Please Continue. But Count on Interruptions.

[Video: “Stay Go,” by Robert Cray, from his album Shame and A Sin.]

From whiskey river:

You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.

(Wallace Stegner [source])


As the pen rises from the page between words, so the walker’s feet rise and fall between paces, and as the deer continues to run as it bounds from the earth and the dolphin continues to swim even as it leaps again and again from the sea, so writing and wayfaring are continuous activities, a running stitch, a persistence of the same seam or stream.

(Robert Macfarlane [source])

…and, from whiskey river’s commonplace book:

From The Long Sad Party

Someone was saying
something about shadows covering the field, about
how things pass, how one sleeps towards morning
and the morning goes.

Someone was saying
how the wind dies down but comes back,
how shells are the coffins of wind
but the weather continues.

It was a long night
and someone said something about the moon shedding its white
on the cold field, that there was nothing ahead
but more of the same.

Someone mentioned
a city she had been in before the war, a room with two candles
against a wall, someone dancing, someone watching.
We begin to believe

the night would not end.
Someone was saying the music was over and no one had noticed.
Then someone said something about the planets, about the stars,
how small they were, how far away.

(Mark Strand [source])


If you found a contradiction in your own thoughts, it’s very unlikely that your whole mentality would break down. Instead, you would probably begin to question the beliefs or modes of reasoning which you felt had led to the contradictory thoughts. In other words, to the extent you could, you would step out of the systems inside you which you felt were responsible for the contradiction, and try to repair them. One of the least likely things for you to do would be to throw up your arms and cry, “Well, I guess that shows that I believe everything now!”

(Douglas R. Hofstadter [source])

Neither from whiskey river, nor from its commonplace book:

The Natural History of Secrets

Scraps of paper stapled to telephone poles
shiver in the wind, informative fish scales:
lost cat, yoga class, someone looking for a bass player.

People’s wants and needs right there
for anyone to read, everyone to read,
like Latin engravings, like open heart surgery.

I never felt the street belonged to me.
I was just visiting. Have you ever walked
through a museum without looking at a thing?

An old boyfriend calls, he thinks we’re just the same;
it pins my stomach to my spine,
like a butterfly on exhibit.

It helps to say these things out loud:
state your condition, instant by instant,
like the New York Stock Exchange.

The strings that hold my vertebrae together
are loosening. Eventually
your secrets become yours to throw away.

Or if you keep them, like crumpled receipts,
they fossilize to amber:
you could make them into earrings.

(Austen Leah Rosenfeld [source])


In a kind of back-door way, “defunctness” inheres and may be located via objects updated for their own good. The girdle gone to shapewear for instance. Or in-line skates… ok, they are nice. I’m not arguing that. Streamlined. Adult-sized. Full of compensations for weak ankles. But now, no more skate keys, the kind that came with clamp-on skates so you could tighten the little wheels-on-a-platform to your shoe, reverse sardine-can style. The sensation of the little clamps at the four corners of your thin and insubstantial sneaker: defunct, gone. (And, too, the word “roller” — though my favorite Baltimore team, The Junkyard Dolls, is not playing, thank God, “in-line derby.”) Similarly, the one-touch, speedy, programmable cell phone has replaced the sensation of dialing. One no longer removes her finger and lets the dial return on its own, nor can one choose to allow the finger to enjoy the firm, free ride back around to the starting position.

(Lia Purpura [source])


Winged Purposes

Fly from me does all I would have stay,
the blossoms did not stay, stayed not the frost
in the yellow grass. Every leash snapped,
every contract void, and flying in the crows
lingers but a moment in the graveyard oaks
yet inside me it never stops so I can’t tell
who is chasing, who chased, I can sleep
into afternoon and still wake soaring.
So out come the bats, down spiral swifts
into the chimneys, Hey, I’m real, say the dream-
figments then are gone like breath-prints
on a window, handwriting in snow. Whatever
I hold however flies apart, the children skip
into the park come out middle-aged
with children of their own. Your laugh
over the phone, will it ever answer me again?
Too much flying, photons perforating us,
voices hurtling into outer space, Whitman
out past Neptune, Dickinson retreating
yet getting brighter. Remember running
barefoot across hot sand into the sea’s
hovering, remember my hand as we darted
against the holiday Broadway throng,
catching your train just as it was leaving?

(Dean Young [source])


#63: Time itself may resemble a river, the flight of an arrow, a road on a map. But we don’t — can’t — remember its passing that way. In our minds, the past becomes a chain of floating ice cubes, the flight of many arrows, the dashed line down the center of a roadway. We say, “a series of events”; not the series, but the events, stay with us. We remember signal moments, and forget (or disregard) what lay between them. Each of these moments began, “happened,” and then ended. And our memory collects them obsessively, clings to them: we’re fetishists of discontinuity.

(JES, Maxims for Nostalgists)


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