The generator of language produces one’s script. Always and forever a blind spot in one’s thinking, an intuited absent cause. The murmur at the back of one’s throat. Birdsong at a distance, as if at the end of a long tunnel. Images acquire being in the mind’s eye: the cover of an album by the band Yes, but with the letters of the band’s name pulled ‘Google Maps’-style from a database of urban signage. The professor and his audio twin. A woman in the neighborhood who I’ve never met before tours Sarah and I and some friends of ours through her garden with its carnivorous pitcher plants and its handsome wooden torii. Flowers everywhere, sprouts bursting from the soil. Friends come away gifted with helleborus and Japanese knotweed. Afterwards I lumber contentedly along the sidewalk licking a Blue Dream lollipop made by a friend’s poet-friend. The night serenades me with Arthur Russell’s “The Platform On The Ocean.” I then harsh the vibe by descending into the scrambled command lines and subroutines of Gwilly Edmondez’s Trouble Number.
Misery won’t suit us, I decide — not among such beauty. I imagine myself growing plants on the floor of an elevator: a dream, a strange mirage.
I practice silently the names of plants in my neighborhood. Star magnolia, tulip magnolia, hyacinth. Rows upon rows of daffodils. A massive weeping cherry tree atop a hill. The first-person perspective shots in Maryam Goormaghtigh’s Before Summer Ends fuse me in an unprecedented way to a trio of Iranian male protagonists, vacationing on the coast of France. By these ways, we forge new ties, bonds, interests, empathetic capacities, across and despite traditional national-linguistic boundaries. Alas, life runs through our fingers; let us make haste in our imagining a beyond. Screw in the corners of a hammock. Relax, lie back, light up, read a book. Lincoln in the Bardo comes to mind. It and High Maintenance present themselves as clue-bearing reference points within a secret network, a kind of “Head Underground.” The joint effort of assembling art from jointly sent and jointly received sets of signs.
I reject Adorno’s belief that enduring suffering is the only way not to collude with its manufacture. Is that the same as what Jameson meant by “History is what hurts”? I insist that there are other means by which the ineffable manifests itself, like those experiences to which psychedelia bears witness. We demonstrate the contingency of suffering whenever we transmute it or chemically alter it into joy. As Daniel Colucciello Barber notes, “the exodus from this existence is to practice existing otherwise” (171). Barber believes with Adorno that this othering occurs through thought’s alliance with animality (and with the suffering of animals in particular), whereas I propose thinking otherwise via plants. Once inhaled or ingested, plants rewrite our scripts, re-script our minds. The one replaces parts of the other. I’m really intrigued, by the way, by that Stone Fruit cassette by Primitive Fiction.
The B side in particular is just magnificent. A massive, sprawling, morphing abstract soundscape. I guess I’ve committed myself to this world, though a strong faction within me, perhaps a majority, would prefer not to. I contemplate writing about political stupidities uttered by certain of my students, but a voice from the back overrules by shouting, “The heck with it. Why bother?” I ordered the ocean blue and commanded a fleet of dolphins, and now look at me, I mutter with an eye roll. My soundtrack on the ride home from work yesterday was Categorize Your Dose, particularly that track “Therapeutic Firearm,” by Ben Versluis.
Well-timed beat-based techno. Long live the exploratory self, habitual reality ties suspended. I slide my chair down a snow-covered hill. My legs yell, “Use me! Use me!” But all roads point toward archives. The bread and the butter of my discipline. Part of me wonders: does the plant want to be inhaled? I would say, I would think. Do they think? And do they communicate only by bonding themselves with neurons? Chemical fusion, psychotic reaction. We’re thick here with the rest of the world, the multitude of material things. Beyond words and without time, hurrah.