[ Mind Left Body Jam ; Grateful Dead ]
3/24/1990, Knickerbocker Arena, Albany NY
Bring Me the Sunflower
--Eugenio Montale (trans. by Charles Wright)
Bring me the sunflower so I can transplant it
here in my own field burned by salt-spray,
so it can show all day to the blue reflection of the sky
the anxiety of its golden face.
Darker things yearn for a clarity,
bodies fade and exhaust themselves in a flood
of colors, as colors do in music. To vanish,
therefore, is the best of all good luck.
Bring me the plant that leads us
where blond transparencies rise up
and life evaporates like an essence;
bring me the sunflower sent mad with light.
Its been found!
It's the sea overrun
My soul's eternal.
Run on entire
Through the night alone
& the day on fire.
That's how you're loose
From common prayer,
From human hymn.
Your wing is strung...
Not to hope. Erase.
Erase In the beginning.
Just knowing, just being,
Is plenty high on the cross.
Pieces of silk over fire.
...What burns in you
...Is the one vow.
It's been found!
Its the sea overrun
Metonymy as an Approach to a Real World
Whether what we sense of this world
is the what of this world only, or the what
of which of several possible worlds
--which what?--something of what we sense
may be true, may be the world, what it is, what we sense.
For the rest, a truce is possible, the tolerance
of travelers, eating foreign foods, trying words
that twist the tongue, to feel that time and place,
not thinking that this is the real world.
Conceded, that all the clocks tell local time;
conceded, that "here" is anywhere we bound
and fill a space; conceded, we make a world:
is something caught there, contained there,
something real, something which we can sense?
Once in a city blocked and filled, I saw
the light lie in the deep chasm of a street,
palpable and blue, as though it had drifted in
from say, the sea, a purity of space.
Our Daily Becoming
Like animals moving daily
through the same open field,
it should be easier to distinguish
light from dark, fabrications
from memory, rain on a sliver
of grass from dew appearing
overnight. In these moments
of desperation, a sentence
serves as a halo, the moon
hidden so the stars eclipse
our daily becoming. You think
it should be easier to define
one’s path, but with the clouds
gathering around our feet,
there’s no sense in retracing
where we’ve been or where
your tired body will carry you.
Eventually the birds become
confused and inevitable. Even our
infinite knowledge of the forecast
might make us more vulnerable
than we would be in drawn-out
ignorance. To the sun
all weeds eventually rise up.
Subjectively, the feeling that life is meaningful - that there are ultimate values, that life has a purpose - tends to point to a source of meaning, something higher than and external to the mere feeling or intuition of meaning. While sources of meaning vary greatly (and often contradict each other), the sense and expectation of meaning itself is surprisingly universal - so universal that the intuition is almost never challenged. This very universality should motivate us to be cautious about taking meaning’s claims at face value. One should be suspicious of any claim that is defended for contradictory reasons, and most people who agree that life is meaningful disagree as to what makes it so. The belief that life is meaningful tends to take the form of a strong feeling rather than a reasoned conclusion; indeed, one of the functions of meaning is to shield a person from the harmful effects of reasoning by providing a value that is justified for its own sake, a foundational rock for cognition below which no “whys” need be answered.
--from 'Every Cradle is a Grave'; Sarah Perry (2014)
The Moment Preceding
A reverie, small fabrication
of silence, some amulet or woven purse,
some moment in which the languor
is preceded by quiet, this moment comes
first in the dawnlight,
a deep and peculiar clarity, peered into,
some color scheme barely perceptible, this
in which the rigorously fought-out nightmare, the peace
established through centuries of tedious
negotiation, is not blown away
or thrown aside but breached nonetheless
by a simple, barely detectable epistemology,
this tiny shift in consciousness itself,
expressed just now by the scent of gerdenias.
I suspect almost every day that I’m living for nothing, I get depressed and I feel self-destructive and a lot of the time I don’t like myself. What’s more, the proximity of other humans often fills me with overwhelming anxiety, but I also feel that this precarious sentience is all we’ve got and, simplistic as it may seem, it’s a person’s duty to the potentials of his own soul to make the best of it. We’re all stuck on this often miserable earth where life is essentially tragic, but there are glints of beauty and bedrock joy that come shining through from time to precious time to remind anybody who cares to see that there is something higher and larger than ourselves. And I am not talking about your putrefying gods, I am talking about a sense of wonder about life itself and the feeling that there is some redemptive factor you must at least search for until you drop dead of natural causes.
