the subway platform and onto the bus platform, I looked up at the sky. Such a powerful blue looming above, an infinite blue, the sky is infinitely blue.
I descended the rusty stairs into the park, and they creaked as I did so. Toronto: a city of idle young people who praise each other for their fruitless, idle pursuits. There is too much exposure for such lack of merit, far too much praise. The community rewards intention instead of action, talk rather than walk. Process work parades under the banner of finished work, laziness trumps discipline and no one sits with a thought for long enough to adequately express it. Yet we all go along with it, for we know the parade will be for us soon, and what do we have to show for it? What beauty have we made, what thoughts have we been steeping in? We accept all the nothing that our peers produce because we’ll be up there soon with nothing to show. Hollow creations, yet we feel no shame. Professional artists are no longer artists of art, but artists of grant applications. Back to the park: descending the stairs, each step echoed by another creak. Underneath these rusty old steps lies the rotting carcass of the old stairs, ones made of wood. I reach the last step and expect to see my second shadow; the squirrel that followed me down, hopping along the handrail, but he is gone now. His brethren hop about the bushes and dead leaves. I hear the cry of a blue jay, desperate and unpleasant, though beautiful in its strangeness. The blue jay calling, perhaps replying to the creaking steps. I looked up into the trees, looking for his blues, and just as my eyes found his wing, he flew out of sight and into the ravine below. I scrambled down into the mud, and spied his blue again. He rustled about from his perch and gave out another shriek. A few more steps below, down into the ravine, closer to the bird, sat an old baseball lodged in the wet ground. I pick it up and carry it around for the remainder of my walk.
I find myself at the art gallery again, though I have no desire to look at any of the art. I just don’t feel like being at home anymore. Wandering about like an old dog, let my mind lead me where it may. I was born an old grey-faced dog. Unwise, limping, looking for my own little patch of sunlight. I’ll circle it endlessly and never get a chance to bask, gently drifting away to some other place.
If art could be explained in words we would never be driven to create it.
Too many of my peers are singing with earplugs in.
Try to sing your songs, write your prose, the way you find them. Do not let your mind lose much as it translates.
“Everything you love finds the door.”
I will be here, but not forever. If peace is what they are travelling for, then why is the road lined with corpses?
The table of our lives, we must turn it over, let everything fall to the floor. Wipe it clean, and then replace the items properly, one by one. The problem, it seems, is that the items returned to the table all look crooked and wrong. Is it because the floor is crooked? No matter how many times I rearrange it, things are askew.
I must ask myself: what do I dream of failing at? What can I do that would give my life meaning without having to succeed at it, without ever being recognized for it. If I were to choose a life in advertising, I would have to succeed. But in my current pursuit, whatever it may be called, I don’t care whether I am successful. Success is a foreign concept to a successful life.
Coincidence cannot be blamed, only thanked.
The trick is to make our delusions so powerful, that they birth themselves into reality. I am as delusional as I am doubtful.
The burning arrow has almost engulfed me fully in flames. A falling through I am sure. Is there any merit to my collection of idle sentiments? My list of pleasures and pains? Such questions provide me with a hollowness so vast that I have space enough for my most elaborate daydreams. It all seems impossible to reconcile. Even if we pretend, for a moment, to liberate ourselves from the limitations of our earthly minds, and we see that indeed all is an ocean, a giant metaphysical recycling dump, where does that leave us? Still yearning, still asking questions? Still looking, hopelessly, for the words to ask a question that has troubled every starry eyed fool since we were given eyes to look up at the stars? Could I not, if only for a moment, believe that to simply live is the ultimate blessing, that my game has already been won, and any subsequent beauty and beautiful experience is just pushing my luck?
He had a good soul and he bore it in plain view.
Granted, the game of the living is to be lost, but perhaps we’re supposed to invent our own game. Take some lonesome corner of the board and write our own rules, our own terms of engagement, and our own definition of winning. We must be careful when it comes to such games. The worst thing that we can do to our fellows is ignore their plight, so a monk’s route, solitarily playing his own game that he invented to win, simply won’t do. Indifference condones malevolence. Even the poor and persecuted, once elevated to the height of the elite, behave with the same cruelty and with the same oppression that they once suffered under.
Message can transcend medium, and those are the messages that we strive to write.
