Thursday, April 26, 2007

A gentle and quiet euphoria

Every morning I awake in the unfolding petals of my beautiful life, my head cushioned on a soft down pillow, and I let go of everything except the ecstasy of living. Perhaps it's years of meditation, but slipping out of the slipstream of thoughts, letting anxiety go, isn't hard. Being in the joy of living, the breath, the beating heart. At night I try to go to sleep in the same state, relieved of my life so I can embrace and affirm it. I am in love, of course I am in love. How could I not be?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

How Writing Renews Itself

Impasse with writing. Editing bits of, and only on whim, the last 4 books I've drafted. Considering structure, flow patterns, what the passage might be like for a reader. How much I wish to reveal and conceal of my life. What sorts of connectives and links the story of the stories needs. If it feels intuitively right, I go with it; otherwise, I keep working, trying different image patterns, polishing.

The flow patterns of the people walking past that I sit and watch from a bench in the underground concourse tunnels. Converging motion of intention. Routes. Auto-locomotion of the body, legs and limbs. The women in their high heels seem crippled in their motion, though they compensate for the tilt forwards, the way it bends the spine forcing it to balance to an unnatural gravity.
Brenda ClewsWhen I dance I can't wear heels. Bare feet is what I like best, and a black danceskin, and a small skirt - a silk sarong or large flowing scarf to tie around my hips. Maximal freedom.

Sometimes with dancing I become tired of my range of movement, feeling that I've explored that particular phase fully. Every phase includes all the previous ones, so the overall range is larger now, and each new phase lasts longer than its predecessors, but I still reach impasse. It gets heavy, onerous. The same range of motions. Nothing new. And then I stop dancing. Wind becomes stone. Bright sun on fields retreats into a cave. I curl into myself. Months go by, sometimes a year. When I begin again to dance it is like a new person being reborn. The way my body stretches into new motions and new interpretations of life's interweaving tapestries is often surprising to me. There is a new phase to explore, and it is joyous.

I've written upside down and inside out and in every imaginable permutation of the present phase of the way I string words together. I've stretched as far as I can in this lexicon and syntax and grammar and particular image patterns and sets of theoretical concerns. I feel like I'm tracing old maps. So I tinker with editing my manuscripts. This is how I spend my writing time now, and it is useful and good, cultivating and honing, while I wait to see how writing renews itself in a new phase.

These are only working titles, and could change. Instead of doing a PhD, this is how I've spent the past few years. Living on temp work and a little child support, seeing my children through their teen years. There are paintings too, but here's my little list of writings:

  • This Way of Falling Into What Is Receiving Us - 1986-2007 - about 100 pages, including paintings and dance
  • Book of the Dead - 2004 - about 50,000 words
  • The Move - 2005 - about 50,000 words
  • EnTrapped WOR|l|DS - 2006 - about 20,000 words
  • Poetry - 2003-2007 - about 50 pages, or more, including photopoems
  • Mountain of Seeds - 2007 - in progress, about 10,000 words
    • On the Strange Coherencies of a Life

      What of what hasn't happened yet?

      I want to write this story, the story of what hadn't happened but then did, but I surely cannot impart the sense of strangeness and wonder it elicited. Still, I shake my head in surprise.

      When I returned to Toronto in 2005 I came without a job or a place to stay. All my household goods were stored by the moving company in Mississauga. For the first two months I stayed with an acquaintance. My compass spun wildly. Everything was open. The only magnetic centre was the school my daughter wished to attend, and for that we had to be in area and from out of province, since enrollment was over capacity. I did a specifically focused extended mediation on where I would live (meditation a significant part of my daily life for 13 years now). Because I don't want to reveal exact whereabouts, let me call it Albion, after Blake's 'primordial man' from his prophetic books. In the meditation it came that I would live on Albion Ave. That is a very expensive area, but there is a lot of student housing, too, so perhaps an older apartment in one of the large houses? My dog and I walked up and down that street over and over that Summer as I tried to fathom where the meditation and reality might meet. All that came of it was communing with some fabulous old oak trees and a sense of which side of the street it would be and what specific block it would be.

