Composition #2

Every time I think of Kundera I recall my favorite line from Unbearable Lightness: “In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.” And as I wrote these words, I went back to refresh my memory and was surprised to see that sentence on page 4—page 4!—of the book. Could something so meaningful to me have come so early in the text? Does that make it any more or any less significant? I’m pretty sure the man would say: both. Kundera opens his Unbearable Lightness with a reflection on the concept of “eternal … Continue reading “Composition #2”

Metafiction

A non-negligible number of books I’ve read of late have shared a common conceit: a chapter that holds the key to unlock the mystery of the whole. Granted, a climax or conclusion is pretty standard fair in any standard text, but that’s not what I’ve been reading. In ‘Camera Lucida,’ we have the clean break along the middle of the spine; in ‘Devil House,’ a whole number of a-ha moments, but only one chapter that literally fractured the narrative (read: act of narrating) in faux-Fraktur; in ‘Immortality,’ it’s part 6. Kundera tells us ahead of time what he’s going to … Continue reading “Metafiction”

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”

The Meaning of 888

For years, a running joke I told was that I was born on Antichristmas—June 25, the symbolic antipode of Christmas Day. And while the season’s greetings I text my friends have become a lot less sarcastic, I am beginning to see a lesson in the turning of that wheel, again & again, and the spiral path it’s made. As a species we seem to be formed by contrast. “Kikhhh,” the Lebanese mother will sound out to the child who has tried to taste something he’d picked up off the ground, establishing his boundary between clean and unclean. If this line … Continue reading “The Meaning of 888”

The Meaning of Six Six Six

And what spot does X mark? X is you and I, the coming together of diagonals—an intersection and ideal symbol for the very search for meaning. X can mean the unknown variable or the buried loot at the center of a treasure map; X is both a placeholder and a destination—a deliberate holding pattern, or, perhaps, a refusal to land on familiar terms. In our cultural consciousness, we have Generation X, The X-Files, and Malcom X. Let your eyes shift back & forth between these correspondences. Contemplate their polarities—if strange patterns emerge, what you are now experiencing is what Umberto … Continue reading “The Meaning of Six Six Six”

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”

INTRODUCING INCONJUNCT

I want to tell you about a little project called @INCONJUNCT. But first, a few words about “inconjunction,” a technical term from astrology that’s neither “conjunction” nor “opposition.” It might not even be anything at all as, indeed, it wasn’t for ancient writers like Ptolemy who called it a “non-relationship.” To understand the concept, you may want to hold in your mind a certain metaphysic of cosmic influence—as above, so below, etc—but even that is not entirely necessary; you may choose to follow the symbolic geometry instead: “Dividing a circle into two parts creates a diameter and two points on a circumference separated … Continue reading “INTRODUCING INCONJUNCT”

A Note on Aura

I had my aura photographed as a birthday treat on Friday. That experience & this ongoing heatwave seem to be conspiring to get me thinking about bodies again. For one, I don’t like being photographed at all, which is why I wanted to have this moment in time captured in the first place—which made one of the color associations on the little info-card they gave me even more interesting, once my photo had developed: my dominant “vibrational energy” was associated with “new beginnings.” I also don’t like to feel sweaty and gross and physically encumbered by needs & anxieties, & … Continue reading “A Note on Aura”

The Feast of Saint Marinx

“[T]he question of the pharmakon reappears in the digital stage of grammatisation—the first stage of which was the alphabetic writing of Plato’s epoch. Like every technique and every mnemotechnique, cultural and cognitive technologies are pharmaka: at once poisons and remedies.” (Bernard Stiegler) Communication has made itself felt as a matter of concern at numerous times and on multiple planes over the past few weeks. ☿℞ or not, at some point, it seems like the artifice of this act of artfully inscribing interior realities back and forth on these proverbial clay tablets has been lost by our culture. I’ve been thinking about … Continue reading “The Feast of Saint Marinx”

“these ghosts, those ghosts, our ghosts”

The second volume of @thedepressedwaitress arrived in my mailbox alongside Easter blessings from the Servants of Mary, a religious order somewhere in Illinois; they’ve been sending me seasonal greetings ever since I asked for their prayers & relic fragments in a wild attempt at doing something, anything—come on, feel the Illinoise—in the totalizing face of medical certainty. I didn’t start reading this volume until today, the same day I learned about Donna Haraway’s shared Eucharistic devotion & spiritual kinship with Bruno Latour in an endnote to an essay about spiders and tentacles and corvids and lichen, the same day I took the … Continue reading ““these ghosts, those ghosts, our ghosts””