What no one will remember
I dreamt last night that god had reincarnated into a stone.
How it happened is hard to explain
but it was in the US, of all places!
Then I started scratching off the light.
There was nothing left except the immoral space of neutrality
and I began to move amongst cocks
and paradise raw.
I began writing a poem, in the dream
every last stanza
rhyming with the word
I hardly ever rhyme my verse.
It was strange.
That god would have chosen
the US, of all places.
But I can’t seem to let it go.
The poem, with 4 or 5 stanzas.
Alliteration aligned cosmically.
Even with shadows circling
a verb. I woke up at noon, processing
the real. Honestly, I did not want to wake
up chained to daylight.
But now I’m at
Leigh Ledare’s exhibition
trying to recall
what kind of poem could I
have written amongst cocks
and paradise raw.
Oh who would know
the meaning of having an eye
on every atom that springs
from no to yes
but it would not be god or opiated man in bed
it would be the distinct essence of a cloud
leaving the sky to rest like a heavy rock
at the bottom of the restless sea,
so extreme an image
that our souls will coil
around the shortest memory
to remember the first patch of light
that burnt the skin with warmth
to remember the first arrow of sound
to pierce the nimbus of silence
to remember the first and only object
that grew like wings to become a universe; –
how would anyone fail to notice the sun
is only the light on the surface
of the image?
I let go of the beard
and eyelids of God.
It will rain, the eyes of the earth
will go blind, white breathless turmoil.
A boy with books and grand prophesies,
composing the sadness of the final silence.
An epoch to remember what I wanted.
The river of visions carries skin and mirror,
a noise of nowhere and nobody’s scent.
What beastly ache to be a fleeting universe
with no country except the island of thought.
I have no beard and the nausea of mountains;
I have in my mouth the salty meat of the soul.
It is there
a taste of machine
in my earth-rooted tongue
that although I am drenched
my center is solid like
the bolt of physical law
it is there
a host of onerous mechanisms
behind the quiet gleam
that in the splintered sky
of the treetops
a fabulous realm of myth, sleep
and transience is reposing
like the heavy fingers of god
rocks are in my lungs
being ground for
the castles of math
a player taken out
of the bench of chimera
to supply the field
with an extra glove of fact
today the world is no longer my metaphor
but the unalienable stage for
“Despite all its powers, society cannot sustain the artist if
it is impervious to the vision of the artist.” – Henry Miller
What is art today? More precisely, what does art convey? Art has become an adornment, mere embellishment to our mechanical society. It is what you hang behind an office desk, in the hallway of a bank, in the solitary confines of a museum. It is what is read while we travel between two points, what is listened to while we drive to work, what we assist to in moments of laziness and passive submission to entertainment. It is that which is viewed askance, situated in the periphery, unobtrusive to the real function of society: business.
Art is no longer an expression of a deeper vision of reality; and if it is, we, at least, no longer perceive it as such. It is aesthetic, no doubt. But it is not beautiful enough to secure a prominent role in our routines. As far as we are concerned, it is pastime, an elegant but inferior activity in life. It conveys no truth or doubt to the spectator. Life is predetermined and already decided; art is solely an amusement, even if it constantly fights against modern life. It exists as a hallucination, a sort of intoxication that can easily be dismissed as unreal and irrelevant. The serious business of life cannot be questioned; it has no room for the artist and his or her artwork that challenges the unconsciousness of its drives.
And yet some artists do become idols in this culture and their art known universally, but is their artwork studied as profoundly as we study engineering or business administration? The artists’ message, their restructuring of our understanding of reality, their incessant re-questioning of our basic assumptions, remain quite below the general level of public attention. We all recognize the dripping clock of Dali or the visual massacre of the Guernica, some will recognize the dreamy seascape of La Mer or the cavernous sorrow of the Adagio for Strings, the name of Humbert Humbert or Harry Hope may be familiar to a few, a minority will recall The Waste Land or a Season in Hell; but what is noteworthy here is that recognizing these works of art by their name is no sign that we have delved in them and studied them profoundly. We care only superficially of what they imply, what the message is all about. There is no understanding that an artist is a transformation of the human being and is attempting a redefinition of what is to be alive in a mysterious universe. We assume art as a gift to culture by one and the same kind of individual that already lives in that culture.
Art has now been banalized, it has become a career and today there are flocks of artists that operate as businesses, as factories manufacturing objects to be bought and superficially enjoyed. The true artist is rare these days, he or she is muted and oppressed by this contradiction. How to bring forth a genuine work of art in this spurious world that is driven by money? The voice of art is being drowned by the roar of commerce and trivial entertainment. Society has absorbed art; and the artist has docilely submitted to his or her new harrowing role of ornamentalist. The commandments of art are now thus: you shall entertain, you shall impress, you shall produce the beautiful, you shall be famous, but under no circumstance should you dishonor your loving parent: society. Society does not want individuals to think and act differently, to produce controversies that may outstrip the authority of the status quo. Art may produce change insofar as it remains within the parameters of the socially digestible.
The artist is no longer an artist. He or she has forgotten that divine calling of making of life an experiment. The artist must suffer eternally, must wrestle with the incongruities and absurdities of living and dying, must explore the unknown realm of the spirit and (in the words of Rimbaud)become a seer. The work produced thereafter will be only an inkling, an announcement of vaster realms accessible to all, it is an opening at the roof of an abyss for those who dare plunge into it. The experiential adventure of consciousness is now going extinct, there are few enthusiasts left. It is a form of wisdom that society ignores and lumps together under the heading “esoteric mumbo-jumbo”, or more spitefully, “madness”. (Hasn’t history shown that many great artists were deemed mad in their time, only later to be proclaimed visionaries?). And yet this wisdom is no particular statement or philosophy; it is an active engagement with the mystery of creation, what once was the domain of the artist and religious fervent. Today art as well as religion is downplayed as historical curiosity, still operating as long as they leave intact, and even follow, the new order created by the God of modern civilization: money.
How it happened exactly I will never know. Suddenly everything became worthless, everything human per se, that is. This veneer of generic pleasures and conventional raisons d’être became illusory, life taken at face value, submission to the established order; well, I was done with all that long ago. The magic began when my intuition fumbled upon a veritable prospect of infinity. How many different orders of life are possible, how many universes made of other realities must exist simultaneously, in such way, I began to break the biased assumption that this is the only world there is. What an experiment this life here is, to emerge from a field of interconnected activity, full of evolutionary processes. Humans begin to appear unreal and yet beautiful in their playing out the habits of their biology and history, their customs in this unique, relative mode of being we know as ‘life on earth’. From the way we speak, sleep, drink, dress – a rare collection of revocable attributes, a lonely arrangement in the infinite spectrum of eternity. I caught a glimpse only. Glimpses of just one dream unfolding in a god’s sleep; a god that never dies. That god has had an infinite number of dreams in the past and shall have an infinite number of dreams in the future, no two alike. In this ephemeral presence how can I regard anything as immutable, or ultimately, even as real? The very foundations of this world, with its geometry and physical laws, its life forms and civilizations, its space and time, are nothing more than an evanescent chapter in the phantasmagorically boundless ground of being.
So here I stand as raw nothingness, the happiest nothingness to ever breathe the cold air under a yellow winter sun, amidst the foundationless relativity of this dreamlike existence.
The rest I will never know.