Bowing Formally

May 29, 2017

A snowy heron

on the snowfield

where winter grass is unseen

hides itself

in its own figure.

— Dogen

The Uncertain Hour

May 27, 2016

The burning twilight
Blunted by the weight of heaven,
Condensed — a curtain

Now turned sepia
Dragging itself across the globe;
Fate so indistinct.

The angel of death
Hangs around these streets corners,
A poisonous gas.

Under a sun-dial
I haven’t seen its visage,
Features indistinct.

 

Resolved

March 9, 2015

I am but a child.

When the angel of death takes me to

her breast, I will recall like a cassette

an all-consuming void at the heart of the memory

And this is what I wanted to touch:

the burgeoning tendrils erupting from my stomach

And I will know forgiveness

Without a God

Without an image

Nothing but the recognition, conceived

In shimmering  tapestry.

Philosophy as Art

December 26, 2014

It seems to me that being a philosopher, I don’t mean academically but a pursuer of truth, should in a few ways be considered more like art than like science. One of those ways occurred to me today.

I was thinking about the fact that when we talk about the development of our personal belief systems, we come to know those developments as an art. Good philosophers, at least, are in the occupation not just of identifying singular problems and coming up with singular arguments, but of developing grand theoretical systems because their goal is a total reality-picture. It’s about fitting several insights throughout one’s life-experience into a whole. We speak of this the way artists’ work is spoken of–one’s philosophy is a lifelong “project”.

Now to speak and to regard one’s theories as an aesthetic enterprise is not to degrade philosophy as a sophistic thing where, in becoming excited with the system one is ‘creating’, one is thinking of it as representative of one’s unique taste or personality rather than an aspiration toward absolute truth. On the contrary, when a philosopher is sincerely trying to sharpen her perception of Reality while maintaining a sense of awe for it, the belief system she forms constitutes an object of contemplation and admiration just as a work of art. Thus, in sincerely undertaking the act of piecing together several scattered convictions to form a system we hope will in some way mirror the Truth of Reality, we fashion for ourselves a thing of beauty and remaining mystery and thereby draw close to Beauty.

This is significant to me because it reconciles the truth-beauty conflict that has arisen in my mind where I am not sure whether I am really after truth or whether I want to believe what is beautiful and experience it as such. Or which I really desire. But if one is really trying to understand the depths of truth and not just to affirm familiar and comforting beliefs, I think he creates a kind of artwork and so understands beauty at the same time.

From this view, I think there is something beautiful rather than lacking in the realization that there is no progress in philosophy, only participation.

Whenever we are speaking of persons in a way that implies that they are entities-in-themselves and not merely a collection of physical and psychical events which happen to be related, we attribute to them not only a special metaphysical status but intrinsic worth (this happens in the context of anything of moral concern; it is the reason people regard it objectively wrong to kill or rape someone, and not merely a convention or an naturally-selected for instinct). The intrinsic worth of persons is a premise that, whether it is a longstanding ideology or an innate conviction, underlies so many of our beliefs by which we guide ourselves and yet cannot be validly argued for–at least not on grounds everyone would accept.

I am inclined to think this premise is in fact a comforting, self-affirming ideology, and that if we look to the observations of biology, psychology, neurology, etc, personhood comes out as a practical but artificial construct. Followed to its conclusions, a thoroughly scientific understanding of our selves eliminates persons from our worldviews. And if we are honest with ourselves, it might be that we should come to such conclusions, one of them being: that we are machines; we are not “real” in the sense we think we are.

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Mannequin

March 11, 2014

At a table of burnished wood;
The lifeless flesh of an organism
Beneath my paper
Lies,
Held for a slower decay.

And at the moment she, to catch an eye
Lifts a smoothed ash arm,
Leaning to catch the light to
Capture an eye
In the bend of her side
I feel justified for my solipsism.

In her being–prior to sensation
And herself without desire–:
A great agency
Has grown somehow self-cognizant.
Its motive is pure.
It knows that it

Must never reach finality.
In every form assumed it diminishes
And halts.
In every form assumed.
But the agency is realized in the form of an  imperative
To carry forth and transfer its momentum.
Rolling through organisms, it spreads.

So the body hangs its weight on a burnished shoulder
As she leans,
A mannequin.

And I have also felt it at work in me.

Metaphysical Givens

December 21, 2013

Trying to get acquainted with the
Meaning of these givens
Like a hidden hand,
The architect of silence, forged
of emptiness.

Somehow embedded with it still
Like an axiom.
But no, zeros cannot be multiplied.

Baffled by this self-induced pseudo-mysticism
Getting high as hell
And dumb as unnamed terror demands
Washing oneself with unclean hands.

In Medias Res

August 16, 2013

Not complexity–extension.
Mother unspeakable felt
In the depths of the present
The heart of dimension
Remembered in medias res.

“Here” is not singular. It is laden
With distance and shape
In context, as all stories.

You were written in space.
And

I cry, but not for faith
Because the chest is an empty basin.

Remembrance

July 26, 2013

Blade against blade lightly
Touching testify to silence.

As this tree, fixed on the diameter
of absence more apparently draws
the weight of existence
into this space before me,
So is the sound an isolated voice
Witnessing and speaking for the quiet.

When this place

Was crowded out by daylight and a multitude of sounds,
These were hidden.
And I be deaf
To almost everything.

Emptied now

It is not easily dismissed.

Disintegrates

March 6, 2013

Leaves rattle like bones
Exoskeletons abandoned and empty chairs
Whose presence is felt.

Here it is conceivable:
The winds grow
With white noise
Decadent sounds of
A nuclear-like destruction
Tearing the fabric of the world
Like decaying flesh,
Shingles blown away.

Everything
Disintegrates.

Yields to the unending mathematical framework
Revealed, it was underneath all this time.