Edward Williams


October 2011

Only the Living Are Stranded

——Themes, topics, lines of thought that I nurture, and coddle and keep coming back to, like for updates and revisions, are the scattered parts, some no doubt quite essential, of a long running report, to someone with whom I can’t pull off a direct interview, or even find their address. In fact some of the material I feel belongs to them, and I am, as it were, collecting it for them; like I’m entrusted with the contents of a safety deposit box, unmarked by the owner.  That is the way it looks.  With such dubious directives, everything I walk by, or end up staring at, in this stage-set city looks ripe for use. It is all cameo shots in a mangled script. Here are flora and fauna, reflected and set waiting for placement in a drama. Here comes the occasional passerby, who glances at me, as if longing to talk, or audition. The errands I run are nicely repeating, ad nausea, insistent, like they had sheer meaning. Though it is impossible to keep always on course, so maybe I detour in the lobby, or take one of those aerial walkways.
——Only the living get stranded! You see,  it hits me again that only the living are stranded here, trundling into the daylight. The great majority are gone by, and cannot see what is happening. We are not the past achievers, but the desperate rebels, seeking an outside line . . .   Drastic consequences will ensue, when and how this idea freezes your ability to interpret, and mediate the weird panels, hoisted up right in your path.  I am virtually whispering. The world is tied so strictly, to changing scenery! It dies on a footfall, it regales me with a reappearance right in sync-blasting all meditations on the death of others who passed this way. And all of panoramic history too–which is the now engulfed province of what has passed away, and sweeping possibly therefore into its crippled imperative the land of the dead. Where could what has passed away possibly be?  Nowhere imaginable. All that is imaginable is right here! And threatening to vanish, if you stand at attention.
——What is here is proof that there is another place, because it so utterly excludes it–that other place, where my meditations go and fearfully try to link up. But what is here is fearful proof, also, that there is no other place at all like this.  These summations coincide. I live in constant suspense, as if life were unbearable, not answering any of my direct, though faulty inquiries, which then must be filed away. The floating scenery, ideally chanced upon, always behind windows, seems irretrievable, just as I study it. This is impossible, so you walk on, the skittish meanings established, they are non-refundable. Absurd in any other world.  What a way to put it!  Is there even anywhere else? Not for you, it is closed loop, your experience, and your imagination suffers . . .  total fatigue. Once I question the broadscale mystery, the locality reaffirms it twicefold, and I am telling you I have learned that repetition is the most constant excitement.
——That’s why I seem to be the last man appearing in person, in certain places, to perform nearly obsolete transactions, at the various payment windows, for instance, where I am kidding with the secretaries . . .  Ah, the gloriously polished marble floors, on the way out, induce a great, misdirected sadness. There should be music piped in, I think, and then I hear it, faintly.  Doubts, each of them, carry the form and is the vessel of a missing truth, and slogging guilt is nothing other than unplaced appreciation, I remind myself. If  I hadn’t learned that much, I would forget the next errand, and the street where I live.
——The crowd of buildings is in place, but it’s a ruse, they are only scaffolds for the snow and light, temporary markings of time without which the buildings would collapse, for lack of use. The most idle witness is feverish, waiting for the party . . .  The darting eyes are invested, watching what incriminates, stage left, or whirling, stage right. The scene where you belong, or have arrived, can be stripped down to simple elements, aching for recognition.  Childishly, I break it down, haunted by a sense that life is a mission, and what is standing before me–is always there both as warning and offering.

