Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and dagger
The world is fried
In the glut of oil
That we found inside

Stare down the field
Where the weevil creeps
Sine wave of bug song
Summer beat keeps

How many ways
Can this long march end?
Dying up north
Like the Grizzly Man

Or face down in sand
Where the camel spiders mate
Your debt’s all paid
Now we clear the slate

Even beetles listen
When the calm rolls in
Fireflies flush with
Luciferin

Starlight shines
On the mucus trail
Kneel down and
Worship the silence

The Button

you push the button
cause it makes you feel good
you say the prayer
but it’s misunderstood
through the meat-cased gland
civilization demands
that you surrender
and it makes you feel good

you form opinions
from a random machine
you play your soul
while it’s counting the beans
it’s just a nervous tic
the body politic
twitch for mommy
and surrender the green

Return to the Land of Spiders

For awhile we could live
where the air blew rumors
of trash barges up the Hudson
and helicopters pounded the dome.

We could watch the ferry boats weave
webs across the space
begun by water and finished with
ratios of styrofoam and steel.

There were no spiders there;
they couldn’t afford it.
There were barely bugs, but even so,
this was cockroach turf.
Except that one time, which only proved the rule.
The spider prowled like a tiny bear
on the marble floor near the loading dock,
a stowaway from Korea.
I crushed its life with my shoe
(no bodhisattva, I,)
saving the New Jersey ecosystem
from certain contamination.

They let me have that one, the spiders,
but they are waiting for me
in the corners of my new home,
in the closets.

They will raid my dreams from their sacs
where the ceiling meets the wall,
dying in my mouth:
a bolus of hair and leg and fang.
They will parachute into my cereal
while I am half awake,
twitch and spawn by the window screen.

They know what I am;
all of spider-dom knows it.
But I will run their gauntlet for the
sake of my children.

In the hedges, orb weavers vibrate in the wind, waiting.

My failure on national TV

Dr. Phil was angry today.
We talked about my feelings,
which I thought he wanted to hear.
But the man kept shouting at me,
and I couldn’t stop staring at the reflection
of the studio lights on his head.

I think my feelings were wrong.
Then the audience laughed at me and we
cut to a commercial.
When we returned, I was back in the audience again,
watching the show.

The Transhuman Olympics

Every time word gets out of another athlete on steroids, there is a huge uproar. How could they be such cowards? How could they disrespect the spirit of honorable competition? How could they cheat like that? Inevitably, there’s talk of tightening rules, of increasing screening, of rooting out and punishing those who would seek some unfair advantage over their colleagues.

But that’s the Twentieth-Century talking: if you don’t like it, ban it. Wouldn’t a more sophisticated approach try to get at the psychology of cheating, rather than wage an endless, escalating war against it? What if there were a way to allow the use of performance-enhancing drugs and devices — without impinging on the purity of traditional sports?

It is from such thoughts that the idea of the Transhuman Olympics arises. The Transhuman Olympics (T.O.) would lift the restrictions on mechanical, pharmaceutical, and biological augmentations to performance. Within the limits described below, athletes would be free to use a range of means to enhance their natural abilities. Not only would this remove some of the incentive for athletes in traditional sports to engage in doping, it would create a whole new category of human excellence.

THE RULES

The T.O. would not be a free-for-all. Just like the regular Olympics, there would be specific sports and categories, each with its own regulations. Most events would probably encourage and allow only specific augmentations — steroids, stimulants, nanotechnology, perhaps in specific parts of the body. Compound sports like a decathlon might allow several enhancements. And there could even be a place where different augmentations could be pitted against one another (say, strength versus speed).

Certain rules would apply to the application of these techniques:

  1. Any augmentation must be declared.
  2. Any augmentation would be performed with medical consultation and supervision.
  3. Augmentation would have to be certified by a governing body. This body would produce standards which would guide athletes and their medical supervisors in the development of an augmented physique.
  4. No augmentation would be allowed which posed a risk to other athletes, staff or spectators, beyond the inherent risks of physical competition. Athletes would be informed of any risks to themselves as part of their medical supervision, in accordance with T.O. standards.

THE GAMES

At first, the Transhuman Olympics might be modeled on the traditional Olympics. A separate set of world records would be created to parallel the traditional records. Growth hormones and cognition enhancers would probably be the primary boosts used at first. Smart fabrics and nanotechnology just now becoming available could also play a role. Imagine a wrestling match between two steroidal hulks, or a discus throw which dwarfed any standing record. Imagine a long jump with bionically-enhanced legs, feet and knees. Archery and riflery could benefit from cognition and eyesight enhancements. And runners could reach speeds and distances previously unheard of.

As the augmentation technology evolved, completely new events might emerge. Genetic engineering and nanotech could blow open the possibilities of what the body could become. Some games might become more primal and animalistic — more smashing, throwing, pulling and lifting than ever before. Others could reach new heights of delicacy and refinement. Gymnastics with extra limbs or cat genes? Floor exercises by strong but freakishly-light bodies? This open-endedness is implicit in the Transhuman ideal, and would be built into the Games’ governing structure.

THE TECHNOLOGY AND PROFIT

In addition to redefining what it means to be Human, the T.O. would offer an enormous incentive to develop augmentation and related technologies. This in turn could have spinoffs into medicine, manufacturing, and other areas. It would create a burst of innovation, while at the same time creating a whole new market for extreme entertainment. No doubt people the world over would be fascinated by the spectacle of augmented humans at peak performance.

WHAT ABOUT THE REGULAR OLYMPICS?

The idea of the Transhuman Olympics will not sit well with many at first. It is important that the traditional “Human” Olympics be maintained in its current form. In fact, it might be that the traditional Olympics becomes even more traditional, reversing recent decisions to allow hi-tech accessories like low-resistance swimsuits, requiring that their use be restricted to the T.O. The Human Olympics would remain a showcase for the biological limits of human excellence. The T.O. would expand the context in which all performance is measured.

CONCLUSION

But will it help with cheating? As long as there is a prize to be won, there will likely be cheating. The T.O. is not proposed simply to address this one issue. But it is hoped that by allowing an outlet for mankind’s natural desire to self-transcend, the T.O. will relieve pressure on traditional athletes to dope. And in the process, we could come together as a species to find out what we are truly capable of becoming.

POSTSCRIPT: I am apparently not the first person to think of this. A Google search for “transhuman olympics” revealed some discussion in the past few years. Although it occurred to me independently, clearly this is an idea whose time is coming.

The Poem I Will Write

The poem I will write
Will blow your fucking mind
Twenty megatons of Word
Wrapped in brown paper
And left outside your door.

The poem I will write
Will not rhyme
No matter how much you beg
And despite your wandering hand
And that low-cut dress
Which screams, “I like cheap rhyme.”

The poem I will write
Will not appease the scholars
Whose clip and judgment echo in the foyer
Of their own impending fame.

The poem I will write
Will set me free — set us all free:
The Last Poem,
Shining like the City on the Hill.

The Last Poem will be
An ignorant suicide
Note to no one
Scrawled onto scraps
The day of a death
I never saw coming.

Digging for crabs at the beach

“Watch,” he said, and he was digging,
with a plastic cup,
timing the scoops just right,
so in the moment before a wave,
when the sand was still wet from the last one,
he was digging.

It was the standard scene: the tide,
the gulls and salt.
How long did Man stand at this frontier,
having reached the absolute limit,
until the first ships tore through the screen,
and the beach became a beginning?
But I was just a boy, playing here for a day.

“Look!” he said, and in the cup,
I saw a scoop of sand, and some water
he’d collected. And — there —
a small crustacean, scrambling for an exit.
“They live inside the sand.”

He repeated this routine and I watched,
two boys, crouched at the edge of the sea.
But for one plastic cup, we could have been
a million boys, digging on beaches
before history, lost in the understanding
that everything — everything is alive.

Psychoanalysis: A Seduction

I’m going to talk you
to the edge of revelation, tease
one hundred grasping tangents
like anemone that sway
in purple seas.

I’m going to watch you
feel the heat of my attention play
on your assumptions,
till your hidden contradictions
lie exposed. I’ll treat them well.

We have so many edges, lips
that can be touched —
so many combinations
(my creative instinct urging)
in surprising —
in surprising
ways.

What I do to you in
darkness triggers memories of
morning. Now the scent of secret places
washes over us
in waves.

Reading louder I
intone the words that boom
like milkweed bursting,
fill the air with sweet suggestion
till our wills lie
intertwined.

In the synapse, charge
is building, lightning’s grinding
clouds are clearing —
and contracting,
thought contracting to a single
iron core.

A tang is tasted — wait!
defenses throbbing
holding back the inspiration —
holding back — then fears and habits
lose their grip and

synapse foaming, information
floods the gap.

Now let’s just lie here,
no more talking, just the
wind in empty vessels
slowly filling up. Another
fruitful session,
you’d agree?

The Dabbs

Argyle socks, cozy stoned cats,
lick the ankles of my beloved.
Running through the Texas night
in her panties and socks,
past torchlight and painted sheets,
she eyes me out across
her gracious orbit.

I commemorate the porch
of a railroad hotel,
where metal groans, and cows
bellow at night in the middle distance.
At first, alone, the smell of mud,
as meaning — as words —
collapse and explode,
collapse and explode.
A thousand sunsets a minute —
burned through the Film
by a righteous mushroom mango lhassi.

Now my lover on vicodin approaches,
settles next to me in the Texas air.
She speaks to me through syrup
of permanence and cats,
permanence and cats,
until words
spiral back to me,
haphazard.

I wander Victoria’s Secret, flaccid

I wander Victoria’s Secret, flaccid.
That negligee, those naughty thongs,
no longer speak to me
like poetry’s

paint splatters:
          Black!
          the playful kitten wife.
          Red:
          mistress, cartoon tiger.

All business, business, business:
Machine-plumped carrots dangle.
Their swaying mocks my
breathing, soothes
my clenching
softly
swaying talks
to me

it whispers

warm

it nuzzles

no, it slithers
into

me, its

vicious

reptilian
CODE
.

I have set my jaw against you.

