“. . . [A] duty brought me here to the house of Hades.
I had to consult the soul of Teiresias the Theban.”
Odysseus to his Mother in the house of Hades
The Odyssey, Book XI
Translated by Robert Fitzgerald
I have to re-imagine space, how I look at objects in place, what I see, if I do. I do have to re-examine what I think about space, what I say about it, how it affects what I say about being, about existence, about time. To see or not to see, other questions linger. With these eyes—post and lintel with the eyes, can you imagine? I must stand under to understand; to understand that I have to think about space differently than I do, than I have, what I see is always going to be ruled by the limits of perception. I see has always meant with these eyes, I perceive, something subjective. Colonialists drew lines on pieces of paper that had no meaning for native Africans . . .
There is an inner space of mine. I have tried with futility to measure the dimensions of this inner space. I think of outer space. And I imagine a space we call the world, differentiated by a number of coordinations, the drawing of boundaries, of borders, of barriers, even if only recognizing what we call natural boundaries, rivers, seashores, lakes, mountain ranges, and so on. Sometimes the limits of what we know are drawn in a different way, with imaginary lines, imaginary limits, dams all built up to stop the flow from going on, I can draw New York State on as piece of paper quite accurately from memory. I can see the states in my mind, my eyes closed and all.
Perception is not always, though, the best way to verify the real–we misuse the world real–poor people, especially urban poor people, use the word quite stupidly. I do though see the real–to be real or not to be real–what the hell is that supposed to mean? I am. This I know. Because I am, I think, not the other way, Renee.
There is a reality to know, there is a reality that can be verified. It’s just that verification of the real has differing sets of criteria: what I see, what I touch, what I taste, what I hear, what I smell, I listen so carefully, and there is what I feel when I feel with other than the five senses—and what I remember—what do any of us remember? I know too well the evidence of things unseen. I knew a woman who said she could taste in her memory. I remembered that I thought I could remember taste as one tastes when food is in the mouth. I don’t believe this anymore—her cunt in my mouth, what do I remember, what can I still taste after having tasted?
There is a reality other than the one I perceive, I’m sure. What is tangible has other means of being substantiated than with eyes. What is tangible is not always tactile. Tactility is in the finger tips, is in my eyes, in my ears. If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? You want to say yes. The answer is no. Sound is made in the ear; no ears, no sound. What the falling tree creates is a compression wave. That wave must be transmuted by the ear as sound. Sound is tactile. The tangible is something else, yet related. A falling tree creates a compression wave, so what we have is a potential sound.
I know believers who attest to the tangibility of God. You cannot touch Him though—I’m not debating the He-ness or the She-ness of God, or if God were better served by the pronoun It. The Holy Ghost is It, I know. Why can’t God be He, She and It? I have asked in these and other words in other places other pages I’ve written on, journals, essays, stories . . . the world is flat in my eyes, yet I know the world is round, have seen the photos and the videos of a round earth, could have deduced a curved earth from ships slowly disappearing below the horizon and then returning.
The world is flat was once a fact. The world is round was once a fact too. The railroad tracks that converge on the horizon are not an illusion; they reveal the parallax. The facts of the parallax are not misapprehensions. The parallax shows us the truth of curved space. The world is not flat, only the ground upon which I walk or on which I take of my shoes to stand on is flat. What I see with my eyes—seeing is not merely looking, is it . . . the ground on which I walk is flat, appears flat, in the short distances I do walk, I’ve increased my walking to lose some weight. Yes, the spot I stand on now is flat.
Flat in my eyes and not flat in other apprehensions, far enough away and I disappear from view. There is a vanishing point within every frame. When I see the railroad tracks converging on the horizon, I am looking directly into the curve. Space in the universe is also curved; lines are never straight as I imagine them in Plane Geometry . . . the universe is parabolic. A parabola is an arc that extends infinitely; infinitely expanding curved space, yet bound. What is inside the expansion of the universe? I do not know. What is outside the expansion of the universe? I do not know; no one does. I just wish people would understand that infinity and eternity are not synonyms, they are not mutually interchangeable. Infinity can exist within eternity. You can’t imagine that?
Eternity is outside the expansion of the universe and remains something scientists cannot tell us anything about, what, where, how, when, why . . . .and there I was, standing as I was, outside the expansion—outside the expansion of the universe as there is an inside the expansion of the universe. The Lakota talked about The Great Mystery when they referred to the creator of all things, places, and beings. In our world–what about our world–how are there worlds in worlds with other worlds in yet other and other worlds–too many worlds–what world is this–I inhabit many worlds, more than one world–no contradictions. There are no atheists among astrophysicists? Questions posed. What does it mean to say something like that? I will not go into this. The deeper I go into things, the matter of things, the material of things, the fabric of the universe–the cosmos is a web created or spun from the spittle of the mouth of the Hopi Spider Woman . . ., and the more I learn, the more I understand that there is even more to know. That’s really big of me, is it not? But this is not to say that knowledge is impossible–no–we must never conclude that knowledge is impossible. That conclusion is like being pronounced in one’s atheism–the great certainty that God does not exist. It seems a fool’s errand, no?
