The peak

Suppose that

to experience

there is a geometry

 

a range of triangles

of different angles

different heights

 

they are set together, mountain-like

each one of its own kind

of its own time

 

to each, two vertically distinct sides, too

one for the way up, complemented by

another to come back down;

 

Now, if the better experience is

in heading up, and the best experience

of all, the tallest triangle of them all

 

how early on, in the unfolding

of your experience, would you like

to be on the ascent of that one?

The habit

Habit is not a perfect circle

but it does deceive the one who tries to abandon

for the further away has one moved from last commitment

the closer, in fact, is one

to committing again.

 

To leave a habit altogether,

it is not enough to walk away

the route from habit bends all the way round

and the faster the escape

the sooner is the trap met again.

 

Likewise, the soonest time after a habitual satisfaction

is all of determination strongest, too

to drop, to rid, never to repeat that again

yet this is also so habitual, so en route

that it is never by itself sufficient sign of circle evaded.

 

What, then, can be done and guarantee of habit-breaking?

Habit is not an indefinite circus

but it does elude the one who tries to abandon

in the belief that commitment is avoided at distance

when, in habit-having, distance is less truth and more performance.

 

So, circular, and the meeting more or less ineluctable

success is reduced to that moment

not away from, but in the face of, the latest encounter with a habit

where avoidance is limited to a jump

a saying “no” when most likely, for most prepared, to say “yes”.

 

Because a habit is not a perfect circle

a breaking is not impossible

but several revolutions will be likely necessary, several leaps

until a new habit is made out of that

and the trap of the old habit, still there, but not in the way anymore.

On Depression, Society and the Future

This is a difficult topic for me to open up about, especially because it is so personal. I have always been more comfortable thinking and speaking in abstractions and general ideas, the sort of things that don’t demand confessional outpourings but, rather, focus on impersonal speculation. However, my depression is a burden I have had to live with now for many years and, truth be told, hasn’t really been getting easier – I would say that the contrary is probably more accurate. Today, I have something that I would like to say about it, an appeal that I think very important and I hope brings forth some consideration.

Insofar as depression is becoming more and more “shareable” and “accepted” in a lot of areas of life, there is still a long way to go before we can, as a society, claim that depression has become totally destigmatised and socially appropriated. Currently, there are major problems with the way depression is treated at both the medical and political level. The most up to date institutional thinking frames depression as yet another disease of which the world must be cured. It is an approach that often means prescribing a lot of medication, attending extensive and expensive therapy and perhaps, in due course, undergoing invasive brain surgery – a likely development if this over-medicalised and, in my opinion, quite reductive view of depression is allowed to persist unchallenged.

With all due respect to the medical profession, I do really believe that continuing to push the issue of mental health down this route is fraught with many dangers. Or, better yet, that it is especially dangerous if we do not, at the same time, seek out and invest in the conditions to bring about a possible second direction. This one, opposite to the “cleansing” ideal, would be much closer to a real “acceptance” of depression in and of itself. Instead of placing all energy and resources into finding/producing a cure (the possibility of which is very much up for debate), there would be a societal shift towards creating the time and space where depression could actually breathe and be lived with, as opposed to suffocated via intensive pharmacological and therapeutic interventions. Alternatively, but not exclusively, what I am here advocating for is a political intervention as well.

It is not hard to see why the option of drugs and psychological analysis, has so far been preferred and why that of transformative political action actually appears to have several revolutionary implications. Selling pharmaceuticals and therapy is more profitable, and has the ideology-sustaining benefit of situating all the focus entirely on the individual as the absolute space of problematisation – where the whole of disorder, from source to manifestation is located within the individualised body of each sufferer. Effecting political reorientation, on the other hand, demands contemplating depression on a scale that surpasses the physical bounds of each person, something which is naturally going to mean fewer money-making opportunities, fewer things to sell to the individual consumer, and, in lieu of that, a greater application of collective resources – put quite crudely, adventuring down this route is, of course, much more expensive and makes pretty much no money.

In practice, it would mean socially reassessing the work-life balance, creating more flexible professional conditions, refinancing support schemes for those who struggle to sustain full-time employment, as well as ensuring that there is a wealth of pockets within the whole where anyone can seek refuge and feel safe, free of shame, feelings of failure and fear of financial reprisal. Fundamentally, it means dropping this chronic belief that the individual can be completely self-sufficient, a self-enclosed site of cause and effect, and that the only reason why he/she/they may not get on in an atomised world is due to either laziness, weakness, carelessness or some other personal flaw.

