And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus

Thursday, April 30, 2015

What do I Get for Winning the Race of Life?

The task of philosophy is to explain the presence to consciousness of “representations accompanied by a feeling of necessity.” It can attempt to do this either by grounding experience upon a thing in itself as the cause of the determinations of the I, or by explaining experience as a product of the self-constitutive activity of the finite I. These are, respectively, the strategies of “dogmatism” and “idealism,” which are, for Fichte, the only two possible systems of philosophy. Though Fichte appears to argue that neither idealism nor dogmatism can directly refute the other and thus that the “choice” between them is either radically free or else determined by one's practical interests and self-conception, he nevertheless offers a number of arguments designed to “refute” dogmatism by demonstrating that it can never successfully “explain” ordinary experience. At the same time, he also tried to explain why the dogmatist remains incapable of recognizing the force of such arguments and what this implies concerning the idealist's obligation to educate and to cultivate others.
- Daniel Breazeale, "Idealism vs. Dogmatism"

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

O, Baltimore

Giggles are getting stomped out.
Stern boots to the sternum of a chest filled with snickering
Smirks are suffocating
Cuz like fire, smiles need the oxygen of laughter to remain alive
But practical jokes lead to choke holds
So the infernos ablaze in youthful souls are flickering
Memories of pebble stone rocks and chalk lined hopscotch are stained with chalk outlined bodies and emptied glocks
Skittles and ice tea become devastating recollections
When lives are ended during adolescence
Mama’s tears never dry
Creating cracks cross her cheeks that crush her smile weakened by a trial that looks bleak
The essence of juvenescence is out of breath
Asphyxiated by the need to suppress Black happiness
Forever waiting to exhale in hopes that no one will catch them slippin’
Children, Submerged in societal troubled waters drippin’
Babies in muddy puddles drowning
Literally breathless
As mothers reminisce on nostalgic moments
Can you imagine
The last day you’ll ever see your child?
The last time cheeks kisses will dial the number to your heart
Cackling echoes still snug in the crevices of wall parts
The smell of joy still lining your neck from your last hug
A Last minute “I love you” entangled in footsteps out the door just because…
She showed her teeth a lot more then
Now perched lips match the lines on her forehead
I wonder how many times she contemplated
If only she had taught him to play less
To put boyhood aside and focus on staying a live as best you can
Cuz they play no games with skin containing too much melanin
Rocks against a brick edifice
Lead to a boulder of anger
Rolling over a young boys path
An off duty officer, mad at the neighborhood boys for disrespecting his house
He ran out wearing him humanity doused in ego or his sleeve
He know he got’s to teach these young boys a lesson so they’d leave his block be
Doesn’t sound like he was following police protocol to me
No cuff, no siren, no blue, no Miranda rights read, no idea cops be chasing you
Just plain old pursuit
So Chris run and hid like non-aggressive young boys do
Now Chris dead and officer protected by the badge
That was never displayed for view
Him grabbed Chris up in a sleeper hold till he turned blue
Till he Snatched the sunshine and starlets out his eyes
A smile, smothered by a stone cold grip
Till his lips were life less
Unable to muster nothing more
He remains a tombstone script
I wonder if the office took the time to meet his residents would this have happened
Chris only lived a few block away
But cops are trained to subdue and diffuse
Never to enliven or rekindle
The goal is to keep our communities dead
So his lungs he never breathed into…
Cuz when you put a black child in the hands of those blue suits sworn to serve and protect
They’ll strangle a smile into a hollow shell…
- Brion Gill, "How to Strangle a Smile" (2013)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nothing but Flame

I watch this flame pass
from match to wick,
gently stepping over
a great divide.
This flame and I
are not so different:
it comes into being from nothingness;
it eats and grows, smokes, and rests.
It gets angry,
destroys homes,
consumes flesh.
Sated, it becomes calm,
retreats into coals,
smoldering through the night.
by a piece of string,
it makes its home in a cave of wax.
It chases the shadows away
and stands watch through the night.
It sways
and dances in the darkness
before it is extinguished
in the blink
of an eye.
Karah J., "Flame"

Friday, April 24, 2015

On Sublimity

In using the couple Beauty/Sublimity Hegel relies, of course, on Kant's 'Critique of Judgement', where Beauty and Sublimity are opposed along the semantic axis quality-quantity, shaped-shapeless, bounded-boundless: Beauty calms and comforts; Sublimity excites and agitates. 'Beauty' is the sentiment provoked when the supersensible Idea appears in the material, sensuous medium, in its harmonious formation - a sentiment of immediate harmony between Idea and the sensuous material of its expression; while the sentiment of Sublimity is attached to chaotic, terrifying limitless phenomena (rough sea, rocky mountains).

