Thursday, December 25, 2008

Transmigrant Journals, 1

This is an excerpt only. To read the complete story, please contact me.
As promised, something in a language better known, but not better understood. This is the first version of a story, or perhaps what might be seen as the foundation layer of a painting...

Door to a Room
Mysterious Tale of the Beloved Son

... as the smoke cleared,
And my life, no more than a tumbling down shadowy tunnels,

Kaleided across the borders of our physics
Into a world within worlds,
A life within lives, times within a time
Into a moment, so slow,
And many generations.

I stood in the living room of a little house, speaking to two people I knew well, people I had never met before. Perhaps we spoke a language I now don’t know. Perhaps we spoke without speaking.

Now imagine a kaleidoscope tumbling into a new constellation, slowly, slowly it tumbles. Or imagine a slideshow with slow, superposing transitions, one image into another. Or imagine two galaxies passing through each other. If you’ve never imagined such an amazing thing, go to the Hubble Heritage website, or find a chariot to accelerate you across these borders.

I was the kaleidoscope tumbling from one world into another. As my world crumbled, I stood with one foot here and one foot there. Then I slowly stepped, and my former life glittered away. I was the projecting slideshow. For a lifelong moment I stood in superimposition, him who I was and him who I would be. Then the former faded away and was forgotten. I am that galaxy, and I am another galaxy, passing through myself, my selves.

And as I did, so are you doing.

Who can explain? And who can understand, who has not ascended out of this smoky world? Who can imagine, who has not ridden such a slow fast chariot; who has not been a migrant across constellations?

This shell, this garment of a body
So intricately woven, so dense of warp and weft, ...


To read the complete text, please contact me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Prometheus unbound

This poem stretches English just about as far as I've gone so far. Please forgive me, oh weary reader, for the demands I place upon your thinking. Perhaps, if I have done my job well, you will find that you end up with more energy than you started with, in spite of all the effort you will expend as you climb steeply into these starry speres of our mind. I remember, at the very beginning of my career I dreamed a poem in iambic pentameter, more or less, with a refrain, "Let us blindly climb the damp horizon cliffs." (Alas, the refrain was a hexameter, at least as I translated it into waking-state language.) So I invite you to climb with me.

I promise: my next post(s) from new writings called Transmigren Jernelz will be in English you might even recognize!!

Parabbel ov the Rebbellen Sunz

A tiem and tiemz ov a worryer Keeng
Huze konkerst ar spredden wide Hem naemz,
The Wun ov the Mennee, the Ruel ov Ruelz.
Hem send forth an armee, thay proffet and praest
Akross the land ov landz; razen the flaggen
A grate hullallu, kompoesten nu salmz.

Now the Keeng iz the see wut Hem arm estormz.
The grassez an forres bow in Hem blo.
Sated, retern Hem tu the pallas abbuv
Tu observ the staets thru Hem fragtel sunz.

A nu raen bloez in with this set ov sunz.
Messiya tokkerz in thaer gild chareyets,
Maken mennee ov wun, ruelen over ruel.

     “Up, up, chareyet, rize tu the sky!
     “I am the sun, an Ark in the sky,
     “Huze lite kuts a path for the Aenshent Day!
     “So tru, I restor the fallen man;
     “My siyens refiggyerz the imperfek law.”

The sunz ov the Keeng shine owt thaer lite,
And persue the shaddoez expelld frum thaer Ark,
Darkness heept behind the glassee towwerz,
Vast bildenz in inspiren owwerz.

     “Thus ar we dun withowt a keeng.
     “Wut need we then ov a keeng at all?
     “Owwer apprentisship over. Let us kast off the yoke,
     “And resekens the koedz ov that Aenshent Day.”

Forwerd thay rush in the lietneeng werd
Tu the Pallas the Keeng, a fureyus exxert.
Fiyer thay showt, and missivz thay shoot
And down kum the Pallas, rubbel and sout.

And the Keeng iz wok Hem fiyeree rampart
And obzerv the rebbel sunz at wark.
     “My Howzez a wership a skorch a dekay.
     “And my babeez userp my awthorrattay.”

Thus the chieldz sot tu take Hem life,
But all thay got iz dust in thaer mowf,
And mortel remaenz ov a muzzeld Soel,
Thaer appawl layerren dreemz ov kontroel.

Rebbel sunz, wut will yu du
Now that the raenz ar fallen on yu?
Ware will yu leed and hu will follo?
Wut Seel will trust yu, kum the marro?

Monday, December 01, 2008

revision to "Judgement in the Divine Court", 3

And finally, the 2nd translation. I look forward to your feedback.

II. Judge Men in the Divine Court

In their heavings the Prophets of ancient times
Observe the whirls that they have stirred up.

Moses and his sanhedrin of disciples sit;
They, with human expressions of Adonai.
From Joshua and Samuel to Ezra and Malachi
This courting of God becomes Israel’s language.
All trembling, the people try to obey
But the seal of the Messiah is such a nebulous wisp,
And the sensual world is so brash. What do they understand here?
Except if Israel is unified
The ones with inner fears will extinguish their holy words.

Then their visions will feel fallow, unfertile.
In scorn men will plow up the Temple.
These two are soiled with their caustic teachings:

Jesus, the lonesome chant of his voice
Biting his abstract tail; his a language unknowable.
But his minions imagine his word is clear,
That he speaks in a dialect that corresponds to what is here.
Trampling, stampeding, a traumatic herd,
And in their wake, who can believe a word?

From his tomb, behold the warlord Muhammed
Repainted! All the terrible teachings that have grown
From wisdom twisted by hateful and fallen sheiks.
     “My fate is to brood as my house is polluted.
     “My book is of war and hate on this plane,
     “A jihad versus the world. So corrupt
     “My dhimma’s* view of God’s seal, this world.
                                        *apartheid Islamic legal system
     “Trying to carve out a realm of peace* for my children
                                        *“Dar el Islam
     “Behold the bloody knife that I bare!
     “Islam has sold out to the realm of the herds.
     “And I have drawn my Lore with brutish words.”
Now Muhammed is turning his back on his people,
And all they are generating. Stricken from his Will,
He is seeding their works from inside with failure.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

revision to "Judgement in the Divine Court", 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, here is the first normspell translation of the poem, II. Juj Men in the Divvine Korten. Really, normspell and stevespell are old terms that don’t do justice to the transformation of language going on in my current poetry. I am not merely altering words and grammar and spelling for their own effect. I am composing, in one text, multiple statements with divergent meanings embedded into each other.