If we are going to get excited about “acceptance” and “destigmatisation”, we need to make our society truly supportive of those who suffer – and this, of course, goes far beyond depression. As friends, family and generally empathic animals, we can continue to offer our personal time and our care (conversations, cups of tea, hugs…) and play a crucial role in guaranteeing one another’s mental health. But, as something greater than that, as a massive group of people made up of sufferers and non-sufferers alike, we should be demanding that the social fabric that keeps us together, cultural, political and economic, start to adapt itself to our uniqueness and limits and not the other way round. With that greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts power that collective existence gives us to accumulate the wealth of life in such abundance, we should demand that this wealth be used to sustain all life just as much all life goes into sustaining it.

From strong Cause to mere Difference, either way Trans-modernism

I am the puzzle of a forgotten memory

or

just the presence of an impossible one

 

Either way, the process is always re(-)collection

to recollect a distant but motivated past informing the present

or

to re-collect the confusing terms of a present to build a more sensible future

 

Either way, being is a re(-)minder

a reminder of what of time now points unknowingly to a time before

or

a re-minder of how all time ongoing is but the repetition of itself without a full concept

 

Either way, there is a di(-)stance

a distance of time broken between past and present that reduces the latter to the former’s lunar re-presentation

or

a di-stance time put together by a difference that will never be caught by a single invitation

 

Either way, a person is a people

from the many possible iterations of a buried experience to the complex personhood they hold today

or

by the mercurial stand they cannot but assume from all the unstable difference perpetually flowing through them

 

Either way, the weather still needs company

the solar smile to wake us up from the ever-returning nightmare of the repressed

or

another half to complement the mere halves we rain down into at every possible moment.

 

Either way, either way.

 

Everything is the puzzle of a forgotten history

or

just the presence of an impossible one

Playtime – an analysis (or Part II)

What follows is an analysis of the poem Playtime, which can be found in its original form here. Some familiarity with the poem is recommended before engaging with this analysis.

To start, we shall look at some of the standout features of the poem, examining its setup and repetitions. Then, with this outline of the structure in place, we will turn to an analysis of each stanza in order of appearance. A brief conclusion about the ultimate setting of the poem will be drawn at the end.

Verse 1 of stanza 1 introduces a 3rd person plural subject which is the only active subject referenced throughout. On first reading, “they” appears to be a vague reference that opens a distance between the subjectivity of the action described by the poem and the poetic voice commanding the description. The action, in turn, “play”, has a two-instance expression: firstly, and very obviously, the verb “to play” evokes a style of activity that is either unserious or childish, or both; secondly, on further inspection, focusing on the use of this verb in context, as the elements and concepts interpolated, objectified, by it gradually appear and accumulate (fire, air, shape and metal), it seems, rather, that this choice of verb was itself a “playful” move on the part of the poet, signifying not something necessarily careless, but more innocent and improvisational – perhaps suggesting that the poet does not see himself as all that distant from the subject, after all. By extension of the apparent generality of these elements and concepts, it may be arguable that the subject “they” be of a similarly general nature, too: maybe vaguely referencing the people and groups who have brought such elements and concepts into action, “played” with them either accidentally, experimentally or tentatively throughout history.

Verses 1 and 2 of stanza 1 repeat in stanzas 2, 3 and 4, changing only, each time, in the elements or concepts named (fire-water; air-earth; shape-size; metal-gold). After verse 1 of each stanza repeats the same subject and verb again and again (“they play with…”), verse 2 discusses a transformation of the element or concept into an opposite (stanzas 1 and 2), a complement (3) or a higher form of (4). This outcome of the experimentation (“play”) produces, perhaps accidentally, perhaps through improvised control, but never intentionally outright, a result departed from the point of the initial action (“play” with: fire, to water; air, to earth; shape, to size; metal, to gold). The first action (verse 1) always leads to a distant outcome (verse 2).

In stanza 1, fire played with transforms into water, drowning a forest and burning the roots on which the latter had stood. The oxymoron fire-water seems a little difficult to extricate in the immediate sense. There is, in verse 3, an initial insinuation that the water is that which destroys the forest by submersion (“it drowns the forest”), but reading on slightly further, in verse 4, the notion of fire returns as the roots are burnt to ash (“the roots to ash”). A bit of interpretation is required, therefore, and there are two that spring to mind:

On the one hand, water could be standing in as a descriptor for the behaviour of the fire after it has been set, as it flows outwards from its starting point, beyond sure control, slipping through “their” hands, slowly overtaking the whole of a space (“forest”), swallowing it (“it drowns the forest”), and lastly burning through to the core (“the roots to ash”). Under this interpretation, the “play” action with “fire” turns out to be an experimentally reckless exercise, a curiosity that led not only to a destruction of the manifest (“forest”) but altogether to an erasure of its historical presence (“roots”) – the very sense that gave experimentation a meaning, the discovery of the new and the making of history is endangered by the experimentation itself. Overall, interpretatively, this seems to signal towards the folly of human activity, how one action begun in innocence is not by reason of innocence alone liberated from having potentially destructive or even annihilating consequences.

