Wednesday, October 10

On Being Difficult: Wind Through A Skull

Bone Dragon by Dan Kuzmenka

+ Why "Things" Are So Difficult For Me +

Mortals dwell in that they await the divinities as divinities. In hope they hold up to the divinities what is unhoped for. They wait for intimations of their coming and do not mistake the signs of their absence. They do not make their gods for themselves and do not worship idols. In the very depth of misfortune they wait for the weal that has been withdrawn.
- Heidegger

Who among us is not waiting for the weal that has been withdrawn?

+ Self-Usufruct +

Ontological Difficulties - Essential questions. The very existence, being, of the thing is in question here. Why was it created? Who is the audience? Why is there performance at all? I think of a spectrum from an autistic savant filling page after page with unreadable language to serial murderers 'decorating' their dungeons to Holy Men chanting mantras in isolated caves.

Because this type of difficulty implicates the functions of language and of the poem as a communicative performance, because it puts in question the existential suppositions that lie behind poetry as we have known it, I propose to call it ontological. Difficulties of this category cannot be looked up; they cannot be resolved by genuine readjustment or artifice of sensibility; they are not an intentional technique of retardation and creative uncertainty (though these may be their immediate effect). Ontological difficulties confront us with blank questions about the nature of human speech, about the status of significance, about the necessity and purpose of the construct which we have, with more or less rough and ready consensus, come to perceive as a poem.

- George Steiner

This is certainly the most interesting type of difficulty. Perhaps the most vital to my outwardly formed interpretation. To exploring a life lived and died as a poem of sorts. I realize now that the difficulties that I have had in coming to terms with the death of B. Jones are mostly of the ontological type. His life was/is like a poem to me. And I guess the crux of the difficulty is in that tense change marked by /. Because I don't/didn't want the poem to ever end.

+ I Dream of A Dragon in the Main Cardoid Bulb of the M-Set +

Are you familiar with the Mandelbrot set? It is the set of points that defines a fractal. All stemming from a beautifully elegant equation: Z ⇋ z² + c. There is a large heart shaped blackness that attracts one set of points and another smaller bulb which has another attracting cycle. Together they from a sort of Buddha-scarab, the edges of which generate an infinite number of fractals.

As you "zoom" into any one aspect of these fractals, new iterations are formed around new Buddha-scarabs, infinitely. Soon you forget the presence of the blackness as each new iteration of the fractal forms around it.

Lately, I am unable forget the blackness at the center.

I had a dream once about these fractals. Instead of the a Buddha-scarab, it was a Dragon. And the fractals burning off of its edges were language. As I fell deeper and deeper into the infinite fractal fires, I could sense the Dragon becoming aware of me. And a horror dawned over me that the Dragon was an Abyss.

Language was fractally burning off the edges of a Great Dragon of Nothingness. Every word, every meaningful set of sounds, was predicated upon Nothing. And I woke up covered in sweat, filled with a nameless fractaling fear.

Along these lines, I also once dreamed of words as small children chasing after a wagon of reality, most often never reaching it, but, every now and again, hopping up onto the bed of the wagon and riding for a little while. You imagine the most sublime poem. And each word of it is a laughing kid in the back of that wagon - which because of the weight is threatening to fall apart.

A few times in my life, moments that have defined my being, I have touched the back of that wagon.

What disturbed me so much in my dream of the Dragon and language was that my wagon of reality that underwrote language, that gave words their deepest ontological meaning, was No-Thing. Language had nothing underneath it, inside of it, around it. Smoke in a universe composed entirely of mirrors.

I have talked to you about the sound of particular words. How "glad" is such a Stepford Wife word to describe a state of being. How "happy" is such a goofy kangaroo word. But what happens when a word such as "hope" sounds like the wind through a skull, a last breath, a time-lapsed collapse of a bone into dust? What happens to someone who cannot speak in a future tense? When every word is a solitary being in the middle of a black ocean constantly terrified by the dual immanent threats of going under and the sharks of silence?

Of course, I am smiling at my tortured metaphors.

