Monday, December 30, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A shadow falls


You know, it seems colder than before, the Seasons took all that they came for. 
Now Winter dances here, and it seems so fitting, don't you think, for the Earth to dress in white and grey.
So.
When I was four years old, I was outside playing on a cloudy June afternoon, and was struck by lightning.
Boom.
Just like that.
I was not expected to live, and as I lie in a coma for seven months, my little cranium was pieced together like a tiny jigsaw puzzle.
My ears don't exactly line up, go ahead and look now if you like.
The earliest memory I have was that day, the soft cool rain and my bare feet on the slightly wet ground, then suddenly a feeling of my hair being lifted up and an awful impact.
I certainly then remember being somewhere else, with someone else, a place that I still try to paint images of to this very day.
I only brought back one thing, and one thing for certain, our concept of Good and Evil as being absolute opposites is fucked up. You see, it all depends on where you are standing in the room, you know?
I remember the quiet. the quiet like when I saw my first snowfall. No sound. Nothing but the white. The same white we dream of on a sweltering summer day.
Ah, but we can hear them as well, in the quiet of a warm bed, the whisper of a shade, they come, taking us dream by dream. Asking us "Where is home?" Every time we dream of home, we wake up alone. We shouldn't listen.
But we listen to them don't we?

You will be like us, think like us, worship like us, laugh like us, live like us.
You will know this to be wrong, but you will notice that the days are waning when support exists for the individual and for deviation. That was a luxury of richer times, and it is none too surprising that in the days when such support existed, deviation was the norm, and all other thought was suspect. So much for tolerance.
And  some people prefer to be sheep. Some people prefer to be led. And that is why we're back. Because you're tired. Because you're weary. Because you stopped wearing those pants with the subtle paisley pattern you bought in the thrift shop for $1.99 because they were so retro-60s, and although you were born in the 60s, you are too young to remember it but wanted to believe it was a time of respect for deviance and the individual.
And, anyway, whoever led you to believe that paisley was so altogether all-fired deviant and individualistic? Hell, that particular pattern on your pants came from a tapestry made for an ancient Persian despot who had his subjects beheaded regularly for forgetting which way to face.
We think about that while we watch "The View" and spoon that bran over our cereal.
You will never be anything real in this lifetime. You cannot make your own reality. Not anymore. You have forgotten who you wanted to be. That isn't surprising. It's in the design.
What do disaffected people do when they get old? Does the sulking ever stop? You've made an art form out of sulking, and wishing you were at least French as a means for justification of your existential angst. Oh. But we were Goths weren't we? And oh Yes, Punks in the late 1970's... what were we screaming "Anarchy!" about again? Hmm Yes, the glut of too many choices at the mall?
There are other ways to live.
In books, in movies, bleak landscapes of dystopian worlds have been conjured, playgrounds for the disaffected and disenfranchised. You wonder how close that reality could be. You have, with your misbegotten aspirations, become unsuccessful in your lifetime. You will never afford to have all the things you need. You live an unfulfilled existence, and dream no American dream.
You can imagine living where people will fight to survive among the ruins of a corrupt technological-rich, spiritually-bereft world. It wouldn't take much lurching forward to come to that. Science fiction authors you've read and digested -- you pull their thoughts to your chest and ruminate. Here, on the landscape, one foot in the pretend veneer of a 50s family portrait created before our time and the other in a wasteland predicted by cynical visionaries. Thrust into an accelerated world with not enough of the technological advances that were actually possible because we, the corrupt, keep progress profitable only for our kind.
Your rejection of us is your own doom. You make your bed and lie in it. We short-sheet your linens. It's for your own good. Wake up. Sad thing, you can't can you? The world is hopelessly lost, burgeoning at the seams with stuff, and yet so little has come to pass. Humanity sits on its ass. It's big fat supersized ass...As you are doing. You are not poor, yet your biggest act of biggest charity was giving that Bum, (Hobo? Homeless?) $7.43 in spare cash and change this morning,
 (You counted) Usually, you never do. You are asked at least three times a day for money, and you don't have enough money for twenty one or so people per week. So, you simply stopped, but feel guilty nonetheless because it's not the ideal.
But the one this morning popped out of nowhere in the fog, appeared at the intersection as you waited for the light to change on your way to the airport, it was the "Confederate soldier".
He'd come from the direction of the overpass. The dirt and grime layered on him suggested that he might have spent the night there. Again.
How many Summer days had you seen him there before? He had disappeared for a while, other corners, other blocks, but today he wrapped his arms around his thin body and shivered.
You remember thinking how young, strikingly handsome he appeared and that he had a look about him that you see in 19th century photographs, eyes the color of blue you usually only see on men that spend their lives at sea.
How odd that seemed.
You gave him what was in your wallet, a whopping 7 bucks and some change from the car console.
He smiled, held your hand with both of his for a second too long, just long enough to feel what hunger and cold does to the hands, and said thank you and embarrassedly yet almost conversationally, looking past you, added, "Isn't the weather painful?"
Later you take a long thoughtful sip of your four dollar Venti as you sit in the requisite café wishing that there was someway for the homeless to accept MasterCard. Fourth world problems.
How's YOUR life?
Your blood work came back perfectly normal that afternoon, you are healthy as the proverbial horse. Oh goody.
You take a sip of beer at a bar. Your bills are paid..
Someone really sexy texts you and wants to fuck. You pop another Xanax.
This is what being an adult is about, isn't it? But you wanted to have a life like a Work of Art didn't you?
This isn't art. No one will buy your art, anyway.
Will they?
You *fill in the blank* artists (or whatever label we'll exploit you by) distrust the powers-that-be. You might even complain that corporations have taken over the arts and make it near to impossible to achieve a dream, to be redeemed as an artist. Redemption? We will sell you indulgences, and nothing more.
Then, another voice:
I will only tell you this once and never again -- art doesn't lie in the money, in the bottom line, it lies in the souls of all humans, and anyone can access it regardless what they try to tell you.
Art is magick, magick is art, and it doesn't need to be dispensed by some Hierophant in a pin-striped suit. It just is. Perhaps those little squiggles drawn on newsprint and tacked up on the refrigerator are intrinsically as beautiful as Guernica. Just more people have seen and will see Guernica, and they bring their collective experience to it, worship it, lay their experiences before it. Picasso may have painted it, but thousands of others have shaped that painting since. It is owned by all of us, anyone who cares to find their own soul in it. That is what art is, it is a reaching out to others and giving them a place to put their own souls in.
And, sure, it makes money. Anything that sustains makes money. But art that doesn't make money is still art. Artists who never make money are still artists. The money thing is parallel, but not intrinsic, to the art.
In fact, if artists didn't need to eat and live and consume, the money thing might not matter at all. But they do. That is the most unfortunate thing.
 
