Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Etymology of a Metaphor


If I think about the tree—like any other verdant metaphor—it runs deep into my mind with its roots.

I say this all because I know the tree in Winter is a tree. This tree is not a metaphor.

Rather the Platonic Form of Tree lends itself to metaphor quite nicely, which is what the Theory of Forms seems to be all about. Plato’s Tree is rich with meaning, because it appeals to our senses and our entire conceptual framework.

Right now, this tree does not look like it did in the summer. Because it is naked.

Why did I say naked? Bereft of clothing is only the beginning and you should be wondering why I said bereft and not liberated. The tree would only have shame if I projected it upon the tree. I usually prefer taking off all my clothes in Summer, so the projection of luxe, calme volupté won’t work either.

Even the act of projecting is a metaphor, because I am not throwing anything forward… but then again, do I even consider the etymology of project (pro=forward + ject, from iactus= throw) when I use the word? No. Something else is going on, a shortcut. which is another…. Well, you get the idea now.

There is the idea of multiplicity. In my metaphor of the Winter tree, I can think of the absent leaves, or the many branches and apply these to the vagaries of life. Because life is less of a journey, no matter what psychologists, Hollywood, and creative writing teachers tell us. Rather it is a wandering. Vagary comes from the same language as vague: id est when I stroll, ramble or wander around in Latin, vago.

But I am forgetting myself (and the tree) in multiplicities. That is more-than-one. Mathematicians may argue with me, but this distinction is crucial. More-than-one does not mean much until we really stop to think about it. When one is being chased by more-than-one wolf, one is not concerned about the neurological-mental structure that allows for more-than-one. One isn’t even really thinking that wolf is still important and ancient enough to be inflected in English when there is more than one. Especially when they are chasing you.

Of multiplicities and branching thoughts and axons, I can only say that it keeps me from thinking about the Next Year. Another concept I hold in contempt when I don’t really want to think about it, which of course, I am.

There are many ways I could go with this. This tree—which is beautiful and has been growing here longer than I have been on this earth—may very well be pulled down by developers. Another reason to leave Seattle, perhaps. And no, the words are not connected, save by paronomasia. But that still counts for something.

And there is always going to be some movement. Crossing the river we live in means just that (because prepositions are always misleading) and we ferry those things across that help us understand what life is like on the other bank. Or, to translate: metaphor, which carries the same meaning as translate.

And on and on it goes, growing into the glowing sky of the late tomorrow.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A bowl full of noodles

She is alone. Younger than I am. The age does not really matter: she may be the kind of young woman who says "age is just a number" and she may eventually become the kind of older woman who says that as well.

She was in line behind me. That is where I noticed her. She was tall, slender. Her hair was black. I am not sure what she was ordering but a poached egg, some wakame, appeared to be toppings. Her bowl of udon was not steaming, so I could only guess she was having the cold style with sauce—appropriate for the season.

Because it was summer. I was eating noodles with scallions and ginger. A bit of daikon radish and umeboshi.

I had sat down to think. The noodles in the bowl were slippery and long. Delicious and obviously, sensuously asking to be transformed into metaphor—always memory and the viscosity of the past.

She carried the tray over to the window seat and sat down to eat. Her legs were long so she took up the two seats there. Perhaps a trained tactic to ward off creeps. It made sense. She was an attractive woman.

I wanted to tell her that it wasn't only the creeps at the noodle shop. The sick men on dating sites who stalk. The rapists with their dick-pics right there on her phone.
Watch out for that professor, the one you go after. He might wreck your career.
Watch out for the handsome guy in Germany who says all the right things, feeds your lust for travel and sex, takes it from you and leaves you with pelvic inflammatory disease and no chance of ever having children.
Or the one who wastes your time and you slowly learn to hate. Watch out for him. 
How boring and awful I would be to tell her that. She might even be polite enough to listen. Perhaps there would be a shred of parallelism or synchronicity.

But really, it wasn't fair because what I wanted... I wanted to be 23 again. To start over with sovereignty, a bare arm and a bowl full of noodles.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Leaning against the Pillar of Truth

If I were famous, then I could do famous things. Famously would be an adverb attached to my actions and perhaps even my adjectives. I would be generally known for doing something. Instead, on a personal level it is a matter of annoying habit. “There she goes again” and that sort of thing. “That sort of thing” is a phrase I overuse, for example. Perhaps I am not famous enough to warrant its blessings.

The end of the year is entirely arbitrary. 

As a creature of habit, I say this every year, the irony of which is not lost on me.

But the world is changing. The climate, both in atmospheric science, and in the wider realms of metaphor. But it has been changing for a while and this fact is ensconced in antinomy: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même.

To me, change is where and when you finally see it.

