Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mountain of Seeds

Dug into a remote mountain near the North Pole, a seed vault. One hundred and twenty meters (364 ft) inside a mountain on Spitsbergen, one of the islands of Svalbard. Insurance for the future. The Norwegian government is spending $5 million to house 3 million seeds. A passageway, an inner chamber constructed. Doors locking the tunnel, the vault. Seeing a future of severe climate change, devastation. Or our favourite grains bred out. Permafrost will refrigerate if the cooling system fails. Once it's built and filled with the chosen seeds, it will be checked yearly. There are seed banks around the world- one in the Philippines destroyed by a typhoon. Even if the Arctic melts, horrors of global warming under the depleting ozone layers, models of the mountains of Svalbard predict safety.

Surely we will forget. One year the person who is to check will be sick, or their child will be dying, or there will be a war, or they will be too old and tired to remember to pass the combination on. Or maybe a deliberate withholding. Centuries will pass. One day a mountaineer will discover the doorway to the passage to the vault under the overgrowth and moss of the mountain. Or perhaps it will be a sloping hill by then. And just as ancient Egyptian wheat and barley seeds have been discovered in pyramids, these 3000 years later, so will what we plant our fields with.

Long tunnel into the mountain, stocked, labelled, locked, air tight insurance against the holocausts or negligence of the future. An agricultural Noah's arc. This scrotum, this ovary, this seedpod. Cold, northerly mountain of seeds.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Memes...

As I write in my notebook, I look over at candies lined in large canisters as a rainbow of dyed sugar across the wall at the "...Sweet~Factory." Where, later, I will buy chocolates, after sipping a bowl of Miso, a perfectly flavoured broth of nourishment, in the empty Japanese restaurant that is arranged like a cafe on the red granite floor of the underground concourse. It is quiet here, where I come to write, to take a break from the tedium of the job upstairs, the repetition of information which I transfer meme-like from Word file to Excel chart.
On Dawkins concept of Memes: "structured units of knowledge that are able, more or less, to reproduce themselves by making copies of themselves from one mind to another." Marvin Minsky.
A system of ideas can evolve by itself through structured units of knowledge that are able to reproduce themselves by making copies from one mind to the next, without biological change. Without life, or death. Simply being carried in neuronal synapses, from reading, or hearing, or seeing, words or numbers or concepts. Carried on. Through life-bearing organisms, and in texts that we create, documents and spreadsheets.

Like the economic system, but isn't that too big to grapple with? Let me, instead, grumble about how much senseless information is passed on through replication. Information that gives us a demographic, but doesn't impart the bloodbeat?

Where 'being on the edge,' or at the core of a 'denuded' life, a naked life, counts. Having wrestled free of a quarter of a million dollars of debt, most of which wasn't my doing, I live without luxury, accoutrements of ease. I owe nothing and I have nothing. My life at zero. Zero is the place to be. Zero-consciousness: death-consciousness. No debt, nothing to be paid off in the future. In the Bergsonian eternal present, never mind time: financially. My karma is clean. I am free of baggage from the past and encumbrances in the future.

In the movie, Children of Men, the future is presented as an impossibility. Capitalism depends on 'borrowing against the future,' and debt is contingent on future payment. What Children of Men presents is the alternative of no future. The spectre of a species coming to the end of its line. In the film the women of the world are infertile. The 'other,' is blamed: racism is heightened, mass deportations are ongoing. Society becomes totalitarian. The system crashes. Memes flounder trying to reproduce the world through their reproductions of it. Nothing works. The youngest child in the world, an 18 year old, dies, and the world mourns through global networks of news. But there is hope, a Black Madonna in their midst. White roses should line her sacred path instead of the blood of constant murder.

The mystery, protect it, honour. Mystery. Profundity. Fear and trembling. Beauty. The sublime.

Feel it. Live as an unsheathed nerve. A strange image in this underground vault of stores and eateries lined with large tiles of polished granite. Open, vulnerable, sensitive to the essence of the beating pulse. And to write from the real, and not sugar-coat, or pretend, but to feel all life's modalities and tonalities, from the dark and confusing and heavy, to plaintive mourning, to joy and ecstasy and bliss, to communion. Love, every breath. What I like are suspended chords, what Joni Mitchell calls, 'chords of enquiry. They're unresolved.' Then the composition becomes harmonically complex. Then it's possible to hear a full range, including what throbs below the cacophonous surface.

