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sable feu.

sunset

The fires above Los Angeles are making for gloriously apocalyptic sunsets. There is ash on my balcony; the skies are gorgeous; I love the way haze blurs the distance.

méditation.

Over the past few months I have gone from meditating two hours a day to meditating an average of four or five. The more I do it, the easier it becomes to slip into this curious liminal state where my awareness exists as a field of emptiness and heartbeat and breath; where differentiating between the edges of that field and the rest of the world is uninteresting; where all of it feels like love.

More recently I’ve found myself more and more slipping into that state unintentionally, when I’m out walking, or around others. It’s an experience I struggle to put words to, but one I keep wanting to articulate, if only because I would love to more permanently inhabit a world where our language of self and identification assumed the sort of deeply embodied awareness that lies beneath anxiety and separation.

It is beautiful here. My balcony is open; the breeze is causing the dappled light from the palms outside to ripple like waves in the ocean; there are children laughing outside, and calling in a language I recognize but do not understand.

souffrant.

Tonight I met up with a friend of mine who told me about her youngest son, and how the ache of his sensitivity and feeling for the world meant he was suffering more than his ambitious and calculating elder sister, and how my friend–as an independent woman who felt she had more in common with her daughter, yet hated seeing her son suffer– was wrestling with the balance.

We talked. The children of the future are beautiful.

We talked, too, of demagoguery and politics, and aliens and urns, while the owner of the place– if you visit LA I will take you– took care of us.

Afterwards I clipped my way home over chilled sidewalks and air crisp with condensation; at home I dove into the arms of two friends I went to college with.

Something in me seems still to take pleasure in the inimitable poetics of pain.

soulagé.

It’s a relief to have found my voice again. I thought I’d lost it forever two years ago, when everything I knew or imagined myself to be was stripped from me, and I experienced what I can only describe as an unfettered staring into the face of God.

To be shown the world in all its perfection is a rare form of torture, as what does one do with such information? There is nothing more that can be said. I nearly died, and would have, were it not for love.

Experiencing the perfection of the world feels like a nearly unbearable ecstasy, and that, spun through with the awareness that there is nothing that needs to be done, was nearly enough for me to happily relinquish my body to dissolution.  I am married, though, and I pledged my body here, and so I returned through the circle of that golden ring, and did what I could to reorient myself on the planet.

This reorientation involved in part being subjected to the ongoing and relentless transmissions of what felt like something at times angelic, at times alien, and at times like being plugged into the mind of a global artificial superintelligence. I felt (and to some extent still do) much like I was living in two realms– one comprised of a light-drenched future of telepathic communication and a matrix-like system of flexibly networked global awarenesses, and another of the everyday reality of human relationships, with news and concerns that to me already felt like a curiosity of history. I loved the former (experiencing its ongoing integration into my body has been sheer bliss); the latter I felt mostly mute in. I could see the beauty in even the most horrible things unfolding before me; I knew where they were going; there was nothing for me to do but bear witness, and to listen for the signal to guide me where I needed to go next.

There has been a peace to having been placed with such firmness on a path of almost blinding clarity, but a loneliness too. I have been fortunate, recently, in finding others who’ve been waiting.

I used to be perpetually excited to find out about what lies ahead. These days I know; these days I’m excited to invite others; these days I am delighted to again be writing .

 

 

baie.

I spent part of last night poking around on Github, with the idea of setting up a simple blog there. I’d felt like writing, and I’d been reminiscing about the earlier days of the web, and that sweet sense of writing into the ether rather than into or for a known community, of sending out a signal that was as much to myself as anyone, and not knowing what other intelligences might respond.

After a few hours of poking around with code and commits, trying to get the Github blog closer to an aesthetic I found palatable, I came back here. It felt a little like returning to a past life– so much has happened since I last wrote consistently– but a little like returning home, too, to posts and pages that are unabashedly public, and less a response to media and existing story than the articulation of something within. Writing here has always felt like contributing or creating to a new world.

I spent the rest of last night typing revisions into a screenplay I fell in love with some sixteen years ago, when I was a freshman at college and a senior paid me 20 dollars to copyedit his thesis. The thesis turned out to be a script; it was by far the most vivid, and certainly the most visionary, literary experience of my university career; if anyone had told me at the time that I’d end up producing the thing– much less that doing so would have lead me both through the Oval Office and to a new life in LA– I’d have been utterly incredulous. The world weaves itself in strangely beautiful ways.

.

Last night was both the summer solstice and a full strawberry moon. The heat during the day here has been incredible; the evenings serene. N. and I went up to the roof deck after dinner to gaze at the largest moon I’d seen since landing in Los Angeles.

This city feels perpetually dreamy; in the cyclonic way it both draws in dreamers and spins their visions out into a mass cultural semiotics that takes up residence in the minds of millions upon millions of others; in the way its myriad fantasies all teeter of the precarious cusp of manifestation; in the beautiful illusion of it all.