I will drive you back!
each lusty pixel,
back into the sea,
where focus groups and pheromones
break
and break again as mist
upon my barnacles.

Fire Sale in Samsara

At the mall again.
Bodhisattva on a bench.
Echo holidays down Muzak channel.
Swirl of shoes.

Directory says
I’m here, can’t prove it.
If I am a dot, then:
escalators.

Food court, maybe
I’ve been drugged? Soda
footprints,
neon seizure?

Objects
multiply: third eye tracks
the heart, the ass, the bag.
Muzak blaring.

Candy!
A swelling OM,
always free, with purchase.
(Brut, organza)

Balled-up napkin,
wheelchair ramp.
Ten couples, griping, wander;
holly candle.

Shoe crunch coffee bean.
Spritz perfume?
Only if it wakes
me up, Madame.

Three days, seemed like,
lotus in a cave.
Blinking yellow lights, life-
time, parking garage.

Crusade

All bow!
Charlemagne dons Emperor’s
Florid garb;

He invokes Justice.
Knights, lords, mercenaries —
None opposes.

Punished, quashed rebellions:
Saxonia trembles
Unctuous viziers wax xenophobic.
Year Zero.

Burnt Offering

 
I
The smoke from your sacrifice
Galls Heaven’s nose
Black fire grinds
          Into sky
Tetrafluoromethane
Sulfur hexafluoride
plumbum
hydragyrum
Methane
CO2

Surely the god of
Your hunger’s appeased
That usurious debt
paid of Eden.

II
Cities bubble over, fat
Chokes the swamp
Your burnt offering
         Stinks of a crime

Oh? Tell that to the freezing child!
Oh, tell that to the thirsty wife.
You would starve us all
for some birds.

My friend
Some day we’ll all be freezing
And for want of birds and water
Will reach for our daggers

Nobody Knows

Nobody knows
At night my eyes shoot fire;
Padded cats slink skeptic
Past this frenzy

Fingers fly
On phantom’s keys
Hammer out the fizz
Of synapse, lung and spine
Cathedrals rise

Just a cankered worm
Is all they see
Twisting in the mound

But I am more

Not a resource, not this name
Not a shirt and not a brain

Something more

Can’t you see it?
Every body
Is an eye

Bobbing on antennae
Thousand strong and
Alien and very, very old

Or greener —
Tips of branches
Stirring in the gale
Of eons’ storm

Something more

Until
All eyes shoot fire, thirsting
For ignition on
This humble globe

But they don’t know

I show up smiling
Shaven face, disguised
In shoes

A tuft of fur:
The cats’ affection
Winking at my secret
From below

Giving Up the Green

Black leaf against the sky
Tracing arcs of abandon

No one left to see it now
No one left to wonder
Why it gave up
The green

On a hot breeze blowing
Past the husks of silos
Where the brambles whistle
Over thistle and forlorn

Little leaf is sailing
Through the broken grin
Of cities sunk in shadow
Full of cars that don’t pollute

Almost stuck in the great
Brown-green river
Oozing through empty cables
Once a bridge a mile long

It is firmly caught
In a forest of fur
Pylons like the stuff
That used to grow on cheese

The leaf is absorbed by the fungus
Staring at the sky.
And where is the mind to eulogize
This stupid leaf, vestige
Of a world gone by?

The mind is somewhere
Cause Mind can never die
But it isn’t here
It isn’t in this place

Because it gave up the green
It gave up the green

When a mind leaves a body
It goes somewhere else
But an unworthy death
Leaves the mind
Twitching like a shrimp
In the endless void

Refresher Course

It is time that I waxed pedagogic
On a subject that’s often confused
By the shallow mass, unschooled in logic,
Who can only attend when amused.

When told that the planet is warming
They snort with an ignorant ease:
“All this talk! I don’t see no warming.
Outside it’s just twenty degrees!”

The problem? It lies in confounding
Two words (and I’m just gonna rhyme it)
I’ll say it at once, and resounding:
That weather is different from climate!

What’s going on right now is weather;
The weather can change on a dime.
But climate’s a pattern of weather,
That gradually changes with time.

But they’re spaced out on Beck and O’Reilly,
They listen with one ear cocked wrong
To pundits abusive and wily
Who cynically string them along.

Their lower lips jut in defiance
Of that which they don’t understand
They’re wholly uneasy with Science
Their votes are, of course, in demand.

Such tender minds, such simple vices,
Somebody bake them a cake!
They boot up their hi-tech devices
And proclaim, “The moon landing was fake!”

Shearing time

In Mexico a baby’s crying, crying,
In Calcutta, the cattle step and groan.
And north, off Ellesmere’s broken haunches,
Aurorae color empty ocean bone.

Tick-tock, the algae’s started blooming,
Shave a minute off the sentence handed down.
Put a staple in the ear of your beloved
So you’ll recognize her when she comes around.

Tick-tock-tick, the windows all are closing.
A flash of birds, a distant cry of goats…
Something walks among us, arms spread open.
Its bony snout is nuzzling your throat.

      Waters recede
      The gasping fish
      The collapsing star

In countries which your children never heard of,
The outbreak starts. It shudders off its sleep.
Ten thousand years of gentle irritation:
It’s time now for the shearing of the sheep.

Animation

What was rich and alive will become flat.
What was only jelly shall stand and walk.
Be ready to ride that wave when it comes.
But how can you be ready?
You are that wave.

Membrane

I do battle with the ego
It parries every thrust
Absorbing all my anger
In orange plumes of rust

The ego is a monster
It lashes out in fear
I relax; it plunges through me
And we simply disappear

The many become one, and are increased by one.

Ash is in the air
All the little children are leaving.
Look around you:
the last great migration’s
begun.

There was never a promise
– no rainbow from God –
that we would die in a warm feather bed.
All the businessmen melt,
and the generals huddle.
They’re at their best when the meat
begins to boil.

A woman at the spaceport
sniffs the air and gags.
West wind is coughing pine,
the ruptured muck of forests:
grub-flesh stink and blister-singe.

Ash swarms down like hornets.

Then the asphalt heaves,
and in the whipping trees
the monkeys, pissing, howl!
at the great machines. This is

not another Ice Age.
Plant your feet – you can feel it spinning
It is the violet doorway
the vortex through the Human.

Something wafts above the stinking hordes,
survives.

Voted.

I voted today, in the gym of a local elementary school. Overall it went very smoothly. There was a sense of standing in line for a long time, but it fact we were home just about an hour after we left the house.

Why is it important to vote? Isn’t it just an empty ritual, rigged from the start, with candidates that are all just corporate puppets? If I were true to my youthful anarchist and later Marxist influences, I’d probably be memorizing Noam Chomsky and agreeing with that statement. But I was also raised by politically-active, liberal Jews, who believe that society is made of people, and that improvement of the world by people is not only possible but imperative.

I’m in no position to moralize; my civic involvement is generally limited to voting on election day, and recycling. I even missed my party’s primary. I’m not proud of that. I’ve made an effort to be informed, by studying the candidates on Project Vote Smart (where you can find detailed information about the candidates’ positions on a whole list of issues) and my state’s League of Women Voters site. Yes, I took the time to research whom I was going to vote for, albeit the night before the election.

If you enjoy any modicum of benefit from living in American society, why not participate in the process? It’s not about whether the person you voted for wins, it’s about paying attention — even just a little — and showing up. You don’t have to subscribe to some naive myth that you’re single-handedly changing the world. Just show up. Cynicism in defense of your own non-participation does not make you appear more intelligent. It just seems like an excuse for laziness.

What people forget is that most elections are not just about the hot-button, big-name races. The local campaigns might be less interesting, but the closer you get to home, the more connection there is between your life and the operation of government. It’s one thing to be cynical about someone running for Congress — but what about State senators, county executives, city council members, sheriff, judges? I don’t know these people any better, except what I’ve learned through reading. But I feel like these people are going to have a more immediate impact on my life. You could also argue that your vote counts more in a local election, since the overall number of votes is smaller.

What’s my point? I guess that I’m still an optimist (albeit an apocalyptic optimist). Chaos theory reminds us that even the smallest change can alter the course of a storm. And even if History is spiraling down a giant vortex into confusion, I’d rather be paddling with or against the current than just getting dragged along. Any takers?

In the news

A man named Adam Gadahn is in the news today, because he’s been charged with treason for issuing threats against the U.S. as a member of Al Qaeda. People reading about him and searching the Web might find another article, one which has been online for awhile now.

The article I’m referring to [has been taken down], though [it was] re-posted in a couple of other places as well. About halfway down the page, Abrupt is mentioned in a short list of “dissident organizations” in a way that groups it with Al Qaeda. Previously, that struck us merely as an anomaly. Now it demands a response.

Abrupt condemns the taking of human life, in the strongest terms. Our goal has always been the changing of perceptions, because in a democratic society, the perceptions people hold presumeably influence their political decisions. However much we may like criticisms of the media, of consumer society, of the Administration, we are still a humanist enterprise.

Abrupt believes that alleigances to country, race, and religion must become secondary to an appreciation for humanity as a species. We believe that solutions to human problems must be constructive, not destructive. To survive the cataclysm of the inevitable, we must become smarter, not more militant. Fools like Gadahn have chosen the comfort and simplicity of ideology over the terror of not knowing what is right.

Unlike Gadahn and his friends in Al Qaeda, we do not have easy answers. I intend to live with that.

–abrupt

Analysandum

Part
the
leaves a
little, grasp
the hanging
pod. The seed
inside comes loose
with a wiggle. Roll the
seed around and squeeze.
Squeeze until the tree’s
shy juices lie fragrant
on your summer
fingers.

hornets made a home in the unused equipment

I close my eyes against the flood
but have no eyes to close.
I swing my fist —
my armless fist —
at Satan’s faceless nose.

In fish-stink markets
drunk again
unready for attack
I vomit down the wishing well;
dull animal stares back.

These forms arising from within:
illusion without end.
These animals were always mine
to butcher, or befriend.

I do not mind:
This hole, this heart,
the knots were loosely tied.
The desert’s lip is at my boot,
machete by my side.

