Landscape-as-Triptych

Be generous: unfurl word-scripts into trusting patterns. Travel the life-world as a sunlight sunbright Sunshine Superman. Practice breathwork on the streets. No need to feel lost there on the sidewalks. Wander for a bit with a gray wooden wand pilfered from a mound of twigs. Ahead of me: Small Batch. Behind me: the looming edifice of the First Baptist Church. On the ground beside me, near a tree where I stand: a plate of uneaten beans. And beside the beans, a board game: The Game of Life. Turning left, I relax into a park bench to absorb the implications of an allegory: an emblematic architecture. In the left panel of the landscape-as-triptych: a glass office tower capped with the number 5. And in the air above it: a rocket ship. In the middle panel, a smaller rocket ship, there too in the sky, though this time above the church. And on the right, in the third of our panels, local high-rise housing project, the Crystal Towers. ‘Tis past the latter that we go en route to Dada’s House. Let us find our path and walk it.

Friday December 18, 2020

As I wander again through the woods, the ground now covered in an inch or more of snow, I reflect upon the brief history of gardens recounted by Federico Campagna in his book Technic and Magic. The root of “paradise” arrives into Greek and Roman thought by way of ancient Persian gardens. “A Persian garden,” writes Campagna, “was a Paradeisos, to follow Xenophon’s first Greek transliteration of the original Persian term Pairidaeza” (175). For ancients, gardens functioned as living pictures of the cosmos. “This same structure surfaced again in Italy at the time of the Renaissance,” he adds, “when gardens were designed as miniature cosmoi (plural of cosmos, the universe)” (176). Let this history be a guide for our garden-making in the year ahead.

Wednesday December 16, 2020

Wandering through woods, I come upon graffiti’d bits of plywood, old tires stacked into a makeshift tower, 4x4s nailed to trees. The air is cold today. A nor’easter is coming. Geese honk loudly in the air overhead. A trail in the woods leads to a field of grass and the rear of a Wegmans. I stand at the edge of the green and stare coldly at the horizon. Along it run the signs of the settlement. Cars, trucks, school buses, buildings, church spires, streetlights, power lines. American flags wave atop flagpoles — but atop power lines sit rows of birds. And with them comes the snow.

Thursday June 13, 2019

Seagulls trace a figure eight as I stare out the windows of my flat on an overcast evening, a janitor running a mop across the floor of an office across the way. Living amid these upper levels takes some getting used to, so I pop in some earbuds and wander about. Deterred by rain, I board a bus, destination unknown. Headlights catch on rain-spattered panes of glass.

Sunday November 18, 2018

Sitting outside, facing the sun, listening to birds and squirrels, one is able to enter a zone, having drawn around oneself a magic circle, a sphere of being. Let us repopulate our communities with heads — multitudes of human and non-human persons, high on mushrooms, graced by receipt of the psychedelic sacrament. Walk, and one will encounter cool folks out and about. To fight a society of sadness and despair, we need to meet people, live in common with others. The struggle involves opening our hearts to the weird, the strange, the fantastic. These were qualities sold to us as children by companies like Marvel. Can we allow ourselves to find them again out there, in encounters with reality? Of course, some of these neighborhoods in late-capitalist reality discourage social interaction of any kind among strangers. Signs are posted around properties: Dogwatch, American flags, electric fences, “Private Parking,” “EXIT ONLY,” “This Property Is Protected By Video Surveillance Cameras.” That’s how fascism works. Within such environments, we must carry our spiritual notions lightly. Before long, however, I land at a local brewery — liberated territory — where I happen upon my friend, the Marxist Baptist preacher. We get into it: a wonderful, free-form conversation of several hours on topics as diverse as time, Christianity, capitalism, A.I., appropriate technology, paganism, psychedelics, and eschatology. He recommends I read Jacob Taubes.

Tuesday August 15, 2017

I wish it were as easy as intoning, “All is okay. One is one’s best self. There is no dark cloud hanging over one’s head.” But my emotions resonate more with Drugdealer’s “Sea of Nothing.” 

Those are companies I should investigate, I tell myself as I spy a pair of corporate logos in a “bad things happen there” industrial park beside a highway. This is what I call my conspiracy thriller “social detective” persona. Seeing a Subway worker in a green t-shirt, a green apron, and yellow shorts, I’m put in mind of a Keebler elf. When Sarah and I drive through the lushly vegetated rural towns of the southern coastal states, we notice churches with names like “Overflow,” and white pickup trucks in our rear-view mirror whose occupants remind us of the white nationalist militia fucks who marched in Virginia. Dérives through these regions lull one into a sleepy boredom.

You can approximate this state by listening to Harmonia & Eno ’76’s “Welcome” while picturing the following appearing like ruins among a sea of green: modular home manufacturers, tool and machine works, a field of zinnias at the center of an exit curve. But my head is always snapping out of this hypnosis due to the region’s abiding hints of danger. Standing in the grass of a park Sunday night, I listened to comrades share their concerns at a local vigil organized in unity with antifascist forces in Charlottesville. But the Democratic Party organizers of the event formed us into no more than an inert mass, clapping when expected to clap, faced back to itself with speakers urging it halfheartedly to launch a love-fest. Years of declining people power have left the local Left lacking even a reliable public address system. But it was energizing, ultimately, to hear comrades who had been there in the streets of Charlottesville share their perspective on what had happened, and to hear as well the newly established local DSA chapter representative, a dear friend of mine, properly naming capitalism as the system we must fight. Despite the odds, the collective lighting of candles successfully cast its spell.