Doubt is not, though, the highest wisdom no matter what the dominant world-view of our culture says today—a universe that is bound yet infinitely expanding, okay, I can say that I think I understand. I know that most of us have no idea what that means . . . infinity is a unit of space and a unit of time and a unit of space-time, and all three are valid ways of apprehending the world of passing time and many dimensions and still more. Yet, all time is one. It is one. Yes, past, present and future are one, and their separation, or the distinctions I think I know are merely persistent illusions I maintain out of vanity, hope or convention.
I am a vain creature. Vanity is not verity, Truth borne by a special kind of seeing, categories of measuring, this idea of time. Time the moving arrow that flies by, time the tunnel we move through, space and the relative orientations of here and there . . . what can I say; if I wish to use one or the other to explain, to illustrate or to understand what happens, what happened, what will happen. To happen or not to happen . . .
I have coffee every day, I had coffee this morning, I will have coffee tomorrow morning. But for this kind of referencing, I also need language, more specifically I need verbs and tenses—verb tenses are ways of ordering time, the time of our illusions or delusions, not the time that is all of it one. Tenses are not, though, time, and time is not tense, and this is the time that we order into past present and future. Convenience is all for us. I am eating breakfast tomorrow at 8; I am going to eat breakfast tomorrow at 8; I will eat breakfast tomorrow at 8; I will be eating breakfast at 8–tense is not time. Where am I in the position I hold, a spot, a point I occupy also in time. No one who has ever lived who lives now who will live in the entire history of the world occupies this point I occupy in space and I time. I am an historical oddity, unique in the cosmos, unlike anyone at anytime anywhere. Why don’t we say any-when?
On this globe that is round, on a ground, once more I have to say it, on a ground that appears flat, in a universe that is expanding . . . where am I? Straight lines are only in geometry textbooks. Everywhere I am is here and not there. This step, the next step, the one after that, and so on every step of every way I take I am here, here, here and here, perpetually always here. Here and there do border one another, and there is no discernible between them. There is always somewhere else I could be, almost anywhere other than the place I am, but everytime I am anywhere, I am here.
Here now; now here; one is the other, the other is the one. In at or to this place, often accompanied by the index, pointing, the pointer finger, what is this here? I ask. Let me show you with my finger what I mean. What is that there? There is then, then is there; time and space an inextricable unity for millennia before Einstein. Every tick of the clock is now; now at this moment, now in my life, I am working, I am living in New York . . . concentric circles of here relative to an outside-this-here there; outside each circle of here.
This chair here in this room here, the water is running now there in the kitchen. This here now, that there then, here is here in every language; aqui, ici, qui or qua. There is there. How they reverberate with by from . . . into one in the other . . . sainthood is sometimes determined by being here and there at the same time, a multiplicity of here-ness?
One does not displace the other for sanctity or for divinity. Here is not there, of course, for you or for me; everything we need to understand is a matter of course. There is not here except for God. God is there and here in simultaneity. Jesus refers to this conundrum when he declares that he is beginning and end at the same time. He resolves all differences, alpha and omega.
But there is no God in our beliefs anymore, or is there? We could put each other out with the trash when we die, can’t we? Do you imagine that we couldn’t get to this place if it were packaged right on TV? Where is TV? TV is a replacement for God. TV possesses a here-ness and there-ness in simultaneity, doesn’t it? They are there but here, whoever is on the television. Here and there, absence and presence, so much more to say.
There is a reason God has been co-opted by fanatics, why the only ones who talk about God are fanatics and psychopaths, or deluded lunatics. There is no one who is rational who talks about God; there is no one who is intelligent or educated who talks about metaphysics. The academies of learning have rid themselves of God and metaphysics as if we have rid ourselves of lamentable superstitions. What then can we do to reform ourselves, re-inform ourselves about the place of metaphysics in our lives? We sit idly by wondering why we do not fear religion more as if less talk, less literacy, less ability to articulate the intelligent positions about religion is better. We throw out so many dogs with the flea bath water.
But then doubt is the highest wisdom in our culture, and all opinions must culminate in a consensus of doubt. We doubt wisdom itself as we doubt knowledge itself or that knowledge is even possible. How doubt has become the axis of our world is as puzzling as why the ancient Semites practiced circumcision. Well, maybe not. There is less puzzlement over circumcision in the desert than there is for our civilization to have adopted a philosophy of doubt, and ontology of doubt, an epistemology of doubt, an ethics of doubt.
Morality itself is now doubt, doubt and more doubt, everywhere for everyone about everything. We are between everywhere all the time, as if Heraclitus and Zeno were our Saviors or our Gods. But where is this between . . . to between or not to between . . . what is it to be between? The arrow does not move, Zeno insists. Yeah, tell that to the French at Agincourt.
