Fogged in all day, the long, low horns announcing
the passing of another ghostship.
But we see nothing. It's as if a curtain had been dropped.
Go back into yourself, it says. None of this matters
to you anymore. All that drama, color, movement -
you can live without it. It was an illusion,
a tease, a lie. There is nothing out here but smoke
from the rubble that was everything,
everything you wanted, everything you thought
you needed. Ships passing, forget it.
Children bathing, there's no such thing.
Let go, your island is a mote of dust.
But the horns of the ghostship say, remember us,
we remember you.
april/3/21 3:27 AM
For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers.
I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests
and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone.
They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen
away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like
Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles,
their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there,
they struggle with all the force of their lives for one with all
the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves
according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent
themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a
beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked
death-wound to the sun,one can read its whole history in the luminous,
inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars,
all the struggle, all the suffering,all the sickness, all the
happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years
and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.
And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood
has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in
continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the
ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them,
whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.
They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach,
undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought,
I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that
the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form
and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in
my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to
form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my
fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that
every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my
seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust
that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of
this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer,
then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still!
Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those
are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your
thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your
path leads away from mother and home. But every step and
every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither
here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling
in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for
a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning.
It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering,
though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a
memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads
home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every
step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before
our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing
and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser
than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have
learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness
and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable
joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants
to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is
home. That is happiness.
David Berman quotes
3/12/21 2:24 AM
"There is no leisure with dignity in an unfinished world,
when you work for god, you have to dress nice everyday."
"Why must we suffer this expensive silence,
aren't we meant to crest in a fury more distinguished?"
"I think suicide worked for me.
Whether I died or not, I can't say for sure.
I do know that on the other side of the experience I feel a clear purpose where I lacked any before.
I also have no problem talking about it but it really seems to make "the neighbors" nervous."
"Ive been accused of underestimating eternity.
Im not in the business of evicting minotaurs."
"...i feel like an epileptic latched to a carousel..."
She woke me up at dawn,
her suitcase like a little brown dog at her heels.
I sat up and looked out the window
at the snow falling in the stand of blackjack trees.
A bus ticket in her hand.
Then she brought something black up to her mouth,
a plum I thought, but it was an asthma inhaler.
I reached under the bed for my menthols
and she asked if I ever thought of cancer.
Yes, I said, but always as a tree way up ahead
in the distance where it doesn't matter.
And I suppose a dead soul must look back at that tree,
so far behind his wagon where it also doesn't matter
except as a memory of rest or water.
Though to believe any of that, I thought,
you have to accept the premise
that she woke me up at all
This is meant to be in praise of the interval called hangover,
a sadness not co-terminous with hopelessness,
and the North American doubling cascade
that (keep going) "this diamond lake is a photo lab"
and if predicates really do propel the plot
then you might see Jerusalem in a soap bubble
or the appliance failures on Olive Street
across these great instances,
because "the complex Italians versus the basic Italians"
because what does a mirror look like (when it's not working)
but birds singing a full tone higher in the sunshine.
I'm going to call them Honest Eyes until I know if they are,
in the interval called slam-clicker, Realm of Pacific,
because the second language wouldn't let me learn it
because I have heard of you for a long time occasionally
because diet cards may be the recovery evergreen
and there is a new benzodiazepene called Distance,
anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship.
I suppose a broken window is not symbolic
unless symbolic means broken, which I think it sorta does,
and when the phone jangles
what's more radical, the snow or the tires,
and what does the Bible say about metal fatigue
and why do mothers carry big scratched-up sunglasses
in their purses.
Hello to the era of going to the store to buy more ice
because we are running out.
Hello to feelings that arrive unintroduced.
Hello to the nonfunctional sprig of parsley
and the game of finding meaning in coincidence.
Because there is a second mind in the margins of the used book
because Judas Priest (source: Firestone Library)
sang a song called Stained Class,
because this world is 66% Then and 33% Now,
and if you wake up thinking "feeling is a skill now"
or "even this glass of water seems complicated now"
and a phrase from a men's magazine (like single-district cognac)
rings and rings in your neck,
then let the consequent misunderstandings
(let the changer love the changed)
wobble on heartbreakingly nu legs
into this street-legal nonfiction,
into this good world,
this warm place
that I love with all my heart,
anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship
2/28/21 3:00 AM
Passage from Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse:
But how do you mean that people like us with a dimension too many cannot live here? What
brings it about? Is it only so in our days, or was it so always?"
"I don't know. For the honor of the world, I will suppose it to be in our time only - a disease,
a momentary misfortune. Our leaders strain every nerve, and with success, to get the next war
going, while the rest of us, meanwhile, dance the fox trot, earn money and eat chocolates - in
such a time the world must indeed cut a poor figure. Let us hope that other times were better, and
will be better again, richer, broader and deeper. But that is no help to us now. And perhaps it has
always been the same"
"Always as it is today? Always a world only for politicians, profiteers, waiters and pleasureseekers, and not a breath of air for men?"