Above all, however, Beauty and Sublimity are opposed along the axis pleasure-displeasure: a view of Beauty offers us pleasure, while 'the object is received as sublime with a pleasure that is only possible through the moderation of displeasure'. In short, the Sublime is 'beyond the pleasure principle', it is a paradoxical pleasure procured by displeasure itself (the exact definition - one of the Lacanian definitions - of enjoyment [jouissance]). This means at the same time that the relation of Beauty to Sublimity coincides with the relation of immediacy to mediation - further proof that the Sublime must follow Beauty as a form of mediation of its immediacy. On closer examination, in what does this mediation proper to the Sublime consist? Let us quote the Kantian definition of the Sublime:
The Sublime may be described in this way: It is an object (of nature) the representation [Vorstellung] of which determines the mind to regard the elevation of nature beyond our reach as equivalent to a presentation [Darstellung] of Ideas
It is a definition which, so to speak, anticipates Lacan's determination of the sublime object in his seminar "The Ethics of Psychoanalysis" 'an object raised to the level of the (impossible-real) Thing'. That is to say, with Kant the Sublime designates the relation of an inner-worldly, empirical, sensuous object to Ding an sich to the transcendent, trans-phenomenal, unattainable Thing-in-itself. The paradox of the Sublime is as follows: in principle, the gap separating phenomenal, empirical objects of experience from the Thing-in-itself is unsurmountable - that is, no empirical object, no representation [Vorstellung] of it can adequately present [darstellen] the Thing (the suprasensible Idea); but the Sublime is an object in which we can experience this very impossibility, this permanent failure of the representation to reach after the Thing. Thus, by means of the very failure of representation, we can have a presentiment of the true dimension of the Thing. This is also why an object evoking in us the feeling of Sublimity gives us simultaneous pleasure and displeasure: it gives us displeasure because of the inadequancy to the Thing-Idea, but precisely through this inadequacy it gives us pleasure by indicating the true, incomperable greatness of the Thing, surpassing every possible phenomenal, empirical experience:
The feeling of the Sublime is, therefore, at once a feeling of displeasure, arising from the inadequacy of imagination in the aesthetic estimation of magnitude to attain to its estimation by reason, and a simultaneous awakened pleasure, arising from this very judgement of the inadequacy of the greatest faculty of sense being in accord with the ideas of reason, so far as the effort to attain to these is for us a law.
We can now see why it is precisely nature in its most chaotic, boundless, terrifying dimension which is best qualified to awaken in us the feeling of the Sublime: here, where the aesthetic imagination is strained to its utmost, where all finite determinations dissolve themselves, the failure appears at its purest
-Slavoj Zizek, "The Sublime Object of Ideology"

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Privatizing the Public Use of Reason

Back in 1843, the young Karl Marx claimed that the German ancien regime "only imagines that it believes in itself and demands that the world should imagine the same thing". In such a situation, to put shame on those in power becomes a weapon. Or, as Marx goes on: "The actual pressure must be made more pressing by adding to it consciousness of pressure, the shame must be made more shameful by publicising it."

This, exactly, is our situation today: we are facing the shameless cynicism of the representatives of the existing global order, who only imagine that they believe in their ideas of democracy, human rights etc. What happens in WikiLeaks disclosures is that the shame – theirs, and ours for tolerating such power over us – is made more shameful by publicising it. What we should be ashamed of is the worldwide process of the gradual narrowing of the space for what Kant called the "public use of reason".

In his classic text, What Is Enlightenment?, Kant contrasts "public" and "private" use of reason – "private" is for Kant the communal-institutional order in which we dwell (our state, our nation …), while "public" is the transnational universality of the exercise of one's reason: "The public use of one's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men. The private use of one's reason, on the other hand, may often be very narrowly restricted without particularly hindering the progress of enlightenment. By public use of one's reason I understand the use that a person makes of it as a scholar before the reading public. Private use I call that which one may make of it in a particular civil post or office which is entrusted to him."

We see where Kant parts with our liberal common sense: the domain of state is "private" constrained by particular interests, while individuals reflecting on general issues use reason in a "public" way. This Kantian distinction is especially pertinent with internet and other new media torn between their free "public use" and their growing "private" control. In our era of cloud computing, we no longer need strong individual computers: software and information are provided on demand; users can access web-based tools or applications through browsers.

This wonderful new world is, however, only one side of the story. Users are accessing programs and software files that are kept far away in climate-controlled rooms with thousands of computers – or, to quote a propaganda-text on cloud computing: "Details are abstracted from consumers, who no longer have need for expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure 'in the cloud' that supports them."

