Oregon Public Broadcasting program Weekend America did a wonderful piece on the sounds of New Orleans and what Mardi Gras feels like this year. And scroll down to the Sounds of Katrina with DJ Spooky for more. This is resonating strongly in the context of a piece of writing my friend Daniel did for grad school in England, called A Mytho-poetic Tale for the Development Age.
This one of those mornings where the sun is bright behind the fog, and the people spread out are extending their feelers in response. I took my cat Tiki Neale out around the side of the building on a bright yellow leash this morning, so he could sniff out all the smells in the fog. There were huge portobello style mushrooms blooming in the loamy bark, which didn’t excite him nearly as much as the possibility of slipping through the gap beneath the fence.
But those mushrooms reminded me of the vast network of spores lingering dormant in the soil, invisible until the conditions change and then springing forth in great abundance, popping up everywhere –
And in my mother’s wild garden, the root system from a maple stump hosted a great colony of fungi this fall. She was delighted, and spent hours out in the woods uncovering the old grown bones of a tree. Far off in the city, I like to think of her kneeling as the sun filters through the trees, with her hands in the dirt, communing beyond words in texture and smell.
There’s a page of notes from a book on Biophilia posted in Pages with some illuminating quotes, and Dale the neocappadocian sent along a poem in response to the I See a Darkness posting. Please scroll down to the comments to find it: and whether you like thinking of yourself as a mushroom or not, imagine the fecund possibilities.
From the whole to the part,
The whole is in the part;
Every part is holy.
For all you fans of nested holarchy out there, please check out this revolutionary old book by Jose Arguelles, first published 20+ years ago by Shambala press and reissued recently by Bear & Co. It is a book of maps and information, spanning a global perspective on just what DNA, the I Ching, and Resonant Field Theory have in common, anyways… There’s a little something to tickle everybody’s particular suspicions about the interrelatedness of everything, and while it takes a while to grok it, the implications begin to sink in immediately.
I’ve compiled some cliff notes – WoW style – from the introductory essays, for the page in the corner. Please to check it out. You’ll find working definitions of geomancy, holonomics, and a host of names and possibilities to spur you to fantastic leaps of understanding.
There are some new body poems up on the poetica page, if you’re in the mood for a more hopeful reading than the reflection that follows…
It’s been a long year and I’m more cynical than I would like to be right now. The brandy’s turned the almond milk sour in my mug of hot cocoa. It’s one day before the end of the year and my endurance is young yet, I’ll weather more before it’s over. More years worth of disasters we’ve thrown money at but not been able to remedy, more times we’ve strengthened our faith in each other, because the churches and the governments are culpable and the institutions are ineffective and the corporations are corrupt and poisoning us all in the name of capitalism. This year just feels like I wised up to some core truth about myself that made it possible to grow strong beyond despair.
I gave some of my all and then I took it all back and moved away with it, and now I feel intact again for the first time in a while. The old story of struggle and coping with struggle seems inflated, dramatic, and a waste of any more energy.
It’s happened. The state of the world used to be a deep dread in my belly, like an unknown allergy to the full and terrible truth. I was a child of the Cold War 80’s, of interstellar battles and the icy gates
of the Kremlin, of Japanese technology and Reaganomics. I was taught about welfare mothers in 8th grade health class, and I responded with a yelp as though it stung. And it did a bit – the worldview of the real world is hard, cold, and unforgiving. There was judgment in the pages of my textbooks. This is how I introduced myself to reading in between the lines: I kept asking questions of the information when it pained me, and the dread migrated through all these layers of tissue out to the skin where it oozes like a sore in plain sight.
Nobody in the world is okay this year, because a lot of people left us, and we all know about it. And a lot of factories kept producing toxic waste and more and more of us know about it, and we all feel it in our lungs and in our spirits. And we’re running out of things that we need, or that we think that we need. And not everybody knows about it, or worse they don’t care. And the human race is full of people who are willing to gamble with the lives of others, especially when the stakes go high.
