Your Haunting Quietude

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It’s been published by MSU Denver’s Metrosphere, and I think many of my friends have seen it already… but I thought I’d put it up here on the b-log. My 16 line (kinda Shakespearean but, yeah 16 line) sonnet, Your Haunting Quietude:

Your Haunting Quietude

Suspended in your haunting quietude,
I make haste to fill silence with thought.
Inebriated by some thirst to brood,
So quickly I fragment that sacred naught.

The space where nothing passes between lips,
Where no articulation could resound…
A moment shrouded in the silv’ry mist
of clear perception, hov’ring over ground.

The present makes an elegant collapse
of motions retrograde and onward push.
It falls into itself, a whispered gasp
Just like a starry death, implosion’s rush.

Yet here do I fall victim to the stream
of mental chatter, the insufferably inane…
as certain as soliloquy may seem,
I pause that rogue procession and refrain…

Then you smile politely, start to speak
Completely unaware of what you break.

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Nothing to Say

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When you’ve got nothing to say you’ve got yourself into a pretty difficult predicament. You’re becoming swallowed up by a paradox that is an impulse to produce some utterance that can only exist if it isn’t heard. To say nothing is not necessarily not to say. If someone could truly say nothing, then wouldn’t we all want to hear it? That thing that cannot be heard: nothing? If someone says they’ve got nothing to say, then I am all the more keen on listening… hoping that I will somehow hear the sound of a void. You’d think it’d be a whoosh, like a vacuous imploding. A quiet intake of breath? But the inhale is usually right on the precipice of saying something… would it be a pure moment of suspense? Anticipation made audible? The great silence that precedes creation? The moment right before the big bang?
Is it the profound quiet you hear when it snows and the whole world has been insulated and hushed?
Is it merely the tonal inflection of a question… abstracted from its words?
I’d say I’ve got nothing to say, but that seems like a pretty tall order.

I like Smoothies

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I originally started this post with a quote from Zizek. And then I wrote about all of this stuff involving ideology and questions of universal humanity and general statements that betrayed my neoplatonic leanings. 
And all I really wanted to say was that I like smoothies. In many ways I’m the epitome of what he is against. I would make Zizek cringe. But I think most everything does. 
Me. Consuming. 
[Smoothies]
Enjoyment. Excess. My little contenting piece of surplus-jouissance. Unthinking?
Anyway, I deleted all of that in one fell swoop. Because I like smoothies.  

I just made a delicious tropical tofu smoothie. Yesterday I made a raspberry oatmeal smoothie. Tomorrow I hope to make a minty green whey smoothie. I’m always down for my original favourite, the banana cocoa peanut butter smoothie. I never knew that there were so many ways to make a smoothie. And they can be quite filling! It’s such a pleasant non-meal meal.
At least one meal a day is a smoothie for me. I hope to become somewhat of a smoothie conoisseur. I’m obsessed. 

Too much French for one blog post.
Happy smoothie-making. 

A Cinematic Forgetting

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Whenever I’ve been engrossed in a good movie or TV show and the credits finally roll, there’s a moment of shock when I return to my immediate reality. It seems like I had been in a completely different time and space; like I had been in the movie. When it’s all finished and I look around me then and see the room I’ve been in, there’s that jarring moment when I remember who and where I am. I’d like to call this a cinematic forgetting.

Being in a completely new environment, a fantastic and inviting environment, I’ve been disappointed in myself when I walk around with headphones, as I often do. I play the music and it’s like I’ve superimposed my own soundtrack onto something else… I’ve disengaged with the environment as-it-is to create a highly personalized and explicitly constructed version of the environment. I was walking to the grocery store listening to whatever it was… “Alone” by Singularity? I was somewhere in my periphery: the recently rained-upon cement and the asphalt roadside, but nowhere in particular… in a music trance. And suddenly a confetti-storm of brilliant yellow leaves fell and swirled from the high trees. I looked up and realized that there was a present moment. I stopped in awe of them. What is kind of sad and ironic is that I didn’t take my headphones off and then I proceeded walking and wondered what the swirling leaves must have sounded like. I think I relished in imagining what they would have sounded like more than listening to what they actually sounded like. And then I felt like a narcissist; like my version of the leaves could have been in some way better than the leaves themselves. I realized that I’m in the habit of indulging a cinematic forgetting. And then I realized that,  perhaps by way of technology and our own unavoidable zeitgeist, we have all come to prefer a cinematic forgetting to what is immediately before us.

THEN I realized that by lamenting the current state of affairs, I was falling prey to nostalgia… like there was an earlier time without technology when we all engaged in the present moment. No, no. If it wasn’t headphones, then certainly is was just plain old egotism. A hyperactive intellect or a hyperactive self-consciousness or other preoccupation that prevented people from being aware of/connecting with their present. It would have been the same egotism without the sexy ubiquity of glamorous music and glamorous headphones. Sexy people selling them to us.