      In an email on the 29th of August, 2005, I wrote:

      "Albion figuring so prominently in my psychic life at present, that's unruly... it's been so insistent that I've been looking for accommodation on a street in Toronto called Albion Ave... how strange that you mention this word... I've been waking up and going to sleep with "Albion," and walking up and down the street here that bears that name, being one with the massive old trees, wondering what the pull is, what it means, why this word is so prominent in my consciousness... hmnnn...."

      Nothing on Albion, but I found an affordable apartment just inside the school cache area that worked for us, moved in with two suitcases of Summer clothes and my computer (which I had sent by UPS separately), found everything we needed came to us (which was miraculous in its own small way), created a small lodging that never really became a home but sufficed, missed my son who was now living with his Dad, and puzzled over the Albion Ave intuition. And I've often walked on that street and felt rather silly, me and my 'intuitions.' I do get carried away.

      Meanwhile, I was fighting with the moving company, who nearly doubled the monthly cost of storage from what they had agreed on in Vancouver to when my household goods arrived in Mississauga, and I had refused to pay them anything at all. I was also writing "The Move," about the uncertainty I was living in. At one point I thought I had lost everything, clothes, furniture, books, all my writing and paintings. When I let go of the need to hold onto my 'stuff' I found I was able to negotiate with the moving company. We eventually agreed on the original monthly amount and so I paid them a lump sum for the year that my goods had been in storage with them and my brothers and children and I moved everything from Mississauga to a storage company about 10 minutes from where I live. For the last 6 months I have been looking for better accommodation, to have a home again.

      Nothing. It began to give me a daily headache, the looking. The Winter went by. Nothing quite right appeared. Some definite possibilities, but a 'no dogs' policy, or a tenant who decided not to move after all, those kinds of things happened. I was ready to give up. I ended up with an agency due to fatigue with the process of looking at screens and screens of ads daily. A unit came up not far from where we are living now, and while it was adequate, it wasn't quite right, but I was resigned to taking it. We had to move to a larger space.

      Last Monday I went in to sign the lease when the office opened so I wouldn't miss too much time from work. As I talked to the rental coordinator, he mentioned that another unit had just become available, and it was unusual since people rarely moved from this building. It cost a little more since it's electric heat, but he said the location might work very well for my daughter's school.

      Where is the unit?

      You guessed it.

      Albion Avenue.

      I signed the lease without seeing the apartment. That's how deeply I trust intuition. When my daughter and I looked at it later that evening we were quite happy with it. The bedrooms are very small, but there is light and enough space and the location is perfect. It'll be a good space for working, writing, painting, and for living, I can feel that. It's on the side of the street that my intuition indicated in 2005, and a stone's throw from a cafe that I 'saw' us eating breakfast at...

      Last night I took my dog to the small townhouse and said to her, "Home..." She sniffed the door and looked slightly puzzled but happy. Sort of like me. And then I thanked every one of the massive old oak trees as we walked up the street that we will soon be calling home.

      Thursday, April 12, 2007

      Heart Tones

      My heartbeat woke me. My pillow soft, the darkness of the cold Spring night, beneath covers, warm, hours of luxury to think, imagine, slip into underlying streams of thought, fascinated by wondering, exploring routes and trajectories, ideas and sensations, memories and future possibilities, yet sleep is crucial, work tomorrow, and so a mantra over and over, for stillness, to locate the cliff-edge of drowsiness, to fall into it. Why is it so loud, this beating? Blood filling with oxygen, the network of arteries, arterioles, capillaries and veins. Diastole and systole. I hear it in my left ear drum. It pulses, throbs with a steady beat. Pluck out the earplug. The clock ticks too loudly; my dog snores slightly. Squeeze the foam and push it back into orifice of ear. The steady thumping of a sea of blood thrown like a metronome against my inner ear. Usually I can't fall asleep on my left side because my heartbeat is too loud. But the thuds of heartbeat are loud no matter what side I lie on. How am I to dim the sound when it is inside me? All night, my beating heart keeps me awake.