How nice. That was like a commercial wasn't it? Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
And bloody little good that does you, does it? You can sigh, think that no one understands, yet everyone has it as bad as you, if not worse. You sip your whisky and ginger ale and wonder. Wonder about the life you aspired to have as a child: money, influence, the ability to give your money to those who needed it -- which you thought you might have through art. Oh, you. You will cave in. You will soon be like us, think like us, worship like us, laugh like us, live like us.
Otherwise, you are the needy, not that needy, perhaps, but notice how you've never been able to do anything but tread water ever since you first were thrust into this go-to-work-pay-the-bills world. All of life seems dismal and indulgent, hurtful and strung out.

You walked into a bar tonight, unabashed. Tonight is the night that you feel reproached, maybe it's because you didn't make the proper observances on the Equinox. You and your bloody ancient neo-religions. You're just trying to be weird, aren't you? We know that game. Catholicism got your tongue?
Someone kisses the back of your neck, someone kisses your lips, but the next week, it's time to start all over again. It's too easy to use sex as an addiction. The supply is even more abundant than a good old-fashioned drug high, which is wrong anyway on this day, although in your formative years, it was so much the norm, and you don't understand how it suddenly became wrong.
This has become one of those nights, starting off alone, knowing somehow the person you wish to see won't appear. There was no reason to be moving through the club, waiting, hoping, just hanging around waiting for the big fake love scene to manifest. There won't be any love scene.
Wake up.
You could go up to someone, say "wanna fuck?" and they might take you up on it, and it might be fun, but your viscera will gnaw at you, say to wait, find someone you can hold an entire conversation with before or after, although you feel hopeless and at the mercy of your stupid brain.
Why do you bother? Why do you choose someone and attempt pursuit?
You don't want to cage them, you don't want to have them. You want to love them, but it seems such an imposition to love people. They are forever disappearing. In one way or another.
It's so nice when we dress up for the dead. "All you need these days is a perfectly fitting black suit."
Now, wouldn't it be better to do it our way? We have the programs and pamphlets telling just how it can be done. Just follow us, the chance to start again in a brand new world of limited opportunity and candy coated numbness is waiting just for you!
There is no accounting for humans. They spend their whole lives reaching for something. The slope of your neck, and the insecurity because you are not, you are not anything, and those you try to touch go running.
Why do you want to touch the ones in motion?

