PURITY RHETORIC IS A BLOATED ELEPHANT
Beware of seeking love,
Because love will teach you
Not to seek it.
Love is simply, already
Seen. If you truly
Love is clearly
Everywhere, and can not
(Though it may seem cruel
How long it takes
Only a fool
I wrote and recorded this all in one go in the middle of the night in March 2021. I thought I might edit it, but I didn’t. I thought I might make another, more improved audio recording, but I didn’t. I thought I might edit the original recording, but I didn’t do that either. I just kept the original for what it was. I decided that this love poem didn’t want to be “better” than what it was. Maybe that was part of the point.
I thought I might attempt to send it to a journal, but I couldn’t find a place that would accept the format I wanted, which is audio-only. I also wasn’t sure that the poem would fly “professionally” anyway, in its uncut state. So I decided to deliver it here for this day, to all dear Valentines who stop by. We’ve nearly forgotten that a poem makes a good gift, after all. I should have done this last year. It’s late this year, and I had a long day at work so am posting it late, but I didn’t forget.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I would’ve come here more often, but also I love the total and absolute quiet. Beyond thinking.
Just the fountain bubbling up for the cat. The refrigerator hum. Faint movements outside the window.
Even just the sound of air. A rushing sound like a freeway, but also like distant, blended waves.
I would talk more. I would put myself out there.
Sometimes I do. But I take solace too, in this total and absolute quiet. Even of words.
I love you, but also in total and absolute quiet together, love beyond entertainment.
It’s not a silence I mean, just a quiet.
An absence of unnecessary noise or movement.
For life, in honor of life I speed up, but also I want to be slow.
And so incredibly free of mind.
Everyone wants to be right and it’s the most important thing in the world. It feels exciting and invigorating. But this rarely resonates with any lasting profundity.
To be right, sparks a temporary glow… but also, to be right… sucks. It sucks the life out of everything. At least, the way we are treating it now. It’s rigid and unintelligent.
It’s nothing inherently original; nor super interesting in and of itself. To be right has become the most banal aspect of contemporary existence.
And writing? is easier than ever, if it’s all you have to do is affect such righteousness that the veracity of your statements doesn’t even matter. As is the apparent collective trend with our speech.
Yet writing which strives to maintain some level of integrity, is more difficult than ever. Because of this culture of RIGHT which negates and insults the entire process of inquiry which writing is meant to provoke.
If you think about it too much, it’s almost enough to make you feel done with language, with writing. To just… give up. Give up altogether this burden. Because to write, to use your words – this involves taking a position. Do I need to be right, to write? Because there is more to life than being the one who is right.
The trouble is, we now shoulder an actual and deliberate cultural detachment from reality, sadly underwritten by leaders who only stand to benefit from our dysfunction. We act as if what we say is the realest thing there is, and so it is done. Deeply consequential actions abound as a result. But as much as we propose to speak truth, and as much as we sometimes DO speak truth, truth is not only what we are speaking at any given time; truth does not end with our statement. We’d like to believe that it is, that it does; but truth changes as quickly as we figure it out.
What is truth? You can’t only be right and also have the truth. It’s impossible. Truth is filtered through the material world, but it can not be caught by you. Truth is a phenomenon created by the sum total of an infinite multitude of ideas and perspectives. Truth is a multitude.
And this is why we need poetry. And all those other art forms which we might also call “poetic.”
Poetry calls us to remind ourselves how foolish we are in being so right. In pretending to have all the answers. In our righteousness against the assholes.
Because there is no right answer in poetry. There is no “figuring it out” once and for all. No one single truth or perspective. And there isn’t supposed to be. Because this would not be possible, and it would not even reflect all that art is capable of – nor all that we are capable of.
Art expresses multitude. Art can understand us even beyond ourselves, because art is perspicacious. Because art is a universe, within universes. Because art reflects reality as this complex multitude beyond one single person’s ego — one single ego whose tragic flaws art is also sure to reveal, so that nobody can be a god (but perhaps, merely part of the god we envision).