Hamlet was between everything and everyone everywhere all the time we watch him operate on stage, the world itself a stage, of course, yes, all of us acting—at least I am acting all the time everywhere, all the world, I know. Theater is life, life theater. Theater is the world; statecraft and stagecraft, no? Theatricality is in everything everywhere, the whole world is a stage for me for you for us for them.
Yet this is in my mind, no? In actuality, things are different, no? Things are not different. I can’t know anything outside my mind I have been told I can’t tell you for how long.
Betwixt is between—what is that supposed to mean I suspect you want to say. The between is to have been cut in twain—anyone can do that to himself easily enough. However, I am never between here and there—no? Here is here and there is there and when one, not the other, there are no shades of gray as there are between black and white. There is no other in either.
Pre-positions, yes prepositions are fore positionings. Everything in them is about ordering space, objects in space, place, location. Coordinate spaces—I think of x and y graphs. How do I discover myself? I am only ever wherever I am anytime I am anywhere.
The between is a place, though; it exists. I never enter it, however. Or so I assume? I only pass through it? I pass through so many things—in physical space, I am never between in the entrance unless the entering is a protracted one.
Between is another there from here, yes, no, perhaps? Questions add anxiety to other questions, anxiety in itself raising newer questions. To between though is an action that takes place in the mind, as I have said; in the soul, too, I presume. In the Self too? How does the Self differ from the soul? I could explain, but . . . what is the Self, we probably want to know, this capital “S” Self, one that is not exactly expressed by the word myself. The selves, yes, the selves—plurality—the selves of the Self; the Self is made up of many selves. My Self is certainly made up of many selves, which I am I now. Every Self made up of many selves, a community, I could say, do say sometimes, singularly plural, I am. But who am I when I am whatever I am at anytime I am that, I am this—again there are these there in the Self. Is becoming between one being and another?
There are distinctions to be made from among Self, soul, and mind. I need to define my terms; I need to define me. Defining me is a necessary limitation. Form is never without definition, never without limits. Formlessness is never tolerable in a person, in me—I cannot accept this lack of beauty and therefore Truth. This, though, is and is not a limitation in the way we like to think, then saying that possibilities are inifinite when they are clearly not infinite. All definition makes something finite; definitions are necessary. They do not need to be as poorly handled as they are, though. (I say ‘though’ a lot.)
By drawing the boundaries of definition, I am, though, freeing myself, my Self, oh these selves of mine, the masks I wear, the persons I become, person is mask, personality only the masks I wear, dramatis personae, actors wear masks, no? They did wear them to perform on stage. Person is the Latin persona which means mask. Everybody a mask to present, a mask to be worn, a mask to perform behind.
I remember Sartre, in “The Republic of Silence,” how the French were never freer than during the Nazis occupation . . . yes, imagine that stage to perform on. But we think we can make ourselves free or freer by adding more selections to what we imagine is an increase in choice, but then Sisyphus had his choices. Sisyphus was free, no? He was freer than I am, I am only as free. The possibilities are infinite is something we love to say. What does it mean to say something like this? It is meaningless. Infinite possibility is an avalanche waiting to happen. It will bury you. I do need to define this idea of my possibilities otherwise I will live in chaos. Yes, infinite possibility is an avalanche waiting to bury us.
To between or not to between, I asked before. This might be the question and not that one about being and not being. How can I be two? Some might ask. I do not. Here and there simultaneously is confusing for many. Rimbaud had spoken of how he had once two(ed) himself; je me deux, he said, I two myself. I do so as well. Multiplicity infers at least twoness. The Self divided against itself? How I walk beside myself many places I go, outside as well as in. I recall a poem by Artaud, one about Saint Francis, how in his lyric devoted to Il Poverello, he speaks of walking side-by-side with himself—yes, I understand this, and I mean I under-stand.
I look in the mirror and I say “I;” I look again and I say “you; but I cannot recall if ever I had said “he?” You and I . . . do I say we in the mirror? I have come to say I am we. I have come to mean it. Who am I to become hesitating to be . . . the mirror, the one in my room with dust. I am in the mirror there as I am outside the mirror, here, everywhere I step is my here, everywhere else is there. Simple enough to say, but the implications are other than what is simply stated, of course, otherwise they would not be implications.
I am in the mirror, on the mirror, there on the wall, the mirror with dust; with every mirror, in is on. But is being there in the mirror, on the mirror, also here as well as there? There is always in potential; here is always an actuality. Here-ness has something in common with God, the godly always present. God is pure actuality, never in any part potential. Yet, as I have said, God is both here and there simultaneously. God has no parts that become; He is, and let’s just say He, and only because I am n ot herein discussing or debating the Sheness of God, nor do I wish to point to the Itness of God. Again, everyone knows the Holy Ghost is It.
I am potential and actual simultaneously; I am and I become; to be and not to be, to become the extent of my existence? In French, ‘between’ is entre, thus ‘to enter’ is to between, or at least to cross the between, every entrance somewhere neither here nor there.
