darkness to light

‘Darkness to Light’ was the title of a heavy metal song that a high school friend of mine proposed writing, though never to my knowledge expanded beyond the chorus:

Darkness to light, darkness to light
Darkness to light, darkness to light

which he would sometimes lean over and emphatically whisper-sing to me and one of our other friends in the middle of Biology II class, much to the consternation of Ms. Geyer.

For a heavy metal song its message is uncharacteristically optimistic. Perhaps that’s why it’s become one of those automatic memory shards that frequently ricochets around in my head so many years later.

Who knows what triggers these recollections. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, course through my brain each year. Effluvia of the past, often with no clear relevance to the present or the future. And yet, still they persist in bubbling up and clumping together, forming a glut in the cerebral soup slopping around inside my skull.

The past always retains a strong magnetism, sometimes merely by virtue of its sudden incongruous intrusions into the conscious mind. Upon encountering this detritus, a natural inclination arises to ponder its significance—to sift through and separate the individual elements, perhaps searching for answers to some present conundrum.

The key, though, seems to be not holding on for too long. Each moment spent dwelling on/in the past lures one away from now and down into proverbial rabbit warrens. It feels safer to scan what surfaces with a neutral eye, then let it fall away and dissolve back into the unconscious. Its ultimate significance lies only in whatever self-imposed layers grow over it, all of which are no doubt discursive in nature and the inspection of which leads to nothing helpful whatsoever.

‘he walked arm in arm with his shadow’ (éric chevillard)

[note: cursory statistical analysis reveals this blog would receive heightened traffic if it contained more practical advice on ‘all weather bike commuting,’ but instead it chiefly contains impractical, infrequent, and largely unread text such as the following…]

aural darkness in june. a way to refuse the heat. alice. another merciful release. a spiral of silence. another five minutes in this chair. jabès with his name in his pain but his pain with no name. writing about the book and its hold over us. the power of the word. meanwhile duras is looking at the time. ‘it was ten o’clock. in the evening. it was summer.’ and what could maria call the time opening ahead of her…’this incandescence, this bursting of a love at last without object.’

been here too long. here early / leave late / write in boxes / move on wheels back uphill. two legs, four legs, crossing thresholds over and over. sidewalks of daily desolation. tedium in quin’s ‘city where every street declares its defeat.’ consider bernhard and his ‘born barricade fanatics’the shared ‘desire to barricade ourselves from the world.’

but then there is jabès in unwilling exile from his beloved desert. everyone in some form of exilemental, physical, spiritual—feeling incapable of return. like robin about whom the baron thinks ‘there was in her every movement a slight drag, as if the past were a web about her, as there is a web of time about a very old building.’ and yet nora saying ‘robin can go anywhere, do anything, because she forgets, and i nowhere because i remember.’ because what bliss it would be to forget, right, to not always be dragging that chain of keyless padlocks behind. two (mis?)interpretations of another’s experience. dangers of outside looking in. but what of robin. what of robin. on the floor barking like a dog. a shattered mirror. surrendered to expectations. a final transition to conditioned response. or the ultimate shedding of humanity’s heavy carapace.

guest post from j. krishnamurti

Is the observer different from the thing which he observes?

You, the observer, are observing the fact, which you term as being lonely. Is the observer different from the thing which he observes? It is different only as long as he gives it a name; but if you do not give it a name, the observer is the observed. The name, the term, acts only to divide; and then you have to battle with that thing. But, if there is no division, if there is an integration between the observer and the observed, which exists only when there is no naming – you can try this out and you will see – , then the sense of fear is entirely gone. It is fear that is preventing you from looking at this when you say, you are empty, you are this, you are that, you are in despair. And fear exists only as memory, which comes when you term; but when you are capable of looking at it without terming, then, surely, that thing is yourself. So, when you come to that point, when you are no longer naming the thing of which you are afraid, then you are that thing. When you are that thing, there is no problem, is there? It is only when you do not want to be that thing, or when you want to make that thing different from what it is, that the problem arises. But if you are that thing, then the observer is the observed, they are a joint phenomenon, not separate phenomena; then there is no problem, is there? Please, experiment with this, and you will see how quickly that thing is resolved and transcended, and something else takes place. Our difficulty is to come to that point, when we can look at it without fear; and fear arises only when we begin to recognize it, when we begin to give it a name, when we want to do something about it. But, when the observer sees that he is not different from the thing which he calls emptiness, despair, then the word has no longer a meaning. The word has ceased to be, it is no longer despair. When the word is removed, with all its implications, then there is no sense of fear or despair. Then, if you proceed further, when there is no fear, no despair, when the word is no longer important, then, surely, there is a tremendous release, a freedom; and in that freedom there is creative being, which gives a newness to life. To put it differently: We approach this problem of despair through habitual channels. That is, we bring our past memories to translate that problem; and thought, which is the result of memory, which is founded upon the past, can never solve that problem, because it is a new problem. Every problem is a new problem; and when you approach it, burdened with the past, it cannot be solved. You cannot approach it through the screen of words, which is the thinking process; but when the verbalization stops – because you understand the whole process of it, you leave it – , then you are able to meet the problem anew; then the problem is not what you think it is. So, you might say at the end of this question, “What am I to do? Here I am in despair, in confusion, in pain; you haven’t given me a method to follow, to become free.” But, surely, if you have understood what I have said, the key is there: a key which opens much more than you realize if you are capable of using it.

(From The Collected Works, Vol. V Ojai 4th Public Talk 24th July 1949)

For daily Krishnamurti quotes delivered by RSS or email, sign up here at the official online repository.

alain robbe-grillet

Speaking of his autobiography in a 1985 interview with The Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Some people like the theory of literature contained in the book above all.

