Friday, June 7, 2019

MAGA and the blank sign

Walking between the Old Volcano Store and Volcano Arts Center, I crossed paths with an older white man wearing a dingy blue cap. As we got close, he smiled, and I noticed MAGA stitched on his hat. I asked if it was really a MAGA cap and he chuckled. "The clouds are coming in," he said, pointing behind me.

I looked behind me. Clouds. Then wondered if he'd told me about clouds before or after I asked about his MAGA cap, oddly blue. That would be a different story, if he'd said "clouds" first.

Cause and effect after the fact. One version cause, the other version effect, or affect.

After I read from my memory cards, a history professor asked why, if I believe in randomness, I date each poem. Where historical time transects present time, there's a date on chance operations. But not operations exactly, as there are none where none intended.

"It [speech] is rather a profound connivance of time with itself." MP.

Off Maile, I saw a gate beside the road near a forest preserve. The gate was locked; sturdy metal fencing enclosed an area we assume to be free of pigs. A sign hung from the tree beside the gate. It had bleached completely white.

Early Monday morning, after the weekend's Commencement exercises, runners found the body of a young man hanging at Ching Field. His parents had come for his law school graduation. As he was not a student, Honolulu police were called in to investigate.

This place is half rhyme. Fern, bird. Hapu`u, `apapane.

In Columbo we see the murder first. The drama is in the figuring out. Figurer, to solve by imagining. Having used that verb in a train in Nantes once, I now suspect it more literary than spoken. Figure and ground, where ground is distance and figure leans out of its penciled lines as if to greet you. Bonjour, smudge.

So the mystery is in how, not who. "Students only like to write about themselves now," a colleague said, not wanting the sentence to go public. And so we leave behind our documents, our vestiges, our unbearable objects. I am not my toothbrush, am instead a more fluid dentifrice.

In the film, a young man takes a vow of silence for one full year. He pushes his tent and his water in front of him, down highways and over bridges on three wheels. The silence is all his. He writes notes on pads, orders a sandwich with a piece of paper. We learn about him through the film's voice-over. He's from New Hampshire. At the end, we see him beforehand. He speaks eloquently about not speaking.

The fragment is not an end, because there is no end. It's not a means, because there are no means to no end.

The ferns and the birds cleanse, though they do not purify. Purity is violence, is lodging official complaint that the professor used the incorrect pronoun, or that she (or he?) said something racist. We make the bed we sleep in, then oblige the others to watch. The apapane sings from inside my skull; the fern gently scratches my eyeballs with its reflected light. This is not to make of my solitude an empire, but to pull away the mean spirits that insinuate their way in. Bryant means to put cones of shame on the wires, the better to disinvite rats into our attic space.

According to Paulhan, as quoted by Merleau-Ponty, language is composed of "gestures which are not accomplished without some negligence." What we neglect is meaning. Becomes it. As a hat becomes you, or marks you as a supporter of the Right.

To pursue something we call wisdom without pronouncing it as a set of rules. Bird song and helicopter noise impinge, each on the other, as did someone's house alarm as I walked past Saijo's old place and around the corner to home. The bar's sign reads "whisper only," but it is not blank. Two men sit side by side drinking. They lean into each other's ear space, lips tracing out their speech.

Write everything you know. But if you only know how to look for it, you can only add one more line onto the page, making a stool from two embracing tree trunks. The chimpanzee will not recognize them both, but knows what to do with them each. One is for climbing and the other for sitting. But only if you draw him into the scene.

--Quotations from The Prose of the World, by Merleau-Ponty.

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