Archive for the ‘Domestic Training’ Category

Venturing Celestely

Saturday, February 26th, 2022

Mile after unexpected mile surround us, wrap us up in ribbons of new asphalt blackly cordoning off our sorrow. Like gauze, our memories stay light, transparent to the moment; there, but not all there is, even as we recall a silent ride on this road taken in the thin, slicing heat of the master's absolute fury, or the weight of his disappointment over a forgotten provision, pressing bare feet into similar paths.

The international concert of the artist that managed to get every last hotel in La Fortuna and parts beyond booked nevertheless failed to make enough of an impression so as to have their name remembered. Everyone knew the whole region was full, "of course", and that it was for "the concert", yes naturally, but of whom? "I think they're from Mexico". You could see it as bum luck, I guess, that in an otherwise lazy season, in the midst of a crisis of tourism, we managed to pick for an overnighter that one date presided over by anonymous Mexicanos with cult followings --but the better vantage is the one proposing it's a useful test. Of our preparation, patience, of what we've provisioned, of what we're ready to perceive. The very nature of traveling as we do, without promises, without pre-payments, free to call off whatever the fuck we feel like whenever we feel like it or don't, means occasionally some sort of bridge will be inexplicably out, inviting us to be creative.

Speaking of vantages, allow me to interrupt myself a moment to record the current, while the morning sun still dapples through it, warming my throat and shoulders as I perch above, Bimbo's excellent cold brew decidedly not steaming by my side. A grove of broad-leaved trees stretches out some pleasant walk's worth into the distance, old leaves and fallen flowers carpeting the way. These give off into a languid stream, where birds --kiskadees and montezuma oropendolas1 -- drink and flit, avoiding the occasional passing of a gardener in deep rubber boots. Against the crunch of leaves underfoot breeze moves through the trees in hushed, tremulous roars, cicadas insisting somewhere in the distance. The air is clean, gloriously unadulterated by anything whatsoever, which, while a near-constant of my life, is nevertheless noticable --a twist of perception I wish carried out as well in everything else.

In being disconnected from the daily flow of life I find myself tethered differently, that common paradox of acid-washing away life's incremental buildups. It's the earth; it's the sun; love itself, expression in leaf and language, undeniably abundant whether I feel like acknowledging them or not. I breathe in and bit by bit, the surroundings help me take the next, whether I want to or not.

rio celeste

Ah, but this view, this perch steeped in peace, had to be clawed and carved out of that National and International yet Apparently Solely Mexican Concert Debacle as I was saying earlier. So after a pleasant four hours' meander through familiar jungle paths to this, our intended sojourn, we found ourselves without a place to stay. "Let's just go to La Fortuna, there's a gazillion hotels, someone's gotta have something." Except that mecca at the base of Arenal was booked up right and proper, from unlit shanties barely indicated on the road to the big resorts with strobing signs suggesting the very essence of amenity.2 If it wasn't exactly a pity to turn around and head home owing to the beauty of the drive and the pleasure of having spent a day at trying, it wasn't all that ideal either, so as we turned our horses round I made a point of staying awake enough to see if we might not run into something rentable on the road back.

Twenty kilometers or so later, the "Bar and Marisqueria and Karaoke The River with Cabins" managed to meet the well-lowered criteria of 1) visible from the road, 2) with enough space in front to allow pulling off and stopping without having to brace against something3 . I asked a woman lounging around on one of the cut-trunk makeshift tables whether they had anything for the night, which sent her, all smiles, into the kitchen, which in turn produced a gruff if affable greyhair, evidently the owner-cum-cook. He reached under the bar and brought up a galvanized bucket containing a series of keys, and proceeded to fish around in it thoughtfully. Several keys were turned down despite the evidence that nobody else was there. Eventually, he seemed satisfied with No. 4, and gave it to the woman so she could show me what was on offer.

rio celeste

I've certainly stayed in dingier places, just not any time in all that recent memory. But it was cheap4 , reasonably clean, and the water did in fact run, so we took it, on the theory that we could check out some of the natural environs we'd come all this way for the next day, and see if the concert deluge had let up any, by then. We passed a fine night as only they happy enough with each other to let immediate circumstances fly for a while may, and though we woke up with nearly a hundred mosquito bites between us, we did manage to sleep. In the light of day, the place looked a little different, and we wondered idly whether the old guy had made this place his project long ago and meanwhile lost his determination, or if he was a newer owner intent (or not) on fixing it up. At any rate, it was apparent that at some point "El Rio" had been a life's aspiration, the nacre of a dream not quite capable of completing the pearl.