Every entrance is a threshold. To thresh is an act of violence as in threshing wheat; thresh is also a variant in Old-English for thrash or the German dreaschen. To be held in the thresh, every threshold a thresher, destroying one here for another here the one that was there, there and here something like matter and anti-matter. Mutual annihilation; here and there can never be simultaneous for me, never coincidental for me. I destroy myself in all my journeys; it is not the destination, but the journey—truth in cliché as it is almost invariably present in tautology.
It is only the journey that is perpetually here. The destination remains there until it is here, and then the journey is a was there, time and space are an indissoluble unity, here is now and there is then. I am never then; then is for will or for was.
Blind prophets can see in ways we the sighted cannot is cliché, she said. I knew this, but understood that it was true nonetheless. Only a fool disavows truth just because it is contained in a cliché, I said. She said nothing. I remained silent. She looked out the window. I watched her looking out the window, looking out the window as she said what she said as she had always said what she would say. She had had a nightmare and was exercising what she had always said about what one should do after having a nightmare, that is, look out a window. If I were ever awakened in the night from a nightmare, I was to look out a window.
Ray Charles was blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Stevie Wonder is alive. Ray Charles is dead. Blindness is sometimes self-inflicted. Lear is blind at the end. Lear’s blindness not Oedipus’s blindness. Oedipus puts out his eyes after having seen what he could not see. I can’t count how many times I’ve been blind. To see, to look, to perceive, to be subjective, to strive for the objective . . . why do we have to strive for any way particular to see? Why can’t we just be and let the seeing take care of itself I remember having thought, wanting to think again.
Tiresias too is blind, was blind, no, he is blind. All prophets live in a perpetual now. All literature is now. Hamlet is, Odysseus is, Clytemnestra is. Ray Charles is, Ray Charles was. When his music plays, Ray Charles is? If so, then he is blind. But his blindness did not prevent him from seeing in his music, did not disallow him from leading us, the blind do sometimes lead the blind. I don’t want to reach wisdom the way Lear does, or Oedipus. I am blind and I am not blind. I was blind with her; she was always blind with me. We did not see each other. Our best moments were naked in the dark, revealed and covered, obscured vision, opened bodies, contradictions we live by.
I am going to be blind many times again in the future. I don’t know where all that I have misunderstood has gone. I can’t remember how much I have forgotten. Recollection is yet another thing. To recollect, to recall, to remember; one or another in memory; what do we remember and how? All recollecting is remembering, not all remembering recollecting? Around and around I go on this merry-go-round with me. What to say, how to say it; saying is making the said so, which is why we fear speech. We do fear it. I do not. We do not take words to be the symbol of ideas, as we should. Instead, we take them to be things, like sticks and stones, so words can break our bones; at least this is how we respond to words. She used to fear speech, mine, too often, frequently telling me to be quiet or to shut up or one or another anxious gestures meant to instill in me a fear that I might be over stepping some boundary, some social barrier of propriety, as if I were ever going to give a fuck if I were which I wasn’t, no. Her anxiety was never an emergency call for me, never a warning for me.
We are stupid—we were stupid. Firstly, we the people of the United States are stupid; lastly, she and I were stupid. I can be horribly obtuse at times. Our culture is a culture of ignorance; ours was a relationship of ignorance. One was not contingent on the other; they coexisted. They ran parallel to one another.
There is no Truth, we believe. There aren’t even any truths anymore; and there certainly is no certainty. The man who knows anything is suspect. Saying isn’t seeing, she said, which is why we have fallen victim to saying it makes it so, I said. She nodded. I forget where we were, we have been so many places. We used to do everything together, Montreal more than several times, Montauk every summer, Madrid. We like M[s]. I am a man.
Whether I know something or not I will let you decide. I don’t need you to agree with me. You are free to be wrong as much as you like. I am like you and nothing like you. I am like you in all the ways you and I appear different from one another, just as I was exactly like my father in every way we were not alike. I am different from you, completely other than you, in everything we share, all categories of rendering, whether it be race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender, or level of education; whether job status, that is, prestige, or money, whatever have you in forms to compare and contrast. As Homo-Sapiens we are 99.9% alike.
All comparisons must contrast otherwise they are not comparisons at all. The fault of our fate is not in our star politicians, or our star parents or star family or star teacher . . . the stars do not rule our choices. Everything is seemingly dependent on our need to dwell in our caves. We love our shadows, we live with them, in them, inside them more than we are inside our lovers. Caves. We live in caves. We are cave dwellers.
“The Allegory of the Cave” is now. It recurs every day.
Look to the shadows and you will find yourself lurking, I find me there often. What I do day in and day out lurks in me, moves about in the shadows inside me, and the shadows surrounding me, the circumambient darkness everywhere, like that Magdalene I remember from when I was a boy. I see the portrait of the Penitent Magdalene by Georges De La Tour at the Met, I see her see me sitting at her my vanity with a skull in her lap, a lone candle burning before a mirror reflecting the intensity of the flame and the circumambient black of this room her room my room at night.
