On the assumption that these words have in some way weathered the ravages of time do give them your hearing wending your way over the heap of their inscription by your careful step what here appears haphazard collage has in fact been designed according to an inevitability as great as any other for here before you are many bricks in a ziggurat piled bricks not made by these hands no but piled here in ziggurat alphabetical this anabecedarian ziggurat from alpha to nowhere near omega as you'll see my beth as in aleph beth I was that day outside the Chih-Shan metro station where I was trying to have a quiet smoke before heading up to the office while next to me three gentlemen in house slippers were yelling on their cellphones in Taiwanese three different conversations all three yelling the same way the racket of it nearly burst my skull got me to thinking about what Frederick said of the German language what exactly did Frederick say and was the name Frederick if only he could have heard this heard either this or that in the beginning the all was in one place not a thing of the all did move nor was there any time across which any thing could trace its line for the all was in one place immobile with neither time nor space and a desire was conceived in the all for movement and the desire was already movement two things commingling and conceiving three four things colliding and making seven all things tracing their lines under the force of desire which desire was left with the things themselves and the all retained but memory of itself seeing all things fly off to the rhythm of desire knowing and waiting for the things to begin to gather and this memory cast its shadow over all the things and things did begin to gather in their shadow and their movement became a play of shadow and light and we are this play some heretics say while others chant
Every day just one potato
That's the diet for a Plato
Every night I drink my bottle
Soon you'll call me Aristotle
and so with these others do I heave up this ziggurat alphabetical this testament in clay or Clay Testament Envoi Poetics 1.2 Original sin, the fruit of the fall, Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz . , : ; ? ! " ' ( ) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Adam was a short beast, with a thin line of hair down his back, like a mane. Eve had a thin line of hair down her back; it was like a mane.
In those days, when you came into town, a stranger, you could always recognize Adam and Eve, because they were the only ones without navels.
The first writing was by Cain, who started by drawing pictures on his parents' bellies. Their bellies were smooth, and had no navels. Cain would ask them to lie back by the fire, and close their eyes, and he would draw. When he was done, they would open their eyes and look at what he had drawn.
Once Cain drew an unheard of thing. It was such a thing, that when God saw it, he let it stay on Eve's belly as punishment. God punished Eve for the evil sport she had fallen into. It could not be washed away, but stayed on Eve's belly. For they had fallen into an evil sport.
It was during the years in the wilderness. Moses came down from Sinai and saw what Aaron had done in his absence.
And Moses said: "What is this you have done!"
Aaron said: "You know yourself what this people is like. They said to me: 'Make us something to glitter in our heads. This God who led us up from Egypt--we don't know what's become of him.' So I said to them: 'Who of you is still shapely and comely?' And they came to me and showed me, and I filmed them all. Then I gathered the film and threw it into the fire. And after awhile out came this calf."
The Gospel of Thom Smit
Once upon a time was the Word. And the Word was without form, and void.
In short, the Word was many words, and sometimes even things.
One could not tell the difference in any place, for all words and things were different; they were all different from each other, and they were even more different from the Word. And the Word, in its turn, was different according to whom you asked, and in what words you asked.
What's more, all was such that one could not fix one's eyes on any thing, or fix one's ears on any word, and expect it even to stay the same as itself.
In short, all words were different from themselves, and all things were different from any words, and also from each other, and also from themselves.
Even one's eyes were different, the left one from the right, and either eye was certainly different, very different, from either ear; and the ears protruded from each side of the head: in short, they were very different.
Then Thom Smit was born.
And Thom Smit did grow to be a youth of fourteen years, and his virtue did show forth in many ways.
And the people were astonished by his words, for he spoke as one with wisdom, and not as one who watched TV.
Said he: "Just as our elders, weakened by years of compromise, submit to the presence of those they loathe, so do our melons soak the fouled waters of the plain, till they poison both themselves and those that partake of them."
And: "Submit not to both these poisons. Though you eat the melons to the skin, yet leave the elders to chew their own bitter rinds."
And Thom Smit did take ceramics class at the Pottery Barn of the strip mall as you drive into town from Monona.
And he did throw him many a mean pot. And he did paint upon his pots designs and symbols, and the people did look at what he painted, and did say, "What hath this youth?"
For they said: "This youth is not like others, but hath him a perversion of the head."
And the owner of the Pottery Barn in those days was named Chuck, and Chuck did keep the pots of Thom Smit in the back, lest other youths should see them, and lest they should speak of them unto their parents. For on the pots were many things that youths should not see.
And some of Thom Smit's pots did the owner break outright, pretending they had cracked in the kiln. "For this one," sayeth Chuck unto his assistant, "this one is surely too much; I will not even fire this one."
And Thom Smit did suspect Chuck of thus breaking his pots, and spoke sorely unto him.
And Thom Smit did take him a can of maroon glaze, and did pour it into the drawer of Chuck's desk.
And the can was a large can, and did foul the books and papers in that desk, dripping even unto the floor.
And Thom Smit did break seventeen ceramic owls made by the ladies of St. James Lutheran. And Chuck did see him do it, and did hear him speak bitter words as he did it.
And Thom Smit was no longer welcome at the Pottery Barn, but did take up tennis.
Said he: "Our world is all preprocessed, and full of fakes; fakes upon fakes. The boredom of Formica covers all things here, even unto death."
And all of these things were when Thom Smit was still but a youth of fourteen years.
And it came to pass as Thom Smit was a young man that he went forth like many of his generation to work as a barista.
And this work was as he was a student at the university in the town of Madison; and the caf in the which he did work was near upon the university, and was often filled with people.
And the people of the caf were of many sorts.
And Thom Smit did work next to the scribe of that place, and he did serve forth the drinks unto the people.
And the prophet of that place in those days was named Cosmo di Madison. And Cosmo di Madison did preach the word of the Lord unto the people there. But the people heeded him not.
And Cosmo di Madison did resent the presence of Thom Smit at the espresso machine, and did make him out to be a servant of Belial.
And Cosmo di Madison complained sorely to the scribe of that place, and spoke many bitter words.
And the scribe of that place recorded the words of Cosmo di Madison, for in those days did he note down all his words.
And it came to pass when Thom Smit heard the words against him, that he did say unto Comso di Madison, and he said it unto his face: "A prophet art thou not, but art rather a paranoid schizophrenic."
And: "The symptoms are obvious upon you, O Cosmo di Madison, and all do know it. Thou art one who barkest at the moon. Woof woof!"
And Cosmo di Madison did not suffer the words of Thom Smit in silence, but did rail against him to all that would hear.
And Cosmo di Madison would drink no drink made by his hands, but did speak of such drinks as having a poison in them.