rio celeste

rio celeste

rio celeste

rio celeste

In a typically Costa Rican twist of the unexpectedly fabulous, this place's seafood was beyond exceptional. I don't know if I've heard of more dubious places to try fruits of the sea and fresh-caught filets beyond perhaps an airplane, but I've certainly not been more surprised. I think I had shrimps on the rice device or something.

rio celeste

With a new day decidedly afoot, we mosied back to our original destination and found it blissfully emptied of concert-goers, and so we let down our suitcases again. This time, much more comfortably.

rio celeste

rio celeste

A splendid because hard-won repose was had, and then I spent a while appreciating what a proper bathroom looks like:

rio celeste

So that's: a shower big enough to comfortably fit four or five people, a magnificently large, powerful, vertical shower head, and semi-transparent glass tiling to allow abundant natural light. The curtain's a bizarre if less noticable addition, but otherwise that was one of the best showers I've ever had, and I have no idea why more of 'em aren't designed exactly like this.

Also, the instant mini-bar, as supplied by the Strictly Trained Harem Kitchen Corps5 :

rio celeste

We spent a while refreshing and then set out to Rio Celeste, which at long last actually was the true object of this trip, that confluence of rivers where the water was supposedly bright turquoise blue. And, it was!

rio celeste

But that's a couple of hours' drive away yet; first, we stopped off at a...frankly, I couldn't tell you if this was someone's house, or a store someone else had started and kept passing on to family members who changed its contents every turn, or maybe some sort of community flea market or mini-storage or...they had big coconuts, at any rate, which is what I was after.

rio celeste

As I walked up, three middle aged women were rocking themselves in enormous, ratty barcaloungers, tinny bachata scratching itself out of some receiver somewhere in the piles and stacks of stuff. They slowly if enthusiastically organized themselves into opening a pair of coconuts for me while I looked around and tried to imagine the lives of they who produced this collection, and the organizational scheme, if any, of the owner, if such a role could even be said to exist.

rio celeste

rio celeste

Didja spot the chicks? Because they spotted you, and you don't look to be bringing them more watermelon.

Rio Celeste had been on the list of things to go see for a while, it's just that we'd made several attempts to check it out during the course of other trips and each time been thwarted by an unreasonably shitty road. On the last pass we determined through sheer trial and error that there are three approaches to the place, and the second's the one we want. As it turns out, what we really want is a combination of the first and second approaches, switching the one for the other at the halfway mark between the highway and the little track that winds up to the accessible part of the river, but anyhow; we finally managed, even if it still took a little backtracking.

There's a national park offering a hike to some stretch of this thing. There's also multiple problems there, such as being overrun by tourists and all the curio-and-overpriced-snackbar monstrosities that go with the clueless if loud and indolently milling throngs. It also "closes for entrance" at two in the afternoon, I guess because the locals don't want to see what happens if goofballs don't make it back to the trailhead before dark. I spent a while talking to a ranger, who described how to get to a different part of the river, outside the bounds of the park. Her directions being perfect, we quickly found our way to the river's edge. This one, with less official if still rather friendly greeters.

rio celeste

We walked a ways, enjoying the improvement in air that had already seemed unsurpassable. As with anywhere we go, and everything we do, we felt both the presence, and the lack of it, of that man by our side; or more properly, behind us, with some instrument of torture/toying/encouragement. It's as if the majesty of any place imprints the master on itself in the bas-relief of his absence, and even as I missed him with every step along the rocks, every appreciation of some new sight or creature, I nevertheless felt him there. And so we stopped and peered into the bright blue pools a while, until I surprised myself in deciding to go climbing out into the river's center rocks. "Why don't you just take your shoes off?" asked the Bimbo, but I shrugged and set myself the task of jumping and lunging over the streams of water just-so, and may my shoes get soaked if I can't manage.

rio celeste

But I did, and then the Bimbo joined me, and much revelry was had, along with plans to return.

