I WILL NOT PREDICT MYSELF
There Is More to Life Than Being Right – (notes on not writing #2)
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.
Poetic consciousness is the recognition
of the sacredness
Our spirits are bigger than the argument
The Real Future
The present isn’t female. The future isn’t female. The present is just the present and that’s a lot of things. The present is black white brown and all the genders and religions and cultures and professions and all of whatever else we are seeing.
The present is simply what we see right now. The future is just human. The future is tired of fighting. The very literal future is beyond hate. Beyond division. Beyond identity, even. The future is human.
The future is beyond having to even see at all.
We Don’t Know You But If We Did
Why? Why? Because I see all that shit and I just think, no no no, show me you. I want to see you, I want to see your actual life, I want to see how you see the world, I want to hear what’s in your head, I want to know you… I don’t want all this STUFF. Do we think it’s that entertaining? All of you diluted and filtered. All of you through links, images, stories, videos, even memes, even jokes, as if you yourself are a channel of electronic transmissions, a free mass media channel, why? you are dangerous. you are an adventure. you are a problem – is that the problem? is the beauty in you too much trouble, the complexity too distasteful. interiors of each other reduced to a business plan. like as if this messy exhausting disaster is so much more righteous. is that all there is to your perspective, who the fuck are you, i want to know you, i want to feel you, you are in the head, you are lost in the collection of crap, a range of crap so unlimited it will always take precedent, will always be more than you, is this valuable? subtlety and mystery give way to vulgarity. you are a medium for everything that’s a medium, do you exist? what do you exist for? look at us the advertisers. look at us pure entertainment. do you know why the world gets away with everything you don’t want? everything you hate? everything you have an opinion about? we do not see you. we do not know you. we do not feel anything much
the stuff keeps us cold. we do not need you this way. we like you, but we do not need you. we like you, but we do not love you
do something. fucking do something
the garbage is telling you that you don’t matter. that’s how garbage propagates more garbage. that’s how nobody knows you. that’s how to play it, fake. and make it, the rise of the lie so paramount and empty. the world doesn’t need it. the world doesn’t need more fake. the world doesn’t even really need your fucking opinions about everyone else’s opinions. the world doesn’t need you to share what it already has. the shit has already been shared over and over. it’s something else the world needs from you. it’s something else so figure it out. nobody will remember your opinions about opinions. nobody will remember it. what do you think people fucking remember? the world is begging you for the only original thing you have. we want to see you
we want to know you
we do not know ourselves either
we need to see you
we need to see ourselves. find us
or we hate and we cancel
that’s what it says. we are going to die one day. what did we do with ourselves? were we garbage? do you know what the fuck i am talking about? it is not your job. it is not your shows. it is not your porn. it is not your humor. it is not your opinions. it is not your links
who the fuck exists? who is a person today? what exactly did you create? what did you fucking create. what did you fucking create. what did you fucking create?
i am not just talking about art
We don’t really know you but if we did we would love it
i can’t find you
i want to know you
We were uncluttered yet impure,
now we are too pure
or we like to think so
Now we are cluttered
we are clutter
but we don’t think so and we
it is okay
this coldness will not last
forever, it is so young
Fear is the fuel of judgment. And judgment is not exactly perception. Do it anyway. But first, there’s the mirror.
Who is it? Is it real? Is it true? Where does this mind come from?
We like to say, it’s not personal. Don’t go thinking everything is so personal. But also. Everything is personal. Everything.
Advice for a Power of One, Unclaimed
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.
Intermissions For Thought Police (Lockdown Journals I, II)
The 2,700 words of lockdown/pandemic journals written between May and Dec 2020 and posted here, are removed because I don’t want them here anymore. Except for this piece of it. I’ll be reposting the rest somewhere else.
Friends can be like family, but it is also not quite the same thing. I find myself thinking about my mother, and other people’s mothers. I know the multitude of reasons why I didn’t have a family of my own, which is why I have this lifestyle now. To begin with, my childhood family story is a bit of a riot. I still turned out ok, but harboring such a story has its consequences, that take a long time to escape.
I have two wonderful grandmothers who are still alive today so I’m very lucky in that way. When I was a teenager I think, a younger teenager, I remember visiting one of my grandmothers. I walked in to the big kitchen and felt nervous being there. She said, “Would you like a tuna sandwich, honey?” Her voice so calm and tone so sweet but I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if I was hungry. I probably was but couldn’t be sure. I didn’t want to disappoint her. I didn’t want to make her make me the sandwich, but maybe she wanted me to eat it. I didn’t know.
“Ok.” I agreed to the sandwich. So I sat down on the long polished wood bench at the gigantic kitchen table made of the same polished wood and I stared at the colorful woven oval placemats and felt awkward. The dining room table was even larger than this one and it had its very own room. The silverware solid, heavy, shiny. When she set down the clear plastic plate with the swirly designs popping from its surface in front of me, something about the experience felt alien. I think I was supposed to feel comforted. The sandwich looked cute on the plate. Fluffy. Carefully centered. Placed so as to avoid crushing the bread or patting down the mini peaks and valleys of tuna salad, so that the whole thing puffed up and out a little. Grandma knew how to make it special. How to make something so simple look like it had a personality. I stared at it, and I didn’t understand something but I wasn’t sure what. I ate it amid a mixture of odd and uncomfortable feelings. I ate it; even though I am not so wild about lots of mayonnaise, tuna was still a favorite.
