Consolations

A Pentecost sermon is many things, but you don’t often expect to hear about the fear of heights, let alone the kind of morbid ideation that sometimes accompanies that phobic vertigo: “what if I just flung myself over the edge,” the preacher intimated, illustrating his larger point about the fragility of trust in the self in contrast with the solidity of trusting in God. I suspect that his moment of vulnerability was encouraged by an editor who left a comment in the margin urging him to “tell us something of what you’re afraid of here.” I wonder if he worried … Continue reading “Consolations”

47

“Photography has two antithetical ideals: in the first, #photography is about the world and the photographer is a mere observer who counts for little; but in the second, photography is the instrument of intrepid, questing subjectivity and the photographer is all.” (Susan Sontag) X “You can grieve for what you are grateful.” I was out of town when @jacquelineviola’s last installment of the (inconceivable and unbelievably absurd) times landed in my mailbox, so when I opened the carefully wrapped package this morning, I was more than a little surprised to see a sentence that so directly spoke to my mood while away. Wistful, … Continue reading “47”

What is it?

Brown, blue, violet sky—it’s funny how tiktok trends rehash and recycle artifacts that don’t quite feel very retro, though, they must be, alas. The world doesn’t really accelerate; we just get older a lot faster every day. And so, when that kinda thing is annoying, it’s really annoying, but when it’s not, it can be prophetic, like a planetary return, or a shift in the seasons, or a long-gone friendship reborn. I used to repeat that old lyric by that half-Lebanese crooner, who, at one point, provided folks with a global reference point, like tabbouli or hummus, to place me … Continue reading “What is it?”

The Meaning of 1, 2, 3

Knowing thyself can serve a practical purpose as well; it’s a shorthand that short-circuits the rookie writer’s evergreen anxiety: how to tell a story that is not a long series of introductions introducing more introductions. I-dentity draws the “I”—a line in the sand—and brings the point to focus. I am traveling with another; this is my story. And yet, as with all quick-fixes, identity begs more questions than it answers. Where exactly is the starting line? At a recent staff retreat, I came ill-prepared to a team-building session with a scrapbook as my story-prompt that I planned to turn into … Continue reading “The Meaning of 1, 2, 3”

The Meaning of Zero

What is the meaning of life? If I were trying to be funny, I’d respond to that question with a “yes.” Because, yes, that is exactly it—meaning is the “what” of life. We seek it, we make it, we unmake it & remake it—we are compositional beings all the way down. Even when rejecting meaning, as in the convulsions of postmodern nihilism, we are reacting to that very same “what”—what? “Why, it’s nothing,” comes the answer. The what is no-thing and so—wait for it—that “so”? That’s meaning. If you are reading this, you are making sense of it under the … Continue reading “The Meaning of Zero”

The Riot is the Light of the Unseen

“To be yourselfis all that you can do(all that you can do)To be yourselfis all that you can do(all that you can do)” How many of us play amateur detective in some psychodrama when we look back at lives that ended in tragedy? We go over the liner notes and find all the right clues—maybe they were always there. Or maybe the pressure to entertain a certain way was actually whodunnit. It’s hard to put the magnifying glass down; cold cases are kept warm by kinship. A song like “Be Yourself” will do that to you. What at first blush … Continue reading “The Riot is the Light of the Unseen”

It’s More Than True, It Actually Happened

“it’s a couple of years I suspect you don’t have a physical existence anymore like us other humansfor what I know you might not existyou might be a projectionyou might have become an immaterial entityre-assessed only through narrationlike syria, or santa claus” Annalena to my “face” on September 25, 2012 September 25, 2012 was the 269th day of the year 2012 in the Gregorian calendar. There were 97 days remaining until the end of the year. The day of the week was Tuesday. Libra is the zodiac sign of a person born on this day. It has been 3162 days, today included. Or 8 years, 7 … Continue reading “It’s More Than True, It Actually Happened”

May Day, 2021

It’s fascinating how the Gates Foundation has positioned itself at the intersection of very different vectors of rage over the years—anti-maskers today, copy-leftists last night, anti-vaxxers at one point, counter-Modiites before that. Though not all protests are created equal, this breadth of contention does share one feature: unmasking the feudalistic trials of strength that the neoliberal fairytale tells us it keeps at bay, just outside the city limits. This is what the gatekeepers were supposed to protect us from, but, alas, more of us are beginning to recognize that their rule of experts was founded on myth—this rule is not … Continue reading “May Day, 2021”

Poiesis: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 20

Part 1: Beginning “Poiesis is understood traditionally as an activity of formation, in which the artist gives shape to matter in accordance with his or her idea. The specifically aesthetic quality of a work is seen as consisting in its form; perfection of form leads to the experience of beauty. The philosophy of art from Aristotle to Kant is based on this understanding. This perspective itself stems, ultimately, from a tradition of reflection in which the intellect is regarded as the primary mode of human existence … In modern aesthetics, especially in the classic work of Kant, the predominance of … Continue reading “Poiesis: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 20”