Something fell into my eye when I saw it, when I saw you. It’s been sinking there ever since, ever deeper.
When I was a child I was very good at getting out of people’s way. The street or the Saturday market, I’d get so close to colliding, and then slip away at the last moment. It brought me joy when I was young, I suppose it still does. First you have to be in someone’s way in order to get out of it.
I’d much rather be waiting on everyone else than the alternative.
All our messages trapped in limbo, like letters lost in the mail.
Everything I know about the infinite is trapped in the faculties of the finite; my eyes see, my ears listen and so on. So there is nothing I can really understand, and I especially do not understand what nothing is. Impressions, sensory information, all the signs, but what they signify I’ll never know. There is no knowledge that transcends the knower. I hope there is, I believe there is, but my thoughts are that there is not.
Funeral: a goodbye party, but the one whom it is organized for does not arrive. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t partake in any of the ritual or the celebration. Does it not seem like a birthday card lost in the mail? Happy belated, you’re dead now, let’s feast.
All this work to exorcise thoughts—the work is mine but the product is not, it belongs to nobody (why would anyone want it anyhow?). Words are not birds, but thoughts are. They perch and flutter and fritter and soar where they please. They are always on the verge of taking off, of flying away, leaning into the wind. Perhaps I am the fletcher, the plucker of feathers, making arrows that fly like birds, if only for a moment. Birds with sharp points, beaks of flint and stone. For there is no clearer message than an arrow.
Pride, when it is wounded, severely wounded, that is when I’m most myself. That is when the air in the room causes me pain, as if I had been skinned. Lacerated deeply, my pride transforms me into a mouse with a mane—it turns me into something ridiculous. Dignity, as if written with the left hand, cartoonish, pathetic.
“Which is better—cheap happiness or exalted suffering?”
I get a drink at the Wallflower with Natalie. The lights are dim, and she tells me stories of her trip. Stories of surfing, cicadas, strangers, warm nights, and all the calls and crawls of animals in such warm nights. I am too bookish, even for this literature teacher twice my age. I am earnest and serious and sincere to a fault, I bore myself. Though she seems to love it, and I truly cannot see why. Perhaps my falseness suits her falseness rather well. We, ourselves, are personally the only authority when it comes to authenticity, so who’s to say what’s false? We spread a sweet fog over certain memories, then use their sweetness as proof of some sort of life. Authentically anemic. Natalie and I talk and laugh and imagine all the things we could enjoy giving and taking from each other. A stomach without food and excess drink has me stumbling down the stairs towards the bathroom. ‘We celebrate and emphasize our individuality because that is the only thing we can truly win at.’ I thought, reaching the bottom of the stairs, but as I stood over the toilet, I decided that it was a lie. A thought of pride, disgusting pride, at having snared this woman in an unintentional trap. A trap that I was building without intention to catch anything. I trapped her in loving me, when I knew that my love, these days at least, does not stay in one place very long. I don’t love many, but my love doesn’t stop for a girl, my love rolls on. My love also rolls away from me, leaving me in lonesome solitude. Alone and with love, one can never be lonely. I continue to pour my tea, even as the cup overflows, I add nothing. We must learn how to be alone, severely alone, without being lonely. The moon shines brightest in my memory, not in the night. I stumble back up the steps of the bar and everyone is gone. ‘How long was I in there for?’. All the seats and barstools askew, glasses half-full sitting there on the table. There are flashing lights outside. Natalie walks back into the bar from outside and beckons me outside, a look of concern on her face. She says we have to leave right now. “Did you hear the sound?”, she asks. The front door opens with a creak and we step outside into the cold. A loud grinding sound to my left, like a screaming machine. The sound is coming from the tire of a car, still spinning. Only the back half of the car is visible, the rest is lodged into the storefront, broken glass everywhere. I can smell natural gas, and soon firemen ask everyone to step back, leave, go home, just get away from here. The motor’s running, the tire’s spinning, and a gas line has been hit. Natalie and I clear off, hop into a cab and head to her place. I wonder, while in the cab, what sort of mayhem would be wrought if the car and skewed just a little to the left and crashed into the Wallflower. I’d have come up form the bathroom to find bodies and broken glass and pain. Everyone sitting by the window of the bar would’ve been hit, and likely seriously injured. The wreck was beautiful. A black mustang in the night, wheels still spinning, shards of glass still clinging to the cocking around the window of storefront. All these people about, stumbling around, watching the end of someone’s night. Some lighting up cigarettes despite the smell of natural gas filling the street. Back of the cab, he’s driving like a maniac. Tea, then bed, then slipping around in each other’s sweat, eyelids heavy, taking each other elsewhere for a moment.