And so the sun began its second setting on our voyage, and we turned again towards the glorious shower hotel. Which, as with nearly everything here, is a true voyage in and of itself.

rio celeste

I'd made a note to stop for a picture of this sign to a place anyone'd rightfully want to turn into, not even noticing the true gem of the Jbu in the background. Where is Jbu, you ask? It's where you go to Jbang, naturally. Oi-oi-oi-oing, boi-oi-oi-oing.

rio celeste

With another day successfully eaten and licked clean, we rose the next morning --which was when I began this winding diatribe-- with an eye to the trail advertised beyond the bungalows.

rio celeste

To diverge perhaps aimlessly yet again: as a child I was decidedly an urban creature, so surrounded by minimalls and ferroconcrete as to have never even climbed a fucking tree. I wasn't terribly interested, either; outdoorsy stuff, as far as I could tell, was all about spending a bunch of money you didn't have on "gear" you didn't seem to need in order to go make yourself really uncomfortable somewhere while you tempted fate to throw unexpected conditions at you, thus rendering the whole escapade moot. Particularly objectionable in all of this was the apparently mandatory inclusion of all manner of bugs.

Eight-year-old-me would be horrified at the prospect of hiking into the jungle, without even any repellent, what the fuck, aren't there like two-foot beetles and shit in there? Honey, most of this stuff hasn't even been classified. But I've learned that it doesn't give the slightest shit about me (or my preconceived notions, or my fears, or my preferences, or whatever else), and I love it, for it, for itself, for how far away it is from that past, geographically and paradigmatically, entire.

Besides, it's mostly plantlers, anyway.

rio celeste

rio celeste

Okay, and some bugs.

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rio celeste

If whacking a trail into the ever-ready creepers is as difficult as they say, the same they is extraordinarily adept. A wonderful trail, belying deep understanding of the place and what'd be a pleasant way to experience it.

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The hiking hiked, the river rio'd, t'was time to travel back to town, until the next adventure.

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  1. These are the guys famous for --other than looking like something scribbled on the margins of Pepperland (yes, the Sgt.'s)-- emitting a loud whoop and then dipping down and around the branch their claws stay gripped to. If anything's earned an ostentatious name, this species'd be it. []
  2. I'm not sure La Fortuna, or anywhere else in this minipok lillicountry, has ever been full in this sense before, hence no need for or even concept of "no/vacancy" signage. []
  3. Laugh, but if you've not done a "Let's see what we find" in Central America you'd be surprised how many "businesses" seem to have imagined all custom either coming in by foot or at the very least approximating the speed of such. I can't even recall how many places were insta-vetoed on the strength of being effectively gone once noticed. []
  4. To the tune of $15 or so. []
  5. That's: steak sandwiches, turkish eggplant salad, some fruited sparklvasser thing or other, and, of course, jars upon jars of cold coffee. The various milks and chocolate truffles were in the door and so not depicted. []

A Bloom in the Gloom

Sunday, December 19th, 2021

I was saying last time that Burt Plantcaster had sprouted a few flower stalks. A couple of days ago I ventured out on the balcony to take in the view/attempt an inventory of my withdrawal from the world1, and discovered that the very tallest stalk had blossomed!

flytrap flower

The reason the rest of this voracious and quite happy venus flytrap's so out of focus is, well --that stalk's safely over a foot long. But not to worry, the pods are still a-multiplyin'.

flytrap flower

PSA: I intent to continue supporting and encouraging Mr. Plantcaster's evident hellbentedness on ensnaring, then eating, then inflorescententaclizing, the world. Fair warning. And take heed, MP's pets blossom in the gloom of death.

  1. An odd concept, I guess; how can a withdrawal produce an inventory? It's really a sort of reverse-accounting. I have to keep track of what I've done and what I need to do in order to stop. You know, like the rest of life. The shadow and cast of things changes even if the causes do not. []

The Road that Winds and the Tie that Binds

Sunday, December 5th, 2021

Life drawls out in lengths of time, knotting over what's remarkable for being different, and what's equally remarkable for being the same. For all the careful skill and military precision in trip-planning we'd garnered over the years, on multiple continents and in many more languages, on foot, in cars, planes, trains, taxis --hell, there was even a llama involved, once--, the grandest trip, the one that really mattered, is terribly confused. Suddenly the very notion of the trip of life has lost its sense, and any concept of such a thing from outside these walls where our lives sped along at breakneck pace, always flirting with the cliffs, well...it's so trite and empty and outright alien as to throw into question whether there's really any common thread of meaning at all.

Not that it's particularly surprising; I'd fall back on the routines of the pointless and witless just as readily as I'd do anything but laugh out of hand at the various queries of aren't I "going back" to the US, or "to school", or "starting a commemorative EFT". Which is to say, not bloody likely. If there's a way forward, it'll be mine; it'll be ours, and I'll somehow have to make sense of what "way" means, now. Perhaps it's just another thing equally remarkable for being the same.