And there’s a sort of settling in happening. I’ve scouted the land, I know my allies. I don’t believe education will do it, will make the shift in consciousness spread as far and as wide as it has to. I’ve been reading fantasy novels again, where a small band of committed allies across kingdoms joins their different magicks collectively to defeat the darkness.
I’ve been listening to Johhny Cash cover a Bonnie Prince Billy song:
I See a Darkness. In it he sings,
“Well you’re my friend. And can you see.
Many times we’ve been out drinking. And many times
we’ve shared our thoughts. Did you ever, ever notice,
the kind of thoughts I got.
Well you know I have a love, a love for everyone I know.
And you know I have a drive, to live I won’t let go.
Can you see its opposition comes rising up sometimes.
And its dreadful imposition, comes blacking in my mind.
That I see a darkness, and that I see a darkness,
and that I see a darkness, and that I see a darkness.
Did you know how much I love you.
Here’s a hope that somehow you,
can save me from this darkness.
I hope that someday baby, we will have peace in our hearts.
Together or apart, alone or with our wives,
That we can stop our whoring, and pull the smiles inside,
and light it up forever, And never go to sleep.
My best unbeaten brother, this isn’t all I see.
Oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness.
Did you know how much I love you.
There’s a hope that somehow you
can save me from this darkness…”
Don’t mean to force anybody to walk this mind road with me, but it’s core, and now in the long dark evenings like tonight, it feels true to bare it openly.
This year has had its moments alright – some loss and pain, and some secret pleasures too. I’m glad to greet the next one, but there’s a guardedness in my heart that’s new. I’m not as young as I was last year, and last year I felt old. And I’m angry but I’m not lashing out with it anymore, I’ve harnessed it for my own purposes, it is fuel of a sustainable sort, since there’s plenty for it to feed upon.
And my love? Doing the best I can with what I’ve got, and what I’ve got, is a lot.
Greetings and salutations of the holiday nature – I’ve come up from under the covers of nasty sickness for a bit. There was no escaping this one, and it extended my hermiting a week or so past my intentions. Portland is cold just now, so tucking in feels called for. And good for reflecting: I have just posted a bit of a thanksgiving parable in my pages, please peruse if you’re feeling inclined.
I just finished re-reading Demian, Herman Hesse’s breakthrough book from 1919, and a marvelous story about the road towards ones own self, which features a god of good and evil, and some serious firegazing, as well as painting and dreamwork. A Solstice is approaching in the twilight hours of these long nights, perfect for fire gazing as a spiritual practice. My first solstice celebration was a winter fire out in the county east of Bellingham maybe 9 years ago. A woman with a basket offered each of us twigs with ribbons tied on. The twig was to throw in the fire along with what we were ready to let go of, the ribbon was to tie on the branches of a nearby tree, for what we wanted to grow in the new year. Relevant questions for this winter too…
Rain rain glorious sea level rain. It can be hard to keep track of me sometimes, what with all the driving up and down the west coast. This month I journeyed into parts further south with old friends Joel and Charlie. The three of us are collaborating on a book of the Peruvian experience, which I hope will be the bookend to our various travel guides – and a distilled extrapolation of our time under the southern cross. (Please sing along with the Crosby Stills Nash and Young song here) The elevation in the Andes made all experiences just a bit more intense, I’m sure.
I brought Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez with me during the trip. It was an invaluable mirror and a source of great amusement. The appendix in that book is Steinbecks attempt to exorcise Ed Rickett’s ghost. Please find it at a library near you, it features some of the best writing about a person that I’ve ever read.
So I’m still a bit with one foot in each world, and the sifting and sorting back into western civ in the midst of the holiday buildup will be a further exercise in bridging realities. For now, suffice to say that we spent thanksgiving on a small boat breaking down in the middle of Lago Titicaca, using the floorboards as paddles and having the time of our lives. So many things I am grateful for – mostly that the adventure continues, and that there are people to share it with and lots of love to greet me on the return home.
thanks for filling out your parts in the story.