Ramble into brambles, it seems like forever, but when I look back I see only supple leaves and soft pedals. Shame: natural and unavoidable. Thoughts to disappear with.
Try to help each other how we can. Is it better to actively dislike that which we do not like? To not allow ourselves to be intimidated by what we do not respect, even if it is respected by others? To have a justifiable perspective, a perspective worth articulating.
Do the great artists of the past, literary and otherwise, transcend their time? Is such a feat possible? Or are we nothing more than the crops of a certain season? It can’t hurt to strive for transcendence I suppose, the path to the church may prove more enlightening than the church itself. Perhaps he who is most affected by his surroundings creates work that most deeply affects others. There is no life that transcends, but there is work that transcends.
A line, some sort of vague poeticism has evaporated from my mind, and now I miss it without understanding exactly what it was.
Things have changed, my letters to you have become forced, an occupation, sometimes a chore, and I’m finding it harder to spend my days alone. All the afternoons that I would’ve otherwise spent alone, wandering through empty streets, making my mind an empty street, are gone. They disappeared without saying goodbye.
I visit the art gallery more and more because I hate art and I’m learning how to love the things I hate. Such a task takes a lifetime to complete. It’s easy to have affection for the things you hate, easier even to treat them with kindness, but to love such things, truly love them through and through, that takes practice.
A sharp pain in my back and a hole in the bottom of my sole. When it rains, the water is pulled up into my shoe from the rain, and my backs repeats its tune. The sky is white and bright, the trees still bare. Little droplets of rain cling to the branches like the buds of spring. The smoke from a chimney rises, eventually becoming the sky. I am eternally a child, and glad of it. A puddle now that has begun to overflow. My whole life the stream of dirty water trickling down the sidewalk. The little stream flows with deliberation, flowing down, following the crack. Water always goes down, forever travelling lower and lower, until it loses its body, now light as air, it floats upwards and makes another sky of white.
Even when I package up the feeling perfectly, will that make it right? Will it stop tears, will it stop my hands from shaking? Even in the impossible scenario where I have done what I came here to do, even then, will the pain stop? I know it will not and I still strive. I am glad the twilight only lasts a few minutes. Two minutes of it is bliss, but to live in such a time always is torture. I don’t think I’d survive there.
If time really is water, then I am a puddle, leaking from a crack in the road.
There is a hawk perched on the wire, head hung low in the rain. He sits opposite the art gallery with his back to me. I don’t have my glasses on, perhaps he is an owl. I wish I was in big sky country these days. The sky shrinks down so small in the city. The towers impose on it, the sky scrapers scrape so much of it away.
I wish I could believe in symbols, it would be so much easier. Believing in little jewels and droplets. There are no such things in this paste of the perceivable world. I am a witness to its indiscrimination, its disregard for all things symbolic. Out of convenience, and only for convenience, we use symbols to neatly package things up, but they forever leak, leaving trails down the halls and up the steps. What’s the reasonable alternative? To be paralyzed, to surrender to the indiscriminate tidal wave that is existence? Certainly it isn’t that dramatic. To allow ourselves, nonetheless, to be pummeled by perception until we can do no more? Practical truth and true truth are vastly different and hardly overlap. The hawk released his talons from the wire and flapped his wings up into the rain and caught the wind. He’s off to find shelter.
The secret to creativity is discipline.
Why do we deliberately ignore the path to the sublime?
“Time runs in and then runs out.”
There are poetic ways to say things, but things still must be said. Do not choose form over essence. Drain the words from your mind as often as you can, bleed yourself. Otherwise the toxin will fester within you, vanity will replace the humility of strife and work and hopelessness. There is much hope within hopelessness, for hopelessness with action is our most productive state. Just pretty clumps of mud, that’s all it is. If we try to hold onto them too hard, we lose them through the holes of a closed hand, the holes of a fist. Hold onto it softly, not afraid of losing it or dropping it, that way it will never leave you.