If we attribute our disengagement with our present moment and our environment to some other construct like capitalism, or late capitalism, or you name it, then we’re missing the point entirely. Call me a hopeless Romantic, but I think the Individual still needs to take responsibility for their disengagement. We do have the ability to take headphones off… or, we still have the ability to love yellow leaves despite headphones. It is still a possibility to decline our egotistic superimpositions and embrace or remember the present moment. To embrace the other. We don’t have to be fundamentally egotistical beings. But we can be if we really want to be. I’m not saying it’s universally correct to decline the cinematic forgetting. But I propose that there is a great deal of beauty in the experience of uniting with immediacy and now. Perhaps moderating cinematic forgetting and yellow leaves makes for an everyday balanced diet.        

Get Real

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Here’s a common phrase: “I’m just realistic”.
And usually it’s meant to justify a certain degree of cynicism, as though this “reality” of yours is all that is. We all think we’re agreeing on the same reality. But we’re not. My reality is worlds different from many others’ realities. Sooo… am I realistic? Yep. Are you realistic? Likely. If you’re calibrating your thoughts, actions, and assumptions by your own concept of reality— which you inevitably are— then you’re realistic. Right? I guess if you were purposefully acting counter to your concept of reality then you wouldn’t be realistic. Feasible. 
But the more I think about it the less this category “realistic” means to me. But the more you think about a lot of things the less it means. Like when you say the word “door”
Door
Door
Door
Door
Door
Door
Door
Door
Door
Door
DOOR
WTF?!
It looks so strange! It means nothing! There’s a D!
And then a DOUBLE O!
Like EYES peering into your sOuL!
And then an… anti… climactic… r. 

So, to all you “realists”… make like a door and kindly shut it. ;)

The Pursuit of Beauty and Opalescence

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In a letter to his brothers in December 1817 John Keats said, “The excellence of every Art is its intensity, capable of making all disagreeables evaporate from their being in close relationship with Beauty & Truth.” While conceptions of Beauty and Truth have changed a great deal, and while these categories or no longer generally understood to be universal, I can’t help but agree with Mr. Keats. Perhaps when one discovers Beauty and Truth in art, they are experiencing their own culturally or ideologically constructed version of Beauty and Truth, but there is a timelessness in this construction. If one is to refute the universality of Truth and Beauty in terms of historicisms or constructions along lines of class, gender, or race, then fair enough. But I think you can take all of those things into account in conceiving of Truth and Beauty as eternal… perhaps not fixed as Plato would have them,.. eternally in flux, maybe. But eternal nonetheless. And categories nonetheless. Notions of Truth and Beauty will always exist. Maybe my reader will prefer, allow or even entertain the notion of a fixed and absolute Beauty & Truth. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that a) I’ve done my tiresome academic caveat and b) Truth and Beauty will be considered.

My love of literature is constantly reinvigorated by moments of wonder when I am made speechless— wordless and profoundly silent— by a brief brush with Beauty and Truth. I almost want to describe this experience further, but I don’t. Because I feel wordless about it. I imagine that most people have had at least vaguely similar experiences. It’s partially why art is… kind of a thing. Because it effects us. Today I would like to give you an example of one of these moments I had yesterday.
So YEAH, opalescence.
First of all, savor that WORD. Mmmm. Taste it, hear its liquidity, and feel its rich and luminous sheen wash over you.
I was reading a fascinating and actually quite eerie Gothic novella by George Eliot entitled The Lifted Veil. But there, amidst the dark and strange was this:
“The opal was my favorite stone, because it seems to blush and turn pale as if it had a soul.”

There is was. Truth and Beauty. Played upon my imagination in its own happy (and disruptive) way.

Just thought I’d share.

