Aphorisms XIII

Though it’s had a rough start, I think that social media will end up making us more dialogic, willing to consider other points and views. The same patchy start was true of the printing press, of books and pamphlets, I suspect. It will take hundreds of years having all the impact it will have, and may never finish impacting us. Has the printer finished with us yet? Probably not.

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Aphorisms VIII

Scripturience is always eschatological in the end.

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I read in Luke Kennard’s poem Ghost Story, where he talks about god making the soul pass through all possible human lives as a kind of edification or explanation or challenge or trick or joke, and remembered a very similar thought I’d had since childhood – except I imagined it would be every animal I ever stepped on, every living being including the long and interminable lives of trees, the short and inexplicable lives of mushrooms. I just remembered an ancestor to this idea, or maybe the source of it, in Douglas Adam’s book where there exists a creature that in all of its incarnations is killed by Arthur Dent. I imagine incarnations shares its root with french carné, and carnivore. Lives are the mind made meat, expendable and eaten by god’s great experiment.

I can imagine a Koan based around a similar idea – if you are to live the life of every person you have ever met, every plant you have ever seen, and every animal, fish and vegetable that you have ever eaten, would you agree to live? And then we can go on to include rocks and stars and clouds in this, and the answer might be – but this is how things already are. You are living the last life in the universe.

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Art for art’s sake is just a warning not to expect more.

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Aphorisms VI

To ask – is it okay to have a child? If it is not okay to propogate existence as such, existence is said in practice to be ‘not okay’. We pronounce on ourselves that we are not okay. To lack even a baseline of worth. For who will continue to care about the world, if we don’t care enough to continue to propogate the possibility of care?

Our basic humanity rests on this acceptance that we can continue. Fantasies such as ‘Children of Men’ show us this emotional truth, that to not have children is to accept the apocalypse. A childless world is a slow apocalypse. And what right do we have to choose ourselves as those who do not deserve propagation? No one has this right. This first form is an attribution of nonexistent rights over nonexistents.

Another form of this is a kind of overload of care – we care about children so much that we will not let them live with a possibility of a worse life than ourselves… We care so much that we won’t allow care to exist. But of course, we will be living most of it with them.

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When I played Spyro as a child, the world of Spyro was complete, without traces of anything, no history. No background. A world with no influences, music which was never played by anyone, a beautiful summer forest, puzzles and gems and orbs. Now, I start to think about how the soundtrack is structured and that perfect being of Spyro starts to darken. Then I stop thinking because it is not worth the value lost to question the most deep art experiences.

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Isn’t there something disingenuous about a philosopher searching for arguments, as such, to prove a point? Surely they should be just looking closer at the way things work? But pragmatically a good, graspable argument is often hard to find.

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Dame Autumn Hath a Mournful Face

After John Atkinson Grimshaw

You don’t yet know the fae.
Its church arches and bones.
It overlays on the trees
which become a seething delta

How the pools reflect black
to spite what they note above them
never sure of the horizon
your gaze wanders, unceasing

thin and twisting flowers
the green, and floating flakes of gold leaf
the faintly blue of the night
then, which slips alongside – her;

uncreasing the folds between worlds –
her insect wing-shimmer. And bright
shines one thing nakedness can do
mournfully at you, with a crown of flowers

The fae curves just like this.
It worships with patient light
that which you may worship.
If she wants you, touch the canvas.

Aphorisms IV

There is no compulsion to consume a particular form of media, or a piece of media. Remember this when it feels the other way – no duty to consume.

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It is slightly odd that someone’s response to a fact might be – but that’s banal, ‘that’s obvious’. How self centred! We don’t say that to teachers, or to those reminding us of things we have forgotten. This response could be translated into emotional terms as “you have underestimated me!” – well, maybe you appeared to need reminding! But then, was the statement aimed at you, if you find it obvious? Think about it.

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Philosophers have always changed the world, without realising it. Marx was wrong, to an extent. Because your interpretation will change the world, based on your philosophising, which has already changed you. People often do things for reasons, new or old, after all.

With regards to Marx, obviously this only transforms his point, which was that some philosophers have justified the world from a position of power, had provided reasons for the rich, for the abusers. Had built an intellectual parallel world whilst the chartered companies and city states expanded empires, pillaged the world. Some philosophers still do.

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The myth that is the most beautiful, the ur-myth, is that there is meaning in things, not just in us. That the clouds of mustard gas are the wings of a terrible dragon. That everything will have its own moment where its particular purpose in the world-work of things becomes evident. That the unexpected family is waiting there at the end of the road. That the loss will have its redemption.