For most of my life, the nation in which I live has been moving toward an aristocratic form of government. As the Aristocracy (who maintain their privilege through generations by legal casuistry, but they do it nonetheless) consolidates its power, the middle class degrades. The panem et circenses Juvenal describes in the 10th Satire exist as strongly as ever, feeding us.

The change? Much of America has finally embraced the truth: the billionaires are no longer running things behind the scenes but have taken manifest power. Their children inherit wealth, names and titles. How is this not de facto Aristocracy?

A land that has been fed princesses and princes since childhood needs the rule of the landed few.

I lean against the Pillar of Truth and wonder if I should go work for them: as an artist now. Since our rulers have brought Renaissance Nepotism back into fashion, perhaps I can land a job as an edifying scrivener. Shakespeare did it, after all, fawning over his own “1%-er” and I like to think I can find a patron too. After all “public” support for the arts is disappearing anyway, and then I might actually have a place to live.

But there are dangers. In the Renaissance I know I would have at best been a courtesan: a learned hole and that’s about it. Still, considering the people in power now, I wouldn’t be surprised if that job title saw resurgence if it hasn’t already under another name.

The Pillar doesn’t feel quite as strong. At best it supports the suspicion that the Good Old Days Never Were and We’re Living In Them Now.

Maybe I’ll even be famous once I’m dead.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The death of a god


It's a time of year when gods are discovered, and sometimes die.

Iconoclasty occurred again just the other day. Andrew is a barista at my local coffeehouse. He is absolutely beautiful and at least 16 years younger than I am. He looks somewhat like Daniel Henney.

There, that is enough to go on.

Yes, I have had a crush on him for quite some time. I don't think he feels the same way. I'm certain of it. Perhaps elsewhere I will show you, but here I will tell you. I projected, I wished, I desired. I colored his attentions with the tapestries and trompe l'oeil artwork of volition, of interest and desire.

I needed faith: The way he said my name. How beautiful he would feel behind me, slowly waking up on Sunday mornings. Even sharing the profound responsibility to our dream of an open road and a full tank of gas. I needed that faith more than anything, save, perhaps for the coffee.

I read Internet articles about dating younger men. I had my nails done. I actually had someone else cut my bangs. He complimented me on these changes in a general way. Our connection seemed to be growing.

"Ada, it's called customer service, not love. He just wants a good tip. That's all," my illustrator offered one time I took him to see Andrew, as if Andrew was a orchid of some exotic extraction in a hand thrown artisan bowl. "It may not even be contrived," David continued. "He just likes people and customer service and it brings its own rewards. If I was gay, I'd have a crush on him too, if that helps."

It didn't.

No, I had to see him with her, walking through Seattle University. She was beautiful, young and a bit shorter than him. (Which I am not). They were holding each other's hand in that stiff, romantic way when both people are cold and they are walking quickly together to warm up. At one point, they turned and kissed.

Then he saw me, and waved. They came over. She asked him something I couldn't hear.

"Oh she's a customer that comes into the store all of the time. June, this is Ada."

He said it with honesty, sweetness. She looked at me, so in love with him and having nothing to worry about from a 46-year-old-maid-stork-of-a-woman, that she smiled at me as well.

"Hi, nice to meet you."  She wasn't even jealous. I used to be able to do that sometimes and it was gone too. But ironically it wouldn't have worked anyway because Andrew is in love with June and he would never cheat on her. That very quality is something I adored. If he wanted to cheat on his lover with me, he wouldn't be someone I would want. I told myself this prayer often.

They walked off, presumably into the sunset which is where lovers always go.

I thought about June. I had thought about her before, but I didn't have a name. Before, she was a complex abstraction. The younger woman he was with invariably because she is closer to his age. She has a smaller nose. She isn't tall and skinny. She won't bore him to death talking Foucault and Spaghetti Westerns. He won't have to politely "enjoy" her modal jazz collection.

Beneath all, she is a confirmation of fear. I never had to really open myself up to him. We can't do such things in the world. I will get my heart broken. Again.

So instead I had faith in June. I believed she existed even though I had never seen her. And then, finally, empirical proof stood before me and said hello. I walked away, diametric to their course.

My god, of whom I was bereft, lay there on the pavement bleeding into oblivion. The bells of the St. Ignatius chapel mourned him, for like Mary, I had given him birth and therefore killed him.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Illusion and Tea


The Master had surrounded himself with books and students, and yet Simplicity was the by-word for his school.

"The tree. Do you know it for its leaves? Or the snow?" the Master asked. When no one had said a word, he closed his eyes. After a minute, he finally said: "All is illusion."

"Especially if you put it like that," his Wife added, yelling from the kitchen. I am with her because I am a woman and supposedly incapable of philosophy.

