16 November, 2006

The Hour Of Reawakening Birds

The delight I take in my thoughts is delight in my own strange life. The very point at which to start. Written in the obscure language of prophecy. As genuine as a kiss. A heap of rubble and a heap of ashes. Uncanny and wonderful at the same time. Man has to awaken to wonder. To grasp the very things which are most obvious. The edifice of your pride has to be dismantled. A confession has to be part of your new life. Should we feel left alone in the dark? I am really writing for friends who are scattered throughout the corners of the globe. My ability to write prose extends only so far, and no farther. I can't go beyond it. Language is a labyrinth of paths. Only people who love you can make it easy for you. Nowadays of course it's easy not to believe in your own dreams.

Is it longing that makes a man mad? I am often afraid of madness. An abyss right at my feet. Is it that I will not open my heart, or that I cannot? A world of pain is contained in these words. If a man feels lost, that is the ultimate torment. How hard I find it to see what is right in front of my eyes. A man can see what he has, but not what he is. Driven mad first by suffering. The future you dream of never comes true. My sentences are supposed to be read slowly. A sacred gesture. Thoughts that are at peace. Why shouldn't I apply words in ways that conflict with their original usage? Words are deeds. The greatness of a piece of work depends on where the man who made it was standing. I should like to be read slowly. As I myself read.

I dream of the vastness of time. The wailing in empty space. The pure emptiness. Everything important I have done can be put into a little suitcase. The short joys of a long life. Desire and pursuit of the whole. I do not deserve all the good things that have been said of me. Moved by vain longing and long sadness. Broken on the rock of endless dismay. The unspendable cup of the golden future. Can you show me a heart that stays true forever? The first and the only dream. Only the dead have no enemies. Beware of your dreams – they mean nothing. Beware of the words you utter from your mouth. Beware of the song you sing. The world has broken into pieces. The world has broken into pieces and things have gone wrong. Life is all struggle from the cradle to the grave. What must I do to be saved?

But you forget everything. My disposition is not at all spiteful. I have a childlike heart. Now, today, I shall sing beautifully for my friends' pleasure. Why am I crying? Pain penetrates me drop by drop. I hunger and I struggle. What was it that my distracted heart most wanted? I can't speak - my tongue is broken. Hushed in the empty ways of night. The evening star is the most beautiful of all stars. Tomorrow the wind will have fallen. Tomorrow I shall be safe in harbor. Rain at night and the north wind whirling and wine and the stumbling loneliness. The night is black. The path is long and I am completely and beautifully drunk. The ghost of a ghost. That I am mortal I know and do confess my span of a day. But the brief pleasures of life! The headlong fugue of time passing. You may forget. We die forever.

Light clouds blossom above our bashful eyes. The handmaids of heaven are miraculous. Desire is foolish in the face of fate. The burden of joy. Who was it who first wrecked the bonds of love and transformed them into chains? One more thing needs saying. What you possess is breath. A yellow flower with milk-white leaves new sprung upon the ground. The sound of bells rings golden at the hour of reawakening birds. They are holy, these radiant ones. The miracle seems common. Drunk with kisses and wild roses everywhere. The hearts of men beat like fire. So it goes. Where shall I find harbor in this world? My voice is hurled far on a dark wind. Where will I find flowers, come winter? Why did you shelter me? What madness came upon you? It was my heart that betrayed me. To rage through glooms of stone. Endless remorse. So it goes.

The sky is pitiless. Cold winds and winter drive us on. Hard fate. My eyes cannot see and my aching ears roar in their labyrinths. Everything passes away; no thing lasts. The beautiful order of the world. It is hard to withstand the heart's desire. The weight of many things, but mostly that of sorrow. Now we may weep. Now, if ever, we may cry in bitter grief against our fate. The long night shall echo with our chorus. Tears and memory. Overwhelmed by sentiment. A feeling of space and emptiness. The spirit of the abyss. The god of storm. It is age and pain I hate, and death. It doesn't matter that much. It's only my life. The dream I dream is always the same. A last memory for my old age. Look softly. The lamp glows and fades. You want to know what's in my heart? From the beginning, just this!

