Here’s a piece I just turned in for a class at school. I don’t know that I expect a fantastic grade or great feedback on this. It’s a little surreal and experimental and… well… weird.
Everyone’s life is falling apart, I guess. On my part, it may be mere vanity to suppose that my falling apart, here and now in the quiet middle portion of my third decade, is any different than the way anyone else’s world is crumbling. My vanity is to pretend that I am not vain and to play as if the destruction inside of me has been my own decided course of martyrdom. My vanity is to say, again and again, that everything will set itself into place in the world and in the ether and between the neurons in my head, if I just live for a moment longer. St. John hypothesized a special step along any truly spiritual journey, which came to be known as The Dark Night of the Soul. It is an interval during which a cosmic seeker realizes that he is no longer making progress by doing what had previously been the things that availed him all progress. The Dark Night is a crisis of conscience and of faith. The terrifying moment when neither prayer, meditation, love nor chemical oblivion help to jar the suddenly immobilized inner-self. I consider John of the Cross and imagine him, in those “dark” moments, teetering on the brink of suicide and wondering why he couldn’t explain in words how suicide would be a progression to the divine and not an escape.
My charge, given by those surrounding me, is, of course, to march forward through what I will bill with vanity to be my Dark Night. My desire, though, is not to move forward now but to sink. John had his faith, at least. I’ve known no steadfast God to whom I may appeal. I’ve no ambition to participate in the economy of the world. I’ve no ambition to abide by the law nor to capitulate to the social norms and mores of the human race. I have done my best to purge physical excess from my life, but feel ashamed at all that I have still and all that I eat. I am writing little things here and there and waiting for someone to grab my hand and cry with me and tell me “I know exactly what you are going through, my brother,” but when I’m out in the world all I can see is economy and its constituent slavery. I am writing little things, and they could be called non-fiction, meditation, pandering or pondering, but, peering out from inside the night, the one thing that is clear is that all is truly fiction and nothing is verifiable as real. I grasp onto the Cartesian truth. I think, therefore… therefore…
From the fiction of my life I recall clearly my second memory. I existed in a trailer-home that my parents shared with my mother’s brother and I was perhaps aged two and one half years. There was a white dog of which I was wary, and white dollops of cottage cheese. I sat one day staring out the back doors, which were made of glass or some transparent plastic substitute, across the New Mexican desert landscape. The sky was of pristine azure, and my mother sat with me, young and perfect. In my second memory, which I consider to be fiction, mother was all of my world and she showed me things in the clouds. There a soldier, and there a dog. Spanning the sky wider, above the soldier and the dog, was a tremendous ship suitable only for an ocean, which I had no concept of at the time. A lumbering ship of cotton, cloudy nothing floating above a soldier and a dog and my sweet mother resting on the floor with me, fully embracing her life, which was also fiction. “The shapes will change, Charles,” she said. She spoke to me as if we were even and that I hadn’t stolen from her nine months of vibrant youth, or after that, countless hours of peaceful sleep. We watched and the boat became a nothing. “The shapes will change.”
Relearning now what I had learned that day is proving to be the most violent and painful experience of my life. More painful than all the cold jail cell floors, the rehabs, the detox centers. More painful than those lovers lost and the ones I never gained. More painful than hallucinating the faces of the devil in dim blue for want of drink. My mother hadn’t meant to, but had been teaching me that all is fiction and that life is transient in nature. The cloud ship and the mercenary and the mongrel had been morality, the self and God, all three shifting, drifting, and struggling not to be burned up by the southern sun. All three figures disappeared. Today, as I’ve detached myself in subtle ways from the senses that define and the language that separates, I’ve seen that my Dark Night consists of watching morality, the self, and God shifting, morphing and then pulling away from themselves until they’ve evaporated into the canvas of spirit, a sky of brilliant blue.
I am so vain, even through it all, even as the world burns. I say on the one hand that I seek the destruction of the ego, and then on the other that my ego is wonderful enough to deserve its own destruction. I have bisected the ego, in this sense, and hidden a portion of it away from the exacting eye of whatever God is today. This is a vanity and a need to impress God or to become closer to that thing we call God. St. John of the Cross, perhaps, wanted that greatest of theological treasons: to merge with God. This might have caused his depression. He might have seen that his life of devotion and prayer were not bringing him any closer to forbidden intercourse with the Almighty. Perhaps prayer stopped working for him when he realized that what he wanted more than anything was to be God or even to transcend God. This would have made him an infidel and this makes me an infidel because, watching the cloud called “God” disappear in the rays of the sun, all I can think about is how to take its place.