“If he wanted simplicity, why did he marry me? His wife asks. She stands in the kitchen and knows a few things. She pours tea, the same tea, but into different cups. Hers is a tall, ceramic beaker the color of jade and yet it is chipped.

My tea is in a beautifully turned wooden bowl. But one there are bite marks on.

“The child will bite the cup from which it drinks.” I said this, looking at it.

“Yes, he’s famous for that one.” Together, we sat down and pulled feathers from a pair of old dead chickens who cannot lay eggs. I wonder if the act is metaphorically important: a point the woman means to bring home.

“But you know, there is only one bowl. That one you are drinking from. It’s made out of maple. I remember the tree when I was a little girl. It was cut down and the wood was full of such complexity that my father had it cut up and cured. Later, they made things out of it and sold much of it to rich bureaucrats and merchants. I only have a few pieces left. The ordinary things you see here.

“But you see,” she continued “it’s one of the only three, but my son, he was teething and used to bite on this bowl. The “master” out there then makes some sort of grand statement about it. He leaves out all the particulars. His students like that you know. It’s easier to think about rather than trying to imagine my son.

“But they don’t know how fast his hair grew. They don’t know his smell back then, or how he blew on his breakfast to cool it off. And each morning, the congee was different. So were the breaths he used. What he was thinking. Even my son can’t remember my son anymore. Not what he was.”

“But I do," she finally added with a touch of melancholy.

“This tea. We drink it from different cups, but it’s the same, isn’t it?” I ask.

“Careful. The Wise Monkey Turd out there will steal that one as well.”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Platonic Form (of Bed)

Considering Plato (a highly entitled specimen)
One of the first philosophical ideas that most students must grapple with is Plato's legendary Theory of Forms. One interesting aspect is that while Plato had a theory of forms, there is no such thing as a Platonic Form of Interpretation of Plato's Theory.

Should I even dare summarize it here? Throw out an oft-heard, but ultimately misleading sort of generalization such as the standard "Hegelian 101" process of ascribing to Hegel the idea of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. (Again, it was Fichte)

There is one constellation of thoughts that people glean: that what we see in the world are imperfect copies of what is, in principle the "perfect form" of something.

The Platonic Form of Bed is the everlasting principle of bed. The problem herein is that I'm using a word for a fairly concrete thing and you're probably thinking of your bed. Is it wide? Narrow? Hard? Soft? On the Floor? Is it a couch? Or are you heading off into the more abstract usages such as "nail bed" (at least two meanings there!) or river bed?

For me, I find it helps to think beyond sight. The visual sense is one that supplies us with form, usually in the "form" of geometry. A bed is square, etc. Unless it's a heart-shaped bed and then you are usually having sex upon that bed in some cheap hotel.

This presupposes a human bed. A dog bed is round. Or is the human bed the dog's version as well? The human bed make become the symbol of perfection, that once attained usually requires the Dog to lie across it at an perpendicular angel which takes up most of the room (and crowding me off the edge).

But what of the other senses? What is their "shape" of the Platonic Form of bed. I have been aquainted with several dogs that were never very happy when their beds were washed, presumably because the complex olfactory worlds were disturbed. Perhaps it's even akin to dumping out all the books in a library and then proclaiming "but look how clean the shelves are now."

Touch is one we can all understand. For myself, in the Winter, my bed reaches a Platonic Form of perfection. Usually around 6:00 in the morning when I wake up. It is warm, but not hot. My pajamas feel just right as well because I am not sweating. Nor am I cold. There is a warm softness to the flannel so that my feet feel like they are being lovingly caressed. It is profoundly dark and cold, even in my room outside, which offers a thermal chiaroscuro to the nest I find myself in. My mind, shut off from sight and in the quiet of the morning, sinks back deeply into this most complex, and primal of Forms.

Unless there is a dog crowding me.

Monday, December 5, 2016

In the Garden


Where did it all begin? How did it begin and with what words may I tell you?

These words are thoughts which are like ants along a trail. They scurry and bump into one another, but they have some sense of purpose it seems. The whole of them, when viewed from outside appear to be one organism. Entailed within this metaphor, mapped on it by pheromonal equivalencies and the randominium of axonic connectivity, is the will for structure.

But does that desire actually think? Who thought of that first? Why?

Consider the concept of Unity. I am not sure I believe in "unity" as existing outside of mind, but within that garden, it certainly maintains a beloved throne, usually at the center of our temples' concentric mandalic rings. Grand concepts always seem to move toward Unity as their ultimate goal, again, like so many ladders to other floors, being thrown aside.

Does a concept actually move? Again, I am being literal to make a point. Growth is a metaphor I can actually handle because when I go to sleep, the ground cover is one size, one volume. The next day it has spread. More intrusive. More invasive. Ideas do this as well, but usually they must have some sort of soil to grow in. That soil is language. It covers a lot of ground.

