What’s in Your Ego Tunnel?

The Ego Tunnel by Thomas Metzinger is one of those books I should have read when it came out in 2009. But, like many of the books I read, I came to it by chance, in this case when a philosopher friend moved and had to leave some books behind. One of them was The Parallax View by Slavoj Žižek. Žižek mentioned Metzinger in a way that had me intrigued, so I bought The Ego Tunnel. Continue reading

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Eunoia and Panoply

I’m pleased to announce some recent poetry publications. Eunoia Review has published  a little thing I call Spring Training and four links from my “Limits” poem project:

Limits
Limits
Limits
Limits

Panoply has published my poem, Are We Not Acceptable, Moon?

“Eunoia” and “panoply” are great words. The first means “beautiful thinking” and the second denotes an impressive display of varied items. The Review is one of my favorite poetry journals and it’s nice to know that the Zine is centered in Tallahassee, the capital of my home state.

Each segment entitled “Limits”can be read as a single poem, but I think of them (I’ve written 20 or so) as links in a single work. I had intended to write one poem with that title (inspired by Borges’ great poem of the same name) but, curiously, the theme struck me as too rich to stop.

The phrase, “are we not acceptable, moon?” comes fromVirginal Woolf’s extraordinary novel, The Waves. The passage is far too beautiful to spoil by recording my personal reactions (the poem, if I am not mistaken, stands on its own). Here is another piece of it:

Words crowd and cluster and push forth one on top of another. It does not matter which. They jostle and mount on each other’s shoulders. The single and the solitary mate, tumble and become many. It does not matter what I say. Crowding, like a fluttering bird, one sentence crosses the empty space between us. It settles on his lips. I fill my glass again. I drink.

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The Philosophers Leave Florida

for Natasha and Shane

Pick white or black.
It ain’t chess, just a race
to multiply the meanings
of simple words
like “divide” or “unite”.
Everyone knows
polls are for assholes
but whether the truth blows
this way or that
here’s a fact you can take to the bank:
Miami is lower today
than it was yesterday.
Deniers aren’t buying, they’re selling.
It’s a Great American Land Grab,
sawgrass style.
Better offers lie further up
and west, in the mountains of Colorado.
Think of it as a redistribution of wealth
with Florida holding the short end.
Tampa’s still temperate
but when the brain drains up
tepid turns to turpitude
too fast for attitudes to batten down.
The boat rocks for no other damn good reason
than lines lean to a frown
and we stand
because to lie is to sleep—
according to the makeshift reason
we’ve hammered up.
Nietzsche has left the building.
He’ll wander now in divine madness
up in the high desert with Dr. Kant’s monster,
leaving us in an instant exposed
to the mundane insanity
of this sinkhole, passed
from torch to pitchfork to pink flamingo, oh
the irony’s rich. Is there any limit
to the poverty of our complaint?
Or has plastic worked its way
into the sand of all our questions.
Think about that.

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Red Tide Is Natural and so Is Death

I keep thinking about the Dadaists
caught between an end and a beginning.
Some launched green apples,
others grenades
and still others self-inflicted wounds.
I’m trying to put myself in their place
and feel what was at stake,
butting up to a lack
of exhilaration,
loss
of frontiers.

Here in Florida death creeps north
but the real slime flows down
from Tallahassee:
climate change doesn’t exist
but red tide is natural
.
It doesn’t take a washed up whale shark to know
death controls the narrative.

Reports are coming in from everywhere.
The future arrives every moment
too fast to absorb the pain of loss.
The time when absurdity was a joke
seems quaint now.
“Revolution” is just another word
in one of those things
black white and red all over.

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A man’s poem

Stuck In A Shut-Up Sandwich

David Foster Wallace did it both ways:
a play of infinite garrulity
and the ultimate cutoff at the pass:
I’m done with this,
leaving sharp-elbowed others to claim
he speaks for all white men—
“slap my fat dick on humanity’s table
and hack it off myself.”

Sorry to be so crude
but these are crude times.
Sorry too that I do not intend to follow suit,
DFW don’t speak for me
and neither do others.
I reserve that right, elbows like razor blades.

Funny, I’ve never thought of myself as a fighting man,
just a survivor
and I’ve had to think in order to survive,
just like Jean Genet and Gloria Anzaldúa.
I know what you’re thinking too,
that I’m not really sorry
and you’re right. We the living have got
the survival part down.
It’s the let live part we need to work on.
I guess there’s a first time for everything,
but I have never hit anyone in my life.
That’s a fact.

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A Lacan villanelle

There Is No Speech Without a Reply

Language functions not to inform but evoke
Like it or not, the symptom is a metaphor
There is no speech without a reply

Full speech is not a question of reality, but of truth
Truth unsettles us; we are used to the real
Language functions not to inform but evoke

From the knife-edge of chronological certainties
To the classic music hall turn of collapsing plates
The world of speech demands a reply

Am I that of which I speak, or the shadow
Of the great winged hornet of narcissistic tyranny?
Language functions not to inform but evoke

The child who strikes another, cries
Reading Freud cannot be considered superfluous
There is no speech without a reply

Souls heavy from hardy shoots of wounded drives
Perfect love is a fruit not of nature but of grace
Language functions not to inform but evoke
There is no speech without a reply

 

This villanelle is based on phrases taken from Écrits by Jacques Lacan, translated by Alan Sheridan, W.W. Norton & Co, New York, 1977

If you enjoyed this, you may want to read my Wittgenstein villanelle.

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Anger Is an Energy

Anger is an energy
–John Lydon

Once when I was going through a crisis I sought advice from an older friend. He told me, “Emotions are never wrong.” That may be a platitude (it sounds like one) but I had never heard it before. I recall it often even though I don’t agree with it completely. I think hatred can be based on profound errors of reasoning, and therefore wrong, but as a general rule my friend’s remark has helped me pause and think before I judge people for the feelings they express.

That does not mean, however, that emotions and the expression of them are one and the same or that they have equal value. In fact it seems to me that people often act and speak as if feeling and expression are one. This conflation can lead from minor disagreements to war. Continue reading

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