Tuning Peg

I always see someone I think I know
But it turns into a different face.
Tell me –
Who did I see?
Did the face really turn
Casting uncertain quantum waves
Like a soggy blanket over my feelings
On a cold night, rain-swept and infinitesimal?

If I see you in so many faces,
Can’t you learn to see me too –
Anguished and searching all those eyes
For a semblance of someone I used to know?
Memory is not even a feeling
But a memory of a state of feeling,
An aborted daughter in the womb of childhood pain
Cut from limb to limb
But somehow still living.

Which face goes where?
Who places them like guitar strings
In their proper slot in a floating bridge?
O Floating World, over-full
Tune me tightly, like a lover
Until I snap from rage
Then turn again
And let your face be the one that I place there
Threading you through a bridge
Gently pulling you up and down
Smoothing out you’re trembling,
Wrapped in soggy night terrors,
Lost to the turning of eyes.

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Self Love

What does it mean to love myself? I’ve noticed that there seem to be two different forms of human love, in broad terms. Erotic love is the first, and it means possessive love. This includes but is not limited to sexual love; any form of love that is rooted in desire for possession of an object of love can be grouped under the heading of Eros. More forms of love than we might like to admit can be found in this category. The second form of love is what I think of as charitable love; a love rooted in giving. It’s the opposite of erotic love, in a sense. Charity is divine love. (But isn’t Eros also a form of divine love? A tangent for another time…)
What I’ve noticed is that, when it comes to self-love, possessive love always fails. “Self-Eros” is emotional masturbation, the desire for the self. Self-Eros is ultimately self-hatred. To love myself does not mean to possess myself as an object of desire. The unencumbered ego goes the same way as the unencumbered libido. It follows that I cannot form my own identity because I cannot possess myself as an object of my own love. But this is just what I constantly try to do. Individualism is an attempt to possess the self. But the innermost self, the spiritual self, is distinct from consciousness and can’t be possessed by the intellect. The conscious self can think about the spiritual self, but only the spirit can “know” in the sense of gnosis; the knowledge of participation, of the consummation of the spiritual, mental and physical. Possessive self-love emanates from the intellect, from self-consciousness, but it always leads to self-hatred, because the beloved is never possessed; the true self remains elusive to the intellect. Real self-love, then, is not possessive, but on the contrary, to love oneself can only mean to totally let go of oneself.
Self-love is self-charity. It means giving to myself in the way that I give to others. Extending forgiveness to myself in the way I extend it to others. Seeing past the mistake of a moment to see the arc of my history, as I do when I think about the reasons that I love someone else. Possessive self-love fixates on my moment-by-moment existence and relentlessly tries to form my identity by the decisions of each moment, but charitable self-love pulls away until my conscious self can see all the moments that make up my life. Charitable self-love doesn’t demand that I define my own identity. It simply sees me for who I am: the sum of every moment of my life, an empty vessel filling up with experiences, a physical body with a brain, which possesses consciousness, which is aware of my spirit. Charitable self-love emanates from the spirit. It exists before thought, before self-consciousness. This is why we have it as children, but lose it in adulthood. The task of loving myself is the task of relearning the love of the spirit.
Loving myself rightly is crucial because it’s impossible to love others if I don’t love myself. But charitable love originates from God; it’s the divine, the original love. It emanates first from him, and when I accept it into my spirit, I learn to love myself first, and then I learn to love others. Charitable love means loving intrinsically, before thought, without thinking. This means that not only is God’s love unconditional, but it I’m free to love myself unconditionally too. Loving others unconditionally should flow freely from this way of living. God, teach me to love like that.

Untitled

If all your structures break beneath you
Do you let them fall
For the sake of truth
Or do you still believe them all?

Do you rise from the rubble and rebuild
Frame by frame
For the sake of truth
Or do you lay down at night the same?

And who can judge, if you choose to build or rest?
On which side of your thinking
Does reality really lie?
In that night, does your conscious testify or lie?