And one day Thom Smit did say unto Cosmo di Madison: "Today it seemeth you have not taken your medicine, O great prophet, and so it is that you speak forth loudly your prophecies, and the people heed you not."
And: "Today I have a hangover, O prophet, and care not to hear you. So get you hence through the door, or pay for your coffee like the others. If you cannot pay, so must you go hence to the street. For today I have a hangover, O prophet, and care not to hear your prophecies."
And upon hearing these words a rage did come upon Cosmo di Madison, and he did complain ever more sorely of Thom Smit, and did attribute to him many conspiracies and sundry larcenies.
And the scribe did write down all his words, for in those days did he write down all the words that the prophet did say.
From the Scribe's Journals:
Thom Smit--to think he is a student of engineering! He is blonde and small, of muscular build. He's a great reader of Gilles Deleuze, and considers himself a Nietzschean. It's lucky for me he's at the caf. He's proving an excellent foil for Cosmo di Madison. I've recently got him reading Rabelais. --May, 1992
Cosmo di Madison now recognizes in Thom Smit a nemesis worthy of the swiftest action. That I'm responsible for his being hired at the caf is generally known, and I confess it openly. I should have seen the man's character for what it was. Needless to say, Cosmo di Madison has forgiven this lapse on my part, pointing out that Pseudo-Sergeant Major Smit is obviously a professional and had been trained by Kissinger's people specifically to pull the wool over my eyes. Cosmo di Madison himself was almost taken in. "At first I thought he was just a loser like all the other losers. But it's worse than that. He's a fucking imposter--ya hear me?" --July, 1992
Remarks of Cosmo di Madison on Thom Smit:
1. "That useless fucking bastard calls himself a fucking lieutenant major, but he's just a fucking high school dropout drug addict who couldn't tell his ass from a hole in the ground if his life depended on it."
2. "How many customers do you think that fucking punk is gonna short change before Mark [the owner] wises up and fires him?"
3. "You know he's got his finger in the till and he's supplying all the barbiturates to Craig and Monkey Butt. Kissinger's got him working the joint to make sure they do their job and try to drug me every fucking chance they get. I wasn't born yesterday what do you think! Pssh! That fucking Craig has been selling the barbiturates on the side too.... Oh, don't act so surprised! You know it goes on."
4. "Mark needs to spend more time in his shop. I got enough stuff to do keeping the customers clean. If Kissinger buys out your staff, this place is finished, ya hear me? I won't come back. Ya hear me? You just see what'll go down then. Mark will wish he never even heard of this town. Ya hear me?"
And soon after these things had come to pass, behold it did happen that the spirit of the Lord came upon Thom Smit, and he began to speak in parables.
And all at the caf did wonder upon it, and did say, "What hath Thom Smit, that he speakest thusly?"
And he did leave his work at the caf, and ceased from his study at the university.
And Thom Smit went forth to preach unto the people like Cosmo di Madison, for the spirit of the Lord had moved him.
And Thom Smit did wander the streets on the west side of Madison, whereas Cosmo di Madison did preach in the downtown.
And Thom Smit preached the word unto the people of the west side, as you head out of town toward Monona. And the people heeded him not.
And thus it was that the people said amongst themselves: "Is Thom Smit also one of the prophets?" And these words are as a proverb even unto this day.
And Thom Smit built his house on sandy ground, and sowed his seed upon the rocky wayside, and combed his hair with a goblet.
And he took a fox for a mango, and made of it a hairy puree.
And many did laugh at him, and said: "Thom Smit does not know his ass from a hole in the ground."
And they said: "Thom Smit could not find his ass with both hands."
But verily it was said unto them, and it was said by Thom Smit: "A day shall come to pass when none shall be able to tell their ass from a hole in the ground. And then shall a great wailing be heard."
And he said: "Only those who from the very beginning could not tell their asses from holes in the ground--only such as these shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven. All others shall be cast out, and their asses shall be grass, and they will know not if they have been turned into a golf course, or what. Boy, will there be wailing then."
And he said: "Those who mistake their asses for a wheelbarrow shall inherit the earth."
And he said: "Blessed are they who try to catch flies in their mouth. Blessed are they who would rather hang out in a juice bar than flay the fox with the big boys."
And he said: "My father is a colonel and I am a sergeant major. My father could thrash all your male relatives with his left hand if he wanted. My father has forty-seven Cadillacs."
But the people heard him not, and they sent him packing from their patio parties; and their daughters did tend to throw garbage at the back of his head.
But verily, reader, can you tell your ass from a hole in the ground even now?
I. The eggs are white and have a yellow center.
I am white and have a black center.
My wife is ivory with an unknown center, perhaps red.
Our guest is light yellow, or olive, with a center of pure white.
Christ said: "My yolk is light."
Yes, but light what?
Valentinus: "Of a very light color indeed! Like a shimmering peach."
II. The first egg I crack has two yolks connected by a bloody umbilical to the clear mucous membrane surrounding them. The crystal sphere.
Original sin, the fruit of the Fall, is not passed on through blood or the soul, but through language.
The fallen world is the object of language.
It follows that our being in language is our being in sin. This does not mean that we can live other than in language, but rather means that we must live in language so as least to miss the mark.
The poet comes before the scribe. The poet's work is revelation of the divine. The poet allows us to live in language so that we may least miss the mark. The poet forms language so that it is the closest to nonlanguage.
The poet makes use of, and perfects, those elements in language that are not of language.
There is a possible accumulation in language, a materiality, a hard rhythm at the heart of language heard best by the poet. The poet follows this rhythm until language breaks and cracks, having reached the top or bottom, the left or right, the backwards or forwards, the inside or outside, the temple or frontier of its range.
The scribe loves all that is getting out of hand. He loves such because he knows, given the tininess of his own hands, that everything has already gotten out of hand.
"Everything has gotten out of hand!" says the scribe with pleasure.
And being that everything is thus begotten, the scribe knows it to be most recognizable in its thus-begottenness when it is not merely known to have gotten out of hand, but is felt to be always and ever becoming out of hand.
"Hell! Best for it to be gloriously becoming so!"--that is what the scribe says.
In fact the scribe knows his hands to be so tiny that the only thing they can really grasp is the stylus. And the scribe grasps this stylus scriptively, which is to say in a manner that pays homage to the getting there of all that is way out of hand, but not only in a manner that pays homage, but in a manner also that is no manner, but is instead way out of hand.
The scribe, then, holds the stylus in his tiny hand, but knows that what the stylus leaves, the marks the stylus leaves, are already out of hand the moment they are left, are left as it were in homage to the loveliness of their getting out of hand, and are also in their very leaving left out of hand.
