Updated: Feb 3
Artwork Included: A Gaze Blank and Pitiless, by Grace Gundwyn
Recently, I have been reading a significant amount of poetry and prose surrounding the ideas which were created by the historical pressures of the events of the First World War, its aftermath, and the social climate which resulted from the ongoing chaos of an ever changing world. Virginia Woolf’s The Mark on the Wall, T.S. Eliot’s the Wasteland, and W.B. Yeats’ Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen, are a few examples of the significant works of the time period which have begun to take up a fair amount of space in my mind.
About a month ago I was recommended Yeats’ The Tower, as it is a fantastic compilation of Yeats' work. I purchased a copy and, upon its arrival, was mesmerized by the cover of the book: the architectural patterns outlined in black, pressed with gold; the boldness of the design which sits perfectly atop a sturdy cover. At the center of the front cover is a tower (the tower), erect and fortified, hidden by flowing branches, covered with gold, perched atop a small bank which drops down to a reflecting pool. When reading The Tower (the poem this time!), this image becomes a comforting oasis: one that holds the wisdom of Yeats’ words in Sailing to Byzantium, one that is protected by the calm leaves, the cool stone, the reflecting pool. It becomes obvious throughout the collection that Yeats’ has quite pessimistic undertones in his work, - including The Tower - but they do not obfuscate the image of the tower: a hopeful oasis of wisdom that appears as the dust settles from the ongoing whirlwind. Indeed, that is much of what Yeats is dealing with: gyres, centres, reeling objects, the circle of the moon, the platonic year; a ‘roundness’ - or cycle - which is unstoppable. Yeats was unsure of the world before him, nervous and shaken by its tornado-wrath. Yet, we can still look back to the tower, the mysticism that comforts us, the soft Irish roots . . .
Around the same time I began reading Joan Didion’s essays in Slouching Towards Bethlehem. The essays touch upon these familiar points of uncontrollable centrifugal forces of history, hence the allusion to Yeats in the title of the book. I found it interesting Didion felt that a poem from forty years before (The Second Coming) represented a generation - or rather some paradigm of culture - so well. Of course, this is what good poetry is: that which is able to transcend, that which is relatable when it has no reason, or every reason, to be.
When I first started reading Yeats I was very intimidated by the complex structures and unique symbolism that line and characterize his poems. Eventually, once I was able to familiarize myself with the style, I began to grow very fond of him as a poet. Now, reading Yeats has started to feel intuitive; the mark of a great poet: when they can make their work be felt as if it has its own mechanism of feeling.
What can be taken away from this, - from the Eliot, the Woolf, the Didion, the Yeats - is that they are not just markers of the past. They can be felt, breathed; we can allow them to come alive if we will them to. Being able to feel the poetry of a concerned man from 100 years ago is proof that these feelings of chaos are overwhelmingly human. I understand that optimism can be equally offensive as pessimism. However, if we wish to improve, if we wish to escape the labyrinth, then we must don our lenses of optimism to look ahead. Woolf writes, “everybody follows somebody, such is the philosophy of Whitaker; and the great thing is to know who follows whom. Whitaker knows, and let that, so Nature counsels, comfort you, instead of enraging you”.
It would be acceptable if the following articles and poems could be comforting and in clear opposition of their inspiration in anxiety and rage. Gundwyn writes that "the idea of the ‘apocalypse’ is not terrifying, but soothing", Straub, on Elizabeth bishop, comments that "losses, both literal and figurative, are inevitable", King allows for humanity in a binary world: It is clear that the Labyrinth lives on inside of us, but it is also clear that the Tower does as well. If The Portable Meridiem must be something, let it be the "plank in the sea" which Woolf fixes her eyes upon, amidst the whirlwind.
It can be as clear as this:
100 years later and we still have this choice: allow ourselves to be comforted or enraged by the nature of our existence. When we, even now, can feel Yeats’ sentiment, we must make a decision between the two options. It is possible that the ability to reminisce with the chaos of the early Twentieth Century is indicative of a poor future, but what help does this give us? Again, the similarities in our humanity, the transcendence of our emotions, our feelings, should give us direction enough; “if you can't be comforted, if you must shatter this hour of peace, think of the mark on the wall”.
