Journal Notes on Religion
The following are my Journal Notes for the work building up to "The Star of Araby" and comments I offer at "No One's Rose" on Religion
To say God to be careful he said
what do you really believe a sock
turned inside out lies at the end
of the bed. cautious is to say I
must constantly circle (erased)
to protecting a wound (but my
hand was there perhaps a warm
place or that the sun warmed).
I am saying that this matters
itself inflected by history
Philadelphia train-station in
thin grey light (emitted by
marble?) or echoing stone—
that is to matter is what this
business is about this inflection
as tack inscribes
icon lattice dropped down a
I am to say God like that pushed
tongue his clitoral response my
marsh wood dreamt hollow and
double the doubled open that
Watching the end of No Country for Old Men,
I thought “huh, this is the way you end a story if you don’t believe in God”.
A guy in the grip of serial chance.
I read somewhere Cormac MacCarthy, the author of the story the film takes off from, has been living out in the desert at a scientific utopian community they talk about the “future”. I suspect reading this that he is the obverse side of Friedman’s flattening. What you get—well we always have it—a new name for it then. A flat series. The assumptions being apocalyptic mixed together the way poppy field suburban landscapes cover over a human difficult our murderous, lifts out that motif and takes a pinch of Reagan era fuck it, and too much analytic positivism. The whole thing ruined and brewing over he’s neat sitting in desert aquarium in clean work pants predicting.
A Jack London in the lower forty-eight.
I get survival and its bitters is a key scenario grace so fickle a boy throws his Swedish Cook stove across two lanes of an Alberta highway shouting “Wouldn’t You? Wouldn’t You?”.
I can’t speak for grace I can say a car might stop or when but we are small, easily destroyed and impossible.
weather is as close and even then clime makes a pattern grace occurs
not serial, and articulate.
The lecture I wrote about last time concerned the inanimate as other and the impossibility of thinking this and thinking it anyway. Ken Suern noted he was interested in this as a way back to religion.
In general, a key aspect of monotheistic discourse, whether in India or the Middle East is the notion that God somehow exceeds knowledge or being. There are many ways to propose this. I could see that Ken’s suggestion could be that the interest the speaker found in post-War existentialist writing about the inanimate other could be read as yet another version of this postulate, this thing that needs to be said, or that we can think. Although we were talking in a Philosophical discursive context, the thought here is in relation to negation, and, in this sense, not so different from negation/transcendence as a trope in theological discourse.
That is, once we’ve decided to speak in philosophical terms, we nevertheless find the same problem related to our relation to being.
A strong emphasis on negation and the thought of what cannot be thought can be found as one kind of move made in many religious traditions, from Buddhism, the Christian via negativa, to aniconism, to Islamic theology more generally. It is one kind of instinct or trajectory. I call it the “wisdom” trajectory. When talking in terms of poetics, I have recently referred to this as an interest in “fixing light”. It is Promethian and generally people pursuing it think of it as heroic, manly, the work of a mythic hero, a way to be a hero.
And there is a light beyond sense, the light Rothko announces. Streams through words. Maybe Pound was trying to fix it in Images.
And, as long as I am rattling associative, I’d have to say that maybe the Lurianic Kabbalah with the trope of the cracked vessels of creation—literally an effort to fix light
—is yet another version.
And perhaps I am right to think of this as yet another masculine myth, a myth where the feminine
Shekinah, far from descending as God’s daughter is read as a veil that leaks from God.
I think there is a second way towards God or a Good in Being, a second trajectory I call “shape-shifting” when I talk in performative terms, where the goal is not to be Promethean, but to show people that shape, in fact, shifts.
And we are okay, unharmed. A broken pot, and its okay, and we are held, not be what cannot be thought but by the absence
(not cartographic, not a place, not a wom) of any unchanging or unknowable anywhere.
I wrote this then about what is called “Transcendental Cinema” which was one, often French, approach to filming a relation to the sacred
An assumption of transcendental cinema is that God cannot be represented thus always absent or outside screen and representative scope, so that image refuses.
Old via negativa
tactic we feel the weight of a limit and thus imagine backside or distance but know its not fathomed, get to that realization all tightened down about what can and cannot be said and thus, in those terms, an absence or can’t be seen.
Film does it a few ways—black and white, and edge of screen or frame, and beside, light painted on the screen, so what’s behind that, so we are aware out of the corner of the eye, of a difference, but are drawn to light.
Old men among goats we rigorously (or dutifully) erase what we read.
