Monday, July 27, 2009

to the old woman

to the old woman i saw up on st viateur today goddamn i was stunned to see your moon face at 9 am and what a face like the face of an old goddess so pained and wonderful, with moon eyes and lips and your legs all swelled up and god how you knew all of us young stupid children's eyes, like you knew what we were all thinking and plotting and wanting and so heartbroken in this insanity.

and i saw your body and the horror of how you must have been beautiful and how this body swelled up and distorted to the point where walking must itself go in slow, small steps because of the hundred little pains and ugliness of a body exploding with its own destruction, seeing your body suiciding slowly near the end and in this morning sunset how you endure I may yet know someday down the road when I am old and my body explodes and the world of young cruel fools no longer sees me. those moon eyes slowly coming to rest on me for a moment with everything in them i will remember.

what have we done to our elders who should be set up in pavillions of honor and wisdom telling us of what it is to live we drive them to become part of the masonry of sidewalks and buildings and leave them to suffer in their bodies. the natives are right we are insane.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


to be born into the world is to be born a dead man. i must eventually face death. i am born innocent only to face a terrible fate. born into this world of a tangled chaos of beauty and misery. you try to find a way to live, to live meaningfully, or at least to have a good time. but for the millions life is just one long stretch of losing battles, its madness. and the millions themselves are just an idea in my head, in my mind i see them all in china, in tibet, in india, in south america, in africa, in europe, here. millions of them, fighting, struggling, weeping, bleeding, giving birth, fucking, laughing, screaming, reading, trying, lying, being brave, thinking, listening, running, jumping, singing, burning, cooking. in my life ill make the acquaintance of a few hundred of them, most of them in passing between some strange past and some strange future, you can't save anyone.

born a dead man at some point in history, that is to say at some point in someone else's past. the grandchildren of the little children born today. you fall into this river of millions of people coming from somewhere, going somewhere. you think life is about you, because you are you and the horizons of your eyes seem to be the whole world. but that's a joke. you are the last thing on the world's mind.

on this windy night every tree sings of its life, the water coursing in its veins and hurling into the ends of its leaves a throbbing pulse of an awesome life. trees growing in slow explosions of dirt and water. like us, this strange history whose end we'll never see. up on st viateur, just before the warehouses and monasteries in the back ass of montreal, people of all stripes hanging around obsessed with clumsy, little horizons of wondering about their standing in the eyes of other little horizons, are they mountains, maybe they don't care, playing games, loving, giving birth, watching tv, taking in a show, voting, goddamn all hurling down some river they don't really know or care about.

it seemed to me that my inheritance in being born was to know history, to know all the things and millions of people that came before stretching all the way back to when there was nothing, no cities, no roads to interrupt a crazy unending sea of trees and water. just to know all these wonderful things, and the present too, how the world is, physics, biology, ecology, chemistry. how beautiful. how incredibly beautiful to be curious and learn things. how fragile and pure. i didnt resign myself to me, i swear it, or resign to television or music, this feed of noise in my eyes to block out the thousand knives of the bare fact of living, which hurts to look at, like the sun. but after awhile you can see more, and risk a blindness of course, that warm, sweet blindness to being mortal and not giving a damn, but i cant pretend i dont give a damn - to most mortality is immortality, to not think about the eternity of everything is to live without the fear of death, which is not really being humble in my opinion. its a betrayal of all these trees singing. they don't care whose listening of course, that's why the singing hiss and roar can be so beautiful sometimes. just swelling up in my heart, knowing i am finite, small, propelled towards ending, just dirt and water, singing these beautiful, unheard songs in the general traffic.

i don't know what all these people are doing with themselves, going to parties, getting shitfaced and saying oh my god that was so funny, what are you doing now we went to st martin and blew our brains out with lobsters and margaritas. fuck, its crazy. all falling into a pit of blackness, and skirting the tombstones of the living poor and destitute while doing so.

i cant be mad, maybe a little appalled, but really theyre just kids, playing playing playing, even when theyre 95. playing at being old. kind of pissed off, huffy, as if mommy can reverse the aging process but wont. i was afflicted at a very young age with a terrible consciousness of death and life. maybe i should say deathyness and livingness. that sweet innocent bubble that everyone lives in i had to learn artificially and it took a long time, but i never quite got the full swing of it. even the shamen dance with one head up their ass, it seems to me, like they dont quite want to fess up to fundamental ignorance. god the thunder is having a hell of a time out there on the river. hell maybe thats the war finally come home. its about time. i wouldnt be totally disappointed if the taliban, or the darfuris, or the congolese, or the iraqis or palestinians or the thousand people living under bomb thunder tonight showed up in montreal with attack helicopters and state of the art tanks blowing holes around St Catherine and Metcalfe.