      At 5am I rose, let the dog out, made coffee, cooked sausages, eggs and toasted a bit of pumpernickel bagel. I read an email that caused me to Google Rilke, read some of his poetry and part of one of the Letters to a Young Poet. I imagined living at Chateau de Muzot, a small stone tower, where Rilke finished the Duino Elegies. How he carried them like a long delayed pregnancy, until, finally, they poured onto the page. Then I wondered if wax in my eardrum was causing a sensitivity to the inner sound of my beating body. I rose from Rilke to look for the Clary Sage oil. On the shelf of chaotic items, reading glasses, lip balm, books, papers, Tarot cards, sable paint brushes, I find it, tip my head, let some drops slide in to massage the ear drum. The pounding of blood through the heart is muted, distant, normal.

      Later when I consider what to write, I remember the heartbeat in the night that kept me awake. Muscular organ of renewal. Ventricles and passageways. Central chamber for the maintenance of everything.

      How do I approach it. Mortality, the thundering heart.
      __________________
      Qualia, or the subjective response to sensations of the body, is the subject of this piece on the heart.

      Tuesday, April 10, 2007

      A Bouquet of Unopened Bulbs

      A woman walks across the square holding in both arms a large bouquet of unopened bulbs, the top of the clear cellophane wrap in which they are encased is unfurled and open. Like wet paint strokes, the brush flat and full of green paint at the base of the bulb and thinning to a point, dozens, or more. One could not know from across the way, sipping afternoon tea. The imagination looks for corollaries: domes of Persian temples, fat and ready to open; sepals the colour of Green Tara; or Celtic sidhe, mounds, hills, where the fairy folk live who love beauty and wealth, fertile, magical, of the realm of promise.

      In the resurfacing of the Zocalo in Mexico City in 1790, Antonio de Leon y Gama discovered the greatest archaeological find of 18th century Mexico. Twin stones. A statue of Coatlicue (she of the feathered skirt of serpents) and the Great Aztec Sun Stone.

      She is Teteo Inan, Mother of the Gods.

      For centuries prior to finding her, Mexicans laid flowers on the square for the Mother of the Earth. She was never lost, only hidden.

      I'm writing to you as if I were tearing the snarled roots of a colossal tree from the depths of the earth, and those roots were like powerful tentacles, like the voluminous nude bodies of strong women wrapped in serpents and carnal desires of realization.1
      Because the tourists who are in the news were kidnapped in the Danakil Depression it blisters the rotunda in which I sit, and I am twisted in the stunted roots of the dragon trees with broad-leaves and a stout trunks in the lowest place on earth. A festering place, 371 feet below sea level, lava oozing upwards, continuous fissures and hundreds of earthquakes each year, sulphuric pools, salt flats and salty lakes, unblinking sun, a scant few inches of rain a year, highs of 50C in the dry season.

      Slow currents under the lithosphere, at the centre of a triple junction fault in the Great Rift Valley of Africa, with a seafloor spreading centre, moving at the rate of 1-2cm a year, Dankalia will submerge into a new sea in 10 million years.

      How can the woman with the unopened flowers in her arms walk on a floor of lava? Magma wells up from the mantle, bones from the necklace of Coatlicue emerge as Australopithicus afarensis. She comes from under the earth. They find her in a gully in bits. She is a sky dancing with diamonds.

      Can I dance with a hominid with one hip, a sacrum, a rib cage, a lumbar, a humerus, a femoral cranium? She is 3 feet 8 inches tall, 65 lbs and 3.2 million years old. She looks like a chimpanzee but walks upright. Lucy is a connecting link in the evolutionary story, and she was found in 1974 by two anthropologists, Johansen and Gray, near the Awash River, near the hot fields of basalt.

      Buried earth mothers of the earth.

      The shiny basalt floor of the rotunda heats and cracks as white-enamelled cast iron tables fall. I lay myself on the earth and lay the fresh, green, living, vibrant closed buds before me and they burst into multi-coloured bloom.

      ____________________
      1Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,1989), p.13.

      Monday, April 09, 2007

      Papilionoidea

      You have no idea who you are. Razed, skinned, muscles exposed, then stripped to the bone. Marrow beating inside the sheath where you melt. Reorientation of neuronal patterns, old connections gutted as you renovate yourself from within. When the new circuits activate and energy flows, your thoughts aren't the same. A richer depth, a deeper resonance. You're more complete. New perceptions of the world and your relationships unfold like visionary wings inside your chrysalis. One day I'll see you gliding over the plains, an angel.

