Thursday April 16, 2020

Hints of other storylines lie about. Pay attention to what is changing: the growth and the decline, the continuity of an always ever-changing ever-changing “always.” It’s a narrative of “Individuation.” Baby busting out of its prison. That storyline, at various levels of being, staged alongside related myths of enlightenment and awakening. Sarah suggests I refine my focus. The book I’m writing is on acid and radical politics. The other stuff is just part of the theorization of that. The brew that rocked the boat. An elaborate Heavenly Breakfast-for-dinner feast. Feel better and change the world. What are we to make of this thread of desire that runs like a fuse through being: the desire to overcome the alienations imposed by capitalism and Western rationalism and patriarchy and settler colonialism and modernity? Can it be done by a living theatre? Can it be done by fusing art with life? What happened to Sam Cooke? The authorities were frightened of him. Cooke was having fun, putting trouble on the run with his support for Malcolm X and Black Power. Killed, Sarah says, under suspicious circumstances. Hard shift to Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome,” which makes me think of my father, a photographer who worked on a photo shoot with Muhammad Ali. Spotify extrapolates a playlist for the occasion, leading to Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” and Ray Charles’s “What’d I Say, Pt. 1 & 2.” Afterwards Stevie Wonder warns of belief in “Superstition.” Van Morrison replies with “Into the Mystic,” after which point I lean back and marvel at the fact that this entire month is 4/20.

Monday September 18, 2017

All of a sudden, this Britishness! Art thou a Britisher? “Alas, no,” I reply, if only for my merriment, “There’s naught but an ounce of British in me!” Partnered to contingency, I embark outward into the greater reality, the one of Jesus Christ and the Reverend Freud. Leonard Cohen steps in and immediately ups the ante for us, asking, “Is This What You Wanted?” The heat and sweat of the outdoors?

I admit: it’s not easy, this wandering. I reserve the right to fast-forward on at least one occasion, so as to dwell instead amidst the sly funk and street-corner brokenness of Savoy Motel’s “Sorry People.”

Observe the old ones stranded outdoors along the paved banks of the hospital here in town. Death is this terror, this grand interruption, spreading its wings somewhere behind us in the midst of Being. Witness, too, the “Wah-Wah” cry of wary kindness that erupts from those who take life’s jabs in stride. Meaning arrives for me in the marvelous weirdness and propulsive forward thrust of Francis the Great, who instructs me via restless hybridity of form to “Look Up In the Sky.”

But the alphabet never ceases to rephrase itself: “meaning” is just a freeze-frame, a momentary crest amidst later sequences filled with seagulls and crashing dominos, Being in its further jungle-like stirring-and-coming-forth. ‘Tis but a ceaseless profusion of ants and moss, detritus tossed carelessly. The Wipers strike a note of caution here, reminding all eager seekers among the so-called “Youth of America” that hidden within us lies a secret reserve, a hunger for transcendence.

Because afterwards, it’s the return of the crows. Into this indecisiveness, this place where we find ourselves, comes our reckoning, the call of love. Having retired to our bed for the evening, my love and I read aloud from an illuminated manuscript passed back and forth between us Virginia Woolf’s “Street Haunting: A London Adventure.” While a cruelly-written passage involving a female dwarf leaves us appropriately aghast, the tale is otherwise so finely wrought and so perceptive in its rendering of self and world that I fall effortlessly into imagining courses by which to introduce the piece to students. Think of the many great works of literature one could assign, for instance, in a course on flaneurie and the art of walking. Baudelaire, Poe, Debord, de Certeau. Pleased with the thought, I resolve to make it so.

Sunday September 17, 2017

The Founder is the story of that monstrous St. Paul of the New American Church, McDonalds businessman Ray Kroc. A little guts, gumption, and elbow grease, says the face spied blurry in the mirror, and there’s gold to be had. Alas, nothing in this world can stop the scourge of that bloody word “persistence.” “Keep going,” mouths Harriet Tubman from the epigraph to Hillary Clinton’s new book What Happened — which, of course, I have no intention of reading. (Are you kidding me? “What happened”? What rubbish!) But Tubman’s words echo regardless, don’t they? Imbued with oracular import. Careful, though, I warn myself, not to appropriate for one’s personal, psychonautical meaning-system, words tossed up by the struggles of the enslaved and the oppressed. With that warning firmly in mind, I firmly place a tab of acid directly beneath my tongue and prepare for takeoff. Within (give or take) half an hour, I begin to feel jittery impulses, excess energy welling up inside me. I take a whack at describing the experience: not just the proverbial “butterflies in one’s stomach.” Indeed the “stomach” barely enters the affected sensorium! Let us focus instead on tension woven into our necks and upper backs. Our minds seek to be released out from under this weight. Before long, though, the restlessness spreads outward, becoming observant, firstly, of “mind-body dualism” and other related epiphenomenal derangements of experience via discourse. “Stop wedding awareness to locations and objects,” shouts the recurring intrusion of a car horn. Trees drop their leaves onto my deck. Should I sweep them or let them be? I throw myself into the experimental body practice known as “yard work”: a practice I associate with submission to the compulsions of my father (who, let’s face it, despite my great affection for him, is a bit of a clean freak). And yet, here I am, thinking to myself (and subsequently sharing with all of you): the act of sweeping can serve for us as a kind of “centering” practice, a reminder of our embodiment, and thus, at least briefly (one is grudgingly forced to admit), a source of pleasure. A scolding voice intrudes here, though, and commands me to regard dispassionately the many ways I attempt to correct myself. Let go of these, I say! Open fully to whatever may follow. Allow a wind to come and scatter thought far and wide. I do hereby declare: We shall compose ourselves tomorrow in full appreciation of sunlight, in all its aspects and guises.