Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The New Kind of Flesh: "Abruptly cease to deny your god"

Here again, the autobiographical referent is to my time in Swaziland.  I think it was Christmas Eve 1982, in Manzini, an evening out with my fellow volunteers, conversation outside a church where Christmas was happening -- something hit me, and just like that I knew I had to set my heart at rest by rejoining my churchly roots.  I ceased to deny my god then, and continued to do so for more than two decades before returning to the atheism that reason alone (reason by itself sufficient?  reason the only route? solitary reason?) has remorselessly led me to in the end.

But that ceasing to deny, it was abrupt.  Nothing to do with evidence.  In fact, the very lack of evidence was evidence (if I were the same person now that I was then, I'm sure properly primed that I could have voted for Trump).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "Slightly alter your tone with knowledge"

The idea that knowledge and tone are so closely related that one can actually generate (or simulate with perfect accuracy) knowledge by means of tone has long been of interest to me -- it matches the aspirations of a lifelong dilettante, most concerned with getting knowledge, and showing knowledge, as quickly as possible before going on to the next thing.  Even better, when the alteration of tone required to make knowledge evident (and, as well, the alteration of tone that would occur if I actually possessed that knowledge) is "slight," meaning only a little but also in the manner of a slight, as to say a slight I might to deliver to my audience or otherwise those who are meant to apprehend that the knowledge is mine.  Pronounced homonymously also with "sleight" as in "sleight of hand," knowledge simulated by a trick.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "Next emerge the night bugs"

After errors, the night bugs.  I'm sure this line, written in the early 1980's, was inspired by experience a couple of years before during the first part of my stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland.  We were "training," which mostly meant getting a variety of kinds of information and experience of the place, and learning at least some of the language, at a training center in the "lowveld," the hot and flat middle part of the country.  I remember one night when I walked out of the dormitory area where I spent most of my evenings reading and listening to transistor radio guitar music from Mozambique, into the brightly lit foyer at the entrance of our building, to find the entire floor, and the walls, covered with apparently dead or dying flying insects that I think of as not moths but the size of moths, exotic insects that I would have been much more worried about had they still been flying -- but all of them, it seemed, had either wounded themselves on the bright lamps at the entrance, or perhaps had gone through some other form of collective dying all at once.  Thus emerged the night bugs.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "Errors are coming out"

A very awkward locution, tempered only by the direct analogy of errors to night bugs in the line that follows.  Night bugs do come out, seemingly of nowhere.  Errors in general, however, remain hidden or manifest differently.  A thing doesn't work as it was expected to do.  Maybe a message pops up, but that isn't the same thing as the error itself "coming out," is it?  But here, not just a single error, but multiple errors are coming out, like debutantes or celebrities, even as we read.  Errors are becoming manifest, they are coming out from somewhere within, from the place where errors reside before they come out, the locus of potentiality, or of essence.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "Doc, why don't you do something?"

Having suddenly located the poem's vaguely Homeric or Danteesque site, the poem marks a quick return to the direct address that initiated it.  The official title has been replaced with a folksy equivalent that might, had it not been preceded by that initiating statement, have been the monicker of one of the Seven Dwarfs.  On the other hand, the portentous uncertainty of the moon's coming out has modified here into a direct cry for help.  The doctor makes a diagnosis, but Doc has some capability to actually do something about our condemned state in this pit.  We can only surmise that Doc is possessed of that form of know-how born not of medical training but of life in the Wild West, or possibly as the paternal caretake of Dopey, Grumpy, and Snow White.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "This pit here, this location"

A change of mood with the change of stanza, a need to call out with some specificity a change of place. “This pit here” attempts to project the reader into an immediate situation, while equating that immediacy to “this location” immediately turns toward abstraction, at least in mathematical terms. This pit here is also this location: where we are as readers, you my readers, is a place identified by its coordinates, but a place that can be pointed to with a “this” and where we may be actually situated, wherefore “here.” Nevertheless, it's a pit: pit of hell, pit of this world, pit of the next, pit of the undeworld (the fosse Ezra Pound and Homer dug and poured blood into to revive and make strong the dead for a moment, Canto I). There's a possibility of things happening just here, bad things perhaps – perhaps bad things are happening here now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The New Kind of Flesh: "They flow in theologies"

I had to remind myself, in the interim -- "they" are the kind of flesh.  In that respect, given the obvious Christian overtones, the parallel flowing in armies and theologies is consistent, orthodox, expected, and obvious.  The problem for me is that my life -- my days, really -- have involved so many backs and forths in relation to Christianity, that I'm not able to hold the language, the specialized language of the Christians, either inside or outside of myself.  I'm certainly an atheist now, today, have been for several years, but aside from the loss of mental lability, of which I'm barely aware as a "person," it still seems plausible that I could make another of those fearful transitions, plunging back into the valley of hell and superstition where I've dwelled before...

But now, to address the possibility of theologies flowing: the construction here doesn't require that theological flowing be anything like armies flowing, like men in teams, who jump, that is to say.  Or, to take a step back, to "flow in theologies" might not be the same thing as theologies themselves flowing -- in the former, theologies may be read to provide the iron structure within which the new kind(s) of flesh are what flow, and thus the theologies don't flow at all -- more in keeping with the rigidity of thought I would tend now to associate with theology, which must accomplish all of its imaginative musings under the watchful eye of the Lord.  Flowing theologies are perhaps most possible to atheists (though they might also be available to the Lord himself, by virtue of his Aquinan definition as both omniscient and omnipotent, creating stones big enough that he was unable to move them later on).