      Tuesday, April 03, 2007

      A Creation Story


      The Creation of Adam is a fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti circa 1511.


      Otherwise it would all happen at once. Our births, lives, deaths. In an instant, a tableau of everything. Time slows it, lineates it, notches it. We experience ourselves event by event. We attempt to feel the fullness of the great expanse in our awareness of the moment, pure, insightful.

      Time is a way of perceiving: measuring our lives, our moments of meeting, that we age. We are time travelers touching each other as we pass by. We know the wholeness of which we are a part; we reach for each other, our feather-soft breaths.

      Is time an interpretation carved out of the undifferentiated? And space a way to spread it out, a place to live? The way we are separated in our individual beings. How our egos map the terrain of the unknown. Ropes we grab to cross the ocean of raw life. Without fixing ourselves in time and space, as coordinates, would it fly apart?

      My pathway to you who are reading this was always known. Who you are is inherent in the writing. Destiny is not predetermined but the unfolding of the moment in the wholeness of everything that has or will ever exist. Does it spin on the tip of Zeno's Arrow?

      In my image-creating mind, time is the crumbling sand beneath my bare feet as the ocean pulls it away.

      Time is the rhythm of each day, activity by activity. At night, fatigued, we let go.

      In meditation, I knew I'd left time; not a euphoria of timelessness witnessing the flow of time, but absence, non-being, not in the learned experience of time.

      Perhaps death is a closure of time, where it ceases.

      Time is the energy I have

      for living.

      Thursday, March 29, 2007

      A little unfinished painting...

      BrendaClewsWomanPaintingMarch2007

      While I did this little India ink sketch and oil painting before seeing Susie Burpee's dance performance, "The Spinster's Almanac, A Cabaret of Solitude," this March in Toronto, down at the Distillery District, and though the figure in this is Victorian, there is something about her...

      So I composed these words, I wrote them on the back of the painting in pencil, that were mostly a response to Burbee's performance, to perhaps add to the tiny painting (maybe 9" x 5") in handwriting:

      Nails claw inside the breaking shell. Spinster's Almanac. Miss Haversham. Dance of downy feathers, beating heart, aloneness. Only windows seen or seeing. Escape into the confinement of solitude.

      Only my hard drive is full, and I can't take a better, more in-focus picture and upload it, or even one with the scrawled words on it until I rectify the situation, sigh. I'll upload the finished little painting whenever.

      Wednesday, March 28, 2007

      Inkspill in Red

      After the simplicity of my friend's encouragement -why not, he said- I tried again to go deeper in my writing of my present bodily experience. Sharing the little piece (that's taken all morning to write, sigh):

      No meditating on stopping it. I'm not appreciating deeply enough. For having it. This bleeding, useless, without sense or logic on the part of Nature. At fifty-five years of age it is only a bodily remembrance of the fertility that is past and now becomes a path of greater communion with my womanness, a spiritual deepening into an intimate, private being alive. On the morning of the fourteenth day, still the flush of blood, is it that I deny its importance, denigrate it, lament how weak I feel, how awkward it is in the work world, how strange at my age to flow so redly and opulently? Not that I seek to valorize it. Just to become comfortable with it. After forty-two years of continuous monthly menses, except during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and during the last year when it's been sporadic, I wonder if I have fully accepted my female body? Can I arrive at gentle acceptance near the end of many cycles? Acceptance without celebration or lament. Is-ness. This visceral reality, scarlet wash of haemoglobin on the white moon cloth. Ache in my belly, hidden tides. Loving my womb, inner bulb of fire. Its tender blood vessels.

      Sunday, March 25, 2007

      Observing the Observer

      Observing, naming, creating stories gives reality to our perceptions of the universe, which is creating itself for us. Observing the world causes it to shape itself into a reality for us.

      In the current issue of The American Scholar, Robert Lanza, a proponent of Biocentrism, which builds on quantum physics, writes, "the laws of the world were somehow created to produce the observer....the observer in a significant sense creates reality and not the other way around."

      Hmnnn.


