Saturday, September 17, 2022

Eat the scroll

 Much of what you hold to be true you can’t really grasp and your hold on the truth is not strong and you eventually drop it. You don’t have a tight hold on your truths. Sometimes the truth slips out of your grasp because you were careless, clumsy, or weak. Maybe the truth was too heavy to bear and you dropped it, or maybe it was too light, like air, and slipped through your fingers and dissipated in the atmosphere.


The truth, that particular truth, is On Hold, like a phone call you just can’t deal with now and could easily postpone until forgotten and its left on hold until the truth itself hangs up or is accidentally disconnected when the wrong button is pushed.


Don’t Forget! you were told.

Remember this truth, even if you forget all others. 

This is true and you mustn’t let go of it.


But you have to let go of the truths you grasp, as you have to exhale after you inhale in order to breathe. You have to let go of the truths you grasp in order to think.


How does a crucified god become a symbol of empire and Sol Invictus? The story of crucifixion and resurrection and victory is just another story about a god and this god becomes the most popular and then official and the only authorized god cult, inseparable from the state power structure.


Symbols are born and die, Tillich said, even symbols of ultimate concern. When I read that it was like getting a terrible phone call.


We were headed to the land we promised ourselves and we kept getting lost, taking the wrong exits, or not being in the right lane at the right time and missing a turn. We are guided by satellites and we still get lost.


The deconstruction workers arrive in their helmets and start banging on the scaffolds (“deconstruction” is a word that was used and misused long ago for the study of how a text is put together, how it works, how it doesn’t work, how it plays, and how it falls apart).


I read the cosmic news on my phone. The news tells of the ultimate fate of planetary material. It tells of planetary engulfment — when a star eats a planet in its system. Scientists are constructing models of engulfment events. Stars eating their planets is the natural life cycle of a solar system. Our own sun, Sol Invictus, is a cannibal star.


“To be reborn our whole structure must change,” says a ghost. 

How reliable are the pronouncements of a ghost?


Meaning systems are born and die. Meaning systems change.


I heard the words of the prophets every day as I was growing up, often from my father’s mouth as he spoke behind the pulpit or at the dinner table or while driving the car or wherever and I heard that the Day of the Lord will come some day, any day, and God will judge the world and I had to be ready for that by staying in touch with God and not doing anything unless I stay aware I am in God’s presence because I am always in God’s presence and can never hide from that light.


I can’t hide from God but I play hide and seek with God until I can no longer hide from where God finds me hidden in myself.


I heard the Bible read or quoted every day. Before each meal at home we would listen as one of us read a promise selected from the ceramic bread loaf purchased at a Christian gift shop. The promises were Bible verses printed on either side of a colored strip of cardstock a little bigger than a stick of gum. They were selected at random, not as divination, like reading the newspaper horoscope, but sometimes having a similar effect of seeming relevant to the current situation by stating a truism or something poetic and cryptic like — “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” — and I could never remember where that verse is from (it’s Malachi) but one day when I was twenty I drew it from the ceramic bread loaf and considered the meaning of “sun of righteousness” as the dawn of conscience and consciousness, worldwide theophany, universal liberation, utopia, not a cannibal sun but the light of reality.


I’m just talking to myself god to god when a disembodied voice startles me.

Who or what is God? — asks the god who is God — a who or a what?

Is God a Who or a Whom? A what or a why is a god asking why and what in these questions?

Is God a there and a now, a where and a then, a nowhere and never?


God is a literary device. 

Is God a literary device? 

God is a name given to the unknown explanation for our existence.

God is a name for the unimaginable satisfaction of our infinite need.


God is the central character in a collective literary work held sacred by many who don’t read it and who call it the Word of God.


“God,” the main character, stands for the logos of the story, the meaning of the story, that which drives the story and knows where the story is going, and that which explains the story. This character withholds the meaning, end, and explanation of the story from the readers and the writers, but at the same time the character stands for these elusive treasures desired by the writers and readers of the story or stories. The Word of God and the words of the gods constantly revise themselves on an infinite scroll.


The logos of the gods is always revised and every reading is a misreading.

It is sacred work because it is human work.

The vision is always a revision and the seeing is the vanishing point of reference for the disappearing viewer.