Some days I feel like the clock hates me, its face reflects mine. My face becomes meaner and more severe over the years, as does the clocks face. The clock; as much a mirror as the moon.
Natalie finally brought up the matter of our apparent difference in age. It made her nervous, scratching at those soft places in her mind. I when she first came to me with something to confess, I feared it would be a confession of love. That thought scratched the soft places of my mind, thought the itch disappeared as I heard her confession. She is 44, turning 45 this weekend. I told her I was 22. She asked me a few times whether I was comfortable continuing to seeing her. I said of course I was, and that I didn’t really think about such things.
The cup, the bottles vapid companion. Give up a little, wont you bottle?
The sky is the breath of the world on a window. “The sun is a lightbulb and the moon a mirror.” Each wing perhaps a feather on the wing of some great bird. In my home, my subterranean hovel, we have a collection of circles. They’re all very close to perfect. Most of the circles were not collected by me personally, but seem to have amassed on their own. I’ve tucked them all away under the stairs.
A man could waste his entire life waiting around for inspiration. One must create their own inspiration, or choose to be inspired by what’s available.
There is a wall and it’s full of holes. If you look through one of these holes, you will see on the other side something whole, something true. Each hole is different; one may be a song, another a picture, sometimes a hole is just some words. No matter which one you choose to look through, if it is indeed a hole and not just another dent, it will show you the same indescribable thing.
All the days slip through the cracks in my hands when I reach for something. I sit here, at the edge of a well, desperately scooping up water with my sieve. I’ll be here all night, I am so thirsty. I could drink up the ocean, I suppose that’s who I am. The well, it seems, is merely a puddle plated with gasoline and the falling apart bits of a drowned worm likely dropped there by some bird flying over. Flying south, to its home, a nest somewhere. What I would give for a nest, a place to have to clear away everything that I cannot place. A place to put everything that I can’t seem to find.
The pillars of love have formed a wall around me and I can no longer get inside. Gladness is only a bandage though it seems to do the wound well. The poet develops the power to articulate even the most trivial complaints and concerns. I guess that’s what the discipline affords them—that and the ability to articulate even the most complicated pleasures. Or does the articulation invent the pleasures and concerns?
The subtleties of intimidation; they are easily achieved in silence, but her words, my words, soon evaporate those earlier notions. We reduce ourselves, regress to what we were before our first impressions: nobodies. Nobodies in the company of nobodies. People are generally unexceptional. I know myself better than anyone, and I have grasped the extent of my lack of exception.
My exhaustion rises with me each morning, it wakes with me, and follows me out the door. It grows taller than me somedays, looming over me I am hidden in the shadow of my lassitude.
“The maintenance of order.”
Bottles whisper so loud in my ear and the card in my pocket with a long number whispers back. They talk and I always come out worse for wear. Flowers of clay in a vase of petals. I mustn’t let myself drift too far into the currents of the incomprehensible. There is a spot out there where we can still see the shore, yet we are far out enough to be scared. It’s perhaps on the edge of a riptide, where at any moment I could drift this way or that and be taken out into the expanse. It is perhaps a good thing to live on the cusp of getting lost.
I am standing over a puddle, the rain makes ripples endlessly. They overlap, nudging each other gently. We can only do our bleeding when we are alone, truly alone, alone even in our minds. When we are free from specific yearnings, and our longing becomes general. A longing for something ephemeral. Tonight we are the rain and the puddles in the streets. The puddle looked like it could be someone’s shadow as I stood over it. Someone larger than I. April snows as it will. Nights curl around me and wrap me up in a blanket of vapid indulgences and petty impressions. It is a life of using—using up myself and anything that will alter my self. If I’m not using something I’m using someone, and if I’m not doing either, I’m using myself. Eventually I’ll use it all up.
I’ve never been more broke than I am now. Beyond broke, debt like a deep lake beneath my feet and the ice I’m on is cracking. I can hear the sound. The ice melts a little more each day.
If, like Cohen says, there is a crack in everything, and that’s how the light gets in, does everything start in darkness?
Be careful where you put your pride, it can slip out of your pocket and stay in the light forever.