ROBBE-GRILLET

Indeed! Which is the continuation of what is in my novels and my theoretical works. None of these points is indifferent to me, at the same time none really interests me. What does interest me is the weaving of all these different elements in the book; the way they mix in movement, constantly shifting and changing, as if they were fragments of me. When I think of myself, I feel that I am made up of fragments in which there are childhood memories, fictional characters I particularly care about—such as Henri de Corinth—and even characters who belong to literature and with whom I feel I have family ties. Stavrogin of The Possessed and Madame Bovary are related to me exactly as my grandfather is, or my aunt. So it is the way all these figures move and refuse to be fixed that excites me. Well, at least that is what I say today. Another day I might say something different!

[…]

I am certain that a novelist is someone who attributes a different reality-value to the characters and events of his story than to those of “real” life. A novelist is someone who confuses his own life with that of his characters.

disordered chronology of movement

I.

Failed recollections to begin with. Slow-creeping toward habit. A giant round metal head. Sudden velocity. Sudden inertia. Pavement merges with gravel. The emergence of a tentative consciousness, neither hard nor pebbly. Vexation of unidentified raptors. Vultures soar over open sore in ground. A blast. Winged assassins. New commonness of thrashers in the street. Feet to pedals. The river like a swollen artery choked with plaque. Ungroundedness. Slow mounting keen of a train not far off. Dream rivulets running off a dry and calloused cerebellum. The importance of a second floor. Eye contact with strangers. Avoid building awareness of a presence. A body imagined close, a body far off yet close, a body buried in dry soil, a body husking a soul. A dipping line, looming and drawing back, tangled in the hanging moss of a halting lifetime.

II.

The exultant dismissal of everything. A hitching-up of trouser legs above this rising level of foreign liquidity. A spreading out tempered by a wish to gather in. Weathering. Rusty rooftop with greenery. The futile accomplishment of deletion. Southern hospitality. Sensory overload. Sensory deprivation. Every atom split to populate a neverending shell game run by con artists connotating the building blocks of life. It’s so casual is what it feels like. An unseemly seeming accidental existence. And yet people fly planes. Against near-white skies. This is a reason not to listen to all the best songs in a row. This is the reason time means nothing. Look out, the fuse is lit. See how it sputters, this heat seen and heard, racing on its journey to a black-powder shattered shack. Every early morning blink of a first-opened eye, this fuse is lit. And wetted fingertips flutter to pinch it out quick.

III.

Bird on a wire, sing your song, lift your wing to the world. Swoop down and over this set of fleet footprints filled in long ago. Expectations of nothing can never be unfulfilled. It’s a something-nothing to believe in, at least. An anti-ideal to carry stuck beneath an idealist’s forever-sweating armpit. Relish the freedom of solitude in public places. Deny detours diverting detritus. Pick it up, handle it, determine meaning and value, discard when done. Don’t look back but for inspiration. Forward motion fuels freedom. Reminders come free.

seaside

At times I can go back to St Ives more completely than I can this morning. I can reach a state where I seem to be watching things happen as if I were there.

Now if this is so, is it not possible—I often wonder—that things we have felt with great intensity have an existence independent of our minds; are in fact still in existence?

—Virginia Woolf, “A Sketch of the Past”

I stood in the grass, breathing in stories of stunted pitch pines. The house, grey clapboard weathered in sea air, loomed behind me. I remember walking on zigzagged boardwalks over brackish marsh. Jigsaw puzzles in yellow afternoon light, pouring across the floor like liquid pollen of no real substance. I still hold this yellow light. The stretch and scrape of the screen door spring as it opens, the loud slam as it shuts. Riding bikes down sand-strewn streets. Comic books and chewing gum. Beach grass swaying in salty breezes. The rising dunes in purple evening light.

sunday night

I thought I had something to say but I guess I was mistaken.

It may have been something about the coat rack falling off the wall for the third time in as many months.

There is no difference between the time the rack fell down twice before and the time it fell down today.

I could be wrong, though.

Instead of not posting anything, however, I wrote this.

We can blame Borges for this.

It is quite foggy out now.

Or is it mist. It may be mist. I’m not sure I know the difference.

the town

The highest point of the town held a water tower and once I rode down that hill on my scooter using my new shoe as a brake and when I reached the bottom I found the scooter’s tire had burned a big gash into the heel of my shoe.

The lowest point of the town held a lake and once I stubbed my toe in its silty bottom resulting in a trip to the doctor who poked holes in my toenail to relieve the pressure.

The town took away and it gave and it took away and it gave, sometimes it left parts of itself in me, parts that had to be removed, other times the parts remained encysted and grew into hard black stones that never went away.

The town visits me now, frequently, in my dreams. It is the setting for all types of absurd scenarios, completely unrelated to actual events, only tapping memory for details of setting, and even then playing sly with the facts, bending and shaping, but always leaving things just recognizable enough.

I find this unsettling as the town means nothing to me in my present life and I have not been there in many years. There is nothing there for me now. And yet it is the skeleton of my early life. The streets are the bones. There is a house somewhere that serves as the skull, with windows like eyeholes, looking out onto a world I was seeing for the first time.

I feel a pull toward the town and I don’t know why. I think it is the aching for a home, a place I know so well it is a part of me, inseparable from who I am and what I do. A known setting for my life, however I choose to live it, with scenery grown like vines through my blood and bones. The place where it all starts and ends. Home.

  • Recent Posts

  • Navigation Station

    The links along the top of the page are rudimentary attempts at trail markers. Otherwise, see below for more search and browse options.

  • In Search of Lost Time

  • Personal Taxonomy

  • Common Ground

  • Resources

  • BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS