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CROSS TALK

Edward Williams

Month

February 2009

94) Daytime

—–The things people say about those who have died, right in their midst–but long gone now, in most cases, these things I overhear or am even told directly, as I bow my head in fear and disbelief, about people who were once so alive, even more alive than we (I might say), well what these things make me realize is how little intended, desired, or expected is any future dealing, with that now smudged out former intimate. Lord have mercy, on smudged out former intimates! That’s a way to put it! Often, I just lose my grip on sentence structure, when faced with forbidden lines of thought; though I never lose the thought. It haunts me, and the terrain–their faces hang in the air–and eventually it becomes the theme of a bright, timeless day. Though I think in less dire philosophical categories than when I was a younger student of life (so to speak), I think about specific people rather more and more. And have my ears perked, quite apparently, for mention of those who have, um, died. What I am saying here is, the things people say about those who have died make you realize they have no intention of ever seeing them again. Dealing with them anymore.
—–Sounds brutal! How outrageous! Speak for yourself, I hear someone say, as if offended by the very notion that the oft-traveled highway between life and death could be . . . broken, littered with boulders, gone off a cliff into an abyss–or non-existent.. What are you saying?– goes a chorus of those who wish to remain, I imagine, innocent of judgements. Free of conclusions about anyone dead, though they may have damned them personally, back in the day. Breaking down the barricades, all souls running amuck between earth and some unfenced in hereafter, would the many shattered marriages find their participating egos in a different mood, or friendships won by dint of great worldly connection, find themselves quite flammable, in another context? A host of questions there? Another context did I say! Flimsily put, but that is the idea, for if the dead went anywhere they went into, like, another context. But, what is to discuss, when you already put a blindfold on the questioning clown and spun him around to disorient him, then broke a pinata over his head? That was fun, and that was life. And now I hear people saying things that clearly indicate they have said “good riddance”, and crossed Aunt Sally, and the once redoutable Fred, off their shopping lists. Said permanent farewell, to each of those who are lately skipped out, or early to seek God’s reward, or so rude as to bring in a kind of spiritual depression, or, more colloquially, to have taken their ball and stick and gone home. However it gets roundly put.
—–And putting this debate, this issue, on the shelf for a minute, one immediately sees there is a buffer zone, which is like the daytime itself.  A major conflict, before I can get to my quarrelling with the dead, and my admonishing of the living, is resolving why I insist that reality itself is base-line comprehensive. Where did I get this assurance that reality, no matter what, cannot break down, like within my witness, like right in front of me? It isn’t to prevent it from becoming weird–in fact weirdness just stands out in humming light of day. I have said this before. Unless of course someone has tripped on an invisible wire, and is careening . . . and we certainly have words to apply there.  But what I am saying is that I am continually reminded, from some quarter that life is not weird, but basic. It is like sanity, there is a certain sanity like when the wind dies down, and a slow rush of understanding blankets the mind, that doesn’t even want to be put into words. Or you say to yourself, “My! I am well rested, not a thing can touch me today.” You are balanced.
—–Oh, how nice would that be! I hear the tortured souls complain; but these are never the dead, these are only my complaining friends. “Ah! My friends,” I say, “originally I chose them”.  Personally, out of a motley generation, for my starting line-up. These friends who frequently, in fact whenever they get the chance, proclaim their worldly achievements, hopes, and worries, and in the next breath say something that lets me know how they feel about someone we jointly knew who has died. To whit, they are crossed off, because no one I have ever met is headed that way, really.
