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“Nike Vapor Lunar Trout” and “The Johns”

Richard Roundy has been publishing some of my long-time — and newly — favorite poets as poetry editor of the young webzine Across the Margin, and I’m honored to join poets from Kit Robinson and Alan Bernheimer to Allison Cobb to Aaaron Simon to Lewis Warsh and Paul Maziar, just to name a very few, with the first of two sets of poems. “Nike Vapor Lunar Trout” is in the forthcoming collection Expat Taxes; “The Johns,” written in collaboration with Noah Eli Gordon (his version appears in his book The Word Kingdom in the Word Kingdom).

Monika Lin, Balance Boy #1 detail, 2010.

Monika Lin, Balance Boy #1 detail, 2010.

Get to the point (don’t think of an elephant, don’t think of a donkey) [12-minute trigger]

12-minute trigger is a daily writing project: 1) set the timer for 12 minutes and write soon after waking up; 2) see what happens; 3) continue or don’t (but wrap it up fairly quickly, regardless, as one must get on with one’s day); and 4) lightly edit and post here (or don’t: sometimes it’s too personal or too messy, sometimes the writing is too weak, sometimes I’m too busy).

Where to start amidst endless forking paths, within a matrix of portals and jumps and connections that can be triggered, opened, closed, skipped, revealed as traps? Where to start with the mind?

This is the “point” to meditation – yet the point is not a point at all, at least in the popular sense of a single clear and comprehensible end or claim or opinion, as in get to the point. The point, then, is (as has been said to the point of cliché) the “process,” in which one is aware less and less of that which one desires or wishes to be and more and more of what appears to be happening where and when one finds oneself.

“To find oneself”: another idiom that risks cliché. There’s the useful everyday sense of “I found myself doing x” as the result of a sequence of events (a sequence that may remain opaque, as in “how in the world did you find yourself doing x?”). But then there’s the cliché sense – originating in the sixties’ pop-spiritualities, I imagine – of “finding oneself” that rests upon a (likely) fundamental misassumption. The assumption is that there is a stable and enduring (eternally, even, in the form of a soul of a particular kind) self-to-be-found; one counter to that is that there is, let’s say, a particular arrangement of or expression of forces – energy-matter unfolding in space-time – that takes particular transitional shapes and moves in shifting directions into and out of various modes or states, and that consciousness is one shape and direction and mode or state of the arrangement and expression of those forces among many (infinitely many, or might as well be).

Meditation – in my exceedingly limited experience – may provide some means to some partial “observation” of this, with observation being not-quite-the-right word given that the subject-object relation becomes (and this is the point) unstable and liable to momentary collapse when one arrives at (or rather very briefly passes through or into) a particular state of mind, one in which the question of “where to start” may momentarily to have stable or meaningful point.

Old glass and window screen

Old glass and window screen

Kansas City: Earth Laughs in Flowers (12-minute trigger)

Kansas City

12-minute trigger is a daily writing project: 1) set the timer for 12 minutes and write soon after waking up; 2) see what happens; 3) continue or don’t (but wrap it up fairly quickly, regardless, as one must get on with one’s day); and 4) lightly edit and post here (or don’t).

Train and traffic sounds. The neighbor’s birdbath fountain’s water sound, manmade to the ear, too clearly the pouring of water into water for the sake of making a soothing sound of flowing water. It comes out sounding like an overflowing tub or sink, or a toilet that won’t stop running. The traffic on this Kansas City Monday morning is a distant, constant hum. The freight trains announce their presence periodically with horn blasts from several miles off. A dog barks. Cicadas and birds, too, a constant sound. It’s a cool enough morning following last night’s thunderstorm that I don’t hear any air conditioner compressors running: a rare and pleasant absence on a Kansas City July morning. I’m on my mother’s porch, her garden in its fullness all around, hanging ferns and potted plants distributed across the porch, larger planters bursting with green and flashes of yellow, white, magenta, to my left on the brick patio I built nearly 30 years ago, when this was our house, my family’s house. Now there’s my father’s house, my sister’s house, my mother’s house, and the apartment I live in with my wife and daughter in Shanghai. A woman in her 60s – fit-looking, short curly hair, shorts and a light top – strides past on the sidewalk, led by her dog, a good-sized hound, his chain lightly sounding out with that cool near-hiss sound smooth and light metal links make when they move against themselves. The thunderstorm has apparently broken what the media meteorologists were calling the heat dome, a weather system that has kept KC – and much of the country – in the upper 90s for the past week or so, with many regions to the west, in Kansas and Nebraska, running well into the 100s. It’s summer as I have always known it, yes: hot and humid Midwest summer. But it’s also a summer that feels on the brink of something that neither I nor anyone else have known, except in stories, in the fantasy and sci-fi and religious narratives that speak of the apocalyptic, the dystopian, the transformative. And yet, now, as another freight train calls out, its horn warm and round and soft in tone as it pushes through the humid air from tracks running miles away, nudging (Continued)

Four poems in The Brooklyn Rail

The Brooklyn Rail has published three new poems and an excerpt from HELLO 2015. The short ones — “Ghost Burning,” “Sea Lyric” and “Block the Entrances” appear in print and online; the first half of HELLO 2015 is online only.