You might lose your glasses, then what?

Ignore the dreams,
they are confusion:
the devils’ chorus,
urging change.

Stray but from
the path, dear boy,
and all will fall,
will fall, will fall.

Limbs of a thousand
trees groan down,
thunder on your shoulders.
Feet sunk deep in sucking mud.

You pawn,
you errand-boy. You serve a lazy master
whose will is an anvil on your spine,
whose face is made of paper.

Downers Grove

By my calculations,
One whole bottle of wine
And a half of champagne,
Had each passed between us
As we let the night drain,
In your basement, drunk, laughing
At tapes you had made.

You will-o’-the-wisp –
I had driven for miles,
And crossed two state lines,
To visit a stranger
And be by her side,
With no expectations
And nothing to hide.

  I was your guest
  it was your wine
  where’d you go?

Down the block, by a school,
We staggered, you pushed
Me down to the ground.
Pixie traveler, I should have
Known then what I know now.
You swigged from the bottle
And then set it down.

You were warm for the weather
As we shuddered together.
In those autumn leaves folded
Great plans. I was drunk with
Your idea — I was loaded.
When you finally kissed me
The future exploded.

  I was your guest
  I needed more
  where’d you go?

It was a test: the board was set.
You moved your queen against me
Once you had me in check.
Ready to move,
I was ready to risk,
But you pulled away laughing
Before it progressed.

Pretty wise, woman stopped it
Just over the border
That we had just crossed;
Still deep in her drunkenness
Weighing the cost.
But the future lay wounded
And heaving, and lost.

  I was your guest
  long ago
  so let go

for Anna

  Pink blush of the happy young bride,
Gone in a distant ship’s whistle,
As the waves roll by,
  As the dust of Jacob washes
    Up on the Lower East Side.

  Pleasant eyes constrain the panic,
Holding breath for the camera’s decision.
She is married to her husband now:
  To his doom, and a new nation rising.
    Bites her lip she has made her decision.

  So she hopes with the hint of a smile
That her children discover the way,
Through the smoke that is rising from Europe,
  Through the howl of atoms dissolving,
    In the eye of Science unfolding

…yet not for her. But never for her;
Her service was always to others.
She was last seen receding,
  Too soon the breast stopped heaving
    In the subway’s cry
    – In a sullen bucket of lye

Shore Story

microscopic multiplying,
great shapes nudging towards becoming.
something down there.
pond scum rippling,
green waves lap my feet.

then at once the pond explodes,
in fountains spiral up,
an agony of peptides.
geyser spinning, spinning,
folding in upon itself.
and the sound washes over me.

fifty thousand cycles:
sunning Hell days dusty rocks,
albumen sucked from shattered eggs,
flapping panicked wings…
a smear of blood on the savannah.

biology, the manic squawking
over wave-assaulted rocks
compounded, trilobyte, exertion,
rainfall stirs the smell of ferns.
and organism slithers onto throne.

from shore I see it rolling on
towards completion of a sort,
which I will never know —
except as cells
know the mysteries of music,
the sadness beneath the laughter.

darkout

darkout
and moon scrape the sky
appalling membrane:
punctured, riddled, folded, drawn
ended settling
whispered down to cold stone
open hole:
frosted and congealed
receives crumbling
unsung

incantation

it stings it burns the lip
it heaves to the cusp
when tomorrow brings you down
you get up go; you must

i don’t believe that anything’s impossible

there’s a body in the grass
its name is on your lips
there’s a halo on the moon
your memory resists

i don’t believe that anything’s impossible

the streets are wet with mud
we shuffle in the dark
where dogs and demons go
at least we played a part

i don’t believe that anything’s impossible
i don’t believe that anything’s impossible

What is History?

The sound of metal on metal.
The sound of metal on bone.
Goat-trails on Judean hills.
Crowds surging against a gate.

    A grudge passed down from father to son.
    Buzzing on the radio.
    The struggle to cooperate.
    A bite of camphor in the air.

Rolling fields of rice, endless rows of corn.
A sacred cow’s swaying fat.
Red wine at the victory feast.
Brown water sloshing from a bucket.

    Rumors of the city.
    The music of the desert.
    Shanty towns and mausoleums.
    Skyscrapers and pain medication.

A child playing in an orchard.
The wail of sirens.
A sigh of violins.
The splash at the bottom of the well.

    Warehouses full of paper.
    Neighbors screaming through the wall.
    A bottle smashed on brick.
    A broken promise.

Sweat on the parchment.
A gathering of friends.
A man dying in a valley.
A woman sobbing in an empty room.

the threads are weaving together

oh, when we first met
you told me that the desert would reclaim us
and i laughed, because i didn’t believe you.
there was wind on the water then.
there were stars in the sky.

then, deep in your velvet box
you showed me the seeds
of what i would become.
and i cursed you for it.
i did not want to be chosen like that.

now the threads are weaving together
and i fear,
will it be a burial shroud
or a wedding dress?

there is work to be done, my lover
and many bodies need tending.
so i will follow you
as long as this dream
still trembles on your horizon.

the desperate do not easily forgive

(for Katrina)

Now the sun burns the waters
clears the shredded sky
and peels back the skin
of the exposed.
You are undone, O Great One
Master of the West
your time has come.

When your black blood clots
and your limbs stiffen
who will come to your aid?
What friend have you, tyrant, in this hour of need?
Who will approach,
but to crush a boot against
your swollen neck?

The Extropian in me says “Hi”

But maybe the goal of “sustainability” is misleading — methadone for an oil-addicted world. “Sustainability” in the context of energy means we don’t eat ourselves out of existence, but as a vision for a future humanity it has the suggestion of a plateau, stability, leveling off, maintenance.

As essential as it is for our species to survive the end of oil, the human future — at least on this planet — is not a descent into well-mannered predictability. We are riding the lightning bolt of evolution, and we are neither its final culmination nor a done deal. We point the way, and as History accelerates, more and more of the creative energy of the universe is being focused on this planet. There will be no plateau, no Millennium of peace, as long as Humanity occupies this planet.

These musings (by no means new to me) force me to consider that this planet and even the human body are transitional artifacts. Like the placental sac discarded or consumed at birth, perhaps gross animal nature is the nutritive husk to be cast off by the children of Humanity as they expand into the cosmos.

Part of me rejects this vision. The earth is the Mother, the body the Temple, to be cherished and respected. Yes. And I don’t posit their obsolescence as a condemnation or dismissal. The question is, how much are we willing to give up? Not for economic or political gain, but to realize the full creative potential of the Cosmos?

  • Your body is a boat to lay aside when you reach the far shore.
    Or sell it if you can find a fool, it’s full of holes, it’s full of holes.

    –William Burroughs, The Western Lands

Chicken Little whispered this in my ear

An oft-quoted Saudi proverb haunts me: “My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son rides in a jet airplane. His son will ride a camel.”

Underneath the clicks and squeaks of everyday life a drum is pounding, deep and relentless. I've always had an ear for the apocalyptic, but lately the beat seems louder, the rhythm more defined. Global warming, peak oil, the end of the American Century… Sure, it’s probably amplified by seeing War of the Worlds tonight — a masterpiece of apocalyptic horror — but we are naive if we think the world is not undergoing radical and accelerating change.

Continue reading %s

As the world comes apart

Eyes gleam in darkness want to kill us
To pierce our air-conditioned haze
Our false bubble
To let the world in, sweating and congested

Fingers feel for our weakness
Always creeping back though smashed
And smashed with force
Without a center
Without remorse

The scramble to survive:
All life washing in a tide
Against the stanchions of America
Almost sinking this fragile boat
As history rages stronger

first kiss

yes i remember the place
and the taste of your throat
down the tracks through a hole in the fence
in the warehouse though an empty window frame

a mass-grave of books
sloughing towards the rafters
half rotted in the leaking rain
with the occasional treasure:
black-letter geometry — 1696,
latin novella — 1705.
forgotten books, their flaking secrets
now my charge and purpose

aluminum cigar tubes, polished black stones inside: inexplicable
a rodent flattened by some vanished weight, matted to paper and bones
bucket of pellets in a room with chains and hooks: cyanide
and everywhere the sunlight streaming from high windows
cars passing outside
pigeons in the rafters
the fear of getting caught

this place was planted
beyond the borders of control —
a forgotten corner of an institution
where we crawled in our time
now long torn down

in a storage room with half a chair
we dropped our bags and learned
the gentle lessons
of lips and breath
and saying nothing
amid the book-rot
and debris

now i punch my fist through the window
now i rescue this tragedy
i will pull a railroad spike from its hole
when there is nothing left to say
when words have crumbled into dust
and pin this memory to the world
in a spray of rust and rot and sun

Field trip

I remember poking a hole in the end of an oatmeal can to make a camera. I remember laying leaves and pieces of grass on photosensitive paper, then setting it in the sun to make silhouettes. In the yard was a septic tank with a square cement lid you could stand on. That night I slept on a couch in a room full of other children. There were sleeping bags and the heat of summer, the discomfort of a strange place. A few mosquitos, but it was the moths I remember, fluttering around the naked lightbulb, until I slept.

Perhaps this memory static and done is a retreat. Right now my mind is like that pinhole with everything focused in a cone through its tiny space. A desperate ring clenching down, a collar on confusion, these foolish notions of control.

I once saw life yawning before me, from my high ascetic perch. I committed to wander in Samsaara, to dive in headfirst and through transformation escape it. But escape is not a guarantee. It all too easy to get lost in the tangle and the noise. Until one pops out of History, one’s in it up to the neck. Horrible dreams, like waking up with empty syringes hanging out of your face. There are monsters here.

A mind under pressure steams off in unexpected directions. Lately the hallucinations have gotten stronger. They are more like waking daydreams, and they’re not at all unpleasant. The other day in traffic a passing truck became the giant vocoded voice of some ancient animal or machine. As it heaved itself fantastic from the soil, it let out a raging, yawning, croaking roar, so deep and powerful that every vibration was a separate thundering explosion. A wind rose up around it, summoned by its voice, or by the bulk of its rising. I saw it like some primeval nature spirit in a Japanese anime, roused by Man’s foolish intervention, by the call of the ages. And it took my breath away.

ours the sorrow

Your wars drag rust across the planet,
leave stains of oil not erased by rain.
Ours the struggle, yours the blame.
Ours the sorrow.