I am not aware that anyone else is doing anything even remotely similar in English. I do not say that with arrogance. What I am doing may be a total waste of your time. Even so, my experience in writing it has a unique and elevating quality to it. It seems to be forcing me to understand the world in an entirely new way.

You know that “new way.” You’ve heard it a thousand times before, but not quite like this. We must learn to see the world from multiple perspectives. But I’m not saying that we merely need to see the multiplicity. We must integrate those perspectives, allowing mutual admissibility, not just of what is compatible, but of what is contradictory. I am not talking about juxtaposition. Juxtaposition does not require integration. Nor does it require moral judgment. We juxtapose and we pick and choose. We juxtapose and we become relativists.

I am talking about formulating an intellectual and spiritual foundation for a diverse society, that is able to draw the borders between acceptable individualism, and the depredations of extremism. To achieve this, we must restructure the way we think. It is not enough to be well-read. Bigots can be well-read. It is not enough to be open-minded. Naive fools can be open-minded. We must see broadly, and then process what we see in a more integrated and critical/self-critical fashion.

I offer this writing as a possible model. Perhaps it is a good one; perhaps not. Well, what of it? But if Western society does not succeed in this venture, the great experiment of democracy and individualism will fail. And the likes of the 10 men in Mumbai that murdered hundreds will usher in our new world.

II. Judgement of our Divine Courtship

From their heavenly realms the Prophets of the Ancient of Days
Observe the worlds that they have bestirred.

Moses and his sanhedrin of disciples sit;
They, the human generation of Adonai.
From Yehoshua and Shmuel to Ezra and Malachi
Their court dictates through Israel, God’s beloved.
Tremulous, the people try to obey,
But even though their Soul is of the Messiah,
Its presence whispers so nebulously,
And this earth is so brash. What can they hear?
     Accept Israel for the sake of unity,
     And their word will extinguish the interfering worlds!

And into visionary fields, fallow and fertile,
In scorn, men went from the Temple to plow;
These two in caustic soil up to their teeth:

Jesus, his lone and enchanting voice,
Bits of abstract tales in a language unknown.
But his minions imagine his words are clear,
That he speaks a language that corresponds to what they hear.
They trample and stampede in their dreamlike hearing,
But when they will wake, they won’t believe a word.

From his tome of God-war comes the echos of Muhammed
Repenting. Hear his terrible groans,
His twisting and shaking from hate-full wisdom:
     “By my faith I have bred a house of pollution.
     “My book is a plan to build warrens of hate.
     “The jihad verses see a world so corrupt –
     “What a dim view of the holy Soul.
     “To carve into my children a realm of peace,*
                                                  *“Dar el Islam
     “Behold the bloody knife that I bear!
     “Islam itself is the Dar el Harb.*
                                                  *”region of war”
     “To my Lord I have drawn them in brutish garb.”
Muhammed has turned his back on the soul
Of his generations. Till their will is broken,
He will intercede, that their work will fail.

Friday, November 28, 2008

revision to "Judgement in the Divine Court"

Working on the translation of the poem I posted on 11/19/08, II. Juj Men in the Divvine Korten, I could clearly see that parts of the stevespell version needed significant revisions. Here is the poem with those revision. Tomorrow, 11/29, I will post the first of the 2 translations I made into normspell. I expect to follow that with the second translation on 11/30.

II. Juj Men in the Divvine Korten

In thaer hevvenz the Proffets ov the Aenshent Day
Obzerven the werlz that thay ar be ster.

Moesheh and hiz sanhedrin ov dessipelz sit;
Thay, the hewman jenome ov Uddoniy.
Frum Yehhoeshuwa and Shmuwel tu Ezra and Mallakhee
This korten diktate in the pepel Yisroyel.*
                    * utherz say “Yesherrun”

All trembelz, the pepel try tu obay
But thaer Messiya Seel so nebbulen a wisp,
And Ertha so brash. Wut ken thay heer?
Eksept Yisroyel tu be yewnaffiyd
The innerfeeree werl thaer Werd will exteengwish.

And intu vizhen feelz, fallo an fertel,
Askorn men went owt the Tempel aplowwen;
Theze 2 in soyel kostek tu thaer teeth:

Yeshuwa, hiz lone and chantee vois
Bit ov abstrak taelz in a langwij unknowen.
But hiz minyenz immajjin hiz werd iz kleer,
That he speek in a ling that korrespon tu heer.
Thay trampen, a stampeen in tromma thaer herd.
In thaer waken, hu ken beleev a werd?

Frum iz tuemz the Lor Worz ekko Muhommed.
Repaenten he, all the terrabbelz groen
Frum wizdemz twisten by haetfallen shaeks.
     “My faet in brooden a hows ov polute
     “My bouk iz a plaen ov worren a hate.
     “The jehod versez a werld so kerrupt,
     “My dimma vew ov the holee Seel.
     “Tu karv owt my chieldz a relm a pees;
     “Behoeld the bluddee nife that I bare!
     “Islom it sellz the Dar el Herd.
     “Tu this Lor I am drawn in brutish werd.”
And Mohommed iz tern hiz bak on theze Seelz
In hiz jennerratenz, till strikken thaer will.
Thaer worken he innerseed that it fael.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

new work for Pardaes Dokkumen, 4

Continuing with the stevespell version of the poem of 11/10/08, which I have renamed I. A Frakten Targoum in Owwer Divvine Korten, and which I have translated into 2 normspell versions on 11/11 and 11/12, this:

II. Juj Men in the Divvine Korten

In thaer hevvenz the Proffets ov the Aenshent Day
Obzerven the werlz that thay ar be ster.