From this you can see that the scribe is in no man's hand. He is hardly a hired hand. That he kept grain accounts--don't believe it. Rather heaped he grain round Pharaohs conscripted. And will!
The scribe loves all that is getting out of hand.
God formed man of the clay of the ground and then breathed into him the breath of life. The clay of the ground as material and the breathing in of the breath of life: these have been the focus of most concern in our literature and speculation. And the question of what the breath of life may be has been recurrent. But the question of the forming, the verb forming, hasn't raised our attention in the right way. And yet everyone knows--the Sumerians and Babylonians knew--that the pressing of marks into the clay was the crucial part of this forming. It was the pressing of marks, the right marks, that gave the clay the dignity needed for its reception of the breath of life.
The clay as result of this writing is clay that may receive the breath of life if only this breath be given it.
* * *
> > > A letter from the seventh edition of The Clay Testament addressed to one Ivan as in Most Dear and Incorrigible. I write you for one purpose only: to save you, if only a bit, the confusion. The following, then, should suffice. This collection is not. You shouldn't as such, as it wasn't written in that. I wouldn't even call it if I were asked. Though arranged in a rough, they remain quite separate--letters, prosetry, brief essays, jokes, many painfully ironic in the, say, that poor, sad Flaubert. You wouldn't do well, then.
In finding this, rather think that you have come upon an unlocked desk drawer in the office of some curious perhaps unstable, you have looked into desk drawer found it full of all manner of handwritten--caf napkins, envelopes, scrap paper--understandably overcome by the desire to steal the intention of finding out why further the suspicion that you would perhaps be able through such scraps to look into what many would doubtless call.
These few hints should set you on the right track concerning the form and the place.
I.4. Poem. Happily I recover from the bottom of my bookbag the scribbled envelope I thought I had lost. The text I copy here:
My tongue is a little red wagon with one missing wheel.
My hand is a rusted Plymouth on bricks in a weedgrown
My pen is the grave of nothing's nothing.
This scribbled envelope: a flower that's sprung therefrom.
The desire to write on your body.
We will sit on the bed, oblivious, and write upon each other's bodies with deft concentration. Nous nous crirons.
I'll save some of the best for your collarbones.
How long could this go on? For we are mere mortals, mere writers.
When all the skin of each of us is covered with writing, we will begin filling in the empty spaces offered by margins and loops.
On your body I will write a tiny poem, four hundred lines perhaps, in the loop of a "d". This "d" will be found at the end of the word sound, written earlier on the smooth outer curve of your breast, itself the end of a poem.
When all these margins and loops are filled, we must write more tinily yet.
(It is a difficult but necessary word, tinily. In this it is like the word anankschen.)
We take breaks to eat, make love or read. And we write on each others bodies:--s'crire.
Our love a lesson in writing's grammar mu§ sein.
I desire to write the history of the [ ] on your body.
Where do I begin?
Down between your thighs, an inch from your cunt, I copy the first verses of Genesis.
I move out from there in circles, or small loops, up and down your body with a sharp little stylus.
And you yourself are writing on me. Nous nous crirons.
Should I write the Ten Commandments on your thumbnail, so that every ten days, when you clip your nails, a Commandment or two will fall away? For good?
I am a shamefaced heretic of late. My writing has become a vice. I am taken into it.
Where do we go from here, love?
Finally they'll find our bodies entwined on a rotten mat in a buried city. HERCULANEUM CITY.
My papyrus cock will be folded neatly into your papyrogyne--which means: your papyral cunt.
Our bodies, hollowed manuscripts, will be only somewhat collapsed. Only the thinnest surface skin of our bodies is preserved, written carefully with layers of text.
Even the bones have shivered to dust, and the lenses of our eyes have certainly shivered.
We'll be a heap.
I.6. A letter to Erik of August 31, 1991, written in Madison. Erik: After hearing that Timur was coming to Paris to join you. Hell, happens every day. I've included you in a brief literary. Or should I say if he gets there.
Before I got to the caf on the day in question. He waited for me to arrive because she told. They had been discussing science, and he actually. The betterment of humankind, I suppose. During their discussion he made the comment you see as epigraph. Let it be known that he said. The infant quake in its cradle, the womb of woman close up, etc. "Science is everything," he said.
I happened to step up just as he was saying something about the marriage of science and philosophy: he wondering which of the two.
"Both are barren," I suggested. "They've always had to adopt to keep up with the Joneses." "Ahh!" he said, eyes aglimmer like those of a blue foetus slamdunking. (Not exactly a passing simile this--but just think of that foetus!)
He stepped away and then I heard from my love that he had potshat at Heidegger. She quoted me the epigraph, and, after hearing such profanity quoted from the mouth of such a young and seemingly intelligent--in short, after hearing technotheistic, I was moved to pen. I've enclosed with instructions for Timus to first, aloud, with you on his right side, before the ancient enceinte temple of Ntre Dame. He has given me his word he. He said "Mellow out." But I ask you, what is the word?
I send this to you for your more rabelaisian in the now thin city of Paris, and so that you will maintain the proper.
With a pain in my heart,
First! say I:
Orbus mundi in anus timuri est.
Meaning, and I quote:
--Acch! Everything is science.
--Timur to Hui-Ling, 30th July 1991
And Rather Say I--
Everything is your anus.
The sun circles round the rim of your anus, the trees strut up and tickle your pinkish anusflesh.
Get my drift?
Everything is your anus.
Every morning I wake in your anus, and in the evening I lie down to sleep therein.
Everything, but Everything, is YOUR ANUS.
When you eat poorly, a trillion years of chaos rules the Universe.
We should call it the Anusverse!
Science is everything, but that everything resides in anusum tuum, Timum.
Scientists are as the little white bowelworms spread o'er the gaping plains of your anus's girth.
Their white coats should tie /
In the back /
Fed orangejuice concentrate /
By fat Aunt Jemammies /
On the verandah. (Actes anusi timuri, IV, ii, 132-7)
Their white coats should tie in the back,
But your Anus ties the tides' times!
And writes the NEW YORK TIMES!
And prints it!
"All of your anus that fits to print" --
Arts and leisure: your anus. Editorial: anusorial tutorial. Business: Need I Say More? News: Timur's retention around the Globe.
Nobody can scoop the Timurial Times. They're on top of the latest events. The hottest breaking stories. A rift in the Gulf. Acid rainus. Tyranisanus. Timur's anus wrecks. --Scratch that! Stop the pressing!
(Hemingway got "tight" they say,
But Timur's anus takes the day!)
In the morn wake I therein,
In the eve must I go there to rest.
If I run the whole day as fast as I can, I make it just halfway to the verge of your left Cheek.
Don't you get it?