—–The ones who are there, I can never get them back, not even in the conversation. And not just because no one else wants to hear mention of them. I am also befuddled, choked up, and irresolute. And yet they circle around like hawks in my mind and keep trying various flight patterns, and land on lintels and across the courtyard–apparently seeking entry, but then they look the other way, like Poe’s forlorn bird in his historical poem, The Raven. Looking to explore another region entirely. By contrast, this sense that life occurs in an atmosphere of great normalcy, like at room temperature, this sense of the span of daylight hours increasing slightly every day now in late February, the crown or halo that is worn by everyone alive–how much is this actually pulling me away from even the psychological exploration of those people who have died. And we all know some of them, I said . . . in my lecture before the assembly of most reverential listeners; and also in kitchens, head bowed. When I spoke of this, then I made a great transition, to relieve the pressure, right before lunch. I asked, does this great normalcy touch down in history, hover and touch down, animating each period in history. Each generation?
—–Is this insulating daytime, this health and perspective, a shield against anything drastic, like precisely what befalls, has befallen, others when they die? Have died! Twisted and turned against the light; snuck quietly off into a corner and curled up. Hit by a meteor. And yet I remain unmoved. What! Something in me is unmoved by the death of family and friends. And this is not a difficult confession, but a kind of dry statement of fact. It doesn’t mean I can’t shake heaven and earth with all kinds of secondary considerations, or theorizing. Theorizing to no avail, there is nothing like it for the development of general intelligence. One makes headway in other areas, with analogies! That is true, so thinking is not useless . . . . What I just admit though is that that hammering, dull death knell, no matter how many it kills, doesn’t get louder, doesn’t touch base, in baseline reassuring comfort-zone reality. Now what is for lunch?
—–These themes have shadowed us from the beginning, and now they are nearly calcified, perhaps. Who can take the skin off the carcass? What a thing to say? Strike that last sentence, please! It’s like I think less and less, about about what is more and more apparent. Widening the absurdity gap, sure–but still it does not break the daylight. Ah, when I was younger I was more deeply troubled, and yet more carefree; and there again, a balance! The audience sees it, they do not squirm for these are easy truths. Perennial. The youthful thinker is devious, and yet lacking in what we might call . . . experience. And the dead, they are finished here, but have I decided which of them I will look up if I find myself in telephoning range (so to speak)?. Will I see any of them again, or is it only now I can see them, their hunched backs, their empty eyes? Strike that! These avenues of speculation go literally out of bounds, and it’s a baseline morality that soaks up all unresolved matters between the living and the dead, the dead who the longer they are dead seem never to have been here, really. Now wait just a minute with that assertion, quoth the raven.
—–New paragraph. I said one cannot proceed in life without in fact abandoning those who have died to such an obvious extent that it is futile to maintain them, to say you talk to them, consult them, follow their example, revere, emulate. Multiply it! The daylight is strong, the daytime is irrevocable, and when it is cloudy  the clouds seep into every corner. Reality is one hundred percent a closed system. It is a set of mirrors, in which the crystalline light can bounce, and travel. But not, this light, escape to unseeable borders. It always comes back. There is no one staring from behind the glass. This can only make you happy, and happier still.  File that in triplicate.