But here's a different thing: Burt Plantcaster has sprouted a flower stalk! Actually, between when this was taken and the time of this writing, which indeed spans a couple of weeks of malaise, he's grown a second, so: two! Two flower stalks! And I discovered just the other day that it's managed to catch a few weirdo species of hymenoptera on its own, fully digested &c, nothin' left but orderly exoskeleton. I've seen bigger carnivorous plants, but I've never seen one quite so happy.

road that winds

Same, and yet not: a certain celebratory holiday recently passed, and while the recipe for MP's favorite banana black forest cake remains the same, it was never quite so threatened from oversalting by tears. Somewhat threatened, yesofcourse, for how many times before the fineness of the right components and technique was finally found did girls stir, whip, and temper, tremulant, hoping against hope to get it right, to make something that would be consumed and loved and garner a little accolade? And what horrors might've come, were the sponge found too wet, were the mousse overdense, the ganache too far on the soft side? The unbearable disappointment! But this cake was a testament to the triumph of trial and error, perhaps even to the warm assurances of time: it was perfect.

road that winds

A trip within the trip: to the fabulous land of the bongalows. We took the glass one; why'd you choose anything else is beyond me.

road that winds

A lane leading from the bongalows to the shady goose glen, where fowl and toucans happily co-exist, tilapia swim underfoot, and there's a sloth doing nothing at all in a treetop somewhere nearby. Seriously, don't intimate that you're interested in sloths, lest you be whisked away in a golf-cart post-haste to be shown the favorite idling spots of some questionably discernable mammalians. All the ends of a sloth-seeing detour are the same: "Oh. Hrm. I guess...it's not moving."

road that winds

Wild guanabana. Which is not at all like a guava-ed banana. Or an iguana with a bandana. The guanabana's what you've got when you put the lime in the coconut mango in the bongalow. Do try and keep up.

road that winds

Speaking of fruit, don't toucans kinda look like they'd naturally grow on trees? And if they did, d'you think they'd be poisonous?

road that winds

The Tenorian lowlands, framed by a fence. The roads that wind around the volcano are particularly unkempt, more suitable for goats than cars, but otherwise the place is a cool bath for the soul, a semi-permanent thunderstorm just barely notyetbreaking over the endless fields of grass, where merled horses bow their heads and the odd crow hops on, tuft to tuft.

road that winds

Back in more populated places, crazy continues as a going concern even if its manifestations are ever-unfolding. See that sharp left about fifty meters ahead? He took it. I didn't have time to stop and count how many shits and giggles fell off.

road that winds

Pues, eventualmente volviamos en Valle Central, nos encontramos un mensaje especial para las que entienden la idioma Romana: cine cunoaste stie, la papiola sunt curvele cele mai gustoase.

road that winds

Which way is up, and which one's down, unanswerable even if what's right and not is just as accessible as always. Piece by piece I try to understand a plan, some days getting somewhere, others unable to do anything but stand still. That anything, through its continuity or its chaos, can be remarkable still, makes me think that steps still ought to be put down too, one in front of the other, attuned to what I've learned under the hand of the master. But the thought's half-hearted. Half of what's left, still beating despite itself, an absolutely aching heart.

road that winds

The Tragic Flaw

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

I won't repackage the truth by suggesting my master is a divisive figure; people are what they are, either curious or closed for the business of the mind. They are interested in truth or swaddled in confirmation bias. They have read, or they have not; they want to read, or they want to watch television. People are smart, or not, and they have a chance at becoming smarter, or they don't --this divide is made long before and deeply beneath their awareness of MP, who sheds light on these great rifts between people, with the perhaps obvious result that the side which comes out looking less appealing is ever invested in the attempt to make the difference look 1) cosmetic and 2) wholly caused by MP himself.

In the face of a man as evidently fluent and talented as MP, such attempts must grasp so fitfully at straws as to make them ridiculous rather than merely unfounded. Indeed the claims and smears and desperate ploys for consensus ran quite the gamut, from uninspired spins through the Rolodex of Shameful Epithets (racist! misogynist! gypsy! MEAN PERSON!) to all manner of fantasies that he was really multiple people, or even someone else entirely. None were particularly interesting, and certainly not important, past their fleeting entertainment value1, but I recall them now for the sake of a common thread I often tried to pluck and bring to master, for his microscope: the tragic flaw.

