Sunday, June 16, 2019

More evasions of as / is

No, art is not evasion. We're too far past that. "But what signifies the beauty of nature when men are base?" asks Thoreau. His sentence is half beauty and half (bad) judgment. What signifies the beauty of persons when nature has been damaged? Up to six hurricanes this season, we're told; the still air gets more hot, mosquitoes move to altitude, and birds go higher yet. "They can just move," the Secretary of State says of those suffering from climate change. You can flee commies, but not the climate.

To seek refuge is not evasion. Second base is not evasion. But what happens when they come to play the game without bases?

Someone gets arrested for leaving water in the desert for migrants to find. No one can touch a migrant child. An old internment camp gets retrofitted for children separated from their parents. Children are the new Japanese, the new gypsies, the new homosexuals. The children are not Aryan enough.

Infant trauma exfoliates in later life. "If you eat yourself, do you get fatter?" is scrawled on our refrigerator white board. If you eat your feelings, will they dissolve? How can they dissolve into words, sprayed like a lawn by a sprinkler? And what of that lawn, its energy use? The stripped lots in Volcano remain empty. Heaps of wood, damaged o`hia, some roots tracing ground zero of this spot, gone brown and gray. No mother fern to hold the soil close; no high tree to advertise calm.

The idea is not to find the truth but to deal with consequences of the question. What did she do to deserve such mobbing? Did she get another pronoun wrong, not sign her apology loudly enough? Could the hallway not contain her feelings of remorse? Students know which teacher to pick on; it's all laid out in the implicit manual of harassment and internal terror. He wakes up at night sorry that he failed to change the culture. He says he has to get off the phone, and then stays.

Blogger saves this; baseball saves us. My son shows me highlights each morning on his laptop, tells me that Jim Edmonds said Kolten Wong had matured, defends Jack Flaherty his base-running error. We can't be trained out of our human nature, especially if we're pitchers on the base paths. They gave him the green light even though Goldy was coming to the plate: what was that all about? It's surface talk, but may prevent self-harm.

I wanted to create community, but got coterie instead. How bad is that?

He left an all-caps note to ask that his car not be towed just before the chapter titled "Indirect Language." Is that a critique, or a joke? Is the joke critical to understanding why indirection works or fails to, depending on the context? My friend says his silence is a clue that he doesn't want to talk.  Indirection as mis-direction. But also as light through the hapu`u, or in the old cd hanging from a tree to keep the pests away. I see part of my face in it, rainbowed, a hole at the center.

Where discipline and privacy collide. Condemned to stay off campus. Threatened with loss of grad courses. Denied tenure. Parking sticker withheld. No one to look them in the eye. The embarrassment of cruelty cannot paint over its protective sheen. We invest in mystery to avoid the costs of ethical behavior. The shroud has a face in it, but we cannot figure out whose.

I have not broken any confidences here. Everything is so abstract as to prevent you from knowing the identities of mobbers or mobbees. Let's just say you'll find them everywhere, along with the racists who hide behind theoretical concepts. Render a refugee into an object of state power and you have no more sunburned child at the border, except insofar as he is the pawn of your intellect. I proclaim myself an ex-intellectual, though I do love a romp in the hay over poetic form.

Brian asks me why I'm so deeply invested in Ashbery. I think it's because he's so clear. The first time through Flow Chart, I didn't understand a word. Finally I don't get JA! Then I read it as literal text. Like a fundamentalist cast out to sea in the psalms, I saw the map unfold before me. The look-outs were still closed, but we remembered them.

It's the slant of light again. You might get tagged out at home, so slide one way or other.

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