The whole world is green and blue and we wonder why we are too. I can live with my jealousy, I can live with my envy and my sadness—I cannot seem to live with my laziness. Of all my habits, laziness causes me the most self-hatred. It is the ultimate bondage; each degree of pleasure another link, another lock, another knot added to my chains. Familiar handiwork, though I’ve forgotten how to untie my own knots. Things not left untied, unsaid, unfelt.
As I have asked before: where do we draw the line between the talon and the branch?
There are somethings that will never become cliche (I have yet to pen any such thing), why is that? What is inherent in what seems to be timeless? Perhaps because it is inherent, because in what is inherent, there is truth.
My daydreams drift to the west, to trips on a little boat, wet forests, rolling seas, the smell of sun-baked seaweed crunching underfoot as I walk the shores. The feeling of looking out from the edge of a continent. I know I’ll die where I was born, I know I’ll die out west. Where am I to go in the meantime?
Someone has been tinkering with the clocks, turning the numbers higher like a thermostat. Surely the days do not last a full twenty four hours as they used to. Perhaps I now merely move slower within the hours.
The skies are so clear, there isn’t a cloud in sight for the winds to bully around, pushing it this way or that. By the window it gets rather hot, all that light bouncing around, reflecting off of the glass of this city. The country cools the sun’s light, absorbs it, soothes all that fire.
Train tracks, highways and junctions. Nothing is safe from our reduction of phenomenon and our invention of meaning. For such things, the time has never been better—I can name things that don’t even exist, and just like that, they appear, materializing behind my eyes. Meaning shall be created until there is nothing left to imagine and nothing left to say. The only things we have permission to create are meanings and more people.
The river is so murky as it rolls along, though its path is already laid, does it know where it travels to? The river has no choice in the matter, its own weight, its own mass, carrying it along until it loses itself. The river must flow down, do its waters know? What do I know, I am no river. I am a puddle, all I do is leak and evaporate, occasionally offering a reflection to a passerby. It rained the day I was born and it will never rain again.
Don’t leave for so long that they can tell you that you’ve changed. If you have such plans, leave for good. Sink low, let go, and your heart will cry out for no name but your own. Your heart will cry out for everyone whose name you have not yet learned. “And I’ll lean that way forever.”
I once wrote that I no longer just watch the door. It wasn’t so much a lie as a wish.
I can love any stranger. Friends are harder to love and acquaintances near impossible.
As the weather warms and we remove layers, my back stops hurting, I stop slouching. We are truly at the mercy of that which surrounds us.
Old scars begin to itch, a simple scratch and they’re all unstitched. It is the case with old friends, with old lovers, whether they left wounds or not. For it is not these new strangers that you miss, it’s who you were with them, a self more strange and foreign as the years pass. I miss my twisted up interpretation of those times, I miss the false, though perfectly warm glow of the past. Why are we such orphans?
To destroy pain would be to end the story, the good wolf triumphant over the bad. They must compromise for they share the same heart, and it will not beat with just the one.
Look for the things that punctuate all this passing time. Seek them out, practice them, not for yourself, but for nothing. When God hides your way and freezes your fingertips, show him hell, warm your hands by its gates. Tell him “I was broken long before I cracked.”.
“He talks his dreams to sleep.”
I told her I didn’t want to have someone to say goodbye to, that saying goodbye to friends was hard enough. Forever leaving and never changing. It seems more and more that the process of figuring out how I feel affects how I feel; reflection distorts the image, looking in the mirror changes your appearance.
“I’m going to kill myself tomorrow. I’ll wake up at seven in the morning and walk into the lake.” Looking up from racking the next game: “I think you should sleep in at least.”. We need not greet the morning with its light. I salute it when the sky is still black and the moon still shines. I meet the morning at night. Nights when bottles crowd the tables and I can laugh about anything. Smashing bottles over my head every night to postpone some unstoppable thing I know I can’t control. At least the bottles muffle the sound. I want more from this world, and I want so much less it from it too.
I’ll say, looking back, I didn’t want to hurt nobody.
All the people are always on the other train, the other platform, travelling in the other direction. My train is late or I am early. They get on the bus as I step off. With each street light I pass, a new shadow rises forth. My life keeps tumbling along, sometimes I am glad of it, other times I forget to feel glad. The moon above is the headlight of the last train to leave this town, I’ll be on it one day, and everyone else will be there too. We’ll board from the same platform and we’ll head off in the same direction.