Something Like a Manifesto, Age 24

The more silent the poet
the more poetry he speaks
and the more he speaks
the more he feels the need to speak
and can’t help but say more
and say more of the same things
in different ways, saying
“Do you hear? Am I understood?
I’ve said it well
but I’m a slave to saying it again.”
All critics who call this poet dilettante
fear what needs to be said most
and instead say what fear heeds least.
“Do you hear? Am I understood?
I’ve said it once,
I’m afraid of not saying it again.”
He fears the loss of words –
poets only fear the loss of passion,
and where words end, passion blooms.
There the poet’s fear falters
but the critic, wide eyed,
falls into the gaping mouth of poetry.

All poets are critics.
No word can withstand scrutiny
when juxtaposed against another
and only those words that say
the thing that most needs said
are said beneath po’s condescending glare.
Poetry is criticism actualized.
The actual is poetry.
Poetry is critical.

The scientist writes with a scalpel.
Precision magnifies the illusion of infinity
until the stars befriend quarks
and questions pass away
in the face of knowing.
“Do you hear? Am I understood?
I’ve said it once
and I’ll never say it again.”
The layman who calls the scientist pedant
fears the true nature of reality
and realizes only nature’s fear.
Many scientists are laymen.
The true scientist fears nothing.
Where nothingness ends, reality resumes,
the scientist is fully known
but the layman falls prey to science.

***

In this fight between doubt and faith,
in the small hours between giving up
and giving again, convinced of mere selfishness,
belief retains a hairline split –
irreconcilable isolation
adrift in laughing bitter digress,
a split between the fixed point
and the endless sea,
between the single word and the iliad
and the poet finally finds
he believes only what chills his spine,
while the scientist admits
to trusting only
in the poet’s post-mortem spine under scalpel
and both come to find
that neither possessed a spine all along
and only the critic and the layman,
the least of these
not many wise, not many nobly born,
not influential, but called,
these possess the spines
that cause the whole of humankind to walk,
to speak and not to speak,
and the poet’s tongue is finally stilled,
and the scientist finally free to dream.

Is This a Question?

Sometimes artists have to ask the question “why should I create?” And a lot of times, there is no reason. Then the question becomes “Why can’t I create?” or “Why do I hate what I’m creating?” There is some neurotic impulse to create that is not always legitimate or praiseworthy; by way of example, I rushed to open a new document to begin writing this down as it came to mind, partially because I thought it was worth writing, and partially because I was desperate to have something to say. Why am I desperate to have something to say? Because I’ve been struggling to find meaning in my thoughts, and I’m afraid of inextricable confusion and lack of inspiration. That’s to say nothing of the depression so many artists and thinkers experience on a regular basis, of which I’m very familiar. Actually, it’s to say quite a bit about that. Now I’m going to say quite a bit about other things.

Confusion comes from the build-up of ideas and mental notes that get no outlet. If any artists are like me, they know there’s a constant sifting process going on mentally that’s looking for information about important topics. Because it’s not a logical process (step 1, step 2, step 3), it becomes overwhelming, although if you’ve been doing it your whole life, your brain is probably fairly fit to perform these random tasks. Expressing thoughts is an athletic discipline that needs regular devotion, and too often I don’t submit myself to the process. How does a person write? I don’t mean how do you use a pen, I mean how does a person synthesize thought patterns into language that other people can interface with? My thoughts are so often incomplete sentences, or even worse, not even words or recognizable language, but only emotions, triggered memories and “gut instincts”. Then when I read back my writing to myself (subtling moving my lips, which I’m ashamed of, as it’s for some reason a stereotype about low intelligence; of course I’m also embarrassed that I’m ashamed about it) I often end up just enjoying the sensual feeling of the words in my mouth and don’t actually re-address the meaning behind the words. I do this when I read other people’s writing too. But even now, as I’m writing, sometimes quickly, sometimes haltingly, I feel that sense of release and catharsis that is so familiar, but that my own neurosis (or Satan) so often keeps me from welcoming in. Now as I read back over what I’ve written, I’m impressed by my own style, and now feel guilt about that. And it’s caused me to write the previous sentence in a less pleasing style.