Look to the shadows; she and I were idiots—a private world, a world of our own, our own making and doing and imagining and saying and slinging and arguing and fighting over what with words we wished we could take back but could not, no, what is done cannot be undone, I remembered.
Tiresias is blind. I am blind in another way, only another? Many. I have met this blind prophet before. I have imagined myself searching for a blind prophet to show me the way. I do not pity Tiresias his blindness; blindness is different in antiquity than today. That is for sure, but dark woods are everywhere. I am not though going to pluck out my eyes as did Oedipus, but then I did not murder my father as did he, kill him, really, it wasn’t murder. I don’t have the courage of Oedipus. I still imagine courage in youthful ways. I imagine I am more like Odysseus than Tiresias.
Odysseus seeks the latter in the underworld. I wouldn’t trust that my son would stay with me as Oedipus’s daughter does after he blinds himself. Scrooge asks his niece-in-law if she could forgive an old man for having no eyes to see and no ears to hear. Paul speaks of the evidence of things not seen. To see; to understand; how do we stand under the things we know, the things we have come to believe, the things we continue to have faith for? Faith is a form of knowledge, walk a mile in my shoes.
Faith is a branch of epistemology.
We imagine we are more compassionate today than we have ever been, but I am not so certain that we are. I put coins in homeless men’s cups, but—but nothing—there is no but. People who give excuses for why they do not give coins to the homeless, suck. For whatever reason, a person only does what he can do even if he can do more, but not to put quarters in a homeless mans cup is being too fucking cheap and I do not want to say that the only people I ever heard give excuses for not giving were—does it matter who they were, what people in particular—we would not believe it, beliving that the truth were a lie, imagining that it was one or another—no, that it was a particular kind of bigotry.
We do have bureaucracy behind us in this assertion that we are more compassionate. This idea lingers in the thoughts of those who imagine morality like history, that one or the other is linearly progressive through time. We cannot, though, fathom the depth of character, of mind, of soul that is necessary for compassion to be compassion and not the appearance of being compassionate by learning how to look as if one were being compassionate without actually having to be so.
A society bred on the idea that package is as important as—now more important—than product, cannot understand the distinctions between passion and emotion, or how depth of feeling is opposed to the appearance of having felt. Package over product is the guiding dogma.
Pascal tide is the celebration of and the commemoration of the Passion of Christ, not the Emotion of Christ. The differences between the two should be obvious, but we confuse emotion for passion much of the time. For those who do confuse one for the other as if they were completely synonymous, interchangeable in all contexts of use—what? What can you say about a man who emotes instead of acting with passion? Instead of compassion you get commotion—motion, bodies in motion remain in motion, bodies at rest remain at rest. The universe itself is motion. Everything in motion, rotation, revolution, expansion and contraction, at the atomic level there is nothing but motion.
The fires and motions of the soul that cannot be contained by the narrow sphere of my being.
Odysseus seeks Tiresias in the underworld. I remember The Odyssey when I was a boy, a paper in seventh grade I wrote as if I were a reporter come to Ithaca to interview the principal parties involved in Odysseus’s return. Would I seek Tiresias in the Underworld as Ulysses had? In spite of multiculturalism’s attitudes towards our Roman-Greco metaphysical heritage, Odysseus is still one of our civilizations prototypal seekers, and yes I do speak of our civilization because there is our civilization. I am with my Italian and French cousins.
Odysseus is an archetypal trickster in the western tradition, and as such, provides us with lessons for our lives in a civilization he has informed. It is the role of our civilization’s tricksters—as it is the role of tricksters in all cultures and all civilizations around the globe—to be a champion of freedom, yes, champion, a competitor for liberty on the field of life.
When I was boy up at Aunt Mae’s in the summers . . . when I was a boy . . . I lament the loss of the boy I was but not nearly as much or as sadly as I do the boy my boy is no longer. The motto of New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die.” Would you die if you did not live free, I’m not so sure of this, seeing as how there seems to be no condition that people cannot get used to, no? An eloquent defender of liberty and the freedom of the individual . . . who?
Digression though is the way, what way? This way, that way . . . the way is the road, the road is the journey and the journey is everything. Wandering, wondering—my favorite character for a time when I was an undergraduate was Lazarillo de Tormes—what does this have to do with anything I am saying have said will say should say used to say when saying was so much more easily accomplished, just open my mouth and let out what comes out gushing out words like water from a fire hose, no? I know a very, very interesting paper comparing Lazarillo and Hamlet waits to be written, if it has not already been completed. You do not understand, I used to, I’m not sure I do as much as I once did.
Blindness has given Tiresias other eyes. I should be so lucky to have them. The wise understand this; the fools never will. A fool will always form a thousand questions to keep the wise man playing hop-scotch with the Truth. Hop Scotch or Ping-Pong, the idiot’s delight in argument, his intellectual acumen never veering far from either. How blind am I? I ask and do not . . . look and you will see.