My difficulties seem to leave me little recourse. I fall back upon black irony and gallows humor. But it comes down upon me all too heavily. I kneel for hours before an Altar of the Abyss that allows no language, no prayer, no song, word, sound, cry, sigh, scream or death rattle. My mouth is filled with dust. And my entire being with the absence of what was once present. God has withdrawn from the world. And I feel it like a hammering upon my skull.

+ Absence in Presence +

It is not so much the poet who speaks, but language itself: die Sprache spricht. The authentic, immensely rare, poem is one in which 'the Being of language' finds unimpeded lodging, in which the poet is not a persona, a subjectivity 'ruling over language', but an 'openness to', a supreme listener to, the genius of speech. The result of such openness is not so much a text, but an 'act', an eventuation of Being and literal 'coming into Being'. [...]

We bear witness to its precarious possibility of existence in an 'open' space of collisions, of momentary fusions between word and referent. The operative metaphor may be that crucial to Mallarme's famous L'absente de tous bouquets, to the modem physicist's determination of 'the unperceived event' in the cloud-chamber, and to Heidegger's equivocation on the 'absence in presence' (the play on Ab- and Anwesen). ln each case the observable phenomenon - the text - is the inevitable betrayal, in both senses of the term, of an invisible logic.

- More Steiner

+ Two Very Short Uneasy Pieces Burning Inside My Skull +

The Transcendental Pretense of Feigenbaum Constants

Lying in the middle of her cosmic legs
Dive into a puddle of some scrambled eggs
Back in the bedroom
Melt in the full moon
Howl with the possum
He's playing a good tune
Sit with me baby, up here on the fence
Try to make some sense of the Transcendental Pretense.

How Many Planck Lengths Long is God's Cock?

"She said she wanted to know what it was that I wrote about. I told her: the essential human condition from hole to hole. Hole to hole? she asked. Yep: womb to tomb. All about the Dance of the Bone out of one and then into another. Dance of the Bone? she asked, not following. You and me, bones dancing inside bags of skin. That's not a very pretty picture, she said. I disagree, I replied. Nothing prettier than a lil pink bone hole waiting for you at the end of the day. I'm sorry, she started to say. But I cut her off and I asked her, do you know why an electron isn't a black hole? Of course, she had no answer. She replied that it sounded like a joke, you know, with a funny punchline. I said, actually, the punchline is kind of funny because an electron can't be smaller than Planck's length. She laughed and said that was silly because she has seen lots of planks bigger than an electron. I laughed too. It was really funny. Then I asked her how many Planck's Lengths long she imagined god's cock to be? Well, I've never thought of God as having a cock, she said slowly, the notion sinking in, but I imagine a lot. I said, I can show it to you, if you really want to see it. She looked at me, wide-eyed. And then said the most beautiful thing: how long will it take. I smiled and said, Sweetheart, as long as you like."

+ Van der Waalsian Connections +

Colors of Infinity:

+ Evidence +

+ A Caesium Moment of Humor +

The Mandelbrot Set Song

Pathological monsters! cried the terrified mathematician
Every one of them is a splinter in my eye
I hate the Peano Space and the Koch Curve
I fear the Cantor Ternary Set
And the Sierpinski Gasket makes me want to cry
And a million miles away a butterfly flapped its wings
On a cold November day a man named Benoit Mandelbrot was born.

+ Loomings +

Mandelbrot recently began to apply his knowledge of fractals to explain stock markets. "Markets, like oceans, have turbulence," he said. "Some days the change in markets is very small, and some days it moves in a huge leap. Only fractals can explain this kind of random change." He and a journalist, Richard Hudson, have co-written a book on the thorny subject to explain the complex gyrations of stock prices and exchange rates.

+ Looks Back Into You +

Dangerous Knowledge

The film begins with Georg Cantor, the great mathematician whose work proved to be the foundation for much of the 20th-century mathematics. He believed he was God's messenger and was eventually driven insane trying to prove his theories of infinity. Ludwig Boltzmann's struggle to prove the existence of atoms and probability eventually drove him to suicide. Kurt Gödel, the introverted confidant of Einstein, proved that there would always be problems which were outside human logic. His life ended in a sanatorium where he starved himself to death.

+ After Words +