A powerful and useful exercise is to get in touch with your own mortality. Not to merely know of your mortality, but to really feel it, to let yourself be consumed by its void. Let yourself feel the emptiness of a dying body, for it fills the soul. You begin to see how trivial and delicate it all is, it’s maddening, and then peace. For death is robust, and anything that may fear it becomes delicate like a porcelain rose.
Are not all truths sad, and all dreams glad?
Everyone’s eyes are glued to a screen. If it wasn’t screens it’d be something else—magazines, reflections, lovers, newspapers. Some of the things in this world that we invest our time in are bad, truly, in a qualitative sense. There is, as it were, a sense of intrinsic quality in experience, in undertaking, and eventually, in character. If one wishes to paint their heart’s painting, write their heart’s prose, or compose their heart’s song, one must live their heart’s life. There are no compartments, no distinctions between the areas of the self.
Every thinker seems to concoct her own grounds for the distinction between animals and humans; our capacity for abstract thought, language, imagination and so on. Mine is our incredible knack for ignoring all that takes place around us. Animals don’t seem to be capable of the same narrow-mindedness. We are masters of distraction, distracting ourselves endlessly. I’m doing my best to become a man who can distract himself by distracting other away from their distractions.
The rain is fine, I don’t mind the rain. It’s the wind that can be unbearable, totally inhospitable. A bully, pushing me around endlessly. The thunder and the rain hit earlier than anticipated, and we say it came at the wrong time. Our predictions are law, so we believe, but thunder and rain and wind do not understand the language in which our laws were written.
Four middle-aged men sit around a table at a bar talking about the ways in which they are falling apart. All the bones they’ve broken, the painkillers they’ve taken. How sweet it is to have a body to take for granted, a body so sharp that I don’t even notice it. That’s why youth is the ideal time to exalt the mind, for it will never be distracted with aches and shortcomings—it doesn’t yet get in the way.
I have been consistently inconsistent with my practices of late, and I am the only sufferer of my laziness. Such is the quality of the important things; we alone suffer when we forget them. At least I have kept up with billiards. I don’t know how my self-disappointment can be sustained, I don’t know what ruler I am measuring myself up to, which units I am using, but I always come up short.
The bar in the daylight: Hot coffee, the front door open wide, everyone so sweetly distracted. There is less interpersonal intention in the daytime, we save those sentiments for the bar at night. The sky outside looks like a painting. Even now, with everything so pleasant, so good, I revisit yesterday in a daydream. The trees were reaching up high, as if to surrender to the light, their hands draped in the new leaves of spring. I’m back in the bar now and I see that I’ve had too much coffee, my mind darts around the room faster than my eyes. Back to the trees of yesterday, when I looked up at the warm sky as the sun dipped download to kiss the horizon to sleep.
I was rotten yesterday and I walked around the city with a scowl. Some days it’s just hard to love what you see, hard to love who you see. People, nearly all of them, are painfully absorbed in a screen, in a phantom of human connection, and I am no better. The modern world is so solitary and so sedentary. It seems inhuman to consume information and images and ideas and games endlessly without ever creating anything.
Perhaps I am a luddite, and I simply cannot comprehend the importance of these devices, or, perhaps more true, I know all too well and so fear it. I am a spoilt child.
It’s in our interest in satisfaction that we wrap up the selfish need for attention form others in the guise of social altruism. “What has the world come to—no one loves me”. Or so the anthem is sung, an anthem not one or the other, but both.
A couple leans out the window of their third floor apartment, looking down over the street awash with afternoon light. The couple seems to be somehow separate, not effected by the same sense of time or motion as everyone below. Their hands are interlocked. I look up from writing this and they are gone. It’s summer now, nearly—really it’s still spring, but today it feels like summer. It’s only mid April in a northern city, but my mind makes it summer, a summer feeling little italy, summer’s light. Pretty women in pretty dresses with the cafe doors open, held there by a worn wooden doorstop. People can lean out of their windows in this weather, elbows planted on the window sill, watching the street like parents watching their children play. It all appears and feels as it should, today the world spins in the right direction, revolving at the right pace. That’s the only way I can think to take it; just the way it is. I could spend a guiltless life looking at things this way, waste my life away, a spectator to that which cannot be wasted.
