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 was underwater. I could breath through a snorkel and see through a pane of tempered glass. The first shark was only a metre in length and its dorsal fin had been dipped in black ink or tar. There aren’t too many black colours in the sea, unless you go unfathomably deep. Unfathomable must refer to the times when they start measuring a depth in miles or kilometres instead of fathoms. The deepest spot on earth is about 11 kilometres deep, or 6015 fathoms. I suppose it is fathomable after all. The shark moved with steady and sure gestures, if you can call a torpedo gestural. It was no more confident than I was, and kept its distance. We were just a couple of dumb bodies, one clumsy, the other graceful, plagued by a momentary lapse in indifference. There exists an inexplicable fondness (as far as my attempts at explanation go) for strangers, the shark included. It is only in strangers that we can see a faultlessness. What is known gets invariably tainted. I watched the sun slowly rise over the ocean from my perch on Lazy Beach. It gradually approached the moon’s light, consuming as it went, until it had almost swallowed it whole. All that was left of the moon was a skeleton. The day’s light went on consuming, crawling up my legs, chomping away—a thousand luminescent piranhas. The tides will do the same to a beach; silently swallowing more, inch by inch, until the beach goer has no more beach, and must transform into a beach leaver. When the wind, blowing from the west, dances over the sand, it brings with it the smell of dead fish. When the wind takes a break from dancing, the hot sand produces a smell of pennies. My muscles are sore from all the swimming. The sea is like no other, her sights, her views, are unmatched. But careful now, don’t say you ‘love’ it, for fertilized by love do I grow roots, my blood turns to sap, and I stand, helpless, until a sharper blade cuts me down. The anvil forms the blade, and the bough of some great tree the handle. Keep your blood thin and your roots shallow. I slip back in by the rocks. My skin glows white, looking kind of like the skin of a dead man or a vampire.
Patience is the heart’s best advice. For rushing leads to mistakes, and mistakes of the heart are not only painful, but they’re very messy. Sometimes you got to use all kinds of chemicals to clean them up.
The smoke curls up like knots in wood.
Plans made, finished and stamped, are plans lost. Keep them inside, let them gestate, do not abort unless you must. Otherwise we will be satisfied with the pleasures of daydream instead of the results of actions. But what of the opinion that opportunities are created by the articulation of plans and dreams? That no one does anything worthwhile on one’s own?
In the bar of this paradise (the paradise of paradise itself) I search for the anvil of my mind. I’ve rounded up the days minerals, full of impurities, smelted them out of experience and into thought, and now is the time for pounding. They seldom make it through this process, whole notebooks scrapped, ideas broken, impurities bubbled through, air pockets, weak spots. I order another drink to get the temperature up again before the pounding.
Swallows swallowing up the dawn’s insect, bats swooping in for their share, before the night trades in its cloak for a coatcheck ticket, and the day rerobes in light and flames.
“That’s a long way for a snipe to fly.”
I climbed a hill and looked down at the bay. From my perch I saw, scraggly and knotted, some kind of arbutus tree growing out from the side of the cliff like a stray hair. A message from home, or perhaps a marker.
“A looking glass that reflected four eyes instead of two.”
It’s all just islands, though some are as big as continents.
The mind’s three plagues are: insignificance, mortality, and futility. Thankfully not all of existence orbits round the ego. Indeed, people who think that the self is centred around what we often conceive to be ‘ourselves’ (the one inside us who writes and reads dreary words like these) are like those who believe the sun orbits around the earth. They have yet to comprehend the immensity of all that is outside of their domain, all that is still within and yet just out of reach. Humility, submission to entropy, and reverence for what time has proven to be good. Once reverence becomes indiscriminate, and we no longer attribute empirical value to taste, that is when we reach what is truly good, or simply, what is truly. It is found in the beautiful, in the ugly, the noteworthy, the unworthy, the mundane, and the mountainous. It is the great flattening, and once such things are levelled, the height is undeniably high. But it is not with a cultural bulldozer that we achieve such levelling, but with a mind unclouded by taste.
Siem Reap means where Siam (Thailand) fell; The fall of Siam.
There are far too many things to express in just one song, but one song is all we’re given. Make sure to leave enough silence between the notes. The most talented songsters are those who can play both the notes and the silence.
Our flight from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville has been delayed for a few hours. I can’t help but feel relieved. Aimless time, time for watching and weighing the world; it is our greatest and only gift: free time. I don’t mean time that we would otherwise have to pay for, and I don’t merely mean leisure time, for it need not be used up in leisure, but ‘free time’ as in time for us to be free, time in which we can experience freedom. It is in time which allows us to be free that we live as we were intended to live. Why do people ever wish for the hour’s swift passing when they themselves are given momentary dominion over time? I mourn the minutes that leave me, and write eulogies to lost time. The hours waiting for buses, trains, and planes amount to some of the most reflective in our lives. To walk, wait, and write. I learn to play the silence between the notes.
My father speaks to a group of older cantonese people at the airport. They mention how unusual it is to see a father and his son travelling in this way. My father explains, something to the effect of: “He moved out and established independence quite young, so it’s more of a reuniting, etc…”. Even so, it can be (naturally) testing to travel for so long with a parent at my age. We have such different ways of approaching the world, of handling it. When we travel, he tends to set the basis for our interactions with others, a basis which sometimes contradicts my nature, causing me to attempt to change the basis or to be untrue to my character. He is a good man, a good father, and I know that one day I will regret being at all hard on him. The fact remains; we are two very different minds, and it takes constant compromise, likely for both of us, to reconcile our difference enough. But one day, as with all sons and daughters who last long enough, I will be without a father. Until that day I will have no idea just how much effort he puts into being a good father. Sometimes we talk about purpose. How does one find their gift, and how do we know for sure once we’ve found it? And how do we find the time to give? When we have a family, a family of our own, we are unable to wager what we could’ve wagered while alone. The same things can not be sacrificed for idealism. Alone one can remain limitlessly ambitious, beautifully delusional, placing some sort of lofty purpose above all else. One should only wager what one is willing to lose. An inevitable byproduct of starting a family is that all clouds and lofty skies above become secondary to the grey concrete of the day-to-day. Once you have a child, you can no longer Phoenix. Your flesh hardens into concrete or stone, while roots extend deep into the earth, forming an underground foundation.
The river cannot flow without the riverbed. The riverbed would not be without the rains. The rains would not fall without the sea. The sea would not extend infinitely without the primeval rains. The primeval rainclouds would not have formed without the burning, molten rock. So now, the rocks are cut and scarred by their great great grandchildren, the seasonal rains.
So does time flow like a river, or does it pass like a ship? Each object has its own time; like a mist clutching the valley, time clings to objects. In the clinging they are entangled, uncleavable, so that space, time, and matter occupy a single form. Those forms make up the meat of our consciousness, our minds do the deepening, the expanding, into a third dimension of the threefold venn diagram.
Sometimes method begets wisdom.
The coastline, the shore, where two different things meet; an estuary of land and sea.
Last night was my final Saturday night in Southeast Asia. For some reason I attributed significance… A party in the jungle, the Cambodians partying there too. Just a little clearing, beat pounding, prefiguring my head in the morning. A couple puppies roam, not more than a few weeks old. They’re playful and curious, but very delicate. After each escape, they are kindly brought back to their makeshift crate behind the bar. Their mother was one of the bartenders, a gorgeous young woman. One of her parents, she later revealed to me, was Chinese, the other Cambodian. She had had her heart broken by an Englishman who had promised all sorts of crazy things and then got tired of Asia, and her, and went back home. She took a liking to me, probably due to her heart needing some mending, and the “ticket to a better life” tattooed across my white forehead (I hear the Englishman had the same tattoo, but it faded). I told her her heart will go on breaking if she keeps this kind of thing up. It’ll break into pieces so small that they’ll get lost. When too many of the pieces get lost, you don’t know who you are anymore.
Given the choice between freedom and bread, the great many of us, the rabble, we choose bread. When you have starving children at home bread is the only option. We are tortured more painfully by uncertainty than certain pain, risking life with the shepherd over freedom in the desert.
My third and final notebook that has humoured my nonsense scribbles in Southeast Asia. These days my father and I are carting ourselves around on little mopeds. It has reinforced my desire to do such travelling through my own country. It is a way to travel without missing much. Unlike a skipping stone, airport to airport, you drag your soles along every yard of the countryside. Though your tires stick to the paved arteries and capillaries of a landscape. Home is a strange notion. We get a better perspective on it once seen in a rearview mirror. Home is a sense, and yet it is inarguably tied to geography. Home may be where the heart is, but our hearts also have a place in mind. There is something sacred in a hometown, an origin, where we were birthed and nurtured by people and place. Revisiting such sanctuaries gives us an updated perspective on ourselves, our origins. It is our story’s beginning and it affects how we live out the middle, or at least the story we shape about how we lived out the middle. Even homely activities can evoke that sense of home, of belonging. Perhaps that is the reason behind ritual; perhaps rituals are a geographically transcendent means of going home.
Is ultimatum necessary for direction? Must we remind ourselves of our certain demise if we are to shape and mould our lives in the meantime? It seems to me an anemic way to live, one in constant shadow so as to prepare for night. The sunny side is not necessarily the side on which the fools walk. Fools stride on both sides.
Drenched in sweat from the Cambodian heat I play shit games of pool. I’m in some place called ‘Wear the Fox Hat’. My stride is too far away to find, and I left my stroke back home. My Cambodian opponent is very gracious, and, taking me to be utterly useless on the felt, begins giving lessons. I can’t get any english in this heat, my cue sticks and stutters upon my sweaty hand. My opponent barely speaks english. I can see my fingerprints upon the felt, sweaty kisses left behind. The waitress brings over a bowl of fried peas, a salty bar snack that gets people drinking faster and ordering more. Within a few moments, not yet satisfied with my billiards embarrassment, I knock the plate to the ground, and dozens of tiny green peas scatter around me. All green six balls, tiny, too many knock down the way I’m shooting. I don’t know how to say ‘sorry’ in Cambodian, so I just bring my hands together as if to pray and apologize in english. My pool opponent laughs at me good-heartedly. The insects are attracted by the lights of the pool table, and they gather by the dozens upon the worn blue felt. Some of them get crushed under a good hard stroke, but most need to be cleared away before each shot. As soon as they’re cleared, they come crawling and flying right back. The insects plague the table, the heat plagues my game, and my confidence melts away. My opponent gets bored of winning and leaves. The waitress brings over a mute prostitute to play a game with me, introducing her with: “she’s smart, but she can’t talk”. She’s hoping that I’ll be a paying customer tonight. I sweat like a pig, but I don’t behave like one.
Today the sky broke and bled heavy beads of rain upon the streets of Siem Reap. I only submitted to it for a minute or so and was entirely soaked save for my cigarettes and this silly waterproof notebook. There is such infinitude in inaction. It makes you wonder what the point is in filling up your days. A cat hops onto my chair and finds sanctuary between my back and the back of the chair. All the cats here seem to have busted or missing tails. The Cambodians claim that it makes them better hunters, better mouse catchers. Perhaps it’s true; a little bit of self-mutilation, or mutilation at the hands of another, can help us catch more mice. Either way, all that stalking, it’s still just mice.
The temples are populated by hoards of butterflies. They gather and find refuge on ancient ruins. The trees extend their roots, reaching in through the cracks in the ruins, and break them to pieces like a nut cracker. Roofs crumble and moss grows. The finale is the butterflies; once a temple becomes mere ruins, the butterflies arrive. Time and place reabsorb everything that stands to defy it.
“Ads filled with clouds of smiles proclaiming from every wall that life is not tragic.” The city, this flat land broken up by mountains of skyscrapers, no longer excited me. A lover seen too many days in a row, the body too familiar, the soul too indistinguishable from one’s own. Devotion no longer a surprise gift to be cherished, but an expectation.
You can see that the flowers of spring hold no guilt within their petals, otherwise they wouldn’t be strong enough to push their sleepy heads through the frosty soil. No guilty flower blooms.
