But I was hoping.
A countryside silenced by snow.
What about birdsong?
Check under wings.
Only rain falls.
Barely enough to blind an eye.
Did the sky catch cold?
Winter has been spotted trekking up the East Coast.
He must have found nothing here worth stopping…
- J. L. Borges
One last/moment as the lovely center/of things.
Mom collects kaleidoscopes.
When T writes that Hamilton has revved up
into fifteen-degree weather, I dream she has opened
up my absence. Let California out. She
with her orchid hand-back, the bust of Chopin
above that pocked array of keys, the smell
of Chinese instruments in a room one step
below the rest—was my girlhood, partially.
The other part was my own home, its
marble lung. The clack of keys on the counter,
the counsel table, along with the columns of wax
we never burnt down: pumpkin, or some other
plump colour, the dry ring of notes in the chill-faced
kitchen. Unshivered stone in the back garden
in the shape of a cherub, whom I also named
like I did everything back then: Billie, Rachel,
and James. A pressure of something: of space.
Maybe now I can say it: We are buried alive in time.
How I’ve read just today, wedged apart from the old
progressions by a continent’s worth of landmarks,
a new book of laws. Used to fill the old impressions,
i.e. growing up in a house with too many rooms. The suede
wilt of shoes in the afternoon, placed next to a vent
clogged up with snow. The whine of my brother’s
ungrown temper, the cut of its vanishment. And others,
others beneath it all that we’ve probably left for dust.
Maybe to be turned up in the bright paralysis of spring:
particulate. What was the word for it—moat? Loam.
Peat. Something able, finally, to be nudged open
or taken apart without grief. A spade—
Not skin, but the thing meant by skin
as it stands for a map of the body. If not
for his linol blinds, the teeth of dawn
would have jutted in, melon-heavy
with directives: look, which means
more often, listen—close to his handful
of round vowels. The thing still needed,
still unmapped, is more or less
unpronounceable. If not for shape,
if not for slaking sound,
why form our lips this way?
The unstood, the understood.
The way the eye of the beloved
becomes the lover’s, rote with the
edifice of what is not given—vacant
as marble, the head of the breath. Must have been
Dante, or some other emblem of breakage,
that we stood for, sight transfixed: he,
by the bridge of my body as I crossed
myself to meet him; I, by the sleeping
look that strode back down both throats,
and remained unthrown.
A Few Scattered Seeds
- For a while, I was convinced that zen was fundamentally incompatible with art—after all, how could pure, unthinking being ever come close to the movement between pure being and pure thought? I did not allow movement in Enlightenment; I saw it as some holy stasis—in reality, Enlightenment is nothing but movement. And art is its natural expression.
- E: I realized I was building up all this knowledge for myself; in a certain way, I envied my future self. But then I thought—who do I want to be, really? And the answer was: someone without envy.
- In fact, change of any kind is not possible without memory. What we call change as it pertains to inanimate objects is only an expression of being, is already complete, is non-movement. At every moment, things only are as they are, and contain no intimation either of the future or the past. It is memory (and perhaps expectation) that create the rest.
- I wanted to work with form in my art—with form and constraint. But I did not want to do as the OULIPO did, or continue to do—that is, envy machines; envy chaos; deify chance. In fact, I did not want to envy anyone, even myself. I asked myself: how can I create form that is fundamentally human above all?
- For vision, apprehension, knowledge, memory, movement—all of these are products of forgetting. Of incompletion. So how can we go about making art in complete ‘freedom,’ i.e. unlimitedness, and expect to create something kindred to us?
- What I mean is this: art is fundamentally human—this is undeniable. How strange, then, to use it as an instrument of envy, as a mimetic device for the inhuman! I mean: for machines, for eternity, for God, for ideas, for non-thought, for words themselves.
- Schopenhauer’s diagram of time depicts the consciousness as an unmoving dot, the point of contact (say, of a tangential line) with a moving sphere. Thus there is no future or past, only a turning of the same thing, and we are fixed in the present while things appear to move past us, beyond us.
- May I suggest: that we return movement to consciousness, that we return change, and vertigo. What if we free the point of contact, and we say that as we move, we become time, and time is all, as we are all, and that there is nothing beyond us about which we might say anything at all, so while we are here—should we not sing of what we can grasp, and what we can see, and what we feel we are, which is always changing, and defined only by the shape of the thing it can hold?
- Messiaen’s God is the closest I have ever found, in music, to the divinity that must exist, if he does: alien, monstrous, incomprehensible. Of course, grace is His self-reduction. When that bespectacled Frenchman seizes us from chord to fear-laden chord, from each heavy agony to the next, teeming as a station crowd, one is moved as if to a place next to God; one feels His heat, the awe of the scalding, the non-comfort. At that, the God of Love must simplify himself: this is harmony. In truth, in the world beyond us, there is every tone possible, and of course every tone in between—in fact, not even tones but a mass of sound; however we are only humans: we create music, we choose what to omit, and it is in this omission (the artistic form) that we delight.
In the blinded vault of Melbourne, that country
of sheets, I imagine she must remain: flesh-pink
feet dolloped over her head like the curled cap
of a fine cupcake. I mean she was young. Or
that I was, or however you look at it, reading
Woolf—for the first time learning the particular
movements of a hung heart—could only mean
she was growing older. A shell of skin in the
white pocket of the hotel, while outside: the
ocean, flung out laundrywise. The number of
folds would increase with the time she spent
curled up. What I mean is this: when Jon said,
the problem with our music is the feelings mixing
into one another, all she hears is the particularity
of grown machines, and nothing is brusque anymore,
or unclean; nothing can shed its badges, or reach
across some oracled space, leaving its bruises
a constellation of signs, wiccan, actual or bristling
with thought; nothing now can come like the hand
of that Englishwoman, which held her wildstone
face like a stone she meant to keep, some accident,
some dazzling fist of mirth—that stayed among the rest.