Now, at the sight of our bellies,
you show the wolf’s fang,
smiling concerned, almost,
stinking of saliva.

This is total war,
war on all fronts:
war that cannot win,
but only multiply.

Until all curves falter,
until the Asymptote,
when parameters break,
when sand covers the stain.

desert blowjob

gulches

gullies

wind-cut  water droning

slip notches
one-two-three jelly bone

burn music  sand reaction
throat catch sand
brittle
talc song abrade mound tone

lock

chafe

whittle blast  sour mountain
fizz crack tar
sagging

inch granite lips down
glowing talc
clang! only
body talc! clang
only talc clang!
only

!

!

sentry latrine

 

 

Silent John

Silent John, backsliding after a stint in a Buddhist monastery, lit another cigarette and inhaled deeply. His eyes burned from the smoke, and nothing seemed quite right. The knot in his stomach told him the six White Castles he’d gobbled down were in heated negotiations with his digestive tract, which was accustomed to a strict vegetarian diet. Right now the tract seemed to have all its cards on the table.

“Gonna regret that one,” he thought. He monitored the discomfort with the dispassion of a veteran meditator, acknowledging it but not identifying with it. “TRY not to identify with it,” he thought, acknowledging this second thought as he contemplated the growing ash on his cigarette. Trying itself was a false approach, presuming a goal and a path, not the eternal state of present Being in which the true Self can awaken. “Yeah, whatever. I feel like shit,” he said aloud. The admission lightened his mood a bit and he chuckled, feeling a degree of inner relief after months of privation. He thought back to the events that had led him to the monastery in the first place, and the reasons he’d left three years later.

“Another Pacifico, please,” he said, laying a couple of dollars on the bar.

[feel free to add to the story]

neoteny

i’ve been smelling things. sudden brief bursts of scent when none are around: feces, rusted metal, apple pie. it’s like some other sense has begun to atrophy, and brain is compensating by producing forgotten sensations. olfactory hallucinations? or vivid memories?

I’m not concerned. it hasn’t happened much.

writing this i catch the pattern, though. something i did not register as present before. a development which writing helped uncover. the archaeology of the present through word-digging.

false prophets

groaning steel

geese in formation

and what have they won with their Control?

looking through the fence

the ego paces back and forth along the fence it has erected, sniffing for holes, for the scent of intruders. it polices this boundary out of animal habit, muttering stories and dropping word dust to keep itself warm.

do you like it? or does it disgust you to see yourself slobbering along in these circles? the fence is rusting and the gate is locked, yet you keep the hinges oiled and pray for release. it is all foolishness — the ego runs snarling at the sound of any visitor, scaring them off or at least keeping them so far that they must shout their orders. as if someone will come with a key some day. as if the key could come from anywhere but within this fence. this worn ditch. this awful pacing.

Brave Lions of the Desert

“Suicide Bomber Kills Over 100 in Iraq”

I don’t care what your politics are, or how much US or Israeli foreign policy pisses you off. Driving a car bomb into a crowd of civilians is not brave and it is not noble. Allah PBHN will have demons piss down your throat for all eternity for this crime against his creation. You are not brave. Caring so little about your life or anyone else’s doesn’t mean you stand for anything but yourself, sinner.

The Body

Well you push it around with your mind,
And it makes you believe half the time.
A shuffling crust
Of photos and dust,
And a burlap sack covered with lime.

CONQUEST BACKLOG

(from a conversation with xrew)


CONQUEST BACKLOG
——————

TOO MANY DROPPED PACKETS
GLEE
FORTUNE
REVOKED THE SCATTERED CREDENTIALS
ANONYMITY COMPROMISED
SCROLL BACK
SCROLL BACK
SUBROUTINE > IMPOTENT < ANALYZE

UPANISHADS OF CODE
CASCADING FROM THE ANCIENTS
BINDING ME IN TIME

SCROLL BACK
I REMEMBER
ALL YOUR BODIES
A NETWORK OF TWISTED PAIRS

the crone

The Crone whispers in confusion
Vocoded incantations warping matter into mind
Rasping at the perished flue
The drone of history escaping

She is here, among us now
She will urge you forward
She is mouthing words of war
The beautiful undone

surmount

i threw roots down on your rocks
blown where no seed could go
into the cracks of your craggy spaces

i rise up
i rise up
wind around my shoulders
foam about my knees
i rise up
in the transformation
seeds of learning
storms of doubt

your pillar
rising from the ocean
my new body
spat glistening
from the jungle
onto your slopes

into an abyss

into an abyss
hissing with broods of unhinged
regret
tube-worms’ hopeful swaying
waving goodbye

love-chained
in the churning silence
waiting for the flash
of a sudden explosion
blood fills the sinus

you!
leave it there
this mission
is not
yours

but this daydream
keeps you clawing
at the gates

Golem

In the sandstorm our metal tempers,
while the flesh decides and steels
itself for rage:

Come, precision-guided sunsets,
majesty of clouds,
red underneath.

Come, collateral angels,
patriots sheathed in sulphur,
loading their dice.

All our training rears us
to tear cell from cell
in this age-old game: perfected.

Our metal is alive, almost,
a grinding machine —
charged with a purpose
but beyond our control.

TANTAMOUNT

This photo has an overlay
In the dimension of flow
In which strangers
Give birth to one another, and die

It is a wave of flesh
Chunking tubes of waste
Squeezing themselves through holes
Too small to follow

Crashes over me
Washes through me
Pauses awkwardly in moments
Saying,

Goodbye.

I see you go by
Smiling with an oar in your hand
As doomed and unforgiving
As a lobster

Glaring from its tank.

Out of Work

Out! Out of work —
The workers leave their folds
Into the spacious chaos of
a Texas evening
Bittersweet at the turn of another day

Breathe the blueing sky
its aroma cold
a nocturne of feral cats
slinks in the thicket
Quiet sky, host
to the legions
of an aching beyond
wheeling on and on and on

My car starts with a shudder

Sea Cream

Creamy coral eyes
Salty hypnotize
Filmy mermaid’s delight
Flying fish, fishy flight
Giant sponge
Where you lunge
On the seabed at night
Where the manta ray flaps
And the fish-harlot slaps
Her oily buttocks to say…

  We got red roe
We got jelly
Come rub some on my belly
Smoke some seaweed
What do you need?
Put this hook in your mouth

Benefits Waived

it begins angry
a ghost
gold around the edges
rotten at the core
gold of yesterday’s sunsets
benefits waived

i remember the wind’s sound in trees
free on my bike, as a child
uncorrupted
unscarred
not yet afraid

  • but war is coming

the trenches blacken with gore
angry holes slicken
with mud
tramped underfoot
by the legion’s boot

  • war is coming

sprung from my own breast
and fear
ugly, tooth and nail

  • i will be replaced
  • my body will be covered with lime
  • brought by the day’s reinforcements

semiconductors

In the factory
wafers gleam in their cages,
green like the carapace of beetles.

Clean-suited shepherds of silicon herds
bend to their work

I am suited, and it is clean
in there, fresh air
controlled in a laminar flow.

Morning Mood

Cake-fed impotence
Snores, dreams in gold
Wakes, coughs, shivers and farts
Rank from the night’s gestation

Preparatory fuss of morning
Unloading on habit
Whatever culpability for the day
Conscience will support
Or denial obscure

Caffeine-slap the system
Though by now
The over-whored synaptic holes
Merely indulge the molecule’s embrace
Accepting payment without
Deceit or comment

I must work
Strapping on the hulking chassis
To fend the impatient spaces
Of acceleration
And speed
Anything less would be irresponsible
In fact, unimagineable

Cat Paws on Linoleum

quite possibly
one could pass through life
unscathed by the blade of confusion
having locked up the glare
of infancy’s shimmer:

birthday cakes, paint-by-number
catching crayfish or
burying the pink robin;
plane flights to visit family,
clouds out the window,
the creviced mystery of furniture,
mammarian cushions and
black vinyl vulvas;
scavenging on bikes
after july-4th fireworks,
looking for live ones;
the ant-ocidal obsession
with the sun’s cleansing stare
when focused through
the 2-volume-oxford-english-dictionary’s
magnifying glass —

i should say, confusion is when
the brackets of sense fall away,
like the rising rocket’s access scaffold
leaving the mind to expand unchannelled
without reference or depth
as car wheels spin on ice,
and running cat-paws
scrabble foolish
on the linoleum floor

confusion has a buzzing
sound it makes,
or that clings to its sliding belly.
all ten thousand ghosts
of the strap-bulging blare,
when those straps burst,
return to pure vibration:
they show form
only when restrained.
this hum,
sigil of confusion,
apes the shadow of the waking mind,
sub-resonant shadow-stratum
of creation.

i burst through into its cloister
wet with alien mists
and establish myself,
a tolerated guest
of confusion’s fancy.