What Rough Beast?
Grappling with post-modernity.
"When God was young
He made the Wind and the Sun
And since then,
It’s been a slow education."
- Slow Education, The Silver Jews
Inevitably, we come to a point in our complacency when we can no longer push the bergs of fear beneath our trembling arms. They float back to the surface, bobbing, mocking. These sour ice caps inspire a bleak sobriety which seeks to break the world into splinters of confinement. The symptom is depression, the illness is beyond tangibility.
How do we approach a subject of such negativity? Furthermore, how can we approach a subject with so many faces? so many personalities? It is evident why the name post-structuralism was conceived; you cannot begin to climb walls which have crumbled at your hand. But let us begin.
Our cancerous tropics follow us like pets. They heel, burdensome in the corner of our eyes. It is true that we carry - admittedly some of us drag - postmodernism perpetually. It can be seen in every action, every consequence, and every absence. The mechanical realities of neoliberalism force it to reproduce in a viral and liquid-like fashion, filling every container within reach. It strikes fear in anyone who even wishes to use the words which define it. Do not let it.
Isn’t it ironic that in a world of endless information we are paranoid and afraid? There must be a point of breakage where the veil of fear can be left behind. The issue is that it's devisiveness is too powerful; fear is an engrained apparatus in the systematic obedience which has dictated all aspects of life for the past 50 years. Its control is not overt or oblique, but it's ubiquitousness is undeniable. It is an insidious practice which spreads undetected. Above the smoke, above the noise, floating in the wind, Fear overcomes the disastrous landscape to assert its dictatorial hand. Amidst the confusion of postmodernism the strongest emotion unleashes its wrath.
Fear is an ideal spectre: it is such an effective cancer. It needs no prerequisites to realize. It is an expert in morphology. Simply put, out of the absence of structure, fear works; it creates a faux structure, a notion that there are social and cultural currents of good. Previously, there were more dignified (if you can accept the term) and definitive moral structures, there was a sense of community which was not imploded by strict individualism, the actualization of the self was not beyond the realm of realitsic, etc. Society feels the wounds of these absences. Its appetite for the missing comfort of structure is intense. In this sense, fear has become a mechanical necessity - a fundamental characteristic - of postmodernism. One is not without the other in our postmodern reality.
Indeed, fear is so actively ingrained in postmodernism because of its ability to make that which is not personal a personal issue. This phenomenon is quite simple: universal emotions can be easily inserted into highly narrativized events. With fear we are indebted to politicians, government complexes, and industrial games; we are indebted to reproduce hegemony or we risk losing any sense of reality of relevance. This, then, begs the question, how do we come to terms with this tyrant? How do we overcome its reign?
We come back to complacency. Looking into the labyrinth of postmodernism, intoxicated by fear, there is a natural tendency to accept fatalistic ignorance. Furthermore, there is almost an inability to disregard that which is not fatalistic; postmodernism makes us nihilistic, as there is only the hyper-saturated, the outrageously moral, or nothing at all. It is shocking, this problem's simplicity.
Often simple problems have simple solutions. In a time of such natures, it is critical not to over-intellectualize. There is a question which looms overhead when discussing these subjects: is it possible to escape or withdraw from neoliberalism? At first one might think that only schizophrenia, a break in reality, will allow for repudiation. Yet, it is likely more simple and attainable than this: recognizing fear as a driving force in neoliberal realities. Do not allow fear to control; it is not the truth, it is not a finality in any sense. At the risk of cliche, there must always be more points of approach. The systematic realities of our society which define us today do not have to define us tomorrow.
I will speak plainly: elitism will get us nowhere, justice is semantic, Marxism is a shell of its former self, morality is a distraction from real issues, etc. If we can not understand the extent of its destruction we must stop trying to understand and begin a reconstruction. When there is no reality, the only option left is to begin to construct a new one. A weapon against neoliberalism is purity. Purity is the antagonist of chaotic systems. The details are of no concern, the action is what the future depends upon; action is pure.
"Hope baby, my mind don't slip
Sailing on a sinking ship
Into the sunset and back."
- To Go Home, Daniel Johnston
Surely Some Revelation is at Hand?
I want to begin by evoking Roadside Picnic, an excellent book which was written by the Strugatsky brothers in 1972. The plot goes as follows: aliens make contact with Earth and then immediately take off again, leaving in their wake various ‘zones’ around the world filled with bits of incomprehensible alien technology. Some of it is deadly, making the zones difficult to enter; some (the best example to give here is a sort of perpetual battery) are incredibly helpful, and, throughout the course of the book, revolutionizes human society. Despite the undeniable impact, however, nobody ever succeeds in discovering why the aliens came, and this becomes the void at the center of the book. Roadside Picnic is a book that refuses apocalypse. There is no revelation, just the absorption of what could be sublime into the mundane. The central characters, however, never cease in their search for meaning, in their desire to find in the Zone a threshold which, once they have crossed it, satisfies not only their wonder but also their pain, which eliminates the grinding indignities of daily life.
I think there is something very true in this, which is that the idea of the ‘apocalypse’ is not terrifying, but soothing. Everyone loves believing in an apocalypse, and everyone wants a great dramatic moment of judgment even if it means their own destruction. No one wants what actually happens, which is that everything keeps trudging forward despite constant atrocity and indignity. This statement holds just as true for our contemporary, secular culture as it does with historical cultures where the second coming of Christ was considered to be just around the corner. I’ve been meaning to write something about contemporary eschatology and medieval millenarian movements for years now, I think since early 2018, when I saw the Annihilation movie. This is going to be about that kind of movie, and the kind of person that watches that kind of movie. Annihilation, the new Suspiria, Midsommar, The Dead Don’t Die. They are all recent horror films, very conscious of aesthetics, with cool, creative gore. My argument here is that this kind of movie attracts and collaborates with a certain kind of spectator, and then reinforces in that spectator an apocalyptic worldview which is (to me) rather disturbing.
But first a tangent about ‘normalization’. Something that I hear a lot is the idea that a certain tendency in media can normalize a certain idea. For example, casual sex in movies normalizes the idea that one should be having casual sex, or representation of a certain demographic normalizes the idea that people of that demographic can do cool and varied things. I am inclined to think that this notion of normalization through media (put another way, media conditioning) is a simplification of what actually happens. Nobody who doesn’t like something is going to go see a bunch of movies that feature that thing and reemerge with an entirely changed opinion. This isn’t to say that media can’t contribute to the entrenchment of certain tendencies, but in general I’m more inclined to think that normalization comes from the immediate social group, while media mostly serves to a) affirm or articulate ideas that a person is already amenable to or b) introduce a person to new ideas that he would have been amenable to, anyways. In short, the artwork and its spectator each have to recognize the other as legitimate.
Back to the point. In the centuries surrounding the end of the first millenium A.D., certain people in Christian Europe were swept up in a wave of millenarianism, believing that the second coming of Christ was imminent. This is one of my favorite media/participant relationships ever, because it is so illustrative. For those who believed that they would see the second coming in their lifetimes, the world was, from a semiotic perspective, incredibly rich. Speeches by clergymen and works of millenarian literature, beginning with the Bible, provided a complex lexicon of signs which ‘consumers’ could then apply to their own lives. The personal stake for believers was immense, as the issue was nothing less than the security of their immortal souls. Thus came about an extraordinary example of slippage between spectator and participant, namely, crusader culture. Guided by the signific lexicon of the Bible (and other prophetic texts), young men set off for the Holy Land in an attempt to manifest Christ’s kingdom on Earth. This movement in turn produced crusader literature, which was itself prophetic, laden with interesting apocalyptic details like the Holy Lance and rivers of blood. This is not to say that the reasoning behind the Crusades was entirely apocalyptic. It is to say, however, that crusaders (and those who supported them) were both consumers and participants in a millenarian culture which endured for a few hundred years, and that their media reflected this.
It is rather fashionable nowadays to compare this particular historical moment to contemporary life. This can be a productive comparison if it is not taken too far. It is certainly true that apocalyptic media exists today, as it has in most eras throughout history. I think, however, that our apocalyptic media is different. Take, as examples, the films Annihilation and Suspiria (as well as the novel which inspired the former). To my mind, both can be classified as apocalyptic fiction, as they each propose a sort of eschatological revelation. Annihilation depicts an alien force with the capacity to absorb all life into a grotesque ‘one’; Suspiria would have us see Dakota Johnson as the manifestation of a goddess who alleviates pain. What these films have in common, I think, is a void in the typical ‘god’ space, a negative vision of divinity which can only alleviate or replicate, never create.
In Annihilation, we have a godlike force which acts through ‘refraction’, bending light, radio waves, and DNA. Through this attribute it is capable of both absorbing individuals into itself and replicating their forms. The scene of revelation takes place in the lighthouse, as Natalie Portman watches an alien blob learn to imitate her movements, and then her face. This is a higher intelligence, perhaps, capable of destroying human individuality, but it offers no transcendence, instead wreaking havoc on the bodies and minds of the organisms around it. Its effect is manifested primarily by very stylish gore. Some might argue that Annihilation is not a religious narrative in the slightest, and had no obligation to do anything other than what it did. But of course it is religious, if only in its narrative elements, which have a sort of mystery-cult air about them. A mysterious natural force destroys the egos of those who are chosen to interact with it. The scientists that enter the ‘shimmer’ are like initiates, experiencing revelation and dissolution of self as they penetrate further into the zone. So it is not religious, but it has a religious tone, and religious references (everybody has noticed the similarities to Roadside Picnic and its loose film adaptation, Tarkovsky’s Stalker). With all of this in mind, the decisive refusal of transcendence begins to feel depressing.
Suspiria is more explicitly apocalyptic, as the crowning of Dakota Johnson as Mother Suspiriorum heralds, apparently, a new age. It is a movie with its own cosmology, its own vision of history and deliverance. Here divinity is just as void as the ‘shimmer’. As a divine agent, Dakota apparently can only do one thing, which is to alleviate pain through oblivion. This is illustrated in two instances. The first is when she allows her tortured fellow ballerinas to die during her initiation ceremony; the second is when she erases the painful memories of the psychologist at the end of the film. I walked away from Suspiria with the impression that, in the world of the film, people are generally victims, and the merciful way to alleviate their constant suffering is oblivion, whether through the destruction of the mind or the destruction of the body. Within this schema, trauma, whether individual or historical, is the defining condition of human experience. History is a great wound, as is personal experience. Of course oblivion would be preferable to this, and a deity whose only function is to eliminate would make sense. Here, again, there is no transcendence. There is instead the cessation of pain. Here, also, the plot is carried by some very stylish gore.
These apocalyptic visions do not require nearly as much action as that of the crusaders, but they are still, in subtle ways, participative. They are not, to return to this discussion of norms, ‘normalizing’ anything, but they are expressions of prevalent tendencies in the cultures that make them possible. Would Annihilation be possible without a certain strain of nihilism towards human culture, a barely-articulated idea or fear that the destruction of the species would result in a more beautiful, somehow more moral world? Would Suspiria make any sense without a discourse that privileges trauma and victimhood as central characteristics of human experience? Both of these movies feature horrible images, but they are also both fantasies made possible by the inclinations of their viewers. I know that, reading the novel Annihilation for the first time when I was sixteen, I felt some sympathy for the anti-humanist worldview of the biologist, and even for the obscure agenda of the thing in the lighthouse. There is a kind of beauty in the grotesque living landscape proposed by the book (and film), just as there is, if you are inclined to think about it in these terms, a sort of relief in the idea that death brings about a cessation of pain, and that forgetfulness could resolve the great wound of history.