Ants, gardens, ground cover: one may find all of these ideas together. Fortunately, they are actual objects, things, perhaps even beings depending on your definition of that word, but I will leave that for elsewhere.

Generalizations are something else. A principle of sufficient reason and recognized patterns that our minds craft and what is there beyond that? Will. Desire. Potency. I glean these from the different things I see, but I am always making them up. The only thing I am not making up are these words. True, I am arranging them, but that is no more different than a house. A carpenter built it, but trees are wood: they grow. We have simply forgotten that. Perhaps because we do not climb in them anymore.

This all raises questions—questions about whether the doxographer is trying to explain the explainer. The difference always seems to be: confusing why with how. There are people who need explanations because they must explain much themselves. Why suggests causality, and time. How can work anywhen. What does it all mean? Do the ants in the garden somehow know differently in their mass because the angels converse with them?

Perhaps. I'll think about it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A small event


Know that in this bleak afternoon, when the monsters gather in their pride and the world goes forever beyond the horizon: at the crossroads of here—where all of us seem to be—for a moment you lift the mask we all must wear in this place.

And you allow the shadow of your smile to fall upon the Earth and make a solace, a refuge from the light, a subjunctive somewhere for remembrance, a small event of beauty.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Straight to my arms


December. That means Seattle is reaching its apogee of rain, dark and gray. I sit in the café and listen to the music they are playing here. It's Astral Weeks.

Van Morrison is perfect for this weather. Especially the melancholy of "Madame George" and "Cypress Avenue." But it's another song that resurrects the lost time.

I remember.

I remember lying there after sex and you are caressing my forehead, brushing my hair back from my face. It was summer and the air felt more like apricots, honey and forever.

"Were you ever a ballerina?" You asked me.
"Is it because of this song?"
"Yeah, but it's your legs, your body. You're beautiful, Ada. You look like a ballerina."
"No…" and I couldn't say anymore, but in the light of that late morning in August, I danced in your arms.

Now, I think it is so strange that there can be such moments of love in my life—even then, when I could not love you every moment of the day. Nor you me. I cannot blame us. We did not know ourselves and that sorrow upstages ordinary regret at such moments.

It did not last. We know this. I do not even know where you really are.

If the World is Will and Representation, which is that day? Which is Astral Weeks?

Still, my heels click and clack.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Logos


I'll speak a little:

I have been
Raped
I have been beaten
And killed
Yet still I am here
And therefore you are as well.

I am the river you crawled from
And I am never the same
And neither are you.

Will your body be the same
In the prison of its soul?

How much must you hate me?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

91


Since mindfulness of everything,
Is the foundation of Being,
To speak the truth of one’s own being,
And to preserve the knowledge we all share
Serves all Being. 

Just as clear Law
Upholds the Nation with greater strength.
Of all the shapings of the law,
The sole source is the principle
Which helps us decide what gives

True mindfulness its victory.

-Heraclitus

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Realm



Was this once a kingdom? The traveler asked herself this question first. It may develop the character of the place in her mind, she thought. She was used to insulating the recursive nature of these thoughts, like magnetic fields holding fragile and deadly clouds of plasma. It was all she could do, and the traveler had spent the first half of her life learning how to think about her observations of the worlds in which she moved. Naturally, she also knew this last insight had only occurred relatively recently and for lack of any other milestone, she chose its appearance as a turning point in her life.

Within the Negative, she had been walking quite a ways. There was not much to see there and she often felt deprived because she could not fly through this void, or swim, or some other form of movement,  such as thousands of tube-feet springing up on the bottom of her own and carrying her along like a moving escalator in an airport.

“Still, it’s probably hard work. Starfish just make it look effortless.

The milestone of self-conscious observation and concomitant recursive knowledge appeared, but here of course she full well knew that it merely appeared over and over again in a continuum of observation so smeary and blurred with the pedestrian thoughts (she was walking, afterall) that the milestone grew closer, which was, of course, absurd. And when she considered that it was a milestone of self-consciousness that did not move, well, the paradoxical nature of the path became even more irksome.

The traveler herself was erudite and a firm believer in the power of expansive thought and logic—what this really meant was she was often rationally unsure of several distinct possibilities that were extensively thought out. That and whether she was a butterfly dreaming she was Hegel, only a woman-Hegel, here, and thefore something of a Wegel, or Fraugel, to be even more specific because the word-part of her mind was always wandering off the path to look at a rock or pun.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bifröst


Bifröst touched down on Alki;

Today, I will indulge in magical thinking.

And pray that Freya stays out of my business.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ghosts in the Void

Teenage Angst in that Mode
Upon a time, I looked into the Nothing. But since I was so certain then—having just discovered surety—I did not see it for what it was. I populated the Negative with fragments of reflected selves and those outside me in the light that made the world: the Not-Ada. How certain I was. How everywhere it was. How much I made it me.