And in that spirit, this is not to elevate the poet or artist who creates the art too much. The “one single ego” of the artist or the writer – that’s just a personality. The artist, or one who creates, serves as a medium for an aspect of truth. But not all of the truth. Even the artist who specifically concerns themself with what they call “the truth” – even this does not mean that they need be considered right (though they may be at times).
To be so right and so perfect, even so irrefutable — that would be the creation, ultimately, of something stagnant. Irrefutability is stagnation. And what would be the point of that? To end ourselves?
…What is the actual end game of RIGHT?
To end ourselves, no? To be altogether done with it?
Or do we want to be in and of this universe within universes? Where opportunity and growth and meaningful progress abound? As we are in the space of art, of poetry. Art and poetry which, like science, insist that we will never be done. And that there are rarely any easy answers (especially to life’s most important questions). And we had better become comfortable with this, unless we’d like to end ourselves.
We don’t need to be right, much as we act as if. And artists don’t need to be right to create, nor writers – especially not to write poetry, which neither needs nor strives to be irrefutable. The creator just needs to show. And this is why we won’t give up. And this is why one may have all sorts of feelings about it, including being pissed off and confused and offended. Craft will continue to excel at creating more questions, than answers. More perspectives, than egos. And we must defend this liberty, this freedom and this responsibility. So that the culture of RIGHT may not undermine, enfeeble, cripple art and all its most important functions and its beauty too.
There’s people out there who really wish we would, just give it up. We all know them. Perhaps they would prefer us to be simpler, to think and speak in absolutes, to quickly pronounce reductive and hasty conclusions based on our own personal prejudices, to be more simple and easy, to dumb down. To pretend we know more than we do, pretend we are better than we are, forget we are part of a whole, and act like little gods. Or simply to just abandon our purpose, pretending we know too little, pretending others’ ideas are superior and we don’t have a right to create a space. There will always be someone who wants to take you down a peg that you were never even on. Some half-assed response to your imagination. And we can’t help but disappoint them. Truly. And this is okay. In fact whatever we do, it will disappoint someone. And that’s marvelous.
This is the reason it is worth it to keep going. Not to get more “points” as it were, because we won’t. Not to be more right than they are. But to imagine. All of what is possible. And in doing so, we will not please all. If we existed only to please, then nothing original would ever get made or done (or originality would be severely limited). Because so often, what is original begins by embodying what is not-right.
And as for the whole? Not just the artists. The “everyone”? There is the idea that if we compromised on everything so readily, then nothing would ever change. And we could not dare to hope for a better world. And this is a point.
Our better world is always possible because, in actual fact, there can be a right and a wrong — but there is in fact also, a space in between, a grey area, and a spectrum.
So if we speak truth, this does not mean we are the god of intelligence either. Thankfully, some of us already know this and embrace it and that is because we are not stupid. And because after all, it is not too much to ask ourselves, to ask others: Is our opinion seriously, honestly, the highest intelligence possible? Does our opinion represent the highest world order? Please.
We’ll do better, in today’s climate, to celebrate how wrong we can be.
This gives us a future.
i’m drinking a tangerine Italian soda at 11:20 at night. the apartment is messier than usual. it doesn’t matter. there’s no good enough reason to be motivated to mind. it’s been one of those days. it’s gloomy out. nothing better to do than create things. supplies scattered around everywhere. computers. books. papers. i live here. fully live here. nobody is in my way. but i kind of wish there was.
there are those who would have you believe that doing this sort of thing makes you selfish. selfish to spend so much time on art, like you’re so important. selfish to write about yourself. no, selfish to not be writing about somebody else. talking about somebody else. existing as if you value everything else more so than what is inside you.
as if every other activity out there isn’t selfish. as if watching tv isn’t selfish. the person who assigns worth to something is yourself. the person who decides something isn’t worthy is you. but it feels like it’s everyone else who decides. decides that their meaningless and half-assed pursuits are somehow okay but yours isn’t.
am i supposed to just let the ideas die? what happened to the life of the mind. i literally have nothing better to do. i could make more money and work myself to death but i already have one job and i like it. i just don’t watch tv. i don’t want to. it’s boring. there i said it. it’s fucking boring. except when there’s company. when there’s company, it’s entertaining and enjoyable. that’s how i feel about it. maybe if i really loved alone time with my tv, i’d be too busy for art. it’s practically sacrilegious to say that out loud. i wouldn’t want tv gone forever. it’s just not what every person who exists on this planet is here to do with their time.