The sun was out that day, and everyone in the wintery city felt glad because of it. An old woman stopped me on the sidewalk and pointed to the bird that hopped about the stoop of some old brick house. It was a familiar bird, one I had met many times before. The tawny feathers, a colour that holds within it two colours simultaneously, like unpolished quartz. It made no sound and went on pecking. My friend the mourning dove. I told the old woman that I hear these birds often back home. I also told her that some people think they’re owls, because of their owl-like cooing. I didn’t tell her that I was once one of those people, thinking the owls were hoot-hooting in the bright morning. With one bird, the hope for spring was renewed. I continued walking west, looking up when I heard the call of the hawk. Three of them circled overhead. Perhaps they were looking for a mourning dove. Then with one snowfall, spring and spring’s messenger were cursed out loud. The greyness returned to the city, the sun seemed to perch farther away, as if out of embarrassment from arriving somewhere too early. It waited for the host to get properly dressed, but the host went on wearing its sleepy housecoat of white snow. Even the winter doubts the spring while the spring doubts itself. This city and its cold hands are losing its grip on me. If they don’t get it back soon, I’ll slip away. When you walk for a few miles in this weather, your hands go from cold to numb. When the numbness sets in, nothing can be held onto for long. Just look at the trees, how all but the steady oak have gotten too cold to hang onto their leaves. Naked and frozen. It’s hard to imagine the leaves ever returning.
The cement of the city is like liquid, a great body of water, undulating, whipped up by the wind and the ice in peaks and troughs. Rivers and streams connect together big lakes and ponds of asphalt and cement. We swim about all day.
Genius, it seems, is not a result of doggedness alone. The virtuosos are rarely genius, for they are not reinventors but dogged reciters. Wagner was no reciter, he was half-philosopher, half-composer. Perhaps that is a feature of our time; in any field, no matter how specialized, in order to reinvent in the right direction, to be truly creative, one must be half-philosopher. One eye gazing at the clouds, the other examining the clods.
Imagination: the poor man’s theatre.
He was the neurotic type, the kind of man that would spend too much time worrying about how he was going to spend what little time he had left.
To think less seems a much more thoughtful way to live. But then what would become of the endless catalogue of sketches made from words? A sketchbook of words. Perhaps scrapbook is a more apt description; collected scraps, gristle and bones.
If I had been wiser I would’ve been quieter.
I like the stars that are just passing through. Their likeness gets burned into my eyes.
When we are quiet, things come to us that are worthy of being said aloud. Sometimes.
Our freedom is granted to us by what we can never possibly accomplish; we are free to try. We are in chains when we accept our victories as final, our successes weigh us down because they were not grand enough, we strove too low.
I do not support religion, but I support religious experience. I do not believe in god, but I believe in reverence for god.
Our vocabulary has become so impoverished that it steals food from our thoughts. Now they are both emaciated. We have all opted to write rudimentarily and to think rudimentary thoughts. To write what is simple in simple terms is merely stating the obvious. To write what is simple in complex terms is criminal. To write what is complex in simple terms is poetry.
The sun is always going down, some days before I’ve even seen it. It is these days when you’d rather just sing one of your old songs that write a new one.
We dream of ends we’ve left loose. Their fraying, blown about in the wind, produces our most vivid dreaming.
Like a wave striking the shore, the realization hit me. How could I have been such a devil, arms crossed, while she, an angel, stood before me with wings spread wide? She didn’t push me down the staircase of love, I jumped myself. I am glad that I did, despite my rot. The type of rot that grows within me ferments with alcohol and comes up, foaming on my lips, spewing and spitting, in the faces of those close to me.
The death of a clown: losing the blues or losing to them. I mistook the sign on a taxicab for your face.
If life is really so short, then why does it require so much patience?
I had a dream where I was fishing from a boat. My father, his wife, and her son were there too. In a different boat. They existed in that place that people so often do in our dreams; right by your ear and yet a thousand miles away. I was fishing with twine, poultry twine, that string they use to tie up the legs of a turkey or a chicken before they toss it in the oven. I thought I caught something, but when I pulled it up, it was only weeds. My line broke and frayed a bit. The others were fishing with rod and reel. Then, crossing a bridge with my friend, I was greeted by a gleeful little lamb. It pranced about before us. For some concealed reason I pitied it, a warm pity. Then, revealed to me in my mind, was the existence of a facility on the other side of the bridge—some sort of slaughter and processing plant. I knew the lamb would be killed, processed, and packaged up into mulch, but I didn’t know why. Then I awoke. In the evening I used the same kind of twine to tie the note to the tulips I bought from the corner store. They’re in your mailbox.
There is so much to be ground down. Some have become mere stumps walking about. O how we grind them down so hard and for so long. The flint in a lighter, barely anything left, soon we’ll be striking the steal base, no sparks shall fly, and regardless of how much fuel is left, the lighter will tumble down into the dumpster.
The heart is heard beating its drum in your ear while all else is still.
She lay there in bed. The washing machine could be heard from the other room, its rhythmic sloshing. Her mind rode the machine’s currents, dancing in circles, going over the day, making up names for things that don’t need names. A cleansing she hopes. Now there’s a pounding coming from the machine.
You move out of the way. They pass by. The streets aren’t busy, but they’re narrow. It is not out of impotence that we move for others, but out of care. You needn’t love everything or feel responsible for everything, but you should have some degree of care. Be invested in the world, care about the outcomes. Don’t let the care overwhelm you.
Gladness is early winter wind. It barrels through my leaves, all my red flags, and washes them away in a wave. They come fluttering down to the ground where I can see them more clearly, see them for what they are. The leafless tree, now naked.
Eleven PM. I feel like I’m walking around in a sound proof room. The sound of my sole scraping atop the pavement, a passing motorcycle, her little tiny minuscule voice as she tells me what she thought of the show; all subdued. I suggest a game of pool at bar across the street. ‘No’ all round. They’re young women, they don’t have the same sad, degenerate desire to slurp up the entire ocean of an evening. They realize ocean or puddle, the waters are the same. So we say goodbye, ears now ringing, and I slip away and into a bar. In the bar I meet three people. The first two are abrasive to the point of being intolerable. The girl is maybe late thirties and the guy is in his fifties at least—friends not lovers. They are both computer people, and in this way, very much not people people. The third person is a gorgeous, tall woman with a huge afro. We play pool together. She’s there with a work party. She’s a bartender at the South American bar/music venue down the street. One of her eyes is red, as if a blood vessel has popped. The computer guy warns me that the bar and all its employees have Russian mob connections. I find it unlikely, but he’s utterly convinced. I ask her to play pool again. She agrees with only a touch reluctance. I can tell she’s not entirely into me, but I’m hopeful. After the next game I ask for her number. She gets a little awkward and suggests that I just stop by the bar sometime. I never do.
All the impressions you have so carefully inflicted—your care, your ethic, and your effort—are so easily forgotten. Be the one who remembers, fold the corners of the pages of her life, underline her words, scribble in the margins; be the collector of her thoughts so that through you she may find immortality.
I spoke with my father last night. We spoke of speaking, of conversation and its meaning. Family brings warmth, not a sap-blooded warmth, but an indiscriminate shit-eating-grin-bearing warmth. No numbness, not the warmth of a barroom candle, a sustainable warmth.
I wrote that I felt like I had achieved some sort of balance. In hindsight it all looks lopsided, even toppled. But at the time (maybe I was drunk?) I wrote of balance. I said it like: I revel in aloneness, and I revel in togetherness; the trouble is to know which one to chase down at any given time. I can’t exactly say what contentment feels like, but I now know quite well how a lack of discontent feels. A caress of closeness, sourceless affection, as if life or the world itself were your mother or your lover.
Has the storm passed, or am I merely stuck in its eye? It will soon be clawing at me to get out.
The most indifferent heart is the loneliness. Indifference, as I see it, is self-inflation, and like a balloon it rises, up up and away. The views may be better, but it is self-deception.. Coldness leaks out of hearts like these and eventually floods the innocent in its icy waters. To be above it all, outside the world, is not a seat worth occupying. I’d even rather if you gave that seat up and gave it to God. I’m quite sure God’s name is scratched in on the underside.
Hearing is automatic, listening is easy, comprehending takes effort. The answer is persistence and care. Comprehension, the construction of bridges between the islands of your mind. It seems there are no boats in the mind (or perhaps boats appear with the help of drugs, desperation, and meditation). It is the connection of unconnected things. Tie them up, tether them, learn your knots.
My first somewhat significant injury. I’ll find out later today whether my ankle is indeed fractured. Hospitals are terrible places. I’m lucky to have only visited them a couple times. Waiting rooms full of people who look like death himself. Death is surely a man. Screams echo down the hallways. They cry out not in pain, but for attention, for assurance, for someone to simply be there. But there are too many people who need, not enough who are needed. Doctors and nurses and all the scrubs are now immune to the pain and frustration of the visitors. They become mechanical, as if working in a factory or a hotel. Hospitals are the hotels of hell, factories of disease and pain. What do they produce? Expectation, painful expectations of painlessness. “Wait here. Now come over here. Now wait over there, then come back over here and wait.” Shuffling patients around like cards. My pains are relatively painless. The same cannot be said for the man seated next to me in the waiting room. He looks pretty nameless, a bit of a beard, patchy scales for skin, grease for hair. He won’t stop moaning, clutching a his back and his gut. I overheard him say that he way here a week ago and that his pain has gotten worse. Part of me wonders if this is a ploy to get some opioids. Judging by the nurse’s nonchalance, she wonders the same thing. Even still, he is an excellent actor. He has fooled even the most miserable faces in the waiting room. They lob concealing looks his way every time he moans.
A pencil can write just about anything, and it’s getting dull. Very dull.
The weather’s getting warmer but winter still breathes down my neck.
“I feel like I’m in a burning building, and I don’t want to go.” Homesick for a burning house.
I saw a guy standing on one leg and thought it was me. My feet are just aching to get back on the ground. Weakness is acquired through moments of weakness, clinging like burs. Who does tragedy admire when there is no death that is not in vain?
It seems the meaningful things happen under candlelight; be it the candle on my desk, by my bed, or at the bar. Even by the light of the flame I can freeze. My fingers grip the pencil and my mind grips the day too tight and so grasps nothing.
Walking up her street, sun peering down at us, our hands not quite warm, but our foreheads bearing the kiss of the noonday sun. I was tired, a good sort of tired. My belly was full, and the morning had burned away all my lists and any sense of duty. We exchanged a few words, but mostly just looked around with a strange satisfaction that disappeared and was born anew with every passing moment.
I am a worker bee. I buzz everywhere I go. With the dawn we rush into the fields by the thousands. Click, zoom, vroom, ding. But I’ve got something growing in me, a parasite, one that gives and takes away.
Slow boat over murky waters—reflective waters. She tries to crack her head open so that he may see inside. It’s pretty messy in there, and I don’t think he knows how to untie knots.
Love is a parasite; it is careful not to kill the host, but it can certainly make it difficult to live.
The zoo is pleasant, the wild is good.
Seagulls hover above, white white against the blue. They look like clouds they’re so white and hovering. Now directed, purposed, animate clouds circling endlessly.
Gladness is early winter wind. It barrels through my leaves, all my red flags, and washes them away in a wave. They come fluttering down to the ground where I can see them more clearly, see them for what they are. The leafless tree, now naked.
Eleven PM. I feel like I’m walking around in a soundproof room. My sole scraping the pavement, a passing motorcycle, her little tiny minuscule voice as she tells me what she thought of the show; all subdued. I suggest a game of pool at bar across the street. ‘No’ all round. They’re young women, they don’t have the same sad, degenerate desire to slurp up the entire ocean of an evening. They realize ocean or puddle, the waters are the same (poisonous in large doses). So we say goodbye, ears now ringing, and I slip away and into a bar. In the bar I meet three people. The first two are abrasive to the point of being intolerable. The girl is maybe late thirties and the guy is in his fifties at least—friends not lovers. They are both computer people, and in this way, very much not people people. The third person is a gorgeous, tall woman with an enormous afro. We play pool together. She’s there with a work party. She’s a bartender at the South American bar/music venue down the street. One of her eyes is red, as if a blood vessel has popped. The computer guy warns me that the bar and all its employees have Russian mob connections. I find it unlikely, but he’s utterly convinced. I ask her to play pool again. She agrees with only a touch reluctance. I can tell she’s not entirely into it, but I’m hopeful. After the next game I ask for her number. She gets a little awkward and suggests that I just stop by the bar sometime. I never do.
I wrote that I felt like I had achieved some sort of balance. In hindsight it all looks lopsided, even toppled. But at the time (maybe I was drunk?) I wrote of balance. I said it like: I revel in aloneness, and I revel in togetherness; the trouble is to know which one to chase down at any given time. I can’t exactly say what contentment feels like, but I now know quite well how a lack of discontentment feels. A caress of closeness, sourceless affection, as if life or the world itself were your mother or your lover.
Pain is not the opposite of pleasure. Pleasure’s opposite is numbness.
Caring for an injury is like caring for a child, though it is less rewarding.
I want to catch up on all the living I’ve missed, but I don’t know how. I don’t know whether all these words and stories and images are life, are proof of my living, or if they are an impoverished simulacrum of it.