Everyone’s life is falling apart in this way, I think, torn between belief and atheism. Sense and spirit. The self and love. Most people have an aptitude for ignoring these crises. I’ve used up all of my mechanisms of preservation. Prayer and meditation are availing me nothing and I sit here ashamed of my station and of my cheap garb, which is too rich, while simultaneously imagining myself wearing the crown. All things are transient, and every thought I have separates nature from God, making the world appear before me as hell. Each life is falling apart while I rest here waiting patiently to be recycled back to that good moment, sitting on the floor with my mother looking for shapes in all that is, which is simply fiction.
I'm so glad you followed me and I found your blog. This is exactly what I needed tonight, you have a beautiful mind and such a unique perspective. I'll be up a while reading through your posts. Thank you.
Well now you made my night! :-) Thanks, brother! Let me know if you dig what you read.
I feel extremely honoured and at the same time, humbled that someone as amazing and eloquent as you is actually following my blog. Everything that you write about just somehow resonates with thoughts that I can't articulate well. Thank you for actually being in tumblr and creating such a wonderful blog! (Sorry for sounding a tad creepy, but I immediately followed back after reading your first post haha)
This is too flattering. Let’s talk more. I’m glad you dig my writing. It’s the thing I want to do forever, but it is way easier to do when people tell me that they resonate with it like you do. :-) Thank you.
I don’t know what else to do but to keep writing and keep smokin’ these cigarettes and keep eatin’ these caffeine pills.
Greater awareness of my basic nature is what I crave. I’ve taken various steps toward this end. The general theme of my thoughts is that there is something growing inside of me that needs to be released. Something inside that is screaming to be heard. Between those screams, the thing is sitting patiently, waiting for the right person to be told to, and the right way to be expressed. I wonder if the screaming will dull itself over time so that I will find myself capable of just living out the span of my life quietly, laboring humbly and finding love wherever I can. Or perhaps the scream continues to grow until it can either be thrown forth out of my soul or until it consumes my spirit fully and prompts me to end my physical life before my body has reached its natural expiration date.
I am not afraid to die. I am, perhaps, more afraid of living than dying, in some moments. I should very much like to know what it is like to fully be separated from this body. I believe that, given enough time, humanity could become technologically astute enough to allow transcendence from the physical form. But the catch is that we would have to stop killing one another immediately in order for us to achieve this capacity. I think that this is possible, but sometimes it seems very improbable. I believe psychedelia can point a mind in the direction of transcendence, but I don’t believe that complete transcendence can be achieved fully through such brute-force mind hacking.
I believe that self-denial in the physical realm is likely the best shot at transcendence during life, assuming the world will continue down its path toward destruction by violence.
It’s difficult to deny oneself when others expect or demand so much. The state demands payment. The creditors who coerced me in younger and dumber times demand payment. People who say that they love me and only want what is best for me demand much of me as well. I am made to fit into so many molds, none of which bring me satisfaction. I feel as though I am, in some ways, expanding too rapidly to ever fit into any mold ever again.
I feel like a hostage when I am between walls. I feel like a hostage a lot of the time. I’m not unwilling to move forward. I am even capable of seeing most of this as physical sacrifice that I ought to make quietly in order to subdue my ego. But, sometimes, to suffer the inane chatter or the jealous, lusting and angry spirit of some folks is a burden that seems unbearable. I miss solitude often. I need to find communion with other people who are attempting to de-rail themselves from the destructive tracks of Western society and consumerism and tradition.
I feel compelled to a monastic life. I think I would enjoy being a monk. Being quiet most of the time. Reading. Writing. Working with my hands and meditating with people who are doing the same. I would find the occasion to get better at fasting and at quieting my mind. I would have a tiny room with some books and some paper and some pens and a picture of my family on the wall next to my little bed. It wouldn’t matter what faith the monastery was associated with. I would be happy exploring the monastic tradition of any faith.