After I missed my 5th birthday because I was in a coma, I had an "Un-Birthday" party every month until I was 12.
I look at a photo they took of me in the hospital. The lightning made marks- like tree branches down my small still body- or maybe they look like roots. In one photo, my arms are crossed as if I were cold.
I was cold. I am cold. It's colder than before.
 I look at these photos again and think "Isn't the weather painful?"
 
 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

a remembrance

I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep
The day was warm, and winds were prosy
I said, "Twill keep" 


I am sitting in the dining room of my house on Esplanade Avenue, having an exceptionally inspirational glass of wine and watching the changing light and long shadows swarm possessively across the walls in the silky late afternoon gloaming of a November evening in New Orleans.
The color on the walls is a very particular shade, it is called “Lady Honoria Dedlock Peony”, the same pinky peach hue as my Grandmother had in hers for years, it is also a color that I admired on the walls while having a rousing romp in the Gothic revival library with the new head gardener in Arley Hall, a divine English country house owned by Viscount Ashbrook, but that is another story for another time... perhaps.
This exceptional shade is also the exact color of walls in the grottoes of Markus Sittikus von Hohenems summer palace Hellbrunn in Salsburg, the color of a particularly memorable piece of salmon I had at the house of Edward Albee and Jonathan Thomas in Montauk in 1978, and a dead ringer for the color in the diadem of Empress Theodora in the mosaic on the right apsidal wall in the basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna.

I digress, oh how I ramble, I could listen to me for hours... But it's the details, you know, that really matter. Their memory serves you later, they almost ripen with age, like a bundle of love letters does, only having reached a desired or final condition much later after the fact.
 The spirit of the wine casts a long shadow itself, carrying my mind easily into the past, and I remember this was also the color of a certain child's fancy party dress, the memory of that time slowly drifting to rest in it's proper place for my perusal, and suddenly like a familiar perfume, it is sharp to the brain and unmistakable.

When I was seven, my half sister married a rancher in the Midwest, and until they could save enough to build a place of their own on his family's land outside of the town, they moved into a snug little bungalow that was across the street from a lush park where I would spend several summers in my youth to escape the humidity of the deep South.
As an inquisitive seven year old, I befriended a few of the children who would come to the park, one of them was a girl my age who would prove to be the first of what would be a long line of fascinating and stimulating people who one meets that have qualities that delight the senses that seem to balance out those who dull the shine off of life, like some family members for instance, that tend to be confusing, adhering, and of an annoying and bad repetitive pattern, like trance music or Finnish wallpaper.
Afabit was a little girl from what was referred to as “back of town”, a striking tall cocoa skinned girl who inevitably got her moniker from the fact that she was called so many names by so many people, a literal alphabet of nicknames.
Sister Monica called her "Sunshine", Mrs. Russo called her “Ladybug”, the corner grocer Cookie called her “Candy Cane” -because she always would save her pennies to buy as many as she could after Christmas at a deep discount- Mr. Jackson called her “Peaches" and Mrs. Legendre called her "Tee-Lilou"…. the list goes on.
Afabit and I were friends ever since the infamous “My name ain't Cat Food” debacle, when I accidentally-on-purpose inferred that Martha Martine liked cat food after she took me up on a dare to eat some pâté in the kitchen pantry when my sister was having a party. The other children called her Cat Food for the rest of that summer and I ended up giving her my favorite board game to make amends.
Afabit and I would meet at the city park and play on the playground rockers we called “The Duckies”- they were over-sized animals on large springs that were set into the ground, there was a duck, a chicken, a horse, a cow, a sheep and inexplicably yet marvelously thrown into the barnyard theme, a pink dinosaur. She would always take the duck and I would sit on the pink Tyrannosaurus, talking and wobbling to and fro for hours, telling each other fantastic tales until it started getting late, as we both had to be “On the front steps when the street lights came on."