Centipede II

across the deserts of the floor
up the walls, down the hall
in diligent segments proceed
a carnivore of the very small,
the vagrant centipede

not a watcher, not a waiter
proactive insect
both a leader and the led
he crawls the sands to find that promised land
where he can rest all hundred peds.

the morning light steals stories
out of night’s linty folds
another centipede curls dying near the wall
its thought complete, its slow race run
it dies, and dries, and crumbles into all

Brooklyn fragment

Garlic bread on a board
Old wood counters, etched with cuts
Cups and wicker
Pots hung on the makeshift wall
Tea brews

You can lean through plants here
And see Brooklyn
Through a high kitchen window
Try not to topple the handmade vase

A house of music
And movies — old black-and-whites
And wine
In her room, a futon on the floor,

It took me how long to figure
I wasn’t there to fix
Her computer?
Some men drink liquor
Or golf the time away
But for me life has a certain sorrow
Scenting my fingers still next day

I was young I was old
But I was mostly in between
The music was fine
And the books were fine
The stars were wrong
— but the movies were fine

When I left there, we were smiling
Unashamed and unfulfilled
With not much left to say
On her desk sat a working computer
Still, on her desk sat a working computer
And in my pocket some notes
On the music she’d
Played
Through the night

stochasm

meet me in the stochastic light
lasering through shepherds on that hill
flinch at the thump-crush
of fluorescent bulbs imploding
and the drone…
homing signal of lost gods
banished from these pastures
an endless hum
ripped away
now vibrates back
on the edges of our skin
homecoming
his radioactive foot on the meadow
ripples away
the best laid plans

“CLEAR THIS CHANNEL!
This is Crisis Control
and we need an empty vessel.
We gotta let the message through.”

the wilderness can absorb
all that noise
deep in you
and when you return
at last!
an empty mirror meets your gaze
now the message flows
now the badgers stop and listen
to the empty field
where daisies waving in the wind
tune in white noise

Pap Smear (for kalki)

Open wide
Say “Aahh”
Say “Ow!”
Say “Oooh!”

Come on my slide
Take a ride
In my centrifuge

The hunt is on now
For some crack
In the carbon
For a chain out of line
For a sign

Open up
To the chance of a lifetime
Once again
Now or never
Roll those dice

Outdoor Shower

   
 
          soap     
      softens in
      the corner
  rust and wood     
      water falls                                    two
     cellar door                            maybe three
                                             times while I’m living
                                              won’t be many more
                                                 of that I’m sadly
       give me sun                              sure
where the skin falls
  Sunday morning
      out beneath
     cloudless blue                              Larabelle,
          open air                              bathe my body
                                                      in your summer
                                                    wash my memory
                                                       like pollen from
                                                            your hair
 
 
 

in the desert

untie the knots that bind you
upend the changers’ scales
you are not this aching circle
you are not this heart which fails

Adam’s dust in on your temples
David’s thirst is in your loins
you have crossed the sands to see Me
don’t forsake me for some coins!

for the charm of life is fleeting
often squandered, often bruised
and the one sin I can speak of
is the sin of life unused

Centipede I

diligent segmented process
gliding across
turning
like thought in the early morning
a wanderer
curling up when threatened
trundling across the deserts of our floor

(some species are highly toxic)

forensic toxicologist

i love you,
like dried blood cakes a nostril
anymore.
is there a law against that too?

for a sample of your minky skin,
armadas have gone aground
and trained assassins
have turned their daggers on themselves.

a chained dog,
wracked by impulses,
helplessly sensing
a focused approximation
of everything —

looking at your body,
forensic toxicologists
scratch their heads
and step outside
for a much-needed smoke.

Joy is dead

joy is dead
and the long goddamn centuries
stretch out before me
plastic
uncaring
weigh the world down with a collar of lead
lost in mind games
and vaginas
i tried waking myself up with words

so, so little living
half the space i had before
now the vision
is nocturnal
and kept alive with hope
good intentions
and maybe just a little cruelty

impulse

the impulse to glory is hot
i know, i know, i know,
cause nothing else tells me to grow
do you have a clue where your money goes?
it’s ugly! it hurts!
let me go!

do you find that you spend
too much time, too much time,
too much time
wasted waiting to fly?
you can wander the earth
making love, giving birth
and try faking a smile when you die.

get away! get away!
run away! get away!
get away from this earth
that we hold
it is hungry and deep
leaves us nothing to keep
when we give ourselves up to the cold
when we scratch our names into that cold

wise man

the wise man
always keeps a jar of antiseptic
and cotton swabs
and forceps
and a good sharp blade.
his dental picks are clean
and new
his gloves are lightly powdered
his gauze is fresh
for the wise man never knows
when delicate surgery
will be required

A Case of Bell’s Palsy

a certain imbalance
to my smile
was the alert.
like I’d been punched in the lip —
stiffness, though, not pain.
the right side was tight
something was wrong

Bell’s Palsy:
paralysis of the facial motor nerve.
temporary, God willing,
but food for thought.

so where does the mind get off
trusting its functions
to nervous intermediaries
who,
grown fat in their own disaster,
undermine the whole show?

the room where i grew up

had bold child-color curtains
thin carpeting
olive-yellow like the 70’s
my plastic dinosaur models
sat on a shelf
my father built
whitewashed boxes
stacked
two on three on four
a fish tank sometimes bubbled,
a little world with
colored rockses
slippery angels
watched by cats

i would spend myself
at this desk
with a chalk-board top
you could lift.
underneath was a peg board, and
colored pegs in a tray
in a photo i am seen
asleep across the desk
cheek in scribbles
chalk in hand
and at night
i drifted off
to the summer breeze
to the doppler moan of trucks
on a far-off highway,
the wail of a future
too sad and fragile
for my dinosaurs to stop

I ride with the children of Judah

I ride with the children of Judah
on subway cars,
past fish markets,
men with a mission so old
it transcends tradition
Odd, self-bracketing,
with beard-sweat,
red rings on foreheads
from hats pushed back
Alive, beneath the weight of the Word
waiting for a signal
that will startle the dust of Jacob

Manhattan Lunch Hour

It is summer and the city is in heat. Snapshots of passing faces, staring up from the tedium of matter. Everyone has a texture; many have a story. Girl with tattoo on shoulder walking two dogs — one light brown, short hair, the other black and fluffy. Unshaven man, about 40, turns to look at her ass. His denim jacket is a shell on his wasted body. A punk teen sits against a building, massaging her boyfriend’s shoulders. His hair is dyed, his long legs jut into the path of pedestrians, ending in orange platform shoes. They are sheepishly enjoying being a spectacle. Spare change, sir? Black dredlocked rasta with shopping bags, palms forward, showing veined forearms. Faraway look. Bodies blur into a sea of thought. There are many lonely trajectories, and ample clusters of blind affiliation. Ambulatory pods of muscle and bone. I am one.

DNA, string of replication, the experience squeezes itself from one node to the next, compounding, complexifying, perpetuating itself. Like sap flowing, like crystals growing. I think of it and moan.

World Trade Center at Lunchtime on a Weekday

a breeze cools me
sun-blind before
a sparkling fountain
luster of heavy power
this plaza, impact crater
of money
white shirts, student backpacks
the rustle of sandwich papers
and the fountain.
dirty pigeons scavenge,
feathers musty in the sun.
a bronze ball of involving might
rivets this place
to the earth

Grove

Elysian grove, pink petals bright,
With twisted wood, and dome of light.
An endless orchard sweet as skin,
enchanted, with narcotic wind.

Dark pools which suck from Hist’ry’s drink
Sprout angel webs which fly and think.
And satyrs sigh, ‘mid moss and hush.
by wood nymphs pleasured: perfumed rush.

Night’s greenest depths resound with chords:
a ringing out of birthing worlds.
The life-force throbbing in the void,
the ecstasy of parts rejoined.

[Date is approximate]

random prayer

You are the keystone and the axis
pole of salt becoming word
In thunder speak,
and silence
Bowl of rice and empty road

In our courage seek to praise you
nostrils wide with ranging smell
Sting of camphor,
honeysuckle
holy Name
sounding bell

Omega

                   Hominized

         Wild fragments in communion

                                                                        Harmonized
                                                       Like the spirochete

                       Whose impetus

                                                       Mocks the flicking spiral

                                 Of Mind’s ascent

Ginkgo

It is easy,
in the season of renewal,
to take a greening twig for a sign
that life is not a losing
proposition,

That we aren’t just
a pinch of food
hanging uneaten on the lip of God,

When
past the hemline,
flesh leaps in dolphin curves,
tracing warm trajectories
beneath synthetic seas.

A swish, a dimple,
Spring’s message is simple:
Bifurcate and beat the curve

Which is why
the oldest phylum tree
still blossoms
in the shadow of cities.

distillate

Wood darkens into night
shapes of houses, soft
over a low stone bridge
blown with fallen leaves
Water flutters under it.

One way or another
Out of me
By trails worn in grass
running between sidewalk and river
Or once through rows of ramshackle houses
thinning out towards open country
hinting of apiaries and vinyards
I moved on.

Such dreams are real
by virtue of that silence
left behind by the body
When senses clarify,
distilled to their most potent
aqua vitae.

FROM THE PLANE

snake not striking
umbilicus
amber linkage
snake not striking, at night
not sounding
yet crawling
jeweled serpent sprawl
quetzal bound down
not striking
but sometimes
stunning

Report from Cutler, Maine, October 1997

Salt shore,
where the seaweed grows,
and the tide kneads life
                         slow.

Evening gulls’
squawking fades and falters,
and the gulping crows
        revise their last oration.

Little mussels nestle
into curves of soft
green mud,
borrowing space
        from        some        stones.

And a lobster laughs
and a cormorant
follows his fish
                          alone.

***

City, scrape, truck.
Sick surplus.
Rush return to restless wait.
Back again in nexus.

This desert, flesh
rehearsing sermons,
pockmarked shield of mirrors.

Inside, the roaring
tide is pounding, pulling,
pounding at the future.
Unless…
Unless…
Remember something
calming, mussels,
                         still.

fire escape poem

Bushman on the savanna
shaking a rock at the sky
Words like desperate fingers, dying
fumble towards him
In the midst of such horror:
“God help me, it tickles!”
Unformed, embryo,
a naive intake of breath
preceding history

There is a cat face peering
through ferns in that window
distant window seen from
someone else’s fire escape
tiny ears listening
for food-like noises
Quiet patient biology
Cat.

We are waiting on fire escapes
breathing air that
is fresher at least
than the closed conditioning
of weekend offices.
It is Manhattan
and we are quietly afraid,
because our complacency
has failed to produce
even monsters.

Or, endless roaring stations
homo transiens
waiting to move again,
waiting to stop moving
Lost in private digestion
of culture’s thin milk
bitter
with the taint
of newspaper ink.
Black spots dot the platforms
gum once chewed

“Ladies and Gentlemen,
I apologize for the interruption.
I am in complete agony.
There is little you can do to help.
Thank you for your time.”