I sometimes believe that I’d enjoy a long sentence in a county jail, as well. Time to sit and read and think. To learn how to meditate. I very much enjoy the company of criminals, as well.
I don’t know where I’m going. I can’t tell if I am speeding up or slowing down. I have tried, here and there, to mentally reverse my course, but have found it impossible. I think it’s impossible both because, despite all this, I feel happier and more loving now than I have ever felt in my entire life, and because I think that once some things are known, they cannot be un-known.
This, my friends, is a wild ride, if nothing else. I guess I should just sit back and revel in the fact that I have no idea what could be coming around the next corner. I know now that all of my knowledge is completely subject to revision at all times. Nothing I know or think can be considered objectively real. This makes each day novel. I should be excited about that.
i don't know how to say it but thank you for existing, you share my thoughts but yours are organized and have big vocabulary words in them haha. not only that it gives me a laugh. just thank you i don't know you've kind of inspired me in a way and i only started following you a few days ago
!!! :-) Thank you! Let me know where the inspiration takes you! Also, don’t worry about organizing the things you think or expressing them with big words. If the shit is real, it will always come out the way it’s supposed to. Perfect. I’m glad we’re following one another.
I just wanted to say that within three minutes of looking at your blog, I am so intrigued by what you have to say. I immediately started following you. I think that we are very similar people. Everything you talk about on your blog are things that I believe, I think about, I want to know or am interested in. It's wonderful, so original. And you're an awesome writer, by the way, you have a lot of passion. People with our mindset need to stick together to create a new loving, peaceful way of life.
I think it’s preferable if people with open minds do stick together, as you say. :-) Thank you for your kind words. I keep waiting for something to come of my writing and my bizarre way of thinking. It will happen eventually. People like you help push my forward. I appreciate your energy. Let’s figure the world out.
It’s in the walking where my best thinking occurs. Although I’m inclined to point out that I don’t trust that any of my thinking is particularly superb. Better yet, I would point out again that terms like “best,” “better,” or “superb” are merely gradations of a subjective and undefinable indicator of a thing’s appeal to my physical form. So I guess I am ultimately more truthful in saying that I just enjoy the kinds of thinking that occur while I am walking.
There is snow everywhere here in Colorado. The streets are relatively clear, but the sidewalks are covered to varying degrees with all kinds of snow. Dirty snow. Clean snow. Trampled snow. Pristine snow on which no one has yet stepped. The snow prolonged my walk to the place where I buy cigarettes by maybe fifteen minutes either way, making the effort about an hour and a half in total. I welcomed the bit of struggle introduced to my footsteps as novelty. I remember a few months ago how much I enjoyed walking over the same ground as it was heated by a summer sun, with my shirt off so that my back could absorb the light, and with my shoes off so that my feet could get accustomed to contact with the very floor of this earthly space I occupy. It suffices to say that walking barefoot today would be insanity.
The market was full of beautiful people preparing themselves for this communal event tomorrow that America shares each year. I am opposed to professional sports and find them wasteful, and given the option, I do not partake in the festivities. I like the idea that so many people will be together with friends and family and loved ones tomorrow though, sharing space and air and food and excitement. It makes me happy that others will be happy. There was a sense of giddiness in the store. There had apparently been a rush on the avocados and salsa.
I feel at once connected to and disconnected from the whole of humanity. War rages on, and a new war approaches, and for this I am tremendously sad. It is difficult for me to remove the plight of the world from my mind sometimes, and it is more difficult for me to look at my own life contrasted to the lives of people where violence is plentiful and food is in short supply. I have too much. I hope that the game tomorrow doesn’t distract people in America so much that they won’t recall that, while they’ve been afforded a respite from turmoil and war in most cases, that turmoil and war still exist and deserve, if nothing else, the mental attention of all of humanity.
Happiness is a fleeting thing, I think. But peace, both in one’s spirit and in the world at large, can become a thing of permanence if one is open to it’s novelty.
I am thinking of peace and love and wishing it for everyone.
Someone asked me what philosophical books I think that they should read.
I listed some things. Emerson. Tolstoy. Dawkins. Zhuangzi. Hesse. The Gospels of Matt, Mark and Luke. The Gita. Ginsberg. Twelve-Step literature. But not a lot of stuff that could be considered literal, academic philosophy.