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Aphorisms III

Consuming isn’t easy, sometimes. It’s a form of emotional labour. Though series and films can play themselves out in front of us, we don’t just sit and absorb their images. Or at least, not by default. In this way, A Clockwork Orange has a fallacy in it – that being forced to watch something would change us, simply by being made spectator. Of course this is the case for certain experiences, that we are particularly receptive to, but the active spectator can critique whilst in the process of watching (hopefully not out loud though, for the sake of others…)

This idea has an interesting expression in the world of music – are there not songs that you love, whilst being almost completely ignorant of the lyrics, or cognisant of them only in a vague, catchphrase fashion. Consuming music like this is simply allowing it to bounce off us, alter our rhythms. But to consume the whole is to process the message of the song, and to come to a conclusion regarding its sense. I do this rarely. It’s a lot of work.

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Sometimes I come across people like this. I ask – do you love books? They say – Yes, I love 1984.

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Nationalism is the symptom of a badly functioning state.

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“Become who you are!” Careful not to read this as an exhortation to selfishness. For who you are can well include others.

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Aphorisms 1

Often, the cry of the cynic is one of jealousy towards hope. I know this from personal experience.

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When someone gives up on a joint project, it takes on the features of glass – cold and transparent. And behind it you see the back of the one who left. If the joy you shared was real, the project will feel emptied by their disavowal.

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I love it when it rains, I love it more walking in rain, living it. I love thinking on the memory of a good storm, but sometimes that is easier than going out and making new memories of the storm happening right now, outside.

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There is something beautiful in taking something meant as an insult, and wearing it as a badge of honour. It throws light back up the ass of the insulter.

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A translation is an excuse to write something new under another authority.

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“Whatever such a mind sees is the flower, and whatever such a mind dreams of is the moon.” A state we should strive for, so long as we remember that, not only beautiful, still, and peaceful, the flower has the nesting insect, eating it from the inside out. And the moon is bright, and hangs outside of our world, but lunar craters are cold, dead and sterile.

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In poetry it is sometimes easy to look for crunchy language, rather than a true picture, or letting one build its surface over the other. But then, capturing things is not the kind of thing language does, like a graph, or a sum, or a photograph, despite these all having their subjective aspects, or hardly capturing anything at all. It evokes, but must evoke on the terms of the reader. But do I do any of this? Do I even think it when I’m writing?

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The writing feels right, it isn’t like what has already been said. Some of the language that comes is new, in new ways, some of it is couched in dull or dead forms, which have to be revised. But what does this feeling of ‘needing revision’ consist of? Of resentment, of defining the succesful in terms of what I am not? Not old, not hackneyed, not used up? Writing a poem is equal parts what I like, or think is successful, and what I don’t like about what I have written, what is unsuccessful. It can’t just be one or the other. And it can be more. Sometimes I feel nothing about a sentence. Does that matter?

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Resentment as a concept, a superiority of approach, defining yourself against Them, ‘what they do is bad and I don’t like it’, this concept has a lot to do with how taste develops. And this is okay, so long as we know it.

V.30

The gateposts flutter with sonnets
in rich florentine hands. The work
of sculptor and vile abuser
Benvenuto Cellini stands

in his walled garden, unfinished.
Dukes and Duchesses pay handsome
fees to see it done. In the shop
the cracked furnace bears stigmata

of bronze. And a stray cat stares at
you, the reader of this poem.
Its eyes are black and you shiver,
looking up at the cinder hole

in the roof where hastily rigged
boards let rain fall on the steaming
ash pile, the dark droplets of bronze.
What are you doing in Florence

during the renaissance? and how
did you come to be in this hall
of works? Nobody knows. A girl
stops and waits in the cold doorway.

Without a word you both agree.
In the garden, the nieces watch
the statue grow white hot and melt.
“Medusa!” they say. “Medusa”

V.7

You’ve got to find the people who
are fighting the good fight and then
somehow you have to support them.
You’ve got to hold back on holding

back with the praise, and criticize
only when you think it’s a fire
to the forest that requires it
which it turns out is basically

never when it comes to most art
because art is not a war, you
know? No matter how many dolts
want to make it so boring it

shatters through density. Holding
art is like making a gesture of
greeting like reaching out your hand
on deck. Let us lower anchor,

let us stay now in this lagoon
and watch the sun set together
on our shared future. And I won’t
stop you if you want to go back

to shore, to go shore the ruin’s
baseline, you aren’t ready to join
hands and think of death and greater
things. Learn to throw your shade inside

Crow Absolved

The feather pile in the bin moans
I say, it’s okay, you Crow.
It’s okay. Sleep now.
A last few syllable caws come –
“I’m saw-ree” and I am exhausted by
the real difficulty of innocence
almost impossible
but just
possible

With a faint clinking
the bird bones roll in the wind
taking up shapes
and finally gusting off as sand
dissolving into heaven
or whatever there is

God is there with me in a wheelchair
and Dove,
and we all three cry
for the darkness
and the beauty
and the coldness that has come.

Dove has the last word.
She writes in the sand with her branch
‘absolution’