He is a black man
in a stained business suit
singing off key
and pierced by muttered commentary
Spinning in his private world
like a dizzy spider.
I can feel the date on
every coin in my pocket
as I leave the train.

prayer

Let me be Human.
Give me the vision to proceed
and the strength to step forward
I am weak
uninspired
and the grasses of the Imagination
blow in a welcoming breeze.
Dry my brow of its sweat
let me stand erect
and know what it is that is asked.

The road stretches open
across gray, gray soil
and the weight of heaven
is a chorus
chanting gentle and relentless
in my ear
To be free
of what causes fear:
things forgotten
and rued, in darkness
nausea and itching regret.
Let me be.

Tompkins Square, July 12, 1997

Old splashed shadows,
Feathers, on asphalt, matted
Where pigeons went
Hint of accidents and delis
Another drumbeat Sunday
With plastic bags and newsprint
Forgotten ruins of food
Archaeology for flies
And tiny birds
Red lizard feet
Of pecking pigeons
Some, spurned males
All ruffled feathers
And cooing persistence
Admirable, absurd

A sneaky squirrel scoots
Through the bushes

Fire Island, July 1997

I left myself on the beach,
with towels and shoes, a book, lemonade
it is all behind me, back on the beach
here I am only light,
or sand, lightly salted,
and water
I am waving, and each wave
only kind of repeats

this strange salt pungence in my nostrils
too long dulled by cab coughs
and uncurbed dogs
reminds me of my breathing
and it is waving
with a cresting anticipation
of intake
and a booming exhalation

some waves find relief
on the land
and it strikes me
that the place of waves
is a place of shifting
promises between
the kingdoms of land and sea
and like me
traces the shiver
of extremes for awhile

but, lemonade,
the scent of coconut on a magazine

The Lines of Eden

awake on the street
my fellow dust
the lines of Eden sag from overuse
we condense from history
thirsting ignition; at best
condemned to charity
and to rust

How many ways this march can end
trooping dissonant into the buzz
of a lost mathematic
or wrinkling gentle curves
into thistles
in the corners

Asymptote

There is increase today
I see myself fly
past row upon row of ordered neatness
Desert beneath me, papyrus sands beneath me
What day is this, come upon us like the end of words?

The sky shakes like a frightened lamb
While the letters unbroken slide
The whole sky is shaking
and I am so small
A drop in your ocean of sand

There is talk in the village
And rumor in the field
A stranger! A stranger has come
speaking the words of Man
with the voice of lightning
in heavy clouds

Why does the earth tremble like a leaf today?
And how the wilderness heaves!
Is it your wind that blows at last
through the dust and leaves
me scrawling my mark upon the sands?

Oh, one last drop of milk, of sweet water
before we fly
To remember the gentle touch
of rain on hands
and of this tiny love,
before we increase forever
inspired

Mine

Can I really claim this mind?
This matted den
I call it mine.
But why?
When deep inside, great tunnels bend
to hide the truth from Ego’s eyes.

Now
A restless cell
divides
It ends, yet multiplies:
Thus the many-mirrored Mother
in disjunction never dies.
I am one and I am many, in an endless string of lives!
And so the chambers deep within me
reconnect and ramify.

…A light?
Yet even here one shines.
Who would have guessed, in waking grayness
That there was another side
to this milky maze of drainage
with which each of us is mined?

There it dances
at the edge,
on the lip of sagging matter
Lighting up a land we’ve left behind.
And our body is the shadow it defines.

These dark waters running,
surging
Passing boulders, cliffs of stone
Through valleys rank with centaurs sunning,
Forests sweetly overgrown
with vines
At last
In moonlight full emerging,
The stream another million finds
In the Dreamtime all converging —
O star-seared sea! O endless Mind!

Navigation in the Novel Situation

If you seek a philosophy which cannot be twisted in the service of power and evil, you will search forever. The true test of an idea is not how it has been or can be abused, but where it can lead when applied honestly and diligently. ALL ideas can be abused, commercialized, enslaved by material powers to increase those powers. To point out such inversions of good intent does not lessen the value of the idea, or of good intent: one perseveres in spite of such co-option.

At the same time, it is necessary for any application of a program of belief that it be evaluated for its possible impact, both good and bad. A poorly thought out plan of action is often antithetical to its own ends. It can become its opposite through purely internal contradictions. I am thinking, for example, of well-intended legislation which worsens the problems it aims to solve — because those problems simply cannot be solved by direct legislation! Often this indicates a lack of imagination or understanding on the part of those supporting such action. The “war on drugs” (whatever its true origins in the heart of the State) is supported by many people who want their children and society to be healthy and safe. The trouble is that by demonizing “drugs” themselves as the problem, they are led to the equally short-sighted conclusion that simply eliminating drugs is the solution. They understand neither the real locus of the problem nor the most realistic and effective answers. Are these people to be blamed for their good intentions? No. Only for lack of imagination, which breeds fear and deferral of responsibility.

I think much of the confusion here has been fueled (ironically) by misapplication of critical theory and deconstructionism. Both have been invaluable tools in uncovering the hidden interests in various ideologies and “common-sense” beliefs, in unclogging a stalled creative discourse in our culture. But an immature grasp of the power of critique pushes it beyond usefulness. It is one thing to overthrow the tyranny of ideology, and another thing altogether to forsake all models of how the world works. The radical extreme of deconstructionism is that all ideas are false, or at best, meaningless. The further implication seems to be that all ideas are therefore useless. If the “critical moment” of a text can be located and illuminated, it is proposed, the whole edifice collapses like a house of cards.

This is where I draw the line. I wish to make a distinction between the truth-value of an idea, and its use-value. I am actually quite comfortable with the proposition that no idea is absolutely TRUE, at least as mediated by language. What our task should be instead is to develop models which — at least provisionally — take us where we need to go. Language is, in a sense, a system for building models, metaphors of what is going on. It is very important to realize that all we have to communicate with are models of reality. But to say it is “just” a model is not to invalidate it. Some metaphors are incredibly powerful. They can lead us past manifold distractions into rich and rewarding experiences. Others can lead us nowhere, except to waste great amounts of time and energy. And all this regardless of whether or not the model is “true”. A religious belief, for instance, may not be “true” in the Western empiricist sense, but it may contribute to overall health of a given person.

What is important here is to balance the usefulness of a presiding model with a degree of flexibility. That is because the world is in constant flux, and thus the conditions under which a metaphor remains relevant are subject to change. Realizing that all we have are metaphors allows us to adapt, upgrade, or discard the metaphors we use, as needed. A sense of humor is essential here, essential in all things. Humor is flexibility, the ability to live with irony. People assume that humor is inappropriate in certain domains: the domains of politics and the sacred, for instance. I am not advocating the kind of sarcastic, dissipative mocking which passes for humor much of the time. A sense of balance, an ability to stand outside the problem, to not go down with a sinking ship — this is what real humor, healthy humor, conveys. It is the lubricant which allows us to change models smoothly. Any political or spiritual model which does not allow for this, I maintain, is bankrupt.

And let me reiterate that I am not dismissing a critical perspective — it is, in fact, essential in evaluating the use-value of a proposed or existing model of the world. We are rapidly entering new historical territory. The rate of change of cultural and technological evolution is accelerating exponentially, the amount of novelty is increasing. There is only one approach to this situation which is likely to survive and flourish in this situation. That is a perspective which thrives on novelty, which is critical yet spontaneous, determined but playful. It is an ad hoc philosophy, but one which is based on as much awareness of the present situation as possible. It acknowledges the resources at its disposal, but does not become attached to them. Because it seeks novelty, it naturally values cooperation and compassion, seeing conflict as limiting to freedom and thus to a pursuit of the fully novel. On the other hand, when conflict does arise, the non-attached person is not sentimental, but learns what she can from the experience and moves on. This person is forgiving, unattached, compassionate, playful, but not frivolous. She makes critical evaluations but knows the limits of such judgments, and does not mock others for holding different beliefs. This person is not super-human but, as Maslow might say, fully human.

If such a proscription seems naive or impossible in today’s world, it is because enough people have not taken the responsibility to examine themselves. Those who are pessimistic about turning others around should at least seek to make themselves more aware, more responsible. It’s not in human nature, you say? Perhaps you feel hopelessly chained to your bestial nature, but I don’t. I would argue that to say we are and always will be brutish animals is a cop out, and a self-fulfilling prophecy. The real reason an attempt at self-betterment is difficult is that it demands creativity, and this means challenging our encrusted beliefs about ourselves and about others. This may offend some would-be Artists, but most people ARE creative, deep within. This output from the unconscious is merely clogged with years of repressed fears, desires, and self-deceptions, occasionally erupting in sprays of psychosis and raw hurt. Getting into the habit of self-examination and reevaluation, one begins to clear away the personal and cultural detritus clogging the pipe. It can be done; it has been done.

So flexibility, creativity, humor, and a desire to improve one’s self and one’s world — is this so deluded? Do not accept anyone else’s declarations of “true” and “false”, but neither write off a new idea on prior or unchallenged assumptions. Take responsibility. Take action. You are alive! Have you ever considered what that means? And you are going to die! Have you ever considered what that means? Stop telling yourself you are helpless and take responsibility. This is the last chance you may ever get.

Evolution and the Minefield of History

Evolution began long before the first carbon molecules banded together and started replicating. I see organic evolution as but the soft pink tip of a much older process extending back at least to the appearance of the first electrons. The material universe has undergone a succession of increasingly rapid transitions into new, more complex, forms. At the near end we find the process eagerly rushing from the mechanical world of complex molecules into the explosion of forms we call Life.

Towards the center of this process, and more recently, the dim glow of self-awareness, self-reflecting consciousness, has been flickering, slowly growing brighter. This phenomenon has been realized fully by only a fraction of the human species. The trajectory of these isolated illuminations, now lent further weight by the evolution of a worldwide economic and communications system, is towards global self-awareness. The closest we’ve come to such a state has been in fragmentary, painful distortions such as nationalism, ethnocentrism, and organized religion. In all these cases, the individual has subsumed his or her identity within that of a greater whole. But in all cases this whole falls far short of the totality of the human race, leaving an external Other to be hated and feared. I maintain that these are gropings towards wholeness, but ones which have not succeeded.