Pure Meaning

——People are in different orbits, you can’t ask someone to pick up and leave their assignments, or what they hope are their correct destinations. I am saying that even if thought is a laboratory, preliminary to action, like we could have an expanded moment, alone in the car–still it happens, a narrative of events, as if coming from afar, directly catches us, plucks us out of what seems to be a only a momentous flow.  I mean where did these events, now coalesced and challenging me to keep on schedule, once reside? What are they made of? The person can vainly reside in thought. But the world is made of events, made out of nothing traceable. Sure, you can talk later, but an event that tags the person is intangible, nothing more than pure meaning.  Everything drops away but what is meaningful– unfinished, forward looking, primary even to airy contemplations.
——Now I am getting somewhere! The distinctive trait of the world is that it is an entrapment, a field of transactions, broadly based on meanings that got set up and are still in play. I like to reckon I landed in the arena, and have some control over the skirmishes, and much is produced in this vein –but eventually a greater realization takes over.  Sheer force of thought gives way to the marvel of anything happening at all. The arena, ten arenas, each and all are created in some virtual kingdom of the utterly abstract. How does a persons’ poor, immortal mind keep track of the complexity? What was I promised? Truth, I now realise, while stuck in traffic (so to speak), has some content!  I see it, the slightest thing, and I am thinking about it all the time, until it gets mixed into another thread of enticing, disappearing meanings.  Alot is yet to be quite fully established, you might say.
——Sitting around talking about meaningful things that are in various stages of being established or destroyed–that is what I like the most.  Often I am dimly cognizant in the back of my mind of how, in spite of temporary errands and obstacles, essentially I am getting back to that scene, anticipated, at the white kitchen table. A couple friends are coming over, and it is always a summit, a strategy session, a bolstering of shared attitudes. In these neighborly events people become so individualized . . . it is outrageous. One person is funnier and more profound than the next–better than any fiction.  And then suddenly there is a shuddering undercurrent, as if we were all stranded, with unfinished plans and unresolved in a world of utterly important, plural meanings.  We are unique to each other, and it is all refracted, so we all go home with pieces of each other, but where everything starts and ends of course is with a person.  Why do I say this?  Stalled in traffic, riding on a river of cars, one is buoyed up by the thought of the sheer ground of ones being. In spite of any laughing critics, who can be turned off as easily as a car radio. One exists this way . . .
——The person is the target of all events, and events, I keep saying it, are untraceable, without a clear source; and there is no such thing as an event in general.

All Our Plans

—–Conceptually the place might crack open at your feet, but it won’t, for plain reality is just consuming enough, life is a set of paths to keep you intact, intent on just sufficient errands, sneaking glances at the white sky, hoisted up there out of reach.  What a locality is this! It is clear, when you get a periodic chance to think, how idle and waiting everything is. Not just the gameboard, but the players are distracted. The separate sight of the stranded horizon contains all previous events in a life, but who has the moment at hand, when they look, exactly? The cozy, manufactured setting, splintered and half out of use, has always diverged from any fretful past. The person hurries across the parking lot. Dramatic ideas of where we are, how it could have arrived, arisen out of a previous mood, I mean land, are forestalled. Or curtailed. Curtailed, that’s the word.  The sky does not tell time, how could it, it is only cinematic clouds and the coming nightfall which brings such a familiar chill. Life is long. She always has to figure out how it goes, by an inward sense, a rudder, some giddy clock–devastating with its patterns and incomplete meanings . . .  This is the tenor of her secret happiness, I think.
—— In this address, I am sure I can relate to her. Often, I have found, people are thinking the same thing. It is impossible to fix the world in any schematic. Over and over I repeat it is not here only for you to wander around in, just by the gift of its true origins. No, instead, you are a spliced in, sideways lucky fellow, or dancing girl, chancing upon a neat poetic description, with a very narrow focus. That’s what I tell myself, that it is my only option to become . . . more perfectly obscure.   I am more and more rallying, as if becoming secure in radical judgments.  These days, people are extreme in their views about the ultimate value of anything–as it relates to ultimate value, so to speak. And you can quote me on that. Tied up in knots, who has a greater need for humor than I?–one tells oneself. A greater right of way? While swerving, finally treading right into the mystery, focusing less and less on bland public issues; rather, more and more selecting something abstruse, or downright difficult–coming back to what was first thought about, anyway–and envisioned in that land claimed boisterously once, by a child who had plenty of theories. Before all of life greeted him or her, with popular themes, and stretched out towards the sealed off horizon, with its incoming, drenching rains, figuratively speaking.  As if unaware of all our plans.