As they moved in circles of light and iridescent happiness, I remained in the darkness. You know who we are. We remain on the frontiers, occasionally letting the anger in our jokes flash out.

“That’s a good one…” may be forgotten by you in minutes, but I would hold onto it for a year, writing it down on college ruled lines next to the nascent work like this, borrowing—as all language does—from others. Sometimes your name and mine were written together, my last name became yours so sodden was I to be possessed: I was certain it was the way out of the void.

“You didn’t have it all bad…”

A few friends of mine say this and I agree with them. I’m far enough away to know that there is no competition in the Void. We only bring that nonsense there ourselves.

Ghosts in the Void: across all that lost time.

I didn’t fill the Void with wine coolers. Three men did not rape me like Heather at that party. I did not fall off the back of Tom’s motorcycle into the Void like Anna. I did not get pregnant and abandoned like Carmen and I never ate my mother’s sleeping pills to disappear forever from the men I loved like Kyle. I did not vomit into the Nothing until I died like Melanie.

My heart was not yet fully formed. I did not understand. These whispers waited in the Void until I was older and they haunt me now—a kind of eternal homecoming.

The Void is not hungry. It will not kill you. It does not look back into you and find you wanting for breasts, a perfect nose. The man who completes you.

The Not-You is empty and therein you will not find an answer.

So make one.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

At what price

Die Nachte: Max Beckmann 1919*
Insofar as Politics is concerned this year...

...I will offer up a sample of the Max Beckmann painting above because it is a version of the America we are being promised by a certain candidate. Oh, he may say he is going to make it "Great" again, but I have heard that rhetoric before and it was used quite a bit in the place where the painting came from.

Half of my ancestry is German. My mother's father was German and my father (whom I have never met) was half German as well. This is important for me during this particular election because it means I carry that weight. What is that weight? That a supposedly civilized country allowed a narcissistic bully with one testicle and severe emotional problems to become its leader. For years afterward, the words Nazi and German were fairly synonymous. In the movies, German/Nazi villains were safe from the point of view of the screenwriter. I was often ashamed of my last name, even though it is Wendish in origin, going into that was not really an option in grade school. And what was the result of all that fear and self-loathing: the same sort that drives Americans to evidently support a fascist who says many of the same things?

It becomes the men invading the home in the Beckmann painting.

I have another part of me—the Latina part—that hears echoes of what the Nazis did to the Jews, the homosexuals, Roma, slavs, and developmentally disabled to name a few and she fears that the fascist dictator running for president—wrapped in the Red, White and Blue—will round up brown people like myself. Our stories, and our lives will be forfeit. Yes, there are other crimes of magnitude in other places, but few that I can think of that are consciously chosen, such as Hitler in 1932. What are we to make of the check-box next to the GOP candidate in the United States of 2016?

My Grandfather left Germany in the late 1930s because he knew there was war coming. After Kristallnacht, the family realized there was better work and better people elsewhere, so my grandfather left for work in a brewery in Mexico. He eventually eloped with mi abuela for Sacramento… but that is another story.

I simply ask for you to vote for a better world and not one of fear, brutality and bigotry. There is no 'greatness' to be found in a country ruled by terror and the promise of bread and circuses.

When I despair, I remember when I felt bad about being a Ludenow: part of a race that committed abominations. Grandfather would tell me about the other people who left Germany: the scientists, the artists, the musicians. These were the people who had made Germany great and gave the language and culture its dignity. I can still remember the Plattdeutsch accent in his Spanish:
"Aquellos que no podían salir murieron o se ocultó escondidos durante muchos años. Lo que quedaba no era un país ni siquiera una raza. Es por eso que perdieron la guerra. Eso es lo que sucede cuando estúpida, asustadas personas venden su alma al diablo. Ada, tienes que ayudar a la gente a aprender, pensar, y amar. Eso es lo que va a encontrar en la música de Bach. Y lo que se ve en el mundo es lo que llevas en tu corazón".
*Max Beckmann: Die Nachte Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Max Beckmann was one of many "Entartete Kunstlers" or "Degenerate Artists" who were forced to leave Germany when Adolt Hitler came to power. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vespers

I write when I am running, but you couldn't really tell. I don't think of plots, or characters, themes, or query letters, or any of the aspects of writing that occupy my desk-mind.

The writing moves within me, just as the earth is moving, spinning—taking me into the sunset.