Good morning, Rainshine

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Feeling inordinately self-conscious of my Americanness has been something with which I have been grappling ever since I started to travel. Sometimes this self-consciousness verges on apologetic or even ashamed, but I’ve decided that’s really unnecessary. My culture happens to be my culture like anyone else’s. I don’t hold any of my international friends accountable for their nation’s bad laundry. I still haven’t gone to the Burger King in the city centre because I think… “Oh God; if I go to Burger King, then inevitably they will assume I’m an American tourist who thinks that deep-fried homogeneity is more desirable than an infinite amount of local cuisine, or anything else for that matter.” It seems like there’s just a big old mine field of American stereotypes every step I take. But rather than cower in my anxiety over my Americanness and appear just plain neurotic, I think I’m going to have to allow myself American moments. And people will see my “Americanness” in a variety of different situations that may not even be fair. I have, however, obtained an actual ethnography of the English people and this has guided me in understanding the natives a bit better. It has helped me to avoid too many faux pas.
Image   Watching the English by Kate Fox has been a very fascinating and  enlightening read in many regards. Of course not everything is universally true, but it has given me some idea about potential faux pas, which, I have no trouble committing in my own country… let alone in this strange land. ONE faux pas, apparently, may involve criticism of the [English] weather by foreigners. SO before I tell you about the cold and rainy, yucky past few days, I wanted to acknowledge my awareness of the potential faux pas here, and show my American friends how to avoid seeming too rude.
In her chapter on ‘Weather Talk’, Fox explains the potential error in criticizing or crassly belittling the natives’ weather:
“… we treat the English weather like a member of our family: one can complain about the behavior of one’s own children or parents, but any hint of censure from an outsider is unacceptable, and very bad manners.   Although we are aware of the relatively undramatic nature of the English weather– the lack of extreme temperatures, monsoons, tempests, tornadoes and blizzards– we become extremely touchy and defensive at any suggestion that our weather is therefore inferior or uninteresting. The worst possible weather-speak offense is one mainly committed by foreigners, particularly Americans, and that is to belittle the English weather. When the summer temperature reaches the high twenties, and we moan, ‘Phew, isn’t it hot?’, we do not take kindly to visiting Americans or Australians laughing and scoffing and saying ‘Call this hot? This is nothing. You should come to Texas [Brisbane] if you wanna see hot!’…  Size, we sniffily point out, is not everything, and the English weather requires an appreciation of subtle changes and understated nuances, rather than a vulgar obsessions with mere volume and magnitude.’ ”

The weather was not fun at all these past few days. For the first few weeks that I was here, it was very warm and lovely.I just stopped taking my jacket with me when I went out because I didn’t ever need it. But last week everything turned cold and soggy-sad. I’m quite alright with it; I just would have liked to have packed more sweaters. I’m sure it will get much worse, but I feel like everyone back home in sunny Denver has been waiting to hear about the bleak and dreary rain. Well, folks, it does exist. Yes. But there is a sort of cozy charm about it. I was walking home from doing my grocery shopping yesterday and came upon this, though:
Image Isn’t that great?? Someone just… gave up. And this is their tragic monument. Laying on the side of the road. When it’s blustery the cold does go right through you, it’s true. Reminded me of the IAJE Jazz conference in NYC. In January. But not that bad… yet.
Today could be better. Probably just cloudy. But take a look at this forecast:Image
Rain, rain, rain, rain. :) More tea and more umbrellas for me! <3

Academic Oasis

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A few years ago I moved in with a very good linguist friend of mine named Ariel. To give you an idea of how dorky we were together, I have a charm from her that represents the single phoneme that separates our names. Erienne [ɛriɛn] and Ariel [ɛriɛl]. Anyway, we called our shared abode “The Academic Oasis”. Of course plenty of non-academic things transpired there, but we *did* get down with the academia quite frequently. I have since moved out of “The Academic Oasis” only to move to… an academic oasis (Oxford). I want you to see how breathtaking this oasis is. I go to the Bodleian Library frequently to do research and it is like entering into an academic fairy tale:

My favorite, the Radcliffe camera reading room

My favorite, the Radcliffe camera reading room

Walking into the main library quadrangle, on passes through these ancient corridors
Walking into the main library quadrangle, one passes through these ancient corridors

Wrought iron fences protecting the entrance into an adjacent college
Wrought iron fences protecting the entrance into an adjacent college

The front of a tea room right outside the Radcliffe camera

The front of a tea room right outside the Radcliffe camera

Can I just finish by saying that I am so overcome with gratitude for the opportunity to get an education at all; I’ll be paying it all back in time with considerable student loan payments, but I think it has to be worth it because this is incredible.

Rambling Poesy From England: My Unabashed Sutures

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This is the first post of something that I would like to think could be a good idea. I tend to dump random bits of poems or creative fragments all over the interwebz, littering consciousness in superfluous pixels here and there… from time to time. Not only do I think it beneficial to consolidate all of the detritus in one locale, I think that creating such a place may assist me with writing [creatively-esque] more regularly.

Hello. So here I am, transplanted in Oxford. Absolutely wonderful Oxford. I am working diligently on a research project involving John Keats and the ways in which martyrdom and masochism are represented and explored in his work. In some ways I’m researching my own demons in addition to a fascinating and beautiful figure/ouvre. I alternate between passionate fits of intellect and transcendental reveries. All day. This was something that I wrote on my iPhone while I was walking back to my postgraduate flat.

Here lay my unabashed sutures
Laid finally to rest after the last rusty wheel’d compulsion
Cried it’s final creaking turn
Jumbled rot it will become
My retired mechanization
And I will go on living
Nearly wholly cleansed of that metallic aftertaste
Repeating on my tongue
Repealing tongue