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93) MONDRAGO

—–“I could say it is all produced in the language,” I was telling Mondrago, measuring my words, “but on the other hand it isn’t exactly the language that has lead or allowed me these ideas I have, on every damned topic.”  These ideas, like, that come oozing along, I was thinking. I do shuttle around and am never sure where I am getting my vaulting, vaunted, inspiration–or rather never even care where I am getting it. And I know that once I begin to talk the words and phraseology take over, and that it is high art, once I concentrate on it, a radical skill I have developed with disregard for general truth, so breezy am I, and inviting chaos, cooking the stew over a determined low heat. And I know that new ideas have come in this messy, adult action of writing itself.
—–On the other hand, unexpressed thoughts that are singular, opinions!, flow immediately upon dealing with every situation, struggling in every encounter, and just frowning at all local topics, in life.  So that I am always engaged, enraged, before I even think to word it, I am always thinking and developing a stance. This, the blunt, does not require any language at all, and I can be emotionally charged to give an opinion and declare a position quite before I have any words or strategy of communication. So while I like to defend the notion that as author all my ideas are discovered, and thereby embedded in the language, clearly they are not derived solely from this writing activity. Another stream has fed the important mission. Huge bulks of clumsily assembled impressions, which are totally biased, present themselves in the mind, from raw experience, and offer themselves for processing.  Most of the time, in fact, I am just ruminating, approaching the writing desk, coming back from the daylight, the wars, or maybe phoney assignment, as the weary jobber, exhausted by the specter of all the actual work that should be done, and scheming a position to take, to plausibly take, on what is happening in reality.
—–That exclusive reality I haughtily meant to compare . . .  with resolvable, issue-oriented  life. Furthermore always to reflect, that I have assigned this to myself anyway, in a sense–but then again .  . .  I am blushing. What could be more ordinary? It is only the vocabulary hiding the matter, chum. Says my friend . . .
—– Often, in fact, I get burned up so thoroughly on a subject that I am unable to even enter the conversation, and have to resign myself to being incapable of talking right then–while the ideas are as clear as could be, so clear they are begging for expression, and maybe just because of their incipient novelty, crashing on my brain, overwhelming the very capacity to speak. Ironic that the host has got an invisible ailment, a choking in his throat. He ends up slowly doing the dishes. Never said a word. Letting the world fall to pieces, only a few hours from dawn.
—–Looking at it this way, I just pipe up now and then, and once in a while get a chance, created by coincidence not even within my control, I mean of my making, to make a sustained point in the form of at least a thunderclap, or brief downpour of speech. Some kind of ripping testimony, that rattles the windows. Ah, yes, and a memorable one for all that hear it! As he finally comes out of it, the one they have been waiting for, who harbors deep insights, I mean whose insights are harbored in deep waters. Hang all metaphors. I am sure I do have a reputation as a dynamic, threatening  conversationalist–oh, people are scared of me alright, and it’s a double confounder that I provide no evidence, and no apparently threat, until I strike as lightening strikes, slick as I am and practiced with the most amazing rhetoric since . . . Robert Browning. Oh yeah. “What did he say?” Nothing really, it was just kind of painful and soothing at the same time. It evaporates, but leaves a mist, and the green comes back in the shoots and veins of the red leaves.  I don’t want to sing my praises, but if it is time to look at the work, we do have the whole afternoon, so I mean just back up and take a gander at the cathedral.
—–Praise these images! I know modestly that even as a poet I am, backing into it, among a few; but what I am saying here, Mondrago, is that my self-image (a somewhat tired idea) most of the time is as a sop, and a guy who barely makes it to the lunch counter to order on his elbows his cheeseburger.  A guy who lives in an echo chamber of a mind that is mostly empty, bereft of a memory of his own life, like windswept, and when it is visited by a fog or a drizzle (such is even the weather in this upstate region where I was born!), has only the feeling of a suddenly excited prospect. It is the new world, I know it, I know it, and I just got dressed.
—– “Oh, everybody feels this way,” Mondrago says.