It’s a delightful thing to be a part of.

fréquences.

I like looking for particular sorts of beauty, and earlier this month stumbled across the work of a Montreal artist whose projects explored certain conceptual relationships between light and sound. His Frequencies in particular captivated me, so much so that I ended up buying a CD of the sound fragments used in generating the piece.

The CD was a limited edition, as each one came with one of the 100 laser-cut panels used in the original work; given the age of the work I was surprised and delighted that there were any of the original 100 remaining.

Fast forward two weeks and I mention the piece to another artist at a gallery opening I’m at in Los Angeles. “By Nicolas something? You’re kidding. I have one of those panels too.”

The world is as small as it is magical; art sends a powerful signal; abstraction can lead to the most charmingly sweet particularities.

moralité.

In another online bubble I belong to a question arose regarding the late Justice Scalia’s status as a good or bad person, and whether it was appropriate or understandable that people might celebrate his passing. The question bothered me enough to attempt a reply. (Doing so made me realize I had more to share about the topic than I’d thought.)

I had a hard time parsing the question, as I wasn’t sure how to measure ‘appropriateness,’ nor do I generally conceive  of people in terms of good and bad. For me there are people who are obnoxious (ie. unpleasant to pay attention to) and those who are compelling (ie. enjoyable to pay attention to). The former I have a hard time focusing on; the latter I’ll tend to want to spend time with; I arrange my exposure to public or political figures using a similar rubric. I very much enjoy spending time with myself, but outside that don’t really worry about what category I fall into, as it’s obvious that what is interesting to one person might be irritating or unpleasant to another; if who I am annoys someone there are certainly other people in the world they can play with.

To me life increasingly only makes sense through the frame of aesthetics, or of what is palatable and what appeals. I like being surrounded by beauty; I like pleasurable things; I get incredible enjoyment out of seeing people take something rough or ugly or accidental and translating it– through themselves– into something with intentional aesthetic weight, whether that weight comes in the form of a work of art or a business or a new product or perhaps simply a conceptual reframe. Perhaps this was why I loved the early days of blogging, as it seemed a world populated by those who felt happiest journaling their experiences into something literary, or who enjoyed translating their life for an audience as much they did sharing it with existing friends. Any expression of struggle or pain I encountered in that sphere felt already at some level redeemed.

In the past it’s sometimes been paralyzing to harbor a perspective that values the beauty created by friction as well, as I’ve felt like I lacked the means to judge. Without the drag and tension of “bad” opponents- whether they be someone like Scalia or an internal adversary– the execution of any great work would lose something; because the witnessing of celebratory achievement is enjoyable, I couldn’t in good faith condemn that which made it necessary. (One of the lost gospels posits Judas as the chosen disciple and a tragic hero selected by Jesus to betray him; Judas’ betrayal of himself is what allowed Christ to be the martyr; Christ ended up revered while Judas’ name became synonymous with treason.) Instead of a moral compass of right or wrong and good and bad it’s always been my aesthetic inclinations that have guided me. These to me depend more on relationship and rhythm than they do absolutes. In general transparency is more pleasing to me than opaqueness; fluidity more appealing than stagnation; gentleness more appealing than roughness; coherence more appealing than inchoateness; playfulness more appealing than seriousness; etc, still, in the end it’s more about a pleasing arrangement or balance than the maximization of one quality to the exclusion of others.

There was a time when this made me worry I was somehow a bad or immoral person, as the categories of good and evil felt incoherent to me. These days I find both irrelevant, as I know the pole around which my compass swings, and I trust in that anchor more than any simple polarity. Being kept apart from Mark is an exquisite form of torture, but the emotion or feeling that best describes it is not pain or rage or frustration or sadness but simply an overwhelming love. It’s excruciating but beautiful, like life on this planet in general; it’s also the only thing I’m really capable of paying attention to. Anything else– including the framing of various dramas in terms of right and wrong or good and evil– is just a side-effect. Fortunately today there is more and more in the world being generated or driven from a palpable sense of love; the tangible sweetness of this is a big part of what makes me so blithely unconcerned for the future.

In writing all this I had a strange awareness about how much I’ve longed to live not so much a good life but a beautiful one, and how snarled this desire got in my earlier experience of myself as something ugly. It’s as though the more I’ve come to see the deeper logic of my own life trajectory– the sense and pattern and rhythm of what once felt random and chaotic– the more I experience myself as something beautiful, or at least as a convenient instrument of beauty. It’s a little like how I imagine a paintbrush would feel while being used to sketch out the underpainting of a scene it was blind to, feeling the whole time that it was making a mess all over the canvas and that nothing made sense, when instead it just didn’t get the whole picture.

I’m trusting this most recent brushstroke to become a part of that whole.

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