"The idea is this: One summer morning Chiyo the poetess got up early wishing to draw water from the well...She found the bucket entwined by the blooming morning glory vine. She was so struck...that she forgot all about her business and stood before it thoroughly absorbed in contemplation. The only words she could utter were 'Oh, the morning glory!' At the time, the poetess was not conscious of herself or of the morning glory as standing against [outside] her. Her mind was filled with the flower, the whole world turned into the flower, she was the flower itself....
"The first line, 'Oh morning glory!' does not contain anything intellectual...it is the feeling, pure and simple, and we may interpret it in any way we like. The following two lines, however, determine the nature and depth of what was in the mind of the poetess: when she tells us about going to the neighbor for water we know that she just left the morning glory as she found it...she does not even dare touch the flower, much less pluck it, for in her inmost consciousness there is the feeling that she is perfectly one with reality.
"When beauty is expressed in terms of Buddhism, it is a form of self- enjoyment of the suchness of things. Flowers are flowers, mountains are mountains, I sit here, you stand there, and the world goes on from eternity to eternity, this is the suchness of things."
In the horizon, Venus. Diamond pendant on infinity,
chiseled aeon shining to the brief stature of minutes,
cut out in magnitude and lit reflective from an echo
off its own helion mass charged realm while we,
beholden for verse, pitch cyan dreams on immit
tongues. Engage life through momentary senses
and sculpt into song in effect deviation. Make
congruent fallen effort that projects while volume
flits along, just enough, to attend toward silence.
Open fables but spoken in the mouth of dissolution,
on parsed shores from a nebular ocean. Ephemeral
components, there upon a dark peace of mortality:
me, a hill side, the dwell of years dipping of night
ground lost to the violaceous temperature in lilac,
thymergasia eroding down to bone, quartzite spark.
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
--from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
--Tomaž Šalamun (trans. Brian Henry)
One finger is the tundra,
one finger is the Bodhisattva,
one finger is mother Slovenia.
Two fingers still remain, beckoning
and with awful force feeding me
seventeen hands with this arrangement.
I’m alone on the roof of the world and drawing
so stars are created.
I’m spurting through the nose so the Milky Way is created
and I’m eating
so shit is created, and falling on you
and it is music.
I am God.
I am God and I’m dancing.
This table is a gift, this house is a gift,
this garden is a gift, these squirrels are a gift.
These human legs are murmuring mantras.
Glug glug glug I drink gulps of light
and I brush.
So I shower and put myself back, alone.
I alone am the center of the world’s light, the Lord’s lamb.
I alone am all animals: a tiger, an ant, a deer,
a rabbit, a porcupine (a hedgehog), a butterfly, an insect,
a piranha, a baby rabbit, a daddy rabbit,
the god of ferrets, the straw hat of a sketched
puppy and his paws.....
What counsel has the hooded moon
Put in thy heart, my shyly sweet,
Of Love in ancient plenilune,
Glory and stars beneath his feet--
A sage that is but kith and kin
With the comedian Capuchin?
Believe me rather that am wise
In disregard of the divine,
A glory kindles in those eyes,
Trembles to starlight. Mine, O Mine!
No more be tears in moon or mist
For thee, sweet sentimentalist.
--from 'Chamber Music'; James Joyce
The Cats Will Know
--Cesare Pavese (trans. Geoffrey Bock)
Rain will fall again
on your smooth pavement,
a light rain like
a breath or a step.
The breeze and the dawn
will flourish again
when you return,
as if beneath your step.
Between flowers and sills
the cats will know.
There will be other days,
there will be other voices.
You will smile alone.
The cats will know.
You will hear words
old and spent and useless
like costumes left over
from yesterday’s parties.
You too will make gestures.
You’ll answer with words—
face of springtime,
you too will make gestures.
The cats will know,
face of springtime;
and the light rain
and the hyacinth dawn....
What is more acutely disturbing than to see familiar scenes troubled into new life? . . . A true revelation, I am convinced, can only emerge from stubborn concentration on a single problem. I have nothing in common with experimentalists, adventurers, with those who travel in strange regions. The surest, and the quickest, way for us to arouse the sense of wonder is to stare, unafraid, at a single object. Suddenly—miraculously—it will look like something we have never seen before.