92) Copacetic

—–He said the next person who tells him he is “ahead of his time” is going to get a smack in the face. Apparently people have been telling him this, or a variation of this, for decades; so now he says he has had it–but, in all probability, he has been reacting this same way, or in a variation of this same way, since it started. I think the key variation of this otherwise monotonous message he has been getting, from fans and foes alike, is, in its brutal short form, “you will be famous after you are dead.” Implicit in this is that he will be famous, and that is pretty galling to hear, I can imagine; in fact it is so outrageous, on the face of it, that I can see why he has this emotional reaction. Probably he should have smacked (in the face) the very first person that ventured such an equation. Dispassionately, we must ask, the writer himself aside, why would anyone say that about anyone? What could possess a mere reader– I almost said “consumer”–to make such a summary judgment? I will tell you, it sounds personal!
—–I think it is the shifty narrator that is making people nervous, his tone and his rapid detours. He and his copacetic narrator, Janus-like, are after making simple readers believe they are special. And causing them to make judgments about what the content of literature actually is!  It is like they have to decide to join an exclusive club; and judge that, while they get it, nobody else will. And while they say this shifty narrator is ahead of his time, they don’t know that for a fact, and probably don’t even believe it, since they aren’t optimistic about the direction of time itself, and they think their kind is being snuffed out, overrun, left-out, rendered useless, etc. So they don’t believe his books will be like . . . required reading, in some future time. Far from it, books themselves are dying, etc, etc. So people who tell him he is ahead of his time are about as disingenuous as you can get, they are really talking about themselves!–and that might be why he wants to smack them. But he can’t, and he won’t, for these are his only friends; it is the relationship he has with them. And you know what? From his point of view, he actually is highly responsible for this adversarial climate. Such fate, and such intimacy, is integral to his duplicitous, mock-heroic style. Get that. And his content, all profound and double-dealing hilarity, twisting like dud fireworks rockets that don’t go off and fall to the ground, littering the future.
—–Listen, he says, waving off what are ersatz objections, I have apocalyptic dreams, in which dead friends and relatives are wandering around, walking up stairways, forlorn. My erstwhile stories are all desperately mundane, exercises in truth-telling. They are literary propagation, of spontaneous imagination, wholly depending on the suggested routes supplied by the phrases. Even more fundamental, the rhythms, enunciations, stripped down  speech. The segues in thought, mirrored in quick transitions. Totally it is wishes and fears played out, fulfilments denied, obscure happiness granted. He is baffled and bored by the merest prospect of a task that would require he employ his thoughts and his obvious gifts of expression to the service of making a record of what only happens in his life. I could say that again, but it rolled out right the first time. Why take pains to report what already exists?  What would be the point of such a testimony? Well, perhaps if one were reporting the miraculous, or if one were drawn into a conflict of testimonies relating to an issue, like a crime or a matter of public policy–if one were even involved in such realms!, then you might employ your gifts in the direction of such, such world abiding things, to the passive instruction of other bathetic sleepers. But as it stands, he is more like Prospero, wide-awake in exile, in charge of borderlands, and assigned to the future of the unimaginable.
—–These clear departures from reality, these falsifications write themselves, and offer the point be established by some lazy, I mean indefatigable reader, who will no doubt jump to his or her own conclusions. Readers are selfish, voracious, they think books are written just for them! Why, they are so ready and opinionated, they are just so pent up, and they read like eating grape nuts. Maybe they are justly so oriented, and jealous of their time and talents, in a climate and culture that has called them weak, declared reading itself as idle, slobbish, and furthermore confused them with false advertising, yes,  and fed them books which are not books at all, but cereal, red meat! Pour it on, Mondrago!  Some people continue to think they are voracious for truth, like that were cordoned off, and delimited as a refuge. But what do my once strong, now fragile readers know?– he says. And I say it too. What do they know?
—–It isn’t as if these touching, affected narratives he tells don’t occur, for they most certainly do occur, in the suspense-filled imagination. This does not make them less true, in fact it makes them wholly of the truth. Imagination is defacto baseless, and therefore undeniable. He does not strenuously project these happenings, or just fancy them, but he tensely watches them unfold, like a serial slideshow. What is the motive? Well that has to be explained, later, in leisure, if we can get some leisure. Though to enjoy what is unfounded is like being creator and consumer at the same time! The great project of awareness does get mixed up, with art, and life is like putty in my hands, he says–and people say, when you start talking like that, it is no wonder you can’t find a publicist, an agent, a market. Ha!
—–Most people don’t even ever locate their own imagination. They don’t recognize it as those idle trains of thought, which don’t seem to them to lead anywhere. And they think it is optional. There are two strikes against it. But in fact imagination is unstoppable, and irreversible, and it is painting the landscapes where you live, and  peopling the afterlife. It is what overwhelms every action–and it is rolling onward into otherworldliness, in spite of you. And it, imagination, is scandalously based in the transitory body. You live in imagination, and are thus emotional, consumed and refueled by gritty desires and ambition of the basest sort, and directed towards an unobtainable goal. You are not even here, but live in your imagination. Ha!
—–And if you put a premium on experience, and try to live in the world unbothered by your unstoppable imagination, you will be overwhelmed by it like it was your enemy. I want to give you a chance, to project all better fictions. Come listen to my comedies. The narrator god is not omniscient, but hedging his bets . . . thrice prophetic, foreshadowing of scenes that will require a future reality. There it is! This is why they say that he cannot be codified, and sold for common goods. The writer is like the weather, imagined before the street is laid. What do you want? I ask myself. And orchestrate a response. I can spin out dialogues with no one present–everyone does this, everyone is preparing. Sometimes one is even worn out, as if by human contact . . .