Virtual Panoptical Network

IMG_1152

A US American friend says of the VPN service she’s using on her visit to Shanghai that it seems legit, that they seem legit, as, you know, a little company, not — if I get her implied meaning right — something necessarily obliquely sponsored, facilitated, or even outright run by a covert arm of US-Western power. The company’s website felt legit to her because of several minor infelicities of English grammar — just enough to make it seem like a company run by edgy Asian IT guys who just want information to be free, not by slick operatives in the employ of a meddling Western NGO fronting for the NSA, working to undermine China… That kind of “kind of thing” thing, you know? At least that’s what I thought, later, misremembering. And though I didn’t follow the logic that seemed to suggest itself to me (would really bad English or professionally edited copy both cause more paranoia?), I could vibe with her feeling, because of course it was my feeling, too, or perhaps alone. You have to trust someone, after all, or you might go crazy, right? Especially in a country like this and from a country like that. What’s the mind to do? (Continued)

Moving

This web presence is moving. Perhaps more on paranoia and conspiracies–more specifically on these things and not things in general–here, later. At the very least, parked in case China blocks tumblr and there’s some reason to blog both sides of the Great Firewall. 

FULL BLEED

“Envision white 
light” flashpan

Moment breached
foamed searcher time

Fashion sears the skies 
splits sutures clouds

Scars dark reticular 
dusk swallows

Bats flapping Twombly 
ink-washed sops arc

Black static sonar 
sky-blue hedge

Yes-space with
consciousness 

Replaced blood
with nitrous 

Fizz the bonds
in nerves no jest 

Needle-jet thrust
returning number-

less reasons
to get a new

golf swing
in the Atlantic 

 

Off the center of the edge of the world

 

Chinese workers dismantle the 2010 World Expo UK Pavilion aka the “Seed
Cathedral,” a high-tech apparition moaning “ecological sustainablity” which
now haunts the ex-Expo grounds…

 

Fascinating (as almost always) chatter (no, not “chatter,” heavy matter but yet… chatter) from the neoreactionaries as they anticipate with mixed thoughts and feelings their moment in the “klieg lights.” Techcrunch’s Geeks for Monarchy, Moldbug a Yarvin (and a San Francisco poet), something like hyperrational paranoia (the neo- in the term, the red pills in the script—cliché upgraded some endless times to meme meme meme meme meme meme meme and in the NR imagination a means of splitting any proposed “us,” and in particular the U.S., cleaving right at spot where “all men are created equal,” the feature a bug after all, they crow, because, you know, because HBD, yeah you know me)–it fascinates, much like snakes (red apple falls). 

A smugly horrified bit in Salon can hardly be far behind, one supposes.

Fun to follow, fun like sci-fi come alive. (And well, isn’t it?)

Shanghai has this neoreactionary set, see? (Nick Land, Spandrell [apparently in Japan, actually, but with a Shanghai connection], a commenter Manjusri, who else?). How do I know? I’m in Shanghai. I’m online. That aside, given the thin distribution of the network of what—offhand-guessing 40-some?—”neoreationary” bloggers globally (the scare quotes a nod to their fascinating project to figure out what they’re doing and what to call it), this must say something about the kind of place this is, this Shanghai, this China, right now. (The universe’s nicest Dark Lord is fascinating on this latter subject on his day-job blog, as well.)

Shanghai, hypercapital of Expat-Asian-reaction, network node closing and breaking and closing circuits with Bay and Valley, DC exurbs, wherever else? Sure, why not.

Time to return to The Diamond Age. It’s just two years shy of its 20th anniversary and it’s saying ever more about the kind of singular place this is, this refracting Shanghaied world where everything happens again and again, sometimes, even faster and then all at once, I suspect. Perhaps, but who, whom, where, what, when, why? Stephenson needs a study—Cryptonomicon too. Put that on the project list.

Hyperrationalist paranoia, style of an age? (Side effects of paranoia: the prophet and the sage). 

It’s not like it’s this assault on an actual Cathedral; it’s something like the opposite. (Though you could swap in “the Cathedral” for “the Catholic church,” “Inauguration Day” for “Easter day of the Holy Year”, and “Equality” (perhaps) for “God” and you’d pretty much have it in a far tighter nutshell).

Though pits, scores, cracks, warps, and heavy oxidization distort and twist and obscure the reflections in the funhouse mirrors, this “outer right” does indeed mirror the farther left; after all, Moldbug/Yarvin in his own phrase “is pretty much the anti-Chomsky. (As a broad generalization, UR’s stance in any controversy will be the opposite of Chomsky’s.)” It’s not just flipped, but it is.                        

(Continued)