The thing that I do not like about these movies, however, is that these fantasies are essentially negative: they are about taking something away. They are about removing the human stain, canceling it, not redeeming it or even transforming it. They are emblematic of the reason that contemporary eschatology tends to fail. This is that, in the end, there is no revelation beyond the idea that it would really be better if we had never been here to begin with. Consciousness is a burden — much nicer to efface it entirely. This is a position without agency, a position of total victimhood. If consciousness and history and self are all terrible mistakes, then one is victimized from the moment of his birth. There is nothing he can do to escape his terrible condition, and he might as well just wait for it to end, for an apocalypse that is not an apocalypse because it promises no hidden knowledge beyond the endless void of death. The crusaders, on the other hand, were agents at the end of the world. They did their gruesome deeds partly because they felt that they might be powerful enough to bring about an extraordinary new life.
I am not suggesting that anyone go about crusading, of course, but I do think that the opposite— a life of congenital victimhood— is not a good one to live, and that this nihilistic worldview is culturally prevalent enough that it makes media like what I've discussed above interesting and affirming to some people. This begs the question: What would a contemporary model of the sublime would look like? as well as one of agency within a secular cosmology?
Elizabeth Bishop’s Fracturing of Time and Self
“One Art” - Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Elizabeth Bishop, a contemporary American poet, wrote a multitude of works about her youth. As an adult, she grappled with grief, depression, and alcoholism before exploring her phases of fractured identity through her poetry (Ramazani, p. 16). Bishop openly examines this identity struggle in One Art. In this work, she develops a preoccupation with time, revealing how the harsh reality of the ever-changing and uncontrollable world around her disrupts her sense of self.
Bishop explores her fracturing of identity in One Art as she struggles to understand who she is in relation to the inevitable loss of people, places, and things around her. She lists losing “door keys”, her “mother’s watch”, and “two cities”. These losses, though perhaps painful in the moment, each turned out to be relatively insignificant to her life as a whole. As a result of these formative experiences, Bishop understands that everything is temporary; that losses, both literal and figurative, are inevitable.
Bishop emphasizes her struggle to accept this loss in her use of repeated lines and parenthetical phrases in the final stanza. The repetition of the lines “The art of losing isn’t hard to master” and “their loss is no disaster” not only serves to fulfill the rigid requirements of the poem’s villanelle format, but also to signify Bishop’s frustrated tone. She repeats these lines four times each throughout the poem, not because she truly believes them, but because she wants to believe them. However, an internal reservation interrupts her final line. She externally expresses her doubt, telling herself to “(Write it!)”. This dialogue discloses Bishop’s struggle to convince herself that “the art of losing’s not too hard to master". Bishop's decision to just nearly complete the poem’s structural pattern parallels the sense of chaos and disarray she is experiencing in her life. Meanwhile, through this choice, she leaves room for debate against her repeated claims; she admits that “it may look like” disaster . Although she desires to accept that this loss will not bring total disaster to her life, she is uncertain of what its ultimate impact will be on her identity.
In “One Art,” Bishop quantifies her life and identity through losses. She considers the concept of time as she recalls her losses within her past and present realities, using her past experiences to place her present state into perspective. She reminds herself that “none of [them] will bring disaster” despite how catastrophic the loss may seem. Although she admits to this objective truth, she remains unable to accept the present loss she experiences in the poem.
However, Bishop recognizes time’s healing nature. She reveals her preoccupation with the concept of time as she mentions losing “something every day” and an “hour badly spent” searching for lost items. Her engrossment in time persists throughout the work as she attempts to speed up her present reality. As a result, her tone becomes increasingly urgent. She admits to “losing farther, losing faster”. She begins to lose control as her life quickly slips through time. Bishop’s voice increases in speed as she exclaims, “And look!”. Her long list of losses continues, yet she continuously mentions that none of them brought disaster. Her urgent tone is an expression of her desire to hastily move through the painful grieving process to reach a point of acceptance. Bishop’s mentioning of past losses directly translates to her current loss. Thus, her focus on the concept of time allows her to more fully convince herself that “even losing you” is “not too hard to master”. She acknowledges that with time, she will ultimately overcome any loss.