91) GUACAMOLE

fishmarket1

—–How are we going to be able to refer back to this life, this time spent here? How will we phrase it, frame it, describe it, and with what language, and where will we be, when we enact, or you might say reenact, this particular evocation?
—–I called a conference of my closest friends, to discuss the hypothetical situation of any of us making it through imperious death, intact, and, thus, able to recall this world as we saw it. Someday, I said, you are going to look back on this from a different vantage point.  No one objected, though no one screamed approval, for such a thesis. It simply quieted the room. Disquieted the souls, or maybe inflamed the spirits. So then, in order that we discuss this in strict confidence, as gathered friends of mine, I closed the shutters on the windows–a mere symbolic action–and advised with a gesture that all speak softly. Patting the air, I made everyone to relax, and put on some music a couple rooms away, and my wife had already prepared some guacamole, to go with the chips, and already flowing beer. Which we brought out on big trays, or handed around in single ministrations. It was wonderful, the mood I managed to establish this time–not so different from other times,  among my closest friends.
—–“What will we say about life?”–was the question on the mental placard before us all.  Will we say, when I was alive it was so different?  And then, from our new vantage, try to articulate that difference? I mean, hey, you have all projected this kind of situation, I know you have. I mean life   always requires a constant standing back, just to say, where are we now? Just on that new beach deeper in your head. Admit you’re spinning, like in immortality, friends. I didn’t need to be talking, I already had them on the rug– just by putting things so flatly. Experimentally, my closest friends and I are always doing this–pitting ourselves against the unknown.  Delving . . .
—–We might find ourselves saying, yeah, it was way more intense, over there, because not knowing where I was, I was constantly on the alert, like I might get killed or something before I really had time to adjust. I wanted to forget about it and just have a life, but some angle was always required, some spark to get started, some quirk to adjust the perspective, some nettle, some burr–yeah, life was mostly an analysis of life, I would have to say. My friends were all very smart people, most people are in my experience, very much smarter, at least, than their own experience. Ha! Another indication of a master dealer. Pretty soon everyone was talking.
—–You have to drown it out just to have the beckoning life at all. You reflect most meaningfully right from the beginning. There never was a time that was simple, oh no, it was always quite complex. But the topic here is, if we are  going to survive to another life, one consecutive to this, to put it stupidly, like after this one, or along side it, or encompassing it, you get the drift–then we are going to be planted there in the new place, while recalling this place. Though this other place is unimaginable, still it is required for this utterly simple experiment that we be the same person, there and here. Linked.  This is transparent, obvious.  We are guaranteed another stage in consciousness, that is all I am saying. From what vantage? I don’t know.  Why people don’t talk about this more? I don’t know. What is it, taboo?  Not really . . . it is only the subject of everything that lasts in the expressions of history. And what is up to me, the personal host of the occasion, to bring it up, tonight of all nights. What a wonderful flexible group I have here assembled, bouncing around, and fading into chairs, filtering out into the night.