This vanishing point is the gaping mouth of your infinite hunger.


Eat this scroll.








Saturday, July 23, 2022

Testify!

 





Testify!


We are in a thick metaphysical cloud in which, I pray, a holy mountain is concealed.


The people are complaining— 


where are we going?


what will we eat?


inflation is eating up all our money.


Gasoline is more expensive than gold.


The people are tired of this wilderness.


We tell a story about history or evolution as the human pilgrimage to universal liberation and utopian ecstasy.


We come to you now bringing the accumulated wisdom of Europe, what we can remember of it, and various implements of our powerful technology, and we thought we could make some trades. 


I’ll take Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, too. You take these trinkets.


Of all the tribes of Earth we have been blessed with wisdom, weapons, and treasures,


Weapons and treasures of heathen nations we have looted in the name of Christ. Weapons and treasures and slaves.


Our ancestors' ghosts gather around us.


Gusts of our ancestors catch us and spin us.


This past Saturday I didn't remember it was the anniversary of my father's death. I didn't think of it until three days later. I had become physically ill in a way that reminded me of him a year before his death — maybe psyche inflicting punishment on soma again.


I have a televisit with my doctor tomorrow. Maybe that will clear things up.


Even though they are manufactured by your brain, don’t speak lightly of ghosts or gods.


Testify!


There is a secret connection between the word “gust” and the word “ghost” — a sudden ghost of wind broke the mirror and slammed the door shut — your ghost seized me in a gust of grief and tore me down like a broken oak.


Gathered to our ancestors, every atom returned to the body of mother universe from which we come and go every moment.


Testify!


Inter my dust next to hers on the hill overlooking the lake.


Our souls evaporate and are scattered by the winds on a mist of water and particulate matter, and among other spirits breathed by winds over seas and continents, forever children of the Earth.


I sit by the window staring at the sky. trying to draw on extraterrestrial energies.


Don’t those energies come to us anyway?


— out of timelessness from which unending time is generated?


Power from the beyond  or within — but more than that — instructions or even a map — something by which to navigate?


The sky watcher sits by the window and sees something odd in the sky, bulbous and floating, an inflated sign in heaven.


A blimp is slowly coming around the tip of Manhattan, following the East River until it’s close enough for me to  see the words SHARK WEEK on the side.


It could be promoting the televised January 6 hearing.


The Secret Service deleted text messages sent on January 6.

The Secret Service deleted texts sent by agents on January 6

The Secret Service deleted texts sent by agents on January 6


Repeat until you vomit.


Christofascism rolls over the land like a tank battalion and I will stand in its path.


Testify!


Capitalism burns the atmosphere to make a quick profit but my high velocity air circulator keeps me cool.


With or without human made climate change, the sun will burn up the planet. Eventually, the whole universe will come to an end — only it already has — don’t you know that yet?


The birth and death of the universe is eternally conceived in the eternal ecstatic Now while you are distracted by passing blimps.


The universe is my universe, I once wrote. Love it or leave it. And don’t cry over a spilled Milky Way. The cosmic amniotic soup is swarming with galaxies.


Find the time later — not now — to pay attention to the moment that holds you.

What do you hear now beyond the tinnitus? 

I hear the traffic on the bridge and the electric fan. 


I’m more or less secure, at the moment, in my tent on the side of the holy mountain in the holy land of Lenapehoking.


On a dog day morning in Brooklyn I walk to the river and watch the sunrise reflected on the glass buildings of the city.


A window opens in the sky and

we see it is full of multiverses, 

and we can’t hear them — but we can see with our own eyes — that the whole heavenly host is screaming at us.



Sunday, May 01, 2022

four panels

mountain top   8" X 8"

nativity scene 8" X 8"

released 12" X 12"

wheelwork 12" X 12"

 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

winter to spring 2022

 My window at the center of the world.

The sky is full of sea gulls and helicopters, and

the river is inhabited by tugboats and ferries.

A bridge over the river connects our island with their island

and on that other island two tall ghost towers stand,

eternally in flames. 

By their light I am writing.



the wind 03 03 2022


For the second day in a row the morning star’s rise was hidden by clouds on the horizon.

