essays in charcoal

re:writing|s  1

Always and already, it takes [its] place in the meanwhile, and the elsewhere — like the perception of life, held at a distance, and the variable uncertainties of an electron set adrift. Simultaneously nowhere and everywhere, undefined by coordinates, undescribed by geodesics, the geometry of the vertices veering, skidding, sluing on the vortices. In being and in knowing, and in the spaces between them, is the solitary expanse of writing, boundless, incessant, at once remote and immediate, disembodied and individual. Here, and now, it is writing devoid of a voice, desaturated, unravelling within these spaces, without shape, displaced, disjointed, slack, stretched and reaching.

I write because writing is home. It is my place; and it is every place that it holds, within and without — the lodestar, the tilt of the earth’s axis, gravity, tides, and the weighted mass that clasps the horizons; it holds the strings that hold everything together, and in place. In the placelessnesses of a magazine minted world, it is the chaotic multipolarity of writing — the messy, convoluted, arduous, intricate work of it — that threads weft through warp, to fabricate the material of a reality that makes some sense, to each of our senses, in every sense.

[The physicists have it all wrong — the Theory of Everything is the Superstructed Syllabic String Theory.]

Writing is my metametaphysics.
Where does the word end, and the world begin?
How does one disentangle the thought from the thing?

cogito, ergo sum

/ Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method, 1637.

To think is to speak to oneself; therefore the self is numerous, erratic, extemporaneous, and equivocally linguistic.

Time is waterlogged and pitches insensible through space, stringing me out along the trenches of an ocean blaring, blurring, blearing, blinked black, and cranial. The negative spaces, the white spaces, of how I should begin, what I should say, hover a breath out of reach, smattering on thin wings that tremble in the salty spray.

Thought is not so much dead in the water, as decomposing and disintegrated. Time and tide, implacable, inexorable, remorseless, claim much, and what remains is beached on the sands of time, along the shores of the mind — the skeletal and the membranous, bare and bleached and brittle, crowding the dereliction where, once, life used to soar, to swarm, to teem, molt, regenerate, renew. In the bellow and the brunt of this silence, beneath the dense mass of absence, these move, or are moved, are molten, fusing, changing form, connecting in new ways. What breathed and thrived is now immutable and mineral, a continuum of the crystalline. Diamond, graphite, coal, that in the savage heat of myriad suns, a legion of stars overpowering the quotidian, the circadian, ignite and are incinerated.

Slabs, and stubs, and scraps of carbonaceous substance. Expressions of impressions. Impressions of expressions. Skies, seas, oceans, continents, precipitate in a haze and in haste, melting, dissolving into each other, into soot-black smog, sleet, slush. A topography of the blear, and the blur, and the blotch of things. Yet, among the spaces, between the sequences, within the interstices, through the intersections, there exists, perhaps, a tenuous and transient topology of lambence — of the luminous, and the liminal — of mind, and matter, and meaning; the makeshift, and the slipstreams, and the shapeshifting. Writing as it is formed, at its most amorphous — essays in charcoal, a little singed, and vaporous, from the embers.


1 thought on “essays in charcoal”

  1. “Time is waterlogged and pitches insensible through space, stringing me out along the trenches of an ocean blaring, blurring, blearing, blinked black, and cranial.”

    Time is not about being sensible. It is a measurement of distance and geography more than how long it takes to pass. The ocean of which you speak, is a metaphorical one, and our perceptions of this passage of time, are not so much “blinked, blank, and cranial,” as they are blind, blissful, and creative. Much depends on our perspective when it comes to time, and I often remind those who speak of time as aberrant in some way, that if you traveled to the next galaxy, and just hung out on some random asteroid overlooking that galaxy, whatever perception of time you once had would be obliterated by that experience.

    “Thought is not so much dead in the water, as decomposing and disintegrated. Time and tide, implacable, inexorable, remorseless, claim much, and what remains is beached on the sands of time, along the shores of the mind — the skeletal and the membranous, bare and bleached and brittle, crowding the dereliction where, once, life used to soar, to swarm, to teem, molt, regenerate, renew.”

    Thought, from a human perspective, is only as fragile as the sustainability of the human mind, but it is also as fragile as the creation of thought might be in every other cognitive manifestation that exists in the temporal universe. If humanity is decomposing and disintegrating, thought may yet survive in other ways, and it is pure arrogance to suggest that only humanity possesses such a capacity. The most essential aspect of cognition is not one of thought, but one of consciousness, which provides the raw material for thought. We like to think of time and tide as “implacable and inexorable,” since it is so comforting to do so, but I would suggest that neither time nor tide can be relied upon any more than our possible expansion into the wider world of possibility into the future. The Universe is a very big place, and humans occupy such a very small place within it, that it almost begs the question, of what other sentient beings might occupy other spaces, and also be creators of thought and cognition.

    “In the bellow and the brunt of this silence, beneath the dense mass of absence, these move, or are moved, are molten, fusing, changing form, connecting in new ways.”

    Indeed, they are! And just imagine, where else in this wide universe of ours are there other even stranger and more immutable or ever-changing forms, connecting in ways we cannot even imagine!

    We cannot disentangle the thought from the thing. Without the thought there is no thing. Thoughts become things, and things only exist as thought conjures them. This has been well-established by quantum physics. Sentience is the consequence of the existence of consciousness, and while we must acknowledge what Descartes said, regarding thought as being the source and the only genuine proof of our existence, it is more correct to say that our existence relies upon thought to confirm our existence. The whole “tree falling in the forest when no one is there,” question, hinges on whether or not our presence as sentient beings is required in order for anything to exist or to have any sort of meaning beyond mere existence.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my visit here, and thank you for such a thought-provoking read.

    Regards….John H.

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