The emphasis of time in One Art powerfully accents Bishop’s exploration and fracturing of her sense of self. Through her poetry, she shares her processing of time and experiences as she seeks to understand her position in the world. Her reflection and words through poetry, albeit uniquely her own, strike a universal chord. Time is constantly in motion; and as a result, one's identity is subject to constant change. She reveals that one must willingly and actively engage in a period of self-fracturing to experience true self-discovery.
Ramazani, Jahan, et al. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. Vol. 2, W.W. Norton, 2003.
Reality is Now Online
Adam Earl King
May 5th, 2021 was the day of my last final exam of my first semester at Boston University. On May 6th, I got on a 7am flight from Boston Logan International Airport to Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. I flew alone, I had never been to Alaska before, and I didn’t have family to receive me there.
Why did I hastily leave my home in Boston to go travel to the furthest conceivable corner of the country? The answer: a woman. A woman whom I had met online six months prior. The COVID-19 pandemic had forced me, and much of the world, into social isolation. I was lonely and looking for company on the dating app Tinder. After a month on the app, I met her; after hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours of video calls, countless Snapchat messages, and many letters sent through the mail, I had fallen in love for the first time.
Ironically, I will be the first to tell you how much I dislike social media and modern day technology. You have also heard people like me say that internet interactions are fake or that they are just knock-off versions of in-person experiences, but I believe that technology has had a profound effect on our lives, because the relationships and interactions that it fosters are very real.
Oftentimes, those effects are negative, but, as showcased in my situation, they can also lead to wonderful experiences.
It is important to realize that, just like in “real” life, our lives within cyberspace are filled with positive and negative interactions. The frequency of those positive and negative interactions is determined by the places we go, the apps we decide to use, the people we interact with, and the websites we choose to visit.
If you choose to watch porn, you will find sexual videos and images, much the same way that going to a strip club in person would do. If you choose to have a video call with your therapist, you will likely have an experience comparable to speaking with them face to face. This applies to everything we do on our devices and in person: Netflix and movie theaters, emails and letters, typing and writing, music and concerts, the list goes on.
I am not suggesting that the world we live in online and the world around us are the same or even similar. I am merely suggesting that tech’s binary code of 1s and 0s and biology’s quaternary code of DNA both create real worlds filled with the complexity, beauty, and imperfections that reality entails.
One imperfection of the digital world is cyberbullying. In a 2018 study conducted by Pew Research, 59% of polled U.S. teens reported having experienced some form of cyberbullying. That should not come as a surprise.
It makes sense that social issues caused by character flaws, such as bullying, should carry over into the digital world: people are still people. But that does not mean that the digital realm is not without its own unique set of challenges.
Social Media, as pointed out by Jean M. Twenge in her article “HAVE SMARTPHONES DESTROYED A GENERATION?”, is linked to many adverse health effects and has created new social problems not seen in previous generations. Among other issues, Twenge blames social media use for rises in unhappiness, decreased amounts of independence, less sleep, less dating, and increased levels of loneliness.
A 2017 study of U.S. 18-22 year-olds also suggests that “higher daily social media use [is] associated with greater dispositional anxiety symptoms and an increased likelihood of having a probable anxiety disorder.”
These are real life problems caused by real online experiences. But mental illness, cyberbullying, and coming of age social issues are only half the story. Much like our in-person reality, digital reality contains both hardship and happiness.
For most, romantic fulfillment is one of the biggest joys of life, and it is also increasingly moving online. A PNAS study reports that 39% of polled U.S. heterosexual couples met online in 2017. The same study reports that in 1995 that number was only 2%. People are meeting and dating online now more than ever.
Long-distance relationships are also becoming quite normal in the age of smartphones, and data suggests that many people in long-distance relationships are just as, if not more, happy than people in close proximity to their partner.