The more I listed, though, the more I realized that the things I have come to know, or that I have come to believe, or that I have intuited about life are things that came naturally out of a life of vicious war against myself.
I think that I learned more every time I woke up on a jail cell floor, wondering where and even who I was, than I ever did from reading a book.
More seemed to be learned from the days when I was stealing, trading, selling or hustling to scrounge up enough money to buy another bottle of 100 proof liquor than from any text.
No philosopher or writer has ever taught me as much as the experience of watching my father nearly die before my eyes time and time again for nearly a decade. That kind of pain is revelatory in its beastly cruelty.
No book or teacher ever taught me as much as I learned from coming down off of alcohol and not being able to sleep for three or four days at once, sweating out a yellow liquid, like fermented stinking bile, from every pore with my head and my body aching in pulses and with blue faces of terrible demons and shamans of death appearing in my field of vision every time I closed my eyes.
I’ve learned so much from my own personal struggle to leave God, to find God, to leave God, to find God, to redefine God, to kill God, to pervert God, to appeal to God for my life and to curse God for making me.
Cutting myself and burning myself taught me more than Bertrand Russell would have had to teach me if he had lived to write one thousand books.
Making myself throw up for years gave me a sense of who I am.
Having my heart broken gave me a degree in something that transcended all of philosophy.
So what can I tell someone? I can’t possibly prescribe this kind of life to anyone in good conscience. I would never want to lead someone into that kind of pain, just as I know I would have trouble loving someone who told me that I should go through greater pain than I already have. Pain is relative, and I have suffered little compared to many. At the same time, though, I think it was this pain that probably defined me more than any of my academic forays and more than anything I have ever read.
If I can’t prescribe the path I have taken to anyone else, yet feel simultaneously that the place where I’ve arrived is preferable, what am I to do? Does any effort on my part, from here on out, constitute only futility, unless I change my mind and begin encouraging those who ask me for insight to begin degrading their life with self-violence and strong drink and drugs and crime?
Perhaps it is the question that makes me uncomfortable, and not the having to figure out how to answer it.
Perhaps I’m not ready to be asked anything.
I’m going to begin a fast now while I think about this. Love to anyone who reads what I write. Love to anyone who doesn’t. Peace, peace, peace.
In my Creative Writing class, we’ve been instructed to do some free-writing each day as an exercise to calm the inner censor and to become more familiar with the simple act of writing. I write a lot anyway, but I have been enjoying the “free-writing” quite a bit. Free-writing is to write without any particular attachment to purpose and without any particular need to complete anything or even say anything. The instruction is simply to move the pen and not let it stop. This morning I wrote one that I thought I would share.
Free Write #6
I awoke to the sound of the cat tearing around the apartment at tremendous speed, back and forth in a loop of some kind, stopping at either end of the circuit to look around herself for prey or for chase or a friend. She flips a small, brown, cloth constructed toy into the air, the closest she’s ever come to confronting a real mouse. Her mouse doesn’t move or run but falls dead to the floor. Maggie (the cat) bats the mouse, either to encourage sport or to assure that the mouse is truly dead. She rips her way back onto her wild running circuit then, her claws making a vicious noise on the carpet beneath her as she runs back and forth on the ground near my bed, a queen sized… no… king sized mattress which lays on the ground in the living room. This is the time when she redistributes her vanquished foes. She will leave one or two near my bed or on my bed, an offering of thanks, or love, or perhaps the dead mice are charity on her part. She does the same in the bedroom where the woman still quietly sleeps under covers, scant clothing, and yards of beautiful smooth skin. One or two mice for the woman near her smaller bed which sits higher up than mine. She places one or two dead mice near her own food bowl. She is conservative in this way, saving rodent meat for a day of famine when the cheaply constructed blue plastic food container may appear to her empty. A day when her hunt might have to become real. Or perhaps this mouse is also an offering of thanks, to the cat gods, a sacrifice at the harvest to ensure greater harvest, or sustained harvest, on the morrow. Maggie will run about, possessed by her morning devil, for about half an hour. Then a snack from the blue bowl, and a sip of water from the black ceramic bowl. I go to lay next to the woman for a time, and the cat trots in and leaps up onto the bed with a half-grunt, half-squeak, laying herself atop my arm and the woman’s torso over which my arm lays. The feline is like a long, constantly warm pillow of fur and I appreciate the fact that, in her own way, she loves both the woman and I very much. We three seem complete, for once, in that moment, each of us in contact with the other, and each of us present in the tiny span of time, being at different levels of awakeness to the day and to the life.