It is 32 degrees — literally freezing — and there’s a winter weather advisory for King’s County. The US Weather Service says mixed precipitation is expected. Total combined snow and sleet accumulations of one to three inches and ice accumulations of up to one tenth of an inch.

Slow down and use caution while traveling and check information services for the latest road conditions.

In other words, watch your step. A fall could be crippling or fatal at your age.

The internal weather advisory issued by the united inner states of my mind — the total combined fear and trembling — expect accumulations of underlying dread in unquantifiable quantities.



I have slowed down and I do use caution when walking to the subway station and ascending the black iron stairs of the Marcy Avenue station.

I take the M to Broadway Lafayette, if you must know, and go see my therapist and spend the forty five minutes trying to put my sense of dread and feeling of fatigue into words. And now I’m home and still trying to put it into words.

“Ancestral voices prophesying war” — Coleridge’s line —

and news of war on my phone comes with the weather advisory. 

What do I have to say in my little notebook?

Probably something oracular:


I am the wind that comes suddenly and blows it all down,

grabbing oak trees and shaking them and throwing them to the ground and

I am the earth breaking open beneath your feet, pulling the ground out from under you and

I am the flood that overwhelms everything in its path, drowning and crushing all living things, swallowing it all, and

I am the conquering fire of the sun and all suns, the ultimate fire that ignites suns and powers the generation of all universes,

the infinite power and glory that powers and glorifies your mind now as you consider everything you hear me say, everything being said, by this voice from the Deep,

and everything I am writing now as it comes to me out of the words I form on the paper.


03 17 2022

the wages of war


A prophet tells of a Tree that is watered by the Deep, that reaches into the clouds, and shades all nations, and is cut down, and lies dead on the ground among all the other fallen trees.


The prophet said that God will destroy a nation and turn its survivors into refugees so they will know God is the Lord.

The Day of the Lord isn’t something to look forward to.

The Day of the Lord isn’t Christmas.


Are wars the chaotic acts of wrathful deities who lure some of us to kill and die and be damned to Hell?

Are wars wrathful gods generated by our own brains, by the corrupted software of our conceptual apparatus?

Are we led by holograms to waste our lives in another stupid game, gambling everything we have, and everything we don’t have but can borrow, until our debts, our karmic debt, is out of control and we are whacked and dumped in a river?


I don’t want to study war. I want to sit in my cell, in ragged denim, among book heaps, and meditate and pray until I can wake up and see things as they really are.


I believe with all my nervous system that there is always an alternative to war, even if I don’t know precisely what it is at the moment, and even though I don’t know how to stop people from loving war.


The horror of 9/11 was the easy manipulation or our terror, turning our terror into terrorism creating horrors elsewhere, because we didn’t know what else to do, because war is what we do.


I go to protests, I sign the petitions, I wear the peace symbols, and I am not alone. We know the universal truth that war is evil, but the biggest anti-war demonstrations ever, and the biggest international popular protest ever couldn’t stop the war in Iraq. Who could stop Bush? Who could stop Putin? Whose bombs could stop the horror without creating equal horror, trying to exchange horror for horror but only multiplying horror and amplifying terror?


How will we open enough minds to the possibility of peace and how do we open enough hearts to want to achieve it?

How do we intervene in the mental health crisis and spiritual warfare of war?


War is a bad habit.

War is a narcotic.

War is unnecessary.

War is debt we are unable to pay, coming due.

The wages of war is war.

War is the wrathful god we create with our brains.

War is how we drive ourselves crazy.

War is a mass mental health crisis.

War is the idol to whom we sacrifice children.

War is the pride of men broken in the dust again and again and again.



To Earendel 03 31 2022



Once upon a time, around thirteen billion years ago, about nine hundred million years after the Big Bang, there was a blue star, a luminous blue star, whose existence was recently detected by our instruments, and whose existence is no more, because a few million years later, the story goes, it probably exploded to bits. Maybe our instruments, or somebody’s instruments, will witness that spectacle, a few million years from now.


Life up to now has been a wilderness journey and we have survived many battles. We destroyed cities and killed everyone who got in our way. God was with us. It was God’s plan. God was with us because we don’t worship false gods. Well, not any more. Maybe we used to, but we quit. We now have the correct information and the powerful technical know-how and the weapons and armies to burn a way straight through the wilderness to get here and here we are.