A dogfish. My friend and I are similar in many ways. It is most glaring when in the company of strangers or mothers. There are some people we come across in this life that may be falling from a different cloud, but were raised up, evaporated, from the same sea. We may fall as rain upon different lands, but our waters are the same. Take note of these people as you fall through the skies of life.
Focus on one truth and try, often desperately, to trace its edges. I am tracing the edges of this world, but so little is true. Truth it seems, resits its tracing; it can neither be created nor copied, only experienced. There is no imitating truth, only stealing it. If truth is what you’re stealing, no one will consider it theft. It is only theft when people steal the signs but leave the things signified. Truth is a property that has no proprietor, only stewards.
Sit, wait, let the part of your mind that cannot speak provide some things to say.
The difference between jealousy and envy; envy is green, jealousy some shade of red.
Two things that are thematically tragic: the destruction of a passion—of one’s work, the destruction of vocational proof—and the deserved jealousy over a lover. There are few feelings that cut so deeply in literature as wanton jealousy and disloyalty. Disloyalty is so painful to see in literature, perhaps worse than experiencing it, because the reader has all the facts.
You move out of the way. They pass by. The streets aren’t busy, but they’re narrow. It is not our impotence that makes us move for others, but our care. You needn’t love everything or feel responsible for everything, but you should have some degree of care. Be invested in the world, care about the outcomes. Don’t let the care overwhelm you.
I wrote that I felt like I had achieved some sort of balance. In hindsight it all looks lopsided, even toppled. But at the time (maybe I was drunk?) I wrote of balance. I said it like: I revel in aloneness, and I revel in togetherness; the trouble is to know which one to chase down at any given time. I can’t exactly say what contentment feels like, but I now know quite well how a lack of discontentment feels. A caress of closeness, sourceless affection, as if life or the world itself were your mother or your lover.
Your legacy is conferred in a mere glance, you impregnate the world with your every action. In that case, raise good children, smile on the streets.
Hearing is automatic, listening is easy, comprehending takes effort. The answer is persistence and care. Comprehension, the construction of bridges between the islands of your mind. It seems there are no boats in the mind (or perhaps boats appear with the help of drugs, desperation, and meditation). It is the connection of unconnected things. Tie them up, tether them, learn your knots.
The streams of my future will fork and divide without my intention. Are there really river tolls that must be paid, or may I begin drifting down the stream of my own design whenever I please? The stream of my desire is up river quite a ways, so before I begin blissfully drifting, I must swim against the flow. Stable the upper hand.
When someone rots from within, they must be aired out. I air myself out on paper, but there are many ways. Awareness, looking in and out, turning oneself inside out, that is how we cure internal rot. We must avoid those who prevent us from preventing our own rot. The ones who wrought our own vocational rotting. The issue is that this rotting does not produce a smell; often we are entirely unaware of the rot as it spreads.
In our fearing death, do we envy the imperishable? Envy for the rocks and the hills and the seemingly endless ocean.
The flame of a candle flutters with every breath in the room—eventually. It records. Bodies now quiver like candle flames. The candles in a room full of lovers.
Must we remind ourselves of the end in order to make use of the middle? And what exactly does it mean to ‘make use’ of a life? Pleasure is perhaps the realization of the full extent of one’s use.
“To be of use.” It’s no matter of proof or praise, it’s perhaps even more shallow; fear. Fear of not doing, feeling, and experiencing enough of this world to even call what I had a life.
One has to reconcile with the fact that no matter how much you learn and how many remedies to ignorance you prescribe yourself, it is slipping away faster than you can recuperate. A boy stealing apples; each time he reaches out for a newer, juicier one, two fall from his basket, landing bruised and battered on the ground. He hardly notices all the apples falling from the basket. Afraid not of an empty basket, but when he’s too weak to reach fro another apple.
Southeast Asia has become mythological, a proverbial desert for bourgeois pseudo-messiahs to roam and build their styrofoam churches of the mind. It’s almost as if it were prescribed to them by a therapist of ontology. Backpacking in Southeast Asia has become the prozac to help these youngsters cope with their existential hollowness. At this point it has become beyond cliche, and I am wasting paper even talking about it. But, like every cliche, there is or was truth at its heart. Things that last long enough to become cliche are interesting. Self-reflection and discovery is important, especially when your sense of self is weak and malleable, as it is in most young people. But self-cultivation and reflection should be practiced on one’s own terms, and not the result of some trend or bourgeois rite of passage. My own assertions aside, backpacking through Southeast Asia has become a box that white middle-class twenty year olds check in order to fulfill the ‘life experience’ line item of life’s curriculum.
All her life she had to fight in order to stay. She always left, eventually. She was a hybrid; half coward, half cowboy. Both her parents were cowards, so she didn’t know where she got the cowboy. She’d pick things up for a time and then drop them for something more impossible to hold. She was always chasing something ineffable. She kept herself in a position of constant strife, a vine creeping up a sinking column. She wasn’t afraid of the future, she was afraid of success. She felt that success in any one thing meant her feet would grow roots, so
She’d leave before she could take root in any one place, doing any one thing.
Packing up her hand in mine.
A snake sheds many skins in its lifetime.
Sat there and stared at the day taking its form.
Valentine’s day’s over and there are forgotten rose petals scattered all over the streetcar floor. A couple tulip petals too. Every dog its day, every flower its hour. Some petals fall before the flower dies. The doors squeak open and the breeze stirs up the forgotten symbols into a little flurry of red flags.
Angels with lead wings.
“We are never satisfied, not even in our lack of satisfaction.”
Squeeze your eyes until they turn purple and green.
Grace cannot be taught, only learned.
The only way to make two shadows is with two sources of light. Let there only be one shadow then, one great shadow, made by the sun. The moon is nowhere to be seen.
Love: when we have it all we do is fear its loss, and when we are without it we are paralyzed in waiting for its arrival.
The night was hot enough to make you sweat while staying put. We went walking anyways. Women and men dressed as women loitered outside massage parlours. All in uniform; something revealing and ornately patterned. Others just wore T-shirts bearing the parlour’s name. They try to corner and coax foreigners as they walk by. I didn’t know if whether they were actually offering massages too, or just a place to get your rocks off with some lady or ladyboy. Was it even possible to get a real massage at these places? We grabbed some beers at the corner store and perched in some square. Bangkok is a great city for walking. It certainly wasn’t built for pedestrians, but that only added charm. It wasn’t a pretty city by any means, but it was lovable like a shaggy and foul smelling dog.
I used to be the furniture in a room, but now the room’s empty.
People who have the least to say insist on saying it. They repeat their sour nothings. Some people talk a great deal, and some people do a great deal; they’re rarely the same people.
In Canada they say ‘holiday’ instead of ‘vacation’. To vacate, to make it an action, leaving something empty, vacated. Holidays are passive—they happen to you. Often I feel the need to vacate, to leave this house, wherever my mind has decided to reside. Tonight it is lodging in a particularly loathsome place. The cheapest vacation is the one I choose. It comes in through the lips. In the mornings I suffer from terrible jet lag—these nightly vacations are hard on me but necessary. Only part of me travels, and what is left behind is glad to see me go. There’s nothing holy about my holidays and so I call them vacations.
The parts of myself that I need, the parts that should really stay in town are disappearing. Some days I get them back, short visits, like distant relatives visiting a man in a hospital who just doesn’t seem to die. The eyes come peeping in from a crack in the door. They see I’m alive and they see me see them. They must come in and visit for a while now. The best parts of me visit me out of guilt alone.
Love was a beast in my dream. It came from the water and I couldn’t stop staring at it. My father scolded me, claiming that I was taunting it. The beast rushed me. It had no legs, only the fins of a sea lion, but it approached as if flying. I ran from it but knew it would eventually catch up, I knew it would kill me. My father held open a little glass door; everything was now glass. I crawled through the little door, and behind me the beast came smashing through everything; walls, doors, ceilings. I felt guilty for getting my father tangled up in my death. Then I lay in a hospital bed recovering. It didn’t take long, a few presses of the snooze button.
Freedom is taking your eyes off your feet as you walk. Freedom is perspective ever-growing.
“The people are lost without the word of God, for their souls are athirst for the word and for all that is good.” The notion of some kind of higher power seems hardwired into us, for everyone has their god, even the godless.
Deeply affected though profoundly ineffective.
The old man writes that we must have a time of ripening—a desert decade, a period of solitary gestation—in order to realize the siblinghood of all. Purgation, illumination, unification. But love and care and work ought not to be hoarded up, stored, and inwardly developed, as a camel stores liquid as it crosses the desert. Instead we should envy the elephant who uses its enormous tusk to spark the waters of the oasis every which way.
We must be driven through and out of the desert of work in isolation.
I laugh the hardest when I laugh at myself. It is easy to laugh at conviction, it is hard to have it.
“Work without ceasing. If you remember in the night as you go to sleep, ‘I have not done what I ought to have done’; rise up at once and do it. If people around you are spiteful and callous and will not hear you, fall down before them and beg forgiveness. For in truth you are to blame for their not wanting to hear you. And if you cannot speak to them in their bitterness, serve them in silence and in humility, never losing hope. If all men abandon you and even drive you away by force, then when you are left alone fall on the earth and kiss it, water it with your tears and it will bring forth fruit even though no one has seen or heard you in your solitude.”
Sometimes a bit of aimlessness increases our direction and our precision. Some people find pointlessness unbearable, or they can only stand it once they’ve prescribed and administered some type of complementary poison.
The leaves have not yet turned from green to red. They’re still green, though a lighter green, faded, almost grey. They’re flimsier too, as if the cold winds snatched part of them away in all the rustling. They are tissue paper and the sun’s light makes them glow. illuminated grey-green—the eyes of my mother.
Build the bridge and then the man.
“For everyone strives to keep his individuality as apart as possible, wishes to secure the greatest possible fullness of life for himself, but meantime all his efforts result not in attaining fullness of life but in self-destruction, for instead of self-realization, he ends by arriving at complete solitude. All mankind in our age have split up into units; they all keep apart, each in his own groove; each one holding himself aloof, hides himself and hides what he has from the rest, and he ends up by being repelled from others and repelling them.”
A stray dog wanders by night. It doesn’t know where to go, doesn’t need to know where to go, as it has no leash and no master. Nonetheless, it wanders searching for a master. It can’t remember whether it once had one, or if a master merely befits its canine nature. It feels like there’s a collar still snug around its neck, but again, unsure. It has heard of other dogs that have had masters. One night a figure appears. The dog is frightened, the figure is tall. “I am your master,” it says, “but you will have to carry on without me, worn and weary. No leash, no treat, no beatings and no purpose.” The dog wags its tail. It cannot understand. It’s a dog.
Both the sea and the sky are the colour of lead. A ship slips along the horizon, but there is no horizon. The ship flies through the air, but there is no air; only some sort of indiscriminate and infinite space, both the colour of lead.
My life doesn’t revolve around the plans of others…it doesn’t even revolve around my own plans!
Moonlight’s glare looks like lightning.
We all visit the desert from time to time, but the desert is lonely and we cannot realize our love for humanity there. Or can we? Perhaps it is the only place where a genuine love for humanity can be properly gestated because it is so far away from humanity. Does one need perspective on something in order to love it, or is love more instinctual than that? Is love a rear-view mirror emotion? Eventually we stumble back into the city through the gates and exaggerate our own freedom. You will have a master. Your only power is in choosing what that master will be.
O transparent eyeball, have your interpreter use fewer words.
Why must we talk when we can see? The woman’s cane strikes the gallery floor like thunder, footsteps like hail. She tries to dismantle the art as if it were an engine. The people listen because they don’t know what else to do. For things to be wholly enjoyed, they must remain whole. The same goes for paintings; words chop paintings up into tiny little pieces, so small the work can no longer be seen by the naked eye. I wish to use my naked eye, for it sees best, and it’s right to be naked.
You can still feel the light hit your eyes when they’re closed.
Only children die from neglect.
Bridges built in all directions. The hub, where from all these spokes reach out, is utopia. We become well-rounded when we extend ourselves in all directions. In so doing, we never stray too far from our centre. Do you have a point in life? Then you may be misshapen. Such people have extended themselves too far one way. To be round is to roll through life; to be pointed is to dig.
The Ho Hum Wheel crawls along everlastingly. “Ho hum” goes its creaking. Somehow, despite its languid pace, the wheel rolls over every obstacle. Slowness, creakiness, a teetering, but on it goes, only hesitating, never relenting. “Ho hum,” it murmurs again. If you find its track be sure to follow it. The wheel knows the way to purgatory, the only place where one can be left alone to think. Follow the Ho Hum Wheel. It splits the road in half because it always stays in the centre. As it rolls it may appear to lean more to one side than the other, but in the end the road will be divided perfectly. Harmony is a composite of unequal parts. It’s through the long coming together that balance is struck. So don’t only look in the middle of the road for the tracks of the Ho Hum Wheel. It deviates often, with the middle in mind, as you should too.