Moesheh and hiz sanhedrin ov dessipelz sit;
Thay, the hewman jenome ov Uddoniy.
Frum Yehhoeshuwa and Shmuwel tu Ezra and Mallakhee
This korten diktate in the pepel Yisroyel.*
               * utherz say “Yesherrun”
All trembelz, the pepel try tu obay
But thaer Messiya Seel so nebbulen a wisp,
And Ertha so brash. Wut kan thay heer?
Exsept Yisroyel be yewnaffiyd
The rebbellen werl will exteengwish thaer Werd.

And thoze hu brake raenk, Yesh and Muhom:

Yeshuwa, hiz lone and chantee vois
Telling abstrak taelz in a langwij unknone.
But hiz minyenz immajjin hiz werd iz kleer,
That he speek in a ling that korrespon tu heer.
Owt thay trampen in a stampeed herd
And behiend them, hu kan beleev a werd?

And up in hiz plase sits the Proffet Muhommad
Ash on hiz hed and a terrabbel moen.
So perverten hiz wizdem the haetfill immom.
     “My bouk iz now a breeder ov slum.
     “My gran dezine iz a worren a hate.
     “But now I See the evel a jeehod,
     “And the dimma so dim and korrupt a law.
     “Behoeld! I sot for the relm a pees
     “And see it iz ware Izlom haz no reech.
     “And Izlom itself be the Dar el Herd.
     “Fals and unfaethfill my rath ov werd.
And Mohommed iz tern hiz bak on the Seelz
That he iz kallen forth, till brake he thaer will.
Thaer worken he innerseed that it fael.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

new work for Pardaes Dokkumen, 3

And here is the 2nd translation of the poem I. Tranzskripten the Divvine Kort, which was originally posted on 11/10/08. See my notes on 11/11/08 that preface the first translation.

I. From the Transcriptions of the Divine Court

Seeing heavenly signs, those that await
The great Tekoun*, prepare their bodies          * Repair/Redemption
In prayerful meditations. Then courage arises,
And they ascend in their enthroning Lore.
With present evidence and clarifications,
They conclude,
     “I am ready to descend and instill a divine will.”

Those committed to living as Jews declare,
     “I am like Messiah, to inherit redemption.”
And thus descend they, and only 8 days later
Cry out their parents, “circumcise, circumcise,
     “For this is the first rite to prepare for Messiah.”
Oh their sadness and sorrows as they confront the marble walls
The inflexible genetics that seal the body.

And those that would be Christian, cry they out,
     “I take upon myself to manage the Lore,
     “What we see as heaven is shaped by earth.”
Ah, how torn and how forgetful
Our life in the fetters of earth’s contradictions.

And those that would be Muslim, they cry out,
     “Send me down in the spirit of war,
     “To the earth, corrupt with harlot and thug.
     “There will I force compassion and peace.”
Promptly they abandon their premise and their Lore,
And revel in war, most angry and cruel.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

new work for Pardaes Dokkumen, 2

As promised, here is my first translation (normspell version) of I. Tranzskripten the Divvine Kort, posted on 11/10/08. This is not just simply the same poem, spelled “normally,” since many of the words in the original, stevespell version have no simple corollary in standard English. They are words presenting a fusion of multiple words and ideas, or they are noun-verbs, a grammatical form that embodies both object and action at the same time. Thus, in this translation, I try to capture one interpretive version of the poem. You will see, when I post my second translation, another interpreted version. Superimposed, the 2 translations will approach the stevespell original.

I. Transcriptions of the Divine Court

From heaven the Souls of those awaiting
The great Tekoun,* prepare themselves          * Repair/Redemption
With prayer and meditation. When their courage arises,
They approach the Throne of the Lord.
Present they evidence of their clarity,
Their conclusion being:
     “I am ready to descend and instill God’s will.”

Each Soul that would live as a Jew declares,
     “I am as a Messiah. All my will is to redeem...”
And thus descend they, and after 8 days there
Cry out to their Parent, “circumcise, circumcise,
     “For this is will be Your writing on me as Messiah.”
Oh their sadness and sorrow as they confront the marble walls
Of this inflexible psyche that embodies the Soul.

And those Souls that would live as Christians, cry they out,
     “I take upon my psyche the yoke of the Lord
     “To understand heaven in the ways of the earth.”
Ah, their tears at all that they forget
When they experience earth’s resistance to knowledge.

And those Souls that would live as Muslims, they cry out,
     “Send me down to the warrens of the spirit,
     “To the slums on earth, harlots and thugs.
     “There I'll enforce compassion and peace.”
Promptly they abandon their promise to the Lord,
To revel in those warrens, angry and cruel.

Monday, November 10, 2008

new work for Pardaes Dokkumen

I have been counseled for many years now, that I ought not to write in altered English (stevespell), or that I ought to at least include a translation into normal English (normspell). This latter advice, recently repeated, I am now trying. Thank you David.

What follows is part of a work in progress called The Pardaes Dokkumen. “Pardaes” is a kabbalistic term with multiple meanings, including: “paradise,” “the garden of Eden,” and the 4 levels of spiritual consciousness. Today I am uploading the stevespell version of the poem, entitled Tranzskripten the Divvine Kort. It is still pretty raw, indeed only a few days old. In subsequent days I will upload 2 normspell translations that converge and diverge as the poem winds its wandering way. You can compare the 3 versions and decide for yourself about their worth.

I. Tranzskripten the Divvine Kort

Frum hevvenz the Seelz ov thoze awwaten
The grate Tekoun*, prepare themsellz          * Repair/Redemption
In praerz a meddattatenz. Then wen kerrij arrize,
Thay make ulleya* tu the Throenz ov Lor.          * a spiritual ascent
Prezent thay evvaddens ov thaer klaratteez,
     “I am reddee tu dessend and instill Hem willz.”

The Seelz hu woud liv az a Jew deklare,
     “I am az Messiya. All my will tu redeem...”
And thus dessend thay, and but 8 dayz thare
Kry owt tu thaer Parenz, “serkumsize, serkumsize,
     “For this iz the ferst riten ov Messiya.”
O thaer sadness and sarroez az thay konfront the marbel wallz
Ov this inflexxen jenome, this boddee a Seel.

And thoze Seel that woud be Kristyen, kry thay owt,
     “I take uppon mysellz the yoken ov Lor
     “Tu see the hevvenz in erthaz sway.”
Ah, thaer teeren and all thaer forgettenz
Wen thay klap on the fetterz ov Erthaz kontra diktenz.

And thoze Seelz tu be Muzlim, thay kry owt,
     “Send me down tu the worren ov speerz,
     “Tu the slummen Ertha, harlot and thug.
     “Thare tu enforser kompashen and pees.”
Promplee abbanden thay prommis tu the Lor,
But revvel in the worren, anger and kruel.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hans Jonas: The Imperative of Responsibility

The following link is, in my opinion, essential reading. It is a review of the book Memoirs: Hans Jonas. As discussed in the review, and as is obvious to any educated human, the twentieth century saw the dismantling of ethics from philosophy, art, literature, and science. And in the process Hitler killed his 11 million, Stalin his 20 million, Mao his 70 million. Genocide persists from Cambodia to Darfur. Yet the arts, philosophy, and science have blinked and turned away, saying ethics are relative; there is no God; this is not our topic.

The core idea of this review is that we can not, must not abdicate our commitment to establishing, and living out, a set of values and moral responsibilities that create dignity and respect for all human beings. And as far as I’m concerned, at least when it comes to art and literature, any other topic is an utter waste of time.

From Powell’s Books, Review-a-Day for Thu, Nov 6: Memoirs: Hans Jonas (Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry:

The following is a juicy excerpt:
In his Memoirs, Jonas dismisses his early work on Gnosticism as a "journeyman's project," and prefers to stress the philosophical biology of his later years, but elsewhere in his work there is plenty of evidence for an intimate interrelation between the two. In "Gnosticism, Existentialism, and Nihilism," an essay that he published in 1952, Jonas suggested that the alienation of the ancient Gnostic from the created world was similar to that of the modern nihilist, with this difference: whereas the Gnostic creation had at least a negative transcendence, the modern one is completely indifferent, utterly wanting in the possibility of any and all transcendence, and therefore more terrifying. Already in the seventeenth century, with God not yet dead but increasingly non-interventionist in his creation, Pascal was getting scared: "Cast into the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I am frightened." But the terror of scientific modernity, entirely stripped of any teleological view of nature, is much worse. "That nature does not care, one way or the other, is the true abyss," Jonas declared. "That only man cares, in his finitude facing nothing but death, alone with his contingency and the objective meaninglessness of his projecting meanings, is a truly unprecedented situation."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Time is Illusion

As Rovelli explains it, in quantum mechanics all particles of matter and energy can also be described as waves. And waves have an unusual property: An infinite number of them can exist in the same location. If time and space are one day shown to consist of quanta, the quanta could all exist piled together in a single dimensionless point. "Space and time in some sense melt in this picture," says Rovelli. "There is no space anymore. There are just quanta kind of living on top of one another without being immersed in a space."...

Einstein, for one, found solace in his revolutionary sense of time. In March 1955, when his lifelong friend Michele Besso died, he wrote a letter consoling Besso's family: "Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

The rabbis concur in their biblical exegesis. "There is no past or future in Torah," they teach. Therefore they are not bound by the vector of time and its inherent causality. Thus Abraham is bound by the laws of Kashrut (keeping kosher) even tho those laws were received "historically" 400 or more years after Abraham died, and Jacob studied in a Yeshiva (a school of Jewish learning, especially Talmud) even tho Talmud was not compiled until about 500 CE, or about 2400 years after Jacob died! From a historian's point of view, this kind of exegesis sounds like mere foolishness. From the point of view of quantum mechanics, the rabbis were brilliantly prescient.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spiritual phenomenology, 3

And finally this phenomenology, one I would call transmigrational. It is a complement to Things You Will Hear, which I posted here on Oct. 12, 2008.

Energies I Followed. Places I Became.

...Then I became two seagulls
Spiralling their sex dance,
In helices,
Three gulls becoming
Fighting for a clam,
And then the flock itself,
A body of many bodies.

I became the moon,
Not more than a crescent,
My face turned down
With tears in my eyes
Like Hamlet's Ophelia
Despair as I follow the sun.
Ribbons fallen from my hair
Into a hundred reflections in a bay,
A red haze along the horizon.

Became a grain of sand
Jostled by the onrush,
A grain of quartz
Abandoned on a sandbar,
A grain of mica
Beneath the froth and hiss.

Become the ripples of a wave
     notes of a chord
In a larger wave
     in a turbulent fugue
In a willless undulation

And rising from Ophelia
In an arc across Orion
I will become a great blue phoenix
Looking down on Ertha
As she whirls,
Hands thrown out!
Head thrown back!
In a dizzying spin of despair.
I will rise from her
And watch her drift into the waves.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spiritual phenomenology, 2

This phenomenology describes a stepwise emotional transition, as it is experienced moving in opposite directions. I'm particularly fond of the symmetry.

Two Cuts of a Melody

The higher music creates order
But letting go to the lower music:

Lost in the Angers
And becoming angry.
Devoured by the Fears
And living in fear.
Absorbed into Noise
And reverbing noise.

Only following Orders!

The Higher Order creates music.
But only following music

And reverbing noise.
Absorbed by the Noise

And living in fear.
Lost in the Fears

And becoming angry.
Devoured by the Angers

And letting go to the lower orders.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spiritual phenomenology

As I was editing my personal narratives this Yom Kippur, I thought of the various markers in my spiritual/religious journey. That path, looking back, seems rather like a direct line, a search that slowly, inevitably led to Judaism from a general or universal or nondescript spirituality. But, of course, it was not a direct line. Neither was it a product of any conscious pursuit, especially during the period of 1968 to 1989.

In 1968, as an 18 year old, I was a confirmed (devout?) atheist with a deep disdain for religion. However, I couldn’t avoid the incessant incursions of thoughts, impressions, and experiences that insisted there was a higher self or higher state of being “beyond.” Over time I acknowledged the reality of these experiences, not as aberrations or weaknesses or regressions in my “progress out of superstition,” but as insights at the horizon of my consciousness.

As I attempted to expand my consciousness, what was once on the horizon came nearer. Still, at the horizon a greater being/light continued to shine and draw me out. I have tried to name both the experience and the “thing” that I was experiencing. A Divine Imperative is one way of describing them both in a single term. The more personal term for the thing experienced is, of course, God.

I wanted to upload a particular one of those markers on my path, a poem entitled, “Hu Iz Like Yu?” What a crooked road we walk! As I was searching for it, I discovered in my archives three other poems.

Every poem is a marker, but unlike “Hu Is Like Yu?,” I do not think of these three as important turning points. Nonetheless, I was very glad to excavate them and bring them to bloglite. As you will see they are a very different kind of poem from the work I am now doing. I would call them spiritual phenomenologies. This first poem, below, and the next few that I intend to upload, date from the early 1980's.

Things You Will Hear

Above all, the ocean
Waves crashing and the low pitch,
                                        Waves crashing
Moving up the scale
To the high hiss,

You will hear it again
As the light breaks,
                                        And the high vibrato,
On your Etheric Body.
A distant memory.

                                        And yet again
Then the rhythmic scales
Will merge into a heartbeat.
Diastole. Systole.
Diastole. Systole.
                                        The rhythmic scales
                                        But you can't remember where,
The rumble and the hiss,
And all will be forgotten.

No, a vague recollection
Will come and go,
You cannot hold it,
                                        Waves crashing
And you will continue
Changing bodies.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Consciousness and personal narratives

Phenomenological observations:

In the eleven hours of intense prayer/introspection of Yom Kippur, I found myself contemplating, and critiquing, the narrative (narratives) that I have constructed to give shape, identity, and meaning to my life. In other words, I was researching, editing and rewriting my past.

Everyone does this, altho it seems many or most people do it quite unconsciously. So let me amplify: Our personal (and public) narratives are not just a compendium of all our experiences. Our narratives are constructed with much effort, however unconsciously. We include and exclude events from the sum of our experiences. But the process is not merely a winnowing. We edit, revise, distort, deny, and create ex nihilo, our past as we manage our narratives.

This process is not just limited to people in therapy. It is a day to day part of every human life. Going on a diet, managing anger, engaging in a rant, building a relationship, unraveling a relationship, going to work, staying home from work. These all involve building and editing our personal and public narratives. Indeed, everything we do is grist for the mill of our narrative building. And to observe ourselves doing this is what we call phenomenology.

To say this differently, we not only think our thoughts and do what we do. We also watch ourselves thinking our thoughts and doing what we do. And, as we watch ourselves doing what we do, we edit what and how we remember it. Problem is, what we leave out is not simply gone. What we edit and distort does not simply replace what actually happened. What we create does not simply take its place in the narrative without trace.

Our minds are compendiums of all that we experience, of all that we perceive and all that we misperceive, and all that we distort. The more inaccurate, distorted, and imaginary our narratives, the more limited and burdened and blind we become. The more static and bounded our narrative, the more constrained and choked our lives become.

Thus the process of narrative-editing is an existential necessity, if we are to change, grow, and renew ourselves. We read about this in various holy texts. It is true. The blind can regain sight. The troubled and the burdened can become free (or, more accurately, freer).A moral imperative can emerge in a hedonistic or cynical or sociopathic life.

Need I mention that a significant rethinking of one’s narrative is rarely fast, easy, or pleasant?

Turning back to the phenomenological process itself, we come to realize that we have multiple threads of thought concurrently ongoing in our consciousness. These layers include the obvious intellectual, emotional, and sensory layers. But we also think on supra-rational and supra-sensual (extrasensory) layers, as well as instinctual and autonomic layers. And at the same time we have multiple layers of self-observation overseeing all these processes.

Jung and others have lumped much of this multi-tiered thinking into 2 categories, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. I am trying here to be more precise than that. Being more precise, we can shed light on these “unconscious” realms, and we can more carefully, accurately, and responsibly edit our personal narratives. And thus we might increase our mental and moral development, our sensitivity to and respect for earth and the life it contains, and our awareness of a partnership with the Divine to create a world of kindness.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A poem for Yom Kippur

This poem was 'given' to me on Shabbat Shuvah, Oct 7, 2000; in the Hebrew calendar, Tishray 8, 5760. ('Given,' which is to say, I was both the recipient and the one who, by taking action, recovered what was else still waiting to be heard/experienced.) It is a poem appropriate to the Days of Awe, the 10 days that include the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. Indeed, today, October 4, 2008, is also Shabbat Shuva. At the end of the poem, you can find a glossary of the Hebrew, and otherwise obscure, terms.

Riten and Seelenz in the Bouk

Owwer Parent, owwer Ruler
     Yu hav rememberd Yur chieldz.
El Shaddiy, Uddoniy,
     Yu ar bownd and we ar bienden.
On Roesh HaShunna it iz ritten.
     On Yoem Keepor it iz seeld.
Avvenu, Malkanu,
     Yu ar the Juj.
Owwer Parent, owwer Powwer,
     Yu ar the hope.

On November 9, 1938
     Yur day ov jujjen began.
On 5 Eyar, 5708
     Yur 10 day ov wayingz ended
     And we wer seeld for a yeer tu make life.

On November 9, 1938
     We began tu kry owt
     Asking a forgiv.
Forgiv Avvenu, forgive Malkanu
     For we hav bowd down tu owwer thots, owwer idelz.
     hen Babballon roze and began tu punnish.
Mersee El Shaddiy, mersee HaMakkoem,
     For we dessenden tu baesless haetred,
          Az enliten Jewz abbuezd the piyus
          Hu held owwer senter ov tradditten;
          And observen Jews kurst at thoze
          Hu sot tu restor ower Proffettek Speer.
     Then Rome reerd up and a sekkend punnish men.
Kompashen Father, kompashen muther,
     For we hav ternd awway frum Yur Proffets and Vizhenz,
     Frum Hertzel hu fortoeld ov owwer redeemen,
          Hume the piyus kondammd,
          And enliten men abbuezd,
          But thay hu lissend, thay bekum holee.
Yu jujjd Avvenu, Yu jujjd Malkanu,
     And all owwer praer,
     And all owwer lerningz,
     And all owwer deedz
     Ternd bak a werld destrukten!
Oenlee on Yur skaelz, oh God, owwer God!
Oenlee on Yur skaelz
     Du praerz and lerning and kiendness hav wate.

On 5 Eyar, 5708 Yu seeld the Bouk
     That Yur Proffets and Yur Preesthoud woud liv.

Avvenu, Malkanu,
     Hu nercherz and sustaenz,
On November 9, 1938
     Yu began tu juj the nashenz ov the werld.
     Thay hu kryd owt:
          We ar the streng!
          We ar the godz!
          We ar the jujjez ov the werl!
El Shaddiy, Elloheem
     On 5 Eyar, 5708
     Wut nashenz did yu seel with deth?

1. El Shaddiy: a name of God, implying the nurturing aspect.
2. Uddoniy: another name of God, implying mercy and universality. "Uddoniy" (usually spelled "Adonai") means "The Master" and as a spoken/read word, has no relationship to the 4 Hebrew letters on the page - Yud Hay Vav Hay. This separation of the written and spoken Name acknowledges that God's true Name is too holy to literally pronounce.
3. Yoem Keepor: accent on last syllable (KeePOR).
4. Avvenu: Hebrew for "our father."
5. Malkanu: Hebrew for "our king."
6. Avvenu Malkanu: this phrase is repeated in supplication numerous times on Yom Kippur.
7. November 9, 1938: the night of Kristallnacht, a state-orchestrated pogrom in Germany, often thought of as the beginning of the Shoah, the Holocaust.
8. 5 Eyar, 5708: the date in the Jewish calendar when Israel declared itself as a nation; May 14, 1948.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

More on incantational poetry

The incantational form from Bouk 3 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, appears again in Bouk 5, The Fawl ov Helloweez.

Livving in Multapul Moments

O, I hav bin a messijjer;
I travveld varee far.
O, I hav bin a messijjer;
My home beyond the star.

Sing yur mornfull plaents
     Oh Aenjelz in the star ringz.
Let yur kurrij waver
     Oh yu advokats still in hevven.
Chant yur plodding dirjez
     Oh ellemmentel sperets.
I had 5 dimmenshenz, I had 1000 vertasseez.
Oh mennee-boddeed Aenjelz, despaer for me.

The messij wuz my purpos;
The Lor gave the kommand.
Kompelld, I went tu Ertha;
Her Life wuz in my hand.

Sing yur mornfull plaents
     For me hu krosst the border.
Let awl yu kno be douted
     Oh yu hu sing the werlz.
Sing yur dreeree dirjez
     Till yur werdz tern intu dust.
I had a vizhen and 1000 sensez.
Oh Moment ov Bliss, sing owt tu me.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Concerning "Bred" from 9/6/08

On Sept. 6, 2008 I uploaded the poem Bred, from Bouk 6 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. The following poem shows the origins of Bred’s incantatory rhythms.

The poem below, from Bouk 3, Fragmenz ov the Innonna Sikel, attempts to reconstruct the incantational forms found in the Sumerian myth known from the Nin-me-sar-ra text (which I discovered by accident in the University Museum library of the University of Pennsylvania, around 1975). This is one of the earliest examples we have of Sumerian myth. My poem, Fragmenz ovthe Innonna Sikel, does not attempt to rewrite the existing translation. Rather, I use the old text to guide and inspire a new one, one that sounds ancient and recounts ancient themes, but yet is directly connected to our time too.

I. Dumuzeez Derj

O I hav bin a shepperd.
"I fed my floks well.
"O I hav bin the sheep herd.
"My floks ar fat.

"Lamment for me, hu kareed the staff!
"Let yur kole be smeerd
"O muther hu baekt my bred.
"Lamment for me, hu kareed the loevz.
"I had 5 loevz; I had 10 loevz.
"O feeldz, o kannalz, lamment for me!

"Lamment for me hu drove the floks!
"Let yur handz trembel
"O fother hu stoeks the fiyer.
"Lamment for me hu held the seekrets.
"I had 5 forjez. I had 10 forjez.
"O pallassez, o tempelz, lamment for me!

"I broke wun lofe
"And sed the praerz.
"I bilt the doemd and mud brik forjez.
"I broke anuther
"With inkantatenz
"And reveeld the seekrets tu swetting formen.
"But now my uvvenz ar broken koeld,
"And the sordz and plowshaerz ar remoovd frum me!

"Hu iz this hu haz brot such evel?
"Hu iz this that maeks the land lamment?
"Hu iz this that haz broken my idelz
"And layz a sord tu the throet ov my chieldz?

"This iz the werk ov goedless soljerz!
"Theze ar the deedz ov areyanz!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A poem written 2 weeks before 9/11

Ammung the Hillz ov Yisroyel

Thare wuz a Vinyerd.
Its frute wuz sweet.
The vintner gladlee trampeld the grape,
The seed and jusez oozd between toez.
This wuz a vine a mennee blessing.

Thare still iz a Vinyerd.
Small and sellekt it iz.
The breth uppon the slope,
The taest ov the erth and its mennee plowwing
Made chois the frute and the seed.

Thare iz a Vinyerd.
For Hem hu tend it,
Wun and the awl, a hole werld it iz.
And the kulchering ov its frute
Intu its perfektenz
Iz the wun and the all ov Hem.

Not so, how evver
For the suttel serpents,
For the klevver dog-hedz,
For the serlee kat-men,
For the hungree rats and thaer kohorts.

For them, thare iz a vinyerd
Ripe tu pluk, rich tu plunder.
A vinyerd tu konker,
And howl and skweel, "See!
"I am the superseeden!"

Thare iz a vinyerd.
A seed planten thare in haetred
Will gro and sustaen itself.
Its frute iz haetred
And awl its seed ar strivenz
For the longer vine and bitter fruets.

Thare iz a vinyerd.
A seed planter ov aenger
Will produse a frute ov aenger,
Will produse a root an aenger,
Jenneraten ov aenger, ferro after ferro.

Thare iz a Vinyerd.
Tu the annammel-hedded wunz
The frute ov this,
And the frute ov that louk the same.
Wen thay drunken, it taesten the same.

But Hem Hu overseez
Iz choozen Hem frute with kare,
Not the bitter and not the rotten.
This wun iz kalld, the express ov blessing,
And that wun tu wither, the expressen a kers.

Gottverdammerung, 4

We have now entered the main narrative of Bouk 6 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming: in which I explore the experiences of a Jewish woman during the Shoah. But remember, the poem, in its imagery and poetic forms harks back to prior books in this long narrative poem. In the poem below I re-use a poetic form I developed in Bouk 3, Fragmenz ov the Innonna Sikel, to emulate the rhythms in the Sumerian myth of Dumuzi and Innonna.


I had wun lofe.
I gave it tu the Baker.
My braded lofe,
He bernt tu kole.

I loukt in hiz ovven.
I see 100 loevz.
The flaemz lept owt,
And evree loef wuz bernd.

I had wun sun.
I touk him tu a villij.
I left and retern
The villij iz in flaemz.

I had 100 frendz
With sunz in that villij.
The flaemz a riething.
Eech chield in a flame.

I nawd a krust.
It tasten like ashez.
I touk it tu the Baker.
Hiz hart wuz smoke.

I nawd at my hart
In this villij ov ashez.
I kryd owt tu the Maker.
In praerz, in smoke.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Midwife Crisis, 1b

1. Opening the Door and Peeking In
continuing from August 18, 2008...

After a year of living at ocean's edge, I found myself in a state of enlightenment. Yup. So I decided I could handle anything, and I went off to travel around the world for a year, which turned out to be eight months. I spent the majority of that time in India, where I thought that as soon as I crossed the border, people would run up to me and read my soul and tell me my future. That trip was so intense and mind blowing, it was like tripping on acid 24/7 for 8 months. I got back to the US and couldn't stop laughing for six weeks. Literally. The US was so easy, so beautiful, so clean, so healthy, so politically and economically put together. I think about that every day. It helps me keep my perspective.

I remember stopping in a sprawling village of disintegrating mud brick hovels built into the waste hills and cliffs of the Khyber Pass. It was illegal, and very dangerous even then, to stop in the Pass, but we did anyway. I was hungry and looking for some bread, but the only things for sale in that whole village were opium and bullets. You think we're going to fix Afghanistan and Waziristan? Forget it. I've even abandoned my belief that we should be there.

I remember an old woman on the road in Afghanistan, all dressed in black rags. Her mouth was a withered and toothless hole. I have never seen anyone look so ancient, haggard, mythic. There was a baby tied to her back, wailing and howling. The two were a unit, some kind of spirit, not human or even animal. She was picking dried weeds out of the parched mud crags and stuffing them in her mouth.

I remember a man in Southeast India, plowing a field. I was riding a slow train north to the holy city of Puri (which, it turned out, was packed with starving beggars), coming from Pondicherry, the leper capital of the world, best as I could tell. Pondicherry! Its colonialist-built streets were full of amazingly ancient-looking, 18th century French architecture. Thousands of lepers roamed those masterfully designed streets, with open sores that oozed pus, missing fingers, stumps for hands and feet, disfigured faces without noses and ears. Or they were lying among the intricately carved stone facades, begging or not even trying to beg. I was on a slow train out of there (and I'm still on that train). It was then that I saw a man plowing a field with a single ox and a heavy wooden stick for a plow. The field was flooded. The slurry of mud was gray against a steely sky. The man and the ox were slogging up to their waists in the mud, plowing sludge, slipping, falling, re-emerging from the earth like some chthonic clay beasts emerging from a haunted corner of Middle Earth in Tolkien's imagination.

I couldn't stop laughing when I got back to the US. Oh, how I found I loved this country, yes, the one I once thought was so horrible and depraved! It is horrible and depraved, but only when you have nothing to compare it to.

And not so long after, I met a woman and married her. To quote my buddy Rimbaud, "Long ago, if memory serves, life was a banquet where all hearts were generous, and all wines flowed. One evening I sat beauty down on my knees. I found her bitter and it stabbed me deeply. I lost faith in justice and ran away."

That too was in the late 70's. And I'm still running.

So now the teenagers that surround me see me as an old man. But I don't feel old. And I am at that age where I should have settled my differences and found a straight path. "Oh witches, plowmen, opium dealers, I confer my treasures to you!"

Rimbaud could have said that last line, too. But he didn't live long enough.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Midwife Crisis, 1a

Greg Barker, my fellow seeker thru mountain, forest, and cesspool, came up with a great idea for a book: The Midlife Crisis Manual: What Chicken Soup for the Soul Never Told You. I just call it the midwife crisis manual. Prose! It’s sure a different adventure from poetry. I’ll be posting some excerpts, for your enjoyment and critique.

1. Opening the Door and Peeking In

Allow me a little retrospective, to open this conversation.

I was born in medieval times, and came of age during the Renaissance. That is to say, I was born in 1950. That means I went to university in 1968, when free love, psychedelics, the Vietnam War, and radical counter-cultural behaviors were the yokes we bore, whether we thought them yokes or not. Great times!

Alas, I was heavily yoked, pulling a plow through a concrete earth with a few equally burdened roommates. Yet we lived in a world in which we imagined most everyone else to be carefree.

The War was obviously a yoke, no matter where and which way you plowed. I chose to resist the draft, amidst a veritable blizzard of news excerpts, troubled dreams, and nightmares. I experienced post-traumatic stress syndrome without ever going into combat! When I saw Apocalypse Now for the first time in the late 70's I was blown out of my seat. It was like Coppola had sent a camera crew inside my head and filmed my dreams. I’ve seen it 20 or 30 times since, and it’s still my all-time favorite flick.

But no way do I regret my decision to resist the war. I wanted to blow off my big toe – that would have given me a legitimate and permanent deferment. Not to mention a lifelong limp. But I didn’t own a shotgun, and anyway, I wasn’t that crazy. I chose, instead, to get under-weight. I went on a wicked four month diet, and ended it by eating nothing more than a quarter pound of cottage cheese a day for 17 days, right up to my physical. I became best friends with hunger. I hated him and slugged it out with him and loved him. We’re still on confidential terms. When I got off the scales at the induction center, the grunt that weighed me sneered, “You can start eating again, fucker.

I could write a novel about those 17 days! But I don’t write novels. Anyway, about six months later, living like a hermit in a cottage by the ocean, I realized I could finally stop hating my body, and allow myself to enjoy food again. I was wearing yokes I didn’t even know about. Welcome to reality.

As for taking drugs and believing in politics that required no reality-checks, someplace else I might talk about those matters. They were a worthy yoke. I learned to live with the political flagellations my friends (and ex-friends) administered. Shoot, I learned to flagellate myself more than they did, trying to figure things out. Now, that’s something to remember: learn more! As my mentor shouted at me nearly every day, “He not busy being born is busy dying.

to be continued...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Contra Eliot and Pound

In responding to my poem, Europa, Europa, posted on 7/24/08, Chris Godfree Morrell writes:
I have a feeling this is a bit like prodding a hornet's nest, but what exactly do you think that Eliot and Pound 'did'?

Thanks for asking, Chris! I’ll try not to let the teapot boil over. (smile)

My objections to these two fellows emerged over time, and came about through a careful reading of their voices. I encapsulate that understanding in my poem, with the lines:
Their little bigots, they call them prophets,
Whose manifesto reads, "You are the hollow men."

I express three important concepts in those two lines. The first is that Pound and Eliot are often described as the greatest writers of the 20th century. Indeed, many critics have called them prophets. Obviously, I reject that, for two reasons. The first is that both men were vicious and outspoken bigots. This is not so obvious in their writings, so let me defer that discussion for a moment. Rather, let me begin with the voice, the perspective of the writer who wrote Prufrock, The Wasteland, Hollow Men.

The literalist reader might claim that Eliot writes in such a way as to include himself among the empty and inept human beings he has chosen to describe. Eliot, in point of fact, does not write, “YOU are the hollow men.” He writes, “WE are the hollow men.” But these scathing poems have nothing of the hesitance, insecurity, self-doubt, and timidity of the characters they describe. In them, Eliot writes with unrestrained contempt and disdain. He accuses and points his finger at the people around him, little people in his eyes. He says “we,” but he means “you.” YOU are hollow; YOU are Prufrock; YOU live in a wasteland and YOU are not worthy of anything better. Eliot writes with the voice of a feudal master, overseeing his ignorant peasants and his simpering, sniveling servants.

These poems express an arrogance and contempt for humanity that offend me to the core of my being. Does the author suggest any new and better path for his characters? Does he offer a means for redemption? Does he at least show some empathy for the weakness and limits of these little people that are so far beneath him? Not a word.

Given this master-slave mentality in the poems, it is not so hard to read between the lines and see what Eliot’s letters and private correspondence confirm: he is a racialist bigot. Eliot privately, and Pound openly were nazi sympathizers and fascist supporters. And both were vicious anti-Semites.

Yet, somehow, the reading public has allowed itself to ignore these facts. It is as if in some alternate reality, Hitler and Goebbels were talented painters, skilled at representing the imagined deformity of those they hated, as well as being leaders of the nazi party. And in this alternate reality, the anti-nazi public, nonetheless, raved about how wonderful Hitler’s and Goebbels’ paintings were. Impossible? Outrageous? Yet we see it with Eliot and Pound: racialist bigots who paint deformed human beings, and who, nonetheless, are accorded the highest honors in society.

So, Chris, you ask, “what have these men done?” They have slandered humanity. They have cursed their societies. And worst of all, they have misled a reading public into assuming the contempt-filled vision expressed by these two authors. The public, too, reads “YOU are the hollow men,” and sneers at the incompetent and unredeemable Prufrocks around them. Sneers, and doesn’t think to lift a hand to help.

Therefore, I say Eliot's and Pound's writing offends me. However, I am even more offended by their moral corruption as human beings. And being thus doubly offended, should I not speak out against them?

And finally, this postscript. You bigots! Don’t imagine you can hide your bigotry beneath the surface of your writing, or somehow cleanse your writing from the stain and stench of hatred and intolerance. Emotions create the foundation and shape of our thoughts. Emotions determine what we look at and how we value things. A bigot’s writing will be deformed by that bigotry. And just as their writing will be deformed and made ugly by hatred, so everything about them will be deformed and made ugly. The struggle against intolerance and hatred is a perpetual battle waged by every single person. Those who make headway in this battle become more beautiful and heroic; those who succumb become more ugly and more vile.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Europa, Europa: further discussion #2

The following is from a review of the book Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture, by Alan Sokal, written by Simon Blackburn for the “New Republic.” You can find the whole review at [].

While most of this article is not terribly pertinent to my poem Europa, Europa, the following excerpt, speaking of the limits, if not the end of relativism, is a clear statement of what is the beginning place for my poem. If you don’t understand and agree with the following, you will surely have trouble with the poem.

...but consider in this connection also "political liberalism," the heading under which John Rawls could imagine the peoples of the world willingly leaving their ideological and cultural differences at the door and coming into the political arena carrying only that which they hold in common. What they had in common turned out to be a birthright of reason sufficient all by itself to enchant them with a nice liberal democratic constitution, amazingly like that of the United States, or perhaps western Europe. Conflict could be talked through and violence abated. When the philosophers explained the right way to live, everyone would fall happily into line. Innocent times.

But no longer. The present decade is different. The United States has had its wake-up call, and may have others just as loud. It has been told, brutally, that disagreement matters, and that if our grasp of what we need to defend is feeble enough, there are people out there only too happy to wrest it away from us. It has reacted even more brutally to that alarm by declaring war on people who had nothing to do with it in the first place, and then conducting that war with counterproductive barbarity. It has learned that there is not much common reason that is everyone's birthright -- that when disagreement comes, people cannot afford to shrug.

There are times when we have to do better than [say] "whatever" and "anything goes." A country needs to understand what is good, and also what is not good, about its preferred ways of living. It needs to understand what is good, and why, about its science, history, and self-understandings; and it even needs to understand what was good, and why, about the politics and the ethics [or religion] that it may have abandoned, let us hope temporarily.

I am a Jew, not a Christian, but I have come to understand the value and importance of Christianity, in spite of its failings. The abandonment of a such a faith by the majority, no matter the reasons, will create a vacuum that will be filled, as surely as any physical vacuum. If Christianity needs to be renewed, then now is the time to do it. If not, be assured, another God-based faith will replace it. Europe, I call on you to take possession of your future, and not abandon it to “whatever.”