I mean we are saying existential assumption factor here, factor and parse. A thin lip & even the surreal just surface. Goats climbing the stairs we know someone filmed them a surface.
Maybe all the over phallus boys all static network weather: grim warrior
hunger for abscess. I am not saying this straight enough.
A hunch: one kind of guy or girl keeps being taken by absence, by the idea of absence and keeps desire bent, all hints of absence or madness are like rose petals, Orphic crumbs. So the conversation, there, on that hillside, always comes back to this. Start from anywhere, we are back to absence. The distance. A keen.
See the tie? Mebbe transcendental cinema is more about that desire and economy, establishing and performing, a hunting magic for absent descent, for space clues. Written in light.
all critique of depth especially dignified by ontological diction we switch too, just culture after all, a thing we be-saying, to satisfy one salt
I ain’t drinking this no more, this perfume you keep all focused on. Smoke and tide and something mo’ ‘bout you than I.
I turned to Jehanne the other day we were driving and I said, “I think the issue I have been struggling with in different ways might come down to that I love God and other folks start from somewhere else for one reason or another.
I don’t know if this is what Hassan or anyone else who’s ever said I wasn’t “in my time” meant, but it just seems like its where I go left and someone else goes right.
What do I mean by “loving God” or “God for that matter. And how do I avoid—well it might not be for me to do it, but what to do with folks who see me invoking invictus?
I certainly do not hold any kind of orthodox or traditional notion of “God” I just use the term as a simple “in the park” kind of thing as more or less a term to meet at given the range of complexity.
When I talk about this in class—when I propose a more or less common term I use “a sacred” and “a good in being” where this being a person is a particular kind of scared or, rather, brings certain things to the table. (I.e., the difference as such between a red-blue sky and distance, and that guy over there has an opinion I am related to like shore to sea and forever tidal and negotiate, which is not how we see ourselves against sky though it could be.
And when I say “a good in being” I often tell a story about seeing the summer stars. Five years old maybe younger with my brothers “sleeping out” in out Suburban backyard quarter between house and hedge and driveways, among the daddylong legs that spooked at the brick foundations. We slept out and sometime maybe two or so I woke up and looked up and saw that Northern summer sky with Milkyway thrown out & Northern Cross laying on it (though I didn’t know its name then to find) and this sight gave me a deep and profound little kid sense of a perfect, delightful, a joy I laughed and rolled over back to sleep what else to say?
What did I know at that time? or recognize? What’s the right word for the seeing and rolling over in delight and security safe? And which way was the action? Going out of my imagining or put down into me stars stooped down to tell me an order, a way? Always feels like a falling into and then rising back, me. A being pressed I rose to.
That basic movement of fall and rise . I awoke to (too?) (two?)
See that’s the warrant for me. Knowing that, I have a touch stone or plumb I keeping going back to or start from. A goodness in being outstrips other evidence or at least I’ve decided to be loyal to as good as any other.
I can’t say if this is like seeing Beatrice, or if it even marks me special, though I’ve often I suppose had this sense in mind someone asks “am I saved” or “does God talk to you?” I think “oh David means “Beloved of God” & I am that”. A secret private enough thought. Not something you say aloud or’s special as it’s a duty too. No, what I worry more about is that I’ll disappoint not figuring out the task of this and just piss it away
So, my mytheme is about leakages, that I, apparently, leak. What I hope now is that I someone how leak some of this, but how could I since its grace and not like Johnny Appleseed something from me, but through. Could use any channel. I don’t know what it means to be touched this way.
What it means to love God then is to prefer this and make room for. To withhold hatred. Not hating the sky or night and hating instead to turn away from life/God, this being here, into some other more perfect we are always susceptible to and desire as our own.
So I am loyal to the sun I can barely say its light and how much I need it I sit in an afternoon in late fall it keeps coming it’ll be back and push the leaves. That’s God I suppose or one of the ways I taste and recognize as falling into me.
basic movement of fall and rise as lip turn of lyric made possible by discovery of “two” I met.
I am imagining from Scholem book a sense of being a person—well here’s the image—above my head but reversed is not quite a mirror image of myself, but God in me, what it means to think of God as a person & so, perhaps a bit like the Chagal painting of the kiss, the guy flying down to kiss (or lifted up by it) that so perfectly says the kind of delight one feels in love.