I watched Me You and Everyone We Know at the Laurelhearst Theatre on Burnside last night. Took myself out to movies on a stormy day. On the way there I watched a pigeon’s last moments in the intersection crosswalk, just before a car whose driver couldn’t have seen the hobbled bird fluttering near its front tire, drove forward on the green and ended the pigeon’s struggle. A flash imprint of city on my eyelids. I felt the pigeon’s panic, its will to leave.
One of the first scenes in the movie, which is brilliant, shows a goldfish in a plastic bag forgotten on roof of a car. “The best thing for this fish would be to keep riding at a constant pace, forever.” Miranda July is welling up almost beyond her eyes. She says a few last words, tells the fish that it is loved, drives steady in front of the unsuspecting driver of the car.
In other city news, I bring you a silly poem from the day of the dead:
Just across the freeway under that big rose garden dome
the trailblazers are playing and down below me
there is a tailgate in progress – and a man in a blazer
standing on the back step of his old winnebago talking big
and lighting his cigarette with a long stemmed butane lighter.
Tailgating the Blazers is comforting groundlevel activity for such
a pregnant day. four floors up I watch the storm blow out
the tail end and the sun flares up in the last of the clouds
making a break for it east down the gorge.
Fast break down the lane, and taking it to the hole.
New moon dark now just beyond the lights of the city,
just across the river, and the curving span of dome –
high budget entertainment to ward off the spirits
on the eve of the day of the dead, November first,
samhain when the skin is thin and soft like on the back
of the hand and the worlds merge and re-differentiate.
A night for rising into the ether, our prayers go out beyond us
like kites extending, we become channels for that universal wish,
which is: to know both at once, to glimpse beyond
and find comfort, to send those we’ve lost
the invisible tools, to come in handy
if the journey is epic and strange.
The influence of momentum and enthusiasm on outcome;
it’s why people cheer in the stands. It’s why they build altars
of cerveza and cigars, of honored saints and treasured photos
to feed the dead their favorite things, to bolster
a soul’s strength during what can be a long crossing.
It’s why those remaining behind will drink and smoke
and savor the relics after a week of offerings,
to imbibe the gift of spirit that the dead make us in return.
the crowd goes wild.
I’m moving into Serene Court on Monday. There were some questions about my move to Happy Valley a few years back; while both monikers may be misleading, so far as I know, neither denote funny farms. Serene Court was built in 1905 as a brick hotel, and converted to apartments shortly thereafter. I’m on the fourth floor corner in a double studio with lots of windows. Some of them look out over the freeway and the grey dome of the Rose Quarter, where Britney Spears played last week.
I Will be sleeping in a desk – there are two ancient Murphy beds that roll out like drawers. One of them has a writing desk built in up above, with cubbyholes and stained glass cupboards. I think I’ll make that one my bed. There’s a maple tree just outside my window, so that’s what I see first.
A few years ago, some photographer friends and I developed a merged media Socratic exploration, termed The Question Project. I brought it up to Bellingham with me when I moved north, and distributed postcards and magnets guerilla style on lampposts and bike racks, windshields and boards. I lost momentum after a bit, but I didn’t forget it.
It’s been resurfacing in my consciousness lately, the wish to reach a broad spectrum of the population with the notion that it’s okay not to be sure, and to discover the truth of your own experience through the process of questioning yourself. I suspect that we are channels of energy made sentient to the degree that we are open to receiving and giving qi in our interactions with people and life forms. We may be sentient to the degree that we recognize sentience in others.
And sentience cannot be dictated, perhaps it can only be evoked. Which is the peculiar gift of poetry. So I have a certain desire to print the following poem on quarter page fliers and distribute them in the guise of The Question Project. To post broadsides, like Thomas Jefferson did.
Kings and Queens of Cascadia
To which entity
of organismic consciousness
will you sacrifice your life?
Which aspect of spirit will you embody?
You kings and queens rising to power
by right action, right livelihood.
You who would resist the status quo
by whatever means necessary,
to what will you pledge?
Will it be to the gods that are mountains?
Pachamama’s high Andes, and the Cascade range
those resting volcanos, those meridian points:
Ranier, Hood, Baker, and Shasta,
with their backs to the flatland plains.