Love is a low dewy valley, loneliness a solitary mountain, and one cannot be seen, cannot exist without the other.
I was greeted by the memory of a taste: hot blackberries in the summer, so sweet and soft, the seeds all breaking away from each other with the gentlest pressure from your tongue. Teeth stained, warmth within and without, and the knowledge that night will come later, later on, much later. The sun stakes its ground, planting a firm foot over the world, my world, for a time.
Surely I’m climbing, but I don’t know whether I’m ascending or the other thing. I could be sure if I was to drop something and watch it fall, but I have nothing left to drop, nothing left to lose. No ballast was provided for this climb. Why is it that the hardest things to do are the most important to complete? I wish to say things as they are, but all I can do is say things how they are said. Self-destruction seems to be in my blood, sadly, for the memories of summers past bring me sadness not joy. The best way to live is the best way to die; fully, and with the notion of units and individuals forgotten, and with an acceptance that everything is everything else, hopelessly intertwined. And yet we are destroyers of life, destroyers of what is good in life, all in an effort of squeezing all that is ‘good’ out of life, and accumulating it for ourselves. We strive, like a mole digging underground, to secure the best possible fullness of life for ourselves and those that share our blood, not seeing, perhaps due to our blindness, that riches are not underground. That the tokens we collect below will never see the day’s light. If we were to dig ourselves out, and meet the days above, we would never see such tokens again, and would have no use for them. They are a currency of the underground, where there is no light.
We bleed the same blood, thus any actions that cause suffering, cause pain, are as an organism eating its own flesh; it is cannibalism, autosarcophagy. Despite what we have taught ourselves, the world is not a field of silos, it is an organism and we are its organs, and so giving away power is our only means of gaining it, gaining true power, for a part that helps the other, helps the whole, and so helps the part.
The best way to live is the best way to die: with the notion of units and individuals forgotten, and the acceptance that everything is everything else, hopelessly intertwined .
How else do we all know that care is good, and feel pleasure (a deep underlying pleasure) when we witness care, care for something ourselves, or are the objects of another’s care?
I know it to the marrow.
In the folktale The Legend of Finn McCool there is a trick that I cannot help but love, cannot help but see an analogous truth within. Each time he finds himself in a dire situation, he chews his thumb, through the flesh, through the bone, and into the marrow. There he conferences with the eternal, with something universal, and his path out of his desperation and into safety is illuminated. The answer is always in the marrow, so stay put a moment, chew through the layers and find the truth that facades strive to conceal. Strife is only skin deep. I try to chew my thumb every day, any time I find myself without hope and within anguish, and I try to find the truth in what I’m in. The truth about what I’m in. The truth never causes anguish, for there isn’t anything twisted up in truth, nothing hidden, no expectations unmet. Truth is a razor’s cut, and like a cut with a sharp blade, it heals quickly and with less pain. Too many cuts I’ve decided to receive have become messy and ragged.
I need to find the neon cross. I’ve seen it many times now, out to the west. It shines bright over the industrial buildings and the big hole in the earth crowded by bulldozers and other great machines. It shines out so bright and pure above the highways, above the shopping malls, and semis.
The infinitude of solitude: the revelations of solitude are plenty, the are vast, and they go unchallenged. Truth untested is no truth at all.
We too do not know what we have in our hands until we have retreated into the future, dropped it somewhere along the way. We will miss the things that we drop, but we cannot carry it all. It cannot all be carried with you, choose carefully.
No gavel comes pounding down, signifying the start or the end of something, the end only occurs in hindsight. A mapless river with murky waters. At times, the river opens up and becomes so wide that we cannot tell in which direction we are drifting, or if we have begun to sink. Must we count the ripples to measure time’s passing?
A difficult combination to live with: painfully self-conscious and impossibly ambitious.
A head so far up his ass that he’s back, stuck inside his own head again.
I must work through my lack of inspiration. I must write if I wish to ever get anywhere with it. I must wring myself dry, even when I haven’t seen rain for so long, even when seemingly not a drop saturates me. If I do not, I won’t be able to soak up the water when the rains do come, I’ll already be saturated. I won’t be able to soak up much water when I dip back in. Wring myself dry so I can soak it all up again tomorrow. There’s some water in me, holy or cursed, that I can’t wring out.
