To My Own Imbrication

She was mad at me for being mad at her for trying to manipulate me. It was my geographical destiny to be with her but that didn’t stop the opportunity from emerging out of devastation. Simply put she rang the windbell of my want exhausted and I answered. Towards and away, a flash flood of desire each morning.

For I was too tired to resist.
For I tried to imagine a life in which we had never met.
For if anything in this constituted a threat to our stability it was ignored.

In the bloodshot human trials of it all I breathed in what was broken or bound to break and held it, a bourbon sun shade on sky to keep me at the window when she called and I ignored, and for every hour I spent animalized in muteless ambiance I spent another conducting amendments to my life I could not carry. Anything I once thought threatened me with emotion lay down to teethe.

For I was resifted too many times to remember me.
For I dissolved into dreams too easily to hold down a job.
For I felt I deserved no denouement.

And when the tremolo hallucination of the person I almost was appeared before me I could be nothing but cordial for I was always the lesser of us, the one decision that turns me into him remaining unimaginable as ever. So I am left again a numb and useless observer of time, held to the supreme distillation of my reality that blisters my sleep.

For she tried to restore the disaster.
For the cold retraces the lines on my face.
For I offend myself with my own actions.

Benign as it sounds I could never clutch her words. But she spoke and what spins in me spun no more. Series of acclimations thrown out in obsolescence I gathered dust on my tongue to moor what poison otherwise would cause her harm. Mud-caked, a phrase would sometimes fall into her and I wouldn’t notice until it was too late.

For something congealed in me a paralysis.
For unfolded I felt oddly fit to die.
For inside this I could conjure no illusions.

And in the perfumed fire of our malady the nothing we always wanted to keep close to us slipped away in a shadow. So bearing such a history from all the days making up a life I may as well drape over my head a blackened isolation and begin again at the fringes.

For I was always separated by sleep.
For every day was longer than my life.
For my life was a dream I could no longer remember.

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An exercise in pedantism – short notes on Nietzsche

From Nietzsche’s The Gay Science:

Being able to contradict.Everybody knows now that being able to stand contradiction is a high sign of culture. Some even know that the higher human being desires and invites contradiction in order to receive a hint about his own injustice of which he is as yet unaware. But the ability to contradict, the acquired good conscience accompanying hostility towards what is familiar, traditional, hallowed–that is better yet than both those abilities, and constitutes what is really great, new, and amazing in our culture; it is the step of all steps of the liberated spirit: who knows that?

In this passage, Nietzsche constructs a loose hierarchy of cultural values, stating that one’s ability to recognize contradiction is a hallmark of a sophisticated mind capable of enacting the Socratic method with some level of efficiency. While efficiency may not be a term that Nietzsche himself would use, contradiction is employed for this purpose in the context of philosophical inquiry, despite contrary appearances. Nietzsche talks about using contradiction to “receive a hint about his own injustice of which he is as yet unaware”–in other words, as a tool to make the geography of one’s ideological world more navigable by mapping its hazards. This serves the dual purpose of increasing the efficiency with which one can maneuver in the greater world of ideas, and also of helping them locate where they stand in that world at any given time. The critical question of this passage, however, is who has the capacity to contradict. Nietzsche has already stated that “higher” human beings recognize and invite contradiction, but who is to act as the dispensary? It seems almost an obvious answer that Nietzsche may have left blank as a lame joke, or perhaps as a sign of modesty, but I would assume that unless I am missing something crucial, it is the philosopher who has the “ability to contradict.” I am surprised that Nietzsche would call this something “new” in his culture, however, as he was no doubt aware of, for example, Socrates’ role as an agitator and frenetic contradictor in ancient Greece. Perhaps this was an oversight in what was probably quick sketch in Nietzsche’s journal, or perhaps he means something entirely different. Whatever the case, his primary point of contradiction as an essential tool of cultural advancement stands firm.