I see and I do not see, to see as he has seen, to see as I am supposed to see—there are supposed-to[s]–eyes are not the prerequisite—not what is required for wisdom, to reach enlightenment, yes, light has everything to do with vision as it has everything to do with Truth. To see or not to see has everything in its boundaries; to stand under or not is for everyone an integral question.
I repeat myself often; in spite of the infinite possibilities of language there are really a limited set of constructions we use. This is our idiolect, the unique way we use language or the particular way we repeat ourselves negotiating understanding, meaning . . . everyone’s to be or not to be is bound in this seeing or this not seeing.
Nel mezzo del camin di nostra vita . . . a dark wood stands before me, I feel like Hansel. I am blind in ways my sight hides. I see and I see not, but I see not how I do not see when I look. Dante’s dark wood is all around me, Magdalene’s circumambient darkness in her room as she sits at her vanity with lone candle and mirror and skull in her lap, Yorick’s skull right there, Hamlet as Memento Mori. My life is momento mori. I have been taught to dis-see. In dis-seeing I dis-respect so much of what should be spectacular for me in my minds. Education in America, as in most public varieties everywhere, is more about indoctrination into the values of the status quo, than it is about making individual students eloquent defenders of freedom and democracy.
Harvard’s motto is Veritas, but how many camels are there waiting to pass through the eye of a needle in Cambridge? Don’t imagine that our press or that Hollywood, except very rarely, comes close. There are actors and producers and directors and screen writers we should shoot in the next revolution, by the hundreds. Let the impure blood flow. The Jacobins were right. Yes, they were right. Their response was correct.
Our culture today could care less about how we have chosen to see; individuality in America is more about self-enslavement than it is about freeing us . . . but who is free and where is freedom when our lives are as absurd as they are . . . the appearance of being free is the best we care about package over product which is why we fear words, words that slip, words that once were in the domain of the Four Freedoms now reside in a Republic of fear and trepidation magnified by our ignorance and semi-literacy. Solipsism is the reigning popular philosophy.
Do not forget the Soviet Union had elections, and Nazis Germany had its Oktoberfest . . . what then are these eyes for that I have, that I use, that I look at the world around me surrounding me, the world surrounds me, lays siege to me. Sight surrounds seeing, what to see, when to see, how to see, where I can see, what should be seen, there are always shoulds in this world.
Sight is packaged, yes, again, sight is what to see, sight is what is seen, sight is what is delivered to seeing, what is in the sights, our targets, what I aim at, aim for, aiming—the aim, my aim is off, I have an astigmatism of sorts . . . what’s the purpose of aiming, of having aims, to aim or not to aim, where are these targets, why is everything about shoot and hitting with objects? Hunters for how long in our past?
Seeing is not only about aiming.
There is nothing more easily ignored than the obvious; what is right in front of your face. I put the newspaper to my nose and tried to read. I couldn’t. There are truths too horrible to acknowledge. How do I understand this? To stand under is another way of wearing the necessary shoes. We don’t want to walk two blocks–we are so fat. How are we going to walk a mile in another man’s shoes?I am now walking five or more miles a day.
How can nations of starving masses not hold us in contempt—fat grotesque bastards, aren’t we? Walk in another man’s shoes? We do not, will not, and they know this and want to murder us because of it? I would too; if I were them, if they were me, either way I look at it, I’d be killing people, murdering a CEO of one of the Wall Street Investment Firms and perhaps his wife and his children, recorded on video and uploaded to the internet; again a Hollywood producer and his like, a CEO for one of the 16 media corporations that own the 100 largest circulating newspapers in America—murder the motherfucker and his or her family, uploaded to the internet with audio. Distribute DVDs for mass consumption.
Power only responds to fear and now power has no fear. We have to make then very fucking afraid, but don’t all wise men and women enter the dark at least of their souls when they seek the Truth, and there is a Truth, a large ‘T’ kind that has become less than kin and less than kind . . . we cannot imagine how we ever believed in the Truth as convinced of the non-existence of anything like the Truth, or the Absolute, or Transcendence as we have become now . . . am I asking?
There are times I ignore Truth as if it didn’t exist. We pronounce the absence of Truth as if it never existed, but the Truth is not the Emperor’s New Clothes, as we have imagined. We imagine that freeing ourselves of this notion was necessary in order to advance our liberty, extend it? Prolong it? We were certain that eliminating traditional metaphysics and ontology was going to help us become more free—freer? We imagined that it would help us to disseminate liberty more broadly. It was necessary, we thought, in the cause of democracy—holding fast to the belief that the idea of a transcendental and absolute
Truth was an impediment to living more freely, an impediment to universal liberty, an impediment to thinking more clearly about our diversity; we imagined that there was something inherently white about it and thus in turn of our most reflexive logic, racist. Why not through the white baby out with the racist bath water? (Does that even work rhetorically?)
We were wrong.
How does the absence of Truth not affect how I love, who I love, what I do with love to love, this cannot be removed from the effects of what I think when I think how I think, if it is thinking I can call what I do with my mind, our minds, mostly passing images in a mery-go-round montage. San Juan de la Cruz in his Dark Night of the Soul walks a spiritual path of Truth, his journey recalls the Psalms, “Yea, though I walk through the valley in the shadow of Death. . . .”