      If subatomic particles are "watched" traveling through a barrier (in the famous experiment, a box with two holes), they behave like tiny particles, and go through one hole or the other.

      If they're "not watched" they pass through both holes, like waves.

      But no-one sees this.


      Quantum waves are never observed, only inferred from the behaviour of unobserved particles.

      Quantum waves are waves of probability, statistical predictions, not material waves, hence nothing but a likely outcome. Outside of an idea, the wave is not there, it's nothing.

      Since it's not observed, can't ever be observed, it's not "real."


      Nor does the particle have any definite existence, until we observe it.

      It gets worse. Quantum waves merely define the potential location a particle can occupy.

      But it's all probability!

      It isn't an event or a phenomenon, but a description of a likely event.


      Dear reader, my golden muse, I shalln't take this anywhere at the moment. Only let me ask, rather than 'how are you?' and 'what's going on?', what's in your quantum fields these days? ::grins:: Tell me about your entanglements over virtual tea!

      Saturday, March 17, 2007

      Krishna was a Butter Thief

      Logic is tiresome, like madness. The brown suede cover of my pocket calendar, the one in which I write, was the back of a cow once. Tanned, dyed, stretched. I will not make a metaphor out of this. It was the book that I bought when I promised to jot notes, any notes, regularly. Pencil swatting words on the fly. Discreetly. Grab at slips of thoughts before they slip away. It's the layer below the layer. A veiny map of words pulsing with blood. A cow's shroud, but see, there I go. The skin of a cow covers my book. The skin that was composed from soft grasses that were nibbled and mulched through four stomachs until the ingredients could be usefully used. To make skin cells. Dermatitis of words. Scribbled suede.

      It is the hair that seems wrapped on a bone, that sticks out at jagged angles, that I like best. She pushes the mail cart like a hospital bed. Back and forth, three times a day, every day. Slow, cow steps. Bovine mail delivery. I must get cows off the mind. Really, as I sit at the desk looking for something else to fix my attention on, the telephone cord, wrapped in that circular pattern, is interesting. How do you press rubber wrapped around a line into that shape?

      Black and white spots today, a vest. Soft fur, brush it. Which is a lie, but it fits with the metaphor I refuse to make. Gibberish. Someone has gone out the door, someone will enter it, and I must watch all the time in case anyone has lost their pass or needs access, like a visitor, or a courier. My fingers race over the keys until they sound like a clickety cart. It's Friday and almost everyone is gone. I shift my eyes back and forth, checking my environment, people walking by. Am I seeing myself? What do I look like? How many people do you have to see before they blur? Into cows in fields bovinely chewing cud, walking bags of internal organs pulsing. We're walking herds. It must be environmental sterility that's making me this way. I cannot discount the effect of where I am. I'm not sure where these cowslips of thought are coming from. Inside the clover of my hair.

      When I was a cow I had no time to give milk. All my attention was on my hooves. And then I ate grass until the cows came home. It was very good, if I recall. The gum that I chew is green. It's St. Patrick's Day. Do cows mind snakes? Cows don't get agitated often. I'm not talking about bulls. Mama cows. The ones mooing on the hill. Everyday I eat a fresh baby spinach salad that I make myself. With thinly sliced onions and fresh mushrooms, and liberally sprinkled with salted sunflower seeds, flax seeds, slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, and perhaps cheese cubes. Milk squeezed into solids and dried. Feta cheese salad dressing thrown and tossed until all the baby spinach leaves are coated in oil and dark green. Then I chew, slowly, while all my stomachs digest. They tell me that eating green leafy vegetables with an oil and vinegar dressing is good for us. It keeps us our minds agile.

      Really, my hooves are the most interesting part of my anatomy. Everywhere I've been is remembered in them. Look at the indents. See the continents. It's time to move up the hill. I'm being rounded. Milked.

      Sunday, March 11, 2007

      The day illusions fell

      This prose poem is dedicated to that magnifique intellectual and poet par excellence, John Walter. Some of the lines in this piece came from a comment I left at his moving poem, Nepenthe. It's also dedicated to my close confidant, Kaj, who received this prose poem as a voice mail message when he didn't answer his Treo, and for which I was generously thanked. Thank you, such beautiful men...
      And to Sky, whose photographs and writing of the flowers in her garden inspired the imagery of the last paragraph, so sumptuous they ebulliently began blossoming over here.