The Very Situation

——The constant running debate I have with myself is always coming down to the making of simple acknowledgments, almost symbolically, no matter where I am, just to clear a path that is right in front of me.  Just walking, everything is provisional, if you acknowledge that life is never explained, cannot explain itself;  but then, the origin of my thinking pops up, still as a questions of debate.  I also take an interest in the missing fact, of where it started. One can’t help observe that one is in the very situation being observed. He sees his shadow. These separate thoughts in combination call in a debt to the creator of the very moment.  And the setting seems quite happily incidental, when you’re in this mood so constantly. Noticing that life is cutting you a deal, offering refuge from the overwhelming gap in your origins, that is one thing. Actually thinking about this, while tottering on the sidewalk, feeling covertly a part of a grand mystery, is another. Two lines of thought create excitement, keep man busy with a divided awareness.
——But it is out of balance! One thought is like a distant bell ringing, and I don’t think I want to see that church. Where I briefly swoon and plead for understanding.  I prefer the grinding out of a daily inspiration. These are different modes, and flights of stairs, which do not reconcile, or lead to the same chambers.  One is not the extension of the other, for to dwell in a given confusion is not to stake out a chance survival. All my words are leaning on the choice–to get the folly of inspiration, I must make a direct commitment.  And here is where the satire starts, and the others are condemned.
——Sure, one thinks, many try to avoid the blatancy of the mystery, and just build a cozy, tortured life within it. To do this, they must bury initial, holy curiosity. I am trying to imagine how this goes. The guy says, well the answer will be provided to others smarter than him, say in the future of the world when science finds out how life originated. This is party talk. Though, glimmering, you still have to wonder why it is you had any curiosity to begin with. It’s like an irreducible damnation, a blot on your soul that you took an interest at all.  I am writing this for my friends. The poor guy, who is in the shape of a man, a solid shadow of a a man walking by a brick wall, no less, has to deny himself capable, or culpable. He flounders.  The hidden, I mean obvious, fact is that to acknowledge that you would really like to know the truth, personally–this amounts to an inquiry directed at the source. There is no escaping this inner religion.
——The beautiful world already exists, the story is just complex enough, to imply a sequel is necessary, just to keep you walking. The recuperating mystery, and the experience of an oddly allied curiosity–these are two different things. I am adding them up to a future, in which neither escape. Life is untenable, and yet you are convicted of enthusiasm. It’s a royal synthesis. All over the map, and still determined. This thirst for explanation is personality–the larger situation surrounds without your asking. Oh, I know, this adds up to a guarantee of a further, crowning story. I say to myself, for the sake of this place there must be another place, where another conversation at the table is set, another story is in progress.  And the man keeps walking.

Master Destroyer

——Of course I am adding to what I have already accomplished, and even filed away, while at the same time clearing out more space–for new constructions, fabricated in all earnestness, fledgling ideas barely decked out which are, however, part of the same great project of awareness, the explication of the expanding mystery of my own existence.  I am a master destroyer, and fantastic builder. It is impossible to write without a sense of continuity, and a built-in cognizance of what I have written before. But the more I accomplish, the more a desert ahead of me is exposed, the greater a need for further exploration. Supremely, I show up the poverty of my own poetic images, which as soon they are as born cry out for partnering expressions. And witnesses.
——Surely I must take pride in what I have managed to salvage from life, or even work into an impassioned narrative. I am cognizant of how I have foisted off on many listeners, things they later could later claim as their own.  I consider these seductions as worthy efforts, in my always novice efforts to participate in the world. There is vouchsafed also a type of pure, spirited invention, gathering a sense of eternal glory, if I might put it that way–and it is as if I assume my readers are even up to date on that ambition for permanent selfhood. I position them. They are going to receive the very latest and most problematic of my whims, with proper caution–which means latent, and excited comprehension. Or even better that they may appropriately frown, when a sentence dips, when I misstep, dally on the sidewalk, turn back and merely look like a schoolboy, and fail to provide them with something carrying into the next scene.
——The point is, though I operate strictly on my own terms, and at full capacity, I bring the imagined audience along with me, anyway. It’s a contradiction, isn’t it?  Unlocated as all those people you carry around in your mind are, I mean scattered and irretrievable in any daytime–hard as it is to gather them, nevertheless if one should actually find these listeners, this frolicking audience, and speak directly to them–well, it would be like one were dead, or something. Impossibly beyond this life, out of this constant situation upon situation.  It is not really ever to be considered that one can rally in one place all those to whom one wishes to speak. But not really to speak to, just yet.  Am I putting this too clumsily, or inelegantly?  Perpetuating too many an ecstatic dialogue?