The final stage of evolution is — must be — a conscious one. Consciousness is at the radiant center of all becoming. It is surrounded by Life, suffuses Life. But each successive increase in complexity is also increasingly improbable, according to the mechanistic demands of the material universe. The last stage is the least predictable — because it relies upon the choices of a free agent, a conscious agent.

The realization of Humanity as a single, conscious entity depends on several conditions:

  • Freedom: individuals must be free to make conscious choices, that they may form a medium for the play of global Ideas. The inertia of entrenched and obsolete political systems must be reduced.
  • Awareness/Information: The prospect of humanity united must be given serious consideration. Knowledge of human potential must be shared and spread, in the face of indifference and despair. Ideas must be free. Information must be free. The inertia of entrenched and obsolete belief systems must be reduced.
  • Love: Given an understanding of the process in which we are participants, nourished by information regarding the totality of the planet, we should lean naturally towards a state of transcendent freedom. Our fellow humans are necessary for achievement of this goal; they are in the same boat as we are — the minefield of history, the pain of material existence. Realizing this, we proceed forward hopefully towards the light of this great project: the birth of Humanity as such.
  • Finesse: The last act will be one of playful surrender. All of humanity’s greatest achievements have been crowned with final flourish, often simple in itself, which yet stamps the act as immortal. Ravaged by the horrors of time, thirsting for release, we will at the last moment relax our eons-old rush forward and let ourselves be drawn lightly into completion.

It will be argued that this program is hopelessly optimistic, that the momentum of despair is already too great, that history proves we are not up to the task and are condemned as a species to fade out in pain. To this I reply that, at least at first, only a fraction of the population need be consciously involved in the salvation of this planet. It does not require consensus. But there is a “critical mass”, probably unknowable, which we are yet far from. There is a point up until which the forces of convergence must seem to be failing, but after which the tide is irrevocably turned. Despair will be possible until the very end. Thus we are still stirred from complacency to act, not to single-handedly change the whole, but rather to tip the balance. Our individual actions have influence far beyond what most of us assume, and this influence may be amplified now by the communications technology at our disposal.

History is a transitional phase. Its brutality does not invalidate hope — it shows how high the stakes are. It demonstrates, not the unique human capacity for evil, but the amplifying effect of self-awareness on animal nature. What is unique about humankind is self-reflecting consciousness; all else follows. It has turned animal aggressiveness into cruelty, animal territorialism into war, animal fear into guilt and hatred. But it has also turned animal affection into love, and in its purest form has created works of art which defy explanation in terms of animal nature. History is the turbulence caused by the infusion of self-consciousness into an animal system. History will end when that self-consciousness becomes total, independant of the animal which has hosted it.

What this means in practical terms, it is impossible to say. There will be an air of familiarity, the sense of gazing into a collective mirror. After that, the embrace, and a kiss of reunion.

Free Agents In Fractal Space

Many of you are now familiar with the so-called “butterfly effect”. Complexity theory and chaos dynamics squeezed out this memorable nugget to amuse the world with Nature’s antics. It states that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world can have profound effects on the weather in another.

Now, there are two “spins” on the butterfly effect. One I reject; one I embrace.

Typically, the butterfly effect — and chaos theory in general — is used to define limits: limits of human knowledge about nature, about the results of our action. “Sensitivity to initial conditions” is the applicable term here, and popular science takes that to mean that the best laid plans of Mice and Men are subject to the leeching blight of CHAOS. In its basest incarnation, this attitude shows meteorologists throwing up their hands, exclaiming, “D’oh! We just can’t predict the weather more than two weeks in advance!” The Empire sighs. Business as usual continues, its prison walls a tad more visible.

Well, that’s pretty lame. Say, what does a fractal mean to you? Sure, you’ve seen them on posters at the mall, and on rave flyers. Pretty colors. Druuuugz, man. And maybe you’ve heard that fractal math is used to generate trees and landscapes in computer films. Well, that’s kind of neat. Why is that? Fractals provide models of lots of natural processes, such that it’s easier to simulate the branching of a tree with a few simple formulas than by tediously computing every leaf and twig.

So what? What about the second interpretation of the butterfly effect?

I’M GETTING TO THAT!

A fractal is generated by a recursive process. So are landscapes and trees. DNA replication, population flux, heart fibrillation, the stock market — all are based on iteration (cyclicity) and feedback. So are you. And how about language? And, sorry to jump the gun here, but consciousness — self-consciousness — is now presumed to be a recursive process. Capiche?

The butterfly effect is due to a small change in one cycle getting fed back into the process, amplifying itself each time until it is quite significant.

On boundaries there is life
Life is a boundary condition
Like the shape of flames
Like farms along the Nile

Another gem from chaos math is that fractals are often found along boundaries. Or more accurately, many boundaries are fractal. That means that between two seemingly discreet regions there may be a zone of chaos, swirling filigrees wherein one cannot tell what region one is in. Is a tidal pool land or sea? What is the edge of a cloud? Where is the line between Right and Wrong? What is the nature of altruism? When does a historical period “end”? How can one describe the transition between waking and sleep? Between life and death?

These fractals, these patterns of randomness, are found throughout the universe, on all scales, at all times. Perhaps they are saying, “Wake Up!” Perhaps you begin to see why they are more than just techno-fetish talismans with pretty colors. The mathematics of chaos hint at some fundamental Mystery that lies at the center of the universe. A Pattern has been found, which suggests that all levels of being are inherently interconnected, infinitely reflective of one another, vicissitudes of the eternal Tao.

Or maybe you’re too busy to think about fundamental Mysteries. Worse, you’re too mature, too practical, too goddamn grounded. Oh well.

Chaos is the Enemy only if you are terrified of Freedom. If your hidden agenda is to salvage determinism, reductionism, and mechanism from the jaws of the eroding Void, then you will see little difference between chaos and entropy, and fear both. You will struggle to control chaos, to become lords of matter, but in the end Chaos will devour you.

And hopefully feed you back into the mix as something more benevolent.

The Payoff Zone (Where I really get goin’!)

Let the Empire tremble at the flapping of the butterfly’s wings, for its message is one of hope! Whatever else it means, it means that no system of control is complete. Somewhere, in a shack on the outskirts, or in the basement of the Central Planning Office, a free agent, acting alone, has the potential to shift the whole damn thing into a new orbit.

Power, like climate, is a dynamical system, and as such is subject to the forces of feedback and iteration. Male-dominance hierarchies tend to centralize power, to simplify the channels of feedback so that further iterations further centralize power. And they try to minimize the “noise” — that pesky hiss of human freedom, like escaping steam…

The fractal is a symbol of freedom. It is infinite within a finite space, sprouting Form as waves rise from the sea. It is the abstraction of Energy as it is enfolded by the material plane. It hints at realities previously reserved for mystical visions.

The assumptions under which nationalist agendas proceed are crumbling. Technology and the insatiable expansion of capital have brought cultures together in irreversible and increasingly complex relationships. And though assimilation and imperialism are real concerns, it may soon be true that the term “global culture” is redundant. We can now anticipate, and work for, a planetary context for the full unfolding of human potential — a context of mutual and nonexploitative exchange.

The tools for change are here, but they will not do well in the service of archaic power games and control fantasies. The universe will not submit to total control. (You are part of the universe — would you?) The exuberance and vitality of nature, which reaches its highest expression in mankind, is incompatible with such an agenda. Chaos will not bow to the yoke, but it is more than willing to dance.

The Active and Passive principles dance to the pipes of Pan, and between them spin the spiraling strands of life.

In Condemnation of Despair

It has become fashionable in recent years to indulge in public displays of resignation and to celebrate history’s darkest moments. The magnitude of today’s culture crisis has produced a particular spectrum of despair which, in its worst formulations, has become the justification of further grave-digging. I am referring to the smug celebration of any number of toxic futures which Western military-industrial excess has made possible. This hip resignation takes many forms, from the punk Luddite who welcomes apocalypse as the termination of collective misery, to the capitalist whose tacit cynicism gives him license to rape and plunder until the well runs dry. At least the former might base upon his or her despair a creative exploration of human freedom, dancing and singing on the deck of a sinking ship. The latter is the most dangerous. He takes what he sees as a hopeless situation, and uses it as an excuse to make it worse. The cynicism which permits the ongoing evisceration of the biosphere threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy if unchecked.

Perhaps more dangerous still is the acceptance by “ordinary” people that All Is Lost, human nature is inherently self-destructive, the damage is done, and if we don’t blow ourselves up in a paroxysm of primate territoriality, we’ll suffer a far worse fate at the hands of environmental collapse, cancer, AIDS, ebola, or general widespread barbarism. The best one can do in such a situation is try to grab hold of whatever shreds of the Good Life remain available, to get what pleasure one can from existence, and to die in one’s sleep. A form of quietism emerges, a feeling that one is powerless to change anything, so “Why try?” This outlook, on a large scale, invokes Narcosis — habitual pharmaceutical sedatives, both legal and illegal; promotion of increasingly vapid “activities” and “distractions” as tonic for hectic lifestyles; and, of course, television, the Great Silencer of both inner and outer dialogue.

A more active despair is to be found in the dredging up and cataloging of various human pathologies and excesses. Here is the mass murder fan, the collector of fatality statistics, the connoisseur of human cruelty and stupidity. This phenomenon bears the unlikely stamp of intellectual justification; it presents itself as a critique of the existing order, a brutal reminder that Things Are Not Right. Well, I agree, but celebrating the Sneeze does not cure the Disease. What disturbs me more about this cult of depravity is that it self-righteously proclaims that there IS no cure, that human self-destruction is inevitable. It points to the Holocaust, declares all striving to be a bankrupt endeavor, bangs its gavel and cries “Case closed!” Thereafter we are expected to sit around collecting Charles Manson T-shirts, reading depressing eighteenth-century literature we don’t understand, waiting for Society to finally dissolve in some abstract scenario wherein only the people with the most tattoos will survive.