"Well, I don't know. Nobody knows. Anyway, it is all the same. But I am thinking now of
your favorite of whom you have talked to me sometimes, and read me, too, some of his letters, of
Mozart. How was it with him in his day? Who controlled things in his times and ruled the roost
and gave the tone and counted for something? Was it Mozart or the business people, Mozart or
the average man? And in what fashion did he come to die and be buried? And perhaps, I mean, it
has always been the same and always will be, and what is called history at school, and all we
learn by heart there about heroes and geniuses and great deeds and fine emotions, is all nothing
but a swindle invented by the schoolmasters for educational reasons to keep children occupied
for a given number of years. It has always been so and always will be. Time and the world,
money and power belong to the small people and the shallow people. To the rest, to the real men
belongs nothing. Nothing but death."
"You mean a name, and fame with posterity?"
"No, Steppenwolf, not fame. Has that any value? And do you think that all true and real men
have been famous and known to posterity?"
"No, of course not."
"Then it isn't fame. Fame exists in that sense only for the schoolmasters. No, it isn't fame. It is
what I call eternity. The pious call it the kingdom of God. I say to myself: all we who ask too
much and have a dimension too many could not contrive to live at all if there were not another
air to breathe outside the air of this world, if there were not eternity at the back of time; and this
is the kingdom of truth. The music of Mozart belongs there and the poetry of your great poets.
The saints, too, belong there, who have worked wonders and suffered martyrdom and given a
great example to men. But the image of every true act, the strength of every true feeling, belongs
to eternity just as much, even though no one knows of it or sees it or records it or hands it down
to posterity. In eternity there is no posterity."
2/19/21 12:17 AM
The Job Application
I am a poor, young, unemployed person in the business field, my name is Wenzel, I am seeking a suitable position,
and I take the liberty of asking you, nicely and politely, if perhaps in your airy, bright, amiable rooms such a
position might be free. I know that your good firm is large, proud, old, and rich, thus I may yield to the pleasing
supposition that a nice, easy, pretty little place would be available, into which, as into a kind of warm cubbyhole,
I can slip. I am excellently suited, you should know, to occupy just such a modest haven, for my nature is altogether
delicate, and I am essentially a quiet, polite, and dreamy child, who is made to feel cheerful by people thinking of
him that he does not ask for much, and allowing him to take possession of a very, very small patch of existence, where
he can be useful in his own way and thus feel at ease. A quiet, sweet, small place in the shade has always been the tender
substance of all my dreams, and if now the illusions I have about you grow so intense as to make me hope that my dream,
young and old, might be transformed into delicious, vivid reality, then you have, in me, the most zealous and most loyal
servitor, who will take it as a matter of conscience to discharge precisely and punctually all his duties. Large and difficult
tasks I cannot perform, and obligations of a far-ranging sort are too strenuous for my mind. I am not particularly clever,
and first and foremost I do not like to strain my intelligence overmuch. I am a dreamer rather than a thinker, a zero rather
than a force, dim rather than sharp. Assuredly there exists in your extensive institution, which I imagine to be overflowing
with main and subsidiary functions and offices, work of the kind that one can do as in a dream? --I am, to put it frankly,
a Chinese; that is to say, a person who deems everything small and modest to be beautiful and pleasing, and to whom all that
is big and exacting is fearsome and horrid. I know only the need to feel at my ease, so that each day I can thank God for
life's boon, with all its blessings. The passion to go far in the world is unknown to me. Africa with its deserts is to me
not more foreign. Well, so now you know what sort of a person I am.--I write, as you see, a graceful and fluent hand, and
you need not imagine me to be entirely without intelligence. My mind is clear, but it refuses to grasp things that are many,
or too many by far, shunning them. I am sincere and honest, and I am aware that this signifies precious little in the world
in which we live, so I shall be waiting, esteemed gentlemen, to see what it will be your pleasure to reply to your respectful
servant, positively drowning in obedience.
-Robert Walser, 1914
The Man with The Pumpkin Head
Once there was a man and on his shoulders he had, instead of a head, a hollow pumpkin. This was no great help to him.
Yet he still wanted to be Number One. That's the sort of person he was. For a tongue he had an oak leaf hanging from his mouth,
and his teeth were cut out with a knife. Instead of eyes, he had just two round holes. Back of the holes, two candle stumps flickered.
Those were his eyes. They didn't help him see far. And yet he said his eyes were better than anyone's, the braggart.
On his pumpkin head he wore a tall hat; used to take it off when anyone spoke to him, he was so polite.
Once this man went for a walk. But the wind blew so hard that his eyes went out. He wanted to light them up again,
but he had no matches. He started to cry with his candle ends, because he couldn't find his way home.
So now he sat there, held his pumpkin head between his hands, and wanted to die. But dying didn't come to him so easily.
First there had to come a June bug, which ate the oak leaf from his mouth; there had to come a bird, which pecked a hole
in his pumpkin skull; there had to come a child, who took away the two candle stumps. Then he could die.
The bug is still eating the leaf, the bird is pecking still, and the child is playing with the candle stumps.