When we were both about seven, Mrs. Giacomo, a nice lady we knew, lost her daughter in to one of those childhood disease that were spoken of only in hushed tones among the grownups, German measles maybe. In a lovely act of charity she gave Afabit some of her daughters clothes, including a perfect silk taffeta dress with a deep portrait collar that sat slightly off the shoulder with a wide sash. The intense color of the dress more than complimented Afabit’s café au lait skin and when she wore it, which was often, she was the image of perfection.
Afabit used to flounce around in that dress with an air of divinity mingled with a touch of superiority. I loved it because when she wore that dress it would assure that she would invariably sit me down like the student to her teacher and teach me some old sayings that her Grandpa used to tell her, things like , “Without the fur you can't tell the difference between a mink and a coon hide.” and  “Don’t be tryin’ to dry today’s cloths with tomorrows sun.” she also taught me words to some old jazz songs and how to braid hair, we were the king and queen of laughter.

One evening when the summer light was still shining late and the sky was full of thunderclouds that promised rain, we were walking by the baseball field where some boys were playing and some were watching, and for the first time in my life I encountered people who he believe that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
I also saw for the first time in my young life what grace and dignity under duress looked like when later, Afabit told me a revised version of The Ugly Duckling, where the Swan comes back and forgives those ducks that were mean to her.
From that day forward, we avoided the baseball field and I respected her wish to never speak about the incident again.
After many of those Summer suns swam across the sky, that same fancy party dress that hung on her like a costume toga at seven, became quite scandalous in its fit by age ten, when Aphabit began blossoming, quite early, into who we all knew would be a stunningly beautiful woman.
Coinciding with the beginning of my annual sojourn one year, Afabit up and moved away with her mother, to Mississippi I heard, and I never saw her again.
But the day after I heard she left, I went down to the city park to look for her, around the duck's neck was the sash to her fancy party dress, neatly tied in a bow.

I kept it with me for years, but it has long since disintegrated into just so many threads, like the echo of an echo.
A strategically yet lovingly placed cold dog nose wakes me from my temporary abstraction and I reach for my laptop.
I search Google Earth Street View and that park is still there lush as ever; The Duckies are sadly long gone, now a parking lot, but I see that the baseball field is now a lovely garden, planted with tall oleanders, in a pinky peach hue.

I woke - and chide my honest fingers,
The Gem was gone
And now, an Amethyst remembrance
Is all I own

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ars poetica


What has this bugbear Death to frighten man,
If souls can die, as well as bodies can?
For, as before our birth we feel no pain,
When Punic arms infested land and main,
When heaven and earth were in confusion hurl'd
For the debated empire of the world,
Which awed with dreadful expectation lay,
Soon to be slaves, uncertain who should sway:
So, when our mortal frame shall be disjoin'd,
The lifeless lump uncoupled from the mind,
From sense of grief and pain we shall be free;
We shall not feel, because we shall not be.
Though earth in seas, and seas in heaven were lost,
We should not move, we only should be toss'd.
Nay, e'en suppose when we have suffered fate
The soul should feel in her divided state,
What's that to us? for we are only we,
While souls and bodies in our frame agree.
Nay, though our atoms should revolve by chance,
And matter leap into the former dance;
Though time our life and motion could restore,
And make our bodies what they were before,
What gain to us would all this bustle bring?
The new-made man would be another thing.
When once an interrupting pause is made,
That individual being is decay'd.
We, who are dead and gone, shall bear no part
In all the pleasures, nor shall feel the smart,
Which to that other mortal shall accrue,
Whom to our matter time shall mold anew.
For backward if you look on that long space
Of ages past, and view the changing face
Of matter, toss'd and variously combin'd
In sundry shapes, 'tis easy for the mind
From thence to infer, that seeds of things have been
In the same order as they now are seen:
Which yet our dark remembrance cannot trace,
Because a pause of life, a gaping space,
Has come betwixt, where memory lies dead,
And all the wandering motions from the sense are fled.
For whosoe'er shall in misfortune live,
Must be, when those misfortunes shall arrive;
And since the man who is not, feels not woe,
(For death exempts him, and wards off the blow,
Which we, the living, only feel and bear,)
What is there left for us in death to fear?
When once that pause of life has come between
'Tis just the same as we had never been.            