With Achilles at the center and spanning out in most, if not all, stories, the hero must have some attribute that makes him vulnerable, no matter what his powers and blessings might be. In fact, it seems as if the greater a man is, the more simple and accessible must be his tragic flaw, the better to let far lesser men hope for overcoming him. A Bovary in his simpish surmountability succumbs to the blind trust of puppy love, but a peerless warrior of Achilles' caliber must have a literal inch or two that offers his demise.

It's a search, of course, for balance, more practically the attempt to find a cause for fighting, rather than following, the hero. A reason not to submit in the face of what would otherwise subjugate the lesser party. This bare truth is obfuscated by the lesser's own inability to honestly self-reflect, and further muddied in the fashionable if hollow pretendings to some universal equality that would deny the possibility of greater or lesser at all. But universal equality is given the lie in the universal search for that one great flaw to explain away the great man's greatness.

I knew it then as I know it now: MP had no tragic flaw. No avarice, no vanity, no heel; his greatness, resplendent, was of the sort that needs no crutch to keep it counterbalanced, which is why each day his wealth, tangible or no, his breadth, writing or discovering, his brilliance, technical or artistic, grew. "Each day starts at zero," he told me once. And each day he built more.

Even the day, this summer past, when I woke him before dawn and was greeted with his warm embrace, when I drove him through the fields and valleys that he loved towards the ocean, when he told me "See you soon," and slipped into the sea, when he was caught by the current and I fought into it to grasp his hand: those seconds before his unconsciousness, in the utter chaos of doom, he looked at me with serious eyes, free of fear, and showed me how to die a hero's death. It was indeed the very heart of tragedy. But the flaw belongs to me, and to that ocean, and to the world.

  1. For which reason I suppose I should give an honorable mention to my personal favorite, that being the hysterical suggestion that MP only had one suit! []

Poisson, hubris, and punchlines.

Saturday, October 2nd, 2021

A while back I took a hard stance. It wasn't the first time I'd taken it, and it occurred to me at the time that it was remarkable my outlook hadn't much changed in the intervening years, despite a great deal of change in just about every category in which change can take place. Somewhere within, a voice, a notion, a guy1 even offered the idea that this stolid, stalwart approach in the face of reasonable arguments from far more experienced parties might just be a glaring sign of hubris.

But what checks had I on hubris, then? I answered to the man, and the man gave my mean little stance a place amongst the mottoes on his header. I cherished the complement, and took even greater pride in the hard line I'd chosen. The fates are cruel and the chances are slim, so grab a good sieve and dig in, indeed. I figured I'd passed the hardest test --to find him. That I'd continually, one way or another, passed all the tests in between --the struggle to give myself over completely, the daily challenges of whatever tasks or feats that were commanded of me. I'd failed countless times and risen again, I'd come dangerously close to permanent failure more than once, as well, but I was where and who I was, with who I was with, and so I had it cinched, that primordial challenge of fate, that gaping unknown of chance.

Until the world broke apart completely and swallowed up all that mattered in life. In a way I'd never imagined it could, though of course it could have at any point, in that way or in any other. It wasn't lost on me that life is short, nor precious, and yet...it was. Wholly, utterly, lost on me; in dark forebodings of the future I imagined crying on my master's shoulder on the death of one of my parents, which I knew would come, and not too far into the distant future. But the forebodings ended there, never fraying, not even in the smallest quantum, towards something as unthinkable or unbearable as master himself being the one to die. Even now I daily find my thoughts defaulting to the assumption that the whole thing is a stupid joke, some sort of charade, just another task-based challenge at which I'm doing particularly poorly. It just doesn't make any fucking sense.

And it occurs to me that I can prove it, if I lean on the Poisson distribution. Here:

poisson

So consulting the actuarial tables, one of the many thingseverythings I wouldn't know about if master hadn't deliberately and patiently taught me, we find that the rate of death by drowning in the ocean amongst adults aged 25 - 44 in Costa Rica is 2.3 per 100k population. We'll note that the sample spans 2007 - 2009 and be somewhat displeased with the size but appeased by the relative recency. Now, how many such beach trips did the good man make? I'll perhaps disappoint some by revealing there was no ongoing tally board somewhere showing how many of each particular diversion regularly shared in paradise took place. None, except of course, Trilema, which has and knows everything. So let's see, how many of MP's articles mention going to the beach? Ah, to query and to read over each one, to tally and to remember, to relive the unabashed joy and the exhausted pleasure, to bury that one June day's sickening horror in the bounty, voluptuous and wholly his, of all the times we'd been afore.... Well, that knocked a week or so out of me, in which forty or so such pieces were savored --taking pains not to count recountings from the logs, lest I find myself an excuse to truly never finish writing this. Thusly sated, we can also point out the easy cheat of cribbing the man's own 112 - 212 estimate, and taking the average at 162. Seems far more likely.