She looks out beneath long and lustrous eyelashes, coated with deep brown mascara, under a perfectly drawn line of dark liquid eyeliner. Courbet-brown hair, elegantly pulled back; lipstick glossy on her lips; nails a deep red; her earlobes and neck and wrists and fingers rung with fine gold. She's from North Africa, perhaps of Middle-Eastern and East Indian lineage. Sleek oiled beauty, an older woman, short, soft, rounded. For her I transfer information from charts to lists. Charts with boxes of names, and numbers, and positions in departments, who's who, staff, or contract, and where. Hierarchies of power replicated department by department. Updating what will be obsolete in a few weeks because people move in the bank, changing offices, positions, and her charts keep up with the changes so that everyone can reach everyone else by phone or email or mail. We need to be in our places, even if we're constantly changing places. Across sound-proofing office dividers, floors that are accessed by different blocks of elevators inaccessible to each other, around numbers spilling out of every computer screen in the whole complex of corporate office buildings. Mergers, take-overs, credit departments, marketing, delinquent accounts. Increase on investments. On the take. On the go. The bodies who make up the organization in the lists. Under those dark, swept eyelashes the lists will be reviewed, corrected with up-to-date information, and fed back into the system. Women like me come and go; we rarely speak of Michelangelo. The bank needs to keep track of itself.

Banks are the circulatory system. If the stock exchange, investment firms and investment wings of banks are the dark beating heart of the global financial empire, banks are its blood. Taking capitalism to every corner of the globe, every tiny capillary. Money in, sending it back out, or using it for loans or investments. Lending it; making money through interest payments. The bank, an aorta. Upstairs under the stories-high glass roof of skylights, a semi-circle of marble counters that the bank tellers stand at counting money. Transactions. In, and out. Money circulating, sloshing around the world.

My mind slowed into thickness and I left, and went to the Japanese restaurant and ordered Miso soup and wrote this while looking at the candies, like sweet tower turrets, a wall of dyed designer sugar laid out like a rainbow. When I go over to buy chocolate, I discover the turrets are soft plastic tubes created to 'look like' a candy store, and the candies are photographs printed on posters wrapped inside the clear canisters.

Friday, February 23, 2007

On the Monsieur posts...

My Monsieur posts rarely garner comments; it's as if they're too intimate, or perhaps somehow inaccessible. Yet surely we all live on those strange borders between each other. My present relationship is enabling me to explore that edge of uncertainty. I don't believe even in a 20 or 50 year marriage it's ever gone, it might get buried under habit, in patterned thoughts about each other, in the expectations familiarity breeds. And when he or she suddenly has an affair, or becomes ill, or dies, the constructed life falls apart, for that is all it ever was, and the very contingency of our existence becomes exposed again. I would like to remain in that place of openness to the fragility of our relationships. To remain sensitive. We are always disappearing away from each other, even in our most stable, long term relationships. While we know death is inevitable, what we forget is its unpredictability. Perhaps people don't comment on those posts because it brings the unpredictability too close, and it's uncomfortable. We, who want security. Knowingness. We want to control our lives, our connections to those we love, the way it works out for us. Only what is it that life keeps throwing not-sameness, difference, at us, unpredictability, struggle, unknowingness... how can we accept uncertainty into the slipstream of our thoughts, actions, the meaning of our days? This is what the Monsieur posts explore...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Burning Light

Clarice Lispector, The Apple in the Dark, trans Gregory Rabassa (London: Virago, 1967), p.237-8.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dream...

Not much going on muse-wise lately. But still enjoying my revealing dreams... this has much resonance with where I'm currently working. And makes me wonder...

I am working in an elevator as a receptionist for a large bank. There are three of us at a long desk. As the elevator goes up and down, the building shakes. The doors never seem to open, though.

On break I have to go to another building and take its elevator down.

Instead of a normal concourse level, I find a Third World-type mall that is empty. It's dark, and there are only a few lights. I walk around to the other side of the mall where there are fields that I can only see as far as the lights of the mall reveal. It could be a Caribbean Island. In the fields men are walking towards me. Dark-skinned men. They are walking like zombies.

I realize that, though I am an older woman, the place is deserted and I am alone, and I get scared. So I run back around the mall, and take the elevator up and go back to my job as a receptionist in the closed elevator in the building that is so high it shakes in the wind.

I am unnerved by what happened and want to leave, but a woman who's in charge looks at my chart and says, 'No, you can't go, you have to finish your hours...'

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Dreams...

A crescent moon is in the back of my throat, not white, from reflected sunlight, but the dark side of the moon, what is never seen, and it doesn't hurt, but my throat feels thick and thirsty and so I wake up and sip some water.