——-Events, they are what rule the immaterial world, where you are running errands.  They only rarely combine into stories in which several people visibly participate, but still a relentless barrage of small events have you marching around, and pausing in wonder at your own outlandish storehouse of references.  I am not one who can foresee these events that, later, have me ensnared, but I can sardonically argue that I saw them, or the shape of them, coming.  At least enough, say, to have buffered and virtually absorbed the impact, made amusement even of any seeming consequences. And then I can also quickly adjust the future, such a hero am I, so that I appear to be still roughly in stride with my own life. But it is alot of shadow-play, and reckoning with mystery, and constant rephrasing.
——-Unseen events are shooting through time and space to the center of a persons’ life, and arriving, They are made of nothing at all, but combine things that were waiting in some realm of unfinished meaning. Everything is tending towards ultimate meaning, on the level of the most personal. Events in my life are intangible, they are connective tissue, shadows on a wall.  More untraceable than thought, for thought–though it is also unreal–has an immediate partner in simple actions. Thought straps one into comical action, I have noticed. While events, what are they?  They are simply comprised of floating meanings, encircling and directing and charming us, or ensnaring us within their unfinished storylines.  Where one is, likely or not, punished for being attentive.
——-Punished, I am punished by this life, which will not let me relax. I am a person who is always trying to devise and determine the world from the point of view of others. All I do is think about other people. And so, I get my fate. A person like me will always be lamenting what seems like a lack of events on the horizon. The master irony is all consuming, others seem far more busy, to the person who is always standing around with the most analysis, the most ideas–which he could turn into plans, turn into events (it seems), if the right people were listening. But they aren”t, they are turned to the wall. Lost in shadows. Such a person sees the vast emptiness between events, and that he cannot master the way they occur. The man of action is forthwith stalled. This is because events themselves are nothing real, but are wholesale fabrications formed by earnest behavior, suggestions that mostly do not come to fruition. Events, they are borrowing from sources beyond us, and  connected on a plane transcending any one person’s ability to perceive, and quickly rearrange, or judge.


——It’s as if you were waiting for spectral nature to interrupt your thoughts. Though really, we are totally refined, and nothing touches us in general. We glide through, and later reflect on how it might have been done; and that is experience. But we don’t set foot from the center of our being, as we arrived there some time ago, like on the brow of a ship, or stopped at a traffic light. I have but a few storylines. It’s only as if I am pretending–to wait for nature to participate in my thoughts. My thoughts having rallied and congregated in a place very safe from any harm. Free nature, you know, is fear, unrealized.  What!  I ask right here, what can slide by the barrier and infiltrate the domain that thought has cordoned off, as if by inheritance of sacred territory that never, yet, borders on the world of physical reality? I know no devil capable of upsetting this self-confidence, as I write. And would this create a drama in a single day, tying everything together? Who wants that?  It shall it be leisurely days of slumbering ambitions, and hackneyed dreams, and crazy ideas forgotten almost as suddenly as they appear.

Walking Citadel

——-“Every person is clearly, oddly unique–a triumph over all definitions of humanity. Such a one is perpetuated as if guaranteed to outlast any fate, really, any limiting notion others might have of them–which must prove secondary, if you consider the sheer fact of their own self. There is nothing more odd than a person, when you come down to it. The self is pre-eminent, I think it must be, because you just can’t get around it.  Especially, it is especially so, by this line of thought, that death surely is an insult, very rude, by this token. Simply impossible to foist off on any one person, safe within the citadel of their own thinking . It is a point of view situation, one has to think.  Even though people do not outwardly display such valiant, inner confidence, and even appear quite vulnerable, and fragile, like they could be run over just crossing the street, it not true that they can just be knocked off what is, for each, an imperial center, a pedestal, where they are immune to most all the problems of the world, really.  I will go even further, and say a person must know that what happens in life cannot even claim to be the full story.  For even once life envelopes a person completely, and all their activities have them running from one place to another, they still have endless, pleasant refuge in their thoughts, they are a walking citadel–there is my image. For it is always totally strange to be conscious, and so present in every moment. Surely this is why no one, really, wants to be anyone else.”

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