It seems like questions are felt long before we are given the words to ask them. We equip ourselves (or is it arming?) and over time we refine our questions. We’re never really given the words for an answer, but that’s because the best answers are wordless.
It was Thanksgiving Sunday. He moved to the city years ago and had no close family there. Surely he could have reached out to a cousin or a second cousin, but he felt such social arrangements to be utterly exhausting. He didn’t detest small talk, in fact he rather enjoyed it. Weather, sports, news; conversation flowed out of him easily, almost vivaciously. It was only when the topic turned round to face him that he become at first stiff, then evasive, and finally completely wiped. “What are you up to in the city?” “Where are you working?” “Girlfriends?”. The weight of his eyelids increased with every question—It couldn’t be helped! A smile that formed easily and naturally earlier in the evening—one wide, toothy, and convincing—became stale and forced. So, with staleness caressing his lips at the mere thought, he decided it was best to go for a walk, and leave distant relatives relatively distant. Fall had only just settled over the city after a long wrestling bout with a late summer. The leaves were now recoiling, shivering, and curling up in the cold breathe of autumn. He quite rightly threw his winter coat over an old stained wool sweater. His pace was brisk but his thoughts were slow and heavy; molten lead solidifying. There was another lone man on the street, seemingly the only one for miles. A few metres ahead, the lone man stopped before a restaurant window and peered in. He brought his hand up to his brow to reduce the glare from the street lamps. Finding the restaurant immediately unsuitable, he swung back around and continued walking. The face of the man was familiar, a friend’s roommate, an ear doctor in his late twenties. They exchanged hellos and came to realize they were equally aimless. A silence broadened between them, and then shrank into nothing as the first lone man asked the second lone man: “Would you like to have dinner with me?”. After a nod and a somewhat bashful smile, they walked on together. Few restaurants were open, maybe one or two per block. They didn’t talk much as they walked, but eventually the second lone man, perhaps feeling it necessary for the first lone man to understand that he wasn’t lonesome or desperate for company, explained that he had in fact been invited to a friend’s place for dinner, but had declined the invitation at the last minute. The first lone man smiled and nodded agreeably. But after a few seconds found that his agreement wasn’t enough; he made up a similar story about how a friend from school had invited him to dinner as well, that he too was needed somewhere and actively chose to be alone. Perhaps they had both lied. After walking another block, the cold wind beckoned them inside and they settled on a bar with cheap food and TVs on the walls. The bar served a hodgepodge of ‘Canadian’ and asian food; anything from fish and chips to Singapore noodles. They both got the sense that the food probably wouldn’t make them sick, but it would in no way be satisfying. It didn’t matter; the food was symbolic, the beer was necessary. They both took long sips. The restaurant was almost empty but they found themselves sitting at the bar. Perhaps it was because the bar meant they didn’t have to sit across from each other, which seemed too cheap an attempt at a sad photocopy of thanksgiving dinner. They both had it in their minds that this was not thanksgiving dinner. It just happened to be thanksgiving, they just happened to bump into each other, and they both just happened to want a beer and a bite to eat. The second lone man was gay, the first lone man wasn’t, but he was well-coiffed and rather handsome. Neither of them felt it necessary to speak, something hard to find in acquaintances and cherished in old friends. Conversation flooded, was dammed, flooded, and dammed again. When there weren’t words there was the baseball game and when the commercials came on there was always beer. Neither of them really knew when it is appropriate to clap or holler at the game, so they waited for the few Bluejays fans in the bar to pipe up, and they mimed, trailing behind a bit. Both assumed the other was more of a fan than they actually were. Eventually the bills were brought and the coats were zipped. They walked together a little further east and then parted ways with a hug and a wave. The cold walk home tried and failed to erase the warmth from thanksgiving dinner.
Life does not lead us by the hand. It drags us around by the neck. If we are wise we wrap our hands around its neck too. But don’t squeeze too tight.
Two weeds intertwined, one rotted and one right. They lean on each other to reach the sun’s light. If one falls away, or we cut it down, even the rotted, they both shall tumble back down into the dirt.
Dreams have started to overflow into my memories. Like the silt of a riverbed, only becoming murky and crossbred when stirred up. When I go hunting for memories, splashing about in the pools of my past, I’m not sure where dream ends and memory begins. When I let memory flow, dreams sink to the bottom, and the waters run crystal clear.
“The leafless tree looked like a brain.”
From the window of a bus far to the west, towering skyscrapers are reduced to little blips on the horizon, like the peaks of sound waves. We put things in miniature when we wish to understand through dissection, and we blow things up when we wish to keep them whole and stand under them.
There is a wound, rather large, on her body. It will never heal, and it must be cared for everyday. She does it herself. The wound moves around at night. Each morning she inspects her body, looking for the wound’s new residence. Most of the time it stays below her neck, but on occasion it’ll crawl its way up onto her face. She hates it when its in plain view like that. Those are the days when she locks herself away in her room. It’s been like this for a long time. She doesn’t know how long. It must be drained regularly, otherwise it will fester. She bleeds it. Sometimes she obsesses over it, pinching, prodding, lacerating, irritating it. She considered suicide at one point, but then who would care for the wound? What would happen to it? Where would it go? No it must be maintained, even if that’s all she does.
Why do we all have a tendency to perceive that which is imperceptible? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just see what is there? Why do we invent, why are we such inventors? Touch-me-nots among the nettles; I shall not pop them all today. Dogwoods and birches looking like bone trees, now berries among the nettles. My forearms are burning but they do not recoil. The touch-me-nots explode when I touch them and I can’t seem to put them back together. Little spring-loaded hearts that explode when touched or dropped.
Do the things that make you feel dead, like you have never lived–the things that bring you closer not to annihilation, but to oblivion.
The berries that hang over the stream are poisonous. Wade into the water to get them. The drags fallen leaves over the stream, crossing like ferrymen. If you laugh you fall, if you cry you’ve already fallen.
The year of a dog though I am a flea.
I will nest at the bottom of my tree. It is more dangerous there.
Dreams full of deja-vu, waking moments always new.
He’s some sort of lobbyist–a professional talker. He get’s fired and blacklisted after an altercation with a female colleague. Rightly so, no firm wants to hire him. He ends up hiring himself out to the church; they need to grow their community, increase their donations, and get young people into churches again. He does this for a little while, spinning the old teachings in such a way that they resonate with his target. Soon he identifies an opportunity and forms his own church. We watch what spiritual power over people can do to a person.
Thoughts once winged fall to the earth like hail, brought down by birdshot. They lie there still, static and dead–no longer thoughts.
You do not know you have grown unless you measure, but the process of measuring interrupts growth. So do not measure, simply grow.
Stare at the bullseye! Stare and stare, stare it into submission–it is shifty eyes that lead you to miss.
The leaves no longer lean forward, lush before the sky, firmament and flora mingle, screaming. The whole tree rolls forward, ever closer. Everything sensory careens towards me, gathering, accumulating, threatening to overtake and consume. But there is no such consumption, it is a beach ball rolling toward a television screen, the person onscreen has no clue.
The desert isn’t so hard to cross, as long as you stop yourself from watching the speck on the horizon.
The blue light of the morning and the red light of night; nights can be cold and nights can be hot. Sickeningly hot. Drink, a woman, or both, can make the nights too hot. We try and fail to see beyond ourselves being seen.
The mind is always two steps behind. The mind is the busy bureaucrat, rushing to and fro. The heart is a warm shadow. It’s off a little ways, you can see it in the distance. The shadow is surely cast by a figure, but you’ll never catch up to them.
“She was too cunning to court neglect.”
Life’s beauties are relentless and deafening, yet my ears never fail me, it is only my mind that prevents me from seeing.
The world does indeed seem to shake according to the man looking through the shaky window.
On a bench where two pathways fork, I can’t think to go anywhere but backwards. The city is hot and people move backwards, I mean quickly. They move so fast in order to afford faster ways to move. Here’s to those who like to take their time: move on, slow, sluggish and striving to be slower.
Weeping willows line one path, proud maples the other. My back to the lake, me eyes watching the schools of cars swimming along the highway. Love is resting its enormous hand on my shoulder. The weight is too much for me to ever be comfortable again. I threaten myself: I will shake that warm and heavy hand off my shoulder! An empty threat. I choose the path of the weeping willows. A dead cicada on the path, though I can hear others singing in the trees. The two routes join up much sooner than I thought. I guess I didn’t look. Maples meeting willows. I was looking backwards.
Drifting down streets and walking along rivers.
I choose to take things as signs, for we hear only that which we understand. For all else we might as well be deaf. So how to we grow our understanding? Indeed, where shall wisdom be found? I see signs, for I only see what I understand.
It’s easy to trust a stranger, but as such strangeness fades, so grows your mistrust.
She wants to give her heart away to him. It’s been so long since she’s done the procedure, I don’t think she remembers how painful it is.
Boulders get chiselled away at by sandy winds and become more sand.
Goodbye sweet blues, fare thee well green envy, for I carry lavender and a peach in my paper bag. I carry it to a woman I could love. The sky is purple as I hoped it would be. The stars are fast asleep, covered by pillowy blankets of sky and smog. Another cigarette on the park bench just so I can see that cherry glow in lieu of the stars. O bright city nights, who do you love? A paper bag from the liquor store, a ripe peach, a lavender twig. A demon that loves what is beautiful plucks the peach and devours it. It fills him up and drowns his heart. With his heart thus drowned, he can let his hands do terrible things. I’m sorry that I bruised your peach, I didn’t know it would fall so easily, a mere breeze could have taken it from its tree. Maybe it was meant to fall, but my hand was the wrong one to loosen it.
Stop yourself from seeing your own face in all that doesn’t wear it.
The light of the fire is the most forgiving, and yet its breath is the least forgiving. These days I yearn for the ocean’s breath, her light.
A red flag was risen, and so I should raise my white one. I had plans to see her tonight and she abruptly cancelled. I was struck by a guttural sort of disappointment. I ought to give in to my cowardice while I still can. Things become harder to drop the longer you hold onto them. Everything overlaps in time; the stone becomes part of your hand.
I used to lie about stupid things. Now I lie about the important stuff.
Poetry is a lie in beautiful clothing.It’s autumn, though it’s hot here and the sweat saturates my shirt. I sit by the street as if it were a river watching all the things drift by.
My body becomes the air that I breath or the poison that I drink. I had dreams That a man was trying to give me a manifesto that I had already read.
The tree with green leaves has twelve of yellow. They hang there like fruit, ripe enough to drop. November the mountain, December the valley below. Walking through pathways lined with some kind of flower. Waiting in doorways forced to cower. Black water reflects what looms over them, flowers flattened by pages, stuck betwixt them. Who ripped them out? First the flower then the page.
“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.”
In order to be useful, a philosophy mustn’t be created out of spite or in resistance to existing societal structures and religious consciousnesses. The best philosophies aren’t presented as an alternatives; one should not demolish the church to build the foundation of the temple. The optimal philosophy is not one of parricide; it is action, not reaction.
The girl I’m falling down the stairs with described the departing sun in Australia as almost eerie; as if the earth has plunged into some distant, fiery part of the universe. Or perhaps simply flew off its course and slipped away to where it could be manhandled by the sun itself.
Sure, I want world peace, but I wish no such peace upon myself. The dogfights within are far too entertaining.
My lighter lies on my bedside table at home, and so here, at the house of the girl who has us falling down the stairs, my cigarettes remain unlit. I pop over to the fruit stand to buy a lighter and she asks me if I’ll buy her a peach. I pick the perfect one; soft, responding to every touch, taking my fingerprints with it, deep reds and pale yellows. “The perfect peach!” she says, rolling it over in her hands.
A heart sinks when it is filled too full with love.
The monk and the drunk in me fight for my time.
“Now I’m being stalked by God.”
“[…] may be able to sow a smattering of roses atop the thorny path of life.”–these are not roses, they are fruits, and like any object of consumption, require moderation to be properly enjoyed.
It is the same with writing as it is with pool; your grip must be loosened, a sort of unstrained steadiness settles itself into your bones. I am gripping too hard and my hands are aching.
If the neutral state is entropy, how can we perceive order? Does order transcend its perception? Or is it a byproduct of our minds?
“[…] in the midst of murders and civil wars, our republic became stronger and its citizens infused with virtues. A little bit of agitation gives resources to souls and what makes the species prosper isn’t peace, it’s freedom.” Freedom is to accept and adapt to a world that is unchanging in its volatility. Peace, or rather self-imprisonment, is to flatten our environments, rendering adaptation useless.