Death is everywhere lurking, death, darkness, the absence of light, the absence of light being the absence of Truth, the absence of vision, we cannot see. Chaos is the rude and shapeless mass within which there is no light by which anything can be discerned, seen except through a glass darkly, if I might mix my prophecies and sources of wisdom, why am I gettingthe feekling that I’m losing you?
Would you have Oedipus’s courage, or Saint John’s, or the hero of Plato’s most famous allegory who ventures into the light of day from the darkness of his cave in spite of the pain to his eyes? Would you tell others that the reality they think they are seeing is only a shadow world? The veil of Maya—do you have the courage to look behind the veil, to be as the Buddha. I believe I would, but then there is no one easier to flatter than myself. I am too weak not to succumb to self-flattery; who is stronger?
We love our caves; our apartments, our offices, our schools, or churches and synagogues and mosques and stock-trading floors. What else have you? Movie theaters, no? Would any of us be as responsible as he was, answerable as Oedipus becomes? Do you or I have his sense of justice—and it is justice he has a sense of in his actions. I know I would be too attached to my eyes to pluck them out. You know that Sisyphus is freer than we are, I remember she said one day in the English Majors’ lounge. Sisyphus at least has his rock. What do you or I have in our rolling-up-and-rolling-down futility?
Orpheus descends in search of Eurydice; would I descend in search of her she asked, then said I wouldn’t. Christ understands our vanity when he says if thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out. I am not going to gouge out my eyes.
Be quiet, be still.
What else can I say about this . . . knowing? To know or not to know–again, doubt has become out highest wisdom; it is perhaps the only concept in our philosophy that requires a capital letter, yes, Doubt, Doubt and more Doubt.
I’ve been raised in dishonest America, though; kings of hypocrisy all of us led by our Congressional Law-giving Pimps, the whores we are, selling our water, our future, not even for ourselves, but so that the few can get richer at the expense of our children’s future. And then we let our Pimps tell us it’s our fault, smacked down like the bitches they tell us without words that we are. And we are also told that we have to do with less because we want to get America back on track.
We are all of us, fools.
The President’s a bitch too; any President, not just our current one. And do not imagine that Republicans remain credible because we are all us becoming lunatics, but because the Democrats are as they have been for a very long time, the flip-side of the Republicans. Obama has proven that the Democrats are Wall Streets’s bitches, just as the Republicans are virtually the Oil Gangsters’s babies. (And you still imagine the Jacobins were wrong.)
What good are eyes, though, we could ask, when we see not the Truth, nor any of the minor ‘t’ truths of our world our lives as we live them day in day out and so on until we die as absurdly as we have lived. Lear must ask the same when he is on the heath, when he is finally blind. Neo is blinded at the end of the Matrix Trilogy. Lear comes to wisdom only after his folly. Enlightenment awaits the one.
Am I ready yet? I have not yet dared to ask. Most of us are the same as I am, as Lear, as who else do we have. You know what the Buddha tells the man who sees him and thinks he is a god, an angel, a spirit. The man asks and asks the Buddha what he is, imagining one or another supernatural being. At the end of the man’s inquiries, he asks the Buddha again what the Buddha is and the Buddha says, Awake.
Lear was a fool. I am a fool. He was a fool from the start. I am no different. His hubris leads to his blindness; hubris is already blindness. I am stumbling around the coffee table of our lives, hands stretched out in the light of day unable to see two feet in front of us. The visionary company I think I keep; I saw a movie about Hart Crane and the writing of White Buildings . . . anything but prepackaged media sponsored wisdom. America is lost, I am lost; America was lost . . . was is not was but is, no?
Crane climbed onto the bannister of a steam ship and jumped off to his death . . . the visions I have, I reread White Buildings recently. The company with them that I keep, the company I have kept with how many dead friends, friends and kin who have gone before me, lived and died before I was born, was carried, women carry when birthing. Hart Crane has been one of my favorite poets, perhaps as important in his White Buildings as Whitman was with his Leaves . . . there is more than one way of being born into this world. What visions do we pay attention to, did Hart keep . . . read White Buildings, you must.
I close my eyes and see all that I can see within, limitless black on some days, my life passes before me, slowly, day by day, images obliquely come, the back of my lids on other days, moments passing on yet other days, sometimes as when I lay me down to sleep, a screen for other shadow plays. Yes, my own personal Wayang.
What do you see when you try to focus your eyes after shutting your lids? I saw a performance of the Indonesian Wayang. I saw a performance of Beckett’s Endgame and left the theater and found friends I had not seen in years and drank myself into violent vomiting, another catharsis. A montage of the rich getting richer and the powerful more powerful than ever passes my eyes before sleep and as I wake up every morning, in day-dreams I see me chopping one or another of the special people with a machete.