Beyond our borders, against this alien sky, blood rained on the high land. Sorrow rode beside you. The raft broke and the waters went over me. Which of us can say what the gods hold wicked? Is anyone in the world safe from unhappiness? I am, for all I can see, quite alone. Neither mist nor shade. Unconquered flame. A petal lighter than sea foam. My eyes face all this sadness. No song but silence. Neither love nor lamentation. I’m old, and worn with sorrow. The long night spreads like water overflowing. In vain, this beauty that would overwhelm the world. The inflexible heart breaks first. The only crime is pride. A man's paradise is his good nature. The months and the years, a running river: the great balance is not made in a day. How easily these blossoms fall. Remember that I have remembered. How many nights alone beneath the clouded moon?

A little light in great darkness. A little light, to lead back to splendour. And to know beauty, and death, and despair. The gods have not returned. No man can see his own end. A tangle of works unfinished. Born of Venus and wine. Born of the blue sky. Seeking good, doing evil. Nothing counts save the quality of the affection. If love be not in the house there is nothing. What do I love and where are you? Let the wind speak. That is paradise. In the soft grass by the cliff’s edge. In the beech grove. In the timeless air. Paler than heaven. The kindness, infinite, of her hands. In the waking dream. Ill fate and abundant wine. Over dark seas lose all companions. The darkness shattered. Dark blood flowed. Can you enter the great acorn of light? When one’s friends hate each other how can there be peace in the world?

O unspeakable passionate love. Mad naked summer night. Tender and growing night. I suffered. I was there. I know the sea of torment. I accept time absolutely. On this spot I stand with my robust soul. Underneath, the divine soil; overhead, the sun! How curious! How real! I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea. Ineffable grace of dying days. I swear I will never again mention love or death. Who wishes to walk with me? In the night by the sea under the yellow and sagging moon? For I am mad with devouring ecstasy. It appears to me I am dying. My time has ended, my term has come. Has the night descended? What do you think endures? The delicate miracles of earth. Is there a single final farewell? I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

16 October – 13 November 2006

Sources: Ludwig Wittgenstein; Marcel Duchamp; Linda Nochlin; Novalis (tr. Dick Higgins); Ko Un; Okenwa Olisah; Olusola; Felix N. Stephan; Frank E. Odili; Sappho (tr. Mary Barnard); Antiphilos of Byzantium, Asklepiades, Kallimachos, Tymnos, Palladas, Ptolemaios the Astronomer (all tr. Dudley Fitts); Friedrich Holderlin (tr. Richard Sieburth);Ovid (tr. Arthur Golding); Sophocles (tr. Dudley Fitts); James schuyler; Malcolm Lowry; Herakleitos, Sappho, Archilochos (all tr. Guy Davenport); Callimachus (tr. Stanley Lombardo & Diane Rayer); Ryokan (tr. Burton Watson); Wang Wei, Li Po, Tu Fu, Liu Yung (all tr. J.P. Seaton); Ezra Pound; Walt Whitman

No Sounds Of My Own Making

”And who is not a borrower?” – Eleanor Antin

... however, I have a redeeming quality: I was gifted with a sunny disposition. I have tried in my own work to free myself from my own head. I would hope that people would take the opportunity to do likewise. I keep trying to live as if this world were heaven. If the wheel is to be brought to a stop, the activity must stop. I just never stop. There is no such thing as silence. Everything we do is music. I try to do my work as well as I can. I think it's true that some people need to be told what to do. I analyzed it and I still find it beautiful. I've always thought if I did work with somebody's work I should let them know. It's not psychological, it's physical. I think fundamental to all these activities is the absence of intentions. With some kind of transparency and even a certain simplicity. I'm sure the mind is such that connections would be made. Causes and effects get disconnected. I must continue and keep moving. Results are like deaths. I discovered that they altered my awareness. I have emotions, but I don't try to put them into my work. You must free yourself of your likes and dislikes. It has made it possible for me to use some people's work in ways that they didn't intend it to be used. I prefer laughter to tears. I accept what I have. I would not have refused.