It’s too sunny to see the neon. My steps are small, but I feel the momentum. I can’t quite make out the distance I’ve come, nor how far I have yet to travel, but I am hopeful. I’m not at all certain that the direction I’m travelling will lead me anywhere better than where I’ve been. I see neon on the back of my eyelids after looking up at the sun.
The leaves shed their greenness and will soon shed themselves entirely. We’ve shed our clothes and now lie motionless. A feeling crawls through my ear and into my brain like an earwig: I shouldn’t be here anymore. I’m not welcome. At first I was a guest, but now I’m an intruder. I become the earwig. My body is too hot, it suffocates her, sweat still beading here and there on my skin. I’m dark from the sun, she is as white as her bed sheets. She doesn’t seem to notice my metamorphosis. Her eyelids flutter, she’s sailing through some other place that will be forgotten in the morning. I try not to watch her as she sinks deeper and deeper into pools of sleep. Her whole body jolts, waking her for an eternal moment. I look around the room for something else hang my gaze upon. She groans sleepily. “Did you fall?”, asks the intruder. She nods her head sleepily. “How high?”, he continues. A moment of silence and then “Stairs” slips gently from her soft lips. That’s how we fall in love, tumbling down the stairs. Love is no cliff. We tumble down one step at a time. It takes a while and it’s painful. Part of this process is pretending that you’re in no pain whatsoever, that each impact, every concussion, is a blessing and a source of great joy. I hope she fell to the bottom. I think I’m headed there too.
Like the gardens by the train tracks.
The arts: the web that surrounds the spider. The spider itself: wisdom, thought, and feeling. The spider is enough, but she must make her web in order to eat.
Her skin is milk and blue snakes swim through it.
Love can both sedate and torture.
Heavy clouds drift overhead, but I don’t think they’ll rip open and bleed all over the city, a sky disembowelled. At least for now the sky will remain in the sky.
A daydream of night; city lights, brake lights, traffic lights reflected in the cigarette butt soaked puddle of college street. That sweet rain smell, everything wet and muffled. Every sound is a splash, reaching you in ripples.
A long thin blade of light cuts into my eye. The curved railroad tracks mock the red lights above, doubly bright against the black ties and gravel. The bridge that I look down from is well lit. There’s something about the Ontario sky. Like it’s closer here than anywhere else. So close it’s almost leaning its weight on you.
Moths and other insects swirl around the light of a street lamp in perfect chaos. The white light slaps the foliage of an adjacent tree. Soon all the leaves will begin their beautiful deaths.
Heaven is a hometown. We fear love, for it means going back to our hometown. Without that kind of love we are forever on the road, eternally homesick. I’ll only visit my home town in doses for fear that my blood turns to honey, and my cloak into bedsheets.
When you burn, do it to light the path of another, not to consume in flames.
Crawling and licking like flames or a dog. Some lovers burn each other out. One is cold, one is hot, a flame is put out or ice is melted. But when two people burn together, burning to illuminate, not to destroy, they can see far and wide.
I wonder if the cross burning neon white is still shining high over the highway, the industrial buildings and the warehouses. Does a church stand at its base, looking up at the cross like a proud child?
She couldn’t even make a dog wag its tail.
To die of immortality.
Wasps in the late summer buzzing around garbage cans and the lips of women with sweet breath. What they’re after is what they’ll eat. The wasp is not like its false twin. Bees will strive and collect for the good of the hive. Wasps do not have hives, they have nests; a slum for scavengers. Many people in this world are wasps. They don’t make anything from what they collect; for wasps, honey is only to be consumed, not created. Perhaps I am a wasp. Before the honey comes the comb; bees must also make the context for their work, the form. I always forget about the wax and go straight to the honey. No one knows what to do with it (besides, it is not very sweet). Perhaps I’m visiting the wrong flowers. Hyacinth, lavender, and lilac; all purple and blue. Maybe one day I’ll learn where the sunflowers are, or even the rose.
“Don’t be afraid when the snake is at hand, the serpent is kind compared to man.”
The grackle flies but does not land, greeting the sun alone each morning. Eyes filled with darkness, but it can see. We speak of blindness and sight–they come and go. To see what you love, you get closer. The closer you get, the more blind you become.
A blue pencil and a yellow notebook; sadness scribbles upon cowardice.
Summer stamps its foot down one last time, and the cicadas sing into the sun.
So, you’ve fallen into the well. Bless the waters so that they become holy. Purify yourself in your watery tomb.
The cicadas again: perhaps the final song of this year. Last night I reached out, and so did the other. A brief warmth, the beginnings of work and time; saying yes is always easier when the work has not yet begun. So we both say yes. It felt good–such warmth when we trade affection. It’s just as satisfying to give affection as it is to receive. Perhaps the two cannot exist without symbiosis, two vines twirling upwards, growing to such heights because of their entanglement.
The smoke from the stacks forms a cross in the sky. Lately my dreams have all been eerily familiarity. They smell of my past.
To possess eros, the actions of a freed soul, one must have discipline. Without discipline there is only slavery.
The power lines and the streetcar lines are plucked by the sun’s declining light like the strings of a guitar. They vibrate in waves of light.
For how little I know about this girl I seem to like her a lot. But I don’t want my heart to stop wandering, I’m always amazed by the places it is liable to travel when I let it roam. Love in the paint-chipped brick, or the sun turning the blushing oak leaves into glowing gems. I don’t want to be broken by love; the wandering love does not leave us broken (for it never even offers to fix us). The love of twilight or an empty city street doesn’t steal a heart and threaten to never give it back. One bar on the uppermost tip of a looming crane is painted pink in the twilight.
Today the sky is the palest blue I’ve ever seen. I think the smog makes it so pale. It gets darker the higher I look. Near the horizon the blue is almost white. A blue flower on the ground, chicory. It lies flat as if it was plucked and then forgotten.
One of the pigeon’s feet is curled up, clubbed. The other one still grips the ground like the roots of a flower. It walks with a limp. Some old man will toss it some bread later.
Original thought need only be original in relation to the self. Some skin and some sentiment.
I wrestle in a shallow mind and yet I always drown.
Seek privacy in public and yearn for publicity in private.
Where does my mind wish to go tonight? It seems quite struck by a stranger, a silhouette on whom I’ve pasted many lovable things, a Maria with a body. All that’s left is for her to prove my silhouette wrong (or, more likely, right).
It takes a lifetime to know someone well enough so that they are no longer a victim of your dreams and your assumptions.
Life is lively.
A hermit on the loose, leave your sorrows by the door before you leave.
My mind is stuck in my heart, like the thorns of a bush pricking itself.
The part of my mind that rarely speaks always says it best.
Greatness without goodness is evil. Many have become great without becoming good. Such a path to greatness is cleared with a scythe, and many stalks must fall.
I’m learning how to speak without talking. Talk is hazy.
Our minds are powerful when we ask a good question and provide enough empty space for it to be answered. I’m searching for a question. I have too much to ask. I would like to ask what is unaskable, and to answer with what is undeniable.
It is safe to say that we live out our lives in purgatory–a beautiful and endless purgatory. For it is in purgatory where we must invent our own virtue, where we must occupy ourselves; in purgatory the only question is: “what shall I do now?”. The beasts don’t live in purgatory, nor do the trees. They live up above.
The reflection of a glass building on another glass building. Every story is one of love; love’s loss, its pursuit, its creation, its hardship. Buildings of thirty stories or more, each story another story, reflected upon each other, facing each other. There is so much we can love, but we only seem to love it once we give it a name. We cannot love the thing signified without the sign. We can only love that which we’ve given a name. When I want to love something that has no name, I swim to my island and try to think up a name.
I walk to the bottom of the city where the boats circle in the breeze. There’s nothing more still than the waves, pulsing, undulating–a kind of movement that stills you. The waters construct mountain ridges that disappear and reappear endlessly. A gosling in the waves, the wake of a boat.
Eventually every question requires the flesh of an allegory. Not to answer it, merely to animate it.
This story begins with a question: what is the name of that tree in her front yard? I slept there that night when she told me. We locked ourselves out. The keys were inside on a wooden table beside two lit candles. And now I’m in love with the tree that grows in her front yard. I can’t remember its name…can I love something that doesn’t have a name? It has a name, just not one that I’m privy to. I knew the name that night, but it has since drifted away.
Out the window, the industrial zone drifts by, huge empty lots and smoke stacks and movie studios. Then a few houses, one with a neon sign in its window: “PSYCHIC”. A blue neon eye above that. Something tickles the back of my neck. It’s probably just the strap of someone’s backpack, or a wayward lock of hair. My fingers find the spider and crush it between my thumb and index finger.
As your poems get better and better, they become more akin to silence.
“And other withered stumps of time, Were told upon the walls; staring forms, Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.”
How can something be untethered? Perhaps such things are not the underlying supports of the self. Reactionary tendencies, and even then, tendency implies repetition and repetition implies pattern, pattern implying consistency. What is the self but a story built from the interplay between consistency and inconsistency. The self is only unchanging in its relentless transformations, an animal that simultaneously cannibalizes and births itself. So how can something be untethered?
I made this cup so I could put things in it. Nothing will fit. The cup is overflowing with emptiness, I am not. I drink from my cup each night and my fullness fills up with emptiness. I close the door to the cupboard where I keep my cup, but my coat gets stuck in the gap. My room gets bigger with the addition of the cupboard, an annex. My coat will not unstick. I am trapped between two rooms and my cup is empty.
I love to fail (in private [is it failure if no one sees it but yourself? Don’t we justify those failures away?]). failure doesn’t exist when you’re alone.
A quicksand man, sinking low, will take anyone he can with him. They sink into him and become sand. He spends his nights making sand and sifting for gold.
Maybe if I go outside the moon will whisper something in my ear and I’ll be able to write it down. She’ll tell me that God needs help. He’s fallen and he can’t get up. Ignore the “Do Not Resuscitate” bracelet on his wrinkled wrists, she’ll say. Somebody has to be there to hear his last words. She tells me something far more wordless.
Talking god down from the ledge.
Insane among the sane and sane among the insane are identical positions.
Twilight is the city. I leave school on an empty stomach. The clock mocks me, round and fat. It is the last day of the year that will feel anything like summer. The pavement slips away, receding, under my automatic limbs. I hear a buzzing sound. It grows louder. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. A red shape swoops down, heading my way. Before we collide, the blood-red bird dives down and extinguishes the buzz emanating from a cicada. As it turns the fly, the cicada drops from its beak. The bird perches the bough of a nearby maple, waiting for me to pass. The cardinal looks at me, frantic. I look at it, frantic. The cicada squirms, trying to roll back onto its stomach. Little buzzes punctuated by clicks emphasize its efforts. The bird: I’ve never before seen such redness have a life behind it. It is brake-light red.
A young couple shares a sandwich on the bus. The guy in the seat in front of them opens the packaging of some nail clippers, and begins clipping away. Clip, clip, clip! Fingernail clippings shoot this way and that.
To banish sin is to suppress sin, and suppression only pushes things deeper. Do not let sin reach the depths of your self. Let it be innocent and shallow, and your graces deep. Keep your sins accessible, almost handy.
One could spend a lifetime at the fork in the road.
Real love is always remorseless. Remorse is mutated self-love.
Many hands make short work, many minds make small ideas.
A tower so tall that it cannot be reached by anyone but the builder. Perhaps it is digging down, not building up.
“I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.
Piling stones high enough to reach god. A burial mound perhaps? A fall from such a height would cause even the most winged souls to break through the earth and slip down down down far enough to meet the devil.
I can feel the subway trains rumble underneath me.
What I always thought was a swallow on the penny was really a dove. I’m still unsure whether a dove is just a pigeon, or a pigeon is really a dove.
A first nation fella busking on the street corner has a cardboard sign that reads: “Danger: I’m still alive and I still have hope.”
Time, why must you get ahead of me? I’ve told you before, this isn’t a race, and yet you keep bolting ahead so far that I have to run to keep up. We both know you’ll beat me in the end, so why must we rush now?
Undergrounded. Perhaps the walls of consciousness hold within them a sort of omniscience. A numbness has grown inside my head. The numbness affects the bridge between my mind and the world. It has frozen over, and any crossing must be done slowly and deliberately.
I’m still pulling teeth, but the teeth I used to pull were all rotten. Now I just yank them all out indiscriminately.
The weeping willow is careful not to drag its leaves along the ground. That would be too self-indulgently weepy.
