Monthly Archives: March 2009

Daydreams

I wanted my daydream of you
To be as real as you are
(Wherever you are)
Because I too am a daydream
Of what I want to be

When we were blind

We started asking ourselves what might be built out of rubble while living in rubble. What we could shore against our ruins. What we could hope for while withdrawing from any real object of hope. How to laugh while depriving ourselves of any real object of laughter. How to die while living, to live the death-in-life we dreamed of. And love — how even begin to love? Was this our real work? We started telling ourselves it was, at least; that we were like Rilke’s bees of the invisible. Because what were our ten-hour days in the office and the warehouse compared to these soundings, these questions upon questions?

The new hope

Hope bespeaks the possibility of what escapes the realm of the possible; at the limit, it is relation recaptured where relation is lost. Hope is most profound when it withdraws from and deprives itself of all manifest hope. But at the same time we must not hope, as in a dream, for a chimerical fiction. It is against this that the new hope appoints itself. Hoping not for the probable, which cannot be the measure of what there is to be hoped for, and hoping not for the fiction of the unreal, true hope — the unhoped for of all hope — is an affirmation of the improbable and a wait for what is.

– Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation (trans. S. Hanson)

A living death

We were together only in our absence from each other, an absence into which we threw our beckoning voices like sirens. We knew what we wanted — we wanted what we didn’t know — and we worked hard at it. It was a tightrope walk. We walked towards each other, slowly at first, with great trepidation, then through each other to the other side. Over and over, more confident now. Turning, laughing. It was like dying, like a living, thrilling death. We stayed at the limits of each other with no possession nonsense, the one dying to and for the other. There were days when we were neither ourselves nor the other, yet both. Days when we walked through one another into the infinite. Until the world called us back to itself, and our voices resurfaced.

I used to be an artist

I have long begged off the question of my albums reflecting where I am “at” personally. There is more inaccuracy in that approach than accuracy. I tend to hope people will meet me halfway. The “halfway” point is, “here’s some music, forget about the particulars of the feller before you, let’s listen to it and see what happens.”
   But there is the half that gets left off, the half that never gets told. There has definitely been a transition of some sort, an upheaval, which started three or so years ago. You’ve come at an unfortunate time in that I am still trying to sort it all out. I cannot tell you exactly what is going on now. I look at my hands and I don’t know what they wrought in the past. Are they the hands of a bad man? I used to be an artist. I don’t think I am right now. I don’t know if I ever will be again. I am something else. I was a student of personal strife. I ran with the wrong crowd early on. I tortured myself for a song. I thought it was the way. These things changed many years ago, but those stubborn barnacles remained buttoned to my cape. In shrugging off the cape of Smog and running — I am still in the giddy and running stage, where you can’t believe how easy it was to shrug off. I figure I will be giddy and running for another album or so. I’ve got six different sketches for albums that lay ahead of me. Usually how it works is something will come in to usurp all of those plans at the last minute.

Bill Callahan

Monstrosities!

‘What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people’s faces as unfinished as their minds’ (Eric Hoffer). Is it the same in our speech, in this sentence? Are my thoughts revealed as monstrosities when they take shape in these unfinishable sentences? Don’t we utter monstrosities every day, to go with our faces? Monstrous sentences!

What you are asking is your treasure house

   Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: “What do you seek?”
   “Enlightenment”, replied Daiju.
   “You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked.
   Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?”
   Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.”
   Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends: “Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”

Zen koans

The battleground

Today I woke up very early, with a sudden a confused start, and I slowly got out of bed, suffocating from an inexplicable tedium. No dream had caused it; no reality could have created it. It was a complete and absolute tedium, but founded on something. The obscure depths of my soul had been the battleground where unknown forces had invisibly waged war, and I shook all over from the hidden conflict. A physical nausea, prompted by all of life, was born in the moment I woke up. A horror at the prospect of having to live got up with me out of bed. Everything seemed hollow, and I had the chilling impression that there is no solution for whatever the problem may be.
   An extreme nervousness made my slightest gestures tremble. I was afraid I might go mad — not from insanity but from simply being there. My body was a latent shout. My heart pounded as if it were talking.
   Taking wide, false steps that I vainly tried to take differently, I walked barefoot across the short length of the room and diagonally through the emptiness of the inner room, where in a corner there’s a door to the hallway. With jerky and incoherent movements, I hit the brushes on top of the dresser, I knocked a chair out of place, and at a certain point my swinging hand struck one of the hard iron posts of my English bed. I lit a cigarette, which I smoked subconsciously, and only when I saw that ashes had fallen on the headboard — how, if I hadn’t leaned against it? – did I understand that I was possessed, or something of the sort, in fact if not in name, and that my normal, everyday self-awareness had intermingled with the abyss.
   I received the announcement of morning — the cold faint light that confers a vague whitish blue on the unveiled horizon — like a grateful kiss from creation. Because this light, this true day, freed me — freed me from I don’t know what. It gave an arm to my as-yet-unrevealed old age, it cuddled my false childhood, it helped my overwrought sensibility find the repose it was desperately begging for.
   Ah, what a morning this is, awakening me to life’s stupidity, and to its great tenderness! I almost cry when I see the old narrow street come into view down below, and when the shutters of the corner grocer reveal their dirty brown in the slowly growing light, my heart is soothed, as if by a real-life fairy tale, and it begins to have the security of not feeling itself.
   What a morning this grief is! And what shadows are retreating? What mysteries have taken place? None. There’s just the sound of the first tram, like a match to light up the soul’s darkness, and the loud steps of my first pedestrian, which are concrete reality telling me in a friendly voice not to be this way.

– Pessoa , The Book of Disquiet (trans. R. Zenith)

A brief biography

Urgent stomach. Waking loins. Eyes that caught sight of themselves in a window. A mind that searched for its work like a bee in an office.

The first human listeners

… WHEN WILL, when will, when will they let it suffice,
the complaining, explaining? Have we not had masters to splice
human words, compose them? Why all this new endeavour?

Do not, do not, do not books for ever
hammer at people like perpetual bells?
When, between two books, silent sky appears: be glad…
or a patch of plain earth in the evening.

Louder than gale, louder than sea swell, men
have roared and yelled… what preponderance of stillness
must reside in the cosmic spaces, when
the cricket is audible still to yelling mankind.
When stars, the silent, shine for us in the yelled-at heavens!

Oh, if they spoke to us, the remotest, ancient, most ancient forbears!
And we: listeners at last. The first human listeners.

– Rilke (trans. M. Hamburger)