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I wrote my first poem.
I've seen a stranger in my peripheries,
with cloak of black and a faceless gape,
In moments struck by human comfort,
I find him burning my senses to wake
O' shade of death, the brightest of lights,
who whispers: 'spect the unexpected
Twines darkly my rivers of black blood,
hunting vulnerabilities not yet tested
Im here now, yes I can see,
I can hear the steel in the sirens call
I'll climb the hills, I'll hear the wind,
I'll see the leaves as they begin to fall
Bows singing upon gilded strings,
Breath screaming through a brass maze
Well packaged words, stanzas and verses,
the timeless joy of a turned page
The stranger nods, dare I see a smile?
Kindness converted from fear of his leer
Then and there the stranger whispers:
Be the light to make black blood run clear
It was May in the town of Kent, Connecticut.
I found myself wandering the charming aisles of the small town's quaint book shop when I remembered suddenly that I was going to lose everything I love. It was upon me like Blitzkreig. One moment I was running my fingers along the white matte spine of “Strangers To Ourselves”, eyeing it as a new addition for my library, and next I was fixating on the texture, the thickness of this particular book spine, the slight imperfections and subtle pock marks in the printed slip. How peculiar a book suddenly seemed to me. It was now new to my eyes, it could've been anything in that moment - a snake, a daisy, a chainsaw, it would've made no difference - suddenly everything was abstract and hauntingly foreign. The absurdity of all the images and comforts and shapes, and all the millions of things that we have agreed upon as reality suddenly felt novel, alien, and grotesque. This book was just another collection of atoms, this strange concept of mass, and I bound it with meaning using language believing that to be an effective away of fathoming the unfathomable. We all do this every day, all day - society is nothing but agreed upon delusion, a collective insanity that punishes deviant insanity for harping alternative phantasms.
It reminded me of the following from Erasmus:
I doubt if a single individual could be found from the whole of mankind free from some form of insanity.
The only difference is one of degree. A man who sees a gourd and
takes it for his wife is called insane because this happens to very few people.
You see, what we are all so accustomed to, this "life" as we call it, is really quite silly and delicate. Entertain me: You're a wife and the world has woken up today and the consensus from the majority of husbands in the world is that you are no longer a wife, but instead a gourd. Do you say "No, I'm a wife!", and for how long? You may die believing you're a wife but your daughters will grow up understanding and believing wholly that they are gourds, decorative gourds even, and that the grand romantic act of a mans life time is to swear an undying oath to a wife (a decorative gourd), or perhaps he still marries gourds (you, a wife), it doesn't help much because whatever understanding you had of your identity of a wife is moot, it doesn't matter anymore, it has been overwritten by social consensus. You have suddenly become the insane person for going around saying "I'm not a gourd!" when everyone else says you are indeed. It's all very Alice in Wonderlandish isn't it? Life is nonsense made sensical so long as we all agree on what the senses are seeing and calling things. We hardly stop to ponder the world of those with less senses, to them the distinction between a wife and a gourd is purely linguistic and textural. Anyways, let's move on, this is not the space nor time for diving in on this point.
This sensory experience was nothing more than a reminder of my temporary hold on this vessel, on these senses, this touch. It was an encounter with fragility, amplified by the absurd. It was a reminder of how sometimes we need to go out of our minds to find our head, because there I was after those show stopping moments appreciating more deeply the air that swam to my lungs, the privilege of my fingers along the bookshelves, my sight peering curiously into them, the signals riding along my synapses to deliver the experience of colors and shapes. There will be a day in the not too distant future where I'll be recalling these sensations longingly as they are ripped from me and pulled into a black sink of infinite proportion and depth. My last instant will be witnessing the whole expanse of life and its majesty getting sucked into a pinhole. That is what each step, each breath, each smile and laugh draws me (and you) closer to.
I then got to thinking; adding this book, or any book to my reading list would end in the same conclusion. My reading list as it stands will likely outlive my ability to complete it . Which books then will I never extract the secrets and scenes from? Is it one I desire to read currently, one that I keep putting off year after year? Will it be Moby Dick? Perhaps Jean Paul Sartre's tome on Existentialism, Being and Nothingness? The mementos of the life I won't live could very well already be in my possession, collecting dust on a shelf or lurking in unassuming corners of my domicile, holding their dark little secret slyly against me, smiling snidely my way reveling in knowing that which I do not.
The knowledge I possess will slip, imperceptibly at first and eventually all together, and the contents of the pages of this book and every one after that would one-day forever remain at the tip of my tongue, 3 more snaps away from a hesitant and disappointing dismissal. Hard cover or paper back? The pages inside were very much the same paper, the same words - the hinge of decision was a matter of vanity. What was the point?
The point, I'm learning more and more recently, is to harvest more moments like this, to glimpse the infinite and surrender to it, to add to your reading list rebelliously, to stare fervently into the black maw of meaning and paint it with the colors of your spirit.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
📚 A Quote to Consider
Been thinking about these words a lot lately. They're a fine reminder for when it feels like the world is clashing with our values, causes, and beliefs. These are from Tracy Daughtery's massive biography on Joan Didion titled, The Last Love Song.
Lilith, a Robert Rossen film released late in 1964, caught her eye. She did not think it very good, but certain scenes of a "well-dressed, high-strung young woman" playing gin rummy in a mental hospital - teased her thoughts. For Didion, the problem with the movie was its insistence on answering the question, "What is wrong with Lilith?". This was a little like the Berkeley protesters asking, "What is wrong with the world?" and believing that, once they knew the answer, they could fix everything...
Quite possibly, what was wrong with the world was the conviction that something was wrong with the world- specifically, people's "refusal to believe that the irrational might prevail" just as easily as the "rational". In a review of Lilith in Vogue... Didion wrote that the "irrational" was not a damaged version of the orderly, it was simply"something quite different."
🎧 A Song to Study
This is certainly the loudest and most energetic song I've recommended so far. I recommend having the value down before clicking play, it starts off LOUD and doesn't really cease.
🏡 An Album to Live In
It's so refreshing to find a good rock album these days, I feel often times that bands are trying to do too much with their sound and delivery and it leaves the genre feeling a bit stagnated and fatiguing to engage with. King Hannah is a recent discovery of mine that has felt like a breath of fresh air. They're a UK outfit that has done an excellent job of bringing this thick American bluesy and rootsy sound into a grungy and at times lo-fi soundscape. If you like Mazzy Star, give this a listen.
👋 Until next time...
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