Anus of the centuries! Anus saeculorum! Anus toti mundi!
Your anus spews forth prophecies of all things. Techniques and technerooonies terribillissimi! "Science is everything." Oh certainly, certainement, sicherlich, seguro, naturlich. Yes we couldn't agree more. But everything is spelled--and don't you forget it:
"T - I - M - ' - S A - A A A - N - U - S!"
[note the elision, making you and "your anus" one word. --Ed.]
Your anus pours forth portents and devices unlimited. MTV rocks the cave of Timur's anus. Operation Desert Storm flies thereout barely a second and has already done its little business. Number Two.
Your anus breathes forth the best of our knowledge.
Speak again, O toothless one!
Our baited breaths wait for you to breathe your words to Breathe your words to the rotting stones Breathe your words to the rotting stones of this falling temple.
In short, in the moyen ge it was Notre Dame. In the New Day Dawning, it is Votre Dam, Forever
It is, t'be brief, YOUR ANUS.
THE PROGRESS OF EVIL
The Fall continues
from anthropos (mythology)
to anima (theology)
down to Self (psychology)
to brain, (biology)
into language (Communication
Arts 101, Ad-
At this moment--I swear--the waitress
steps up and asks me, saccharine: "OK.
Are we all
finished here? "
I don't know what to say to this.
Satan strolls the malls, an unsuspected
blip of light on the screen, 4 billion kms
I'm finally brought the bill--imagine being
handed a bill at Peter's Gate--I've spent:
$13.13. "How was everything here?"
What would you do? I consult my con-
science, put $14 on the table, stuff the bill
in my bookbag, and walk.
4997 National Checking Co., St. Paul /// Server Table No. C5 Guests Date 30 177421 /// chic teriyaki 8.95 /// sushi 3.51 /// Coffee Tea Milk // Thank You! Food // Beverage // Sub Total 12.45 // Tax .68 // Total 13.13
I.10. Simone Petrement's biography of Simone Weil.
Weil wrote in "Morality and Literature" (Cahiers du sud, 1944; article apparently written years before) against "the usurpation by writers of the function of spiritual guidance, for which they are totally unsuited." Petrement suggests that Simone believed that this abuse could be corrected. "For centuries the function of director of conscience had been exclusively in the hands of the priests. They often performed it atrociously badly, as the fires of the Inquisition testify, but at least they had some title to it. In reality, it is only the greatest saint who can perform it, as it is only the greatest geniuses among writers. But all priests, by virtue of their profession, speak in the name of the saints, and look to them for inspiration, and try to imitate and follow them. When, as a result of what was called Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, the priests had in fact almost entirely lost this function of guidance, their place was taken by writers and scientists. In both cases, it is equally absurd."
Weil, at the end of Notebook IV (presumably the idea for the article): "Literature and morality. Imaginary evil is romantic, fanciful, varied; real evil dreary, monotonous, barren, and boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, fresh, marvelous, intoxicating. Thus imaginative literature is either boring or immoral (or a mixture of both). It manages to escape this alternative only by passing in some way, by the force of art, to the side of reality--which genius alone can do."
Father Clement, who gave Simone to understand that she was a heretic, wrote that he was surprised by her physical appearance (her dress, her voluntary lack of femininity).
The monk Vidal: "It has been written that if she had been humble, she would have embraced the Catholic faith. I am not of this opinion. Simone Weil was not kept back by the pride of the intellectual. She submitted herself docilely to the truth she had discovered. But it was necessary for her to have discovered it. A vigorous, exigent, personal mind, which was rather thwarted and troubled by her very great learning, it would have taken time for her to simplify her thought and assimilate aspects of the truth unfamiliar to her mind."
Sister Colombe recalls a meeting with Simone many years earlier. She doesn't remember what was discussed. "She came into this small parlor, enveloped in a large, sailor-blue cape, a basque beret plopped untidily over her hair, which was a bit wild, standing in a very self-effacing manner behind Hlne [Honnorat, who introduced them]. Yet her silence, the quality of her attention--this is what I have not forgotten. What emanated from her above all, along with her seriousness, was her authenticity. Afterward, much later, when reading her books, I remembered this: she had the poverty of those who are searching." The poverty of those who are searching. Credo ut intellegam. These two phrases are worth my recent readings into [that Marxist in Christian garb] Guttierez and into the life of that lamb Simone.
I.11. Appearances indicate neither total exclusion nor manifest presence of the godhead, but the presence of a god who hides himself. All things bear this mark. --Pascal
What is there to laugh about, in this world, outside of God?
Energy is eternal delight. --Blake
I.12. Dan Rather, viewing the early pool videos on the first night of the war, talked of the "wicked beauty" of the U.S. fighter planes as they took off from the runways in Saudi Arabia. I have seen Satan bend over and blow a fart in enthusiasm at the proposals of some local developers planning another mall on the edge of Madison. The gas blowing out of Satan's anus looks just like the blue flames blowing out of the back end of our fighter planes as they leave the runway. A wicked beauty.
I.13. American and anti-American. You're impressed by the blasting takeoff of the cruise missile. I'm more moved by the question of subject and verb.
I.16. Conserve the past; ignore the present; don't expect much from the future.
In the sense of: Living so as to understand some period in the historical past as it was understood by those living in that period is to live more fully than to live trying to (further) understand or engage oneself actively in current history. Why? The world has already come to an end. It is a silence.
I.20. When one thinks of Bakhtin, one thinks of a sort of bodily saint. Or when one thinks of Rabelais.
I.22. Consensus is always deferred--even in science. The utopian is the future coming of absolute consensus. What is a politics of disensus?
I.23. The writers are geniuses. They have power. They have shoes. Sometimes they get their hair cut.
I.28. The world is far away. I can neither touch it nor hear it. I step across the street to the park grass and begin to dig with the toe of my shoe. But it is not the world I am scratching. The world is far away.
The end of the world has been spreading rapidly. In some places, the world is still kneaded in hands. In others, it is glimpsed just receding. But here, it is no longer.
Icons of the world are worn on teeshirts and bumperstickers. Love your Mother, etc. Women drive jeeps with stickers: The Goddess is Alive and Magic is Afoot. But who do they think they're kidding?
The world is far away.
I.29. Montaigne's are words to live by: "L'ignorance qui se sait, qui se juge, et qui se condamne, ce n'est pas une entire ignorance." Ignorance that knows itself, that judges itself and condemns itself, is not an entire ignorance.
I.30. Erasmus' Praise of Folly as the peek (sic) of western awareness. Eckhart, sure, but Erasmus is so much less pretentious. Marguerite Porete et soeurs.