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Sentences from the dictionary, part 1

Describe to give an account or representation of in words. “Discreet Italian police described it in a manner typically continental”

Abandon, give up give up with the intent of never claiming again. “Abandon your life to God”; “We gave up the drowning victim for dead”

Abound, burst, bristle be in a state of movement or action. “The room abounded with screaming children”

Gag, muzzle tie a gag around someone’s mouth in order to silence them. “The burglars gagged the home owner and tied him to a chair”

Offensively, objectionably, obnoxiously in an obnoxious manner. “He said so in one of his more offensively intellectually arrogant sentences”

Damply in a damp manner. “A scarf was tied round her head but the rebellious curl had escaped and hung damply over her left eye”

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Page one

a wave breaks upon the shore

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Something Series

Two perfect strangers adrenalined in stolen eye contact
process the process of browsing a drop down menu of alternative lives

In paused rain
they fall asleep snowflaking with elipses in their eyes

I want to make you safe for me
my interests do not include one word sentences

Truth got wasted & wandered into a bad neighborhood
the expiration date keeps shifting

Partitioned into discrete sections
but they all still need to sleep

My private war against neon & buoyancy
gets me nowhere but closer to the front

The nature of feedback is to sustain itself
but something always brings it down

I want to start a band called
Newt Romney & the Reptilians

That death is not death
a corpse is death

Sometimes I let unrehearsed chemicals
coddle me into a world of sleep

Since the world is coming to an end
can you just let me store my silence in yours

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Negative Space

It is apparent in the history of most art forms that there is an illicit attraction at the heart of fatality which, at times, renders the artist nearly deaf to other subjects. Themes of death, the void, and general absence emerge in different ways in literature and poetry–and not always through the words themselves, but in the negative spaces those words attempt to delineate. Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Blanchot are three writers who, in their accelerating gravitation towards these themes, found themselves approaching them from angles now thought to be revolutionary or uniquely poignant. Baudelaire’s insistent wallowing in his own misery draped a heavy cloud of his desire for nothingness and absence over many of his poems, effectively producing a repetitious but intoxicating thematic consistency. And while Baudelaire’s work enacted the ambiance of death weighing down upon him in the content of his work, Mallarmé arguably created a more revolutionary way of pleading with his obsessions through the form of his magnum opus “Un Coup de Dés”, which plays with absence and the void physically through the empty space on the page itself. Blanchot takes a more direct philosophical approach to his own infatuation with death, comparing distinct perspectives on suicide, art and the nature of death in his essay “Death as Possibility”. While all three writers had a consuming preoccupation with death and exhibited it in different ways, they all had a method of illuminating death and absence not always by addressing it directly, but by way of averted vision: mapping the boundaries of it with their language in order to inhabit a liminality that offered them a heightened state of wakefulness to both death and life.

In Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal there is a poem called “The Taste for Nothing” (The Flowers of Evil, p. 102) which illustrates the craft of Baudelaire’s ethereal language as well as his unclenching fascination with absence. In “The Taste for Nothing” he writes of being abandoned by hope and love, and the ever-present yearning for absence emerges–as it does in many of Baudelaire’s other poems. What is perhaps most common across Baudelaire’s exploration of absence in his work is his full longing for sleep and numbness. He writes, “Resign yourself, my heart; sleep your brutish sleep.” It is well known that Baudelaire (along with many others of his time) was an opiate user and an alcoholic, and his apparent resignation to what could be called the transient voids of sleep and anesthetizing agents should come as no surprise as a theme in his work. There seems to be a dominant motif of wanting time to pass without having to experience it–to exist not as a participant of time (which, to Baudelaire, was at times nothing but an involuntary exercise in suffering), nor even as an observer of it, but as one who wholly denied it. In the same poem, Baudelaire writes, “And Time, minute by minute engulfs me, like heavy snow around a stiffening body…” Sleep and drugs were perhaps Baudelaire’s best attempts at becoming immaterial enough for an artificial unity with true absence, a way of averting his painful experience with time and space while not permanently abandoning them in real resignation. Not unexpectedly, then, does Baudelaire’s diction in much of his work mimic his longing for ethereality.