      Early March 2007, Toronto

      Wednesday, March 07, 2007

      Oh, those years on the earth...

      It's my birthday, the double high-five. Nothing special, but I did buy a silk dress which I am wearing at work. Perhaps I'll try to compose some images and see what might emerge from them. It's a difficult day for me, began at 5:15am with sadness, but I'm being brave... and trying to make it like any other day, ignoring the undercurrents, their deep swelling. It's not the age - I celebrate that, seeing myself as only half way through. But, oh, losses, family, really my Dad, such a long time ago now, the ways in which one is honoured, cherished, treasured and loved. Being born was the best and worst thing that ever happened to me, and can I say that after all these years? Does anyone understand this? It's not an easy day. Tomorrow I will probably go to a performance in celebration of International Women's Day with some women friends and celebrate quietly then. Oh, should I post this?

      I'll update this as I write it. Please forgive how blatantly emotional.

      I woke early, tears in the darkness.

      Ironing the black silk dress with cream polka dots like full moons, a few ruffles over the bodice. It ties at the waist. Underneath a silky black chemise with a thick hem of lace that falls below. Since it is Winter, and cold, a wool shirt, the weave, a light-weight worsted, slightly stretchy, in black. An aquamarine pendant surrounded in diamonds, a birthday gift, the last one, from my father before he died.

      I remember him on this day, the day he celebrated me, more than I do on the day that commemorated his birth.

      The day moves into its heaving. Why can't it disappear into an ordinary day? By evening grief wears itself into memory again.

      There are beautiful wishes from friends, and later perhaps my mother, and perhaps my brothers will call, my son certainly will. Only my Dad cared about birthdays, and not his, he wanted no special attention. None of us care that much about birthdays. Only why the slide into grief, the remembrances. As the years have gone on, it's gotten worse, too, missing someone who died 23 years ago now. To acknowledge it as a day of grief? How very odd indeed. Therefore I want to hide the truth of what day it is. You understand.

      The day of life, remembering death. Mourning amidst quiet celebration of the day one embarked on life, commemorating the day of emergence, the rhythm of the passing years.


      Later now, and the evening mellowed... sitting with my daughter while she does homework, working through things with our banter, the light on the table glistening, her hair, her high cheek bones, enjoying her beauty, sparkle, and one of those soul-baring talks with my brother while she walked the dog, and talking for nearly an hour with my son by phone, so gentle, so wonderful, these simple pleasures, such blessings. In the end, I am a family woman.

      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.

      Sunday, January 28, 2007

      Glint of the Green Cat's Eye

      Embroidered flowers, relation to real-world flowers undetermined, perhaps fuchsia daisies and tawny buttercups and peach poinsettias. Thought is vision-based. It transforms through the insula, physical signals from the body, sensations into feelings. Neurocircuitry. I am a wired world. The sensitivity of the central nervous system transforms the world out there into the one in here. I perceive strokes of coloured yarn as flowers with indistinct reference to actual flowers dancing on hillsides of brown earth.

      Head-strong, body-wise.

      Information comes in so many ways.

      Should I tell a story? That's a different shaping of events. Pick a narrative, a point of view. Paint representation in words. Describe a mutually-agreed upon approach to a scene.

      On my finger is a thick silver ring set with a black stone in which there is a green cat's eye.

      Carvings on a snake-shaped rock, arrow-heads 70,000 years old lying nearby, in a cave hidden in the "Mountain of the Gods" in Botswana. Offerings to spirit.

      Anatomically modern humans emerged from East Africa 120,000 years ago. Protozoa on the edge of the expanse. Passing the baton of chromosomes from generation to generation, sacred bundle.

      The rock snake is 6 feet long with a gash that is mouth-like. It's carved notches appear to ripple in the light that flickers in the cave, making it undulate, alive.

      Can I move from the mystery of the mountain cave to the one of the night sky of stars without connectives? The green cat's eye glints its visions.

      It's what we can't see that negotiates us.