Winning is rarely enjoyable. It must be on our own terms, otherwise it’s just another loss, this time one that we receive congratulations for. I’d rather fail at what I love than succeed at something I do not. Compliments, congratulations, do not take such things to heart, leave them be, let them fall. Give thanks.
Do not trap yourself within the eyes of another, there are other places to find your reflection. Chew through the skin, through the bone and into the marrow, there you will find a reflection justified.
More rain more rivers more roses.
Few things remain intimidating once they are familiar, the only intimidating thing is mystery. Once a things becomes known, it shrinks before, its stature now so small when it used to loom over you.
On the subway platform walks a dog and its owner. The dog is scared, terribly anxious, bleary-eyed and pulling of the leash wildly. Its eyes were glazed over and its mouth was dry. You could feel the dread of that poor dog, true palpable dread. Such is the dread of fear, fear of that which we do not know. For when we do not know something, we immediately equate it to death, lumping the two mysteries together. I watched the dog experience its death, without peace.
Labours of love are not always labours of joy.
These days I feel so old, feeling so much at the mercy of all that is not me. Meanwhile, what is of me has never given me mercy. I must be wrung dry despite these days already being so dry, because sometimes method creates wisdom, or rather, illuminates wisdom. The kind of wisdom you can only account for in hindsight—not wisdom, but creation. Wring a dry towel enough and magically a drop forms, soon more. I’m not sure if the drop is just my sweat from all the wringing and straining, but nonetheless, it wets my cloth.
The flower is dead but the leaves are still there, the roots still strong. The stalks are straighter and higher now without the weight of the blooms. It is naked now.
Don’t think about what you love. Think about what you cannot love, what you refuse to love, and let it drive you towards that which you love. Soon they’ll be no distinguishing the two. Don’t think about what you love, think about what you do not know.
Somedays I can feel the emptiness ahead of me, it is so empty. Meanwhile the moon holds the glow of the sun’s kiss.
Rip the teeth from my head so that they may no longer chatter in the cold.
To create things that we ourselves love is to create things that exceed ourselves.
Some call it a bowl, others a pit.
The plan is pregnant with its manifestation. The target is half pierced as soon as it’s conceived. I need a plan for all my scribbling, a plan that doesn’t sicken me with its smell. The speed at which the life that I’ve been granted disappears into yesterday is astonishing. A eulogy to all this time I’ve killed.
Spend your life trying to accumulate wealth and you will be forever catching up. You will be forever falling behind. Don’t worry about spending it, don’t worry about making it, worry about your work, some sort of calling. You’ve called yourself there. One’s calling is heard in their own voice.In order to have a decent life, it seems, we must have something to show for it—a body of work. Create that body as god created the body of man.
Be wary of meanings that have been arbitrarily assigned to the world around us. Don’t waste your time openly questioning them, ignore them when they bring you no illumination, and don’t let your judgement be subjugated by them. The attribution of numbers and values to the world, we claim as universal, strips us of the responsibility of attributing our own sense of value to things. When discussing values, the only measure is its effect on a person, the effect on you. Thus the most profound truths do not reach us by way of numbers, but rather via feelings, notions, allegories, poetry, art, and all other expressions of the ‘soul’. Govern yourself and be free. Cross when the road is clear, and do not cross otherwise.
Obey your self and you will be free. It must, however, be that true self, the self of the lotus of the heart.
Curiosity with intentions. Eventually, curiosity with action, with manifestation. Is there a storm?
Lock yourself away, stick with your vocational necessities, and finish something. I wish I could take my own advice. Finishing something seems impossible in this life. Don’t finish then, work, and then leave it behind. Even if it’s terrible, it must be done.
The hunt for knowledge must be postponed in order to experience that which inspires us to chase knowledge. The book must fall to the floor so that we may look up. See the columns and bricks, and the way the clouds can form a thin veil over the sun, like a bride, or like drapes over a bright window.
I must see the warmth in this city, otherwise I will scowl forever and freeze. Sometimes I feel so frozen.
In creation, it is a lack of limitations which paralyses us. Build a box first, before you start looking for things for it to hold.