… I want to do to you what spring does to the trees. I will raise my hand up into the nighttime sky. The snow falling on my lashes. With your arms behind you and your eyes before you. I had done the wrong thing and was shouting at the sea. It was out there at the boundaries that I wanted to stake my claim. Time was always running out, there was never enough of it. The world is a dark place. We know. We who have stood in the light. Once I had nothing. Now so much is at stake. I know enough to ask “Where is the gate to paradise?” I’ve been a great flowing river with hard ringing stones. I never dreamed I held you in my arms. Between dying and not dying. I’d give up spring for you to keep on looking at me. Everything dropped away, except your eyes. Here comes the sun. It’s all right.

… determine the luminous effects. Determine the sources of light. At the still center of misfortune an image of harmony. A joyous break with eternity. The world already has the dream of such a time. It was always the idea. I was beginning to appreciate the value of exactness, of precision, and the importance of chance. I started working again, but in a more reasonable fashion from that which had precipitated my breakdown. I was led to take a random phrase from which I drew images, that is to say I drew a series of images from the distortion of some random text. As to how I utilized the other lines, my recollections are less precise. My memory fails me. Fundamentally, there are very few ideas. It is essentially a poetic method. The execution of a mosaic. I used anything at hand. Delighted by the words I was filled with an extraordinary sensation.

luminous effects
some kind of transparency
precision and the importance of chance
where is the gate to paradise?
my memory fails me
my recollections are less precise
everything we do is music
snow falling on my lashes
I still find it beautiful
no such thing as silence
no sounds of my own making
everything dropped away except your eyes

… nothing definite could be seen in the candleless night. Visibly comforting. A whole story told. Like, why be subtle and false? I’m after something more ephemeral, more frail - another memory also involving night. O help me in my weakness. I offered her my hand – she took me by the arm. Whose friendship I valued and whose friendship I lost. I put my fingers to the glass and bowed my head and cried. A whole story told. A narrative hinders no one. Can a narrative succeed? There is no remembering remembrance. It is here now. We are everywhere and nothing. We are the ones who put life into stones and pebbles. Choice and chance. Almost everything becomes a revelation. O the heavenly scent. The dove of the immaculate spirit. We no longer have to ask ourselves for permission to take chances. We pursue ideas that we do not yet understand. If one thread in this world had ever broken, we wouldn’t be here. It’s that simple. Anybody can see nearly what I mean. I dance alone in this borrowed room. I’m still alive. I don’t belong to myself. You said yes you remembered me. Many’s the time I rocked you to sleep. Song against disaster. Who will pray for us?

… I came in from the wilderness. Alone and terrified. There must be some way out of here. A new way of being. A new way for intentions to be formed. Engaging with the terrain. My burden is heavy. What could I tell her that she did not already know? The desire and the fact. My dreams are beyond control. Always on the verge of words. Overcome by a feeling of sadness. When two impossibilities come together. First there is a mountain. Nothing is revealed. What I wanted was a text. A text in which I myself didn’t write anything. The most marvelous overlappings. The shifting of my responsibility. To yield entirely to the magic hand. The fundamental fact of the mask. Not a fetish of doom but a key to happiness. The tone and bearing of genuine reminiscences. Hope and memory. Immense dimensions of inner experience. No need to forget anything. How I suffered from the feeling that our ways had parted. No interpretation can proceed without some violence. It is not what you imagine. I saw sunset and dawn. Between the two I found myself a shelter. The peace which passes understanding. My heart had already gone.

… I walk on hills of jewels and gold. A foolish, wicked man. I don’t dare summon you. I’ve waited most of the day for these words to arrive. Interspersed with silences. The madness of love and sorrow. The lonely lamenting tone. Paradise and oblivion. Empty spirit in vacant space. There are voices but no words. At the edge of audibility. We hear it but choose to ignore. The machinery of process. An awareness of other possibilities. Language of a blinding clarity.

... I find myself lost with no sky, no road. Ecstatic shivers of weakness. At the roof's edge, I stand with empty hands. I have experienced the shame of the recollected illusion. Astonished by the last things. Still I cannot believe. I searched for it, found it, recognized it. The agony before her window in the empty street. What a burning angel I look for and am. I wanted to be good and not to walk among the sinners. We have a beautiful time as long as time is time at all. I felt I was called for this: to glorify things just because they are.