Desire clouds the Truth. There is a Truth. There is Absolution. There is Transcendence. Never mind what the motherfuckers in power try to persuade us into believing. We live in a media-entertainment tyranny where even our politics have become a form of entertainment for us, serious power manipulation for the likes of the men on Wall Street, I’ve heard men ask at coffee shop counters and at bars around town, one question or another meaning the same thing, why not chop a Wall Street CEO up with a machete? Why not murder his family, his children and his children’s children and his elderly parents and his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews, Allons enfants de la patrie . . .
Why doesn’t ISIS go after their own oppressors? Because they know that they would be hunted and that everyone in their families would be killed or in jail until they suffer for years and die. I knew a guy in the Moroccan military and he told me bluntly that they do not tolerate this one inch one minute in Morocco. They find them hunt them hound them and murder everyone associated with them. No quarter. Arab Muslim terrorist organizations are so full of shit. The President has to send sortie after sortie into Iraq and blow these motherfuckers up otherwise he’s a punk, and that’s what ISIS is counting on, the Banker’s Bitch is a punk in the prison house of State. Sorry, Barack, I like you, but you are Blankfein’s bitch.
We did imagine liberating ourselves by freeing ourselves of traditional metaphysically drawn ideas about Truth and truths. We only gave power just what it needed to become more powerful, for moneyed elites to become more moneyed more elite. We were lost are lost I am lost you are lost, a whole conjugation in multiple tenses for this. Always amok among what was beside the point, what was the point, why does there have to be points?
Points are sharp, they puncture, we were always trying to impale one another with one point or another the other couldn’t want to pay attention to.I mute prophets in me. We murder our prophets in America; they cannot be packaged on TV. Murdering to dissect prophecy? We then think we understand, and in our folly, we imagine ourselves wise. We hold up nothing with our acumen, this is an Emperor’s New Clothes of Intelligence and Education. Where is this wisdom I’ve been waiting for? She was wise?
I stopped listening.
Anyone who speaks Truth gets impaled by friends and family, let alone anyone in power–it does not have to go there, we have been so controlled by prevailing Power.
I’ve led myself to believe that I would not mock the man who made it out of Plato’s cave to see the world by the light of day. I have led myself to believe that I would not prefer the shadows to the sight of things in the light . . . but the Jacobins were right, which is why they could not stop killing. Today we are all of us in our caves. Tomorrow I will leave this cave with a rifle? Of course not, but there are millions of American men with rifles who are disgruntled by the politics at hand, the corruption of senators and governors and Presidents; the greed and contempt of Wall Street, the greed of Hollywood, the greed and manipulation of media moguls and CEOS and Publishers and Editors.
I am sure that there are many who imagine a Reign of Jacobin Terror sweeping clean society by letting flow the new impure blood–and blood I am sure is made impure by our nurture, not as we once thought, nature, as if the old aristocracy was contaminated in the blood by their nature rather than their choices.
I wonder if it would be prudent to imagine here that I could be someone who might think it possible that he could become someone who would contemplate that he should shoot some of the motherfuckers who are holding a foot to his family’s throat? Or become one of any group intent on attacking the disease that is the American National Political Machine or the manipulation of our broadcast and print media . . .
Allons enfants de la patrie! Again and again this creeps up, creeps in, creeps forward to a place where I cannot ignore it. I once wrote a paper on the guillotine and its place in the progress of liberty. You really do not imagine that power without fear will ever give back, will ever imagine it necessary for them to deliver something to the People, that Power without fear can of its own accord understand that it has obligation to the People, that as managers of, or administrators of, or puppet masters of the State it should serve the People? Is that what you imagine? And when I say fear–I mean a power greater than or one that has the will to threaten by its very palpable possibility–probability. But as psychopathically polite our politique has become, as psychopathically polite as the newer demands of social-intercourse dogma remain today . . . and we do demand a psychopathically polite response to power, to the State, to the administrators of government–we have even misunderstood the role of the Second Amendment in our freedom.
Good people are those who are content to dream what the wicked actually practice–right? I cannot say this in America, Totalitarian Capitalism is now. Just compare Sandler’s Mr. Deeds and Gary Cooper’s Mr. Deeds and what each intends with the money, and the choices they intend to make, and what happens in the end; examine the text. See the revisions the former made on the latter. But you have to know what the absence of the Soviet Union in the world has meant for our freedom, or civil liberties, for democracy in general in the world, how we conceive it, understand it, how the State manages it.
Discoursers discoursing discursively on discourse–Foucault was so enormously full of shit–the French anti-metaphysical tradition tracing their own delusions.
Most of us in the mainstream would have been right in line with the Nazis–many of us probably would have voted for them. Foucault certainly would have been one of the many queers who collaborated with the Nazis, worked for the Nazis, found themselves in the ministry of propaganda and in the GeStaPo. How many delusions must you keep just to be happy the way you think you need to be happy?
We are full of shit if we think . . . how do we think? Thinking has very little to do with what passes in our minds for thinking.
My tea is cold.
Maybe I should boil more water to pour some in to raise the temperature.