~Against the Fear of Death
  by: Lucretius (c. 99-55 B.C.)




 


 


 

Friday, October 4, 2013

ars poetica

What has this bugbear Death to frighten man,
If souls can die, as well as bodies can?
For, as before our birth we feel no pain,
When Punic arms infested land and main,
When heaven and earth were in confusion hurl'd
For the debated empire of the world,
Which awed with dreadful expectation lay,
Soon to be slaves, uncertain who should sway:
So, when our mortal frame shall be disjoin'd,
The lifeless lump uncoupled from the mind,
From sense of grief and pain we shall be free;
We shall not feel, because we shall not be.
Though earth in seas, and seas in heaven were lost,
We should not move, we only should be toss'd.
Nay, e'en suppose when we have suffered fate
The soul should feel in her divided state,
What's that to us? for we are only we,
While souls and bodies in our frame agree.
Nay, though our atoms should revolve by chance,
And matter leap into the former dance;
Though time our life and motion could restore,
And make our bodies what they were before,
What gain to us would all this bustle bring?
The new-made man would be another thing.
When once an interrupting pause is made,
That individual being is decay'd.
We, who are dead and gone, shall bear no part
In all the pleasures, nor shall feel the smart,
Which to that other mortal shall accrue,
Whom to our matter time shall mold anew.
For backward if you look on that long space
Of ages past, and view the changing face
Of matter, toss'd and variously combin'd
In sundry shapes, 'tis easy for the mind
From thence to infer, that seeds of things have been
In the same order as they now are seen:
Which yet our dark remembrance cannot trace,
Because a pause of life, a gaping space,
Has come betwixt, where memory lies dead,
And all the wandering motions from the sense are fled.
For whosoe'er shall in misfortune live,
Must be, when those misfortunes shall arrive;
And since the man who is not, feels not woe,
(For death exempts him, and wards off the blow,
Which we, the living, only feel and bear,)
What is there left for us in death to fear?
When once that pause of life has come between
'Tis just the same as we had never been.
~Lucretius (c. 99-55 B.C.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

literacki

Dissatisfaction with his lot seems to be the characteristic of man in all ages and climates. So far, however, from being an evil, as at first might be supposed, it has been the great civilizer of our race; and has tended, more than any thing else, to raise us above the condition of the brutes. But the same discontent which has been the source of all improvement, has been the parent of no small progeny of follies and absurdities.
~ Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

literacki

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
~Ecclesiastes 1:14

literacki

Amuse yourself, torment your desires. Drink when you’re thirsty - that would be very much too simple! If you didn’t harbour a temptation eternally in your soul, you’d run the risk of forgetting yourself.
~ Hilda, ur: Jean-Paul Sartre Lucifer and the Lord

quoth the madman

If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it — keep going, keep going come what may.
~Vincent van Gogh

quoth the madman

"If we are merely matter intricately assembled, is this really demeaning? If there’s nothing here but atoms, does that make us less or does that make matter more?"
~ Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

literacki

 
"When the imagination sleeps, words are emptied of their meaning: a deaf population absent-mindedly registers the condemnation of a man. But if people are shown the machine, made to touch the wood and steel and to hear the sound of a head falling, then public imagination, suddenly awakened, will repudiate both the vocabulary and the penalty."
~Albert Camus - Reflections on the Guillotine

literacki

"There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. It’s like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction—every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it’s really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and excitement at about a million miles an hour."
— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Thursday, September 5, 2013

quoth the madman


"Important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other."
Paolo Coelho

quoth the madman

"I have come to believe now that happy is one of the most noble and heroic things that people can be. I undervalued happiness because I associated it with simplicity and inattention. In fact, I suspect that happiness almost always results from being both attentive and accepting."
John Green

quoth the madman

"There is in every madman a misunderstood genius whose idea, shining in his head, frightened people, and for whom delirium was the only solution to the strangulation that life had prepared for him."
~ Antonin Artaud

quoth the madman

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"…Suicide is selfish too: puts forward a value that seems to him more important than his own life – it’s the feeling of that respectable and happy life of which he has been deprived."
~ Albert Camus - Notebooks ‘42-‘51

