Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oh, Solitude!

Transcribed from my personal journal, written late 6/24 into early 6/25:

"Oh, Solitude," as Keats once wrote. It's strange here, here in this void lacking of people, the cats my only companions. It is now, as I write, that I feel the strength and overbearing presence of the over-soul the Universal, like a silent guardian leaning over my shoulder with a candle, akin to a Romantic portrait, lighting the inner workings of my mind. It is in these moments that I feel my intellect reveal my age and maturity - as if I am that much closer now to unlocking the secrets of my life and of this world. A shame, that such solitude in the sunlight often renders me into a state of depression, though not always. Of course being a Leo, one would thing that I would be less "in my element" at night, but like Keats, I seem most apt to tap into my inner self and inner strength come the wee hours of early morning, in that transitory period where one still says "tonight," even though the morrow has already begun.

Strange, too, how I should call that place "where" as if it were an actual temporal location in space, as opposed to a mere state of time. Perhaps I'll ponder this.

Don DeLillo - White Noise

White Noise is the quintessential postmodern novel of the 1980's, as one of my old professors noted upon gifting me the book. God bless DeLillo for reawakening my passion in literary theory, to which I am very anxious to return in the fall. I am thrilled to be reading his novel, as it is a vast cornucopia of intellectual musings that delight the very fiber of my being. Consider the following conversation between the narrator and his friend, Murray, on the contemplation of a tourist attraction known as the most-photographed barn in America:

"No one sees the barn," he said finally.
A long silence followed.
"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."
He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced at once by others.
"We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies."
There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.
"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."
Another silence ensued.
"They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said.
He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.
"What was the barn like before it was photographed?" he said. "What did it look like, how was it different from other barns, how was it similar to other barns? We can't answer these questions because we've read the signs, seen the people snapping the pictures. We can't get outside the aura. We're part of the aura. We're here, we're now."
He seemed immensely pleased by this.

This passage might explain my skepticism at tourist attractions as being anything more than oversized kitsch for those uneager to experience the reality of different locations of the world. Traveling to India and refusing to spend a day in the poverty of the outer cities would be an example of the "religious experience" of tourism, worshipping at an altar of self-service and naivete. Note, also, the line "taking pictures of taking pictures." When we are told to hold some thing or some place in a higher regard, it does not take long before the "religious movement" of tourism (read, naivete) enhances this image and brands it upon that certain subject. I'm reminded of the concept of Utopia, and Louis Marin's book on Utopics comes to mind, and his essay on the map of Disneyland. If we are not told that Disneyland/World is the happiest place on earth, would it be? Would it's textual map read the same way?

We see what we are told to see. Shakespeare's Tempest also comes to mind, in regards to its presentation in traditional Elizabethean style. No one "sees" the island of the Tempest on the empty stage. As the audience, we are told what to see. An interesting concept, yes? This novel is full of such delights.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On Comets

In sleep I dreamt of you,
unsure of who you were or who we
could be, but moving towards you
more and more, as a comet travels
toward its sun forever curious
and drawn to such a vibrant body;
you are elusive, mysterious, and
I'm sitting here underneath the
curve of a clear sky knowing that
you share the ground I walk on,
and that somewhere hundreds of
miles away, your work and your day
and your soul are continuing,
and I hope very soon to hurl
myself through space to join
with you in all your brightness.

Written while in Denver, 6/12

Keats on Solitude

O Solitude! If I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings: climb with me the steep, -
Nature's observatory - whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river's crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
'Mongst boughs pavilion'd, where the deer's swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the foxglove bell.
But though I'll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refined,
Is my soul's pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

- John Keats

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Attempting to Capture Denver in Free Verse

No kickstand, I took Denver
by the handlebars, my gear
ratio lessening with each step
of my pedal; I poured my
blood into this city, and
drank with the gods of
beer and bicycles -
Anti-hipsters with their
cutoffs and indie music,
PBRs on the front porch with
vegan burritos, I was part
of this collective,
worshipping around the vibrant
center with so much family,
so many like-minded people.
I have family in Denver because
I shared my blood with this city
and traveled here with my
own sweat and muscle, hoping
to impress no one,
expecting to uplift myself.