I stretch and consider. I have my litany, my agenda, my vespers.
I am a machine. I am desire, thought and memory. I am a ghost moving upon the waters when the Earth was young.  I am a woman. I am unrelenting. I submit to no one. I give. I am indefatigable and I know when to step lightly on the water or with force upon the stones.
The continuum of Space and Time is most subtly evident during the paradoxical dance of this moment—when the day bleeds into night because I know the safety of this place does not last much longer. I know when it ends and I run towards the sun and conveyance home. I search for danger. I look for my allies here. I stay aware and I am wholly in the present.

By now I know my pace without thinking about it.

The pathway comes to me. The sky and the water reflect one another but I shall not be dazzled by them. There will be another sunset. There will always be more running because that is what I do.
I am a machine. I am desire, thought and memory. I am a ghost moving upon the waters when the Earth was young. I am a woman.  I am unrelenting. I submit to no one. I give. I am indefatigable and I know when to step lightly on the water or with force upon the stones.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Fall of the Wall

The wall isn't going anywhere. It's far too new for that.

I went to visit my friends Jon and Miguel in their new home. It's a very new home and it looks very much like the other homes in this development. Miguel is despondent about this.

"But look at that view of the Mountain!"

He shows me the view from their bedroom, the breakfast nook and the top of the garage. It is always the same Mountain, but I don't tell him that. I sympathize that they must commute a long ways for this house and this view.

Jon has a longer view of things. "In forty years, if a lahar hasn't taken this all out, these homes will all look different, and we'll probably be in Yucca Valley."

Jon is an architect and knows that buildings grow and age just like people.

This wall isn't going anywhere. It will wait here for the seasons to change it and make it something people find attractive in the patina of mutability. But it works fine for me now. I can lean here and smell Jon cooking the bratwursts I brought. I think of gold beer and red leaves.

"Welcome to your first Fall, Wall."

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Preservation



There is a plum tree out in my landlady's garden full of fruit and she lets me pick as much as I want, as long as I give her some of the canned plums afterward. I realize this an ancient, albeit much watered-down version of agricultural servitude. Yet it is a benevolent one.

And the days are pleasant and warm so I can stand here in a thin old muslin dress that is too ratty and threadbare for public but perfect for preservation.

I eat them too, but there are too many of them to binge on. I think of them in crostatas around Yule—my friend Celeste is a professional baker and has the best recipe for plum crostata. Maybe there will even be a lonely day in February where I can curl up with Kafka on the Shore and a bowl of pearl tapioca… and plums.

Stone fruits of all kind remind me of process better than any other. I'm not sure why. Apples blossom as well. So do raspberries. There is something singular about the drupes that makes them easier to understand and extend the metaphoric bridge. One blossom, one fruit, one seed, one seedling, one tree and I stop there because of course I am literally processing an entire orchard's worth of trees.

But they will never grow into trees. Celeste says that to make the plums taste better that you should either leave the pits in, or put them in the simple syrup. I remember something about amygdalin and cyanide being destroyed by heat. Perhaps that sweet, avoided death is what she is talking about.

But I keep a few pits. My old dress has a pocket and I put a few in there to keep for the year when either I no longer live here or Mrs. Wong dies and they rip down her house and garden to make apartments. The tree will be gone and so will I. I used to fantasize about being wealthy enough and important enough to actually transplant this tree. I could own a home and garden of my own and something as impractical as transplanting a living tree would be within my means.

It still crosses my mind, like other fantasies, but as I grow older I marvel at how quickly it disappears. Perhaps this is the first outrider of the acceleration in time I understand occurs in age. An impractical plot like a plum-tree-transplant could last for weeks in my 22 year old soul, but it only stays around for a minute now that I'm 46.

So I can, and put a few pits in my pocket. I still think of some place I can walk that is mine, more or less. The ratty dress will have a hole in the pocket big enough for me to leave plum trees everywhere.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Airport, Train Station, Chess

Wie ein Schachzug nicht allein darin besteht, daß ein Stein so und so auf dem Brett verschoben wird, —aber auch nicht in den Gedanken und Gefühlen des Ziehenden, die den Zug beleiten; sondern in den Umständen, die wir nennen: “eine Schachpartie spielen”, “ein Schachproblem lösen” und dergl.
Just as making a move in chess doesn’t consist only in pushing a piece from here to there on the board — nor yet in the thoughts and feelings that accompany the move: but in the circumstances that we call “playing a game of chess,” “solving a chess problem,” and the like.*
I am listening to Chopin and rereading Wittgenstein, at lunch, in a “break room.” Ich schweige amid the conversations of politics, children, summer vacations and other activities of the world (for children do not seem to be beings insomuch as they are universes).

I find that Chopin’s mazurkas and Wittgenstein’s Philosophiche Untersuchungen are as calming as thinking of a lake, “belly breathing” or other methods of mental relaxation.