quoth the madman


"Torn between the world that does not suffice and God who is lacking, the absurd mind passionately chooses the world."
~Albert Camus - Notebooks ‘42-‘51

literacki


"And openly I pledged my heart to the grave and suffering earth, and often in the sacred night I promised to love it faithfully unto death, without fear, with its heavy load of fatality, and to despise none of its enigmas. Thus I bound myself to it with a mortal bond."
~Holderlin’s Empedocles, as quoted in Albert Camus’s Notebooks ‘42-‘51

quoth the madman

"Time is liquid.
One moment is no more important than any other and all moments quickly run away."
~Kurt Vonnegut

quoth the madman

"When a war breaks out, people say: “It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.” But though a war may well be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves."
~Albert Camus

quoth the madman

"Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve."
~Max Planck

literacki

"Nothing prevents happiness like the memory of happiness."
André Gide, from Autumn Leaves

Thursday, August 29, 2013

literacki

We are, largely, who we remember ourselves to be. That’s why habits are so hard to break. If we know ourselves to be liars, we expect not to tell the truth. If we think of ourselves as honest, we try harder. 
~White Cat by Holly Black

literacki

Those words whispered in the dark are parlous feral things... 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

quoth the madman


"Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs. That is what’s known as infinity."
Jean Cocteau

literacki

That sand into which we bury ourselves in order not to see, is formed of words…and it is true that words, their labyrinths, the exhausting immensity of their “possibles”, in short their treachery, have something of quicksand about them.
Georges Bataille, L’expérience intérieure

quoth the madman

"All this, in their ignorance, they called civilization, when it was but a part of their slavery."
Tacitus (Roman senator and historian)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

literacki

"I loved you at your darkest."
Romans 5:8

literacki

"jouissance is maintained in the shock of recognition of one’s pain which one loves even more than one’s freedom, for suffering defines each one with a consistency that prevents
change."
Essays-on-the-Pleasures-of-Death

quoth the madman

Redemption is not an event in which what was profane becomes sacred and what was lost is found again. Redemption is, on the contrary, the irreparable loss of the lost, the definitive profanity of the profane."
Giorgio Agamben
 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

talking pictures

Call it what you will. Is it so hard to conceive of God with one’s senses? Why must he hide in a mist of vague promises and invisible miracles? How are we to believe the believers when we don’t believe ourselves? What will become of us who want to believe, but cannot? And what of those who neither will nor can believe? Why can I not kill God within me? Why does he go on living in a painful, humiliating way? I want to tear him out of my heart. But He remains a mocking reality which I cannot get rid of. I want knowledge. Not belief. Not surmise. But knowledge. I want God to put out his hand, show his face, speak to me. But he is silent. I cry to him in the dark, but there seems to be no one there.
The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

belles lettres

I lie here alone and in silence, enveloped in the manifold black wrappings of darkness, tedium, unfreedom, and winter - and yet my heart beats with an immeasurable and incomprehensible inner joy, just as if I were moving in the brilliant sunshine across a flowery mead. And in the darkness I smile at life, as if I were the possessor of charm which would enable me to transform all that is evil and tragical into serenity and happiness. But when I search my mind for the cause of this joy, I find there is no cause, and can only laugh at myself. I believe that the key to the riddle is simply life itself; this deep darkness of night is soft and beautiful as velvet, if only one looks at it in the right way.
— Rosa Luxemburg, letter from prison, Mid-December, 1917

literacki

So many stars
and still we starve.
— Tasos Leivaditis, from A Manual For Euthanasia (1970)

quoth the madman

I find myself regarding existence as though from beyond the tomb, from another world; all is strange to me; I am, as it were, outside my own body and individuality; I am depersonalized, detached, cut adrift. Is this madness?
—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Sunday, August 4, 2013

quoth the madman

My solitude doesn’t depend on the presence or absence of people; on the contrary, I hate who steals my solitude without, in exchange, offering me true company.

~Friedrich Nietzsche

ars poetica

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless—
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye—
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:—from out their fragrant tops
External dews come down in drops.
They weep:—from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.

The Valley of Unrest ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Thursday, August 1, 2013

ars poetica

I dug, beneath the cypress shade,
    What well might seem an elfin's grave;
And every pledge in earth I laid,
    That erst thy false affection gave.
 
I pressed them down the sod beneath;
    I placed one mossy stone above;
And twined the rose's fading wreath
    Around the sepulchre of love.
 