I whisper to the woman:
"It’s like we’re a little family."
She smiles without opening her eyes. Her side of her bed is warm, and I have not slept in that bed in a long time, and perhaps that is why her smile is brief. Perhaps to her, we are not closely enough to a little family. But with the cat lounging across our bodies, I feel that we are and I believe the cat does too, and she didn’t raise contention at my words, but smiled. So I think that she feels it too, though she may presently want more.
We all want more. The cat offers her sacrifice to the blue bowl in want of greater or sustained harvest. I lay in my bed reading Luke in want of greater knowledge of love. The woman, Jera, smiles a smile that ends before I thought it should, wanting that I should be closer to family than perhaps she perceives me to be. Yet all the desires in this tiny home have not torn us apart as of yet. This is a beautiful morning of un-sated wants and tiny little efforts (smiles, devoured text, murdered mice) that satisfy all in their own way. Our needs, here, our wants, don’t require to be satiated. We are a little family of little efforts and little wants and little moments laying together or having a cigarette on the porch, and it pains me that our efforts ever have to become greater.
I can’t sleep regularly these days. My eyes become like little deserts, dried and pained from the day and my body aches for sleep and yet my mind will not quiet itself. I read and I think about writing and I read and I wait for something to write and I read. During the day I prefer to walk around my side of town. This town that I cannot call my own, this town that embodies for me only temporary refuge. My walking is without aim. In and out of markets and coffee shops, or sometimes just straight down the road. I am in love with walking.
I have read Gandhi’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, some kind of epic poem and Hindi scripture which is surely ancient beyond my comprehension. The story is of a man (a leader of men) on the cusp of violent battle, granted an audience with the almighty in a moment that seems to transcend time, between the opposing armies. The man’s question: “is it right that I take the action of violence?” Gandhi lovingly dissected the text for the reader, and I was overwhelmed at the revelatory meaning found therein. The concept of love for a fellow human saturated every line. The ideas about imposing austerties upon one’s body in order to allow the spirit to flourish were inescapable and transcendant. That is, they would have been transcendant had I read it one year ago. Reading it now, though, I found myself nearly moved to tears because, rather than feeling as though my knowledge of my own spirit had been pushed forward, I felt simply that the nagging feeling inside of my heart is less crazy than some call it, and closer to truth than even my ego gives it credit for. The work was validational to me. The words were as neon beacons screaming from the page: “Keep digging. You’re getting closer!”
This is not to say that I have transcended, in the realm of the physical, much of anything. I have adopted some measure of austerity in my life. I have taken to fasting, but have not become adept at it. I have relinquished many redundant or luxurious posessions, yet many remain. I am fixed and bound to the dollar and to the state against my will. Most of all, my ego remains. My pride, the bitch. But this direction in which I can feel myself flowing certainly appears to be aimed at transcendence, and the Bhagavad Gita seems to give my direction some credence.
Immediately upon finishing the Gandhi interpretation, I began to read the New Testament for the first time in my life. The book sits there, nestled behind the much thicker Old Testament, in a Bible my parents gave me for Christmas some years back. The construction of the book itself is fine, the pages perfectly thin and lightly golden along their edges, sandwiched between firm black covers. Upon commencing this reading, I found myself quite literally moved to tears on a number of occasions. I’ve only as yet completed the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and the story held within is not one that is necessarily new to me. Rather, I should say, that the arch of the story is not new to me. However, the meaning of the story of the life of this man Christ seems completely new to me, reading it now. The prescriptions of this one they called Christ seem so similar to those found in the Bhagavad Gita that I would say that an objective summary of both of the stories might read almost identically. Having only read this small portion, I am immediately taken aback by the fact that the rhetoric of the average modern Christian (particularly the average “American” Christian), is very clearly in direct opposition to the very words of this man that they call God. I find in the Gospel, now, and particularly in the words specifically deemed to have originated from Christ’s mouth, a great solace in the ideals of peace, unprejudiced love for all people, and physical austerity. I can only wonder how it was that this man’s message became so diluted over the centuries that his self-proclaimed followers are generally recoiled from, as from a hot flame, by the intellectuals and thinkers of today.