& Once I am thinking in images like this, several correlates occur which are also historically related… the letter hum perched up over Buddha figure, as itself ladder or lattice, or kundalini subtle body as graph of this relation, or kabbalic tree with its reflective turn. I think, here too there is this motif of a descent and rise (Orphic?) a pulsing, what is called spanda
Today I picked up a book by Arthur Danto, The Abuse of Beauty
, and come across scene Kant uses to characterize the sublime is exactly that sight of the night sky to which I turn, though he has some other things to say, concerned as he is to preserve certain categories I say it fell into me, and rises back I am.
still, the first nip at my ankles comes when I begin to consider the relationship between loving God, or seeing beauty, this power, this mode of being and social modes I interact with folks and we get into the business of sorting out master themes or overtomes I am not allowed to say… that love of others is based on love of self I love God but am not so sure about whether I am an utterly suitable
hence the difference I am saying here, say, between my sense of good and what appears to command interest of others (we can no longer assume good will) as a difference I choose to argue about or notice—what am I making in that… people cannot be forced to love God & so am I attempting to be myself a sublime they could know?
Do I have a shape that is a true fact the way stars are?
Resnikoff—in the appendix to the Black Sparrow The Poems of Charles Reznikoff 1918-1975
makes several remarks about objectivism; his notions circle around several themes—the first is that this term characterizes a poet “who does not write directly about his feelings but about what he sees and hears” (p. 371—i.e. as testimony); he then quotes Goethe to this effect, and goes on to say that, nevertheless, feeling is expressed. He then cites a French translation of a Japanese text to the effect that Zen “puts the strongest emphasis on personal effort and forgetfulness of self
” (p. 372). Later he quotes a passage from an 11th century Chinese text that “Poetry presents the thing
in order to convey the feeling
after this his remarks focus on music
Paul Davies Becket and Eros: Death of Humanism
: as example of bad use of Buddhism in Continental context
terrifyingly appears to take Heart Sutra at its word in assertion of non-being and purports to be interested in the heat/desire that exists between being and non-being.
p. 12 Complete Being is glossed as “the Unity of existence” in which “there can be, it follows, no ‘Other’ that is not a pretense or phantom” – he’s also written a book Romaticism and Esoteric Tradition: Studies in Imagination.
Scholem: Kabbalah born in 12th century in Languedoc, a region in Western Provence with Montpellier as chief port and Toulouse on the river Garonne which flows into the Gironde estuary near Bordeaux. The region is defined by a massif between the Rhone river valley and that of the Garonne; moves from there to Aragon and Castile in Spain
1150-1220: Cathars and Albigenses
Albigenses: perpetual chastity and vegetarian diet; man is a living contradiction (from Catholic texts); accept reincarnation; divine spark fallen into matter; adoptionist or docetic views of Jesus.
A group of texts from 1st/2nd century focuses on Merkabah (Chariot) mysticism involving travels of the chariot through the seven palaces or temples (Hekhaloth) which ends with arrival at throne of God; there the mystic receives the Shi’ur Qomah (measurement of the body), i.e. sees anthropomorphic image of God which the Song of Songs also describes. (pp. 21-24)
the trouble with Objectivism—20th century US versions anyway—are that the move to dampen self-expression, towards description occurs exactly alongside an increasing shift and preference for the rational and material as the vectors for any economy (determination/expression of value)
coupled with the dominance of Marxism among those interested in justice, there is a veering that occurs, a commitment to the surface, to “just description” that predicts depth as always unknown or to use, Perloff, indeterminate—an, in this sense subject to a fault that always haunts all assumptions of the unknowable, that one could imagine or fall in love with that, imagine it as a place, somewhere real, instead of the depth of a surface, or, rather, the depth a surface is a face for; this is especially so if it is that second depth that matters in these brick to grass descriptions of yard tools, that we should be listening or watching out of the corner of our eye for something suggests that is the real thing to keep one’s eye on—hence a method of eternal bondage in the sense of being double bound, to look at the edges, but not see
that is, what matters is not the color at the edge, but the thing, the surface of it we discard or attenuate and manage—all the rules go to precision there—and materialist assumptions reinforce the logic that says no real depth—only I am saying if we have an objectivist impulse without materialist assumptions, then something else happens and thing is friable and can be dug through, or maybe even becomes sentient under the force of our consideration, not as anthropomorphic, but as if the warmth of our attention made life come to be (maybe even in that old Indic pattern of warmth to water—thus, watching the rose or garden edge or wall there was a blooming, a precipitation and thus place, the way water by announcing itself as drop produces lens/space, or fills space, shouldering air aside.