—– Right now, in this mystery, we are so cut off it is amazing. There is no perspective, no vantage point, one cannot get outside one’s own awareness, which seems often like it has a view of what is happening , but then shrinks and is utterly bounded. The outstanding fact is there is no memory of anything previous. We think back like to a dead end.  Super consciousness, yeah, try it, when you think back it is like ceiling drops on your head. A limit is imposed in your ability to formulate the merest beginnings, the scraps, the premises, the commandments, of what another life could be. We are so cut off, it is amazing. And don’t tell me, I wagged my finger!, you aren’t capable of following this. It is no elevated study, it is base elemental. So, this is skeletal, just the drubbing you get being born at all. Or not born, but slipped into life like some package delivered ready made, though immature. You get the drubbing, you know, like coming to consciousness, like going out for practice the first day with the team, which is like awakening in a sweat from a terrible dream. Everybody is always halfway in life, or rather just a notch before the middle, or after–you know what I mean? Nobody is wise, and yet everybody is so drenched with experience, of one type or another. And so everybody has enough in their craw, in their lunch pail, their knapsack, to discuss this most elementary of questions. Which I keep hauling back in.
—–What will we say about life, when we get the chance the look back on it? I look at my friends and they are so embarrassed! It is quite clear this is exactly what they have been thinking about, for about for as long as any of them can remember. They are sunken in thought, and impaled on the subject. I have taken the lid off tonight. Bring out the beer, and open the shutters.  My friends are hoarding the truth!  Midnight is arriving, at the same time as the dawn in my thoughts, and party metaphors are abounding, for everything is like everything else.
—–Now that we are settled on what the brow beating general question is, this question of how we shall navigate an unseen bridge between this life and another (unfathomed) one, I will say something else.  I will say, and I will just say this without being concerned anymore how many people are listening, that this, now freely admitted question, is quite separate from any question or opinions about the meaning of present life. It is just a fact that there is another life.
—–Nor is this group of my closest friends, surely, creating expectations for what could only be a flimsily imagined successor. Nor is the investigation of this question any kind of commentary on the relative truth of . . . either life! It is simply dealt with as a given, that there will be such a passage, for each and all of us.
—–“You shall have another existence”, says the host of the party, throwing this remark over his shoulder, as he is walking out of the room. Does an uproar ensue? No, everybody bows their heads; singly and in unison. A beautiful chorus! And then there are a few snickers. Then a general approbation, and a return to relative sanity.  When he comes back, he comes back to an unchanged reality.  Sure, he has more to say. Or maybe he is strangely silent.  Gosh damn it, who can really shift very far from where they are? Life is sure complicated, and it isn’t your fault, but it is to your advantage that is is. This may be the vantage–this very warp. Insofar as one is aware, he is talking to himself.  And I say you shall have another existence, simply by virtue of the fact that this one is insufficient to your vaulting awareness.
—–I say, this life is incomplete and therefore shall be completed. All shall traverse the abyss, because it is there.  Sometimes I take a position, before it is well formulated, in order to elicit a response, and then it turns out I am way behind.  Everyone has long been onto this, this theme and its . . . ramifications! Does one think it is not certain, because one has not been directly informed? Did I think that? Like from the absolute paucity of clues in experience, or the stupid theories of science?  Now I am clued in. I say it is obvious there is a sequel, in a changed form of existence, precisely indicated by the absence of clues, and the dead on conclusions that even inanimate matter itself is . . . infinite! The door is shut, and it is shut on something, and for a reason. Life is such a sealed mystery there is a guarantee of special providence.

90) Shakespeare

shakespeare

—–It is hard to believe what a tangle of wires Shakespeare finds himself having to negotiate, at this moment. It looks like he has to use his quill pen to cut one particularly obtrusive, yellow wire that is looming up, or writhing on the floor, right in front of him. And what is this floor made of? Apparently it is some kind of finely grained wood, probably a tabletop or a desk. Oddly, Shakespeare is equipped with both his enormous quill pen, and a nicely bound octavo volume of his plays–some of his plays, not all of his plays, as this is a Shakespeare in his prime, I mean look at the way he is dressed! So neither of his hands are free, and he appears to be quite in a quandary. Quite in a fix, a most interesting dilemma. This is a bandy-legged, tightly corsetted, though semi-bald Shakespeare, walking stiffly but still, I am going to say, confidently, through a mess of wires connecting to my computer. Beyond him is a reef, a bank of huge electric plugs, a backdrop that is, believe it!, a veritable, I mean inexplicable, power station. He is a five inch tall action figure made of plastic, nicely detailed, definitely William Shakespeare in all respects, quite recognisable, even planted here on my desk– temporarily, or should I say immortally?–situated between my scanner and the computer keyboard, where I am clickity-clak typing new material for my opus blog, or checking Facebook, or Lloyd Mintern’s email, or looking up the phrase used in a comment, from my blogger friend the obscurantist, Stephenesque: “Et in Arcadia Ego” (even in Arcadia I exist).   Yes, I will say tag him immortal, this Shakespeare. Here is a reassuring, a noble and accomplished Shakespeare, halted like a friend, hailing me from his position in the past, yes!–and by God it looks like he is about to trip, if he takes one more step! Perhaps ‘tis but a sheaf of manuscripts he has recently been sprucing up, punctuating, as their syllables may very well sound through the ages. This provisional book, this play, is what he now carries through a strange and strangulating wilderness of wires, stopped as if astonished, inveigled, in a wonderment at being in such a new and stripped down world. Would this pass? Is he a fool? And perhaps he has grasped his quill upside down, to boot. No matter what it is, he will describe it, reckon with it, for he is Shakespeare, a man no doubt of changeable moods.  And a man who has all the words. But alack and alas (I think), perhaps we live in drastically more primitive times, than can allow such a one, as this historical scribe. How this could happen, it is not clear. How history take several giant steps backward, and arrive at a dubious future– that knows but of digits and bytes, a time of electricity!–oh, primitive times and paucity of greatness . . . oh, invasion of confusion, and . . . lack of appropriate diction.

