For-Itselfness

A friend texts requesting recommendations, works he could assign describing consciousness — particularly works that identify variable “dimensions” and “states.” I recommend Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, and Abraham Maslow’s Toward a Psychology of Being. Reflecting afterwards on the exchange, I note down in a notebook, “Consciousness is something we grant or presuppose — based on our being here amid others in shared dialogue and shared study. Consciousness is Being as it comes to attention of itself as autopoetic subject-object — soul in communion with soul, each the other’s love doctor and angelic messenger.”

Having a Coke With You

Inspired by José Esteban Muñoz’s reading of Frank O’Hara’s poem “Having a Coke With You,” I decide to include O’Hara’s Collected Poems in a bag of books that I carry north with me on my trip to New York. O’Hara is, after all, a defining figure of the New York School. His is a poetry of parties, acts, and encounters. A friend writes about him in her book. Words of hers capture my thoughts for a moment — nay, linger still, all these hours later, here in the future, among what has become of the words of he who is lost in the story. I imagine again the characters in the O’Hara poem, “drifting back and forth / between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles.” If one’s attention is not to hold and be held by such things, one must actively turn away.

Monday April 12, 2021

I begin to craft and draft a spell called “TO BUILD A FENCE.” I watch videos, I weigh methods, I note down a list of required tools and materials. Even as I do this, though, I remain on the fence: “To fence or not to fence?” Must we commit to enclosure? The garden also needs an irrigation system, I tell myself: some combination, perhaps, of water harvester and drip. With drip, I can attach a timer, allowing us to water the garden when out of town. As for what to plant, I refer myself to Eric Toensmeier’s Perennial Vegetables. Part of me, though, still wants to pay attention to Silicon Valley and is easily distracted. “Attention being,” as a friend notes, “the one hero that might take us through the web, the webs, and leave us semi-intact at the end of the day” (Forms of Poetic Attention, p. 2).