In contrast to Baudelaire’s diction invoking absence is Mallarmé’s poem “Un Coup de Dés”, which labors the theme not only in the words chosen, but in the disparate placement of those words on the page. A highly experimental piece considering its time, “Un Coup de Dés” acts almost as a frame, born of language, to border the concept of absence, void, or, in Mallarmé’s term, “the Abyss”. He describes it as “blanched/spread/furious/beneath and incline/desperately plane…” (Collected Poems, p. 128). But it is not only (or even primarily) the words chosen here to describe Mallarmé’s Abyss that enact a sense of peering into it–it is their arrangement on the page. The words themselves effect the qualities they project in that they leave a surfeit of empty space beneath them as they decline in a layered movement across the page. While this sequence is more linearly organized than some of the other sequences in “Un Coup de Dés”, it is also undeniably disorienting through the not-so-logical progression of its actual content. Mallarmé invented a kind of topographical formation in “Un Coup de Dés” through different sized text that necessitates the reciprocal invention of a new way of reading. In this sense, he invokes the Abyss (the unutterable) by breaching one’s trust in traditional ways of reading and forcing them into a liminal experience with words on the border between sense and nonsense. This silent exchange between the form and the content of “Un Coup de Dés” is a stunning development in the interest of absence in poetics, as both of them delineate the space not of what they are able to fill and possess, but of what they are unable to fill and possess.

What, then, are we to make of the idea that hovers incessantly around Baudelaire’s and Mallarmé’s attempts to enact the possession of that which cannot be possessed? The question that dogs Baudelaire’s work (and Mallarmé’s to a lesser extent) most of all is that of suicide. Why not, if one finds it such an unshakeable desire to embrace nothingness? In Blanchot’s essay “Death as Possibility” he meditates at length on the question of suicide and the possession of the nothingness and the void that Baudelaire and Mallarmé agonized over in the their poetry. It could be argued that Baudelaire and Mallarmé sought to possess their own negation through the industry of their art. Blanchot, however, might find that a useless endeavor. He writes, “Whoever dwells with negation cannot use it. Whoever belongs to it can no longer, in this belonging, take leave of himself, for he belongs to the neutrality of absence in which already he is not himself anymore” (The Work as Death’s Space, p. 103). Thus the attempt to possess negation is, in fact, an act of being dispossessed by that which one longs for most. Blanchot also points out the powerful contradiction implicit in the act of suicide: that it is, in fact, an act in pursuit of inaction. By attempting to grasp death, one is denying the maxim behind which they exert themselves in the first place.

While Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Blanchot certainly branched their bodies of work into distinct meditations on death, void and absence, they would likely all agree that death has no horizon: it is always in such immediacy to the artist that to ignore it requires a great effort. If it were otherwise, one may suffer from a fiercely domesticated consciousness that avoids even the thought of it. At some point, all of these writers must have realized poignantly that they had been given a body predetermined to dissolve, and that this fact posed to them the ultimate question: “Shall I pursue my death in an attempt to understand it, or shall I flee from it?” Death then begins its long exposure, accreting in the works of art that pierced them. Baudelaire died in a terrible way, trapped in his body which, in his final months, must have been a particularly excruciating experience with time. He lay paralyzed in bed due to (according to Waldrop’s introduction) “complications” (The Flowers of Evil, p. xxvii), only able to utter the singular expletive “Crénom!”. He had spent his life lamenting his life, but in doing so offered to us affecting artistic meditations on death and the void for which he yearned. Blanchot and Mallarmé presumably died in less tragic circumstances, but nonetheless had their own experiences with philosophical voids intense enough to precipitate the words they set down for posterity. The space to which these artists belonged is not altogether certain–it seems they were intent on having one part of themselves present in the material world which they attempted to illuminate with novel uses of language, and another part floating in a void that language could only point at. In any case, their experiences on the borders between the expressible and the inexpressible–between life and death–supplied them perspectives that fundamentally shifted the artistic capacity of language and heightened our sensitivity to the negative spaces they attempted to grasp.

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The Money Tree

I think in my industry I finally fell out of that confectionary dream called childhood
and succumbed sickeningly to some kind of ambient takeover I can only watch now as if in orbit of myself

Immediately I begin groveling at the feet of passersby sputtering sacred plumage I hope to be unmarketable to their inured and bruiseless visages of capital to dress me in the Teflon I now believe in

And when that doesn’t work it’s just another thing to keep my half-beaten mass of flesh against the bed like I were glad to be hinged to it in whatever stages of wakefulness I could muster

But if it helps me become them so I could forget them I am happy to do it until again like a shadow spangled mid-air into being I would slide my bills beneath the bedroom door for that parasitic system and dissemble into anguish

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