... the outcome was already contained in the beginning. Where we failed through weakness. We learn all the tricks of survival and bathe in shame. Purification. Everything must be possible at every moment. A set of pure improvisations. One could feel certain that we would never do anything better. One of the highest rarest moments in life. I glimpsed this bit of magic. Dissolved in the luminous light. I felt I was disappearing and weeping with joy. Rewarded by fate. Speak only of the work. Consisting entirely of quotations. I have read the beautiful lines. The gift of judgment is rarer than the gift of creativity. The best strategy is to say nothing.

... I was ill-advised in my despair. Collector of obscure texts. So much crumbled stone. One foot in the wilderness. I am an abandoned instrument upon which someone, a long time ago, struck a few notes on which I helplessly produce variations. There is no end to the madness. There is nothing to hold onto anywhere. Consumed in the bright order. The unbelievable love. I know of no paradise into which I wish to enter after what has been. Agreement with the soft heart. Radiance of a day. Resurrection from death, from oblivion. No new world without a new language. Sentences in which the world as a whole appeared.

... and blue before me I see your eye. Lashed to the wheel of night. Paying no heed to impassable waters. Standing against an immovable sky. Was I ever here? Where is your eternal light? And to what can your heart attest? Harder days are coming. The madness of the unexpected. Wherever we turn. Everything remained unsaid. Not talking was better than talking. And the thunder at our heels... I wanted to change, to have a new approach. Unashamedly outward. Beyond this temporary imagination I call myself. Out beyond the throne of time. Frontier between me and me. A formal decomposition. Striving against silence. No caution, no intention. Don't forget you called me into the world. The confession had been made. The unspeakable, said softly. I was condemned to love. You different from all the others. To rise with the first light. Beyond the view of the sleeping eye. There were things that came along as I worked. I thought I could collect some reflections without relating them. A sort of distortion. It was a convenient method of arriving at what I wanted. Considering which word to set beside this one.

… the night is cold and delicate and full of angels. We escape but the problem has not been solved. We carry your lessons in our hearts. The lessons and our hearts are the same. The feeling of ascending emptiness. A melody heard as though through trees. Along the face of the sky. Millions of facts of distributed light. All of the true fragments are here. So that the pieces are seen as parts of a spectrum. Until the last word is exhausted. Transformed into useless love. Madness to explain. I am only a transparent diagram. Leading first to you, and through you to myself. It was a long way back out of sadness. Hymns on the surface of the ocean.


Coda: All There Was Never Time For

... to say all there was never time for. Before it is too late. Memory can but shift cold ashes around. But meanwhile I am to include everything. Wilderness of spoken words. The need to render the real world. Each breath a redeeming feature. In you I fell apart. The magic world really does exist. A reality that is perfect. The human reality of perception. Dazed waking of the words. A longing that doesn't disappear. Our own bodily presence in the world. The shapeless modest tale, told in the cottage at twilight.

… beautiful tears have blossomed in my eyes. I know what evening means. Grace to be born. Nevertheless my heart still loves, and will break. Glad to find release in heaven’s care. On fire with being there. Lists of words to steal. These words I have been borrowing. Reluctant to go on writing. There is no joy written into the ending. Joy is what I like. That, and love.

1 - 20 June 2006

Sources: John Cage, Philip Whalen, Pablo Neruda, Van Morrison, Maureen Owen, Eleanor Antin, George Harrison, Marcel Duchamp, Guy Debord, Raymond Roussel H.P, Lovecraft, Gertrude Stein, Jack Kerouac, Jorge Luis Borges, Bob Dylan, Frederick Sommer, Walter Benjamin, David Sudnow, David Mitchell, Donovan Leitch, Alex Ross, Wallace Stevens, Federico Garcia Lorca, Czeslaw Milosz, Oskar Loerke, Ingeborg Bachmann, Pete Townshend, John Ashbery, Arthur Cravan, David Hockney, Ernest Toch, Ted Berrigan