Frail as thy love, the flowers were dead,
    Ere yet the evening sun was set:
But years shall see the cypress spread,
    Immutable as my regret.
 
~Thomas Love Peacock

ars poetica


The day has pass’d in storms, though not unmix’d
With transitory calm.   The western clouds,
Dissolving slow, unveil the glorious sun,
Majestic in decline.   The wat’ry east
Glows with the many-tinted arch of Heav’n.
We hail it as a pledge that brighter skies
Shall bless the coming morn.   Thus rolls the day,
The short dark day of life;   with tempests thus,
And fleeting sun-shine chequer’d.   At its close,
When the dread hour draws near, that bursts all ties,
All commerce with the world, Religion pours
Hope’s fairy-colors on the virtuous mind,
And, like the rain-bow on the ev’ning clouds,
Gives the bright promise that a happier dawn
Shall chase the night and silence of the grave.
~The Rain-bow ~ Thomas Love Peacock 1785–1866

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

literacki


"You do not even think of your own past as quite real; you dress it up, you gild it or blacken it, censor it, tinker with it … fictionalize it, in a word, and put it away on a shelf – your book, your romanced autobiography. We are all in flight from the real reality. That is a basic definition of Homo sapiens."
~John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman

literacki

Henrietta Pussycat
I felt that I was leaving part of myself behind, and that wherever I went afterwards I should feel the lack of it, and search for it hopelessly, as ghosts are said to do, frequenting the spots where they buried material treasures without which they cannot pay their way to the nether world.
~Brideshead Revisited, 1945 ~Evelyn Waugh

this


nihilism:
a : a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless
b: a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths

existentialism:
a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad

existential nihilism:
is the philosophical theory that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. With respect to the universe, existential nihilism posits that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence. According to the theory, each individual is an isolated being “thrown” into the universe, barred from knowing “why”, yet compelled to invent meaning. The inherent meaninglessness of life is largely explored in the philosophical school of existentialism, where one can potentially create his or her own subjective “meaning” or “purpose”. Of all types of nihilism, existential nihilism gets the most literary and philosophical attention.

quoth the madman


The Three-Sided Mirror, 1927
Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.
~ Kurt Vonnegut

literacki

The old, christian, preindustrial, predemocratic way of life has progressively broken away around modern man so that he has come to stand in a place no human beings have ever quite occupied before. He has become at once a tiny atom in a cast sea of humanity and an individual who recognizes himself as being utterly alone.
~ Vincent Scully, “The Architecture of Democracy"

literacki


The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.
~ Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

literacki

Flower Fairy, 1905
You have been a poor observer of life if you have not also seen the hand that, ever so gently - kills.
~Friedrich Nietzsche -Epigrams & Entr’ actes

literacki

The mysteries of mimicry had a special attraction for me. Its phenomena showed an artistic perfection usually associated with man-wrought things. Consider the imitation of oozing poison by bubblelike macules on a wing (complete with pseudo-refraction) or by glossy yellow knobs on a chrysalis (‘Don’t eat me - I have already been squashed, sampled and rejected’). Consider the tricks of an acrobatic caterpillar (of the Lobster Moth) which in infancy looks like bird’s dung, but after molting develops scrabbly hymenopteroid appendages and baroque characteristics, allowing the extraordinary fellow to play two parts at once (like the actor in Oriental shows who becomes a pair of intertwisted wrestlers): that of a writhing larva and that of a big ant seemingly harrowing it. When a certain moth resembles a certain wasp in shape and color, it also walks and moves its antennae in a waspish, unmothlike manner. When a butterfly has to look like a leaf, not only are all the details of a leaf beautifully rendered but markings mimicking grub-bored holes are generously thrown in. ‘Natural Selection,’ in the Darwinian sense, could not explain the miraculous coincidence of imitative aspect and imitative behavior, nor could one appeal to the theory of ‘the struggle for life’ when a protective device was carried to a point of mimetic subtlety, exuberance, and luxury far in excess of a predator’s powers of appreciation. I discovered in nature the nonutilitarian delights that I sought in art. Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception.

— Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

quoth the madman


"I’ve existed for the best use I can. The past is now part of my future. The present is well out of hand".
~Ian Curtis (Joy Division)

quoth the madman

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
~ James Baldwin