A 2012 study reported that people in long-distance relationships had higher levels of dedication and relationship quality than those in close-proximity relationships. The study measured variables like conversation quality, love for one’s partner, sexual satisfaction,
psychological aggression, feelings of constraint, and problematic communication. In almost all categories, people in long-distance relationships performed better or just as well as those in close-proximity relationships. Online relationships are just as real, healthy, and fulfilling as their in-person counterparts.
My own long-distance relationship led me to
spend a week in Alaska before I had to leave on another pre-planned trip. Seeing her in person was the most elated I had ever felt in my, albeit short but eventful, 19 years of life. Sadly, we went our separate ways two weeks after I left her in Alaska.
But the fact remains that the first love programmed into my heart will forever be the product of interactions within a digital space.
It is time to stop thinking that there is a “real” world and an online world. Interactions, feelings, and events that happen online are certainly different from our in-person experiences, but they are just as legitimate. The extensive permeation of technology in our society now means that our reality exists not only within the physical world, but the digital as well.
Where I Want to Be
I do not want an inward looking house.
I want a free floor-plan that light can find.
I don't have a plan, but I have surface and
At least one function I know: to live and die,
I want like this woman in a blue dress
Who’s pregnant and bird-like to own an old
House in Italy with my love and put spackle
On its wrinkled skin, and open the windows wide
When the weather allows
Myself, When I am Real
You must recall a man, (yes?)
That neither love, music,
Nor an enemies
Clipped ear, could
Rouse him to joy.
I just recall a man.
Caught up to you?
Some symbolic code did
To show that no stone
Is left unturned,
And as it starts to roll . . .
Looking at the tile floor
It is clear to me
That when I connected
the colored blocks,
I used the patterns of a chess piece.
Now a friendly chess game
Makes me sick.
Some people master chess before
they turn eighteen!
By age eighteen I had stopped growing.
It is the knowing that starts to kill us;
When you get there
You just don't know what to do.
It is this blanket,
Those wrought iron gates,
That are like a constant
Spectre of realism
Upon the cemetery
Of some past, framed
With golden wood,
Painted on as if to mock,
So familiar and distant,
That hang upon
The waking mind,
When you get there,
If you can forgive,
Then let us try again:
When you get there, past
The chess games,
Beyond the stomach ache
Which you have had all day,
Farther than the storm clouds,
Go Long! Go Farther! Where cows
Are not rotting in 4 foot cells,
Keep Going! To the eye of the Storm!
Above my head,
There flies something
That I can feel,
Do not tell me
It is not real,
We are growing
In the same direction,
We must all be going somewhere.
It is so close I can feel it,
It rings in my ears
And tingles my eyes
And says my name
In a tongue I do not know.
In an alternate universe
I am happy.
I am there
And I do not know what to do.
I have had a cramp all day,
It's a gut feeling,
It tends to rhyme.
It rhymes things like:
I will never understand
The verb Apologize.
Or things like:
I can't process
Maybe, I will never
And to that I say:
How lucky can one man get?
But no, a better mind
Pushes me to settle
For more than that.
If you can forgive,
Then let us try again.
I do not want to sound
Like spontaneous Improvisations,
Its just that,
More often than not,
Moments have become
Of beautiful women
Turning their heads
Round, after glancing
Behind their left shoulder.
And this is grief.
Enough of that,
I am here - there.
The problem is;
The problem of ages is:
Another jarring dichotomy.
What do you do when you get there?
At least I recall a man.
Is that enough?
I am afraid there is no time
To start again.
What will be said must be said now:
I intend to marry a bricklayer,
He will have nowhere to go but up,
Nothing to do but construct,
And when he gets smitten down like Babel,
I will pick up his tools, his hat,
His instruments of measurement,
And as I have done before,
I will look up,
For at least I will have
Built my own jail,
Brick by brick.
Is that fair?
The Portable Meridiem
2 February 2022
Issue No. 1
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