Will you speak to them in their old names?
Will it be to watersheds?
So that again the rivers may be life force
moving with the flush and feed of tide and snow.
Will you give yourself, that the tracks of grimy
tears: the Columbia, the Nooksack, the Snake
may run clean across the landscape?
Will you speak in the language of lumber
and timber, or will you speak of trees?
Suislaw, Quinault, Hoh – the old forests –
will lend you their voices if you listen.
Will you lend them your breath to speak
to the people about what is priceless?
Will you see yourself as Leader?
In whose dialect?
Will you speak in poverty’s tongue
when you reason with the masters?
Will you give up on reason
and call it out on the table?
Will you remind us of our capacities as human beings,
to be both greatly cruel and extremely kind?
And also how fragile, remind us,
are these hearts that keep pounding in our chests.
Can you point out our oversights and small-
nesses without wounding us further?
Will you speak up?
Beyond your voice is the voice
of the first peoples of land and water.
And if you can hear it, there is only your voice
with which you can speak.
You who are Sacrifice by virtue
of your willingness –
stand for life in all its color and sound,
and move through it with ease.
Add your laughter to the din.
Will you be music?
Portland put on the early-fall-ritz in michelle’s front yard yesterday. The mimosa tree trailed its feathery fingers back and forth overhead and the gnats hovered in the intersection like self-propelled dust motes showing off in the sun. It was a very simple moment and I experienced it as grace, coming by for a visit.
We’ve been out of favor lately, grace and I – not sharing the simple together but showing up for all the other momentous meetings and then standing by. Watching and waiting and putting aside the intricate layers in a pile, my hope is to catch up to myself later. This is a consequence I am finding, of spreading energy thin. Grace may have a different system; be working with a more immediate synthesis. I’ll catch up in an eon or two.
But Oh Hello – the possibility of a private moment with the universal –
I was wrapped in a blanket on the grass, doing heart yoga behind the hedge. There were bicyclists eveywhere – one fellow with a heavy gut and a bike bell that dinged indiscriminitely, he let out a satisfying belch as he passed my shade-dappled corner. Perfect, round, complete.
And a call from somewhere nearby in the neighborhood: “Help me. I’m locked in the bathroom!” This roused me a bit from my graceful reverie – Which bathroom? Where?
No response – not all cries for help must be answered by those that hear them – the grace for me was full in this same moment of ordinary terror for someone else. Irreconcilable? no, paradoxical? yes.
grace is private, I think.
I’m was in the Fremont Coffee Company recently, eavesdropping on the baristas.
One of them was telling a story about a customer who asked “Do you have service on the porch?” She thought he meant wi-fi service and so she said yep. So he sat out on the porch waiting for table service for a while, and as she was slammed behind the bar, one of her regulars – some guy named Spencer, with his kooky clothes and his wild-eyed hair – went on out to the guy on the porch and asked him if he needed a sandwich, or something to drink, and was his waiter for the morning. No harm no foul, just a little extra help.
[Stepping up, filling in so that the structure in question is not something that can develop cracks, but a dynamic concoction of opportunities to weave a bit of your own thread into the web. Spencer saved the day – it could have gone a lot of different ways, but the story he created for the telling speaks volumes about the craft of improvisational living.]
And I’m in the Fuel Cafe on Alberta Street currently, ordering coffee on an empty stomach, feeling a cold brewing in the cup of my jaws. The woman who hosts here is playing Catpower on the stereo, and she reminds me that coffee is a digestive, best drunken after eating. I order a grilled vegan sandwich, I let myself be fed by this woman who knows. Chan Marshall’s eerie lullabies, the bouquet of basil on the counter, the mandalas and the christmas lights and the green walls – all these components combine to birth a potency of calm, a space with soul in it. And soul bespeaks soul, and so I am home here, in this skin; and from this sense of home, words may come moving through me.
The soulfilled space is expressed by the vision and presence of an anchor.
The olde taverne wench has evolved; she channels through brew and food and conversation, information on the nature of the universe.