  • On the other hand, fire and water could be seen as two halves of a total action, where a fire set must be put out, and with water being the often-chosen element to starve it of its oxygen sources. So, water would have a more physical role to play and “drowns” would have a less literal significance, but signify the requirement of a secondary action (“it turns to water”) in the late(r) attempt to prevent an all-consuming fire from consuming all (“the roots to ash”). In the frame of this second interpretation, “they play with fire/ it turns to water” would point to how one action often begets a second action either to negate or complement it: experimentation, or action more generally, does not end where it begins.

The second stanza “plays” on the same oppositional dimension between elements, this time air opposed to earth. Metaphorically, “playing” with air which then turns to earth, could be interpreted as the reciprocal relation that exists between mythology and government on the ground, religion and moral codes, or even space exploration and the way it affects how humans understand themselves and life more generally (“it sets the kingdom”). It is a relation of vertical distance where belief in an extra-terrestrial otherness (ethereal, heavenly or outer-spatial) is the location whence the setting of the human realm attains heavy coordination. By playing with the Gods/possibilities of another world/realm (“They play with air/ it turns to earth”), “they” create a political reality (“it sets the kingdom”), which always maintains a semi-physical connection with the superior place by ritualising several earthly practices, such as that of the burial of the dead (“and death below”).

On top of this interpretation of stanza 2, a second interpretation may be added. Instead, if “playing” with air is seen as a sort of building up, not into another realm, but from the same one in which human government takes place, as a growing up both literal and metaphorical (the “air” can be a metaphor for a more earth-bound imagination or aspiration), which can only be realised via the use/manipulation of the material present in the earthly spaces (“They play with air/ it turns to earth”), through a modification of the already manifest, of the already present, such that the substance of the earth becomes reshaped with each new build, each big “play” with the air; if that is the case, then this new “kingdom” might be said to have been built, each time, on top of an old one (“death goes below”), redesigned by the latest “play”. The conclusion of this second reading would be a vision of experimentation or doing separated between a vertical intending (“air”) and a horizontal change (“earth”) with  the old forms of the ground, the old aspirations, always buried (“goes below”) in favour of a new form according to new aspirations.

The third stanza, conversely, presents a change from elements to concepts. Here, the difference between shape and size is evoked in a metaphorical context which is perceived not without some difficulties. To get to the bottom of this difference and its meaning, a bit of deep reading will be required. Considering that size “falls too big”, and taking a hint about vertical distance as evoked in the previous stanza, as the difference between the arid and the material: if size is that which is “big” and “falls”, then shape might constitute the formal extent of what falls, which is, the idea. Shape might be metaphor for the outline, form or idea of something, and size the material comport of something as made fully present. The suggestion that this stanza makes seems to be that “playing” with ideas always transforms into the production of something (“it turns to size”) which becomes too much or more than what had been ideally expected (“it falls too big”). This materialisation of the idea can be looked at from two distinct angles, but each appropriate and offering a meaningful force to the contention between shape and size. So, the transformation happens in either one of two ways: through the unexpected extensions of the material which the idea suffers in transition, as a thing gets made it takes on more (size) than planned; or, similarly, the same effect of getting bigger than first expectations/ideas but by its translation through the conversational, the sharing of the idea with different players in the game of shape. Ultimately, the consequence of “it falls too big” is that the Idea falls out of step with the world it had believed to be working from/within/towards, and is forced to think again (“the world anew”); after the expiration of a vision of Idea through its “objectification”, everything starts again.

The third stanza, in the framework of the whole poem, reiterates, for a second time, the sense of duality/distance existent within the (“playful”) action of the subject “they”. According to the first three parts of Playtime, the actions of the subject take on a dualistic character whether for being unpredictable/reckless (fire-water), modifying with or without a trace (air-earth), or unfinished/repetitive (shape-size).

The fourth and final stanza offers another break in texture, but punctuates the theme of the poem to bring it to a close. After “playing” with metal “they” get gold which sits atop all their actions (“it crowns their efforts”) though with the warning that this “crown” has been moulded not from a clear or definite idea, intention or thing, but something less so (“a cast of shadows”). The question is, why would this (presumably) golden crown be cast of shadows and not represent the marking of something in itself more whole, more certain, something which the light hits directly? The effect can probably be seen in the double service that the gold itself has to perform: it is not just the achievement of all achievements (of the totality of experimentation, so far), but the material used to fashion the symbol of this greatest achievement, too. Gold, or the literal equivalents which it represents metaphorically, is only the highest form of the thing which it is (“metal”) for as long as no others higher than that result from further experimentation. In other words, the height of the highest can only be measured according to itself. There is an inextricably relative limit to knowledge.