      About the size of a small asteroid, all the dark energy in the universe. It's absolutely consistent, too, and doesn't clump or coagulate anywhere. Unimpeded surface, if you can imagine that. And it's shaping everything, not only how far we are moving from each other, but perhaps the structure of the evolution of the universe itself.

      There is dark energy between you and me.

      Oh, laugh. There isn't anywhere it doesn't penetrate. It's about the expansion rate. Be a magnet and it'll slow down. What we need to exert on each other are gravitational pulls.

      The thread in the crudely embroidered flower on my sweater pulls. Pulls out, winding undone. A red lace of snake beneath my fingers. Or perhaps we are merely notches in the undulating cosmic serpent that is always shedding its skin, leaving skeins and webs of matter amidst the empty spaces.

      One day I'll take you through a time sequence, and you'll understand the expansion and the gravitational fields, and the forces existing on nothing. To grow we have to push our gravity into the expanding fields of dark energy. That way we don't disperse.

      Consciousness doesn't actually have an "I." That's a narratorial strategy we fabricate afterwards. Trouble is, there's no-one in charge, only neurolinguistic circuitries, insulas sparking feelings, a lightning energy of consciousness constantly recreating itself as we interpret ourselves in this vast place of fleeting planets and stars and galaxies, where no-one has the final word.

      Friday, January 26, 2007

      Flames of Insight Curling on the Edges of the Burning Paper

      You create this writing. Yes, you do. I write the words, their coherencies dancing to my inner rhythms, but you create the meaning that the words impart. You, the reader, control my writing. Okay, that is going a little far, but I do write for your reading. When you completely miss the point of what I wrote I think it's me, not you. I wasn't clear enough; it's not that you have problems with comprehension, though in my darker moments I will admit I've thought this.

      There are different groups of readers too. Who comprehend differently from each other. Offering your writing to different groups can be an interesting experience. But I won't get into that. Oh, and whoever leaves the first comment often defines how that piece will be interpreted and responded to. I often make it a point not to read the other comments until I've commented. I want a pure connection with the writing that doesn't need to line up with the 'group-think' because it's sure of itself. I personally like independently thought-out comments. On the other hand, when discussions get going, that's great too.

      The comments often enable the next piece of writing. We are audiences, then, who shape each other's writing. It's reader-response carried to a newly imagined level, this critical approach to literature, but greatly speeded up in the blogosphere. The process of reception and meaning-making that enables the writing to live beyond the page it is written on.

      Thursday, January 25, 2007

      Blossom

      Should a flower not open to the sun because there is nightfall?

      Should a flower, soft, delicate, trusting, not blossom magnificently, brilliant unfurling full petals, splashing perfume, colour to the world, inviting pollination, growing rich seeds for the future, pods full of grace, because the sun is swallowed up by darkness?

      Tuesday, January 23, 2007

      Outside, looking in.

      Metaphors aren't arising. Something resists them. It's a constructed world that perhaps is a metaphor for its own processes. Of corporate wealth built on bodies of work. Of living off the crème of interest payments. Capitalism is "borrowing from the future."1 These wide berths of marble pillars and floors and tabletops, of huge glass chandeliers and sophisticated stores, of pin stripe people, confident but wary, built on profits from debt payments. What enables one to have what one can't afford, now. Purchases contingent on future payments that gouge the paychecks of the present. A future that barely exists, or does as a distant phantom. All around me at the Food Court where I sip coffee and write in my notebook, not the upper echelons of power but office staff. Thin plastic credit cards already overloaded, mortgages, car payments. And a disjuncture in the metaphors of financial power that the structures are a concretization of. Profits from the excesses of the moneylenders practices, this glimmering, gleaming Mecca of wealth. What if we chose to live within our means - would corporate complexes of banks like those surrounding me vanish into the mirages they are?
      _________________________________
      1 Cited at I Cite:
      Zizek writes: "Lacan's notion of the debt that pertains to the very notion of the symbolic order is strictly homologous to this capitalist debt: sense as such is never 'proper'; it is always advanced, 'borrowed from the future'; it lives on the account of the virtual future sense."

      Sunday, January 21, 2007

      Relation Of

      Monsieur, you can't be possessed. Any woman who would try to possess you doesn't understand you.

      One can only come into a relation of love with you.