Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Architecture of Rain

In the rain I realize how directional everything is and how much everything is at cross purposes. The various wells of gravity appear to pull in the same direction, but am I sure? I consider that every path of rain is both a drop and a streak of persistence, but I usually ignore in the mass of experience I wade through every night. Every event that is rain is particular.

Snowflakes are simply show offs. Freezing does nothing to alter the events of rain other than change their properties into more aesthetically accessible events. They float along in hexagonal symmetry, inviting wonder.

The bamboo near me on the walk grows in both singular and plural form. I listen to it rustling in the rain. Each sound is like a word. What matters? What are the bon mots?

Like these other events, I am going in some direction as well. Then again, what is the geometry of "out of the rain?" The umbrella has partially geodesic opinions. The baguette? It considers a path of least resistance which is a damp return to its original constituents beneath the universal solvent of architecture. Architecture is, essentially a temporary attempt to define space by stopping the rain.

Duration depends on the pitch of the roof and materials.

The umbrella is therefore architecture. I could say this about myself or the baguette as well. If it was cold I could include the snow.

I understand that the descent of rain and my walk home from the corner store are like the rhizomal linearities rustling in the wind and rain—we are unique, cylindrical, prophetic.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Love on the shelf

For those of you familiar with my life and work, it should come as no surprise that February 14th is my least favorite holiday. The reasons are many, and I am sure you can find other posts about it really being for the jewelry and restaurant industries, not to mention florists and confectioners. But in any capitalist system, you will find holidays being corrupted; it just depends which is your favorite and it is likely over-commercialized.

If you cannot rebuke capitalism, then indulge in a local version of it.

As you can well guess, I think the best place to find love is a bookstore. Elliott Bay Books in Seattle is a passionate getaway for me. I will take you there if I love you. (Powell's in Oregon is  like a week- long orgy. I am sore after going in there.)

Sure, you can use Amazon, but that's a lot like Tinder, now, isn't it? Why not go to a bookstore and browse? If you prefer an arranged marriage, there are actual matchmakers there to help you.

These people are called booksellers. They will help you: not necessarily find the book you are looking for but the one you need.

First, are the things in it made up or "real" (a dubious concept)? This is how Tom Nissley divides up Phinney Books in Seattle.  Whether something is non-fiction, fiction, or poetry is up to you, and much is the same about our loved ones, is it not?

A quick book, or rebound, shall we say is often a good thing. I am not speaking of Junk Reading, although some could call it that.

A rebound book gets you through a difficult time, you probably won't re-read it, it often leaves you horny, and you can always give it to a friend. I would still recommend a real book in this case, although one can say that eBooks could do the job here. But with DRM in some cases it's not that easy.

I am not talking about books that are quickly read through and then tossed aside to read another in a series. That is the condition of book junkie: an individual addicted to plot and character formulas. I do not judge, but I also don't understand, and cannot know. Therefore—of book junkies who much simply pound their way through a book—I will remain silent.

Then there are the long-term books. The life-loves.

One sign of such a book is that it seldom goes out of print. Don't let that be a sure sign, though. It simply means a lot of people like it and so when they wear one out, or wish to pass this love along to someone they care for, they will purchase another book and the print runs continue. I have given away several copies of Borges Collected Fictions and I imagine this will continue.

If I meet you and you are under 10 and I like you—if I continue to like you—if you read: you will likely get a copy of The Hobbit because everyone needs a proper introduction to Tolkien's voice and world. Long after Jacksons' execrable adaptations have been forgotten, people will be buying the book.

If I meet you and you are say, 18 or so—if I like you very much—if you aren't sure you're a boy or girl or what you want to be—if you love words for their own sake: I will give you a copy of Carter's The Bloody Chamber. And maybe Fireworks.

If I meet you and you have no family or have been abandoned by yours—if you read and understand the deep places of the heart can sometimes be dry and beautiful and desolate—if you are building your own family out of the scraps of other families: I will give you Erdrich's mighty Love Medicine to keep the keel straight.

Those are a few of mine. Think about the true long-term books in your life. They need not be classics, but they have some sort of staying power because they speak of a story that is near to you. Moreover, they are written in such a way that allows you to fill in the gaps and add meaning: perhaps your own.

This is the sort of love medicine you need for February 14th.

Monday, February 1, 2016


At times, one can perceptibly hear the dripping rain. Each drop falls, is unique and is then gone again in a terrifying ocean of amnesia.

Can art ever hope to offer insight into the iteration of the everyday? I do not think art is a sop to Kerberos that keeps us in this world. The third head knew the secret you know. Kerberos did not so much guard the entrance from intruders, but rather guarded the knowledge that the world with its time was Tartarus.

Today I had the misfortune of seeing art suggest through sound the death of a man. There is no contest in death, whether it is abrupt and horrific: say a bulldozer pushes his house down upon him because he will not leave the place he was born—or whether it is slow: the grains of nows too small and indistinct in the blurry mental cataract of dementia.

But the art appeared to fail because no matter how big the stage, it is never quite as big as life. It is left to me as observer to make the rest of the scene: that which lies beyond the proscenium—both in the heart and out upon the  vast dark matter of the world.

Then I realized: it didn't fail.