This interpretation of the final stanza thus concludes two things: first, the end from which the results of experimentation are derived remains unknown, understood only tentatively through the meantime things that appear and accumulate from the “play”; secondly, and finally, it submits that all of “their” relations to the great unknown are indeed experimental, temporary, insufficient, inasmuch reducing every action that pretends to go further than where it starts to a sort of “play”, or experiment, with repetition underlying the need of action either to nullify itself (fire), to distance itself (air), to confirm itself (metal); or, further, with repetition underlining the simple accident of action, via the materialisation, ever-being greater than possible concept (shape).

Playtime ends with this sense of distance or gap present before (fire), during (air) and after (shape; metal) an activity that looks very human. It describes action in the larger sense as an unfinished experimentation perhaps always that much closer to self-annihilation (“the roots to ash”) than formal completion (“a cast of shadows”).

The dancer

Dancing as movement, either by rotation around a space, or repeat stepping, turning and retracing through it, is the drawing, defining and/or re-minder of the spatial Centre. Formation and repetition are the essential components of Centre-iteration which is nothing other than the physical depiction of anthropomorphised geographical being.

Dancing as gesture and gesticulation, is the opening of time upon the landscape of a body that takes from the sun, reflecting light, at its own orbital pace. The dancing body moves through and into different time zones altogether, echoed from the texture and dimensionality of the intra-corporeal action of the dance.

Dancing is the art of the border and the manipulation of the temporal.

The Balloon

Untethered at last, a balloon bag of air and blood

Lightly assumes to the light bringing to the boil

A storm of fluid and gas within, it rages, sings

The melody of civil war, ‘til it will no more

the catastropic energy of a flightless egg

 

Skittish away up through the firmament, where bound when

Unbound, wind from all sides pressing the puffy cover

Of rubber skin, would the hands that let it go hold now

Sooner recoil from the thunder of touch singed by

the tropical scene of a bird reshelling itself

 

Past the forever-space flood barrier it is lost

Forever, but it was lost anyway, now forever,

The light, the thunder, the tropic that hazes within,

Forces of inflation without regret, without love

setting off vast clouds of balloons that will never hatch

Playtime

They play with fire

it turns to water

it drowns the forest

the roots to ash

 

They play with air

it turns to earth

it sets a kingdom

and death below

 

They play with shape

it turns to size

it falls too big

the world again

 

They play with metal

it turns to gold

it crowns their efforts

a cast of shadows

Desire

Ever since I was of age enough to desire truly

I have not been able to bring myself through words and time

To the meeting place where the daydream of seduction sparks

Without rerouting unforewarned to a safer address

Or screaming soonest what a timely speech later reveal

 

The years have been many and the occasions almost countless

The approach to trying to approach always breaks the same

The intensity of the desire burns from hope to shame

A belief in the new, the will to the unknown, take root

Then yanked by the des-pair that cannot self and love together

 

I have asked myself why, rethought the cold story of cause

Also told myself off, let myself off, sworn on, sworn off

The role I play in the stale theatre of my head holds

The wreckage just ahead awaits with a sinister smile

Rehearsed to death: the chasm in my expedition with desire.

 

If the meaning of desire is a want that needs whole

Putting the end of the self at the start of something else

Where the meeting point would time a rebirth in a full person

The self half of something before, and after if unmet,

How does a thing grow twice its size if not enough already?

 

Maybe it is time to reflect on a new truth of feeling

The thirst of wanting, the task of willing, build on a castle

It is ruined, empty, out of time but still stands in spite

Repeating like an unfinished death, an unbanished ghost

Suspended in desire for life-or-death absolution.

 

Now that I am of age enough to expect myself truly

I have not been able to encounter through words and time

The solemn place where the nightmare of desire returns

Without looking at myself wanting more than what I see

Or trying to call the desired more than ruined “me”.

 

The meeting, to work, therefore, must be two halves kept so

No transcendental transactions of flesh, mind or spirit

No hot exorcisms or holy revivifications

But a mutual seduction set on shared revelations:

That halves cannot fulfil desire and Love is acceptance.

The return of the human

I see an empire falling when

its children put their bodies on the line

to hinder the outline of its advance

 

I see a looming collapse when

the empire’s new native, its own offspring

uses an untested power to squeeze the centre back

 

I see a dynasty drawing to a close when

it can no longer bear, despite itself, either in weight or idea

the quantity of its accidental spawn

 

But I see a World in motion as

those born within are ready to go without

tear down their inheritance in the name of a new heritage

 

Then, I see the myths of the empire coming undone as

it repurposes the language of conquest, terror and violence

to promulgate the destruction of its own

 

Which sees the true face of the empire as

something which was never “ours” to begin with

but the metastasis of a far more anti-human force

 

So, as I see the downfall of this empire

I see the return of the human

I see only humans in these children fighting for the dead and the unborn.