I.31. The Renaissance is the crossroads of Europe, and Europe has become the world code. As the world evaporates. Why? Read the words of the world evaporating. Pages crumbling like dust. Or pages writ in titanium, but not a hand to touch them without shivering into fits of leprosy. The devastating word of Europe and the saving seed at its core. Rire, c'est propre l'homme. Laughter is proper to man.
I.38. I am reaching some kind of harmony. As I am increasingly aware of the radical illusoriness of self-control or self-possession, I see more and more clearly the power of quiet listening. Quiet. Listening. Power in the few principles that are developing from a quiet listening and what I am coming to call a cosmic humor. I am not falling into a mere passiveness, for such would be a slightly less active conformism. I am not sure where or whence I am falling. But there is an increasing sense of harmony. Harmony through falling. Why? How?
I.39. Know thyself.
Yes. And here is what I know of myself: absolute raving stupidity. I'd have to memorize something to remember it. Now I know why I froze my shelf, and what was the wisdom in so doing. The hope is that my tiny brain, with its little cardboard recesses and rubberband works, the cardboard soggy and the bands long since starting to fray, will be able to hold this shelf within its borders, to hold it with some kind of tenacity. But here I'm reading Montaigne's Apologie pour Raymond Sebond in French, and I recount to Hui-Ling the funny story about the elephant that moved half his food over toward his suspect keeper, and she says: "You told me that once before." It isn't even vaguely familiar to me, however. But then other things, later in the essay, seem to be somewhat familiar, and finally four days or so after the elephant incident I go and look in my Frame translation and what do you know but the first third of the Apology for Raymond Sebond is covered with my notes! I read it two years ago in English.
I am already 25. Weave.
I.40. How can I write it? My hand without fingers. Wrist broken. How can I hold a pen? My wings tied in knots, swollen, untied and then tied again--hour after hour. My mind is a blade that can't hold an edge. So it is sharpened and resharpened. Sharpened and sharpened. Finally it is ground down to nothing, to the handle. Start prying at the handle to find more blade. Calme. The best I can imagine--calme. This has already happened. Forever. Calme. Sois calme.
I.41. MLA: More Literary Atrocities. Men Loving Animals.
I.42. Homo ordinaris.
I have a great understanding, of a kind that is almost too much for me to bear. And yet at the same time I realize that I am as stupid as a rock, in the common sense of the word, among those around me.
My great understanding is truly not great, but quite common. And nothing special must be understood by my stupidity either, for it is the most everyday kind of stupidity, the thickheaded kind.
A Brief Comedy of Errors
in the Form of a Correspondence
I.46. A letter to Eric of August 15, 1991, written in Paris by Erik. Eric-- Two months ago you wrote me and it could have been a day.
The avatar of God that you're trying to keep alive as the real thing is just that ultimate trick of consciousness that makes humans aware of what an absence can concretely mean under the sun, how this absence which delves into the core of the matter can be transformed by yearning. And mourning. And its importance is arch, yes, not putting it in some category of discount wares of the intellect, no.
You write of harmony and cosmic humor in a way that freaks me out--even though I had felt that particular calm descend on you before. At times I understand. In those moments there is no giving up, just a quiet acceptance of simple contentment on the road traced out by unremitting Fate. She is so good, she robs the trowel and the plumbbob, we don't have to sully our hands. No giving up, just a wink at the universe for its permissive insubstantiality, a quiet taking stock of the derelict state of things, to begin with the toss away who-caresness of the notion of state of things. To begin with. If we have to please a bureaucracy, we can invent some justification for the way we checked the proper option. At other times, and that's most of the time, when I hear gunshots, robbings, rapes and pillage from my window, all I can see is the dissonance, and lust for an apotheosis of dissonance that would really kick in the teeth of all the usurers of reason--kick in the teeth of the western world so caught up in its empty self-congratulations, in its quadrillion-byte imperial justifications.
The western world of my cash register brained compatriots, and of the squalid, carnivorous university system so many see as my last resort.
No matter the university, even if its packing plant is far in some Third World country, so preciously out of sight. Meat packing plant. And on the examples go, and they get closer to home base. In the U.S. its the inner cities, in France the banlieues. (Interesting inversion, hey Mr. Academic? Whaddya make of it?) In both cases, it's a turbulent, uncultured poor youth that sees what of our centuries of thought, of our treasures or scribbling, of our myriad pyramids of wisdom and knowledge? They see the wealth and the ruthless criminals we call our leaders. They see bucks, easily-gained bucks, well-hung bucks, and more effortlessly-reaped bucks. And they get an inkling of the cunning, of the baseness, of the violence of those leaders and of those who lead those leaders. They speak up in a voice made of assault rifle bullets to demand their share of the fabulous loot payable in gold chain, round off to the nearest kilometer. Ask the Indian about the presidents of the USA. Ask the 100,000-plus dead on the island of Timor about the Intelligence of the Central supposed Agency--flash goes prime-time missing every instant of it, and CNN twenty-four hours--Very well thank you, just the sort of news we ought to hear. And on it goes. It's not about becoming a peace activist as you once suggested, its not about caring an iota about thousands of prisoners of conscience in Morocco, or about sulfuric acid rainshowers stirred up by the world press--We'd like to thank Mr. Hussein for his difficult role in this spiel--its just an incredulous wondering. And a gaping-jawed wondering. And an eye-stinging day-long sick-in-the-head wondering.
Eric, I want to tell you in the plainest of terms because I totally accept the wrenching, unfathomable friendship between us, even though I remain paranoid about all these revelations. I want to tell you: I have almost given up on life. Discarded its pleasures. Dismissed its satisfactions. Given up on so many things that a list would be ridiculous. Surprised I am once in a while by the warmth impacted by: a letter from a friend; a glass of whiskey; a better word or sentence.
I want to tell you for some sick person's own perverted reason--never completely there, you must understand--that you mean a lot to me as a friend, that I trembled at reading your last letter, that I wish there wasn't this hayfever and the heat and all that makes me choke on the damp evening awareness. At will!
I.47. A letter to Erik of July 22, 1991, written in Madison. Erik: I did something I rarely do and actually read your letter from start to finish the moment it came, and I am writing back while it is still fresh in my mind. Things do not remain fresh long in my mind, for they are soon contaminated by other things there.
She has a yellow toothbrush, and I have a red one. Or is it the other way around? I don't know. When I go to brush my teeth--and your letter led me to realize I must brush them--I either take one or the other: I either always take the red one or the yellow one. And so today, I trusted to intuition and took the yellow, grabbing it before I had a chance to intervene in my choice. But the yellow looks strange in my hand, and so I take the red. I believe this happens every day, one way or another. In honor of Plato, I thought of buying a clear, Reach toothbrush, thus ending the challenges of my most intimate moments. But no. I will continue in this vein. I won't ask which is hers, which is mine, but trust to my intuition. But now she is looking over my shoulder as I type. She says: The yellow one is yours.
