Category Archives: illuminations

Altar-building

Mother, I will build for you a ceremony of words.

Intonations, as I gather the brick-dust fallen from the heads of those burnt men and women filing tearless in the heat. They were building the bricks some of us will use to build our ‘havans.’ And I will chant under my breath as I run to gather the threads fallen loose from the dyed fabrics and the dyed hands of those who make our celebratory garments. I will, Mother, pant alongside the cattle being driven to market, waiting for the celebratory feast. I will walk with the farmer who dons his drums and feathers and travels to the city to make coins for his fickle harvest. I will heave and shout with the dark energetic boys on lorries who run the neighborhood shows, a few days to focalize youthful energy and rage. I will watch the crowds and the carnival, their emotions and their doubts sharpened by display. I will watch those who religiously abstain from such topsy turvy opiate festivals.

And I will etch with a little stick the altar I want to make for ‘you,’ the bricks of my lists, the chants of my queries. For nothing else makes sense of this senseless earth, its thrashing lives, its vast solitude in the cosmos. Without an accounting, this mind-hull of heaven is Nothing.


Changing the World

When we say we wish to change the world we merely mean that we want to fix it in a form of our own making. For the world is always changing, and we enthrone shadows in the end.

All our battles of work and love come to mean the preservation of what we wish the world to be. We suspend it between this or that heaven or hell and try to chastise it into being.

When it is not to our liking, we punish it, or ourselves. We die when we punish what we love in the name of something else we would love. Utopias (nowheres) are by their definition the projections of our desires.


Change

You, Man, go on, tear up the script. I want to see the edges of that paper tear the light when you do it. Sharp edges. Make splinters when you scour wood. And raw, inflamed, cold skin. Scrape it out.

 
And you, Woman, cold as fury, you shall be ice shards in the wood fence. The bits that will pierce him when he reaches for the gate. Unable to burn, you will disappear and leave naught but the thought that if this is winter there must have been another season, too.


Doors

‘Tis a terrible thing, isn’t it, to know that one is utterly responsible for every act, every instant, of this long and strange life…

How does one map the golden dust between the weight of this cross on one’s shoulders and the serenity of freedom? The smiles on all those sculptures say that freedom confers serenity. Others say justice is serene, or should be, and take solace in human formulations of transcendent law.

Crouching at the foot of all things tall–altars, crosses, saints, gods, statues– where do I put aside this bundle of grief? It seems out of place in thy philosophy. I cannot enter, my liege.


Sugarman, there is no why

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/movies/malik-bendjelloul-36-dies-directed-sugar-man-movie.html?_r=0

There is no why. Our questions are allowed, but no answers.

It is heady to flirt with the darkness and the light. Death is enormously seductive in its anonymity but not for those who want to go in and find anything out. You have to be willing to surrender, and do so without belief in a higher grace. That’s why, perhaps, suicide is called a sin; it sins against the possibility of hope, forgiveness, redemption and all that grace, and the agent takes all choice in hand, leaving none for a god. The witnesses cannot bear that. That loss of hope.

For the acteur, to choose death is a surrender unto the archetypal Servant, to consent to become a momentary mirror for whatever we see facing us. To have done with the broken knees of the world.

Is death so different then from the archetypal Lover, the dark eternal god? Both death and god will be angered, because you have come to them before they asked for you, but the deed is done and they, being lovers, must still make it difficult for themselves to allow you to join them. So they ask for a price, a final discharging of debts before the merging. The shoulders of the world.


Reckoning

The poet, a man, had stacked body, heart, mind and god against himself.

I, being what I am, stack body against heart. There! The kindling is laid, and the cross.

 


The caves at Ellora and Ajanta

 

Then I had confronted the stony-faced gods. These are my memories.

Feet, lamps, and monuments of stone rubbed little by little by relentless adoration. This is any temple.

A partial vision of vertiginous weight of rock and time. What went into the building of these? Who decided what statues, what figures, were there intrigues over preference and representation, what philosophies were poured into the ears of rulers, what persuasive arguments—

The ribs of god and man, rungs of our aspirations, vessels to contain our fragile thought-arguments. Flesh passes, this remains as memory.

Calculated architecture. This place was meant to impress upon the willing mind a realization, a philosophy, a structure of the cosmos. In flickering firelight, these figures must have moved to life, the chanting and the breathing of pilgrims resuscitating the relations of things time and time again, until the eye and the ear would take in as one this central structure of figuration, and the world outside the cave would take on meaning as formlessness to form and would become less frightening, a little blessed.

Cave 11, then, gathers unto itself our gaze, the world, all perspective, and draws us in. The truth sits there, yet is not embodied, so the Ego is an illusion and stone is a metaphor.

A sudden spyhole in the wall along a very steep staircase. Why was it made? Who approached thus seen?

Stone suddenly leaping to miniature virility—the belly of a horse, the thighs of a woman, powerful, steady.

The anonymity of a part of one cave. This could be any temple, any fort. This is indifference, is it not, when every place of worship begins to look the same, (and, some would say, thus argues for the compelling and universal value of all)?

An odd little creature, intent in its expression, assenting, inviting, accepting, yet capable of amusement.

Remote and inaccessible. The lighting merely draws life out of them, so that their soul retreats, they become merely the work of man, crafted things of symmetry and thought. Fire is essential to man’s psyche.

Too, the impenetrable mystery of stone. Something so large in so small a cave, placed where too many cannot crowd in, not like the temples we know. This was done deliberately. (see #22) Why? To force the seeker to enter alone, silent, to seek and receive with responsibility? Because this wisdom was not to be received, because Buddhism was rebelling against the heel of the priests of Hinduism in that time? But when you enter, the lit stone is flat. You must know in advance, prepare for this meeting, or else what you receive is nothing in its disappointing particularity.

Suddenly, atop pillars hidden in the gloom, thrones of emotions, boats of dreams. Who told the workers what to carve? The frozen emotions above me, unabashed.

If you wait, the pictures begin to complete themselves. They go a little way, and then we are at a loss to imagine their endings. This is art, it has a palpable effect beyond its teaching, yet one must know, to see both art and the sublime.

Humanity, and the mirror of the gods.

The ribs suddenly populated by the human story, just like a Maori meeting house. House of the people, mind of a collective One.

A place where people were meant to complete the paintings. This was meant to hold several, this was meant for speech, not contemplation. It was a place of the commerce of ideas, it held movement, now silent.

You see it thus, the earth’s rocks suddenly giving way to the refuge-worship of man, geometry and order and a peace emerging out of an indifference.

A more majestic phase now (remember #11). Thou shalt gather unto me like little children. This was a place of exaltation, of formal philosophy and a union of minds. The seated and painted figures high up near the window would bear witness as much as keep alive. No sibyls, they are atoms of proof.

Regal concretizations of a final formalized philosophy. Were these caves built later, for visitors and doubters and to establish the high place of a completed formulation of salvation?

The prone figure is supposed to be momentous. It cannot be viewed head-on. One must walk along a curved pathway around the inner perimeter of the cave, between close-set pillars on one’s left and richly mythologized figures on the other. This one is approached exactly as pictured. It is meant to be a finality. I do not think it asked me for worship. Its smile is absorbed in itself, elemental, like the mountains or the sea.


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