Life from the window of a train. Sometimes we feel ourselves to be living underground. Everything is dark, myopic, and closed in. No light from the outside, all that spills in down here is more darkness. The lights down below don’t even try to mimic sunlight, it’s all flickering fluorescents. The stifling dankness is produced by the same ones who suffer by it. Some people would burn their whole lives up just to give themselves a little more light to see.
I found my literary limp, what has made me so painfully slow and immobile; I have not been walking enough. The less I walk, the more my mind runs away from me, and not in a good way. It becomes lost and yet so fast.
It’s that time of year when summer has let go, but autumn has not yet bitten on. The city floats between them, tossed through the waves of air in utter bliss. At about eight thirty each night, the sky fades to an ocean-dream blue; it’s the blue that a child would use to paint the sea, having never seen it herself. An everlasting blue, but it only hangs there in the sky for a few minutes.
I’m not sure if the fading blue to black above is hindered or enhanced by the yellow streetlights.
Tomorrow’s breath on my back. I want a new river every time my love drowns.
The city looks like everything I’ve missed from the window of a bus far to the west.
The soul takes forever to be born. We are born with only pieces of it, and we spend our lives trying to put those pieces together.
The sun is good, but it would be torture without shade.
The characters whom we people our minds with are infallible, often making it difficult to accept the people of the world. But fallibility is beauty, just as the gnarled old tree is spared and cherished because it cannot be milled into lumber.
We were made empty, find what fills you up. My life is the fullest it’s ever been, and yet it’s the emptiest I’ve ever seen it.
The light from the neon bar sign splashes against a tree. The planes are taking off through the smog. I don’t want anything I haven’t got. I just want time with what I’ve already found.
I have a hard time saying “no”. Soon I find myself carousing again. Filling my cup, emptying my cup. Filling my cup, emptying my cup. Vacillating between empty and full, like the moon. I’ve been seeing things lately; shadows and little bursts of light.
An island only she could swim to. An island she built. Islands have clean borders. People like clean borders, they like to know where one thing ends and another begins. Our minds do not do well with blur or frayed edges. There is no question where the island begins, and where it ends. The only one who can raise any doubts is the tides.
There must first be a box. Only then can we come up with ideas that originate from outside the box. Before the box existed, ‘outside the box’ didn’t exist.
The Ontario sky with its blues; the seemingly infinite depths. Somedays they lean forward and place a hand on your shoulder. Other days they are distant and only offer shifting glances.
Pigeons on the wires and the billboards.
Skipping stones across the sea, waiting for them to come skipping back. Work cannot persist without love, and love cannot survive without work.
It’s funny when you tell everyone you’re leaving forever and then you come back. All the bottles have been emptied into the river. It flows faster and faster to the ocean. I’ll eat the dove.
All the greyness of this city leaves room for such vibrance in other respects.
The self untethered from time or experience. Our only chains are the stories and labels we we create and enforce for ourselves. The self ought to be treated as a process, a story still being penned. Enlightenment is self-doubt. But then what do we hold fast to in all this? Nothing. Tablets and moralities have no place with the non-constant self.
No matter how well-received their work is, there’s always something missing. To write one billboard headline they sit down and pen one hundred, but what if they penned a thousand? Ten thousand? A million? Would they end with a headline so powerful that the billboard would transcend mere advertising? First accidents would start on the highway leading up the billboard, then crowds of people would come to visit it, crowding around its base. Whole lives would be changed. People would have the words tattooed upon their bodies (which isn’t saying much these days). As long as they could read the words, see them printed on another source besides their minds, they were happy. Must every story end with self annihilation? Many begin with an object. The object usually has life-altering qualities or allows our character to break the chains of his personal experience and experience the lives of others (every writer’s dream). String six words together that could change the world. The thing is, no six words can do that on their own, they must be in relation to something, they must be borne out of a particular context, one that everyone can feel, if only subconsciously. Also some phrases become worth repeating simply because they have been repeated so many times. Some campaigns, for example, build their own contexts around a phrase or a string of words. They define their poeticism with their actions. This is what gives words real power; they must be tethered to a context which funnels down into a single question, then that string of words becomes the answer. Perhaps that’s the process of writing: coming up with answers to questions you haven’t yet asked. We ask the question only once we’ve perfected the answer. But what if six words could do something like that? Perhaps they are responding to a universal question, one felt by all but never expressed before? What would people do if they saw the answer to life written on a billboard? Would books be burnt? I suppose that’s every great thinker’s dream (not the part of the iceberg that we can see), to supersede all that came before. To destroy our ancestors and their efforts, to grow the richest fruit from a fallow field. I say we must quell such desires, wherever they dwell in the depths of our minds. We also ought to rid ourselves of the illusion that we are on the brink of time, that everything that has come before, like dominoes, has led us here. The dominoes can fall whichever way they please. Any time besides the present is malleable. The more of it we uncover or illuminate, or even change, the larger the past grows. Anyways, I meant to hammer home the point that we are not strapped to the front of time. We, and our experiences of the present moment, are not the bridges between past and future. Past and future have never been separated.
I do not believe in forcing our waters to be still. Anger and other such vices are tools, and do not inherently exhibit any quality, good or bad. Rage is like a forest fire; every now and again we must let the fire spread through the forest, consuming but the old and dry wood. The problem is that we, like people settling their homes on the edge of forest, have carefully built our temperaments on the edge of anger. We then strive to put out these fires whenever they arise, for fear of losing what we’ve built. But ultimately, we have only postponed their burning, for fire is a natural process, a re-stabilization, a natural catharsis, and if we hold it back for too long, as many do, we risk all the trees losing their greenness becoming old, dry, and easily burned. And so we require the regular wildfire in order to burn up all of choler’s kindling. When we stifle our anger needlessly, we are liable, when ignited down the line, to burn out of control, consuming entire continents of the mind.
The value of the written word is enormous, but the value of the individual’s written words are dubious. I’ll carry on anyhow, for its value is not standalone and cannot be separated from the life of the individual. The act of writing, not the outcome, can be inherently valuable for the very reason that it cannot be quantified. Like our blessings, not counted but weighed. Counting such value would be like counting water.
To write of beauty alone does not create the sublime. Hope and change creates the sublime. Chekhov’s The Kiss is perhaps the most sublime story I’ve ever read. What is its anatomy? Such a wonderful string of words. It needs no context, no explaining besides what is already contained within its pages. The sublime is gladness at time’s wasting; the sublime is the acceptance of hopelessness.
Writing is like stabbing in the dark, and you never know when to turn on the light.
The writer who lives a life of dullness cannot help but write the mundane. The trick is to make the mundane fascinating. Such is the mark of a master. It is a battle of temptations; sensationalization is but a photocopy of the epics already written. The mundane is all that is left.
It’s so hard to conceive of a story worth telling to the end. They all become so flimsy and frail as they’re formed. Sick anemic stories with no rhyme or reason. How does one finish anything? How do we hold the sand in our hands for long enough to count the grains? The well is never dry, though sometimes the rope breaks. Beginning, middle, and end—it’s like wrestling with a ghost. A few lines, a metaphor, an anecdote, an attempt at an aphorism; that seems to be all that I can muster. How do I tell the truth, simply and plainly, amidst these lies? And what of our life’s demands? They seem to multiply and multiply. Certain limbs must be amputated. Let’s hope I’m no hydra.
Some use the written word as a paintbrush, others a scalpel.
The pencil and the page are our string within Minos’ labyrinth. It is only with the string that we may find our way out again, and tell of the monster below. In truth we write our way out having never been anywhere but inside the labyrinth. We were born here, and the string forms as we string together our words.
Must the fish be caught in order to prove that it was there? Must I prove that these dark waters do indeed have fish within?
These days I am out of fuel. Writing things I don’t mean for people I’ve never met.
Reflection, honesty, and warmth seem to be the cure for woe. Such an antidote is only available to me through scribbles.
I still wish to make something out of these eulogies to lost time. I have lost so much of it, and yet I’ve written sweet words to only a fraction that has past. There is other time that I’ve killed that I’d like to speak of. I gain nothing from all of this, I only lose less.
These days it seems I’ll never finish a day’s work before the day’s done.
Genius, literary or otherwise, seems to lie at the crossroads between discipline and impulsiveness. The power to force creativity through routine and also the power to break and transcend such routine. I do not come to this notion from my own experience.
It could be argued that God was a necessary creation in order to contemplate the unity that is the world and our experience. It is difficult for a part of the whole to recognize wholeness, until we give this knowledge to an outsider; to God. Perspective necessitates duality, foreground is nothing without background, and so we cannot feel at peace with unity’s truth unless we contemplate it from the perspective of someone beyond the all-encompassing unity. To wrap our minds around an all-encompassing and ever-expanding universe, we need to imagine what the universe is expanding into. That cannot be imagined, and so we chalk it up to god.
If we cannot accept god as the ultimate outsider, then we promote ourselves the post. The fly on the wall character within us, the endlessly tormented and hopelessly alienated, manifests itself. It’s much better to promote something else to such stature, otherwise we will end up the imposter; for we are not apart, we are merely a part.
I was up north, in the country. I went outside to take a piss. It was quiet, there was no light besides the moon above. Darkness and moonlight danced together over the ripples, the leaves, my dick in my hand—everything. Then the wind rustled the leaves of a small tree beside me. The darkness enabled my mind to run wild, to see things that were not there, to change the appearance of the tree as it moved. It became a little pigmy-like creature waving paddle-like hands around. I could see it was just a maple sapling, but I could also see it was something else.
I thought back to those nights as a child, the ones where shadows of the trees on your wall and the shape of a hoody hanging on the back of a door holds sleep hostage. Mind racing, you imagine that hoody turning around, a face, gnarled and evil. The shadows of the trees cut lines across your wall. To you they are the shadows not of trees, but of tentacles or long freddy-krueger claws. I miss the darkness. Here in the city I don’t get to experience it. The light from the street lamps isn’t the only trouble. Light seems to leak out of everything; houses, stadiums, traffic lights, bars—all this light spills over and spoils the darkness. Under so much illumination, there is no question of what things are.
I see a flower in the night. I can recognize its species, I see almost every detail, but why? Am I not afforded a rest from knowing or desiring to know what I’m looking at, not even in darkness? Darkness is frightening. In darkness our minds fill in the gaps, and more often than not our minds are cruel to us. We take an innocent scene of darkness and fill in all the darkest parts with demons and bad memories. It may be frightening, but at least it’s creative. We’re seeing something that isn’t there, out of fear and darkness we create monsters. We need monsters. We need fear and imagination. A world where everything is clear as day, where everything tells you what it is, and the world has nothing to hide, that is the world where imaginations are enfeebled. The dark is half our world, we can’t simply chase it out with our lamps and lights.
The darkness of night moves our focus from the objects and entities around us to those within. When, if not in darkness, do we battle or yoke our mind’s chimeras? I am convinced that without darkness, we never make such progress.
When we experience enough darkness, it ceases to only be a source of fear, and becomes inspiration. It is in darkness that we dream, but dreams do not all have to occur in sleep. We are not meant to be at odds with our environment. Whether we like it or not, we are affected by it, as the tides are effected by the moon. So turn off your lamps, leave your flashlight behind, and live in darkness for a time.
Back in the city a wind blows too strongly. It pulls me around, grabs my things and tosses them around like a bully in the schoolyard. I think back to summer, one that drifted past a couple years ago. We’d go to the shore and drink. The sun had left us behind, but we had fire. The flames were for light, not warmth; in us, licking our insides like those very flames and escaping through us as through the top of a chimney came laughter, jealousy, lust–everything powerful and youthful. It all bursted forth, burning hot. It was a summer of lightness, be it the sun’s light, that of a beach fire, or our own immutable rays. Nothing seemed heavy that summer and things bounced when they fell. “Tonight I’m swimming to my favourite island, and I don’t want to see you swimming behind.”
With the wind comes the rain, and the rain brings the darkness faster than it would have otherwise come. I can’t write. The past week has been unproductive. I strain to think clearly, and so I strain write anything at all.
Do things that make you like things.
My beliefs don’t seem to line up with my thoughts–what I believe to be true is not what I think is true.