Here are two telltale words: abstraction and control. To manage a cloud there needs to be a monitoring system that controls its functioning, and this system is by definition hidden from users. The more the small item (smartphone) I hold in my hand is personalised, easy to use, "transparent" in its functioning, the more the entire setup has to rely on the work being done elsewhere, in a vast circuit of machines that co-ordinate the user's experience. The more our experience is non-alienated, spontaneous, transparent, the more it is regulated by the invisible network controlled by state agencies and large private companies that follow their secret agendas.
-Slavoj Zizek, "Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange: our new heroes"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Code Switching - Rethinking Evolution

H/T for Graphic - FreeThinke
How could movements of deterritorialization and processes of reterritorialization not be relative, always connected, caught up in one another? The orchid deterritorializes by forming an image, a tracing of a wasp; but the wasp reterritorializes on that image. The wasp is nevertheless deterritorialized, becoming a piece in the orchid's reproductive apparatus. But it reterritorializes the orchid by transporting its pollen. Wasp and orchid, as heterogeneous elements, form a rhizome. It could be said that the orchid imitates the wasp, reproducing the image in a signifying fashion (mimesis, mimicry, lure, etc.). But this is true only on the level of the strata -- a parallelism between two strata such that a plant organization on one imitates an animal organization on the other. At the same time, something else entirely is going on: not imitation at all but a capture of code, surplus value of code, an increase in valence, a veritable becoming, a becoming-wasp of the orchid and a becoming-orchid of the wasp. Each of these becomings brings about the deterritorialization of one term and the reterritorialization of the other; the two becomings interlink and form relays in a circulation of intensities pushing the deterritorialization ever further. There is neither imitation nor resemblance, only an exploding of two heterogeneous series on the line of flight composed by a common rhizome that can no longer be attributed to or subjugated by anything signifying. Remy Chauvin expresses it will: "the aparallel evolution of two beings that have absolutely nothing to do with each other." More generally, evolutionary schemas may be forced to abandon the old model of the tree and descent. Under certain conditions, a virus can connect to germ cells and transmit itself as the cellular gene of a complex species; moreover, it can take flight, move into the cells of an entirely different species, but not without bringing with it "genetic information" from the first host (for example, Benveniste and Todaro's current research on a type C virus, with its double connection to baboon DNA and the DNA of certain domestic cats). Evolutionary schemas would no longer follow models of arborescent descent going from the least to the most differentiated, but instead a rhizome operating immediately in the heterogeneous and jumping from one already differentiated line to another. Once again, there is aparallel evolution, of the baboon and the cat; it is obvious that they are not models or copies of the other (a becoming-baboon in the cat does not mean the cat "plays" baboon). We form a rhizome with our viruses, or rather our viruses cause us to form a rhizome with other animals. As François Jacob says, transfers of genetic material by viruses or through other procedures, fusions of cells originating in different species, have results analogous to those of "the abominable couplings dear to antiquity and the Middle Ages." Transversal communications between different lines scramble the genealogical trees. Always look for the molecular, or even submolecular, particle with which we are allied. We evolve and die more from our polymorphous and rhizomatic flus than from hereditary diseases, or diseases that have their own line of descent. The rhizome is an anti-genealogy.
Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia" (1987)

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Law of the Jungle

Now this is the Law of the Jungle --
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back --
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip;
drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting,
and forget not the day is for sleep.

The Jackal may follow the Tiger,
but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter --
go forth and get food of thine own.

Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle --
the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent,
and mock not the Boar in his lair.

When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle,
and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken --
it may be fair words shall prevail.

When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack,
ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel,
and the Pack be diminished by war.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter,
not even the Council may come.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message,
and so he shall change it again.

If ye kill before midnight, be silent,
and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop,
and your brothers go empty away.

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates,
and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing,
and seven times never kill Man!

If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker,
devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest;
so leave him the head and the hide.

The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack.
Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair,
or he dies.

The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf.
He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission,
the Pack may not eat of that Kill.

Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling.
From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten;
and none may refuse him the same.

Lair-Right is the right of the Mother.
From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter,
and none may deny her the same.

Cave-Right is the right of the Father --
to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack;
he is judged by the Council alone.

Because of his age and his cunning,
because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open,
the word of your Head Wolf is Law.

Now these are the Laws of the Jungle,
and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law
and the haunch and the hump is -- Obey!
Rudyard Kipling, "The Jungle Book"

The Lacanian Object

Strikes A - the signifier of a lack in the Other

a - (see objet petit a)

Φ - the symbolic phallus [upper-case phi]

J - Jouissance

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Setting Out for Ithaka...

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean.
- Constantine P. Cavafy, "Ithaca"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tweet - Tweet!

Love is a rebellious bird
that nobody can tame,
and you call him quite in vain
if it suits him not to come.

Nothing helps, neither threat nor prayer.
One man talks well, the other's mum;
it's the other one that I prefer.
He's silent but I like his looks.

