This morning when taking a pee i was not greeted with the same automatic light which had informed me earlier in the night of my existence; aside from an empty bladder, there was a moment of relief which one instinctively feels in the absence of anything automatic, but that was soon followed by the plausible reality that world leadership had gone completely off the rails and a nuclear option had severed a major aspect of our current understanding of civilization - electricity. Satisfying my lessor craving for tobacco outside, i was also able to verify the street lamps were on, but not whether our neighbors suffered a similar outage. Having lit a candle and placing it on the stairs for my kind friends, i began to calculate the complexities of life without electricity including what to do about my computer battery - at 26%, now 24%. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have an occupation such as writing with which to explore feelings of panic, depravation and curiosity when faced with circumstances of such consequence, though it is unlikely that i’d resort to writing longhand should my battery expire prior to my access to electricity. That is to me a bizarre commentary on my commitment to the written word, but then again, since waking, i’ve considered the very real possibility that my world might have been expunged at the hands of a “leader” - an even more bizarre commentary. I think i’ll have a cigarette, a marginally less bizarre commentary on my existence (23%). I guess whether or not my desire to express my self is greater than the convenience afforded me by technology is really the question.
Of late, I have begun to wonder about the utility of expression when what i wish to say runs counter to the prevailing sentiments of so many events in the world i am now living. It feels as though the body i inhabit is hard wired for survival and those organs provided me for such - sight, smell, awareness are being lulled into some cocoon of unreality by other expressions contending for consciousness. The sound of rain on the roof and the familiar smell of moisture on the ground outside my window are as ancient as damp fur on my forefathers, yet the possibility extinction based on information at hand runs counter to the calm provoked by shelter from the rain in earlier days of our history - The electricity has now been restored, but the safety of light which must have provided security for our forebears only seems to exacerbate my feelings of precariousness - why do you suppose that is¿ In engineering one of the foundations of design is repeatability; if we are entering an epoch of intermittent utilities, would it not be wise to cultivate tolerance for outage, be that food, water, electricity, and g_d help us - the absence of the internet. In a capitalist society such as ours where the ruling elite seem inured to the difficulties they have created for an unwitting population, it makes no sense to look to the profit model as a solution to the shortages that are absolutely present, and which will only grow in severity and scope.
I do not see reform as viable or correct - all i can muster is as intense an application of those skills which i have learned, challenge me to my utmost and provide a sense of accomplishment. If this means that i am being myself - good. Whether this selfish inner direction can provide an example of how to live beyond the consumer addiction to which we have been indoctrinated, i can’t know. I have no confidence in mobs or group-think so persuasion of any kind of anyone is suspect to me. Yet i care deeply about the injustice and ignorance which fosters hatred and grasping concern for one’s own well being. I can only take care of myself and extend to as many as i may without taking on water. This selfishness of mine torments me when i see rafts of human beings being plundered and shipwrecked by those from whom the refugees of our age would seek haven. What is the solution, and how could a solitary life of creativity possibly contribute to a new world? I am not a saint, yet it would seem our times are demanding the best from all of us. In my own experience, i have found i do not possess the inner fortitude for selfless devotion, except, as Arundhati Roy said so well, “chasing beauty to her lair”. I am grateful to the current American Chief Executive for no other reason than giving a face to the vanity to which i believe the entire planet has succumbed. This is a remarkably harsh and unforgiving judgement, but i include my own quest for excellence in the equation. I can see no other reason to apply myself, if it is not to accomplish the finest work i know how, and that is sad.
Not perhaps as sad as assessing my success by the number of bytes i can catalogue on a financial server, or evaluate my humanity by the number of other human beings who agree with me. Michelangelo painted a view of himself as the skin of a human being hanging from the hand of Saint Peter; when asked why, Michelangelo replied, and i paraphrase, “when i die, i wish to have emptied myself of all that i was meant to create.” The logic of such a pursuit makes perfect sense to me, much more sense than qualifying my merit based on publication or shows which some critic or patron has facilitated for my dubious creative skills. I don’t know what it means to be, and that may be my most successful creative effort - to possess doubt in a world full to the gills with certainty. I have learned many things about the external world - ideas about family, about love - esoteric knowledge of little worth to anyone but those with some curiosity, but the most difficult subject i’ve ever encountered has been to know myself. To date, i have only a vague idea of the hazy outlines which might begin to suggest who i am, much less what i am. Why is that¿ It is not for a lack of curiosity; when one does things which result in a totally different outcome than expected, it is logical to ask why. After decades of attributing results to _________ fill in the blank, the only plausible explanation is to seek an answer within for those unexpected outcomes. The corollary would then become what personal role does one attribute to expected results. Is it skill, determination, merit, or ___________ fill in the blank.
The difficulty with this line of thinking would be the enormity of our world, meaning the expanding universe and the fact that we can never be anymore than that of which we are comprised, gas, molecules, protoplasm, minerals, gravity, wavelength, etc., etc., etc. Idiomatically, are we more than the sum of our parts¿ How could anyone possibly answer that question with a straight face when we have no real idea of just how extensive those parts are, or what parts are missing from our primitive catalogue of knowledge¿ These are the questions i come up with when attempting to “know myself.” Is it simply a case of will¿ Can one wake up one morning and say, I will become president of the United States, and epso facto - voila - one is president; it would seem so based on the current political terrain. The deeper question for me is, who would want to be the president, and why; who would want to be the richest human being in the world or the fastest, smartest or most beautiful when one can just be happy¿ Sounds goofy, i know, but is it any goofier than spending one’s entire life acquiring things someone else said they should have, and then going to work to pay for those things because someone else said you couldn’t have them if you didn’t earn them. What does that even mean - to earn. Have i earned the right to express myself¿ Apparently I have, because i am. Yet with each passing day, there are more and greater attacks on that ability, nor are the attacks solely on our capacity for expression; now the attacks are on our right to exist. This i will never cede. I came here i know not why, but i do know any force other than that which is greater than the sum of my parts is the only force which i will acknowledge; i have yet to learn what that means, but i will keep seeking answers with or without permission from the “know it all” shot callers attempting to define what it means to be.
not being - the sonnet
prior to the big bang there was something
the event horizon is not the end
our presence or absence is not nothing
and all in between is more than a trend
up, down, in, out, on, off may be our lot,
so why do we squirm so vigorously?
Is there meaning from the steam off our pot¿
Do we make matter from mortality?
Is it possible our lives radiate
outward like the big bang forever more
still emitting once we de-animate
like some odd Hawking black hole metaphor
who gives a fuck ¿ we are the mystery
our legacy - whose memory are we
reprinted with permission - all rights reserved