making art is not selfish and self-centered just by default. art is for others. as much as for the self, maybe more so. art is made with audience in mind. with communication in mind, however abstract. i use myself but i am not writing to me. I am writing to them. i am writing to you. i am writing for you. when i write, it is you i am thinking of. art is made because humanity desires it. humanity needs it. but i fail. like anyone i fail. so i keep doing it. i show up to fail. i hope the next time i will get it right. it takes a lifetime. but that’s okay. art is made to make the world a better place. a richer, more beautiful and more honest place. imagine a world entirely devoid of art. seriously.
you can be a megalomanic doing any sort of occupation in life. not just art. look at the world’s wealthiest people and how we admire them and excuse their flaws. and then look at poets. it’s REALLY damn hard to be an egotistical poet. maybe for a short time, but it likely wouldn’t be sustainable. poetry is humbling. nobody cares, at least in real life. “nobody” as in, society at large. in most cases it doesn’t pay because the world does not respect you enough to think that you deserve it. it’s even harder to please a crowd than in music, or visual art also. but these are all tricky occupations. you do it because you want to and you feel it is needed. you need it. others need it too and you know it. even if it doesn’t always seem like it, others need it.
you show up as your inadequate self. you may never quite match that pre-filled idea that someone else hopes, and you are passed up for better investments. you are rejected over and over, and in so many nuanced ways. and you show up.
you know that the rest sucks even more. the alternative fucking sucks. so you get up and you start again.
they are fighting and
because the truth is it belongs
to no one.
anyone. that’s an
illusion. that’s the
but how does a
you don’t. you
- If love is not an important enough topic for important poetry, then I just… don’t care.
And if poetry can be that arrogant, then we’ve really lost the plot.
- No, I don’t write on love “for women” as someone suggested. Love is not a women’s problem.
And do we think that men don’t love?
And did anyone ever posit that a man’s poems were “for men,” even in times one might argue they were?
SO FUCKING TRUE
Judgment originates in the self.
If the group comes first, the self has final say.
Judgment is less intelligent than fresh observation.
Judgment is dysfuntional tradition.
Judgment is pretention.
Judgment brings justice sometimes. But not peace.
Judgment brings injustice too.
Judgment is natural; it feels like survival.
Judgment feels relevant and righteous.
Side effects could bring a sickening feeling.
When encountering judgment, try to be patient.
Judgment isn’t the same as discernment.
A common mistake, to confuse them.
But discernment too is troubled.
And if we are honest,
Somehow, we already know everything.
In the wiser lessons of history, philosophy.
Science, poetry, psychology.
Perhaps we still long for different answers.
It’s strange but doubt yourself first, to be great.
Observe the thought first, to think.
Assumptions without inquiry proliferate quickly.
A false foundation that frees no truth.
To seek confirmation, in reflection: caution.
Trouble brews in demands to be echoed.
It’s strange, but doubt convention.
It’s not always flattering.
We choose the opposing action.
Truth beyond self, beyond judgment is too tiring.
Hard-won ideologies hardened our hearts.
Experience offers a speck of “understanding.”
But experience too is misleading.
A wise idea says, do not reject the self, to please.
But perhaps the wiser: remember
Self is not so distant
Others have judged you too.
Others judge you.
You are no better than a half-baked idea.
Let us not forget. Go now
Beyond self, beyond power of one, to relate.
Look back perhaps to tradition, on this point.
Beware passive consumption of a person.
Relationship is not an expectation.
An extension of you.
Or even a passion. That’s all yours.
Passion is all yours.
Something worth saying
But not everything controversial
Don’t say “everybody,” “all,” “nobody,” “never.”
Don’t say “everything.” Just think it.
Don’t say “always.” Just hope for it.
Beware of judgment passing for wisdom.
Listening is the most radical opinion.