Love! Love! Love! Love!

Love is a gypsy's child,
it has never, ever, known a law;
love me not, then I love you;
if I love you, you'd best beware! etc.

The bird you thought you had caught
beat its wings and flew away ...
love stays away, you wait and wait;
when least expected, there it is!

All around you, swift, so swift,
it comes, it goes, and then returns ...
you think you hold it fast, it flees
you think you're free, it holds you fast.

Love! Love! Love! Love!

Love is a gypsy's child,
it has never, ever, known a law;
love me not, then I love you;
if I love you, you'd best beware!
- Bizet, "Habanera" (from the Opera, 'Carmen')

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Power of Shadows

And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

I see.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
- Plato, "Republic"

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Busker's Art

h/t - Finntan
I was one of the only few
Standing still
Listening to the busker
Watching him entertain
In his own world
He was on a stage
In the grandest stadium

It was as I listened
And looked around
At those walking past
Dropping some change off
Or like me
Standing and listening
I thought about being the busker
I thought about what
Is going through his mind
I thought about what
I would be thinking
If I was the busker

The pavement is soon to be crowded
As the lunch time office folk
Go for a walk
Some to get their lunch
Some to sneak an embrace
With that co-worker they stare at all day

I have a prime spot today
Plenty of shops around
Plenty of the right sorts of people
Those who after buying a new shirt
A gift or some shoes
May get rid of some of that cumbersome metal
By adding it to my collection

Though I seek the lighter form of currency
I can’t be picky
I will settle for what’s on offer

All sorts of people walk by
The labourers
Building new offices
The people who will sit in there
With their shirts and ties
Walk by
Women in their heels and fancy suits
Join them
Look at that girl with the pretty pink heels
And tight business suit
Oh to swap this unclean street
For the clean office
Just to see you swivel around in your chair
Beautiful legs and flowing hair

A couple go for lunch
A group go for lunch
At the Indian restaurant across the road
The couple
Go into the Thai place

Their wallets may leave a tip
For the waiters they see
My wallet is empty
Hoping they will ignore the waiter
And leave the tip for me

Not far down from where I play
I see a fellow on the footpath
Seen him a few times before
He paints Caravaggio and Raphael
Seems like his work is more appreciated
More people stop to take a look
More people stop to give change
Guess the eyes are more generous than the ears
For the eyes have money to give
The ears have nothing to spare

All these people walk by
Some give a sigh
Obviously I am not to their liking
Some give coins just cos I try

What a meaningless way to live
Trying hard
Trying to please
And people simply walk by
Not a care in the world
For what I do
James Dylan. "Busker Poem"

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why Women are Stripey

To find a poem that would live happily inside a bacterium—and would enable the professor to teach his microbial student to try its hand at a stanza that could be decoded—Bök combed through eight trillion ciphers and decided on this:

Any style of life / is prim

And the organism, which emits a red luminescence, always writes back:

The faery is rosy / of glow
- Christian Bok, "The Xenotext"

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Leaving Elysium

I - In my beginning is my end.
In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.

Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.

Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
In my beginning is my end.

Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat

In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.

Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde.

Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth

Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn.
Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons

The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts.

Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking.
Dung and death.
Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence.

Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides.
I am here
Or there, or elsewhere.
In my beginning.

II - What is the late November doing
With the disturbance of the spring
And creatures of the summer heat,
And snowdrops writhing under feet
And hollyhocks that aim too high
Red into grey and tumble down
Late roses filled with early snow?

Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the Sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly

Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.

That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory:
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings.

The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to,
Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity
And the wisdom of age?
Had they deceived us
Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?

The serenity only a deliberate hebetude,
The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets
Useless in the darkness into which they peered
Or from which they turned their eyes.

There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.

The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been.

We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.

In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
Risking enchantment.
Do not let me hear Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
The houses are all gone under the sea.
The dancers are all gone under the hill.

III - O dark dark dark.
They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,

And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God.

As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing façade are all being rolled away—

Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;

Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony Of death and birth.

You say I am repeating
Something I have said before.
I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again?

In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

IV - The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

V - So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure

Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.
And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate

With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion.

And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious.

But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying.
The rest is not our business.
Home is where one starts from.

As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living.

Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).

Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.
Thomas Stearns (TS) Eliot, "Four Quartets 2: East Coker"

Thursday, April 2, 2015


The bowl we wheeled, fired, and glazed
when broken, became the metaphor for us;
a shining heaviness on my lap,
unfit for water or fruit

fusing again, what rejoins
is no longer flawed, but deeper;
our story, refired to epic
by gold veins running through
a clay that melds with grace inside heat

that everyday us
becoming something precious
only after breaking.
- Susan L Daniels, "Kintsugi" (January 10, 2013)