I was maybe eleven or twelve. There were four of us, each more wild and restless than the next. Small towns tend to do that to youngsters. The gas station on the island sold some camping equipment and fire starter. One of us, while the others were buying candies, stole a can of “liquid fire”. It must’ve been some kind of white gas. We took it to the sheep farm down the road, the one that used to raise yaks. The split cedar fence was easy enough to hop over, but you had to be careful at the next fence. It had enough electricity coursing through it to give you a real shock. One big leap, all the while careful that your pant leg didn’t catch on the barbed wire. The yaks used to watch the cars go by from the other entrance, chewing the cud endlessly. Above our heads a canopy of cedar and pine boughs gestured gracefully in the winds coming off the sea. Thick pillows of moss grew around the trunks of the trees and dewy lush grass carpeted the rest. We wandered about until we happened upon a flock of sheep. One of the sheep’s udders was so low and swinging that I thought it was an enormous tumour. She looked diseased to me. A little further on the canopy surrendered a little more to the sky, and the sun light up the dew droplets on the grass like a million tiny spotlights. We took out a pocket knife, an item which pretty well all of us were equipped with, and stabbed a hole into the can of liquid fire. It started spewing immediately. A flick of the lighter turned the invisible geyser into fire. We all ducked behind a knoll to watch it explode. But it just stuck its flaming tongue out at us. We peeked over the knoll again, let out a couple forceful sighs and shrugged. With the can still breathing fire, we started kicking it around a bit on the wet ground. Eventually we got bored of project “liquid fire”, and rolled a joint. I had only been high a couple times before, and hadn’t really enjoyed it. Teens always need to sneak around and cover up the fact that they’re stoned. This, at least in my brain, doesn’t mix well with being high. This particular time was no exception; I immediately got scared and guilty, and wanted to escape from everything sticky and bad. It didn’t help that we were on the lookout for the fella that owned the farm as well. Throughout my entire life thus far, I’ve never really had a wholly positive experience while stoned, except for when I’ve confined myself to my bed. Some of my other outings as a youngster were more innocent. I remember going to the galleries. The galleries was a sandstone rock formation that hung over the ocean like a giant wave. If you followed the street I was born on to where it ends, there’s a little trail through the trees that leads to the galleries. You’ll hear the ocean first, unless it’s a calm day. Everyone that hung out there was older than me, but they folded me in and treated me with kindness and generosity. There was one person who was particularly kind. His name was John. He’s dead now. He was working a labour job up north and his boss crashed the truck. It ran off the road and flipped. Everyone inside died. Everybody was pretty busted up about it back home. Nobody had anything bad to say about that kid. He was nice to pretty well everyone, always smiling, always laughing. He was the kind of guy that would get everybody moving, everybody dancing at parties. He seemed to possess a kind of lightness, as if nothing weighed him down.
Love and blood. Every story is about love and blood. Tragedy and transformation, the loss and the acquisition of love.
There is a special kind of loneliness in amongst the crowds. Urban loneliness is different from rural loneliness because in the city you are constantly taunted by the availability of that which you perceive to be the cure to your own loneliness; people. People everywhere. Beautiful people, Fun people, Horrible people, and yet she remains hopelessly alone, or worse yet, incurable lonesome.
How do you judge things when they all operate within their own category? Non-solo.
If I skip enough stones I’ll form an island. I can swim out to it and no one else will know how to get there.
We judge people prematurely and often without knowing which parts of them to judge. A bloke thanklessly bummed a smoke from us at a bar. He seemed odd, stuck out like a sore thumb. Later on he stumbled by our table in a daze. He was dressed kind of funny for the bar we were at. Eventually he approached us again, waving a fresh pack of smokes in the air. He bought some himself and wanted to hit us back. We start talking and eventually get to the reason he’s here tonight and why he’s dressed the way he is. He and his buddies are celebrating the life of their recently dead friend. He died last week, thirty four years old. He was crossing the street, walking with a cane due to a recent ankle sprain, and a cabbie hit him. He spent months unconscious in the hospital. His family finally decided it was time to let him die.
To kill oneself is a noble thing. To do it quickly and quietly is the noblest of all. Most do it a little at a time, just shy of a lifetime and they’ve finally done themselves in. Whether they inject death into a hole in their arm, or take by the bottle, it is the weak ones that choose this slow suicide.
Who is going to be the new stick in the spoke?
“An ego is not the same thing as a living organism.” You can’t help from getting wet when you hear the word water. There are three basic parts of life: the self, the unself, and where they overlap. The question naturally arises, how exactly do they overlap, and how do we increase such overlapping? It seems to me that the overlap exists in creativity, in the self’s impression on the environment. But does it also exist in reality’s impression on the self? Can one’s reality and environment be a creative force from which we are sculpted and changed? Self, or consciousness, is the conduit of reality, and reality is the conduit of the self. They cannot exist untethered, just as mountains are nothing without the valleys below. Grace cannot exist without sin, so be careful how you sin. We have no choice in whether we will sin, only how.
I thought the wisp of smoke rising from the smoke stack was a bird for a moment.
“The ego is a marriage of an illusion and a vanity.”
I gave the taxi driver a three dollar tip. He was so disgusted that he started driving away with me still in the car. I could see the door to my home slipping out of sight. I jumped out of the moving car and somehow managed to slam the door, a gesture that accurately communicated my thoughts on the whole affair. In my mind three dollars was a perfectly reasonable tip, especially since I only travelled around the corner.
The art of a good artist points away from the artist herself and towards something better, something more beautiful. Good art is not self-referential.
When it rains, my mind is a sluggish river, and it swells and floods with something stretched between joy and sadness. I’ll climb a hill so I can see how low I’ve been. There is refrain to every fall. The shadow of my head gets in the way of what I can see.
Perhaps the longevity of a work like the bible is not its quality, but the quality of its interpretations. It is a work that is so bizarre and formless, that it can be made to convey anything. Perhaps all the meaning, that meaning that seems to transcend time, is entirely the result of the meaning that dwells within its interpreters. But a work must have merit for people to bother with reinterpretation upon reinterpretation. Half of it, then, is just a matter of finishing something. The artist can only imbue so much into her work, the rest must be brought to the work by the reader/viewer/audience. You will never get anything right, but if you get something done, other people can look at it and make it right in their minds.
We all have a certain Midas Touch. But these golden things can be a curse; once you turn it into gold, it can be hard to let go of. The things in your life can get too heavy to move.
The consumption of myself has slowed. It worries me. What will sustain me if not autosarcophagy?
Life is a long goodbye.
I sit on the chair of my old art teacher. It’s cold. His chairs are all over the neighbourhood. They tilt toward each other, like a horseshoe. A maximum of three in a single location. They are cold, but not cold like a bench. Those who sit on a bench cannot look at each other.
Where does that ‘I’m going to buy this town one day’ feeling come from? It’s almost spite, it’s spitting in a rearview mirror as you drive away from home.
Art must be an accident, at least in part, for one’s creation to be unmolested by vanity. Where stands the intentional accident in such cases? Subdue pain, celebrate pleasure; true pleasure, ego-less pleasure. There is no such thing as ego-less pain.
The chair is cold but I can’t get up from it. When people walk by they stare. Am I not supposed to sit in this chair? When they smile I am happy to be sitting here. Happy is the wrong word. I am glad.
I love that time in the evening before the streetlights come on. It’s as if twilight and dawn combine; the big star is fading, the small bulbs are budding.
It strikes me that my father’s actions, my mothers actions, those of my grandparents, my great grandparents and so on, affect me without mine having witnessed/experienced them. All the great adventures, and all the terrible deeds; they’re in my blood. There’s some part of me that doesn’t speak. It knows of all these things and keeps them safe. The seventh generation snake.
To speak the words of your guts, first you have to taste them.
Many writer’s desire to write is actually a desire to have already written.
The only time you take the hammer to the church is when you’re building it.
The sky is a blue bird–so blue that it dives down at me, pecking at my eyes. Even in the reflections from the shops on the street, the sky lunges at me. It’s leaning heavy on my shoulders now, perched like a parrot.
“Even a blind sow finds an acorn sometimes.”
Were some really born in Judas’ house, or did they just tell it like that?
Houston is underwater and the price of gas rises with the floods.
There are inflexion points in our lives. Perhaps there is only one. Either you will look back upon your dreams and ambitions as a naive waste of time, or you will see them and the work that they inspired as the necessary gestation for your life’s second birth. It will either amount to steps or missteps.
My father has no sense of direction. He carries with him a compass instead of a watch, saying “I have no problems with time, only space”.
People who dedicate a great deal of their time to learning languages describe an indiscriminate growth of linguistic ability; as if the mastery of Russian improves their mother tongue. This phenomena seems to elucidate the similarities between all human languages, indeed I wonder if a extraterrestrial visitor would view our panorama of languages as mere dialects. Is there something structural (I don’t mean physical, like an area of the brain, but instead a cognitive canal) that underlies our capacity for knowledge? Where we can’t help from being linguistic? Language is not learned, I posit. It is inherited and unlocked.
She who raises plants wishes to keep out that which may destroy what is grown. She who raises livestock wishes to keep in by what may be destroyed by what is beyond. The only reason you’d need a fence is if you were Cain, or if you were Abel. My mother is Cain, and so she raises bounty up from the earth. But here on our little island, the grazing animals of Abel roam free, and, if they were not stopped, would consume the entire garden in an afternoon.
When your hands work well with your mind, when their dialogues are fruitful, no task is beyond one’s capacity. Hands that rarely disobey–or do they have a hand in leading?
The fence must be high. The deer can clear a fence under seven feet in height without strain. We build and we build, all to protect what we’ve grown. But could we not simply consume that which consumes what we’ve grown instead? Consume the pests? Ah but gardens are not only grown for the vegetables; they are living forms of curation and expression.
Do not buy lumber from the lumber yard for your fence; scavenge what you can from the beach. Much of it is good red cedar, a wood full of natural anti-weathering oils. What about the birds? You can’t keep out everything.
I am behind my shadow. From lamp to lamp, one fades and another materializes. In others, fruits that aren’t my own, taste particularly sweet, and particularly bitter. Only in ourselves do we find the middle.
I can’t tell whether the flash of light was a firefly or the moth’s wing capturing a bit of light from the overflowing stoplight.
Vanity; we can learn to love it in ourselves, but never anyone else.
I detest reductionism, and yet it seems to be my only means of understanding things. Time is the only way to distinguish what is good from what is bad; in time good things grow, and bad things are destroyed. Is this to say that goodness is what is behind all lasting things? I have failed to reduce–thank god. Time conveys nothing, it only reveals that good and bad are exactly alike in every way, and the distinction relies on us within time. Bugs in amber.
That thing. I used to look for it out and about. It was contained somewhere; in books, experiences, people, creations. It was somewhere to get to. And as a destination, it stripped me of my responsibility. The fact that a shortcut could exist, a fast track to infallibility, had me searching everywhere for the onramp. Every truth that lives in a book must first have roots in the reader. I suppose these things are not recorded, they emerge through interaction, be it with a pliant mind and a dusty book, or some other more prankish pairing.
The reader and what is read cannot exist independently. Nothing in this world can exist independently. The law of nature, of life itself, is entanglement; an elaborate mess of interdependencies. The will to life, the will to power–these all position themselves elliptically around the individual, the subject. But life is not individual, it is environmental. We are not a part of the system, we are the system. Everything is.
I love the you-agains, the familiarity. Everyone in Toronto forgot that I left forever.
When the shadows begin to yawn and our coats are warm, a gladness (can it be described by any other word?) is liable to ambush us. We would not trade it in for something else more familiar, but what is its origin? A puzzle with infinite and scattered pieces miraculously comes together before us. We watch the countryside whiz by. How does it travel so fast? Wheels? A motor? The fields of dead corn are like the endless fields of stars above, burning their image into our minds like hot pokers.
I am late for the bus. Why you ask? Well I stumbled upon a dead body. Its exoskeleton was in pristine shape, but judging from the way the slightest breeze snatched at it, all its guts and juiciness had simply disappeared. Someone once told me it was good luck to cross paths with a cicada. Perhaps the next bus will come soon.
In a dream, perhaps last night’s dream, a lady bug landed on my hand. Everyone in the room was glad that it chose my hand on which to land. They all applauded proudly. The applause made me bashful, and I hid my hand away, stuffing it into my pocket. The lady bug, I concluded, was surely crushed.
On the side of the rest stop for the greyhound bus–a strange building along a thoroughfare serving as a halfway point between Ottawa and Toronto, where tired and bleary-eyed travellers buy bottled water and soggy tuna fish sandwiches wrapped in cling wrap from the Vietnamese couple that runs the place–is a sign that reads actinolite. What does it mean? The grandson of god.
The story of a young man who returns home to build a fence for his aging mother.
To disregard the symbol without knowing its meaning is lunacy, and likewise to accept the symbol without grasping its meaning is pure delusion.