Because I am not relaxing. I am traveling along a great river of thought. Both in the notes of Chopin’s composition and Wittgenstein’s relentless dismantling, with the gentlest touch of a respectful engineer, the structures we call music and language. Which are, akin, in a way—like a train station and an airport: both take us elsewhere, but may be beautiful in and of themselves.

*Translation G.E.M. ANSCOMBE, P.M.S Hacker, Joachim Schulte. Philosophical Investigations: Ludwig Wittgenstein: ISBN 978-1-4051-5928-9

**Photographs of Wittgenstein and Chopin courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Philosophy of Cherries (and Ice Cream)

In June, or close to it, I usually post something here about cherries. This is because the season is high for them in this place I live and they are my favorite fruit. I suppose that like anything which is brief, delicious, and red, the cherry was sort of asking for it in terms of being a symbol.

There is also an entire tree waiting inside the stone, which also points backwards and forwards to the blossoms of spring. Floating worlds of ephemera? Or relentless Hegelian process?

The blood of cherries looks very much like our own. Perhaps that’s why I think of periods and such: that regular visit of blood, which, in my case represents a sort of blind will: my womb keeps barreling along, oblivious of the blank spaces: the empty bassinets and such reminders of a bitterly resolved freedom.

Or should I return to the sterile but beautiful double-blossoms of ornamental sakuras? That is the sort of question: aesthetic over utility. Is an aesthetic a sort of utility? Where is the categorical imperative of pink and white?

I like to think of the trees taking on their grafts. Another mode of expression: at one moment they are languages delineating their borrowings, growing this way and that and doing just fine. At others, I think of grafted limbs being friends thrust upon the same trunk—living together and ultimately dying together.

But let’s be honest. The real reason cherries exist is to take one of two paths: either into Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or, a double scoop of Molly Moon’s Cherry Chunk ice cream.

Close by there is a park and there is a bench. There is the sun and lovers on the grass. My thoughts, for a moment no longer graft and struggle in the enormity of this life. At quiet times like these the world seems loudest. But one spoonful of cherry ice cream and hot fudge and... the parliament of my soul is silent.

Dare I call it causality? Synchronicity? Or just delicious?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Refuge of the Sky


It could be a day like any other day. No, it's not. It comes and it goes. It is June and no June is exactly like the other. 'So complex there is no way its an accident:" for some that is proof of God and that is fine. I don't think this God cares which direction people pray, what they eat, whom they love. If it is an accident, well, am I supposed to be overawed at the spectacle of physics? Then that is perfectly acceptable as well.

Look at that thing. Is it even a thing? Is the tree a frame, is it leaves? Is it billions of constituents so small it needs a God to understand. Would God want to? Does God really need to?

I'm really just a woman lying in the grass watching a cloud go by. That is one story. That is one small event. all part of the perceptual framework I suppose. Wavelengths. Goethe versus Newton and all of that. I side with Goethe today, and give Newton his due some other time because that is a maple tree and no apples shall fall and taint the Earth with sin of knowledge of good and evil. As if they have a place here.

I have no funeral to go to. No son to find. That is someone else's story but it is so part of me now, but each word is a miracle. Snowflakes. Time does all of that as well, and the only permanency are the fleeting ghosts in the borders of this place. Some are mine, and some are others.

The most melancholy ghosts walk in the shadows of a summer day, but Immanuel was right. I can't really know the Geist an sich. Or was that Georg? Or is the day so beautiful I conflate the two? I'll take his arm and go walking with him and get a vanilla ice cream milkshake and we'll return to this symphony I will never hear the same way twice.

Yes, I said. Yes. I will. Yes.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Place for Writers

For a long time I had things to say.

I had written others words for so long. Like a lot of people around here I was somewhat listless in my 30's. I was over-educated and not making very much use of my degrees. Of what use is someone who wrote her senior thesis on Kant? I was working part time in a library and as an admin assistant and notary.

But I've done many things, read many books and traveled to many places. Those experiences kept coming in words.

The words came on the ferry, or standing in line for a slice of pizza.
Mountains of desolation, the special kind that is not wilderness but a great heap of rock and soil that is returning to the benevolent senility of wilderness because the people of the mountain are gone.
The sentences crowded out his sentences when it was dark and all he could talk about was his job.
Twilight in Arles has a cast of sapphire, the really deep kind that appears as a light, some inverse of brightness that lives and carves memory. The stars are punctuation.
The paragraphs ran out, like coffee after the initial rush of the spill—soaking every paper, making emotions and thoughts.
I will never escape the smell of wild fennel and the river. Cold, fresh water has a mineral smell, that remains there beneath Coppertone and hops. The cold, fresh water ran deep near Ancil Hoffman Park.
But there was no place for me to write. I will skip over the years of loneliness for that place. I’ve written about it before and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t found a place to write. One night my friend Shannon took me to a poetry reading at a place I’d heard of called Richard Hugo House. That was the first time I had heard Elizabeth. It was wonderful and thoroughly uncomfortable. Uncomfortable? It was hard to discover this powerful stranger had been inhabiting my mind-and-being for years it seemed because how else could she have written those words?