I wasn’t feeling that great though. I think I was supposed to feel at home. But I didn’t. I felt bad. The adult word for that feeling is guilty. Grandma was doing all this, for me. Grandma works so hard all the time, for everyone. But I didn’t know that I deserved to be cared for. I actually did not know.
She’d have to do the dishes, I thought, so maybe I should do them instead. But there are a lot of dishes over there, from some other meal. Should I do all of those? I do not know what to do as I sit eating my sandwich. I want to be a good kid. But I am tired, so tired. So tired.
Grandma’s beds so poofy like white and beige clouds I don’t know what will happen if I try to sleep in one, would I sink in too much and feel weird. Anyway, nobody should be sleeping right now. I shouldn’t fall asleep on the couch. I shouldn’t be rude.
There is a concept of what family is “supposed to be” like, in a general sense of at least meeting and maintaining a certain standard. If your concept of family is warped by tragedy, your concept of love may also be warped for a while. For a while, but not necessarily forever. Old wounds can heal. Other people teach us things beyond the scope of the original family.
Ideas start changing, shifting, and feelings also. Occasionally in leaps. You might’ve managed essentially alone for a very long time, in the same way you’d always done because you did not know any different. Until you do not want it to be that way anymore. And know that it doesn’t have to be, and it won’t be. Change might be too scary to welcome without a fight, but it finds you anyway because that is what is supposed to happen. Especially if that’s exactly what you aim for.
I do not blame my mother, with whom I grew up, for the flaws she found impossible to overcome. The alcohol, the violence, the homelessness, the intermittent chaos. While she is accountable for certain things, I do not blame her for anything I could not do now, either, as the present is what I am accountable for. I was the oldest child and things were harder to hide from me. I do not know what it is like to be my mother. Despite everything, she did give me gifts for which I am grateful, most of them unintended gifts. Just because someone does not know how to love properly, or “normally,” does not necessarily mean that they don’t love. Just because we do not get what we want from someone, does not mean that we should look down on them, nail them to the cross. Even when it feels needed, it’s probably not even worth it.
Writing and reflecting about Grandma, her house, her homemaking, I realize I feel a different emotion than the way this whole situation has made me feel, even a different emotion than the way I used to feel during some of our visits. Comforted.
Everyone is dealing with this crisis in their own way. Some people want to be alone. But we have to keep in mind that others need us too.
We must keep in mind that it is one thing to say to someone that you are there, but it is another thing to actually be there.
It is also another thing to genuinely want to be there, but truly not be able to. And this is really felt, or not felt.
Who is present?
Who is listening to us?
Who is holding us dear, in a crisis?
And who are we holding dear? I recall some wise words Dad had shared. He said, “Somebody told me once. You know what, man? If you want a friend, BE a friend.”
Connection is probably more important than ever, and we probably ought to insist on it above and beyond all else in whatever way we can accomplish it. Even as I too struggle to live up to my own ideals.
May 16 – May 17, 2020
Intermissions For Thought Police (Lockdown Journals III, IV)
I removed 3,400 words of lockdown/pandemic journals because I don’t want them here anymore. I’ll be reposting somewhere else.
Intermissions for Thought Police (Lockdown Journals V)
I removed 960 words of lockdown/pandemic journals because I don’t want them here anymore. I’ll be reposting them somewhere else.
Let These Words Be Unimportant
Let me whisper. Let me bring these words to you, let them turn yellow then purple like light diffusing through polluted air. In a sound of voice I long to hear and embrace floats near me. Connect these words in us through this space, not by chains of past offenses identity crises and grievances. Let them feel comforting and welcomed, not as wounds, feel like birds at dawn singing through cold air or a bell tower carillon drop notes over chaotic streets on the way home from work in the evening. Let these words mean nothing, let them be nothing, let them exist for no indisputable purpose or explicit reason, yet not be treated as meaningless. Let them not be crowded out with opinions, nor create such crowds. What makes such opinions more meaningful?
What if I have no history anymore. What if I claim nothing. These words have tongue in them, lips, lungs, I want for them to not be pushed to sting. Let me kiss with them. Let me exist with you as if there were nobody else before us, and nobody to jump down our throats after. I have slept with these words when hungry, when lonely, now let these words take company. Let these words be a place to land, not just a springboard to and from troubles, not as an opiate either but a place to be fearlessly awake together. Let these words be a world that’s not too smart for romance. Enough views crowd us one after another, it’s blinding. If we come from nowhere beyond this moment, if only by sound we could touch these screens delicate as paper, what if.
Your voice alone is wonderful to me. Carillon notes blending and separating over rivers inside send little messages barely heard, grow more resonant. I long to hear beauty instead of these arguments. Then these words will not chase you down, will not hunt you. For truly I long for you and for no opinion. I long to hear words exist less for the purpose of proofs, divisions, violence, information. Thus let their intelligence here stake no claim. Let these words be unimportant yet significant. Be available and abundant. Let them be valuable.