Thursday, February 02, 2017

An atheist

My latest interactive "fiction" is posted at

Let me know what you think...

Thursday, November 05, 2015

The cart in the distance

They move away, toward that patch of smoke beyond the near rise, past a high pole whose ties to the ground can be faintly made out as diagonal streaks toward the ground.  They are a couple, pulled by a single animal, on a light cart.  Between them and ourselves, tilled earth.  Sun shines from behind the further hill.  Germany in the 1950's.  Two clouds, like the afterimages of starships or tanks in the sky.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Offsetting Thoughts

It reminds me of home,
the peregrine wind
offsetting thoughts, willing the poem
to be stuffed, broken and kind.

I was desperate to chuck that dross,
fuse it with its doubled longeur,
its mysterious double the late June cake toss,
summer sun's pierced moment could not be wronger.

But leaving that thought for later, for now,
I too remember the stunning drop from thirty stories,
how as for pregnancy the bird drew low,
with talons marked and drew tongue's histories –

How if you jump the parachute extends you,
as it made you taller, now flight ends. True,

my dentitions solid prospects looked a lot like truth,
chomping at the bit in fact, four months old
but already trampling delusion in vermouth,
lubricious teak fort where the laughies rolled

their eyeballs in that late simulation of delight
so marked in the Portuguese director's final thought
on second chance and second sight,
complex market in which things not told are bought,

things not solidified buzz loudly on my bed
so you can hang things on it and cry out
“But I don't have excess,” bubble gum she said
chewed her surprising lack or heft of clout

How if you wait a floating wasp attends you
having lost the sky's measuring, mends blue.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The passings

Self's less than a soul, I'm convinced of this.  But it's at least a linguistic construct, and maybe more like a manuscript, an inscription on materiality capable of some degree of replication, certainly of persistence beyond its first instantiation.

So what do we lose of other selves when our own efforts to inscribe them within our worlds are subverted by death?  Contingency, the texture of a world giving itself to us rather than being clarified as an effort of imagination.  That texture is more than comforting; it is fundamentally enabling, like a limb.  The deaths of those close to us are like the losses of limbs; their continuing felt presences are phantom limbs.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not reading Proust

I haven't been reading Proust.  I got bogged down in it.  And now I'm five years older than I was -- more suited to reading Proust again, or less?  My hair's definitely all silvery now, powdered with the dust Marcel noted in his old friends and acquaintances, as I remember that concluding denouement.  I've toyed with going to my fortieth high school reunion, which impends, but there are no Charluses or Gilbertes awaiting me there and anyway, we're going to the Lair of the Bear that week.  Question to the gallery: is it necessary to close these circuits, necessary for all of us to do so, or is the fact that a few of you have completed the journey, Marcel included, sufficient?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reading Proust (ii)

Example of a state in which the self merges with any image or idea "at hand."

Though Marcel's description of his self's merging with first, the subjects of his readings and later, the objects in his bedroom (or bedrooms, extending through space-time like a Romanesque village church) might seem reminiscent of some neurological pathology out of Oliver Sacks (e.g., the man who mistook himself for a quartet), we may observe that over recent decades (the post-Johnston decades, is how I usually think of them) the advance of the "theory of the self" has received crucial support from the examination of just such pathologies, in books such as Thomas Metzinger's The Ego Tunnel, and hence has relevance for the self in its everydayness as well.

The first appeal of the merging passage for me is sheer dissociativeness, the paradox of thinking oneself to be what is ordinarily considered a subject of thought, and the Proustian triangulation of the selection of three seemingly random examples of such subjects.

The next phase of this pleasure is for me the attempt to figure out how such a paradox might somehow "make sense." First, doesn't the subject itself, except in the grammatical sense, have to disappear in the experience of merging with "the rivalry of Francois I and Charles V"? Unlike a church or quartet, this rivalry has no material being or generic existence (into which the self might be "inserted" like a water spirit) apart from the book text, held in mind, that it may be presumed to refer to in summary form. One's sense of self is replaced momentarily with a sense of some text one was absorbing before dozing off: a sense of the text as concept, but even looser than that, as imperfectly remembered conceptual chunk. And after that, there has to be a period of floating in this merged state, being the rivalry of the two kings, before being recalled to oneself simply by the experience of waking more fully. I read this as an intermediate stage of existence between the two better known ones, discovered in a sense by setting up the experiment or setting up the observation station and then patiently waiting for the phenomenon to occur, for the endangered game to wander by on its way to the proper memory bank to which it must be returned.

Personally, I have no problem imagining my sense of self as evaporating for some period into something external, or with the implication that the sense of self ultimately has no more integrity or permanence than any other phenomenon or perception. Would anyone care to take the other side of that debate?

One is sorely tempted to associate Proust's examples of what remains in the mind, or surfaces there, on dozing or waking, with the notion of what is immediately "at hand" popularized by readers of Heidegger, and hence definitive in some sense of the structure of one's personal "space" in some non-Cartesian sense. But I think the association might be a false and misleading one...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reading Proust (i)

Consciousness is evanescent, not controllable. Marcel falls asleep without realizing he has done so; this is how I experience falling asleep too. Is it different for anyone? It happens that I'm doing an on-line Kaiser Permanente workshop on improving the quality of one's sleep; one assertion made there is that the second stage of sleep, between the initial "just fallen asleep" stage and deep sleep, is a restful state that insomniacs in particular don't recognize as sleep, believing themselves still awake because it "feels like it." One of the distinctions between such a state and true wakefulness has to be an absence of the experience of will, I would think -- yet believing oneself to be awake might include the belief, or illusion, that one could exert one's will if one wished. Consciousness is evanescent, not controllable: a hypothesis for which the emprical neuroscientist Marcel, who is not Proust, may have spent a lifetime like patient Darwin gathering evidence.  In situ