So why do artists have these brains (the ones I just made example of with my own brain)? Do they really have different brains, or are these just typical brains? Does anyone really have any brains? Does anyone really have any balls? The answer to both is unequivocally yes (thankfully), but on a more serious note, how do we know that artists do think differently? I don’t have the discipline to become a psychologist or a sociologist, so how can I begin to understand what (if anything) makes me and my artistic peers different? Note that difference does not equate to any qualitative judgement. I’m merely trying to understand myself, and shed light on the process of trying to understand myself for the sake of other myself’s (not my other selves, but other people who consider themselves a “myself”).

Most of the data I reference in trying to figure this stuff out is experiential. I just know from all types of relationships I’ve had that there are people who are obviously very similar to me, and there are people who are not very similar to me, and there are people who seem like a completely different species than me (I mean this in the most endearing way possible). What complicates things is that I’ve known people involved in the arts, or who practice an artform, who seem nothing like myself. This presupposes that I’m an “artistic” type of person, which the MBTI Personality Type Indicator would attest to, but I need to be careful of not jumping to conclusions based on a test. (I’m talking about myself a lot here, but the idea is for you to project yourself unto what I’m writing, which I’m sure you’re doing). So, at any rate, I’ve known musicians who don’t seem very musical at all. What to make of them in this quest of understanding brains? What sorts of brains do they have? It seems a different sort of brains than my brains. Why do we both make music? Who’s better? Why am I so self-centered as to ask this question? Why does it matter who’s better? Is quality an illusion? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, than quality is definitely an illusion, but since quality is obviously not an illusion, do any beholders really have eyes? Sometimes the answer would seem to be “no”.

But since most of us have eyes (and those who do not tend to see better anyway), what do we do with them? They’re connected to our brains after all. It seems as if people of different personalities do behold beauty in a similar way; even if I don’t have similar artistic taste as my not-very-artistic musician friend, we both have an attraction to music, and it would seem that beauty has something to do with our attraction. This person is able to beautifully play things the “right” way. He understands how to create out of what’s there. My constant struggle is to create out of what’s not there; to create spontaneously. Is there a clue here? Some brains seem designed for connecting random things into something coherent, and these people tend to create the trends (or to pour their draughts into the rivers of trend) that become the “what’s there” that other people re-create. In simpler terms, there are creators and there are replicators, and again, I am not speaking at all of quality here; there are no logical (ha!) grounds for differentiating qualitatively between different personality types or skill sets. Sadly though, it seems like everyone wants to be a creator and not a replicator, and the internet age has given everyone the tools to do this. Is this good, or is everyone just chasing dreams that aren’t theirs? How do I know it’s my dream? How could I be so audacious as to assume it is? At least I’m not alone in thinking so…

I originally asked the question “why should I create?” I asked it because I really wanted to know, and I was feeling discouraged about something I was trying to create. Isn’t this the classic moment creators always experience? How often does it happen? All the time. Are there any clues here about the answer? Yes. I should create because I’m a questioner. I didn’t even mean to use all of the question marks that I did in this essay. It seems that I’ve worked out the answer to my question by becoming conscious of how many questions I constantly ask. Maybe this is who creators are. Why should I create? Because I asked the question.

Subobjectives

Subjective truth and objective truth coexist. Subjective truth exists within linear time and objective truth exists without linear time. The objectivity of the statement “subjective truth and objective truth coexist” does not disprove it, and likewise the objectivity of the statement “subjective truth exists” does not disprove it. Finally, the objectivity of the statement “objective truth exists” does not prove its existence.

The proof that subjective truth exists is that I say it does. Nothing else is required for its existence. Subjectivity is creativity; thought makes a something from a nothing. I think “subjective truth” and it exists in my mind. You think, “subjective truth does not exist”, and therefore it doesn’t. It’s subjective. Today it exists and tomorrow it doesn’t. Today I like fish, and tomorrow I don’t because the fishy flavor is suddenly too strong for my palate. Today I love her, and tomorrow I ignore her. Subjectivity equals change or flux; I myself am subjective, and you may claim that you aren’t, but by that you only prove that mankind is subject to variation. Actually, you didn’t prove this; I did by setting up this badly constructed, subjective argument. And therefore, subjectivity. Some weirdly solipsistic person might argue that linear time can’t be proved to exist, but this is a needless argument because I say time exists, and I say it exists subjectively. And therefore, subjectivity. You then argue that my statements about subjectivity are objective, but this is fruitless because tomorrow I may take all these assertions back. My argument is not strong, but it doesn’t matter. In any case, philosophy through the ages has waffled back and forth about this. And therefore, subjectivity. All of history, all of my life, all of yesterday, all of this minute, time exists subjectively. And therefore, subjectivity.