Let's find lambda, then. Given 2.3:100,000 from the insurance drones and our gnarly reality of 1:162, we'll knock the hundred thousand down to 43479 (I'm rounding up in favor of a clueless fate, nice as I am), and shove it into those 162 beach trips for a lambda of .0037. You see where this is going, do you?

Now we need k, the number of occurrences. That'd be one. One "occurrence", the only occurrence capable of stopping everything that occurs to matter.

(.0037 ^ 1) * e ^ -.0037 / 1! = .0037 * .996306839 / 1 = .003686335, and where a probability of 1 means 100% likelihood, we come out at 0.3686335%. Not half a measly single fucking percent.

Perhaps it's not so much that I'd taken a hard, an unreasonably hard line. Perhaps it's that it wasn't hard enough, because apparently fate and chance are a good deal crueler and slimmer than I'd ever imagined, to bless me with such unimaginable splendor, and then to take it away.

And no, I wouldn't for a moment change anything about it, save its having to end. I suppose that's the true punchline.

  1. Do you have little guys? Ones that doubt, ones that alarm about something, sometimes useful ones that can even be sent to chase after some forgotten item and return with the answer at some later, subconscious, interval? In my experience, most little guys are obnoxious, and can even be harmful at their worst, but they're not all to be painted with the same brush; some are truly useful, earnestly hardworking little guys! I wish I knew how to give them cookies. []

A few steps.

Friday, August 6th, 2021

Things fall apart, the poet said, before there was what to fall, before the deliverance from sloth and ignorance, homogeneous ruin.

I remember the early days; the miles walked, desperate to keep up with him. His steps, like letters on a rolling printing press, wrote in sidewalk echo the narratives that poured forth from his mouth, his hands, as the world passed beneath his feet. The soft sound of his footfalls stopped now here to smell some roses, now there to point out some crack in the familiar world, a shoddy roof, an accomplished ant trail. Or the toes would turn to me and I would stand before the reprimand; for not knowing my basics, for speaking out of turn; or he'd kiss me with his eyes lit up and open, all space beyond a foot from us receeding into nothing, never, what and wherever.

Across four continents I walked with, for, because of him. His walks made me become myself, because my self was forced into shape in the space between his strides, in the striving to match his pace, the will to follow his lead, in the perception of how beautiful any, every step with him could be. In palaces and through favelas, to tango and manele, noon and midnight, asphalt and jungle, sand and stone, we walked.

I am but one of many, I know, who learned to walk with him. Who learned a deeper love, or, rather, were left with no choice but to learn a deeper love of him through distances in time and space spent covering the world, real and abstract. My odometer gave up long ago, but the memories, I hold still, and know in other hearts and minds who knows how far away fundamentally similar if inescapably distinct memories float on, full of him. There is nothing in the world I should like better than another walk with the man. To walk forever, into the end, together.

Or just once more. Just one more walk.

To be a blog, and not a vase

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

From MP's A Conceit, or The Importance of Blogging:

So my friends : do not be afraid of all the things that are scary. The most they can do while under your gaze is make you stronger. Be instead afraid of the things you make no effort to understand, because from behind they can give you quite the sound trashing. And the worst part of it is... you'll likely never know.

What shall I say, that in the accrued naivite of my thirty-seven years, the lack of careful, methodical, documented inquiry into consciousness as a philosophical construct, I find myself indeed trashed, indeed from behind, with all the flavors and meanings of "quite" quite sprinkled on top? I could, because it's true, the one person I'd like most to talk it over with no longer so openly available to me, even if vast troves of his thought still exist for me to visit, again and again. I wonder if my knowledge would ever seem sufficient to me to handle the plurious and profound voids before me; in truth I doubt it.

I do not understand why, for knowing there cannot be an answer. I do not understand how, for having been there. I do not understand what --neither what death is, beyond some sort of trick I can't yet figure out, nor what life is now. At many junctures, I don't want to understand, I simply want to be let in. Let in on the joke, brought to the end so as to see the view with him again.