christ i was terrified. maybe i still am but got acclimated. i used to tremble and tremble. i used to look at people and think everyone was insane. maybe i still do but accept it now as childlike behavior. i wanted to rage at the monsters of the world tonight, i wanted to talk of blood and pain of the millions, but i come back to me, if im honest. maybe a human's greatest challenge is to be strong enough to be part of the human race, to be the dirt of nature it is and to stand in defence of innocence, against survival, against the hysteria of mortal humanity and its obsession with remaking the world in the image of its stupid blundering bubbles. maybe ive just described the path of history. the stars know best, and they sing without words, as they have before humanity ever was, or will be.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


there are many different kinds of clouds. these are shaped by different forces. they take shape and become beings. as humans on the bottom. try to think that you live in an ocean of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the clouds are floating on the surfaces of this ocean, and yes you are at the bottom of this ocean. they are ships. you are fish. and maybe trees are like giant seaweeds reaching to the light at the surface, waving in the current. if you were to break the surface of this ocean, you would gasp and flounder like a fish, until some kindly fisherman dropped you back in the ocean.

so, let's begin.

the first thing is that there are cirruses and altos. the cirruses are the highest clouds. they float at 6,000 metres above the land. they are mostly little ice crystals because its fucking cold up there. they don't make rain, and they're wispy and curly, often described as streaks of white paint against the blue. they can make a series of little puffballs too. the commentary of these clouds is one of serenity. they can even look down at wars, flaming oil wells, megaslums, with enlightened compassion. when they drift, they move with a peace that little humans only really know on their day off, or just after a funeral or a birth.

(cirrus clouds)

altocumuluses are mid-level clouds, between 2,000 and 6,000 metres. these are made of water drops in big lumps. they can come in puffballs or streaks like cirruses, but the difference is that they can be observed as having depth, shading, weight, bulgyness, like fat little bellies. not unlike cirruses or any other kind of cloud, altocumuluses can look remarkably like something very fucking important is going on beyond ourselves, as if they were trudging off to a war of storms, or obeying the commands of mountains, which in a sense they are, since mountains can catch these low drifting clouds and spin them around and send them off to different lands.


altocumulses often precede the coming of storms, like a great herd, and i do mean herd because if i've failed to mention it yet clouds are beings just as we are beings. this is called animist thinking and this is also called extremely primitive. the idea that a being is only a human, or for the more charitable only humans and animals, arises from the notion that a being is something that thinks and lives exactly as we do. it also arises as part of the delusion that beings are more permanent than non-beings, that as a human you do not change, moreover there is something about you which is divisible from the natural world. to me this is kind of a slander against the natural world, and a misunderstanding of what it is to be part of life. no different than a cloud, you form, drift, change, are propelled along by forces like wind and heat, break apart and become part of some other being. that clouds do this quickly and we much more slowly, and perhaps mountains and stars slowest of all is only a peculiarity of time.

that there is expression in the motions of clouds ought not to be denied. communication is of course difficult, but they speak a different language and really have different priorities and concerns than we do.

altocumuluses are formed by convection, which is a fancy way of saying lumps of hot air occasionally rise from the earth, and will keep rising so long as there is colder air around and above it.

this brings us to nimbostratuses, dark, moody, fat clouds that reside low in the sky. Nimbostratuses bring rain with them, and if light, twisting cirruses are the dancing drunks of cloud society, and altocumuluses the practical, serious middle children, then nimbostratuses are the brooding poetic teenagers.


nimbostratuses move along like great tortoises in the sky, they carry their bodies with heavy emotion like knights going to war. it is the nimbostratuses that look like they are travelling to some important cause, some part of the world where there are no people and the gods of the natural world still congregate and fashion the motions of this planet that we have deluded ourselves into thinking we conquered.

Friday, July 10, 2009

maybe i should explain a few things.

the first is what I don't know. what i don't know could fill a universe. i can say i was born, just a small thing, that eventually grew into this, and will eventually be something else than what i am. but i cannot say this infinitely vast world is something that i understand. nor do i believe anyone who says they understand it. i think i am a little creature born into a great thing that goes on above me. i see mars chasing the moon in a dark sky tonight. a little star chasing a fat moon. but the moon is smaller than mars, i am told, and mars much smaller than the stars it passes by. and this planet smaller than this sky.

maybe this is what i should explain, the great mystery of the world. we watch children sweetly as they explain ghosts or god to each other, their innocence charms us to love them for the naive way they understand. but that is just us small and new, because when we get big the ignorance does not vanish, it just becomes a more grim imagination that invents reasons for everything.

i resolved to rename all the plants in the world. i never liked the name butter and eggs for the little yellow and orange weeds that spring up everywhere this time of year. i'll call them orange novas. and maybe even mars should be named after a different god, let's rename him drifter. and so maybe ill rename everything in the world, since they never came when called anyway.

because it is hard to remain conscious of one's innocence, even if that innocence can endure in the face of the worst cruelty. and its strange to look up at the stars tonight and know they all shimmer with a kind of joyous violence, this strange paradox of living, this coexistence of violence and gentleness.