I remember buying her chapbook on the table and sheepishly getting her to sign it. After enduring my fumbled words about what I was doing there, she simply wrote out “you can do this too, Ada, -may your writing thrive.”

And I came back. Alix suggested I talk to Chris about volunteering at my first Write-O-Rama. Kate figured out it should have been tapioca flour and a villanelle. When I see a Yankees cap in town I hope it’s Brian because I want to ask him something. John let me borrow a book by Li Bai. Peter finally got that novel out of me. Michael was running the lights on the first time I read out loud in the cabaret. Claire and Kristen loaned me a $20 after I forgot my purse at the Palace after ERH. And Tree, Laura, Rebecca, Jeremy… I am leaving someone out because there are so many people in there.

The old Roman mnemonic trick of a memory palace has returned to the consciousness of the 21st Century. It also answers a crucial problem for those who mourn the passing of the old Hugo House building. Remember your Murakami: like the End of the World, Hugo House is always going to be there.

Because place is not some physical sensation—an architectural memory of space, planes, textures and cold draughts.

It is the people who make imagination possible—who make a place.

June 25th is Write-O-Rama from 1:00-6:00. It’s a half day of mini-worshops where you can get a taste of what’s being taught and by whom. And you will meet other writers! Consider upping your  ticket to a membership and start writing. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s a great way to see the new temporary home of Hugo House at 1021 Columbia St.Seattle, WA 98104

For more about Write-O-Rama, visit the page and get your ticket today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hawks and crows


I have no real idea what a hawk is thinking or feeling while it flies up there. Perhaps it's hungry, but I'm not exactly sure what that feels like in hawk terms. I can only guess it feels clumsy, perhaps a deep unsure sense of the air currents. It makes mistakes but how is it aware of that? I wouldn't know. I am not a hawk.

Crows are a little different. They've lived with us for long enough for us to know a bit about each other. They speak to me:
"I'm tired."
"I'm hungry."
"You better not be coming over near my kids."
"Let's fuck with this stink-ape,"
"I think it's going to rain today," or
"Can't you do something about those goddamned raccoons?"
I don't know, but I can hear that more easily. The language is croaky and harsh to  my ears, but perhaps that is all familiarity is: a clattering that grows into language and communication.

And I'm guessing they have some theological opinions.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What is it written in?

The language is that of Ink. No, wait. Not in this or that shape. It could be...

This is borrowed is what it says. 

Ink is spilled in either form or gouts, which are unshaped.

The metaphors of horns. Thorns don’t hold all of it: ground up knuckles, soot. Oak cancer.

Do you still wonder that Ink speaks of death so much?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Defeasance

Today it just seemed that way. And what exactly did that mean? There is always the conception that somehow, somewhere there is a power, a collective intelligence a demiurge that is making the world appear to be what it is. In other words the phenomenology of the world is generated outside, and is, unreal.

I sometimes like to believe that, especially on a sunny day. After all, the sunny day means that whatever power is creating this illusion of life, wants me to enjoy it a little. As if to say "hey, I know my work isn't all shits-and-giggles but here's something for the ladies."

It being a sunny day, I walked over to meet my illustrator for lunch. Since he was busy in a meeting I waited and occupied myself with window gazing. In looking out the view of his window, I quickly understood why David acts the way he does.

I was gazing out on it when he came up mumbling something about defeasance.

Defeasance itself is a legal term which simply means undo, via French and of course Latin. I was more interested in how this concept could be applied elsewhere. Can I defease the phenomenal world? David has his visually oriented side, so I asked him:

"Look on this vista. Here you have a perfect quaternity of existence in this world, all within a view. Up the hill there in the middle is what appears to be a Soviet Era housing project. To the left is the King County Gaol. The precarious parking garage for your building has a Matissean rip-off of a man committing suicide. Pity he wasn't caught in time so they could haul him up the hill to Harborview for a 72 hour observational vacation and concurrent medication.

"Can you simply defease this scene into planes of grey, sandstone and blue? Does the green of the trees suggest life or putrefaction? Could the abstraction, the decreation, actually liberate your soul from whatever is beyond? Of course you have a jailed and contained soul. Look outside your window. But that is only through context. How can I possibly assume that the noumenal world beneath this unthrilling architecture has the same effect on you? Are you even aware? Could this be a paradise if it's defeased and resurrected?

At this point he asked me if I was going to keep going on like this or if I was still hungry. Knowing my weakness for shrimp balls, and sesame cakes, David suggested dim sum in the International District. Lunch certainly defeased my hunger.