I could spend forever finding fault with myself, for having failed to give so completely in all categories so as to understand better now, but really it's a failure for having not died from any of the challenges he gave me. I would have, gladly, and I don't know why I didn't manage. Still, I never wanted to as much, as deeply, as truly, as I do now.

But no event, even if it's the implosion of the sun, actually makes my feelings more interesting. Nothing can make them matter. What matters now is the work of caring for what, of his, that I can. Inasmuch as that includes myself and his conceit of blogging, I shall push myself to produce more.

Called

Saturday, July 3rd, 2021

Around the turn of this year, Mircea Popescu and I wrote a book together: Dangerous. He described it as the greatest challenge of my life at that point, and he was right; just as he was right that it was my greatest joy. He wrote,

"For let it be known and trumpeted across the lands -- this is the life of the slave, the true life of the true slave. You wake one day and you are called, and it's always squarely outside of the reasonable, the reasonably expected, the what you thought might happen."

It was a rare day indeed, in my fifteen years under his hand, that I didn't meet with some new challenge, some task that took me beyond my comfort or natural inclinations (and how often are these things one and the same!). The disruption --difficult, often enough (but not nearly always, especially with time) sensually unpleasant, unwieldy-- grated sometimes more than others, but always required an essential thing: it made me open myself, somehow, in some way, to some degree, whether symbolically or literally or otherwise1.

On a Halloween's evening one year, we went out to a self-proclaimed costume party populated by some sort of theatre coven, where a selection of the more artfully attired were gathered on a stage. We watched for a few minutes as they went about their awkwardly-organized attempt at a contest, with voting and all, until MP grew sufficiently bored, and simply picked the most interesting of the girls there arrayed and told me to go ask her if she'd like to come out for coffee and cheesecake with us. "...you mean, when they're done?" "No, I mean now." I hesitated --a frequent fault, forever capable of some measure of harm and no measure of good and yet so often at the ready anyway. "Go on, who cares about their derpy show or whatever it is. Ask her." That feeling of opening pinpricked its way down my limbs as I walked directly across their stage in the middle of their presentation to have an apparently private conversation with the girl, who was standing next to her boyfriend, even. It could have been humiliating; that's what the ego wanted to believe just before it was forced to act, anyway. But it wasn't. All it did was make me more capable: of doing, for him, of answering, to myself, of confronting, others.

Soon after moving to Romania, and while I yet could speak hardly more than a few standard phrases, he pointed me to a certain radio station that played nothing but recitations of hymns. "Pick one," he said, "and write it down." "But I don't know what they're saying!" "Just write down the words you hear," he said. I knew only English, then. Lacking the mental gardens of language, I couldn't even really muster a verbal grid on which to fit the sounds that seemed to come in endless flurries of syllabic chaos, a deranged sort of musical scale: "sa la re na fa ma ca guh shtu fuh le me re deu meu zeu". I tried, more than once, to apologize out of it; clearly I wasn't good enough yet for this task, look how ridiculous, surely he wants me to stop now and be ashamed? "The whole thing." It stung like alcohol poured on a fresh cut that expected only a tentative, split-second dab, but then it stopped, and he laughed and he laughed, and as I recall he even telephoned some relations of his and read it to them so as to laugh with them at me, together. And the vulnerability cast me deeper in love, his control of the space within me, his to laugh at even, intoxicating.

I had a dream, once, that my master said: "Go and document all the water". And my panic was two-fold; on the one hand, for the difficulty in finding a way to even frame the project. On the other, the absolute knowledge that in any case, it must be done. Asleep or awake, in a day's work or in those tasks he gave me that took months or years to carry out, the ways that the man called me inexorably made me, make me, who I am.

And so as I rail against whatever medium will let me --the sky, the sea, the floor, the smiles of strangers who don't know, the watered eyes of those close to me who do-- pressing or cleaving or trying to extract from them what, what, what possible way could I have to meet what I'm called to do now, to witness his death, to exist in the world without him, I am compelled to remember that one essential thing: to make myself open. It's neither pin-prick nor sharp-sting, but a feeling more cutting, deeper and sicker and unbearably strong than anything I'd ever imagined before. It's so far outside of what I thought might happen that I find myself truly doubting it every other second, then reliving it the next. But I am here, and I will let it do what it will, to let it shape me or maim me or kill me or whatever besides, because it is what I have been called to do, and there is nothing else.