89) DUCK

——I feel like I am trying to escape death, by thinking about it. It’s like one of my important side projects. I feel I have still alot of time to accomplish this, but on the other hand it is something I have to eventually manage. I am going to think my way out of death, personally, and escape it altogether. I won’t be one of the ones who die, as are so many others, but I will kind of walk out on a pier, and be taken by the hand of an angel. Or I will slip between the gears of some nightmare machinery. There are lots of ways out, if one wanted to concentrate on an escape–which I don’t want, you see, because I am full throttle into the paradox of–my own consciousness!
—–“Is this your goal?,” I hear someone ask, catching me up on this assertion.  I say, “yes, I am going to escape death, by thinking.”  I am going to reroute myself around it, I explain. It repeatedly occurs to me, I have to testify, that this is entirely possible. Not that I know how possible it is, mind you. Just that it repeatedly occurs to me that, if I think about it, I will see how possible it is–to escape death as proposed by dire circumstance, say, of age, accident, or disease. What other ways can one die around here? Seems kind of flimsy, flimsily arrayed these threats–and randomly applied. That is what I have against any of the deaths I’ve seen enacted, if you want to know; they are random–like randomly applied to the people targeted. Not majestic. Even if deserved in general, or even desired, these people escaped on their own terms when you come right down to it. And I think I can duck it, also. But it will be by pure thought. I think I am going to have to duck death by thought, and it won’t apply in my case, in that sense, because I will evaporate. Or I will wander off into an unfinished afternoon.
—–For it must be only a task of consciousness, and consciousness is my longtime specialty. Now, because of certain explicit displays of other people, who got caught dying, I feel I am finally faced with having to pronounce, at least, that I am myself engaged in having to think it through, the tedious and ominous question of my own personal death. Whew, that took alot out of me just to write that sentence. Think through this question of what death is, I say, while still sitting here, and able to get up and put another log on the fire. And why, taking out my pipe, it becomes secondary in my case, if I can confidently say I can think my way out of it, entirely. And why, even more dramatically, I am still not actually convinced that anyone else has died. I have witnessed things, and heard rumors, but even with this more or less first hand experience, the subjects themselves,  they too seem like jokers, these escapees from life. Plus they show up in dreams!
—–Of course it can’t be that I am surprised that this theme is central. Obviously life is completely bounded by death at every level. Reasonably speaking, everybody dies, sure. But life is one thing, and truth another. And I leave the level plain of life, I’m sorry, when confronted with just the miserable cycle that includes yawning death.  I am positioning myself in an adventure of reflection on the free subject of death. And it is free. Certainly I don’t object to death’s existence as an enfolded fact of life, if that is as far as you want to take it. But, hear me out folks, I do object to the glib use of it as an explanation. As an ending, as a funeral, as a thumb in my face.
—–And everywhere I see displayed raucous disregard of the deep meaning of death, the very potential of it!, as a beginning, in every instance of people dying, and in their dying being regarded as gone, out of use, useless. And what of the broadcasted silence you put out, that you betray about your own case, as if you buried a secret meditation and were preparing a trial of your own soul on your own? What of this secret project you have, to evade thinking on the subject altogether? As if you are somehow radically inexperienced, suffer no pressure of ever being exposed for your gross ignorance, questioned in talk at family gatherings, say, or at the mention friends who were suddenly cut off from the whole action narrative of your life. Freshly animated friends who, out of the blue, keep jumping into your memory.
—–Ah, I see some corporate definition of amorphous life is horribly, headlong involved in promotion of the duties for a future generation, instilling in the young the message that the world, of course, survives them. In one instant of such an equation, it is throwing them on the trash heap. I am serious–while I am willing, and desperately wanting, to question the status of any world that survives beyond my awareness. What status do you have, reality without witness? Surely it is no tape reel of the future made with the imperfectly focused lens of historical time. No, I have a different kind of time, in which to effect what I want. I have the power of thought. I want to conquer this question, of how my awareness can straddle this life and something after it.
—–No legend of death can intervene.

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