The young man returns to his home in the countryside to build a fence for his aging mother. The fence she has is old and crooked and fails to keep the deer, of which there are many, out of her garden. The property is on a small island in the northwestern gulf. The summer months bring drought and days of seemingly endless sunshine, while the other seasons bring only rain. The trees here do not change colour when summer relinquishes its grip on the land and gives way to fall like in the east. The trees only change if the summers get particularly dry, in which case they die of thirst. Most of the trees are evergreen in any case, and many of the varieties that aren’t, keep their foliage through the colder months. With the dew of spring arrives the burgeoning bud, and as if synchronized, the fruit trees burst in an explosion of blossoms. The young man wonders whether the burning bush ever glowed so bright as his mother’s cherry tree. A fence is built for two possible reasons: to keep something out, or to keep something in. But often times the keeping out is part of the keeping in, like in the case of the deer; where they ought to be kept without, and the fruit and vegetables ought to be kept within.
My last night sleeping on the coast for some time. I am learning how to be natural, but it is not through practice that we learn our nature. Praxis pushes us further away from origin. One can only arrange the environment for inspiration, but one should wait for inspiration. It needs to be helped along, sometimes requiring quite a hard tug on the lead. Thoughts are not from our minds alone. They have their own trajectory, and they visit us likes birds perching on a telephone wire. All you can do is build more wires and rusty old fences for them to perch on. Hopefully they’ll stay a moment, at least long enough for you to observe them before they return to their home; the place between two places. I often wonder if it’s any use sketching and describing the ones that find momentary respite on my rusty old fence (a moment to rest their weary wings). In the time it takes to record and observe them, do I miss something? Do I rob myself of the experience by attempting to immortalize it? Would I be better off merely watching them for a time as they rest in my view, and let them take off again unhindered by my interpretation? Who knows. How will I be sure that thoughts perched there at all if I don’t attempt to capture their likeness on a sheet of lined paper? The birds I long for do not flock. It is the smaller, more insignificant ones that arrive in swarms. Ravens, Eagles, and Vultures always arrive alone.
My greatest misery is in my own laziness. I didn’t finish my pages yesterday, and now I begin writing at an ungodly hour.
It is my song of right now. The needle glides over me and lifts something coherent from the bumps and grooves. The songs of before are still on this very record, but the needle can no longer reach them. The needle only moves in one direction; onward. I’m sure my song is playing somewhere, as is everyone else’s. It’s comforting; a perspective on time’s passing that isn’t so isolating in the season of death. It is part of the cosmic record, grooves spiralling endlessly inward; a vinyl klein bottle. The songs of all who have fallen and all who will fall remain here, it is only the needle of my temporal perspective that makes them out of reach. In this way nothing is ever lost, just out of reach.
I lost this notebook tonight: dread sets in. One thirty in the morning finds me rummaging around cursing myself. I’m not afraid of losing it, I’m afraid of someone finding it. Leaving my guts lying around on the ground, so vulnerable, where anyone could pick them up and laugh at how fake and incoherent they are. Incoherent guts! Then there’s another part of myself that flickers with excitement at the thought of another set of eyes, another mind, digging through these pages. That part of myself is very small. Eventually I find it on the floor by the toilet.
I am a glutton of hope and I consume mindlessly. ‘If I could only get my actions to live up to my hopes’. I consume time. Time consumes me. Soon there is nothing left of the both of us but skin and bone.
I believe in the power of focus and self-mastery. They are the only devices I know of through which freedom can be unshackled.
I ignore things. I ignore the pebbles that wash down into my valley from the overflowing rivers, and I overlook the birds that perch on my fence. I am not so vain as to hate myself, but I don’t trust myself. I don’t yet trust my own determination. What end do I see in all this? No matter how much I create, it will never amount to another world, at least not one that I could bear to live in.
As I sit on my stoop in the heat of a summer that has overflowed into fall, a skunk wanders by. It doesn’t seem to notice me, and carries on nonchalantly down the driveway.
The mind is at least partially constituted by its output. Without output there exists no mind, only the brain. Why do the sages yearn for such an existence? Such mindlessness, is it really bliss? Is a fish in water really what we wish to be? They call it mindful and yet they describe the pitfalls of the mind. There must be balance. Such extremes, whether in materialism or asceticism, yield only a mutated view of the world; indiscriminate exaltation, or utter rejection. The key is to invent your own value system, and then to live by it.
The shrike impales its prey on the barbed wire fence. They hang there, swinging with the breeze. This butcher shop window is what attracts its mate. The hunting never ends. How can the butcher bird catch so much that he may feed himself and decorate the barbed wire?
“An ape with angel plans.”
We all wish to ascend to that arbitrary height. But there is no height in infinite space, no height in a vacuum. Regardless, we have the insatiable urge to climb higher. We are goats.
By my eyes may I see, by ears may I hear, and by my mind may I remain blind.
The whites of my eyes feel like sandpaper. The twitch in my left eye has kept up all week. Exhaustion, as a word, cannot do justice to the state I’m in. Everything foggy, distant, as if the world and I are on different sides of the glass. Now I blink my eyes over sand paper.
To reap satisfaction from an unfinished undertaking is to rob ourselves of the ability to finish it. We ought to stay out of the way of our own work. Stand by it, but step out of its way.
How are we to know whether a done thing is a thing done well? Does merely standing by it improve it some how?
“Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished.”
A bird trapped inside a bus station–at least there are windows. By the bus station in Toronto: and old guy in a tattered grey suit, wearing puffy white running shoes, is reading a book on how to drive. Beside him sits a tall can of Olde Style Pilsner.
At peace with the world while simultaneously being at the mercy of it.
Eulogies to lost time. The only thing that silences those little voices of vanity and insecurity. Or does it instead exalt vanity and insecurity?
One day I’ll do the type of travelling where I don’t have to wait. “Leaving is easy when you’ve got some place that you need to be.” When I’m home in the country I’ll miss the city, and when I’m stuck in the city I’ll miss the country. May I forever be on the road from one to the other.
Greed is a terrible sin. Do not rob the experience by choosing the word.
A professional eulogy writer. A biographer of dead souls, the one who records the results of the scales. Can the heart ever really weigh more than a feather?
The sign in Nanaimo reads: “100 years of coal”. The union jack flaps and its clip makes a ding sound against the pole.
We can get stuck even in solitaire when no cheating is permitted. Perhaps getting stuck isn’t so bad. What’s the big idea with moving forward anyways?
A blank wall burdens. A burden that is not shared can never be shared. We are all our own atlases, carrying a whole world upon our shoulders. It’d be sensible to make a bet with myself; that one day I will let a delicate world (my world) fall to the ground and bust up into a bunch of pieces. Ah, it’s a bet I won’t take. Too sad.
The writer of obituaries. Obituaries in a world where there is nothing left to die.
I took the ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver today. Yesterday was my last night on Gabriola for the summer and so we celebrated how relatively unemployed country boys celebrate; we got drunk, played pool, and lit a bon fire on the beach. When the day was a little younger, John, Liam and I went fishing. John and Liam were in a canoe and I was in my kayak. We put in at berry point and a flowing tide had us drifting westward down the Georgia Strait.
When we have no momentum we believe ourselves to be still, but the momentum of everything else pulls us along. When we move by the momentum of everything else alone, that’s when we’re most ourselves. Maybe it leaves us behind. We must constantly readjust in order to keep from drifting too far. It’s so easy to drift out into sea. Here I go now, words as meaningless as drops of sea water.
The sun was twice as bright with its reflection in the water. I steered us towards a good fishing spot, a hole, deep deep underwater quite a ways off from shore. At about one hundred and fifty feet we were in a good position to catch something. A couple hours in, a few empty beer cans now clinking around the empty space in my cockpit, still no fish. Liam tried to piss in a can and ended up giving the boat a good spritzing. There was something calm and grounding, the ocean serving as mobile liquid roots that bound us all together at the base. The waves rolled under us, and we, like everything else there in that exact moment, was affecting in the exact same way by that wave. We were united by that wave, sailors struck by time’s arrow. Where did the wave come from, what was it born of? What other hulls or animals has it unassumingly rolled by? Both boats, red in colour. The fish that I caught, also red–a red snapper.
When we were done fishing we tied the boats back on top of John’s little red truck. We went to Johns and ate and drank and spoke words. That’s the thing with friends united by a shared past, not merely shared interests;No matter how drastically our paths diverge, we’ll always be connected somehow, attached to the island and our pasts as if by a spiritual umbilical cord.
Now that I’m back among the throngs of people here in the city, I experience a strange country boy longing to interact with them somehow, despite how cold and uninterested they seem. Downtown Vancouver I see pretty women everywhere. They glance over at me seldom, but when they do I am flushed with excitement. It’s a childlike sort of excitement, like Christmas morning; the exhilaration of mystery and currently unmanifested potential. It is power concealed, gains concealed. Or is it horror and evil and disappointment, with only an unsigned card addressed from Santa sloppily taped to last year’s wrapping paper; in other words, is it hope? In any case, the excitement eventually fades and my heart crawls back up my sleeve where it can hide away somewhere close to my stomach.
Vancouver is a great city populated by not-so-great individuals. Everyone seems to be on the accelerated descent into extreme individualism. The undividable individual–they are trying to atomize themselves.
“I wonder if the places I’ve been are worth the things I’ve been through.”
People are odd and the only oddness I can see is the oddness that I am not blind to. I am blind to so much in my life, but can the things that live in the blindspots even exist up until the point that I relieve my blindness?
Language is our means of organizing and analyzing an otherwise chaotic and indiscriminate reality. At first glance ‘unite’ and ‘untie’ are the same.
Simplicity is best. But simplicity does not always mean brevity; luckily brevity and simplicity often hold hands. Poetry, the art of words, does not always require brevity, nor even simplicity in its construction, but it always requires simplicity in its communicable sentiment, otherwise it ceases to be communicable.
I follow the street lamps to the shore. In the darkness between the light that they cast I disappear for a moment. Is the twinkling of all those lights across the harbour just a trick of the eye? An illusion that forms when I leave my mind to I visit the world? Or just another big room my mind furnished for me. Is there any mingling? Any interaction? Or is it again a matter of perspective, where the leaves of the tree will mingle with the sky even though they’re miles apart?
The leftover gods of matter.
You can sit there and imagine all you like, but the barstool is not a throne.
To see the morning glory, her vines choking the rose and the shadows of her uppermost leaves swaying gently. They paint her lower leaves in a hue that moves with the wind. Morning glory you shelter your beauty at night. The humming bird hovers for a moment before your blossom, and then continues on to the east.
Some cafe on the west coast has a collection of masks from around the world. They’re all hung up on the wall. The only ones that really look human are the ones that are sad.
I found the ear bone of a whale, the feathers of the eagle and the osprey, and the beach glass of a broken bottle.
The trumpet-like datura flowers have closed since yesterday. A doe and two fauns gallop past the unstacked woodpile in the front yard heading for the brambly backyard.
I can’t stop thinking about the little rowboat that interrupted the ferry’s coarse. The anchor was down, a tiny dingy, the oars in their locks. Someone, it seems, rowed out, dropped anchor, and then disappeared. If it had merely fallen off the back of a sail boat, the oars would not be in place and the anchor wouldn’t be down. It floated upon the disturbed waters so calmly, like it had a grace of its own.
One day I’ll get a little skiff with a nine horse and a twenty five on the back. I’ll cruise around all the nooks, belly buttons, and armpits of Vancouver Island. Duck in here, stay a night there. My hammock would be plenty good for the summer nights.
After I grew tired of the pub last night I met John and Kenda by the water. I got there quite early, and as I was waiting for them on the beach, they were waiting for me at the head of the trail. I got a fire going, had a beer and a smoke, and watched the city lights blink and shine beneath an endless sky of stars. It’s cliche, but the tininess of our world almost knocked me down. My world, the one I carry on my back like a tortoise, is just a sliver, a momentary lapse in entropy. What a relief!
When it comes to the affairs of the heart, it’s best just to say nothing at all.
The leftover gods.
Making bridges out of sand. The more sand I make, the more material I have to make bridges. Sandbars of observation that connect the islands of my mind.
“Reality is a process that involves our consciousness.” If everything is created by our ability to perceive it, then as our perceptual abilities develop, so grows our perceptible reality. The less colourblind you are, the more colour you can see. Time and space is a paste without structure, and it is our minds that provide such structure, the scaffolding of experience. The origin of observable things is the observation of things.
All the lures are lures of the mind, and in truth no one is fishing. Not even me. Don’t pursue things of time and space, for such a life is like dying of thirst while drifting down a river.
Perhaps it is time to undergo the solitude, time for self-sequestration, to veer away from people who would scaffold an otherwise malleable existence.
I dreamt last night of a wolf approaching me. There were two wolves. One with a collar, and one without.
People often desire the company of others just so they have someone to ignore.
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 places 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 brighten 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 time’s 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—we must love even the very dust we clear away. 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; camaraderie 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 emphasized more than 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 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 from 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 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, and my back 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 bottle’s 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.” he said. 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, they 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, 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.