Walter Benjamin’s desire for “profane illumination” rhymes through my mind, resonates through inner canyons, fills me with desperation. If the world we demand is one with no more fears, no more superstitions, then why are we so nervous, so skittish? Is it the ever-present policing, the techno-capitalist speed-up of society, the political horizon blocked by a metal-faced THX 1138 Big Brother Trump Leviathan? Is that why we disappoint ourselves, never quite able to live free, spontaneous, liberated, loving lives? What do we want? How do we get it? Is it the divine in us, this rebellious impulse? Or is the divine, rather, that which wants us to live grateful for each day despite hardship and circumstance? What about 2-year-old migrant children enduring the Kafkaesque procedural absurdity of immigration court? Is there no way to reverse this slide into utter abjection? Wherefore the new force, the new sway in intellectual life, of concepts like destiny and judgment? Why do we dare not venture far into liberated terrain? How do we teach ourselves to live in the faith that each event is a doorway through which walks the Messiah? How do we think the world into what we want it to be?
My mood quickens, turns, rushes recklessly toward sublime paranoia as I read a photograph of a concrete poem handwritten by German-born Jewish psychonaut Walter Benjamin. “The little sheep reads,” reads the printed translation below the photograph. “Is the figure a writing-song is it an image. Sleep my little sheep sleep. Write my little sheep write.” After this encounter, I experience rhapsodic visions. The protocol from Benjamin’s mescaline experiment of May 22, 1934 abounds with allegorical riches and utterances of Delphic import. (See also Scott J. Thompson’s translation of Ernst Joël and Fritz Fränkel’s “The Hashish-Rausch: Contributions to an Experimental Psychopathology.”) Heads oscillate continually between waking and dreaming states. The illuminated tip of a Lighted Head Demagnetizer leads me to Osamu Kitajima’s Benzaiten.
Let us concern ourselves again with experiences. Let us relaunch the project Benjamin believed Surrealism had set for itself: “to win the energies of intoxication for revolution.” Voices speak to me. “Go ahead and listen,” warns one. We are sonic beings, transmitting signals into meatspace using navigable databases filled with recorded samples of spoken word. Truth is only possible when silence is broken.