all, prose & poetry

Past the pieces

He was a blur of faces, shapes and identities, familiar and half forgotten. His hair, dirty blonde and long, like the shy drummer she met online years ago, whose friendship she lost when they tried to become something more. His eyes and nose like the older all-american boy she knew in college, who flushed his drugs down the dorm drain one day and found Jesus in Connecticut.

His way with words and music, driven but scattered, like the teacher she had an affair with, who threw himself into every creative pursuit, as if desperately trying to draw or compose or write or fuck something out of his soul, always failing to connect that art to other people.

The way he glided out of conversations and spaces, so solid and present one moment, then gone the next, like an old roommate she had a short-lived crush on, who left a tangible, painful void when he disappeared, suddenly feeling so necessary, as though gravity itself no longer worked without his presence.

His voice, calm and thoughtful, with a touch of amusement, a bit like her former boss whom she had always aspired to sound like, and saw through the facade it was for a deeper storm of playfulness and fire within.

She thought about the endless permutations of people crossing each others’ paths, their layers of familiarity and strangeness intersecting to connect for one brief moment or a lifetime. She’d met him before, or pieces of him, liking and loving and hating them, losing them, only to come across them again on another body, in another space and another time. Their kinship happened before and would happen again.

She didn’t know what the universe wanted, throwing her past back at her in this human shape of roads taken and lessons not learned. She tried to see past the pieces she knew but never fully understood, into this abstract of a man, a stranger with a life lived and his own stories to tell of women who came and went, leaving traces of themselves in everyone he would encounter since. But the pieces of others wouldn’t part, his soul hidden safely beneath and out of reach.

“Good,” she thought. “Good.”

This was for the best. She wasn’t one to romanticize the past, painting over anger and regrets with sentimental lies and a varnish of what-ifs.

She closed her eyes and shook it off, all of it, the recognition and the memories he’d brought, the magnetism and the temptation to fall in. She centered on the now, this moment of music and fog and 2 A.M. beers and friends nearby. She let the melody take her over and danced, laughing and spinning. And when she opened her eyes again, there he was, dancing like no man she’d ever met before.



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No more oceans

Don’t cross oceans for people who wouldn’t step over a puddle for you.

— Ukrainian proverb

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Obscure Sorrows

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by graphic designer and editor John Koenig.

“Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language — to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for,” Koenig writes.

He has coined dozens of words since he founded the site in 2009, pinpointing and defining emotions many people have felt but haven’t been able to communicate.

“Each word actually means something etymologically, having been built from one of a dozen languages or renovated jargon.”

Find more words at The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. The Dictionary is also on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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Intentional, future-facing beings

The word Dasein refers to the work of German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who argued that human existence is not a detached, speculative phenomenon but rather a grounded experience wrapped up in interactions with the environment.

Dasein literally translated means “here/there-being,” or more commonly, “being-there” or “being-in-the-world.” It emphasizes that Being is intimately connected to its context, and the idea that we cannot conceive of Being as a detached form of existence. 

We are not entities simply floating around in space; we are intentional, future-facing beings whose action is mediated by the objects that surround us. Thus, we cannot think about our existence as divorced from experience.

— Thomas Wendt, Design for Dasein 

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All the time

“Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?” 

           ― John UpdikeSelf-Consciousness

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Not for us 

Writing and deleting. Minimizing and re-opening programs. None of this is worth it. Neither you nor I. Just a spec of dust on a spec of dust on a spec of dust on the great open plains of the universe.

3,000 years from now, when the nuclear-enhanced cockroaches evolve into a highly civilized society, some rogue team of nuclear-enhanced roach archeologists is going to dig out a couple of badly erroded database servers labelled “WordPress” from one of the great ancient pre-nuclear-cockroach-era craters. They’ll spend some 20 years more figuring out how to decode the binary code into ancient English and that into Modern Nuclear-Enhanced Cockroachese. And then they’re going to collectively wonder what on earth we were thinking, recording utter drivel on those silly primitive discs. Especially on April 17th, 2015 of the pre-nuclear-cockroach-era, when our efforts could have been much better spent offline, preventing the inevitable extermination of the species and overall-type apocalypse. And then they’re going to have a good, hard, nuclear-enhanced laugh, and thank us for that nuclear part of the deal.

Just remember who you’re writing this for. It isn’t for us.

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This is how it is

The particles of bright crystals of sound permeate your body and mind from all directions. As a mass of long notes takes shape, there is a vigorous middle note, you can’t catch the melody but can perceive the richness of sounds. It links up with another mass of sounds, intermingles, unfolds, turns into a river which disappears and appears, appears and disappears.

A dark blue sun circles within an even darker moon, you hold your breath enraptured, stop breathing, reach the extremity of life. But the force of the pulsating sounds becomes stronger and stronger, lifts you up, pushes you towards a high tide, a high tide of pure spirituality.

Before your eyes, in your heart, in your body oblivious to time and space, in the continual surge of sustained noise, of reflected images in the dark sun within the dark moon, is a blast exploding exploding exploding exploding explo- explo- explo- explo- -ding -ding -ding -ding then again absolute silence. You fall into an even deeper darkness and again feel your heart pulsating, discern physical pain. The fear of death of the living body is concrete like this, the physical body you failed to abandon recovers its sensitivity…

…In the snow outside my window I see a small green frog, one eye blinking and the other wide open, unmoving, looking at me. I know this is God.

He appears just like this before me and watches to see if I will understand.

He is talking to me with his eyes by opening and closing them. When God talks to humans he doesn’t want humans to hear his voice.

And I don’t think it at all strange, it is as if it should be like this. It is as if God in fact is a frog. The intelligent round eye doesn’t so much as blink once. It is really kind that he should deign to gaze upon this wretched human being, me. His other eye opens and closes as it speaks in a language incomprehensible to humans. Whether I understand or not is not God’s concern.

There are no miracles. God is saying this, saying this to this insatiable human being, me.

Then what else is there to seek? I ask of him.

All around is silence, snow is falling soundlessly. I am surprised by this tranquility. In Heaven it is peaceful like this. And there is no joy. Joy is a side of anxiety.

Snow is falling.

I don’t know where I am at this moment, I don’t know where this realm of Heaven comes from, I look all around.

I don’t know that I don’t understand anything and still think I know everything.

Things just happen behind me and there is always a mysterious eye, so it is best for me just to pretend that I understand even if I don’t. While pretending to understand, I still don’t understand. The fact of the matter is I comprehend nothing, I understand nothing.

This is how it is.

—  Gao Xingjian, Soul Mountain

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