Thursday, January 2, 2020

Meditation 5


An attempt to circumnavigate the present, its minor and major corruptions, as if not to name them were to pull down the blinds, buffer ourselves against its violence. Ghosts walk across my inner eyelids, “paying” visits as one “pays” attention, always the financial metaphor to keep us apart. He got rid of his iPhone because he had completely lost confidence. We wonder what the link is between self-doubt and smart phones, even if we share the hunch. I try to sit with the birds and with the violence, without ignoring either one, as if balance could be achieved from the alternating current of attention. I will not watch the video of an orangutan trying to beat back a bulldozer, but I cannot avoid this morning’s photograph of a kangaroo in silhouette against a wall of flame. People have fled in their cars to the beach, another sign the liminal is not benevolent enough. Caught between water and fire, the earth is a narrow band of sand and rock. The prime minister refuses to call a state of emergency while a constituent calls him a “fuck wad” to his face. The crime is in looking, but not seeing; one can see without looking, from behind the blinds where the censor cannot shield you from the 500 million animals dead in Australia, including one third of the population of koala. Like Steve, I’m trying to write a page every day, and like him I wonder what the writing life would be without a censor. He writes that he doesn’t know, but I ask if he doesn’t at least have a sense of it? Would we be so disdained for our fantasies of pleasure removed from the world’s pain? Would we attack ourselves with the fires, in bald imitation of medieval saints, their backs slick with blood from their whips, their minds going into an eclipse from which the soul can’t flee. I’m beginning to like these words again, like “soul,” precisely for their used up symbolism, their gesture toward feeling, a sense of self as abstraction lodged in an old house. The windows are covered with webs, and with a morning’s condensation. When the skies are clear during the day, it gets cold at night. In the morning we rush into our clothes faster than any censor could get us there. Bird song clarity in the cold air. One bird yesterday sounded like a pig; Bryant thought it a pheasant. Its notes were more round than the apapane’s, which chitter from the canopy. To face your pain is not to celebrate it. To put it down is not to relieve it. The elegies for my ghosts will not be salve. Werner Herzog is sure his writing will exist far longer than his films; it’s not a matter of quality but of the material on which the art is made. Words are not as fragile as images, and the monkeys taking over an Amazon ship are no less memorable as sounds than as pictures. He put a gun to the head of his star, someone told me, to force him to complete the film. Deaths of despair are rising precipitously. The conflagration is our horror film without a script or star. We cannot rewind the narrative, so let’s put it out.

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