i am trying to explain the first simple things to you, but it is hard. from the beginning, when very small when just at the edges of first thoughts, one must understand one is a small being in a great big mystery. as we learn of the world we learn of ourselves, and both are sacred and infinite things. the first thing is to understand that most of life is a dark space of unknown, and that we are like children, no, that we are overgrown children filling in the dark spaces with ideas more than truths. We learn to talk after we learn to listen, but we don't talk well because we don't listen well.

growing into adulthood is the process of the child compensating for the demands of biology, or compensating for the confusion of flooding experience. We never really become adults as we pretend adults are, those creatures who know themselves and know what to do. When we were little the adults were gods who held the answers to all questions and the power to do what they wished, and so we grew up trying to be that way, and grown up we see now how we don't know and have little power and how little children treat us as gods, and we play the part, stumbling along in this great mystery, trying to protect them from the strangeness of violence.

and aristotle, the teacher of alexander the great, the ancient king who as a young man conquered the ancient world from greece down to egypt to the borders of india and died on the way back. with a sword and horse he killed and conquered all the little people because he was a great genius and they were little people. and alexander the young, golden haired hero, was known to have been instructed by philip, a great warrior king with one eye, and aristotle, a great philosopher and scientist. and aristotle, who taught alexander, was revered because he developed theories about the stars, and about human conduct, and about politics, and about biology and physics and a theory of everything, and the funny thing was he was dead wrong about nearly everything. and alexander and all the kings and priests who came after him believed everything he said, because he had an answer for everything. and only in recent history have people realized aristotle was a fool.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

democracy requires blood

the moon is rising behind some clouds. the hard stars are out. the hiss of delusional streets as i lay here wondering. in honduras there was a coup. in iran there was a coup. in america they play at democracy, but they know who signs their checks. democracy is far away.

democracy is hard. it requires blood. there is no way around it. if you believe, you must be alive to bleed. if you can't, you recede into aesthetics. it is hard to believe. to try, for your fellow humans. to believe in them as your family, as people worth chasing down and convincing, worth listening to, worth taking a punch or a sentence for. but it is there, to try, and there are still, even now, thousands of people who'll take a bullet or a world of hatred and lies for democracy, for literally, the rule of the people over themselves. Interesting, isn't it, that we are supposed to live in such a world, but for ordinary people to fight for it seems alien?

see, last week i got in a car with some folks who can only be described as radicals. they made their way down to akwesasne, a reserve that lies on the border between America and Canada, on this land of wrought storms, and on such a day we drove down under a sky divided between a shining summer blue day and a dark rain. we crossed the bridge over a river blockaded by cops doing their job, and over the rusty now derelict bridge we came onto the reserve and were immediately in a place not America, but an old land of the First Nations of this country.

And as we came down to their pavilions they came out and stood by the road, waving at us and one guy shouted welcome as we drove onto the grass field that was the parking lot. the mohawks, well they were there to defend the land from the guns Canada wanted to arm the border guards with. And they told us soon there was really no border to defend, just some land of green trees and fields they called a border that wasn't even a border of land they had any right to. and we were there to say yes this is not our land.

and they lined us up inside of a tent and said their welcomes. and it started to rain in a little greyblack pitter patter and etcetera and one of the chiefs said thank you for coming, thank you for believing in us, and he told jokes and made us laugh and showed us how men shake hands, by gripping the wrists so you would feel the blood pumping in the veins, and how you would hug the women so you would feel the blood pumping in the hearts, and how different and solemn was the meeting of people here among the Mohawks, how important, and how he said the rain is the tears of the spirits hoping we would come to meet each other, and we all of us heard the weeping of the spirits hoping. hoping we might not forget we heard them.

and then we met everyone, and how they fed us their food, and how a lovely woman named Margaret, once she knew I was listening and not telling, not telling how it should be, how the natural world spoke, how we had made the land sick, and how so much is willing to teach among the plants and animals of land. and she told me how they marked time, by the changes in the world, the real world, the time when strawberries came out, or certain flowers, and how those times changed every year and did not go with the calendar, and it is not about calendars being bad things but it is about a way of being, a way of living in the world where one lives by the world and not by the date and time. and how i could have told her of the apocalypse of low flying airplanes and shattered horizons by blades of skyscrapers but did not because i was there to listen for once and not instruct. because the mohawks, they never left the fragile hearts of things and that is why they are losing. maybe that is how in the end they will win.

it was a siege in a great paradise, a lonely grass in the middle of nowhere. and they were angry for what we had done to them, because we still do not know we are on a land with its own life that is not ours. the land is a being much stronger than us, and it can handle our destruction, and it defies our understanding that there can be such people that know what it is to talk to the land like a living being, and still believe themselves to be their own people, and not ours to do with as we please.