I traveled through Denver with my bare hands
I gave it my muscle, my own sweat and blood
took me through those busy streets.
I was intimate with Denver. It took my moisture
and in return, I voraciously consumed it
and its people.

Denver ponderings

Written from my friend's apartment in Denver, 6/9

Every breath I take on the opposite side of the door through which I just walked causes me to ponder just how sheltered a life I had been leading. It's okay to see what is outside, to advocate it, to sponsor it, support it, verbalize it, write about it, but upon stepping outside, you realize you know almost nothing about it, or how to handle yourself inside it. I'm almost ashamed of myself for my fears and anxieties based on insecurities and ignorances I've coddled all of my life - but realizing that millions and millions of people in this world are still being coddled by the same narrow-mindedness that helped keep me inside the closet for over ten years makes me very angry. Paul Monette called these people his "brothers," and I don't know them. I don't even know them as friends. And yet, I still stand in trepidation, once more hesitant to act. Why?

Perhaps it is nothing over which to be ashamed. A close friend of mine told me to be aware of and to cherish each conflicting emotion, each hesitancy - every step I take should be carefully examined, and I should rejoice even in the conflicts I experience. Perhaps I need to know myself more. Perhaps that is what this summer is for. I still kick myself when I fall into the act of mere contemplation of life when I could be outdoors living with it. I don't understand why I still live my life with a blinding fear of taking risks. I was always scared of everything as a child. Of course, I can't always force myself, because it's okay not to be comfortable with some things, but where do I draw that line? How do I know what I can handle?

Denver is so beautiful in many ways. It is a vibrant city with life, with people. True, at this moment, "people" is the one thing I want to get away from, but I can't ignore the fact that a lot of beautiful people share this earth, and breathe the air. If only, if only I knew how to approach them.

On the Road

Written on the way to Denver, June 9th

On the road to Denver, stopping in western Kansas on I-70, I passed a giant farm of wind mills, and it was awesomely majestic. The flat land of Kansas was so vibrant and green, speckled with occasional yellow prairie flowers. The terrain began shifting and molding into gently rolling treeless hills, so inviting, and the sky! The vast, heavenly expanse of clear blue sky - the prairies hold a beauty so intrinsic to itself, from atop one of those hills I glimpse an amazing, universal panorama of the Kansas horizon, akin to a glimpse from space, or at least higher atmospheres.

It made me sad to be driving inside a car rather than running and frolicking among those sloping hills, leaving my cares locked safely inside this smoking mechanical beast carrying us quickly, too quickly, through some of God's most beautiful creation. Perhaps, if I sat atop on of those hills, and pondered in tranquil recollection, I could grasp the words of Keats as he wrote them atop his own hills, or wander with Wordsworth, lonely as a cloud. Ah, to be as free and vibrant as those hills. I hope the places to where I go prove as open and as green as these lands through which I now traverse.

Friday, June 6, 2008

How Every Moment is a Memoir:

upon reading Paul Monette's book, Becoming a Man

I remember first reading you at twelve,
Your letters sweet in my mouth, even when
I couldn't vocalize your name. My every thought
was for the literariness of what you would
become a decade from then, now a brushstroke
of my pen, countless nights of tears
comparable to endless drops of ink
as I write this. I cannot paint what
then I was
, wrote Wordsworth,
but then I can look back and see how
every letter of every name of every
man I ever loved had burned itself into
this journal, this paper, long before I
ever picked up my pen. How, as a child,
every searching moment was one more
stroke of ink to this moment, how painting
what I once was is not what I do now,
but what I've been doing, from the very first
moment I cried my sins to God to the
moment when I realized that God would
let me Live, and let me Love.
How I started spelling transcendence
before I learned I could truly speak.