It takes ten million forms, could be in anything — a
rustle of leaves, the tang of salt, a bending blues note, the sweep of
shadows on a tin roof, the catch in a voice, the touch of a hand, a
line of Mandelshtam. Any particular, specific combination of
ever-shifting elements, always unrepeatable in its exact effect and
always momentary. Because that’s all there is, that’s all we have —
The moments, and their momentary power — a power without the power of
resistance, defenseless, provisional, unarmed, imperfect, bold. The
ape-world’s cycle of war and retribution stands as the image of the
world of power; what can serve as the emblem of this other reality? A
kiss, perhaps: given to a lover, offered to a friend, bestowed on an
enemy — or pressed to the brow of a murdered child.
Both worlds are within us, of course, like two quantum states of
reality, awaiting our choice to determine which will be actuated, which
will define the very nature of being — individually and in the
aggregate, moment by moment. This is our constant task, for as long as
the universe exists in the electrics of our brains: to redeem each
moment or let it fall. Some moments will be won, many more lost; there
is no final victory. There is only the task.
We drink you at morning and midday; we drink you at night
So do we counsel fatalism, a dark, defeated surrender, a retreat into
bitter, curdled quietude? Not a whit. We advocate action, positive
action, unstinting action, doing the only thing that human beings can
do, ever: Try this, try that, try something else again; discard those
approaches that don’t work, that wreak havoc, that breed death and
cruelty; fight against everything that would draw us down again into
our own mud; expect no quarter, no lasting comfort, no true security;
offer no last word, no eternal truth, but just keep stumbling, falling,
careening, backsliding, crawling toward the broken light.
And what is this “broken light”? Nothing more than a metaphor for the
patches of understanding — awareness, attention, knowledge, connection
— that break through our darkness and stupidity for a moment now and
then. A light always fractured, under threat, shifting, found then lost
again, always lost. For we are creatures steeped in imperfection, in
breakage and mutation, tossed up — very briefly — from the boiling,
chaotic crucible of Being, itself a ragged work in progress toward
unknown ends, or rather, toward no particular end at all. Why should
there be an “answer” in such a reality?
This and this alone is the only “ideology” behind these writings, which
try at all times to fight against the compelling but ignorant delusion
that any single economic or political or religious system — indeed,
any kind of system at all devised by the seething jumble of the human
mind — can completely encompass the infinite variegations of
existence. What matters is what works — what pulls us from our own
darkness as far as possible, for as long as possible. Yet the truth
remains that “what works” is always and forever only provisional —
what works now, here, might not work there, then. What saves our soul
today might make us sick tomorrow.
Thus all we can do is to keep looking, working, trying to clear a
little more space for the light, to let it shine on our passions and
our confusions, our anger and our hopes, informing and refining them,
so that we can see each other better, for a moment — until death
shutters all seeing forever.
We drink and we drink.
*Photo by Ken Jackson.*