  1. I suppose, otherwise as in metasyntactically? Heh. []

Five days after the end of the world

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

Motto: "It all feels like the same scummy scuzzy sludge of drudgery."

Leaving the house, the candles blown out, the dogs approach but sense our sadness and turn, panting towards more living things. For we must count with the alive, and yet, we're not; not quite, ghost processes with all the bells and whistles of life but no real vigor. The town is robed in fog or blanched in sun; all the same. The faces, the voices of others grate, melded sameness of not-him, portals to worlds in which he did not tread, and so into which we cannot care to gaze or listen.

Inside our walls some hollow's sturdied up, like wooden rods supporting rag dolls. We muster and step. Muster and step. We make endless lists, holding hopeless tasks, some of which still seem hopeless when the day, whatever that can be, is done --and some of which are conquered. And when, after some hours spent in Master's unmade bed where we dig our faces into the mere visage of sleep, we rise, the realization somehow comes again, anew: life's gone, askew.

We tell each other to keep focus. We push for either to be strong. But the morning comes, and the mourning comes, and the world's now and forever wrong.

Goodnight, sweet Master

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

The greatest man who ever lived died this morning doing one of the things he loved best: playing in the ocean. It was the Pacific, that endless expanse that taught him how to love the sea, where he jumped the waves with his newest slavegirl and retired to epicurean picnics. A gliding threesome of pelicans crested the breaking waves in that spot where he defiantly breathed his last, skimming the water in a final winged salute.

Mircea Popescu did what he loved, did what he knew to be right; these were, almost without exception, the same. Unhesitatingly he gave all of himself to whatever work was at hand, whether it was comfortable or not, whether it came naturally or not, whether he knew it could be done or not. The result is that in the history of this earth, an earth not quite enough to serve a man so true, there has never been a greater example of any of the things that he was. A writer, a master, a tactitian; a manager, a cook, even a puppeteer. The work he has left behind is a remarkably vast and inequitably brilliant heritage, even if those left to attempt to appreciate it fall immeasurably short of its worth.

This was the man who took the head of the Romanian Academy to task, who exposed the broken Romanian baccalaureate and actually broke wikileaks, the man who identified countless scams in Bitcoin's nascent turmoil and the creator of its first and only true exchange; the man who forged a republic and when it proved impotent, had the strength to burn it down, the creator of Eulora, the author of more and better books, short stories, prose and poetry than any other who took up the pen. He touched essence and distilled it, and often in multiple languages. He did not merely gleam, he was resplenduminous, and at every point where his indomitable mind sparked against the medium of life, he left eternal fires in word and deed.

The world, indeed, was not enough, though he had it. Few and far between were the ones devoted and stalwart enough to let the man shape them with his many hammers. So very many tried, yet fell, and did not get to meet the unabashed glory of his love. For his love was the purest of miracles, capable of bringing beautiful things into being just as it was capable of razing them to utter destruction. It was only a force of nature itself that could have claimed him, and the rip tide that did was a furious exemplar in a place famous for dangerous waters. Dangerous, but fantastic; how he could possibly have found more suitable a place and a means to die is utter mystery.

But this most poetic death, mimicing the butterflies' final flight over the ocean of which he was so fond, came so soon on the line of his life as to render it the worst of all thefts. His life was robbed by the water, and the world entirely robbed of its light.

I do not need to record for you all that Mircea Popescu did and was, lists and rooms and great halls full of works that span subject and style and yet never fail to be excellent, because by his very nature he proclaimed it; loudly, freely, amply. That nature will ring out for all time.

From his work, 'Stop all the clocks (again)'

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent each dog from barking with your own hip bone.
Break all the strings, drill out the tuba and with muffled drums
Bring out the coffin, set ablaze the slums.

Let halves of aeroplanes turn overhead
Their smoking, broken cockpits dripping "He Is Dead",
Put dark crepe bows through every single feather of each single dove,
Gift each policeman one black velvet glove.

No further want for stars, go put them out ;
No roundness left for Moon, the Sun we'll do without.
Go pour the ocean in a cup and let it be misunderstood
After today, nothing can come to any good.

There can no further be such thing as song
I thought that love would last for ever. I was wrong.
It's time to swallow caltrops and wash them down with bleach
There's scarcely any further point to speech.

The sea you see was gloomly cried in place,
There used to be much sweeter water in that space.
The eagle's flight is broken and all geometric figures shattered
There's nothing left in place of all that ever mattered.

And so goodbye, there's nothing left except the time to die.