Your letters are full of detritus, and so I will tell you of the importance of detritus to me. As you perhaps know, my job forces me to walk the streets hours a day. The best hours for thought, according to the great aphorist. But you spoke in one of your previous letters of the totalitarian architecture of certain areas of the campus. Doubtless it is this, the faint buzzing noise emitted by our archetexture, that forces my eyes to scan the ground as I walk. And so every day I meticulously scan the spaces between the sidewalks, and I am quick to spot anything new. I keep a running chronicle of the state of imperial advancement or decay of this or that myrmecan empire. And the objects I see, which catch my eye in the midst of thought, needs must take a place in my thought. Detritus, fetishization. What do I do? I pick them up of course, the ones that I can lift that is. I have assembled a little sculpture garden, and a little rock garden. Let me tell you. A piece of thick rusted coil and a fallen, red plastic seatbelt guide have come together to figure the serpent on my desk. A broken cedarwood wheel and an almost perfect egg-shaped pebble have resulted in a minimalist sculpture of the appearance of some sort of fateful and deceptively simple game. And the rocks! Oh, the rocks! I have a history of philosophy in rocks, one that works! I brought my history to Amy's Pub one night in order to cheer up a downtrodden Italian graduate, her on the verge of tears, myself going through the history of philosophy. It worked. She was cheered and even somewhat enlightened. Well, she was cheered for certain. She called me the next day and thanked me. And the history occupies a place on my bookshelf, though the Critique of Pure Reason no longer does.
The advantage of this kind of work: when they come to take you away (and they probably won't--there are no horses here to reveal oneself by kissing; and only the exceedingly insane would want to kiss a Buick) you can throw the rocks at them rather than try to explain. Detritus. And fetish.
Benjamin read literature in much the same way, his Baudelaire stalking high-capitalist Paris in search of the primitive. Benjamin of the ten-thousand fragments. How will they write the history of our time?
Max Jacob one-upped Apollinaire's calligrams. Apollinaire's circling around to draw a wheel or something, but Jacob writes: Le soleil est en dentelle. I translate: The sun is all in lace. But my sun looks like the spider's web written with LSD. A note on translation.
You speak of my revelations, and of how you are paranoid of them. Well, I'll tell you something like a revelation. It hit me this morning: When bourgeois die they all end up in heck.
You shouldn't be paranoid about this one, though. You and I are not the sort to end up in heck. We've paid our dues. Our lives are one living heck.
Cling to your fragments and play with them. You will end up in a gathering. I was swimming in the most beautiful lake in our area, actually called Beaver Lake, no joke. The lake is beautiful because it is protected by the upperclass families that live around it. They do all they can to prevent public access to their little gem, using the argument, a true one, that motorboats will ruin the ecological balance of the bay into which flows the lake's water source. So the lake gleams turquoise under the sunshine; it is sandybottomed and nearly weedless around most of the shore. I was swimming there with some friends and found my feet discovering the most fascinating of rocks in the sand. First an almost perfect woman's breast. "A fragment of the lake nymph," I told them. "Oh, come on," said the Hong Kong feminist. But then I found a large, flat pear-shaped rock with a hole for a navel. We began to assemble her from fragments. In short, my fellow bathers joined in the recovery. But our willfulness broke the spell: the Hong Kong feminist cut her foot, the Londoner got a lobsterish sunburn, and I was the only one to find another piece, an almost perfect left ear. Listen.
Your city is a panorama of fragments, some of the most revealing of them unprotected by the authorities. What does it mean to give up on life? As if life asked you to hang on, part of some contractual arrangement. You write to me of the Timorites and the Gulf, the banlieues and the urban underclass almost as a sort of absolute slap in the face to life. Certainly a God is here and a God is not here. What does it mean?
I know you know Bataille's The Sorcerer's Apprentice. But Erasmus' Praise of Folly is sharper. Which is to be expected.
Hui-Ling tells me of a notoriously dissolute acquaintance of a relative of hers who is in his twenties and spends all of his salary in video arcades. If his father were equally dissolute, he would have spent his money on alcohol and whores. If his grandfather were equally dissolute, he would have done likewise but been a soldier or a robber into the bargain. Thus we witness the decay of decadence itself
Dmitri was saying to Alyosha: But my destiny will be accomplished, and the deserving man will occupy his rightful place and the undeserving one will vanish into his back alley forever--into his filthy back alley, into his beloved back alley, a fitting place for him, and will perish there in filth and stench of his own free will, and like it.
Typical last words between us before drifting off to sleep.
She: "That sauce isn't thick enough. Next time I hope I can find a thicker one. I'll buy Ragout again: it has a stronger taste."
I: "The world isn't thick enough. Next time I hope I end up in a thicker one."
When Mother Theresa visited America from her constant presence with the poor in Dehli, she was asked what she thought she was accomplishing coming to one of the world's richest nations, for after all, said the press, "she was really interested in the poor." "America is the world's poorest nation," she said.
She also said: "We can be the compassion of Christ reaching out to the suffering Christ." What would this mean here among the world's poorest people?
As Christ said, "[Meta]physician, heal thyself!"
I.49. I have books. I have too many books. I have 12 books.
I.50. Many of our mothers, trying to protect us from danger and fear, would have us believe that the world is One Big Mother, looking out for us though it be in secret. Thus there are millions of big babies out there, drooling and spiritually hamstringed. Gah, gah, they tell you.
The world is a deadly machine that will devour us. A set trap, with the tightest of springs, and a trillion tiny mechanisms.
In the material realm, the grace of the Father is nothing but the ability to laugh and dance in the tight steel jaws of the world's trap. To laugh and sing on our way to the slaughter.
I.51. The militarist language of current literary criticism. One reads of: strategies, tactics, doing violence to, undermining, borders, instability, dismemberment, eruptions, dominant paradigms, approaches, interrogations, manoeuvers, and on and on.
But how is it that, read in a certain manner, this language leads one into the most radical peace?
I.52. Gargantua writes to Pantagruel of les impressions tant lgantes et correctes en usance, qui ont est inventes de mon eage par inspiration divine, comme contrefil l'artillerie par suggestion diabolicque. [Printing so elegant and correct in usage, which was invented in my day by divine inspiration, as opposed to artillery, which was invented through the suggestion of the devil.] --Pantagruel, VIII.
Gunpowder and the printing press both hit Europe around the same time, as a sort of technological preface to the Renaissance. Humanists wrote of the former as an invention sent by the devil, and of the latter as one inspired by God. They were certainly wrong about that. It was Moloch that taught the Chinese to make gunpowder, but Lucifer himself leaked the printing press in Germany. (Luther and Lucifer, oddly similar names those: needing but a lisp and a forgotten if to make them one.) The Humanists saw gunpowder disrupting the world, but didn't know that the presses would eventually misplace the world.
In the midst of theological debate, St. Thomas More threatened justly to dump all the pisspots of Europe on Luther's crown, but then lost his own head to the pisspot crown of Henry VIII.
The mournful and crankish Nietzsche later remarked that the newspaper had undermined the atmosphere of prayerfulness in German households.
The Renaissance: the battle of man, soon lost, against gunpowder, the printing press, and other new invasions of evil.
[1 .p] The scribe knows that one learns how to write literature by reading literature, and how better to read literature by writing it.
The scribe knows that more wisdom is gained in writing literature than in reading it.
In the past, children were clubbed into shape with the bones of their ancestors. It was likewise with literature.
But where are the bones of our ancestors?
They have shivered into bits, and crumbled. We will teach our children to read these bits, hoping they will get some glimmer of their ancients.
The scribe is a collector of bits, a teacher of the reading of bits.
Two Poems for Suffering Russia
(Both written on the evening of August 18, 1991, and based on dreams of that morning.)
Dream after Reading in The Brothers Karamazov
I.55. The Moscow streets are far below. St. Basil's has grown to seven times its size. Some of the onion domes have been replaced by crenellated castle towers. I'm lying on the top of one of these towers under a grey and drizzly sky. In diameter the tower is no larger than a large bathtub. But there is no water in it, though the joints are all caulked and the bottom is smooth. I peer down through one of the crenellations and vertigo overcomes me. I'm suddenly afraid to move, lest the tower crack and I go plummeting to the ground.
Dream After Dream After Reading
in The Brothers Karamazov
I.56. It is Christmas and I am watching a film with the whole family. Part of the film purports to be a sort of documentary about life in heaven. We are all delighted to see it. Not a documentary exactly, but something like one man's home videos from heaven. One mustn't expect much more after all.
All the people in heaven are wandering crones, completely out of their minds and lost in a Bavarian landscape. There is a monastery by a highway. The crones wander in for a bit, look around, then go on their way. The one who made the video shot up way too much tape filming the landscape out of the window of a moving train. The landscape is just like on earth, though the green of the trees and grass is a bit on the fluorescent side. I tell my uncle that the color is probably just a camera malfunction, but my uncle looks at me with stern disapproval, and before the film is over I notice that everyone has moved into the opposite corner from me, whispering to each other with their anxious eyes.
I.60. Horrid Poem from My Youth. The following is a horrid poem from my youth. Why do I even publish it? Didn't Augustine burn his Manichaean writings, setting a good precedent? But Chaucer didn't burn the Tales: he simply recanted. And so I recant, for what it's worth.
I feel a little odd evoking Augustine and Chaucer here. I'm a small fish in such company, hardly a minnow. Whether I publish, burn or recant means little.
The young man who wrote this dirge later chose to follow the same Jesus he here uses as a vehicle for satire. This shouldn't be so surprising. He who hates Christ is closer to loving him than he who doesn't concern himself with him at all. When reading through the furiously "anti-Christian" writing of my late teens and early twenties, I now remember the words in Revelation:
Write to the angel of the Laodicean church. The true and authoritative witness of the beginning of the creations of God says amen. I know thy works; thou art neither cold nor hot. Would that thou wert cold or hot. But insofar as thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I shall spew thee out from my lips. For thou sayest: I am rich; I have everything and need nothing; but knowest thou not that thou art miserable, and poor and beggarly and blind and naked?
Words of the utmost importance for us.
THE LASTING PIECE--A DIRGE
Motley is the only wear.
i. Picture, if you will, picture Jesus as a workman building a house in a rich neighborhood going to the dogs because too many houses are being built there, too many dinky houses that end up being painted yellow or green or--heaven help us--yellow with green shutters. Picture Jesus in a grubby blue, grey, off-white flannel shirt, his giant beer-swelled bulwark of a corpse lying on its side in a rather beached position, and he has such a girth to his Entity that his legs stick out as they would on dolls, the upper not having that luxury or irritation--we will never know--afforded the more slim philistines our brothers across the Atlantic.
It is surmised by doctors and many healers as well (though we cannot vouch for their knowledge here) that it is the outrageous method of conception so fitfully employed by Jesus' mother Mary that has resulted in the active physiological imbalance in Our Lord Christ which causes his all night bouts of soul-swelling beer drinking, which have in turn led to his gruesome bowl.
"Think of the poor boy," as many of our wise parishioners are heard to say, relaxing atop their white patio furniture. "Think of that poor boy."
As for us, we are not apt to employ the paradigms of feminists and other sorcerers to the effect that unisexual reproduction is healthy and common and, funny that they add this almost as an afterthought--possible, given the correct nurturing of a little womyn in a nyce lyttle magycal enfironment, one tending to, as they say, creative mythologies and the death of syllogism. Lord bless us but this is not the time nor the place for creatyve mythologies as presently such can only lessen material, ergo real, production. This is not merely our own opinion, our own "creation," as you more bacchic lesbians would insist, taking your vision whether you know it or not from your phallic thyrsi--this is the conclusion reached by the combined labors of Sphincter and Bourghese, 1964. We can only censure any overtly or covertly snatchy insistences to the contrary, so help us God. (Cf. par ejemplo: D.S. Knight and Donna Ferentes: Reading Train or Daisy Chain: Blanchot's La communaut inavouable. This work has struck the present auctor with its powerful reading of the mysteriously silent and absent Shakespearean character Train, whose uncanny presence/absence is frequently evidenced in the Shakespearean stage direction Exeunt King and Train. To summarize, Knight is convinced by textual evidence that Train was blond and somewhat hulking in gait. Further, Train's silence and ability to jump from the text of one play to another is a clear Shakespearean anticipation of current concerns with language, presence and absence, intentionality, problems of subjectivity, the trace, speech and writing, heteroglossia, glossolalia, glossolabia, annaluvia, Kristeva's private life, speech and peek, hide and seek, hide and peep, langue and parole, parole and langue, parole meets langue, langue quiveringly caresses parole, langue is finally out on parole grce ses efforts; which, to use Riffaterre's expression, could be tellingly restated: Parole is finally licked. But!-- Train's more frequent presence in tragedies and histories argues for a rather gloomy cast of mind, and his constant entrance and exit with kings suggests either a sycophant or a sort of invisible looming assassin. Knight brilliantly argues for the latter interpretation, pointing out that Train's name anticipates the XIXth century mode of transportation associated with the glory days of bourgeois rule in bloody England. What? Don't you get it? Not yet awake, you bloody seat-shining cafe ape? Are you maybe dozing again in your little sandbox avant garde, face down on the table, a string of drool linking you and your photocopied R. Barthes? You safe-sex never-piss-in-the-shower cold-dicked modern! You twelve-year-graduate-student little bourgeois milksop! You politically correct honey-lipped teflon-twatted footnote-fondling backroom excuse for a woman! What? Don't you get it? Knight argues that: i) Train has a sort of bourgeois thrust about him, a sort of Tweedledeedum tweedledeedee, oh well, always me, dum te dum, etc.; ii) his crisscrossing of Shakespeare's plays (like trains later crisscrossed England) suggests a sort of bourgeois mobility; iii) the kings of England were ousted by the bourgeoisie; iv) Train's silent presence just behind so many of Shakespeare's kings cinches his character as assassin. But see also Eagle Terrortown: Recent and Sundrie Bookes I Have Read and What I Recked upon Them.)
ii. Jesus is in charge of laying the foundation: a job in no way tending to his spine, Herculean though it may be on better days, because it requires so much bending. This problem has been looked into by M. Bdier in his seminal work, The Spine of Our Good Lord Pontisface, Mouton Mifflin and Sons, 1968. The conclusion finally reached in chapter XVIII, a somewhat belated conclusion, I found the text quite windy myself, states that "Our Good Lord should drastically reduce his ale consumption" and should spend "a couple good hours a day in an extensive exercise program." Several methods of weight loss are suggested in this dreary tome, including the exercise bicycle and the rowing machine. It is our opinion, however, that he would never consent to either of these methods, preferring rather, and this can only be viewed by us as a last resort, astral projection.
iii. It is our duty now, in this Dirge, to present to our readers some of the more piquing aspects of our Good Lord Christ's average day in the employ of Chenequa Highlands Developing. The Good Lord rises with the sun each day. (I beg a slight parenthetical digressive here, as it is, I believe, in the order of things. Despite the contrary insistences of New Agers, advertising executives, and Willy Street layabouts, the sun, in all its nuclear glory though it be, is by no means the true Father and origin of that blue-flanneled whale we tend to call Our Lord. Rather, as has been proven by St. Parsimonious in his early work De nada, the Father of Christ is none other than "an area whose bornes do not exist and whose center point is the sum of all points." Or, as the poet has He himself say elsewhere: Ego tamquam centrum circuli, cui simili modo se habent circumferentiae partes; tu autem non sic.) Jesus takes his lunch with the children, who make whale jokes in languages he does not understand.
A day on the job with our most sanctum Deis is reputed to rarely attain heights less than miraculous. Whole armies of ants have been seen pouring from the earth like magnificent chancres of blood. Frequently as of late houses have been observed to be completed months before schedule. It seems that instances of brick levitation have been observed by Wallace, Crookes, Wagner, Butlerof, Varley, Buchanan, Hare, Reichenbach, Thury, Perty, de Morgan, Hoffmann, Goldschmidt, Saz, W. Gregory, Flammarion, Sergeant Cox and many others. It seems as well that Jesus is wont to stop dead in his tracks on dirt roads and stare fixedly at the dust-covered lower foliage in the ditch of the road until he has gleaned and processed every single detail of the, to our feeble eyes, small scene he was so cosmically pondering upon. In what is assumed to be a prodigious fit of rimbaldian rebellion against Mother Mary, Jesus Christ has been blamed (for there are eye witnesses who actually claim they viewed him creating the little rapscallions) for the small bands of white dwarf-like humanoids that have as of recently been conducting themselves so scandalously in grocery stores and in the back windows of cars even when young children are on board.
iv. The demise of our Lord Christ can only be felt with the most painful sensation in all areas of our town save those few where older pagan traditions still reign. Our women's keening will undoubtedly go on into that dark night until the stars fall from the sky like dead, dry pistils in the dead, frozen heart of fall. That Shanny O'Keogh was roaring boy drunk at the wake has been finally substantiated by the frequency of reports to the positive. We are sure our dearest Benefactor will find it in his celestial heart to forgive him. That the Good Lord will resurrect in three days has yet to be proven, and many of our more circumspect citizens are hoping that it won't happen in this lifetime or the next.
A letter of exhortation to a friend to encourage him to seek. And he will reply: but what use will seeking be, nothing appears. And reply to him: do not despair. And he would reply that he would be happy to find some light. But that according to this religion even if he were to believe in this way it would do him no good. And that being the case he may as well not seek. And at this point reply to him: the machine.
I.62. Notes given to Jody at the Caf Propos an Essay by C.S. Lewis entitled 'When Lilies Fester': Concerning the Body, the Machine, and Capitalism. Paragraph on p. 48 beginning "Lastly..." Lewis says earlier that political rule is better the more it is based on humble, pragmatic goals. Here he speaks of "our rulers." I would say: our rulers now are not men and women, but decentered, mediated, mechanized forces. Yeltsin. Think of the Machine. The fear of totalitarian nightmare regimes under the aegis of science. When one writes machine in lower case letters, however, as in a machine, one imagines the most pragmatic of devices, simple and without claiming [2 pp.]
I.69. Move cleanly through the world, like a knife.
No. To be here is to be as a bruise on being.
I.70. In this fallen world, writing must be under-stood as something like throwing a deck of cards into the air. One must accept it that the cards will land on their own.
I.71. I go out in an olive felt hat and baggy pants, looking like an Italian communist.
The hat is crumpled and I bought it from a woman down the street who looks like Simone Weil.
I try to come up with a means to talk to her. Should I tell her I had a dream wearing the hat?
--We were an expedition lost in the Himalayas. The evergreens were of a green so dark they were almost purple. There was a space of unbearable [ ], a direction in which none of us dared look, though we kept our pace towards it, unsteady.
--Was she herself the guide? Or was it Che Guevara?
I.72. Sometimes there is little else but the intense desire to sink into the earth.
I.73. In War and Peace, Prince Andrei, going off to fight Napoleon, is given for good luck a tiny silver cross on a chain. He puts it around his neck.
Hundreds of pages later, Andrei is found dead on the battlefield, with a little gold cross around his neck.
Tolstoy's error is the novel's secret key, its hard, gemlike center.
--How may I also die upon an earth that will turn my silver cross to gold? Where is this earth into which we may fall?
I.74. From taboo to the beautiful to the sublime to the uncanny to the tiny. Not with a bang but a peppercorn.
I.75. Ja, die Sprache spricht. Aber ihre Schwester--sie weint. Sure, language speaks. But language's sister--all she does is yummer. --After Heidegger.
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