Emotions are subject to change and variation too. Age breeds resentment and cynicism. The willful inhaling of memories strains to undo the hoary growth of tumors, the seeds of which were planted by all kinds of abuse. Prideful Eros champions ecstasy yesterday, and today she wears only the shame of the bed covers, and yet “shame is pride’s cloak”, according to Blake. Self-hate is really self-love, but twisted; self-Eros instead of self-charity. Self-Eros gives birth to the most sublime and subversive artworks, but they are bastard. Yet only the pit of human depravity can make a true, subjective artwork that gropes desperately for the objective. This is because the true artwork itself is trapped in self-Eros, but it longs for self-charity, as man does. It can never begin as self-charity, because then it only condescends. “Blessed are those who thirst and hunger after righteousness.”

Notice the time-specific language we can’t avoid writing in to describe subjective experience.

Objectivity can only come in the form of a revelation from God. Kierkegaard talks about this, although not exactly in those terms. I can’t prove objectivity except by directing the reader towards God. Do not underestimate the importance of this, or dismiss it for any number of the reasons modern thought may dismiss it. Examine what you must examine.

Because we’re bound by linear time, the idea of a God unbound by anything isn’t comprehensible to us. And yet we get glimpses. I don’t remember being born, and I can’t comprehend the idea of being dead. This is all within my linear experience, but only the events on the timeline of life are what we experience as linear. The start and finish are unknown, and so we get a glimpse of infinity, of timelessness, of objectivity. We glimpse it in the fact that we can’t glimpse anything in particular. My experience of time is a one-dimensional line; the terminations of the line (birth/death) are non-existent in my experience of it. In theory the terminations exist, which would prove that I’m mortal, but I can’t comprehend their existence experientially, and so somehow, in a weird way, I can’t comprehend my mortality just as much as I can’t comprehend my immortality.

The only other proof of objectivity is in disciplines other than philosophy or religion. Math suggests objectivity more strongly than any other discipline. The controversy occurs when we try to apply these rules to metaphysical questions. Ironically, then, objectivity does exist outside of religion, but objectivity can only exist in philosophy through divine revelation. Using the objectivity of math and science to try to prove metaphysical questions is like trying to cook a frying pan on an egg. The egg will cook, but no thanks to the frying pan; it will cook and probably disintegrate because it’s pinned between the pan and the burner. Math and science exist within the universe, but to try to explain metaphysical questions with them is as absurd as this bad cooking analogy. Math and science is the framework upon which all our experience and the entire physical universe and all of linear time are built, but they don’t answer the question of why. Phenomenology is by nature a defeat because it digresses to simply observe; it’s inherently cowardly. The objectivity of math and science may be a glimpse into the divine objectivity, but they can never disprove it, as if some sort of evolutionary incumbent. True objectivity only comes from divine revelation, and the proof of this is only in the revelation itself. This, contrastingly, takes courage to accept.

But why bring such fickle, subjective emotions as courage and cowardice into this discussion? Because my understanding of all of this occurs in subjective, linear time, and so I must use all of my faculties: my reason, my emotion, my sense, my intuition. This is why, when we consider these questions, we need to consider divine revelation, because only divine revelation marries all human faculty into coherence. All other explanations for truth, be it objective or subjective, err on any and all sides of human faculty. The revelation of scripture marries them all, because it’s a revelation from God, who isn’t bound by all these human faculties; he supersedes them.

Subjective truth and objective truth coexist. Subjective truth exists within linear time and objective truth exists without linear time.