Validating po-mo despair on the most fundamental level is the mechanistic scientific model of the universe. From this world view we get at least two reasons to give up the ghost. First, the sun will expand in a few billion years to engulf the Earth, vaporizing the last traces of humanity’s naive bid for immortality. Beyond that, the universe is winding down, dissipating towards an interminable heat-death in which everything will be frozen, inert, forever dark. Thus, even if humans survive technological adolescence, and escape the earth before the sun goes nova, we’re only prolonging the inevitable. (This is the case also in the Big Crunch scenario, wherein a sufficient universal mass will draw everything back into the singularity from which it presumably sprang.) Unconsciously or not, this cultural theme sets the tone for many individuals’ private philosophies of life. If one does not approach it creatively, it is a tacit sanction for despair. (Some intelligent — and explicitly optimistic — alternatives include the transhumanist and Extropian philosophies.)

What most cosmologists and many physicists fail to consider is the phenomenon of biology. The emergence of life on at least one planet in the ocean of space-time is seen as incidental, a curious sideshow to the Big Top of dust clouds and stellar evolution. And yet biology, as experienced on Earth, can be seen as a major development in a series of increasingly brief, increasingly complex epochs. It is the dynamic conservation of pattern against the tidal pull of entropy. (Creationists who see this as a refutation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics are, however, misguided. Biology doesn’t contradict the SLT. However, it doesn’t seem to follow inevitably from it. Biology is the deferral of the SLT in isolated pockets. This needs consideration, but it is not a contradiction, I think.) One might start with the condensation of the solar system out of primordial hydrogen. Eventually planets form, and much later one of them sprouts simple biological systems. Life then undergoes a series of evolutionary leaps into successive layers of complexity. Human culture lies at the near end of this chain, with the progression passing out of pure biology and into the cyborganic realm of global computer networks, robotics, and other human-machine syntheses. The point to understand is the acceleration of the process. A possible future epoch of this sort will begin with the development of self-replicating, self-maintaining machines.

Biology as a fact of the universe does not prove that there is a God, or that human intelligence as we know it is inevitable. What it and more recent epigenetic developments suggest is that there is more going on than mechanistic materialism would have us believe. Specifically, it suggests a teleology of sorts, which is anathema in Western science. If the epochs of complexity I have mentioned are accelerating, what are they accelerating toward? There are at least three options. One scenario, the one anticipated by the despairing intellectual, is that at some point the whole system will become so top-heavy that it will collapse in on itself, the speeding train of human culture will slam head-on into the brick limitations of the planet’s resources. The other two options are potentially more optimistic. There is the idea that the tightening epochs of evolution point towards some sort of asymptote, where the gradual accretion of novelty we have been passing through shoots abruptly towards infinity, towards unlimited freedom. The third possibility here is that this eruption of novelty is somehow limited by physical constraints, but unlike the first scenario, this limit is a threshold and not a wall. (Think of a neuron collecting synaptic stimulation until it reaches a threshold and discharges.) The second and third scenarios are almost identical in their end results, except that in the latter novelty does not increase forever, but rather reaches a point of maximum saturation or equilibrium.

The millennialist outlook which the last two scenarios promote stands in stark contrast to the tired schadenfreude of postmodern shock-jocks and armchair slackers, who self-righteously dismiss as futile any attempts to improve any situation, and whose boring confessional poetry fills volumes which even their own therapists refuse to read. The human race is on the brink of cataclysmic transformation, but whether that transformation will snuff us out forever, or usher us as children back into the Garden, is far from clear. You do not have to give up too many basic assumptions to be optimistic, and you certainly don’t have to embrace New Age extravagance. There is another path, positive, determined, but not falling into the talk-show polarities of militant rationalists and channeling housewives. If you truly think there is no hope, if you are unwilling to investigate the full breadth of possibilities, please kill yourself now. At the very least, shut up and let the rest of us get to work, because there’s information to be gathered and ideas to be spread. Whatever happens, you won’t have to wait much longer to see who is wasting their time.

The Millenium: A Metaphor

This is a time of wild speculation. An increasing number of people sense that the human race is approaching a critical evolutionary juncture. It is not because humans as a whole are “more evolved” than before, nor is it taken for granted that we will survive the transition. It is as though our technology, our philosophy, our art and our religion are being drawn together towards some break point in the future. It will not be the result of any one idea or program or proposal. The change will emerge as a complex feedback loop, launching the species into a whole new epigenetic orbit.

All we have are metaphors. Consider, then, the image of a wall. We are walking along a wall. We’ve been walking along this wall for a long, long time, so that the road ahead has always seemed more or less the same. Sure, the texture of the wall changes, there are objects on the ground to discover, but the wall itself is a given. People who talk about an end to the wall are considered deluded, their views relegated to religion and crack science. What evidence is there that the wall will not always be there? It’s absurd to think of. Still others claim to have found cracks in the wall, or windows, through which they’ve seen incredible things. The wall is not just a wall, they say, it’s part of a larger structure — there is something going on here. They too are laughed at; most people peering through the cracks see only darkness. But the concept of an end to the wall persists.

Eventually, people begin to sense that there is something strange about the road ahead. The wall looks different, somehow, up in the distance. Speculation soars. If there is an end to the wall, then our ceaseless walking will inevitably bring us to it. Most people have always assumed that the end of the wall will be the end of everything; the wall is the only constant in their world — it IS their world. If it ends, what else is there? They can’t conceive of any movement except along the wall. But as the anomaly grows nearer, some people begin to think: what if the end of the wall is really a corner? What if the the mystics and the seers were right, and the wall was just the edge of a much larger space? A corner implies a new dimension, a radical new direction to in which to travel. A corner IS an end, in one sense, but only of the old direction of travel. After it is turned, the journey continues — into fundamentally new territory.

What some people are proposing is that time is like this wall. It is not just a line, but a structure. Time has a texture to it, and it is usually fairly small, not enough to distract us from the continuous forward flow. But the slightest amount of texture implies that there is a dimension of change which runs perpendicular to what we call time. This, in turn, implies the possibility of a corner. Mystical and psychedelic visions are glimpses of the larger structure, explorations of the SPACE in which what we call time is just a LINE. Hyperspace, Eternity: we live on a line, and can’t think of anything not on that line, even as it twists and shimmies through dimensions inconceivable to the human imagination.

Biocultural evolution seems more and more like an attempt to leave this line, to break free from the constraints of space and time. Developments in transportation and communication increasingly transcend issues of distance and delay. Recording technologies change the idea of time, of past and present. The planet is linking up: cyberspace is being terraformed. With enough connections in place, a new structure begins to emerge, as if we were playing some global game of connect-the-dots. The monkey wants to leave its tree.

This is not, however, a celebration of technology as something unquestionably good. We may destroy ourselves while still in the transition phase. Some of the most cherished aspects of the human may disappear into the transhuman condition. No one really knows what to expect; no one has the master plan, and new tools are not always used by skilled and responsible hands. We have unleashed processes that we do not know how to control, which will kill us if we can’t surf their waves. There is also the issue of preparedness. We must make our minds flexible. Without understanding, our minds may die of shock when we turn a corner we thought could never exist.

On the Dangers of Compulsive Communication

Make Your Mark Heavy and Dark

Abrupt believes firmly in the empowerment of individuals to mouth off. We have always encouraged people to leave their scent or sign behind them, to do more than passively consume the imagery of others. The technology of the World Wide Web lets more people than ever to do just that. This turns us on, makes us giddy; it makes our panties damp.

“Hey! I’m Rantin’ Over Here!”

Unfortunately, our underwear dries up pretty quickly when we confront the tsunami of communication this technology unleashes. It’s not that there’s too much of it to deal with, it’s that too much of it is virtually worthless. As with cheap photocopying and 4-track recording, people are communicating compulsively — not because they have something to say, but because they can. This can be a good thing, ultimately, if people listen to themselves rant. As in all things, PAY ATTENTION.

…And If You Must Erase, Erase Completely

Abrupt’s policy, in general, is not to say anything if we’ve nothing to say. Rather than put out a magazine every month that’s padded with filler, we’d rather sit for two years collecting material for a quality publication. The same will be true of this Web site. We feel that some of our material is interesting, possibly enlightening. We’d certainly like to contribute to the evolution of the Web. But we’re willing to admit we have nothing to offer if that seems to be the case. We beg your patience, and suggestions.

abrupt

Ode to an Apple

Thanks to the Mother
For her sweet red gift
The answer to every compulsion
Whether chewed on the avenue
Or downed as wine
The apple offers up its service
To pass time and satisfy
The hungry soul
In a hungry world

Plane Time/Vacation Time

My grid
Extends to the seam
Between land and sky.
Where it interferes
With other streams,
The disturbance is where
I live.
Outside this box
The million waves
Hum and dance themselves
Into stasis.
So I wait
For a shift
In perspective.
When it comes
I give thanks
To the flow
Which makes it so.

[In a letter to Eva N.]

You tunnel holes in the night
Write songs for excuses
I’ve heard about you
Seen your face shift in the matrix
Without compassion
In silence
The sight slices through me
I find
It takes some getting used to
But strength
And patience are
The tenuous rewards.

Agonizing Angel

Agonizing angel
Beautiful girl
You were sent to torture us all
Antagonizing angel
The words release their hold
The universe groans in the spaces where your body makes it cold.

Paralyzing angel
Incomprehensible
You are the great Distractor
You are a strange attractor
So long I’ve held the number that you will never call.

I can hear the symbols
Refracted through your words
I hear a culture closing when you speak;
Your singing ends the world.

Annihilating angel
Why were you good to me?
You left me punching empty air
With this useless poetry.

Pressure Cycle

In time they’ll come with hammers
And board up all the doors
And laughter will not grace
This place of living anymore.
They’ll make us sweep the streets and
Live like dogs in piss and mud
And our prayers will melt like snowflakes
In the angry sun above.

Stolen Moments

Stolen moments
You failed to control.
Torn back by partisans of time
I want this situation
To sponge up all the droplets of scattered intensity.
So I put the squeeze on time
Getting my money’s worth
And then some.