September 2, 2019
I want someone
May 13, 2020
AFTER THE SHOCK
Long, meditative, simple, slow, mesmerizing scenes. This windy cell phone clip was just a spur-of-the-moment snapshot from real life, but I’ve always admired the often-dreamy or poignant motif when used in actual movies. I’d love to see even more movies daring to decelerate. To conduct more subtle representations. Daring to prioritize the art of the film over and above other considerations. Daring to embrace less lucrative choices.
Daring, just by their existence, to subvert ACTION.
Lingering, sustained scenes that extend a moment out in time and space. Like a poem can do – maybe that’s what’s so appealing. Asking for attention to be held. Attention held on a moment. A moment easily overlooked, easily taken for granted, a moment to be experienced more intensively.
Scenes to yield into. To take a kind of refuge in. Akin to stretching muscles after a long sleep. Or scenes to be challenged by, too.
This is not elitist. This is about the quiet things.
Quiet things need time, space, and attention to be let in. To be let in. Because they are not attention seeking. Versus the rather violent presence of that which does grab our attention, demand it, steal it, and in a way, corrupt it…
April 3, 2020
The hawk. Something about all this reminded me of it from months ago, and I dug it up again. And I’d like to post the video. But WordPress doesn’t allow for posting it in the format I want. As I intermittently avoid the issue amidst the other chaos, then venture to search again for a workaround, I keep thinking about it, writing about it. I am lingering on this a bit longer than I’d like, but maybe that is just the point. To linger. To slow down.
I do not work in the movie industry, I am just someone with a camera and a perspective, who happens to also make money with cameras, who happened to have only a cell phone on hand on the day I encountered the bird.
“It’s a bit LONG,” someone said. Yeah.
But I like that.
April 16, 2020
The earrings I wore
like tiny weapons
Off the shine
Like sunrises flash
Through the curious
Peaks of your
Clear eyes crossing
The table. Summer glows
Off weeds outside, drills
the roots in so deep.
Our history envelopes
One glance, gone
We share a glass house heart.
A new sap trails off peaks we’ve been.
Sofrito and crème fraîche fall
Over thick red meat
And we saw something there
Really worth drowning for, then you
Face south. Like curtains dropping
Over a river, eyes
At the border of beef. Each cut
Slowly sawn I watch. Edgily
Feeling it out. Then,
Without saying anything, you
And took off the checkered
I’ve been making these haiku banners or posters or whatever you want to call them. This one feels a bit over the edge compared to the others – but I know where to take my misfits. More of these on my instagram here.
This was taken from scraps. Cutouts produced incidentally while creating other black and white paper designs, extras tossed aside in the moment: the true first negative space of those projects, their waste, their remainder. Sifted through the pile of odd shapes belonging nowhere, randomly assorted without purpose. Four pieces chosen quickly, without thinking and no plan, without altering them further in any way, and within minutes assembled together and pasted up this leaning figure. Looks like a lot of things to me but speaks like an example.
Urging to make significant or even delicious more of those elements in us and in the world so easy to reject, to cast out, to trample on, or to simply pass by. Art and poetry are not luxuries but necessities for this reason. To allow the unattended or just what looks like refuse to be seen and voiced and appreciated rather than tossed a token now and again, hardly a crumb. The expendable, impractical, unnecessary – yours and mine too. With poetry especially we have a marginalized form expressing the marginalized in apt communion. To celebrate mystery, quiet amidst the noisy, or to place the unwanted or left behind because are we not all neglected or forgotten in some way and do we not all feel this. To serve the imperfect, the difficult, the unsavory or troublesome, even the scary at times. Our beauty does not exclude these flaws in a culture pretending to disown their existence.
What nobody would detect or consider without looking very, very, closely – art changing our minds about what’s beautiful and worthy, what we’re capable of discerning. Not just a world in which we consume choice fragments of one another relentlessly and treat ourselves so, but a hunger for the whole range and process of a more private experience admired, an intelligence beyond the conspicuous so that every day just a little bit, even just a little to be able to show up and not be afraid to look further. Since it’s the not looking – hiding – that’s more dangerous.
— And since culture’s infinitely richer than it could possibly be credited in any given moment — momentarily magnificent or bewildered or painfully plain. So are we.