The feeling of a crescent moon in the back of my throat persists, even now weeks later I still feel it, magical, mystical.
...
I dreamt I left my natural Jaipur Oriental Musk perfume oil in its small round red box at Wealth Management.

Meaning, I must go back to the job, since I'd never be without my bliss-enhancing musk perfume oil.
...
It was 4am and the phone rang a hesitant half-ring, but I must have been dreaming.

Some revelatory phone conversations with different people in different situations happened over the next two days, however. Where there was deception, truth emerged. I'm still shaken. Even dancing this morning, I found myself crying, something that has happened to many others but never to me in 10 years of this particular dance practice. What can I say?
...
Early in the morning I am sitting at a "treats" cafe in the basement Food Court in a downtown corporate office building ~like the one I work in~ and my man friend walks by with a dark-haired woman in a white pantsuit. She's quite ghost-like. He looks strong, energetic, full of the rush of 'going somewhere.' I have sought to dream about our connection and see some metal holders nearby, shaped similarly to the "treats" logo, they remind me of ones used in hanging file folders. The dream ends with my gazing at similar metal dividers that he has installed on the alley side of the gate to the house where I live in an apartment.

I thoroughly enjoyed sending the person-in-this-dream an email detailing all the ways I could enjoy being a "treat," and then discovered how closely the dream represented a real life situation about which I had known nothing. Dreams can give you a 'play-by-play' on a relationship, but be forewarned: there can be radical and unexpected shifts, in the dreaming images, in life. Always be prepared...
_____
p.s. No, I haven't had a sore throat in years; and no, my man friend is not involved with another woman, at least not in any conventional sense.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Browsings...

Syntax, structured coherencies, letting go to enter the streams-of-consciousness writing. But see how chromosomes are packaged. Tighter than any sonnet. We are form, and bound to form. Still, to untrain my mind, I allow emergences. We each experience the quality of the world differently, the qualia, but there are points, nodes, of happenings, in the world, in the event continuum, around which I gather my thoughts as I write this.

Browsing the news, I find a skeleton of pins, bars and a plate around Barbaro's leg, which is already held by a matrix of screws. The abscess, pummel of pus. Prize racehorse with a splintered leg. Laminitis. Later in the day, Barbaro is put down.

I'm reading Jean-Luc Nancy: "Isn't life always an escape from death? And this escape from death - which at the same time doesn't cease moving towards death, of course - which is it if not life itself..." "...it survives, that is, it is always on the escape, skimming non-existence, contingent..."

But my writing is full of grafts! Inserted into the landscape of soil-drenched words like the traces of a village found near Stonehenge.

And then this: "everything has the mark of its own disappearance." This phrasing, these words, their potential meaning, remain with me. I hover over them for a long time, writing them into my notebook, tracing them with my fingertips. Nancy says death is inevitable, we know that, it's just that when is unpredictable. Unless with drugs, like Barbaro, or euthanasia. Is the unpredictability of our disappearance marked on us?
The coleslaw is pale green and crunchy, tiny slivers of cabbage in a piquant dressing; I crave it when I see it. English cucumbers sliced on a diagonal, green and yellow wax beans, chickpeas, tiny diced red peppers, cherry tomatoes, a typically creamy potato salad, pickled sliced beets, and dressing, who knows what, perhaps a version of Italian. This, my small lunch from a salad buffet.

I am deep in an office tower of the corporate world. Outside of nature, here where death is remote, where it's dark beating wings are hidden. What's beating inside my head is monotony. Flourescent lights. A world in which there are no bodily fluids, no bodies with organs. A world of sheer surfaces, billboard women, men divided into one of two ranks: managerial or service. Or am I unfair?

Some scientists in Britain created a mechanical stomach that partially emulates the complexity of the chemical and muscular processes of digestion. It is of plastic and metal strong enough to hold the corrosive gut acids and enzymes. The scientists deliver foods to the mechanical stomach that even contracts just like a real one, and can even vomit, and watch the bile begin to dissolve everything into its constituents. The stomach isn't like a real one, which is beyond our ability to reproduce fully. Learning how our digestive systems work, especially the absorption of nutrients is the point of this digesting machine. Testing foods, antacids, even how poisons get absorbed, fascinating.

Back at the desk where I sit it's not as if I have anything important to do; they just need me here. Anyone. Someone who's good at the tasks. They don't even mind my writing, or me in the act of. Digesting.