I dreamed I got a glimpse of you as you were years before we met and we were in different cities. Someone told me I had an opportunity to meet you by going back in time. I saw you and then I didn’t see you and you were a college student, a very pretty brunette. You were in a house where you were hosting a poetry reading, or some other kind of reading. There were many people in the different rooms I walked through, looking for you, and I didn’t find you.

I get up in the dark and stumble into another room to the coffeemaker. I remind myself of Edvard Munch’s night wanderer. I’ve become more sensitive to cold and dread the winter and am in a stage of life no one looks forward to.

The wind pushes against the windows. Gusts of wind leap at the windows. The heat is still not on.

I sit still and breathe and bring the wind inside my chest so all the processes and chemical transformations my body does normally will continue, the systems will continue and the wind and the blood and the food and the electricity will flow and all of that which is stored that I call memory and emotion, including the melancholy I’ve carried since infancy ————

I’m not going anywhere with this — this dark afternoon waiting for storms.

The rumbling of the city’s machines and wheels’ white noise like surf, the world throbs as it watches me, eyeballs me in my sixth floor terrarium. Through my big window the world watches me and in the ether it considers me. 

All my information is on the internet where it attracts no one’s attention — and in my mind countless facts of my life are presented to me and forgotten or remembered  — heaps of information that come and go and blow away like beach sand in a storm that finally comes, with flashing electricity and the roar of cherubim and wheels within wheels and up above something like a dome over all of this, and something like a voice pulls me to my feet.



Preface to the interview 04 28 2022


Take a deep breath, hold, release.

Holy breath and ultimate reality search my thoughts and open my heart.

Examine my aggregates (whatever those are), the countless parts that make up the whole that has my name — my fingerprints, my DNA, my medical history and driving record, my life signs, every memory I can generate, every answer I could give in an exhaustive questionnaire on the events and facts of my life and life history, the story I tell others about my life, and the story I tell myself about my life.


Let’s say that everything I just listed, comprising components of my self, is tossed into a dusty and battered cardboard box labelled SELF — all caps written in Sharpie —and containing the Self of Lawrence Swan, the totality of objective and subjective facts of who I am and how I can be identified.


That box of stuff is ME.


But that is not all. There is stuff not in the box, stuff on the floor, stacked or piled or scattered on the floor, stuff that used to be in the box and no longer is, stuff that should be in the box and stuff that shouldn’t. The contents of the box change over time, but the box remains — I mean the idea of the box remains — even when it has been emptied, crushed, and recycled.


There are stories I tell others about Lawrence Swan, and stories I only tell my self. I try to keep all these stories in agreement. I try to manage script continuity, but even though I commit to being truthful when stating the facts of my life I might not be aware of what facts are relevant, or interesting, or just noise. And then there are secrets I won’t tell and also the other things I prefer to keep to myself.


The facts of my life go beyond the limits of birth and death. For instance, there is the history of my DNA, the molecular history of myself, and the atomic and subatomic history of the universe. There also is the genealogy, the family stories that explain a box of photographs.


Where is this proverbial box that has my name stowed? Is the totality of data stored anywhere? —  nowhere lasts forever. Maybe the birth certificate and death certificate will remain on some electronic file to document the temporal limits of a self. Data is found and lost, put to use and erased or deteriorates. But when I no longer am, the fact that I was will remain, at least hypothetically. 


There is a bigger story that is the ultimate context of our stories — the process of evolution and creation — the selection process that involves much randomness driving the transformations of form to form, forming what humans call “human.” One’s life is a moment in an ongoing universe of moments, an ocean of being beyond your understanding, but you have stories told by professional and amateur cosmologists, evolutionary biologists, anthropologists, and the older members of your family. You have the cultural heritage of the world, the languages of the world, the stories of the world, the wisdom literature, the surviving record carved in stone, drawn on walls, painted on pottery, stored on hard drives. You have the cultural heritage — the totality of extra-genetic information that we draw on and presuppose when I tell you my story and I listen to your story, the words themselves have stories and my vocalization is made possible by the millions of years of evolution that adapted the human eating apparatus into a speaking apparatus that enables me to shape the air into phonemes I expel into the world.


What is it you want to know?