I am not Christian nor Hindu nor do I subscribe to any religious beliefs. This will not stop me from voraciously consuming the loving message that seems to be at the root of these writings.
I am waiting for a certain spark to set alight the kindling that has been built up around my heart and my mind, but I am becoming increasingly patient in that waiting. I wait for the thing that I am supposed to write. Those words that will allow me to explain in a single resounding shot what I think and feel about love, peace and the nature of the universe. As I wait, with increasing patience, I become also increasingly aware that my waiting may merely be a manifestation of ego, and that I may be no writer, and perhaps that I am only to labor over this land quietly, making my minimal keep, and allowing the salt in the sweat off my brow to comingle with the salt of the very Earth beneath me.
I have no longer a concern about my future ability to provide myself with a lifestyle of wealth, and I am not convinced that my life will be particularly long. Still, the whisperer inside of my skull who has been there since I was a boy says that I will write and that I will change the world, but I will be content doing neither so long as I may read and type out a poor poem now and again and afford a small measure of food and shelter.
A robust biography of Tolstoy founds itself cracked in my hands this evening, which I will read intermittently as I complete my reading of the New Testament. Tolstoy, by all accounts, was a genius as a writer, and in the final days of his life renounced all posessions and went out to wander the land in thought. Some call him a Christian-Anarchist, and his study of the Sermon on the Mount led him to believe many things about the nature of the world which I now have come to believe myself. He believed, as he found in Christ’s words, that pacifism was the only justifiable mode in which to live, and that the presence of a state would always create more war in the world than would a group of humans acting freely in the absence of a state. Tolstoy wrote to Gandhi personally about such things. Gandhi was also an anarchist, and for the same reason, although the Bible had not influenced him as much, in this manner, as had Hindu scripture. And all things seem to be connected in this way.
I am still not tired now, in my head, and I begin to wonder if I shall ever tire fully there. I am thinking about fasting more. Considering giving away or selling more of my things. Pondering the meaning of sexuality in my life, and the connection between sex and the monstrous ego that compels me to collect and consume. I crave sex at the wrong times, and don’t crave it when I think I ought to. I am awkward in my skin, at times. I hope my partner can understand this. I hope my having a romantic interest in my life now does not lead me to cause her pain later in my life through my increasing austerity.
Tolstoy’s wife didn’t like it when he ceased caring about making money.
Tolstoy had many children, though.
I don’t know where I’m going with any precision. I can feel the ill of the world and I worry for her, with her face spotted with nuclear weapon silos and military bases. I see no meaning in the election year. Whether our President stays or goes is of no consequence in the grand scheme of things. We drive headlong into war and our own demise as a species, even as I drive headlong into a nearly silent place in my heart where love exists and flourishes, ever in combat against my ego.
I feel connected to the men I am reading and reading about. I feel connected to my friend who fasted for 40 hours a few days ago and lives in a trailer with his dog. I feel deeply connected to others, at times. Presently, the connection to the super-conscious quantum unknown feels strong. The connection exists, and my ability or inability to sense it in any given moment doesn’t make it any less real. Resolutely, I think that I am connected to all human beings, and all human beings to one another.
I start school again tomorrow. The tedium promised there frightens and unnerves me, and I think that I will find my time being ill used between those walls. But I am going to put it to the grindstone and hope for something interesting to happen. I will labor, as the Bhagavad Gita suggests, without attachment to fruit. School is easier than fasting or relinquishing worldly things.
Perhaps a professor who has something relevant to say will show up. I’ve known only a few, as such.
Longing for my childhood fades as staring into the dark abyss before me gets easier.
Perhaps I am wrong about all things. This would be the greatest thrill. To relearn my perspective all over again is that thing that is simultaneously most painful and most joyous. Through a thin veil of apprehension I stare down this prospect without legitimate fear.
Love to anyone reading this, and to anyone not. Love, and perhaps more so, peace.